Advice · Home life · Memories

How to deal with frozen beer

Our fridge is a little on the cold side. If you push things to the very back of it they might freeze. This is acceptable for bottles of water but not for cucumber. Last week a bottle of alcohol-free beer exploded after it spent too much time at the back of the middle shelf, so we have adjusted the temperature control yet again. I guess that alcohol-free beer has a higher freezing point than regular beer, something I hadn’t thought too hard about before. A quick search reveals that the freezing point of ethanol is -114 degrees centigrade, way below the temperature of domestic freezers. Spirits will remain in their liquid state if kept in a freezer, but beer and wine can turn to ice because of their higher water content. I learnt this in the 1980s. One of the History lecturers at university kept Polish vodka in his freezer and more than one supervision with him incorporated a few glasses of the stuff.

Before I went up to university I spent time in Spain with my brother. He was working in a school there during the third year of his degree in Spanish and French. (As regular readers of these posts will know, he has lived there, with his Spanish wife, since the 1980s.) The day I arrived in Spain we went to the house of the woman who was to become his wife. There was beer in the freezer and it had all frozen. My first meeting with my future sister-in-law involved trying to chip away at frozen beer with a variety of kitchen implements. We failed to dislodge enough fragments to fill a small glass. Later that evening, after a few gin and tonics in a local bar, I realized what we could have done instead. We could have poured some room temperature beer into the bottles of frozen beer. That would probably have done the trick. It might seem obvious to you but none of us thought of it at the time.

It is over 30 years since this happened. In all that time there have been no opportunities for me to put my theory into practice but I offer you the advice just in case: if you are ever confronted with frozen beer, use room temperature beer to thaw it out. It wasn’t relevant for me while clearing the shards of glass and blobs of frozen alcohol-free Becks from the fridge last week, but it could have been useful on my first afternoon in Spain, and it might come in handy for you sometime.



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