Can You Freeze Beer? (Here’s What Happens if You Do)
There is nothing as soothing and refreshing as an ice-cold beer on a warm day if you’re a beer lover. Some people freeze beer to preserve it, while others freeze it accidentally in their quest to enjoy a cold beer. So, can you freeze beer, and what happens to your brew when you do?
You can freeze beer, although there is no need to do so. You can still drink the beer once it thaws entirely as long as the seal on the can or bottle is not broken or shattered. Although the beer is safe to drink after thawing, it may lose some carbonation and taste slightly duller than usual.
If you forgot your beers in the freezer and they look like they are frozen up, it’s not necessarily the end of the road for you and your brew. Here are some reasons you should take care not to freeze your beers and how to save a partially frozen beer.
Why Is It a Bad Idea To Freeze Beer?
It’s a bad idea to freeze beer because of its high water content of 90-95%. The water will freeze, and once thawed, it will lose carbonation and taste flat and watered down. It can also be dangerous as glass bottles may explode from the expansion of the liquid during the freezing process.
While a quick spell in your freezer can make your beer icy cold, you shouldn’t leave your beer in the freezer for long. Once the water in the beer freezes, it affects the flavor and the carbonation, which is the real draw of having a beer in the first place.
In fact, a scientific study conducted on the effects of freezing beer concluded that there was a distinct lack of palate fullness and flavor after a frozen beer is thawed. Your frozen beer might be icy cold, but chances are it will taste dull and watered down.
What Can Happen if You Freeze Beer?
Several things may happen if you freeze your beer, whether intentionally or by accident. Your bottle or can could explode from the pressure or lose all its carbonation through seal leakage. Your beer may still be good to drink if you are lucky, although it may taste flat.
Here are some reasons why it’s probably a bad idea to freeze your beer:
The Seal of the Can or Bottle Could Rupture
As mentioned above, beer contains about 90 to 95% water. So, when you put a beer bottle or can in the freezer, the water freezes and expands, placing a lot of pressure and volume on the container. As a result, the seal on the can or bottle could rupture due to excessive force.
If the seal ruptures, the beer becomes exposed, interfering with the beer’s carbonation as some CO2 is lost.
The Beer Can or Bottle Could Explode
As beer freezes, the water therein expands; if the freezer temperatures are extremely low, the can or bottle could explode. If this happens, the beer could cause a mess in the freezer, and you have to clean the freezer thoroughly. In addition, you end up wasting beer, thus causing a dent in your pocket.
The Beer Could Become Flat
If the bottle or can ruptures while the beer is in the freezer, the carbonation in the beer escapes. A beer without carbonation is no longer a beer, as carbonation gives the beer a unique flavor and taste. So, if the carbonation escapes, the beer becomes flat naturally, and it is better to dispose of it rather than drink it.
Is a Frozen and Thawed Beer Safe To Drink?
If the seal of the frozen beer remains intact, the beer is safe to drink, and the taste is only affected slightly. The reason is that since the seal is unbroken, the freezing interferes very little with the carbonation of the beer.
So, although it is not possible to completely restore the beer’s carbonation, the beer is safe to drink once it thaws, even though you should expect a substantial loss of flavor.
What Happens if You Drink Partially Frozen Beer?
If you drink a partially frozen beer, the alcohol concentration will be higher, especially if the water is still partially frozen. Although the alcohol percentage will not increase, you would effectively drink more of the alcohol component in a shorter time.
In fact, certain beers like Eisbock use the freezing method to make the beer stronger. Ethanol freezes at a lower temperature than water, so when you remove the ice, the alcohol concentration increases. This type of brew is commonly known as ice beer.
As stated earlier, beer contains 90 to 95% water; when you put the beer in the freezer, the water freezes before the alcohol. So, when you thaw the beer, the alcohol defrosts before the water. If you drink the frozen beer before it defrosts completely, the alcohol will come out of the bottle first and leave the icy water inside.
How To Defrost Frozen Beer
If you freeze your beer intentionally or accidentally, you should ensure that you defrost it correctly. Doing so will prevent any mess or accidents and also makes it palatable. Below is how to defrost frozen beer.
- Check if there are any cracks on the bottle or if the can is ruptured. If you notice either of the two, discard the beer as it might not be safe to drink. For instance, pieces of the cracked bottle could mix with the frozen beer, and swallowing them could be fatal.
- If the bottle or can is intact, remove it from the freezer and place it in a sealable plastic bag or a plastic container. You do this to ensure no mess or wastage if the beer leaks.
- Place the container or sealable plastic bag in a cool place in the house to thaw at room temperature. The reason is that if you put the beer in a warm or hot spot, it might defrost too fast, and the bottle or can could explode.
- You could also thaw the beer in the lower part of the fridge, just like you thaw chicken and other food items. The beer takes longer to defrost in the refrigerator due to low temperatures. If you are not patient, you might fall into the temptation to drink the beer before it thaws completely.
- Allow the beer to defrost entirely before drinking it to restore its carbonation levels. When the carbonation level is restored, the beer’s taste, aroma, and flavor are restored. It could take between 10 and 24 hours for the beer to defrost thoroughly.
- When the beer thaws completely, pour in a glass and stir it slightly before drinking. Doing so re-mixes the alcohol and water that the freezing may have separated.
Things To Avoid While Handling Frozen Beer
- Avoid drinking thawed beer that is partially frozen because you will drink the alcohol first and leave the water inside the can. Alcohol thaws before the liquid, which increases its concentration.
- Avoid shaking the beer cans or bottles as the beer thaws, as doing so could increase the pressure inside. The increased pressure could cause the can or bottle to explode.
- Avoid immersing beer bottles in hot water to defrost the beer. By doing this, the glass may expand too quickly, thus causing the glass to rupture.
Why It Is Unnecessary To Freeze Beer
As we stated earlier, you can freeze beer, but it is unnecessary unless you freeze it accidentally. Below are some reasons why it is counterproductive to freeze beer.
Beer Has Natural Preservatives
Although you can freeze beer, it is unnecessary to freeze it for preservation purposes. As mentioned earlier, beer has natural preservatives that give it a long shelf life when stored in the fridge or at room temperature. Beer can stay fresh at room temperature or in the refrigerator for three to six months.
It Takes Hours To Defrost
The worst part of freezing beer is that it takes hours to defrost it; it could even take a whole day. You see, you cannot hasten the thawing process, and it is unwise to drink lumpy beer; you thus have to wait patiently for the beer to thaw. As a result, you cannot enjoy your beer when you want it most; it is like an exercise in futility.
Although you can freeze beer, it is unnecessary, as explained above. You can drink frozen beer after it thaws, but the taste could be slightly duller than the original beer.
If you want to enjoy a cold beer, you chill it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Just make sure to remove it before it starts to actually freeze.