Best way to get beer cold?

Having warm beer at a picnic/party/camping trip is a real buzzkill. While keeping beer cold isn’t that difficult, having room temperature beer converted to refreshing ice cold beer can be challenging.

I’ve noticed that even if you stick the beer in a cooler full of ice, it still takes some time for it to get cold. I’m guessing this is because the beer bottles aren’t contacting much of the ice and are cooled mostly by the ambient air temperature of the cooler, which will fluctuate when people open and close it.

I’m wondering if having a chest full of ice “slush” would be faster, since there’d be much more surface area in contact with near-freezing water.

I’m sure there are nerdier ways of chilling beer, but I’m more interested in practical and quick methods not Emmet Brown’s 1850s style ice machine :stuck_out_tongue:

Yes, absolutely put some cold water in there with the beer and ice. Agitating it slowly will speed things up too. Adding a bunch of salt will speed things up even more - it reduces the melting temperature of the water, so the beer will be sitting in 28 degree (or lower) slush instead of 32 degree slush.

And it’s much faster with cans than bottles.

Yes, having water in the cooler with the ice will cool the beer faster. In principle salt will help, but I seem to recall doing the calculations and finding that it requires at least a cup of salt in a cooler’s worth of water to make any meaningful difference.

At home, I’ll sometimes use the freezer; you can cool a bottle to icy drinkability in about 45 minutes. Much longer, and it’ll start getting a little slushy, and more than a few hours and you’ll freeze the beer and pop the cap off.

The Mythbusters say, “In terms of practicality, one’s best bet is to use icy salt water.”

You’re right about the slush. And buy the beer right out of the cooler so it doesn’t have to “get” cold, just stay cold.

If you’re going to do that, use my rule. Any liquids that go in the freezer have to be put in a plastic bag. You can whine and moan and tell me you’ll remember them, but in 2 hours it’s a lot easier to throw out the plastic bag then to clean the freezer.

And if you don’t want to be practical, use a fire extinguisher.

I set an alarm on my phone for 50 minutes the second it goes in the freezer. Haven’t forgotten yet.

Icy slush and forget the salt. It just gets all over everything and you are drinking salt water with every sip of beer. The time difference isn’t that great, and any beer that needs to be that cold tastes like crap anyway.

Appleciders, 45 minutes is too long in my opinion. My scenario generally involves recently brought beer at an event/forgot to stick a case in the fridge the night before. I’m also kind of a beer snob, and most of the beer I like comes from bottles (to me, drinking warm canned beer can’t make it anymore unpleasant than it already is :stuck_out_tongue: )

Next time I have a party I’ll try the saltwater slush idea. Best part is we can make ice cream while we wait for the beer to get cold!

Counter top chiller used by a bar I frequent. Gets a bottle cold in a minute or three by spinning it and spraying it with ice-water.

The beers I prefer need to warm up a bit before drinking.

Sliding this down the bar to Cafe Society. From IMHO.

I don’t know if it’s the quickest method, and it’s almost certainly not the most efficient, but the best way to chill beer is via a jet engine.

A block of dry ice (-109.3 F) might work, and it’ll have that cool fog effect from the cooler as the CO2 sublimates from solid to gas…

Don’t use salt water, you can’t dump it into the garden after the party.

First thing’s first, use in-can instead of bottled.

People are correct that ice water works much better than ice alone. You can do the experiment easily with beer or you can just do it with your hand. Stick you hand in a cooler full of fresh ice cubes and see how long you can hold it there. Next, stick your other hand in a cooler full of ice water and hold it there too. The former test is fairly easy if not a little uncomfortable after a while. The latter is downright painful and few people can last more than 30 seconds or so if you have the right ratio of ice to water.

The beer feels the same way but ethical standards for beer aren’t as strict as they are for humans. You can achieve slightly faster cooling by making sure the beer is completely submerged and by giving the cooler a very gentle swish every few minutes. You don’t want to shake it. You just want to move the disperse the cold water so that it hits every surface evenly.

The ratio of ice to water shouldn’t matter. If it’s in equilibrium, it’ll be at 0 C regardless.

You want enough water to ensure the entire surface of the object is covered.

I find that you need to start with at filling the container with ice then filling the spaces between the ice cubes with water. A lot of ice melts getting the water to 0C. The even more ice melts getting the beer cold. Even then I find that there is a fair amount of variation in the temperature of the bath if there is only a small amount of ice. Basically I find that it takes a fair amount of diligence and very insulated container to get a few gallons of water and ice into equilibrium if there is only a small amount of ice in the water.

I know you are a good physicist in general but you apparently don’t know much about the less appreciated branch of party physics. People screw up their water to ice ratio all the time according to my very informal studies. Of course the right ratio is going to be at 32 degrees Fahrenheit covering the most surface area possible but surprisingly few people understand that well enough to get it right.

The best way to ensure success is to put the ice in the cooler a few hours before the party starts and let much of it melt to just above freezing. Add the beer plus some more ice and it will be cold in nearly the shortest amount of time. You may be wondering why such a calculation is necessary because the beer will obviously be cold if you let it sit in a cooler full of ice water for an hour or two.

That is where party physics comes into play. If the whole shebang takes off and you start to run out of cold beer, you can just add new cases straight into the chilled water rather than making the amateur mistake of putting it in a new cooler or, even worse, dumping the original water out. You need that cold water because it is your best friend in those situations. It will have the new beer at a passable temperature in ten minutes or less even on a hot summer’s day in New Orleans.