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Recently I had occasion to put @Kevin Selker 's answer to the test in terms of rapidly chilling beer. However, we uncovered a problem the next morning where people had taken beer and thrown it in the freezer only to forget about it.

I will flip this question around now, what is the best way (is it possible) to take beer from your freezer and safely thaw it for drinking? Is it actually worth drinking if you freeze it solid, then thaw it then chill it again? will the glass be compromised? anyway, i guess this is some regular event at my parents and i would like for this to stop happening.

[as an aside: we wrapped up the two bottles in towels and put them in the basement (which was relatively cool. we came back awhile later and the one bottle had exploded, the other on had a crack around the neck. we had to throw both out. so either this method is fail, or needed augmented.]

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Reading Kevin's post, wasn't he saying to use the "bucket of ice, water, and salt" method, instead of throwing it in the freezer? That should minimize the issue with forgetting it's in the freezer - worst case scenario, you come down the next morning to a few beers sitting in a bucket of room temperature water. I know that doesn't answer your question, but wanted to throw it out there as a way to avoid needing an answer to it. :) –  stephennmcdonald Aug 18 '10 at 17:59
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yeah, which i did for the keg and it worked wonders; some idiots put bottles of beer in the freezer and forgot about them –  mfg Aug 18 '10 at 18:21
    
Ha! I know that feeling. In the Hawaiian Punch case in my answer, that was a family member who was visiting one Sunday and didn't tell me. What a great thing to wake up to the next morning, which of course was a work day. –  stephennmcdonald Aug 18 '10 at 18:28
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@stephenmcdonald : actually, a worse scenario is someone did it on top of your dining room table, and the condensation on the outside of the container results in bad water staining and you have to refinish the table. So do it in the kitchen or the bath tub where you don't have to worry about things getting wet. –  Joe Aug 19 '10 at 0:00
    
I've made this mistake enough times that I now always set a timer when I put a bottle in the freezer. –  keithjgrant Apr 19 '11 at 1:24
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6 Answers

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I would suggest the best way is slow cold running water over the bottle in a bowl that covers it. Reason being any rapid temperature increase is going to break the glass. You may lose carbonation but really that is how beers starts so I wouldn't worry to much. For taste, it might taste a little bit different. I have frozen wine on accident and it actually didn't turn out bad. When I bought the same wine and didn't freeze it I got the same flavors. I think it should be alright.

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good call. sounds like the collective is saying run it under cold water. –  mfg Aug 19 '10 at 20:53
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I've had the same experience as you, with beer and other liquids frozen in glass bottles. Whenever I try to rapidly thaw them, it seems the structure of the glass is compromised in some way and it either explodes or cracks - this even has happened to me when trying to slow thaw, like you did.

Beer bottles, and especially cans, can explode in the freezer and will make an ungodly mess. Beer bottles exploding in the freezer are rare, but I've heard anecdotal stories from people I trust who said it has happened to them, perhaps with improper bottling and not enough room for expansion in the neck.

Since a few bad experiences with forgetting things in the freezer (I had an aluminum can of Hawaiian Punch literally explode all over the freezer one night, that was a MESS) I now only use the salted ice bath method!

I have tasted beer that was frozen and thawed without any glass shards in it, specifically a can of beer that partially exploded (I guess I didn't learn my lesson from the Hawaiian Punch that quickly). It had enough left frozen in the bottom of the can that I figured I should thaw what was left, and give it a taste. It wasn't bad, but it tasted a little...flatter than normal, I guess? It just wasn't as full flavored as I expected. Definitely a noticeable difference to me.

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good to know that the taste will be affected, at least in that case –  mfg Aug 18 '10 at 18:25
    
Frozen sodas are a mess -- I think it was a cherry coke that I had to clean out of a soda machine once. Ick. –  Joe Aug 18 '10 at 23:56
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If you can figure a way to thaw them safely, I'd use frozen beer in beer bread. That should be more forgiving than drinking it.

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Generally when you thaw a frozen carbonated beverage the resultant liquid is un-carbonated (the CO2 will boil off before the ice melts). Interestingly, under pressure a carbonated beverage will stay liquid to all appearances, but when the pressure is released it solidifies almost instantly. Cool to watch. –  Satanicpuppy Aug 19 '10 at 0:49
    
good idea for (what appears to be the result of even successful thawing) flat beer. –  mfg Aug 19 '10 at 13:07
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I've seen a microwave used to quickly thaw a bottle of Newcastle that had frozen. Take the cap off, and run it under cold water until there's liquid surrounding a frozen core, then microwave in short bursts until thawed.

Fair warning: it tasted awful. You'll want to have consumed every other bottle in the pack before bothering with this...

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good advice on consuming the rest of the 6 pack. since i am concerned about the safety of it though, is this a safe method? –  mfg Aug 19 '10 at 18:23
    
@mfg: well, I wouldn't go straight from the freezer to the microwave - this isn't tempered glass, and it doesn't take much to crack it. That said, once you've brought the bottle and outer liquid up to room temperature, it should be fairly safe - just don't let it boil, or you'll have a mess on your hands. –  Shog9 Aug 19 '10 at 19:02
    
good call. sounds like the collective is saying run it under cold water. –  mfg Aug 19 '10 at 20:53
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I would suggest removing the bottle cap before thawing the beer. Of course you'll want to put it someplace that won't be harmed if it makes a mess.

As for the resulting flat beer, maybe you could use it in chili, beer brats, beer can chicken, or childish pranks. :P I've also heard that beer can be good for plants. Here is a listing of several other uses for beer, most/all of which work well with flat beer.

I don't believe it would work well in beer bread though since the carbonation helps the bread to rise.

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Well, if you happen to have more than one frozen bottle of beer, I would suggest doing just the opposite of the suggestions so far. Put one of them in a bucket of HOT water. I can imagine how this might work, but I'm loath to try it.

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i think it would work like 'booOOOOOOooom' or 'p-chiiiiihhhhhsssshhhh' –  mfg Aug 19 '10 at 18:22
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