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There are some days when you desperately want to crack open a cool one, so you throw some bottles of beer in the freezer (or out in the snow, if it’s winter) and go about your day. Well, you know what happens then. You move on, and you forget that your beer is freezing. About the time you get to it, the beer is a slushy-like mess that tastes horrendous or has left your freezer a disaster zone.
Frozen beer is a tragedy, but that doesn’t mean it has to ruin your whole day. If you ever wondered at what temperature does beer freeze or how to salvage frozen beer, this article is for you.
Does Beer Freeze?
So, there’s this myth that alcohol doesn’t freeze. Unless you are in the middle of a catastrophic Ice Age, alcohols like rum or vodka aren’t going to freeze on a normal day. In fact, pure ethanol alcohol freezes at around -114°C (-173.2°F).
But beer isn’t pure ethanol like vodka. Beer is made up mostly of water; and water freezes much faster than alcohol (at 0°C or 32°F).
The alcohol in beer does effect the temperature at which it freezes, but not by much.
At What Temperature Does Beer Freeze?
Beer definitely freezes. Knowing at what temperature beer freezes will help you in preventing a mess. However, the temperature beer turns to slush or to ice depends on the alcohol content. Typically, 4-6% ABV beer is going to freeze at -2°C (28°F), but different styles of beer contain varying levels of alcohol.
What temperature does beer freeze? We’ve made a reference table for you:
|Alcohol Content Percentage||Celsius Freezing Temperature||Fahrenheit Freezing Temperature|
How Long Does it Take For Beer to Freeze?
The amount of alcohol in a beer will influence the temperature at which it freezes. But alcohol content isn’t the sole factor here. Beer also contains sugar. That is why frozen beer is never as solid as an ice cube made from water. Rather, icy beer is slushy, flaky, or even a little grainy. If you stick a strong ale with 15% ABV in the freezer, it is going to be more slushy than a low alcohol pale lager.
Low alcohol beer will take about 2-3 hours to freeze completely, while high alcohol beers, like an Imperial IPA, may take twice as long.
What is a Safe Way to Chill Beer Fast?
Assuming your freezer is set to freezing (0°C/32°F), it will take about 90 minutes for your Budweiser to freeze.
If you want to chill your beer quickly without the wait—and danger of freezing—take a wet paper towel. Wrap the towel around the bottle then stick it in the freezer. You should have chilled beer in 10 minutes.
Set a reminder or alarm on your phone so you don’t forget it.
Should You Put Beer in the Freezer?
Yes, you can put beer in the freezer. It’s the best way to chill your beer at the snap of your fingers. Of course, there is a chance your beer will freeze if it sits in those freezing temperatures for too long.
One thing you should never, ever do, though, is store your beer in a freezer. The best place to store beer is in a dark, cool (not freezing) place.
Will My Beer Explode in the Freezer?
As mentioned earlier, beer contains water—about 95% water. When water freezes, it starts to expand. You might think that frozen beer isn’t going to expand, but rest assured that water is going to do what water does best in the freezer.
Any bottle or can of beer you place in the freezer is at risk of exploding, because the ice inside is going to expand and exert force. Cue the beer geyser.
Not only will you open the freezer to a sorry sight of exploded beer, but you will have to listen to sad little violins while you clean it all up. Case in point: don’t leave your beers in the freezer.
What Happens to Beer After It’s Frozen?
Let’s say, hypothetically, your beer does not explode. As it freezes completely through, any carbonation is going to make a quick exit (hence the explosion). If you take a sip after it has thawed, you’ll find that your beer is totally flat.
In other words, freezing beer and thawing it accelerates aging and sharply reduces flavor.
Can You Drink Beer That’s Been Frozen?
You can…but doesn’t mean you should. For reasons mentioned above, your beer is going to taste flat. If—by some miracle—you caught your beer before it froze completely, let it thaw a little before taking a sip. You will know whether or not your beer has lost its carbonation.
Does Freezing Beer Change The ABV?
When beer freezes, it is just the water content turning to ice. Since ethanol freezes at around -114°C (-173°F), it is going to remain in a liquid state. This means that you could potentially increase the ABV by removing some of the ice from your beer before drinking it.
Can Frozen Beer Be Salvaged?
Wondering what to do with frozen beer? Well, there are a few options. But first, you should be okay with cutting your losses if the beer has exploded. There is no salvaging that mess. Plus, even if just the top broke off, you shouldn’t attempt drinking it. There could be microscopic shards of glass or metal in there, and you do not want to swallow that.
If you catch your beer mid-freeze, put it in the refrigerator and let it thaw. Yes, the flavor will be affected, but it is still pretty enjoyable, especially since the alcohol level may have increased.
In the event your beer didn’t explode but lost its carbonation, you could use it in other ways. For example, you could make beer popsicles or a beer margarita. Some beers will even taste delicious when added to your dinner recipe. Who doesn’t love some beer-battered chicken or fish and chips? You can even marinate steaks in flat beer.
And if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can use flat beer as a household cleaner.
Can beer freeze? Definitely! At what temperature does beer freeze? It depends on how much alcohol it contains, but most will start to freeze at around -2°C (28°F). So, stay conscious if you plan on freezing your beer in the freezer or outside in the snow, because it could turn into a fiasco in a couple of hours!