Regardless of the season, there’s nothing better than settling in, beer in hand, as you enjoy the company of friends and family. And it doesn’t matter whether you lean toward beer in a stein, can or bottle during the hot summers and crisp winters; at the end of the day, you just can’t get enough of your favorite beers.
From storing to serving beer in any weather, how do you ensure it’s the best it can be? And how do you chill your beer when you just want a beer, stat? Let’s explore the requirements for good storage and how temperature affects beer, before moving on to hacks focused on how to chill beer fast.
The Basic Requirements for Long-Lasting Beer
If you want to keep your beer in good condition for as long as possible, you need to follow a few key requirements. Here is what and what not to do when preparing your beer bottles or six-packs for the perfect storage environment.
1. Do store the beer in darker conditions. Some of these darker spaces could include a cellar, basement or fridge. The average storage area won’t give you ice cold beer at freezing temperatures, but it will help your beer supply stay chilled. Beverage coolers are ideally suited for storage, and they do a wealth of good in helping extend the drinkability.
2. Do consider the type of bottle. Glass bottles are susceptible to oxidation, and oxidized beer can often be termed skunked beer. This is when UV rays interact with the beer to produce off flavors. The darker the space, the less oxidized your beer will become. Of course, the color of bottle matters tremendously here, with brown bottles protecting the most and clear bottles protecting the least.
3. Don’t store your beer on its side. When you put beer bottles or cans on their sides, you increase the surface area; this increased surface area spreads out the beer and exposes more of it to UV rays and, hence, oxidation. And as we know from above, oxidation is not beer’s best friend. This could also lead to yeast rings around the inside, which can also affect the flavor.
4. Don’t forget the need for temperature differences. Just like white wine, beer is not one-type-suits-all, and it shouldn’t be treated that way. Beer comes in many varieties, with ingredients, fermentation yeast and temperature all playing a key role in how it finishes. We’ll delve more into this one in the next section.
Temperature Differences and How They Correspond With Certain Beers
From cold-fermented beer to warm-fermented beer, and from lagers and stouts to pale ales and everything in between, beer is far more complex than many people realize.
Beers like commercial macro lagers, lagers and pilsners use the yeast Saccharomyces pastorianus in a cold-fermentation process. The yeast is a bottom-fermenting variety that needs cool temperatures and produces a crisp finish. Since the beer brews in cool temperatures and is stored in cool temperatures, it is best consumed as cold beer.
On the other hand, craft ales, pale ales, stouts, wheat beers, lambics and strong beers use Saccharomyces cerevisiae in a warm-fermentation process. As a top-fermenting variety, the yeast needs warm temperatures and will produce a more complex finish, complete with esters and phenols. These beers ferment in warmer temperatures and are stored in slightly warmer environments. This makes them better suited for consumption as warm beer.
What does all of this mean for you? It means you need to pay attention to your storage and serving methods. It will also help you determine if you should serve ice-cold beer, chilled beer or simply room-temperature beer. If you’re trying to figure out how to chill a beer fast, you might not even need to take that step depending on the type of beer you have.
Bottom-fermented beers like cooler temperatures, and this is where they are the happiest. If you try to store these beers in warmer temperatures, you’re apt to change the flavor profile and produce an unwanted, unsavory complexity. This goes for serving as well. Remember, these beers like the cold. All of their characteristics formed while in cold environments, and it’s no surprise that they would continue to like similar surroundings and be at their best cold as well.
- • Macro lagers like Coors, Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller and others are best stored and served at an icy 33 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Often, the fridge serves as suitable housing, but designated beverage coolers can also be the ideal storage environment.
- • Lagers and pilsners are best at 38 to 45 degrees F. You can store them in the fridge, but you should know that you’re storing them at their coldest extreme.
Top-fermented beers are more partial to warmer temperatures, especially since they are both darker and stronger (in terms of alcohol content). If you try to store these beers in the fridge or another overly cool place, you run the risk of making them bitter and ruining their complex flavors.
An article in Beer & Brewing Magazine cited a 2005 report from “Nature: International Journal of Science,” about how temperatures influence the taste of different types of beer. As the report stated, “Some kinds of taste respond differently than others, which is why an ice cold stout is likely to taste harshly bitter while a somewhat warmer sample expresses a balance between malt sweetness and roast bitterness.”
Here are some suitable storing temperatures, which also correspond with serving temperatures. You can at times get away with serving them a degree or two colder, to account for the time spent in hand.
- • Wheat beers – 40 to 45 degrees F
- • Pale ales and India pale ales – 45 to 50 degrees F
- • Stouts and porters – 45 to 50 degrees F
- • Sour beers and lambics – 45 to 55 degrees F
- • Belgian strong ales and imperial stouts – 50 to 55 degrees F
Okay, so you understand the basics of good storage practices and the temperatures that work best for your beer. But what about when you haven’t had your beer in cool storage and you want to relax with a cold one right now? Here are some tips and tricks on how to chill beer fast.
Tips for Chilling Beer Fast
If you’ve ever wanted a beer but found that the only ones were room temperature and not so appealing, you’ll love the following tips about the fastest ways to get refreshing beer. A cold, or at least chilled, beer is just moments away.
Use a Bucket of Ice
This method is one of the oldest tricks for cooling beer: add ice cubes to a wide-mouthed bowl or bucket, and pop in your choice of cans or bottles. Don’t add too many bottles, since you want the icy water to surround each beer.
Drop in Some Salt
Ice cubes will cool beer quickly, but saltwater is better. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, helping reduce the temperature even faster. Using the saltwater method, the ice melts, your beer chills – possibly even to the mid-30s – and all is well at last.
Grab a Few Wet Paper Towels
Even though you might not store your beer in the fridge, you could use the freezer for a quick cool. Wrap the can or bottle in a wet paper towel and slip it into the freezer. The water in the paper towel will evaporate, resulting in a heat transfer that cools the beer in minutes.
Apply Some Compressed Air
If you don’t have access to dry ice, you could try out some compressed air. Either you could spray the bottle directly until frost forms, or you could spray into a closed container and allow the chilled air inside to chill the beer. You always want to invert the air can to an upside down position, which will help ensure only cold air exists the nozzle.
What you need to do for the container method is get a power drill from the hardware store, and make a hole in a plastic container just large enough for the nozzle. Then, place your beer bottles inside and secure the lid with duct tape. Insert the nozzle through the hole in the plastic, and release the compressed air. Once frost forms, the beer should be ready. Just remember to pour the contents into a clean glass to avoid contact with any bittering agent in the compressed air.
Use a Jockey Box
You might never have heard of this one. A jockey box is almost like an insulated cooler, although you need to add ice cubes around the coiled tubing inside to create the cool down required. The coils connect on one end to the supply containers and the other end to the delivery taps. Having the beer travel through the lengthy, cooled coils is a practical way to deliver chilled beer quickly.
Beer Coolers for the Perfect Temperature
When you want to keep your beer chilled to perfection, you need a designated beer cooler that can keep up. Whether you choose a freestanding beverage cooler or a built-in cooler, you can enjoy your lagers, stouts and sours at the temperature you like them. Sure, there are guidelines, but at the end of the day, your taste buds will be the final judge.
Storing and serving beer at just the right temperature, and chilling your beer in no time at all, gives you one more thing to smile about. Cheers!