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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - Help! My beer is frozen!

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With the recent drop in temps as of late, I figured it would be a good time to talk about what has become a bit of an occupational hazard for me and something that maybe a few of you have experienced before: frozen beer.

Being an alcoholic beverage, beer has a bit of an advantage over most beverages in that the alcohol keeps the liquid from freezing at 32 degrees F (0C for you Canadians, eh). Knowing this, I usually keep some beers for sales samples in my car this time of year, knowing the temp can get into the 20s and even into the upper teens and I don’t have to worry about anything freezing.

You may have used a snowbank outside of the house as a makeshift beer cooler before, or even left beer out on a porch and noticed that even though it’s brisk outside, the beer doesn’t freeze, just gets extra cold. Again, that’s the alcohol at work lowering the freezing temp, allowing you to use nature’s cold to make your beer cold. It’s a beautiful thing!

There is a dark side to this low-cost refrigeration solution, however. Even with the alcohol working its magic, there is only so much cold a beer can stand before it gives in to the fact that it is still 90-95 percent water and freezes up on you. It has happened to the best of us; no need to feel ashamed.

So your beer is frozen. What can be done? Well, if you are lucky and the container (can or bottle) hasn’t ruptured, you very well could save the beer inside. If you move the frozen beer to the fridge and give it a couple days, it should thaw out and the CO2 should go back into solution, returning the beer to its fizzy liquid state. If the bottle or can ruptures, you are pretty much out of luck as there is no way the beer will thaw out and remain carbonated, so you can either discard or enjoy your beer slushie!

Some styles of beer are actually frozen on purposes, as a way to make the resulting beer thicker and higher in alcohol. This style of beer is called Eisbock and it is traditionally frozen at the end of the brewing process, with the frozen portion being discarded and the “freeze distilled” Eisbock being bottled up and served as a high alcohol winter treat. Eisbocks can be upwards of 14 percent alcohol, so it’s definitely the kind of beer to have when you are only planning on having one!

So remember, feel free to take advantage of winters ability to chill your brew, but if the temps gets down into the teens, you might want to go rescue it from the elements and get it into the fridge!


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