1.03.2008

Does freezing beer hurt it?

Quick answer.  No, it doesn't hurt the beer.  Wait for it to thaw and for the CO2 to reabsorb. Could taste a little flat.  If the can is distended, then it probably won't be very carbonated.  If in a bottle, careful the glass could have been cracked.

Interested in learning more about beer check out these books. Written by one of the most influential beer writers. (not me ;)

Longer answer...

Original post text...
I could Google this, but, I thought maybe this would be more fun. Does anybody know what happens when you freeze beer? Does it hurt the flavor?
Now, I have heard of eisbock beer. This is beer that is chilled enough to create ice crystals and then filter them out to increase concentrate the flavor and the alcohol. This is not what I'm talking about. Just the other day I left my kegs out in the cold and the temperature dropped enough to freeze it a bit in the tap tube.
You have the floor...

I edited this page to include the following referral: If you're interested in learning about beer, you should start with something like these books. Written by one of the most influential beer writers.

22 comments:

CarpetGuy said...

Will freezing beer hurt it? Well, uh, not really, it may need some CO2, it can go flat. Haven't you ever heard of "cold filtered", when breweries filter the beer it has to be just above freezing for this to work.

Anyway, I have frozen mine accidentally, I use a chest freezer with an external thermostat, and changed my setting to "quick chill" my beer, as it was a bit warmer than I wanted, and forgot! The next thing I knew(the next day) my keg was frozen!

When it thawed out, it need some CO2, but it was fine.

Brian said...

I would say in my experiences..yes it does change it. As one who frequently will toss a bottle at room temp into the freezer for a quicker chill, I have done my fair share of freezing overnight..and some of them dont crack open in the bottle during that nigh..great success!

Anyhow the flavor, after allowing to melt (in bottle) and then re-chill I have noticed the flavor to be much "duller" for lack of a better term..and it did not seem to me to be a factor of lost carbonation..but it could have been :)

Most recently I did this with a Avery Jubilation ale..which I didnt like much anyway :)

Cheers!

Travis said...

I agree with carpetguy, it makes it flat and if you re-carbonate it, it SHOULD be fine. I had this problem a long time ago and didn't realize how to re carbonate the beer. I wound up dumping a whole keg :-(

With that said, I am hard pressed to say that it doesn't cause at least some slight changes. I doubt you get the same exact beer out that you had before. It's a question if it's enough to make you not want to drink it.

Adam said...

Hmmm...interesting. Fortunately it isn't a problem this time around. I didn't let the beer freeze.

My guess would be that it gives it a watery taste and may force you to wait for it to recarbonate via forced carbonation.

Jury is still out...anybody else?

Nate said...

Never froze a keg, so I have no idea what that's like.

As for freezing a can/bottle. The biggest danger is if the liquid completely freezes, then the expansion of water -> ice (in volume) could compromise the container. I've had a bottle pop open/crack glass when frozen. Cans just tend to bulge.

If the beer is brought back to normal drinking temperature, then it shouldn't taste that much different (if not compromised) since it's a closed system. Beer with yeast in it, however, might give some different flavors if the cells ruptured or something like that. As far as a chemical reaction ... the majority speed up with heat, not cold.

Adam said...

Seems like them there beer bloggers have a thing or two to say about freezing beer. This is fun!

broken bottles
swollen cans (nevermind)
shouldn't affect taste
loss of carbonation?

Seems not to be a problem unless its in a bottle.

I'll buy that. Floor is still open.

Beer guy said...

Well i leave my beer in the garage and it sometimes freezes.
I still drink it but a friend of mine said i shouldn't. He says that his dad told him when he was a kid, him and his friends drank beer that had been frozen and they were sick for days..... If this was a result of how much the drank.. I don't know but i found it intesting.

Does the chemical compositing of the beer change, and could it make you sick?

Angelo said...

I recently turned my mini fridge too cold and accidentaly froze some bottles of Becks. After thawing I noticed they had some thingd floating around inside, it was a bit flat, and the taste was not as good. It was alright to drink though and no sickness from it. Curious what it was that was floating around inside though, I'm guessing something to do with hops or something seperating from the frozen part and not dissolving back into it. Any ideas?

Brian said...

Maybe its a whole different idea but if you freeze beer then warm it to warm awrm alcohol is liquid and water is frozen can you make a more potent drink?

Anonymous said...

"Brian said...

Maybe its a whole different idea but if you freeze beer then warm it to warm awrm alcohol is liquid and water is frozen can you make a more potent drink?"

Yes, this is how "Ice" beer is made.

Anonymous said...

Froze a whole keg here - very sad!
Wondering if the yeast will be capable of doing a secondary bottle fermentation or whether I've killed the little buggers...

Any problems for a secondary fermentation of formerly frozen beer?

D

Adam said...

First of all, I Haven't ever tried to thaw yeast and get it active again. So this is just a guess...

I'm thinking you'll need to bring that beer back to room temp and look for signs of fermentation after 2 days. If you don't see any, then add some yeast. There's lots of speculation about this. What if some yeast is more resilient, like wild yeasts? The activity you see might not be from the strain you started with. Who knows. Great time for experimentation.

If you want to be sure, just buy more yeast, bring to room temp and pitch. Dry yeast is cheap and effective if you are worried about cost.

Anonymous said...

HI!! Everyone...I am wondering because I have to leave a case of Steel Reserve in the truck tonight (husband awake and I need to hide it)..(Well it is Saturday and tomarrow is Sunday ..no alchohol sales here..and I had already brought 1 case in)so I left 1 in the truck wrapped in a jacket...hope it will be O.K. tomarrow..I don't care about bulges (have enough of my own!!) just don't want any cans to bust..what a waste of money and good beer AND I will have to wash the jacket!!! Take care!!! Cat

Adam said...

I haven't been doing much around here lately. Didn't get to approve your comment so people could answer. Wouldn't even need to approve if it weren't for the spammers out there.

Anyway, what happened? How cold was it outside?

Anonymous said...

After freezing some Sierra Nevada Hefeweizen, it didn't seem to affect the carbonation or flavor at all, even after a few weeks freeze in the freezer. The only signficant difference I noticed is that the top third of the beer was clear in the bottle, whereas unfrozen then thawed SN Hfwzn has consistent cloudiness throughout. The froth head poured nice and fine as per usual. yumyum

Sam Adams said...

I did this last night on accident with my 24 once samuel adams. I let it thaw in the fridge and it seemed a little flat when I drank it laster. :(

Travis said...

Well i just opened a frozen beer before it thawed and im pretty sure all the alcohol fizzed out like when you first open a new one, i think all thats left is ice so it sucks!

Anonymous said...

I managed to freeze a can of Punk Ipa a while ago, had it in the fridge after that for about a week since I didn't want to get dissapointed. Well, today I finally opened it... and it's totally ok. Perhaps a bit flat, but not enough to bother me. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

If you getting a coach london to europe and want a cheap but still cool beer on the ferry-crossing bit then you will need to pop a few cans of frozen, or near-frozen, beer in your bag before you set off from london, my guess is maybe half-hour in a decent freezer before setting off to coach if close to the coach station so that it's still nicely chilled on the ferry bit

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this advice. Most useful. All the best.

Karbad said...

I frose a a few bottles a little more than a year ago by accident. Actually did it a couple of times. Sent the bottles in for the Norwegian championship. Result? Best Norwegian Pale ale 2012. :-)

Adam said...

Thank you Karbad. We certainly appreciate your first hand experience :-)