Last night two of my friends were having this huge argument on which was the proper way to make your beer bottles cold. One said in the freezer cause they're kept at some point dry, and the other one claimed that it was better in ice since they're more in contact with the freezing agent.

I personally think it doesn't really matter(I'd still drink both anyways) but out of curiosity, is there really a best way to freeze your beers?

  • 1
    Move to Wisconsin.... our beer never gets warm in the first place.
    – Bradley
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 19:27

2 Answers 2


Well you're going to be the genius here, because as it turns out, they're both wrong.

First, we're going to eliminate "novel" options for cooling, like liquid nitrogen and fire extinguishers, and limit ourselves to ways we can cool bottles every day in the freezer.

What we need to maximize here is thermal conductivity. Since the goal here is homeostasis, we need to move heat out of the bottle and into the surrounding medium as quickly as possible. And air, as it turns out, is a pretty lousy conductor. So that makes your first friend most wrong. Keeping the bottle dry will cool it eventually, but quite slowly. However, ice isn't that much better. Because there's a lot of air still touching the bottle when it's in ice. It'll cool it better, but it's certainly still not the best option.

The best option, it turns out, is an ice water mixture, with a healthy dose of salt to help keep the water liquid, even below 0 degrees Celsius. Water happens to be an excellent conductor, and with ice to keep it cold and salt to keep it liquid, can draw heat out of bottles faster than any other non-exotic method, by a significant margin.

So, if you want to cool your bottles quickly. and ice-water bath is the ticket.

  • 3
    As a chemical engineer I can second that. Consider this. Would you rather stand in a freezer or jump in an ice water bath? And as a chemical engineer homeostasis is not the proper word here. +1
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 23:27
  • 1
    Spinning the bottle should help it cool faster too. You don't want to agitate it too much, but it's kind of like stirring a cocktail. It's faster than just letting it sit in your ice water mix.
    – Montijello
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 20:49

When I don't have ice to chill a beer, I put a napkin around the bottle and wet it in the sink and then put it into the freezer. In my experience, this way takes less time to chill a beer.

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