So, you have just returned from the store with a case of beer, and you are excited to open a cold one. However, the beers are not quite cold. What do you do? You can put the beers in the fridge and wait for a while, or you can quickly cool down one or two by letting them sit in your freezer. It is simple and quick, but it does have its risks. Most of us have probably left a beer in the freezer for too long and had it explode.
In this guide, we will provide you with all the information you need so that you never explode another beer in your freezer again. If you know how long it takes for beer to freeze and at what temperature beer freezes, you can avoid a lot of mess.
What Temperature Does Beer Freeze?
Alcohol, or ethanol, does not really freeze… well, it does, but at a whopping -173.5 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why you can place bottles of vodka, tequila, or other liquor in the freezer without the risk of turning them into slush. However, beer only contains an average of 4-6% alcohol. The rest is mostly water. If you paid attention in elementary school, you should know that water freezes at 32 F, or 0 C.
Most beers, then, will freeze just below 32 F. What temperature exactly? Well, that depends on the ABV (alcohol by volume) of the beer. The majority of beers, let’s say from 4% to 8% ABV, will freeze in the range of 29 to 27 degrees. However, a beer with an ABV of 10% or higher will freeze below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature at which beer freezes is directly related to its alcohol percentage. This is something to keep in mind when cooling your beer in the freezer. Am I putting a 4.2% Coors in the freezer, or an 8.5% Voodoo Ranger IPA? The answer will determine how long and at what temperature you can store your beer.
How Long Until My Beer Freezes?
Just as the ABV of beer determines the temperature at which it freezes, it also determines the time it takes for your beer to freeze. A light domestic beer will freeze in 2-3 hours, while a stronger beer such as an IPA may take 4-6 hours.
However, you are not putting your beer in the freezer to freeze it. You want to cool your beer off as quickly as possible. So, how long does it take to chill a beer in the freezer? If we assume your beer is at room temperature, it should take roughly an hour for your beer to reach an optimal temperature. Light lagers are usually served cold at about 35 degrees, craft beer from 40-45 degrees, and porters and stouts are often served warmer at around 50 F.
One hour in the freezer should take your beer to just under the 40-degree F mark. However, do you really want to wait one hour to enjoy your beer? Let us talk about some ways we can get a cold beer in your hand more quickly.
Best Way to Chill Your Beer
We have agreed that an hour is too long to wait for your beer to get cold, so how can we cool your beer quicker? There are two easy ways to make sure your beer gets as cold as possible as quickly as possible.
First, keep a beer glass in the freezer. If you have an ice-cold glass ready, your beer will get colder in the glass and stay colder longer.
Second, you can wrap a wet paper towel around your beer before you put it in the freezer. The water in the towel will get cold very quickly. As it does, it will cool your beer down with it. Instead of waiting an hour for your beer to get cold, it should take 20 minutes or less. Pour your beer into a glass from the freezer, and you will have an ice-cold beer in no time. Remember to set a timer on your phone so you do not forget your beer!
What Happens If My Beer Freezes?
There are a couple of things that can happen if your beer freezes. First, it may explode. When water freezes, it expands, and since beer is mostly water, it can exert enough pressure on the can to burst it open. Not only will you lose a beer, but you will also have to clean up the mess. If you do leave a beer in the freezer, hopefully, it is just one.
Second, there is a chance your beer does not explode at all, and instead, you end up with a mostly frozen beer. While you will not have a mess to clean up, it will likely render your beer flat and tasteless. When the beer freezes, carbonation escapes from the beer, which often causes the explosion. If you wait until your beer thaws out, it will no longer be carbonated and will not taste very good.
Lastly, maybe you did not leave your beer for too long. Instead of being mostly frozen, it could be described more as a slushie. Wait for it to thaw out, and take a sip. From there, you can decide whether or not the beer is worth drinking. Another option is to pour the beer into a glass. This may even make your beer stronger since the ice left behind will be water, not alcohol.
What Should I Do With My Frozen Beer?
Just because your beer froze does not mean it is completely useless. If the can explodes, you should throw it away. You do not want to drink shards of the metal can. However, if the can is intact, you can use the beer for cooking purposes, slushies, popsicles, and more. At the end of the day, throwing it away may be the best option, but there are fun ways you can make use of it!
Putting Beer in a Freezer: Conclusion
If you want to chill your beer quickly, putting it in the freezer is the best option. You can wrap a wet towel around the beer and place a beer glass in the freezer for optimal results. However, placing beer in the freezer is not without risks. If you forget the beer in there for many hours or overnight, it will freeze. Once it freezes, it will lose carbonation and flavor, and you will be lucky if that is all that happens. You are also risking the beer exploding and making a mess in your freezer.
The best thing you can do is set a timer on your phone for an hour. One hour is plenty of time for your beer to reach an optimal temperature and not enough time to cause your beer to freeze. You should be able to take your beer out in less than an hour, especially if you use the towel trick, but if you let it sit for the full hour, it will be okay.