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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. :) Aug 18, 2010 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, 2010 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. Aug 18, 2010 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, 2010 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. Apr 19, 2011 at 1:24

10 Answers 10

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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, 2010 at 20:53
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    @mfg I know this is really old, but it's not actually the change in temperature that causes the glass to break, but the temperature gradient across the glass. if you run the outside under hot water, then the outside of the bottle will get hot, but the inside of the bottle is still ice. The result is that the glass expands on the outside and shrinks on the inside.
    – Zackkenyon
    Jul 6, 2016 at 15:10
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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, 2010 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, 2010 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. Aug 19, 2010 at 0:49
  • good idea for (what appears to be the result of even successful thawing) flat beer.
    – mfg
    Aug 19, 2010 at 13:07
  • Another use for flat beer is in making chili.
    – Joe
    Jan 17, 2016 at 17:00
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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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This answer addresses: Frozen root beer / glass bottle / verified method of thawing without glass breakage / leaving the bottle UNOPENED, for future consumption.

There has been some helpful speculation, but only one of the answers here, so far, has described successfully preventing breakage while thawing UNOPENED frozen glass bottles of beer. It was a little light on details.

So I'll share my experience, and in a little more detail. But I won't be addressing the part of the question dealing with flavor. Note that my experience is only with root beer (non-alcoholic / soda pop / soft drink / similar to cola).

I had a frozen glass bottle of root beer that froze outside overnight last night, when the temperature dropped to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius). Before the bottle could warm up very much, I submerged it in 1.5 gallons (6 liters) of 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius) tap water. When I checked on it two hours later, the root beer had thawed completely, and the bottle hadn't broken or cracked.

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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, 2010 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, 2010 at 19:02
  • good call. sounds like the collective is saying run it under cold water.
    – mfg
    Aug 19, 2010 at 20:53
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I submerge can or bottle in cold water to minimze rapid temp increase as this changes the drink, I froze it already so try to minimize my error, and I cringe and drink my beer, its a bit different tasting but does the trick

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I know this thread is ancient, but I just left a Modelo in the freezer for about 7:20hrs, and I got some help here.

Being careful not to jostle it, I slowly uncapped the bottle in the sink, then I upended it over an empty glass. Once the beer stopped foaming, (still over the sink) I took a room temp bottle of Modelo and poured it bit by bit into the frozen one. Taking breaks to allow the foaming to settle, I caught the fizzing foam in the glass and repeated until the ice turned to slush (which I could finally swish about) and eventually dissolved. This took about 20-30 minutes with clean-up. It results in drinking two beers instead of one, but it resolves the lost carbonation and the taste.

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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, 2010 at 18:22
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Use a plastic bag... It's good for thawing and slow freezing. Just keep your bottles in the bag.

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    I don't think this is enough information to qualify as an actual answer... use the bag how? What does the bag do to prevent explosions?
    – Catija
    Jul 5, 2016 at 19:08

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