Myth Busting

Just how long does it take to cool down a beer?

click to enlarge LIGHT MY FIRE: Spraying a can of beer with a fire extinguisher might be the fastest way to cool it down, but it isn't exactly practical. - Wayne Garcia
Wayne Garcia
LIGHT MY FIRE: Spraying a can of beer with a fire extinguisher might be the fastest way to cool it down, but it isn't exactly practical.

Keeping beer cold in Florida's 90-degree-plus heat ain't easy. Getting it cold in the first place is even tougher — if you're in a hurry, that is.

Let's face it, when you're in need of a frosty brew, waiting the 10-15 minutes for it to cool down in a standard ice cooler just don't cut it. You need sustenance NOW!

So here at the Planet, we turned to experts. More specifically, we recalled seeing an episode of Discovery Channel's Mythbusters where they measured various quick methods for cooling beer down to a desired 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mythbusters logged the time it took to chill down a six-pack in the fridge, the freezer, a cooler with ice, in ice water and in ice water that had been salted. Of those conventional methods, the salted ice was the quickest, at five minutes.

But it was the unconventional that caught our eye. The quickest technique tried, it turned out, was using a fire extinguisher to speed-chill the suds. In that experiment, the beer was ready to quaff in under three minutes.

The hell with waiting five whole minutes when it can be ready in three.

To duplicate the experiment, we turned to one of our West Tampa neighbors, City Fire Equipment Co. They were nice enough, and professionally curious enough, to unload an entire extinguisher (15 pounds of freezing cold carbon dioxide) on a tall-boy can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Yeah, we know, but it's all we had left hanging around the offices that was in a can.) And not once, but twice.

The beer temperature went from 74.7 degrees to a low of 57 degrees in the 30 seconds it took to empty the fire extinguisher. Seeing as those results are nowhere near cold enough to enjoy, and the fact that using a fire extinguisher to cool beer is dangerous (both in terms of depriving the extinguisher-wielder of oxygen and creating frozen objects that can burn the skin) and expensive ($22 worth of CO2 was expelled in just a half-minute), we're sticking to our Styrofoam coolers from now on. We might add a little salt to the ice.

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