In short - Yes, beer does freeze!
It doesn't matter whether it’s a summer day in Arizona or if it’s the middle of winter in Wisconsin; you can always accidentally freeze your beer.
We all (I might just be self inserting here) have a bottle of vodka sitting in our freezer at home in case we get the sudden urge to make some pasta with vodka sauce, right? Well, what’s nice about vodka is that you can throw it in the freezer because well alcohol doesn't freeze, right? Wrong! Alcohol freezes! A Vodka with 40% ABV will freeze at -17ºF. So no, you don’t need to rush home and grab that vodka bottle out of the freezer, it’ll be fine because well it turns out that -17ºF is pretty cold.
At what temperature does beer freeze?
While that vodka bottle might freeze at a fairly low temperature, beer is a bit less forgiving with it’s freezing temperature. This means that if you did leave your beer in the freeze to make your famous pasta with beer sauce, you might want to run home and get it out of the freezer. The alcohol content of beer determines the freezing point. Most beers freeze at around 28ºF (-2 ºC). This is assuming the beer's ABV% is in the 4-6% range.
User Narnad from Ratebeer.com shared their formula for determining the temperature that a beer will freeze at (What temperature is too cold to keep beer outside? (ratebeer.com)). We hope it makes more sense for you than it did for us. We're beer geeks, not math nerds.
How long does it take beer to freeze
Going from what we just learned about the temperature that beer freezes we can give a very definitive answer of… it depends. We have to take a lot of things into consideration here, alcohol % of the beer, insulation of the beer (is it sitting in a freezer or are we surrounding it in an ice block?), the sugar content in the beer (more sugar will lower the temperature), is it in an ice chest at a party where people are constantly opening the chest and (in my best dad voice) letting the cold out.
Can you put beer in the freezer?
Need your warm beer to chill down fast? Go ahead, throw it in the freezer for a few minutes. Just make sure you set a timer so you don’t forget about it. Just remember to be careful, carbonated drinks tend to explode if left in the freezer too long. The last thing you want is beer slushy covering your fridge in some sort of weird art project like display. If you want a fun little party trick the mythbusters display an 'Instant Frozen Beer' trick.
Why does beer explode in the freezer?
Water expands as it freezes. Therefore, the beer can will expand as the water inside freezes. This means that the pressure buildup from the ice expansion could cause the beer cans to burst. This can lead to beer waste and a lot of cleanup. So really, just don't let your beer freeze.
Can you save a frozen beer? What to do with a frozen beer:
Perhaps you forgot to take out your beer from the freezer. Maybe you live in Canada and left your beer outside on a cold winter night. We get it and we’ve done it too.
Safety first: Throw out any frozen beer stored in a glass beer bottle. It is not worth taking any risk if even one shard breaks off of your frozen beer. Blahhh, it's almost like watching Saw.
If you catch your beer while it is just slightly frozen you should be good to go to consume it. It definitely won’t be the beer the brewer intended for you to drink because freezing it is going to alter the flavor, aroma, and texture of the beer. But you might as well give it a shot right? What's the worst that could happen? Most of the time the beer will taste flat, generally just sort of off, and have a weird slushy texture to it. In addition, a partially frozen beer can have a higher ABV as well. If you remove the ice slushy from the beer, you’re basically just removing excess water which causes the alcohol by volume to increase.The actual amount of alcohol in the beer is the same, just the ratio changes (so no this isn’t a weird hack to get more booze out of the beer, if you want that just go ahead and throw a shot of mezcal in the beer)
What to do with a frozen beer
Maybe make a beer margarita from frozen beer (seriously). Take your beer slush and mix it with margarita mix, lime juice, tequila, etc. and make a cool little beer cocktail out of it. Perfect way to cool off during hot summer days. My go-to is for beer margarita is SunTrap from Three Weavers. Passionfruit Gose. Tart, salt, passionfruit. Really makes a fun margarita (Note the beer doesn’t have to be frozen to do this, it’s great not frozen)
Maybe you froze a stout and happen to be making a chilli. Throw that beer in! It’ll add a nice robust smooth flavor to the chilli. It’s a great addition to (almost) any chilli.