Freezing and Unfreezing Beers: How-tos and Side Effects


Almost every beer lover has gone through the heartache of stashing beer cans or bottles in the freezer for the enjoyment of an ice-cold beverage later and then forgetting about them altogether. It’s safe to consume frozen beer for as long as the can or bottle isn’t shattered. However, it might not taste the same, plus there’s a long waiting period.

To unfreeze beer, let it thaw out in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. It may also be left in a room temperature area. To defrost beer at a faster rate, place it in a large bowl of room temperature water. Replace the water every 30 minutes. Beer in a glass bottle with the cap removed can be microwaved.

Some types of beer are best served colder than the rest. For instance, lagers are more enjoyable colder than, say, ales, which can be enjoyed at room temperature. But the general consensus is that people like their beer cold.

Whether you have accidentally frozen it or left it outside the refrigerator, beer is best served at the right temperature. Keep reading no matter if you have been drinking beer as soon as you reached the minimum legal drinking age or just learned about the amazing thirst-quenching properties it has last month.

Below, we will talk about unfreezing beer and what to expect after reaping success, as well as some other related stuff that every serious or casual beer drinker should know.

frozen beer

How Long Should You Place Beer in the Freezer?

Placing beer in the freezer allows it to chill at a faster rate. However, it should not be placed in the freezer longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Otherwise, ice crystals may start to form and alter the taste and consistency of beer. On the other hand, beer can be placed in the refrigerator for months.

There are a couple of ways to effortlessly chill beer in no time:

Put ice cubes in beer

While ice cubes allow you to enjoy chilled beer ASAP, they will dilute beer as they melt. The good news is that there are reusable ice cubes that you can get your hands on. Some of them even light up in various colors, making drinking the beverage you enjoy the most even more enjoyable to drink!

Stash beer in the freezer

It may not be able to chill beer faster than ice cubes can, but the freezer won’t dilute the taste of beer as badly as ice cubes do. Just make sure that you don’t leave beer too long in the freezer. Otherwise, you will end up with rock-solid beer that takes a while to thaw and doesn’t taste as great once thawed.

Related Article: Is Alcohol in Vanilla Extract Harmful?


What’s the Fastest Way to Chill Your Beer?

One way to chill beer faster is by wrapping the beer can or bottle in a wet paper towel and sticking it in the freezer for a few minutes. Another way to enjoy chilled beer quickly is by immersing it in a bucket of water with ice and salt. Beer also chills very quickly in a bowl with dry ice.

Earlier, we talked about putting ice cubes in beer and putting beer in the freezer to chill it.

If you love beer and science at the same time, you can put on your lab coat and allow science to do the trick! You can try any of the three scientifically proven effective ways to enjoy chilled beer in a flash:

Wet paper towel

Most people stash their beer cans or bottles in the freezer several minutes before they plop down before the TV. If a football match (or your favorite soap) is about to start and your beer isn’t as chilled as you like it to be, wrap it in a wet paper towel and let it stay in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Ice water and salt

Salt melts ice. Melting ice quickly lowers the temperature of the water faster. Cold water chills beer. The science behind it is simple — wonder no more why dunking beer cans or bottles in ice water with salt to chill them fast works.

Dry ice

First things first: do not place dry ice in your beer or any beverage for that matter. That’s because dry ice will burn your lips. It will also burn your esophagus and stomach if swallowed.

To use dry ice to enjoy chilled beer in a snap, place your beer cans or bottles in an insulated cooler with dry ice. Keep beer from coming into direct contact with dry ice by placing a small towel between them.

Also, remember to leave the cooler’s lid ajar. Otherwise, it may explode due to the buildup of carbon dioxide gas.

Will a Frozen Beer Can or Bottle Explode?

A beer can or bottle left too long in the freezer could explode. Beer is 90% to 95% water, which expands as it freezes. If there is no more room left for water in beer to expand into, it might cause the can or bottle to burst. A frozen beer can or bottle heated in the microwave could explode, too.

Beer can be stored in the refrigerator for six to eight months and will stay at best quality, although it’s still safe to consume it after that. However, it’s a completely different story when it comes to storing beer in the freezer.

Low temperatures can, in fact, lengthen the shelf life of most other perishables.

Unfortunately, storing beer in the freezer is a complete no-no as it could cause the can or bottle to explode as a result of the water content’s expansion as it freezes. In some instances, it could damage the beer bottle cap, causing beer to leak and spill all over the freezer and freeze.

Depending on the volume and freezer setting, a beer can or bottle could explode in as short as two hours!

But it’s not just the freezer that could cause a beer can or bottle to explode but also a microwave. Heating anything that’s sealed, such as a beer can or bottle, in the microwave causes steam to build up inside the container. If there is no more place left for the steam to occupy, the sealed container will burst.

frozen beers

Does Freezing Beer Make It Stronger?

Freezing beer (and other alcohol) makes it stronger. It has to do with the fact that the water content of beer has a higher freezing point than the alcohol content of beer. When the frozen chunks of beer, which are made up of water, are removed, a higher concentration of alcohol remains.

Different liquids have different freezing points. So, in other words, they freeze at different temperatures.

The freezing point of water is 32°F or 0°C. On the other hand, the freezing point of ethyl alcohol or ethanol, which is the type of alcohol in beer, is -173.2°F or -114°C.

Because water’s freezing point is much higher than that of ethyl alcohol, it will freeze quicker. Removing any frozen chunks of water in beer will leave you with less beer alright, but with a higher concentration of alcohol. As a matter of fact, this is how ice beer is made — ice beer is 5% to 6.5% alcohol by volume (ABV); typical beer is 4.5% to 5% ABV.

This process of distilling ice beer is called fractional freezing or jacking.

Besides freezing beer and removing chunks of ice the moment they form, there are other ways to increase the amount of ethyl alcohol in beer. If you brew beer at home, one of the steps that you may take is to add sugar, which is the favorite food of alcohol-producing yeast. Adding more liquid, dry or hopped malt extract is another.

Is Beer Ruined Once Frozen?

Beer is not ruined once frozen. However, it might lose some carbonation and taste flat, too. Frozen beer will taste almost the same as normal beer after allowing it to thaw out for some time. Because the water and alcohol content may separate, stirring defrosted beer before consuming it is a must.

Serious beer drinkers who like their beers a certain way may not find frozen beer a delight to drink.

On the other hand, if you consider yourself a casual beer drinker who welcomes any beer type and brand, then it’s very much unlikely for you to dislike thawed out frozen beer. Freezing beer in an already opened can or bottle (or in a container that becomes unsealed in the freezer) will no longer taste as good as before.

With a little patience and effort, a frozen can or bottle of beer can be enjoyed later in the day. There is no need to throw away perfectly good beer.

The only time you should dispose of frozen beer is when the can shatters or the bottle breaks — you don’t want to cut your lips with the jagged edges or aluminum or glass. But if it’s the only one you got and taking a quick trip to the nearest convenience store is not an option, you may thaw out beer and strain using a fine-mesh strainer.

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How Do You Keep a Frozen Beer From Exploding?

The only way to keep a frozen beer can or bottle from exploding is by transferring it from the freezer to the fridge. Opening the can or bottle before beer freezes can help keep an explosion at bay. However, it’s not unlikely for the beer content to spill out of the container as it expands and freezes.

Earlier, we talked about the freezing points of both water and ethyl alcohol in beer.

You can keep a can or bottle of beer from exploding if you take it out of the freezer before the freezing point of water, 32°F or 0°C, is reached. This will keep beer’s water content from expanding uncontrollably and causing the can or bottle to burst and your freezer to end up in shambles.

Opening the can or bottle before keeping beer in the freezer can keep the container from bursting. However, you will end up with a flat beer. What’s more, beer will still leak out and make a mess in the freezer as it freezes.

To avoid any accidents, check that you chill beer in the freezer no longer than 15 to 20 minutes.

How Can You Increase Carbonation of Beer?

Beer can be put in soda makers or countertop carbonating machines to increase its carbonation. A little amount of sugar or honey can be added to beer that’s bottle-conditioned or bottle-fermented. This method, however, is time-consuming as it can take one to two weeks for carbonation to increase.

Exposing beer to light, air, heat and low temperatures can cause it to go flat as a result of loss of carbonation.

When beer loses some or all of its carbonation, it becomes flat. Like flat soda, flat beer tastes pretty stale and is no longer refreshing to drink. Leaving an opened can or bottle of beer in the refrigerator or on the countertop is a complete no-no.

However, it should not be a problem if you are one of those beer drinkers who like their beer flat.

But if carbonation is one of the things that make beer your favorite beverage, fret not as there are ways to increase a flat beer’s carbonation, albeit several times more time-consuming than simply opening a new can or bottle of it.

First, you can put flat beer in a soda maker to carbonate it. But because beer is more viscous than water, you are running the risk of damaging your carbonating machine.

Second, you can put a little sugar or honey into a flat beer. However, this method will only work on bottle-conditioned or bottle-fermented beer, which means that beer was further fermented by the maker after sealing it in the bottle. On the other hand, force-carbonated beer is beer that is mechanically carbonated in the bottle.

But you will have to reseal the bottle and wait for up to a couple of weeks before enjoying your beer.

beer can

Most bottle-conditioned beers have “bottle-conditioned” on the packaging. However, some may not.

Here are some of the best bottle-conditioned beers sold commercially:

  • Brasserie de Blaugies
  • Brooklyn Brewery Local 2
  • Chimay Premiere
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Cantillon Classic Gueuze
  • Idle Hands

Does Frozen Beer Give You Diarrhea?

Frozen beer does not cause diarrhea. Some people may have diarrhea after drinking beer or any other kind of alcohol, for that matter, but it’s not because of the temperature of the alcoholic beverage upon consumption. Diarrhea due to beer intake is caused by the digestive system’s reaction to it.

It’s true that beer is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it slows down the brain.

However, in some people, beer causes the digestive process to speed up. As a result of this, the contents of the intestinal tract travel at a much faster rate than normal.

Besides nutrients, water is also absorbed in the small intestines — up to 80% of water traveling through the digestive tract is absorbed by the time it reaches the large intestines.

Since beer can accelerate the movement of food particles and water in the intestinal tract, some of the water is left unabsorbed. This causes the feces to become watery and runny.

If it seems like frozen beer is giving you diarrhea, don’t blame the freezer. Blame the beer.

The good news is that there are certain steps that you may take to lower your risk of running to the bathroom after drinking alcohol, whether ice-cold or otherwise.

  • Experiment with different alcoholic beverages. Different people react differently to beer. Similarly, people parts react differently to different types of alcohol. If it seems like beer is giving you diarrhea each time, try reaching for a different type of alcohol each time. See which one is less likely to cause diarrhea.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol with caffeinated drinks. Like alcohol, caffeine in coffee, tea, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages can stimulate the intestinal tract, causing some people to experience diarrhea. This is why you should refrain from consuming alcohol and caffeinated drinks at the same time.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Keep your consumption of beer or any other alcoholic drinks to a minimum. Besides keeping diarrhea at bay, it may also fend off some health problems. Health experts agree that men should have no more than two beers (12 ounces) a day and women no more than one beer a day.

How Do You Do the Frozen Beer Bottle Trick?

The most popular frozen beer bottle trick that never fails to amaze each time is turning beer from liquid to slush. This has something to do with super-cooling beer and then flash-freezing it. A little preparation is necessary, but the reaction one can get from an unsuspecting audience is worth it.

Do you want to turn from a party pooper to the life of the party? Then grab a couple of beer bottles a few hours before the party starts and take the following steps:

  1. Place one beer bottle in the refrigerator and the other in the freezer.
  2. Take the beer bottle out of the freezer after two hours or just before it turns to ice.
  3. Open the beer bottle from the fridge and pour some into a glass to prove that it’s regular beer.
  4. Carefully open the beer bottle from the freezer and knock it against the table or the other beer bottle.

That’s it — all that’s left for you to do is soak in the accolades!

It takes a little bit of mastery to perfect this frozen beer bottle trick. Because of this, it’s a great idea to practice doing the magic act a few times before the grand day arrives.

Just Before You Freeze Beer

Stashing a beer can or bottle in the freezer is a great way to chill it quickly. However, see to it that you don’t forget to take it out of the freezer before it becomes rock-solid to save yourself from thawing and consuming flat beer. But just in case you forgot, just follow the foolproof tips above on how to unfreeze beer. Enjoy!

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