The summer heat may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you need to shelve your beer and resort to just dreaming of poolside relaxation with a chilled beer. Beer lovers know that beer is perfect for drinking year-round; you can drink it chilled or at room temperature, and you certainly don’t need to change your style with the change of season.
Now, what about frosted mugs for your beer? How can you achieve that icy cool look without dishing out tons of cash for a commercial glass froster? And just what types of beer should you drink this way anyway? It’s time to find out.
What’s the Appeal With Drinking From a Frosted Mug?
For years, you could enter just about any American bar and see bartenders pouring draft beer into frosted mugs. They’d freeze their glassware in special coolers, pulling them out just as you ordered a round of beers. Many people went through their adult years enjoying a beer down at the local bar, and that experience is firmly cemented in their minds – complete with frosted beer mugs. They might have also enjoyed frosted mugs for root beer or root beer floats. Whether it’s from nostalgia, personal preference, curiosity or something else, drinking from a frosted mug will surely give you a new beer-tasting experience.
How to Frost Your Beer Mug
If you aren’t willing to dish out hundreds of dollars for commercial-grade equipment – and for residential purposes, why would you – you’ll be glad to know there are a few ways to inexpensively frost your beer mugs at home.
Method 1: Put your beer glass in the freezer
You’ll want to start with a clean glass, since any soap residue will remain in the glass once you freeze it and can lead to an unpleasant taste mixing with your beer. Make sure your mug is at room temperature, since introducing hot glass to a cold environment could lead to cracked or broken glass.
Clear a place in the freezer for your beer mug, either on the flat shelf or on the door shelf, and make sure it has good air circulation and isn’t touching anything else.
You can use a dry glass, but know that it will take longer to freeze than a wet glass. Plus, it will likely result in a plain frozen mug, not a frosty mug. The frosted look will be most visible when there are water droplets readily available for freezing.
Wet the outside of the glass with cold water, and set it in the freezer. Condensation will form on the mug, and combined with the cooling environment, it’ll turn the water droplets into ice crystals. If you open and shut the freezer door several times, you’ll introduce brief inputs of warmer air; this will help build up the ice crystal layers and give your beer mug a nice frosted appearance.
The length of time it takes your beer mug to develop a frosty look will depend on many factors, such as freezer temperature, room temperature, how full your freezer is and how much frost you want on the glass. However, you can expect to have a frosted mug in roughly 20 to 60 minutes.
Method 2: Pop in some ice
If you’re a little more impatient or forgot to plan ahead – or, and let’s be honest, don’t know the meaning of the words “plan ahead” – you’ll want something that gives you quicker results.
Here you’ll want to use ice cubes to help with the freezing process. If your fridge doesn’t have a built-in ice cube dispenser, you can set up a handy countertop ice maker for clean, odor-free cubes in minutes.
Fill the mug with ice cubes and swish the ice around to make contact with all surfaces. You’ll have a cold glass in seconds, but since you’re aiming for a frosty glass, you need to head right for the freezer. Find an empty spot away from other items, set down the mug, and close the door.
The temperature inside your mug should be ice cold by now, so you just need to wait for it to become a frosted glass. In about 5 to 8 minutes, have a look inside the freezer. If you see a chilled glass with at least a thin layer of frost, congratulations! Take it out of the freezer, pour in your brewski of choice, and enjoy.
Method 3: Use wet paper towels
If you’re in a hurry, you could try using wet paper towels. The wet paper towels will provide an air temperature buffer, where the air just next to the glass is wet but warmer, and the air just outside the paper is colder, helping speed up evaporation and condensation, and then freezing.
Get a clear glass mug and wrap damp paper towels around the outside. You don’t need to get a super tight fit, but make sure the paper towels are fairly snug around the glass, so that the water in them can generate the frost you want.
Set the beer mug in the freezer, and make sure it isn’t touching anything else in there. You’ll have a frozen mug and a frosty layer in about 3 to 4 minutes.
Method 4: Swish in some vodka
For those of you who have no patience (Hey, it happens to the best of us. Not a big deal!) and just want to relax with a chilled mug of your favorite beer, you’ll find that this method works in less than a minute.
Do you have a bottle of vodka at home? Perfect, you’ll use that. If you don’t, you’ll need to pick one up at the store. Put that bottle of vodka in the freezer overnight to chill, and don’t worry about it freezing or the bottle breaking. Vodka won’t freeze in your home freezer (which is usually set to zero degrees Fahrenheit) due to the high alcohol content, and you might even know someone who stores it like that anyway (chilled vodka martini, anyone?).
Now that the vodka is properly chilled, grab it from the freezer and then grab a clean drinking glass. Fill the glass between half to three-quarters full with vodka, and swirl that cold liquid around the glass. In 30 to 60 seconds you’ll see frost form on the glass. At this point you can either pour the vodka back into the bottle (remember, your beer mug must be clean!) or you can pour it into a cocktail glass if you’re enjoying drinks with friends. Then wipe out your ice-cold mug and pour in your beer of choice.
What Not to Do
When you’re learning how to frost mugs, you’ll likely run into a few unwanted situations. We want to help you avoid that. First, always use a glass that’s at room temperature or colder. Putting a warm glass into the freezer, especially one that’s just come from the dishwasher, will mostly likely crack upon contact with the cold freezer environment. It might even break in there, leaving you with pieces of broken glass all over your frozen foods. Not good!
You also don’t want to use hot water, whether for dipping paper towels or wetting the sides of the beer mug. Again, the temperature differences can essentially shock the glass and lead to breakage.
Finally, be careful with the amount of water left at the bottom of the mug; too much water can dilute the beer and wash out the flavor. Excess frosting can do the same thing, since there will likely be a significant amount inside the now cold mug; when it melts, it will end up diluting your cold beer.
The Best Beer Ware for Frosting
Beer mugs are the best beer glasses for freezing because of their thicker edges and handle – which is perfect for avoiding frozen fingers. And while a thin glass will cool down quicker in the freezer, it will warm quicker when sitting at room temperature. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from testing it out to see which glasses you prefer, whether mugs, upside down beer glasses, pilsner glasses, pint glasses or something else. However, you’ll probably want to steer clear of stemware, since the narrow stem might not handle cold temperatures well.
A Word About Beer Types
Frozen mugs work well for room temperature beer, but they might result in a slightly numb palate if you try to use already cold beer. Of course, it comes down to personal preference; you’ll find that some people love the thirst-quenching taste of chilled beer, while others prefer something a bit warmer.
As for which types of beer, the consensus is that frosted mugs are best suited to macro pilsners and lagers like Budweiser, Labatt Blue, Coors and Miller High Life. Craft beers tend to be richer in aromas and are most satisfying when warmer. Again, personal preference makes the final determination. If you love your craft beer in a frosted mug, then that’s how you should drink it. Do what works best for you.
If you want to keep your beer chilled to perfection, consider a freestanding or built-in beer fridge. When you use a fridge designated for beverages, you’ll be able to adjust the temperature to your liking and never need to worry about spoiled foods.
Once you learn how to frost mugs, you’ll be well on your way to a new beer-tasting experience.