| The Big Chill For Beer
by Rose E. Jordan
Hi Bob -
Well summer is upon us when nothing is better than a well chilled
beer. The problem is whenever I want to enjoy one there aren't any
in the fridge. So my mission over the past few years has been to
see how fast I could chill that wonderful can. I've learned a few
things mainly by trial and error - a lot of the ladder - along with doing
some research to the point where I now can do it fairly quickly. I
thought I'd pass along some tips to your readers. Here goes -
I have found that this is the most basic and practical way to cool
drinks, because virtually everyone has the materials to do it. The
process is simple-
1. Fill a container (something insulted like a cooler is best) with ice,
water, and lots of salt. You really can’t overdo it on the salt here, but
you can overdo it on ice. Make sure to add enough water to
surround the drinks, since that gives you the maximal surface area
to cool the beer inside.
2. Submerge your cans and/or bottles as much as possible. Make
sure that they aren’t packed too tightly, since you want the icy water
to flow around each container. If you've put the drinks in a cooler
with a top, close the top.
3. Wait. This should only take about five minutes.
4. That's it! Enjoy your chilled beer.
If you're like me you probably want to not only know that it works by
why it works. Well, plain water freezes at 32°F. Salt water can get
much colder than that and still remain a liquid. You might remember
this from your high school chemistry class—it's called "freezing point
depression," and it happens because dissolving salt in water lowers
the liquid's freezing point. Table salt breaks down into sodium and
chloride ions, which physically interfere with water molecules’ ability
to form the crystalline structure we call ice. This means the solution
has to be colder than normal in order to freeze. Incidentally, salt in
water will also raise the boiling point, leading to the old wives' tale
that you shouldn't add salt to water if you're trying to boil it. While it's
technically true, the amount of salt you add when cooking won't raise
the boiling point by any substantial amount, so salt away.
If you put your beer in an ice-water bath, it will cool the beer fairly
effectively because liquid conducts heat well: The icy water pulls
heat from the beer; the beers gets cooler. But no matter how much
ice you add to a standard water bath, it will only ever reach
temperatures just above 32°F. If it got any colder than that, you’d
just end up with more ice. Even if you keep your ice at 0°F, the
standard temperature for freezers, once it melts into ice water, the
liquid won't get any colder than that 32°F sticking point.
So what happens when you add salt to the bath? Because salt
lowers the melting point of water, if you add salt to ice, the ice will
melt. You might assume that, because the ice is melting faster, the
salt has somehow heated up the ice faster than normal. But that’s
not what’s happening—the salt isn’t raising the temperature of the
ice; it’s converting ice into salt water of the same temperature.
Salty ice water can get much colder than regular water, though.
While salty 0°F ice will still melt, its temperature won't increase to
32°F like it would in regular water. Instead, the salt will turn it into 0°
F water. Combined with the rest of the water in the bath, you
suddenly have a watery, salty slurry that’s well below 32°F. And
because the water bath is colder, your beer will chill faster.
In case five minutes is too long to wait, there is one more thing you
can do to speed the cooling process along: Spin it! Water is already
a great heat conductor, but it still takes time for heat to transfer from
the beverage inside the bottle or can to the bath outside it. Inside
the container, the beer along the edges will be slightly colder than
the fluid at the center. Likewise, on the outside of the container, the
water closest to the beverage will be slightly warmer. You can
alleviate some of that unevenness by spinning the bottles (gently, so
as not to shake them up). This will speed up the heat redistribution
from beer to water.
So there you have it, Bob. Hope you might use my article Bob. I
think a lot of your readers will benefit from it.
Many thanks Rose for sending such a timely article. The weather
around here is getting hot and your tips will be most useful Great job!
Please write again.
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about
anything related to beer in any way just as Ellie did. I select
the best and publish them here. So join in and get writing!
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