I Got Wood
January 14, 2005
After being in sales for the majority of my adult life one term has emerged that I can’t stand, “Win-Win!” Every time I hear the phrase “this is a win-win situation”, I know somebody is going to get screwed big time. However this weekend a win-win situation was at hand and I could not see a downside for any of the parties involved. I have an empty space below my stairs just above where I cellar my beer. It has become a catch all for all kinds of crap that my son Joe acquires.
His latest designation for this space has been empty car part boxes. This isn’t the most heavily trafficked section of the house, but something told me it should look like something other than the backroom of Pep Boys.
I moved his car parts and boxes to an unutilized closet in the basement. Win for Joe; he has more storage space and he didn’t have to clean up the car crap. Next task at hand was to decide what to do with the space.
This was a no-brainer: beer storage. What else would I do with more cellar space? I measured the space and took a trip down the information super highway to find a wine rack I could store beer in.
My trip took me to some pretty expensive neighborhoods. Any of the wine racks I found that fit the space were coming in at $200 – $300 a pop. I am not a cheap bastard as you might have heard and I would plunk down the money if the rack were going in my living room or den. However this contraption was for my basement and there was no way I was going to shell out that kind of cheddar.
I got off the Internet and got in my car since figuring a couple of cheap wine racks at Super Walmart could be retrofitted for my needs. One look at the patron’s of the Salem New Hampshire Super Walmart and I should have know I was going to come up blank.
There is no need for a wine rack when every 30 pack of Keystone Light comes with its own custom cardboard beer holder. My only option was to head into the one establishment that is kryptonite for any creature with a Y chromosome: Linens and Things.
Any of these bed and bath stores on a Saturday afternoon are more dangerous than a Slayer mosh-pit. Soccer moms and yentas push shopping carts at warp speeds trying to find a soap dish that matches the sconces in their bathrooms. What the hell is a sconce anyway?
I found two wine racks that were under $100 bucks that could have done the job. Unfortunately they were both too deep to fit in the desired space due to all kinds of decorative crap all over them. Half my afternoon was gone. Nothing had been accomplished and to make matters worse, I was getting pissed off just being in Linens and Things.
As I drove out of the Linens and Things parking lot I could feel a force pulling my car into the plaza across the street. I heard a voice saying, “If you build it they will come. If you build it they will come” over and over. I looked up towards the glowing orange light that was shining down on me.
Hallelujah, the promise land I was standing in front of was Home Depot. I could feel the testosterone that was drained out of my body earlier surge like never before. I knew what I had to do build my own damn wine rack. I was at Home Depot and I was getting wood!
This is where the win-win scenario dawned on me. My wife wouldn’t have to watch me sit on the couch all day drinking beer with an XBOX controller in my hand, my editors would get a DYI story, my readers get an interesting read and not only do I get to play with power tools but I also get my wine rack. This made perfect sense so there was no turning back now. This had to be done.
After scribbling a crude wine rack on a scrap of paper and roughing out the dimensions it was clear this job could be finished with one sheet of 5/8 plywood, a 6 foot 1 x 6 and around 12 feet of trim. For under $30 worth of materials I was ready to roll.
After getting home I found myself in the basement with my wood in my hand. I needed to focus and plan out this project step-by-step. The first step was to cut the front and back of the wine rack to the desired size. The back would have to be smaller seeing it was being housed in a sloped area.
I laid out the cuts on the sheet to ensure the nicest part of the plywood would be used for the face.
After the pieces were cut to the desired size I got out a framing square to layout where the holes for the bottles would lie. I decided a little room between the bottles would give a better look to the rack. I ran a line down the center of the back of the board and made a 6’ x 6’ grid working away from the centerline. In retrospect I probably could have gone 5’ x 5’ and still had a nice look.
After the grid was drawn on the board I made an ‘X’ in each square corner to corner with my framing square to find dead center for each giving me a perfect target for my 4” hole saw.
A hole saw, if you have never used one, is a fairly dangerous tool. If the blade locks up in the hole you have a ten-pound drill with a blade on it flying across the room. Another quirk hole saws have is it is hard to finish a cut cleanly on the backside of the board.
I suggest drilling pilot holes through the center of the X’s and starting the hole on the finish side of the board for a cleaner front.
Once the holes are drilled on the front section, use that as a template for the rear section. Line the pieces up together and trace the holes with a pencil.
Once the front and back are finished the sides beckon for some loving. I attached the back to the sides with one-inch dry wall screws, then gave it a quick run over with 60- grit sandpaper to remove the rough spots and lingering pencil marks.
I inserted the back piece into the space made sure it was plumb and then secured it through the 1x6s to the wall with 2 ½ inch drywall screws. The front was popped on and fastened with the same screws. I finished the inside and sides of the rack with white semi gloss.
As I hoped the white interior with the Cherry wood front has a real sharp look.
Don’t worry about screwing the front of the rack with drywall screws since the trim will be used to cover them. Once the front is secure is time to finish the piece. As I said earlier I decided to go with a Cherry wood stain. The design for my box suits my tastes so you may want to finish yours entirely different.
My rack is now installed and finished, yet there are two more tasks at hand; the rack and the carpenter must be filled with beer. I hope you noticed that I waited until I was done with the power tools to crack a beer.
I cracked a Weyerbacher Quad and surveyed my beer under the stairs. Who would make it into the rack? Beers I would not be touching for a few years would have to remain under the stairs in their boxes. Even though this is a seldom-lit area of the house I need to keep my prized brews out of sight and out of mind.
The only thing more dangerous for beer than light is walking by a 5 year old beer every day wondering what it tastes like. Eventually it is going to get popped. There are plenty of beers on the market in large bottles that I can buy to fill my rack.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a compliment of Chimay, Stoudt’s, Ommegang and Stone will soon be filling those empty slots. There is also a host of other cold weather favorites of mine that I will want to keep close at hand this winter. Here are 4 of the beers that have earned permanent homes in my beer rack.
Not often do I pour a beer and say out loud “Holy Shit!” This beer pours lightly murky dark blonde with a rapidly disappearing thin white head. HUGE friggin’ yeast chunks floating in it are suspended like the beer is a Jello mold. The aroma is all about fruit and yeast with huge citrus tones. The mouthfeel is of sharp carbonation and the finish is dry and hoppy with huge alcohol tones. The best way I can describe this beer is a dry La Fin Du Monde, but a hell of a lot better.
Delirium Tremens is a beer of fine manufacture and was voted ‘Best Beer in the World’ by specialists in 1997. Conceived with three different yeasts it presents a beautiful colour, blond and coppery as well as a compact and abundant head. The beer has a nose of wheat and barley with traces of coriander and orange. Full and round in the mouth it is also spicy, with a pleasant bitterness to the taste.
Avery The Reverend
It pours a clear medium brown with a very small white head. The aroma is yeasty with tones of plums, raisins and earthy maybe cobweb-type tones. The mouth feel is medium bodied with a very creamy texture. There is a definite presence of alcohol. The finish is very spicy with great alcohol tones and as it warms more fruit tones start to rise. The hops also come a little more to the forefront of flavor as the beer climbs towards room temperature.
The Reverend, was created in tribute to the life of Sales Mgr. Tom Boogaard’s grandfather, an ordained Episcopal Reverend. Tom was inspired by the life of his grandfather and wanted to create a tribute beer that contained his sterling traits. True to both our “small brewery, BIG BEERS” philosophy and to the spirit and character of the departed Reverend, this beer is strong willed, assertive, and pure of heart, a heart of candy sugar. It contains as many authentic imported Belgian specialty malts as the brewers could cram into our mash tun, and lots of Belgian dark candy sugar stirred into the brew kettle. A divinely complex and beautifully layered beer with hints of dark cherries, currants, and molasses, complimented by an underlying spiciness. Sinfully smooth considering the high alcohol content. Cellarable for 4 years.
Unibroue Édition 2004
This beer comes in a 22 oz. caged corked dark brown bottle with screened gold letters. Very classy Unibrew. It is a cloudy dark apricot color with huge bubbles. The head is slowly dying and it leaves some decent lacing. The aroma is spicy, yeasty, and malty with caramel tones. There are also some fruit aromas. As it warms I smell some bread and dough aromas also. The mouth feel is lively with slightly sharp carbonation. I am getting huge apple flavors. Ok I am starting to sweat I think there might be some alcohol in this beer. The finish is a bit sweet but fine for this cool summer night – actually it is quite refreshing. This beer just earned a corner in the cellar.
Right off the bat I have to tell you I love all of Allagash’s offerings and this has to be the finest yet. Four is made from 4 type of malts, four varieties of hops and it is fermented 4 times. It comes in a 750 ml corked and caged bottle. The body is a light transparent mahogany ruby brown with faint touches of red with a great head a wonderful lacing. The nose is all about spices, malt, piney hops, orange peel and cloves. The palette is creamy and full smooth. The flavor is full and malty with a finish that has peppery tones and traces of hops. The 10% alcohol is present in the finish but not over bearing in anyway.
Released in April, 2004, the FOUR is our newest addition to the Allagash linup of beers. It is brewed with 4 malts, 4 hops, 4 sugars and 4 Belgian Yeast strains. During the mashing process, we add Date Sugar to the mash tun. Later, during the boil, we add Light Candi, Dark Candi, and Light Golden Molasses. After primary fermentation with the first strain of yeast, we add more Candi Sugar, and referment the beer with a secondary strain of yeast… that process is then repeated with a third strain of yeast, and finally a fourth for bottle conditioning in the warm room. The Allagash Four Ale is presented in a striking decorated bottle, and is truly a unique beer!