If you’re having a summer party, it can be a struggle to keep enough chilled beer in the refrigerator! You might consider keeping some beer in the freezer, to make sure all of your guests can enjoy a chilled drink.
But how long does it take for beer to freeze? Beer can be chilled to perfection in the freezer in just 15 minutes. Cans or bottles of beer that are left in the freezer too long can explode, or the beer can turn slushy and unpleasant.
Considering utilizing your freezer to ensure you have a steady supply of cold drinks this summer? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about chilling beer in the freezer!
Why Put Beer In The Freezer?
Your friends might look at you like you’re crazy when you pull a beer out of the freezer, but this is actually not a bad idea at all! Most beer tastes far better when served chilled, especially on a hot summer’s day.
Using the refrigerator to chill beer is all well and good, but not ideal if you need larger quantities of beer.
Your fridge can take up to 5 hours to chill a bottle of beer to perfection – so if you run out of chilled beers, you’ve got a long wait before the next batch is chilled!
So, unless you want to dedicate your whole family refrigerator to chilling beers for your party, you may need to consider a different solution.
Time to look at the possibilities of your freezer. Now, the freezer is not a 100% failsafe option, as things can go wrong when beer is frozen.
We need to take a deeper dive into what happens to beer in the freezer, so we can figure out the best way to get perfect results from chilling your beers using this method.
At What Temperature Does Beer Freeze?
Odd things happen to alcoholic drinks when they are frozen. In a domestic freezer, only the water content of the drink will freeze, and the alcohol – or ethanol – will remain liquid.
The water in beer will freeze at the normal temperature of most household freezers. The alcohol freezes at -172.3°F, which is incredibly cold and way beyond the capabilities of any domesticated chiller unit!
However, the less alcohol a beverage contains, the higher the freezing point temperature will be. That’s why you can freeze Bailey’s a lot easier than vodka (though we’re not sure why you’d want to).
So, for beer to be frozen completely solid, you would need a seriously powerful industrial freezer unit, or you will have to supercool it (see section below).
However, beer has a relatively low alcohol content compared to some other alcoholic drinks. Spirits are very high in ethanol and change very little when put into a domesticated freezer.
Beer is mostly water, which will freeze in your home freezer. The alcohol within the beer will not freeze, but this makes up just a small proportion of the overall drink.
So, if you put beer in a normal household freezer at 0°F, it will freeze.
How Does Supercooled Beer Freeze Instantly?
If you’ve never seen the supercooled beer party trick where beer seems to freeze instantly, the science behind it is pretty simple.
Beer that has been lowered past its freezing temperature too quickly to form the structure of a solid mass will freeze instantly when disturbed because some molecules will suddenly be knocked into place to form lattice structures for the rest of the molecules to follow suit, creating a solid frozen mass in seconds.
Take a look below!
What Happens If You Freeze Beer For Too Long?
Most people pop beer in the freezer as a quick way of chilling their favorite summer drink. But what happens if you forget about those cans or bottles of beer in the freezer? Is it a complete disaster, or can your beer be saved?
When beer freezes, the liquid within the beer turns into ice crystals. These are larger than liquid water, so the volume of the beer expands and starts to solidify.
This means that when beer is left for too long in the freezer, immense pressure will build up inside the can or bottle. And when things are put under pressure, they start to explode!
In a worst-case scenario, you will find glass bottles of beer in the freezer that have exploded. This is not only very messy but also potentially dangerous, as there may be shards of glass in the freezer.
Unfortunately, this is not a salvageable situation, and you are left with a clean-up mission to rid your freezer of beer and broken glass.
If you’ve got cans of beer in the freezer, things might not be quite so disastrous. Cans seem to be more resilient to exploding than glass bottles, so you might get lucky and find that all is well in your freezer.
However, if a can of beer does split, we’d advise that the can and its contents are discarded as the beer may contain shards of metal.
Can You Drink Frozen Beer?
For beer that is left in the freezer just a little bit too long, you may get lucky and find that the contents have started to freeze but the can or bottle has not burst. If this happens to you, is this beer okay to drink?
Partially frozen beer will be slushy and not particularly pleasant to drink if you’re not expecting it. Don’t be tempted to take out the ice, as this is the non-alcoholic component of beer. Take the ice away, and you’re left with all the alcohol!
However, some people like their beer slushy on a summer day, as it can be cool and refreshing in the heat. Here’s a video from Popsugar Food on slushy beer if you’re thinking about giving it a try.
If you don’t want to drink slushy beer, you could leave it to thaw out in the refrigerator or a cool place. But unfortunately, some changes may have occurred in your beer as a result of it being frozen.
The fizz in canned and bottled beer occurs through a process called carbonation. When beer is frozen, this carbonation is lost, and your beer may be completely flat.
Beer that has been frozen can also change in terms of flavor. It may be insipid and bland, especially without that fizzy, foamy head that we all enjoy.
So, if you’re going to pop beer in the freezer to chill it rapidly, make sure that you set a timer! Forgotten beer will soon be ruined if left in the freezer too long, and no one wants to let good beer go to waste.
How Long To Chill Beer In The Freezer
So, you’ve run out of chilled beer at a party, now what?
Don’t panic, because with just a few simple steps you’ll be enjoying an ice-cold beer in no time at all!
Just remember that the freezer is not a storage place for your beer; it is simply a super-rapid chiller to cool beer quickly. Once it is at the perfect temperature, you need to take the beer from the freezer and place it in the fridge or ice bucket.
The time it takes to chill cans and bottles in the freezer is about the same. However, glass bottles are at a much higher risk of exploding, so should not be left in the freezer for any longer than necessary.
Beer that has been left in the freezer for too long can also become flat and unpleasant, so stick to the timings advised!
The key to chilling beer quickly in the freezer is to use a damp towel. Bar towels are ideal for this task, as they are the perfect size for a couple of bottles or cans. But any towel will do the job here.
Wet the towel under running water, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Place the bottles or cans on one half of the towel and sprinkle them with water. Wrap the other half of the towel over the beers, and place the whole package in the freezer.
The wet towel has a magical effect when it comes to chilling beers rapidly. It will conduct heat away from the surface of the bottle or can, drawing the heat from the beer with it.
After just fifteen minutes you will have ice-cold beers, as good as if you’d stored them in the refrigerator overnight!
Yes, that is just fifteen minutes – a quarter of an hour. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to not exceed this time, so make sure you set a timer or alarm.
Once your beers are perfectly chilled, they should be removed from the freezer and placed in the refrigerator.
So, now we’ve got chilling beers in the freezer all figured out, let’s take a look at some other beer-related questions!
1. How Can I Keep Beers Chilled At A Party?
Outdoor parties can be tricky when it comes to keeping beer chilled. You may be able to borrow a small fridge or beer chiller, which will guarantee that you have a ready supply of ice-cold beverages for your party.
If you don’t have refrigerator space, the easiest way to keep beer chilled at a party is to use a cool box or insulated picnic bag. You can also use ice packs and bottles of frozen water to keep the temperature as cool as possible.
For keeping drinks chilled, buckets of cold water and ice work really well. If possible, keep your drinks inside or in the shade, away from direct sunlight.
2. Should All Beers Be Served Cold?
Serving beer at the right temperature is crucial to enjoying these delicious beverages at their best.
Beer that is too warm will taste flat and unpleasant, while beer that is served too cold can have some of the key flavors and aromas masked. So, is there a perfect temperature for serving beer, or are they all different?
All beer should be served at temperatures between 38-55°F. Beers served at the colder end of this temperature range include lagers, weaker beers, and light beers. Macro lagers should be served as cold as possible.
Beers served at warmer temperatures include strong, dark beers, such as real ales, stouts, and porters. Using a glass chilled to the perfect temperature can help keep your beer ice-cold whilst you drink it.