Sunday, June 2, 2013

Equipment Review - Fast Rack Bottle System

Fast Rack is a new "bottle management system" (a term that I think I just made up) from two guys up in Toronto, Mitchell Lesbirel and Casey Binkley. It is being positioned as an alternative to the ubiquitous "Bottle Tree," and while the issue of "how you dry and store your bottles" is probably never going to ignite the same impassioned debate as dry-hopping technique, or whether to secondary, Fast Rack does have the potential to make bottling day a lot easier for some people.

The main question Fast Rack poses to you, the homebrewer, is: "where do you put your bottles after you sanitize them?" If you just notch them over the pegs of a Bottle Tree, you're opening yourself up for possible infection. With the Fast Rack, the idea is that the inside of the bottle never touches anything: the neck of the bottles is cushioned by the open-slot design, and your sanitizer is allowed to drain out, where it'll continue doing its thing along the way. Can't really argue with the simplicity of that idea.

Does it work? Absolutely. As I said, it's a simple design, and there's not really much that could go wrong with it. If you want to store your bottles in it long term, it seems to stack well, too — the video the guys have on their site shows the Racks going seven high and remaining stable. Personally, I only have two racks, enough for ~50 bottles of beer — as much as I'd need at one time. I have a ton of bottles (as you can see below), of all sorts and shapes and sizes, so the ability to expand is nice.

And these are just my *empty* bottles, man.
One of my primary concerns was that Fast Rack would be cumbersome (or wouldn't stack well) with a mixed lot of bottle sizes — I use classic long-neck, stubby, and Anchor 12 ounce bottles, some 16 ounce bottles of various sizes, and a mix of bombers and 750 ml bottles. While the bigger bottles mean that you can't fill up every opening in the Fast Rack, it's still possible to stack another rack on top so long as you have four equally sized bottles in the corners. The rack above merely rests on the concave bottom of those four bottles (see the top pic). It looks precarious, but feels sturdy.

One other small thing I like: the Rack has the same dimensions of your basic case of beer, so boxing up the bottles would be easy. Just set the box upside down over the bottles, flip the rack over, remove, and your bottles are all positioned neatly in a box.

The bottom line is: Fast Rack is simple and effective, a clever solution to drying and storing bottles. I'll need to acquire a few more "racks" before I can build my Lego-like stack of bottles up to the ceiling — and ditch my Tubberware containers completely — but it has the makings of a nice, simple convenience. The guys at Fast Rack were kind enough to send me these Racks to review, but I've since seen them pop up in most of the homebrew shops I use — both LHBS and online. You can also buy Fast Rack at their website. (Unrelated: I like that the "home bar enthusiastic" pic is the one with the exotic, sultry waitress. She looks more like a homebrewer, right?)

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