Does Beer Freeze? And Other Chilling Questions

Accidentally froze your beer? Here’s how you can save it.

I think it’s safe to say that, at some point, we’ve all left our beer bottles in the freezer for a bit too long just come back to find them frozen over. Honestly, that’s probably why you’re reading this right now. That makes the million dollar question: is it too late to save your frozen beer?

The good news is that your beer is not entirely lost. Most of the time it’s still possible to salvage the beverage. In fact, it can actually be beneficial to freeze some types of beers before you drink them. Read on and we’ll answer all of your most important questions regarding frozen brews.

Can beer actually freeze?

In short, yes! It may take awhile, but your beer will freeze eventually. Alcohol has a much lower freezing point than plain water. Because of this, beers that contain more alcohol will, naturally, freeze at lower temperatures. Most beers also contain added sugars, which forces the ultimate freezing temperature even lower. At the end of the day, it may take a bit longer, but your beers will eventually succumb to the cold.

A beer that contains between 3-5% alcohol will freeze at around 28 degrees Fahrenheit, or -2 degrees Celsius. Beers that contain between 8-14% alcohol will begin to freeze at 23 degrees Fahrenheit, or -5 degrees Celsius.

Can I still put beer in my freezer? How long can I leave it in there?

Have no fear, your freezer is still a safe space for your brews, provided you don’t forget about them for too long. Typical beers with low alcohol content will take about 60-90 minutes to freeze over, if it starts at room temperature. If the beer has more alcohol then, you guessed it, it will take longer to freeze. Depending on the type of beer, this can sometimes take up to 4-6 hours.

What happens when my beer freezes?

It depends on how frozen your beer is when you find it. If it’s not entirely frozen over yet, then you should be able to quickly sneak it into your refrigerator to let it thaw out. No harm, no foul. Just be careful to avoid frequent cycles of continuously freezing and thawing your beer before you drink it. That will ruin the brew.

If you catch your beer when it’s only half frozen, then you’re in for a treat. We’ve covered that alcohol has a lower freezing temperature than water, so the water in the brew will ice over first. This means that any half-frozen beer you pour will contain all of the alcohol that hasn’t frozen yet. Now that’s a stiff drink!

Be careful: a frozen beer could also potentially lead to a huge mess. Beer is carbonated, so beer bottles must be pressurized. When the liquid freezes, it builds up pressure in the bottle. This extra pressure could either break the glass bottle, or blow the cap off like a champagne cork. Whoever said there’s no use crying over spilled milk obviously never had their beer explode all over them.

Will beer freeze in my cold car?

It ultimately depends on where you live. We covered that the freezing temperature for most beers is around 28 degrees Fahrenheit, so as long as your winter nights aren’t colder than that, then you should be okay. You should still absolutely check the weather if you plan to leave your beer in your car overnight.

If you live in a region that experiences harsh winters, then you’re out of luck. Remember when we talked about the possibility of your beer bottles exploding when they freeze? If you think cleaning our your fridge is hard, then just imagine how much more miserable you’ll be when you have to deep clean the interior of your car. My advice: just save yourself the headache and take it in to the fridge.

Is it still safe to drink frozen beer?

Yes, frozen beer should still be completely fine to drink. Many of the changes that occur are purely based on personal preference. A beer that has thawed out after being frozen will likely be flat, but you should still be able to taste the original flavors from the hops and malts. I advise against drinking the brew if the seal on the cap has been broken, though.

If I can’t put it in my freezer, then where should I store my beer?

Experts advise storing your beer someplace between 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. This doesn’t necessarily mean storing your beer in the refrigerator is bad. While many beer enthusiasts claim that beer should be served just below room temperature (40-55 degrees Fahrenheit), I’ve never had a problem with drinking my craft brews straight out of the fridge. It’s ultimately up to personal opinion.

However, if you’d rather follow the experts’ advice, then a non-heated basement or cellar should do the trick for all your beer storage needs. If you want to get fancy, you could also purchase your own separate beer fridge as well. That way, you can customize the temperature you store your beer at, without running the risk of losing all the produce and dairy products in your actual refrigerator.

Are there any benefits to freezing beer?

Fun fact: there’s actually a very specific type of beer that was born from this specific process, called an Eisbock. Eisbocks are created by partially freezing another type of bock, which is a popular type of beer in Germany. Remember when we talked about how water will freeze before alcohol does? That’s exactly the point in this brewing process. The brewer will partially freeze the beer in order to isolate the alcohol. The ice chunks are then removed from the brew, ultimately increasing the potency of the alcohol while maintaining the bock’s distinct flavor. It’s the best of both worlds!

Wrapping up…

If you take anything away from this lesson, then hopefully you’ve learned that accidentally freezing your beer is not the end of the world. That is, unless the bottle explodes.

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