Every August I go camping1 for a week or two in western PA, and I like to take along some beer to drink in the evenings. What I've been doing, to save cooler space (and reduce the amount of ice I have to replace each day), is to keep most of it out and just keep a buffer of a couple bottles in the cooler. But this question makes me wonder whether that harms the taste, because while I can control for light I can't do much about storage temperature. Should I just suck it up and put everything on ice when I get there? I haven't noticed a problem so far, but I tend to take a variety of beers (I don't drink the same thing every day) so I might never notice on my own.

1 This is not primitive camping with tiny, heat-absorbing nylon tents. Most of our tents/pavillions are canvas, and we have a small cabin available. No electricity is available, however.

4 Answers 4


I use 3 methods to store the beer, and others, while camping:

  1. Cooler: The way you mentioned in your question.
  2. Sunk in water: If possible, put the beer either in a plastic bag or in a hole in a nearby water body, creek or river.
  3. In the ground: Dig a hole in the ground in a shady area and store it in there.

Second and third possibilities will keep it cool, but not really cold, depending on the area. The you can cool it even more by placing it in ice shortly before consuming it.


Temperature does not skunk beer, contrary to popular belief. It is much more important to keep it out of the light.


Using a 12% salt brine ice slurry in your esky (cooler). The salt allows the water to "superchill" without freezing.

  • This makes the ice melt faster. You will need more ice. Why do you need superchill?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 16:03
  • It is a slurry. So it is ice and water. In that respect you are right. The thing is though the salted water actually condenses and compresses the ice (see iceberg) while reducing the water temperature to below that of the compressed ice. Big chunks of ice will last way longer after being salted than just ice in a cooler. Sprinkle salt on two chunks of ice not in water, listen to them crack as they weld together, reducing the amount of air and condensing. In fact you will actually use less ice
    – mungrel
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 16:31
  • Not buying. I have a BS in chemical engineering. Roads are salted to melt ice.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 16:34
  • I think it's related to the Raoult's law. edited to say that salting roads is usually done prior to icy weather. It is a large displacement of salt to water, which acts as an abrasive to break up ice as it is driven on. edit 2 is I respect you chemical engineering background. I am a fisherman, the technique has been used by long haul fisherman around the world for years. ;)
    – mungrel
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 16:39
  • Not sure how Raoult's law applies here. Comments are not for debate so letting it go.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 17:13

A couple at time does not reduce the amount of ice you need to replace. The cooler has the same insulation and same surface area. It will have the same heat loss.

Why put it on ice when you get there? Pack the cooler before you leave and ice it down. Top off the cooler at the last store.

I suggest a separate cooler for drinks as you are in and out of it more. If ice runs out nothing will spoil.

As for food you can get a week in a good cooler. Pack as many foods frozen as possible. Open and close as few a times as possible.

  • The answer to the implied question in the first paragraph is that I've been storing those couple bottles in the same cooler that holds my food. I hadn't considered separating them into two coolers. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 16:27

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