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How Long Does it Take Beer to Freeze?

So, you've just bought a six-pack of beer, and you're headed home to enjoy the football game on Sunday. Ok, let’s be real, you just bought a case of beer. Just one problem, though, the beers are still warm, and you want them to be ice cold before the day’ games. 

Three beers placed in a bath of ice water
The beer isn't going to freeze like this.

What do you do? You begin considering tossing the beers in the freezer for a bit, but you're wary that the bottles might burst during the process.

So how exactly do you get your expensive lagers cold as soon as possible? Well, you've come to the right place. We're going to go over a handful of ways that you can freeze your beers in no time, as well as cover a few precautions to consider when doing so.

Places to Chill Beer Fast?

The time it takes for beer to cool will depend on a few factors, but you should be able to quickly chill your beer using one of the following methods below. A quick chill is key for a hot summer day, especially where heat transfer from a bottle of beer takes more effort.

The Refrigerator

This method is fairly straightforward and often the go-to method for many beer lovers. The biggest downside to chilling your ale in the refrigerator is the time it takes a cool.

On average, the typical refrigerator will take anywhere from 7 to 9 hours to bring a room-temperature beer to a comfortable drinking temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you're going to use this method, it's best to chill it as soon as possible so that it'll be ready before you need it.

Essentially, you’re going to have to buy your beer the night before.

In the Freezer Using Wet Paper Towels

Of course, there's the paper towel method. For this tactic, you need to grab anywhere from three to four paper towels, soak them in cold water, and then wrap your beer in them. Let the water drip from the paper towels before wrapping up the beer.

Next, stash the beer in the freezer for about 7 to 10 minutes. If you don't have any paper towels on hand, you can also use a dish towel or everyday hand towel to get the job done. Set a timer so that you won't forget. When you remove the beer, run it under cold water to easily remove the paper towel. And boom, you're all set. Cold, not frozen beer.

Inside a Rapid Chiller

Then there are rapid chillers. Rapid chillers are the average beer lover's dream. Not only are they compact and easy to transport for outdoor events, but they can cool a room temperature beer in no time. Rapid chillers operate by running near-freezing water directly around your beer cans or bottles.

A decent rapid chiller will bring your room temperature beer to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in about 1 to 2 minutes. It doesn't get much faster than that! The only downside to auto-coolers is their price point. On average, expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $300 for a good rapid chiller.

Be wary of slush though. Rapid temperature drops that involve excess moisture may cause ice crystals to form on the bottle as well as slush to form inside a bottle of beer. Same goes for packing a ton of snow around a keg in winter time.

In Buckets with Salt and Ice Water

Another easy method you can use to quickly chill your beer is submerging the bottles in a large pot or a bucket of salty ice water. In the bucket, add about 2 gallons of water and 1-2 cups of everyday table or Epsom salt.

Next, add about a pound of ice cubes to the mix. How does it work? Salt lowers the freezing temperature of the water, which works perfectly for this scenario. As the water freezes, it allows the beer to chill faster than it normally would.

You can expect this method to chill your cans or glass bottles of warm beer in about 12 to 15 minutes on average. And the best thing is that it costs no money, is easy to do, and it's reliable!

Inside Coolers with Dry Ice

Dry ice isn't just used by hospitals and transportation companies. Many people use dry ice for gardening, camping or fishing trips, and flash freezing. You may be surprised to find that you can also use it to chill your lagers. If you can get your hands on a few packs of dry ice, consider using it to chill your beer in a small cooler.

The temperature of dry ice is around -109 degrees Fahrenheit, which allows it to freeze your beer in a matter of minutes. Be sure to set a divider in the cooler, as you don't want the beer cans or bottles to make direct contact with the ice.

You should also wrap the ice in plastic--and never touch it without a pair of insulated gloves. The amount of time it takes to chill the beer will depend on how many beers you have and how much dry ice you use. On average, it may take around about 20-40 minutes. Be sure to set a timer so that you don't forget to take them out.

To note, it may take more if you are trying this with hard booze - aka - higher proof liquor.

Put Beer on the Windowsill

If your refrigerator or freezer is on the fritz and you need to chill your beer in a hurry, simply set it outside on the windowsill. Of course, this method will only work if outdoor temperatures are at least 42 degrees or below--so don't try to do this in the middle of a summer heatwave.

However, when temperatures are colder outside, this technique can get your beer chilled in about 15 to 30 minutes. And of course, you can also use the paper towel method to speed up the beer's chill time.

Just make sure that the windowsill is level and that there are no strong winds blowing. You don't want to open the windows to find a broken beer bottle on your lawn.

How long does it take to let beer freeze?

The time it takes to get your beer cold will depend on a couple of things but can range anywhere from 2 minutes to over 7 hours. The temperature at which the beer is cooled will play the biggest factor in how long it will take to chill.  The amount of alcohol content in the beer will also play a factor.

For example, as mentioned previously, rapid chillers can have your room temperature beer ready to go in about 2 minutes or less, while a refrigerator will take up to 8 hours to accomplish the same feat. Another factor is the size and type of beer that you have, as bigger bottles and cans will take a bit longer.

Lastly, the type of beer also plays a small role in how long it'll take to get cold. Ales are thicker and more full-bodied than lagers, which can cause them to take a bit longer to chill, depending on the brand.

How to freeze beer?

Technically, you never want to actually "freeze" beer as this will cause the drink to completely explode, you simply want it to become cool enough to enjoy.

This is why it's important to watch your beer when you're placing it in the freezer or other environments (such as auto-coolers or outdoors) with freezing temperatures.

Ideally, it's best to serve your beer above the minimum temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, because making beer explode is bad. Obvious, right? That goes for all alcoholic beverages.

The ethanol in a can of beer changes the beer’s freezing point, so even at 32 degrees, beer won’t freeze like pure water.

Wrapping Things Up

And there you have it, those are the best ways to chill your beer in record time. No one wants to really wait eight or nine hours just to enjoy a nice cold beer, so tossing them in the freezer or a fast-chilling cooler is simply a matter of practicality. What methods do you use to chill your beers?

Also, should a beer explode, don’t tell the hard working brewers who made that beer, as they wouldn’t be psyched.