How To Chill Beer

Whether you run out of beer in the middle of a party or unexpected guests show up and your beer isn’t cold, it’s good to know how to chill beer quickly. Chilling beer in the refrigerator can take 40 minutes, so you may think that the freezer is your best bet. However chilling beer in the freezer actually takes 25 minutes, and sticking the cans or bottles in a bucket of ice will take 30. Fortunately, there are quicker options. Below, you’ll find four other tips to chill beer quickly.

To chill beer you’ll need:

  • Beer (in cans or bottles)
  • A large steel pot, a bucket, cooler, or other large container (for method 1 and 2)
  • Water (for method 1 and 2)
  • Salt (for method 1)
  • A large wooden spoon (for method 1)
  • Ice (for method 1, 2, and 4)
  • Cold running water (for method 3)
  • A colander (for method 4)
  • A bowl (for method 4)
  • A glass (for method 4)
  1. This first method to chill beer takes just five minutes. It works because, according to the Argonne National Laboratory, salt lowers the freezing point of water in an endothermic reaction. Get a large steel pot or other container and fill it with beer bottles or cans. Add ice until the beer is completely covered, and then fill the container with water. You’ll need about 1 cup of salt for every 3 pounds of ice in the container. Stir the water and ice to help the salt dissolve. If your container is small enough, put it in the freezer for 3 minutes. If that’s not possible, your beer will still get cold, but it will take closer to 5 minutes.  
  2. If you don’t have salt on hand, it’s still quicker to chill beer using ice and water than simply using ice alone. ice leaves air around your bottles. For method 2, fill a large container with beer, and then add ice until the beer is covered. Add cold water until the container is full, and your beer should be cold in roughly 15 minutes. According to the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at Caltech, heat can be transferred through conduction, and liquids are better conductors than gas.  When you fill a bucket with ice, there’s too much air around your bottle.  Add water, and the liquid will conduct the heat away from your beer, chilling it.
  3. The third beer chilling method is most effective on cans, although it will work for bottles. It works on the same principle of conduction. Turn your kitchen faucet on and adjust the water until it runs as cold as is possible. Hold your beer beneath the running water, rotating it for two minutes.  While your beer won’t be ice cold, it will be cold enough to drink. This method works with any running water source, so it comes in handy for those times you’re camping near a river or stream. However, it should only be used when you’re completely sober.
  4. The fourth method to chill a beer works best in small quantities and requires you to serve your beer in a glass, but all you’ll really need is ice. This works on the basic concept of surface area exposure. Put your glass in the freezer. Get a large bowl and small colander. Fill the colander with ice, and place it in the bowl. Quickly pour the beer over the ice, gently shaking the colander so the beer drains into the bowl. Speed is important, since you risk watering down the beer if you take too long. Immediately pour the beer into the chilled glass and enjoy.


Argonne National Laboratory

Infrared Processing and Analysis Center

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