Eco-Friendly Shipping Container Beer Cellar Conversion


shipping container beer cellar conversion

Before and after: Shipping container beer cellar conversion.

Learn how this beer cellar conversion means you can get a used refrigerated container with BRAND NEW machinery.

 This is the story of how a start-up micro brewery were able to get refrigerated shipping container storage (with new machinery) for far less that it would normally cost to buy a new refrigerated container.

An expanding local micro brewery needed to store their beer at 2 degrees and felt that a refrigerated shipping container would be ideal, but they didn’t have the budget to buy a new box.

Also, because the container would be in a very public location they were keen to find a way to enhance the cosmetics of any second hand unit they purchased.

Beer cellar container conversion case study:

Customer requirements:


  • Micro brewery needed a cost effective and eco-friendly way to create additional space for storage of their beers in a temperature controlled environment.
  • Container to be on display in a very public location outside of their brewery so customer wanted container to have a good cosmetic appearance, but didn’t have budget for a new insulated container.

The solution: Refurbishing an old non-operational reefer.


The idea of using a second hand non-operational reefer was appealing to the customer, here’s why.

A non-operational reefer is simply a refrigerated container with non-operating machinery, which may be removed.

What’s left is effectively a 20ft insulated container which can be fitted with new refrigeration machinery, so it’s a bit like buying a used car with a new engine.

However, after 12 years+ of service in deep sea shipping a used box would no doubt have the usual lumps and bumps whilst carrying out their duty of protecting the cargo inside.

After considering all the options they decided that a refurbished non-operational refrigerated container with new refrigeration machinery would work well for them.

beer cellar container converion non-op reefer

Original non-operational reefer prior to conversion


Having relocated a suitable unit to the workshop the entire existing (old and cannibalised) machinery was removed from the container body leaving the front end completely open to the elements.

This aperture was then re-sealed by fitting an insulated front wall.

insulated 20ft contaner with end wall off

End wall removed


Conversion refurbishment starts:

Removal of the (entirely normal) corrosion on the steel container frame was accomplished by shot-blasting, followed by a coat of zinc rich primer.

shipping container conversion beer cellar

After shot-blasting a zinc rich primer was applied to the container


Existing denting is to be expected on used containers so the sidewall of the unit was overlaid with galvanised sheets encapsulating 50mm thick insulated panels.

This not only enhanced the cosmetics but also futher improved the already formidable insulation properties of the stainless steel lined container body.

As a result, the galvanised sheets will likely lead directly to lower running costs of the eco-friendly refrigeration unit when in operation.

A final top coat of paint, selected to blend in with the building’s existing colour scheme, completed the modifications and further enhanced the appearance of the container.

container conversion, beer cellar - after

Final top coat of paint was applied to the container before delivery


Delivery of the unit (now weighing 3.2 tons) on a heavy lift Hiab truck was project managed as it needed to take place on a normally very busy main road.

This was safely completed before 05:00 AM on the day of delivery without complications despite obstacles such as iron railings and traffic lights being present on site.

New refrigeration machinery fitted.

A brand new refrigeration unit was then sourced by the customer directly from a local contractor (Welch Refrigeration Services Ltd) to complete the project.

converted insulated 20ft container with new frigerated machinery

New refrigeration machinery fitted prior to cladding of the container


used shipping container beer cellar conversion

Cladding helps the container to blend well into the micro brewery site.


Solution summary:


  • Used 20ft non-operational reefer has it’s original refrigeration machinery removed.
  • Aperature left by removal of machinery re-sealed with fitting of insulated front wall giving customer 1 foot of extra storage space.
  • Removal of existing container corrosion by shot-blasting together with application of zinc rich primer to help prevent future corrosion.
  • Sidewall overlaid with new insulated galvanised sheets, this enhancement improved the cosmetic appearance of the container and provided more efficient insulation.
  • Fitting of new refrigeration machinery.


  • Significant cost savings by utilising a comprehensively refurbished insulated container instead of new insulated container or refrigerated unit.
  • Additional foot of storage space created as a consequence of removing the old, non operational refrigeration machinery.
  • Reduced risk of refrigeration equipment failure expenditure, versus using a standard used refrigerated container.
  • Improved energy efficiency through the use of additional galvanised insulation panel.

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