Did you know beer freezes when you leave it in the freezer for over 20 minutes? Unfortunately, as fascinating as that sounds, it affects your capability to relish the beverage.
Freezing beer impacts its flavor and carbonation, not to mention alters the drink’s proteins, deterring you from enjoying all its benefits.
But is beer still good if it freezes?
We wrote this blog post to answer that question and enlighten you about how the process affects different types of beer. We’ll also give you some handy tricks to prevent your favorite beer from freezing, allowing you to savor every sip!
What Happens When Beer Freezes?
When beer freezes, its physical properties change. Consequently, that weakens and even kills the drink’s yeast cells, reducing its quality. Then, the beverage loses its initial flavor and consistency, meaning you might not enjoy it as much.
Usually, the beer undergoes various physical changes when it freezes. To begin with, the liquid expands due to freezing point depression. When the beverage becomes slushy, it’s flat, without distinct flavors.
Also, the freeze-thaw cycle distorts the shape of cans and changes their colors and textures. Moreover, it produces debris, such as coagulated proteins, and hops resins from disintegrating hop pellets.
Carbon dioxide gas resulting from fermentation is released when beer freezes because its solubility decreases dramatically at lower temperatures – this disrupts head retention, creates flatness in taste, and affects carbonation levels too.
How Temperature Impacts Beer Freezing
Different beers come with different freezing points. For those with an alcohol content below 4%, these temperatures can be as low as -2°C (28ºF). On the contrary, ales usually onset their freezing points at around -6°C (21 ºF).
But once frozen, any further drop in temperature doesn’t affect the liquid’s consistency or alcoholic volume. However, higher-quality beers may suffer from chill haze once their proteins gather together.
Is Beer Still Good if It Freezes?
Freezing temperatures severely damage beer’s flavor, carbonation, and consistency. Because the liquid expands as it freezes, it might even explode if left in a sealed can or bottle.
These physical changes that occur once beer freezes drastically change its taste and texture. For instance, a chill haze leaves the beverage cloudy after thawing.
Moreover, much of the carbonation produced from fermentation escapes into bubbles when beer freezes, rendering it flat.
Ultimately, the transformations beer undergoes during freezing reduce its quality, so it’s not as good as the original beverage.
How Does Freezing Affect Different Types of Beer?
Ales have a higher alcoholic content ranging from 5 to 8%, which exceeds lagers or session beers. Thus, the beer can take longer to freeze and will likely explode in its bottle or can.
When frozen, ales undergo various physical changes, such as pressure within the bottle, causing the liquid to expand. If its bottle or can lacks enough space, the process could cause permanent damage, making it unsavory after thawing.
Lagers are known for their crisp and clean taste because brewers leverage cold fermentation to subdue the process’s byproducts. These beverages usually have low sweetness and moderate alcohol content, ranging from 4-5%.
If you put a lager in a freezer, it’ll freeze slightly slower than an ale, which has more alcohol. As it freezes, carbonation escapes from the beer in tiny bubbles, affecting its flavor and consistency.
Impact of Freezing on Beer Containers
Let’s look into how freezing affects containers used to hold beer:
Often, cans used to store beer burst when the beverage freezes. So, here’s what happens. As the temperatures drop below 32°F, the water turns into ice, and the liquid expands, turning the beer slushy and completely solid upon further cooling.
The expansion pressures the sealed cans, prompting them to split open. If not handled properly, these aluminum containers could injure you.
Glass bottles are more insulative than aluminum cans. Thus, the beer in them freezes at much lower temperatures.
Again, glass materials have more thermal conductivity than metal, trapping insulation within the bottles and shielding them against outside temperatures.
As such, beer stored in glass containers remains liquid even if kept in sub-freezing conditions for prolonged periods. This keeps the drink fresher while enabling it to retain its carbonation.
Most breweries now provide twist-off caps to prevent leakage when storing sealed beer bottles in freezing conditions.
Tips To Prevent Beer From Freezing
As a beer enthusiast, knowing how to protect your favorite beverage from freezing is essential to get the most out of each drinking session. Looking for some pointers? We recommend these methods.
This process gradually warms your beverage, enabling you to enjoy it at its best. But, of course, taking the necessary precautions is vital.
Thawing requires placing the beer bottles inside a refrigerator to allow for more consistent and moderate temperature changes. That also avoids risking incredibly high temperatures that could reduce your drink’s quality.
Keep in mind that thawing frozen beer bottles demands patience. The process takes 1-2 days, depending on the bottle or can size and freezing level.
Regrettably, thawing alters your beer’s taste profiles and aroma if you leave the bottles in ice for an extended period. That’s why you should be cautious when handling large frozen batches for sale; you could suffer a considerable loss.
Doubtlessly, the easiest way to prevent beer from freezing is proper storage. The ideal storage temperature for the beverage is 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7-4.5 °C).
Therefore, always keep beer in a controlled environment, such as a refrigerator, at the right temperature to deter it from freezing and losing its flavor and consistency.
Being cautious when moving beer is another excellent tip to keep it from freezing. Maintain a consistent temperature to ensure that it doesn’t turn into ice.
Note that if the temperature drops too low for too long, the beer can become damaged due to ice crystals forming and bursting inside its cans or bottles. That can result in loss of carbonation, significantly altering the alcoholic beverage’s taste and texture.
Is It Safe to Drink Thawed Beer?
There’s no harm in drinking thawed beer, but its taste and quality will be much lower due to freezing and unfreezing it.
However, it’s worth mentioning that many people have raised concerns about the potential health implications of drinking thawed beer. For instance, bacterial growth caused by contamination before freezing may cause diarrhea.
As such, always examine thawed beer before consuming it. Watch out for signs of spoilage, such as weird smells and tastes.
FAQs on Is Beer Still Good if It Freezes?
Is it safe to drink beer that has been frozen?
You can safely consume thawed beer after confirming it’s not spoiled. However, it will not taste or smell like the original beverage since it’ll be flat.
What happens when beer freezes?
When beer freezes, it loses its carbonation, consistency, and flavor, making it stale and distasteful.
What kind of harm can drinking frozen beer cause?
Thawed beer may have bacteria or mold, leading to health issues like diarrhea and stomach aches after consumption.
How long does a typical glass bottle of beer take to freeze?
It takes around two hours for a standard 12-ounce (355 ml) glass bottle filled with room-temperature lager beer to drop below 32 °F (0 °C). Nevertheless, the exact timeframes depend on the brand and environment the beer is kept.
Final Take On Is Beer Still Good if It Freezes
Never store beer in a freezer for an extended period since it will cause it to freeze. As a result, the beverage will lose its initial taste profile and consistency, and the can holding it could even burst.
That being said, if your beer accidentally freezes, consider thawing it. Although you may consume the drink, beware of its potential hazards. For instance, the beverage could have bacteria, making you susceptible to health problems.