Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Consumer Alert: Testing the Polar Vortex Beer Fridge

Posted By on Wed, Feb 17, 2021 at 3:30 AM

click to enlarge TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells

Voting has begun for the Memphis Flyer's 2021 Beer Bracket Challenge. The city's nine (nine!) breweries are squaring off once again in our 5th annual March-Madness-style competition. Let your voice be heard!

It’s hard to imagine now, but it’ll get so hot this summer that some reporter somewhere will fry an egg on a sidewalk or bake cookies on the dash of a parked car.

Such illustrations of heat border on cliche. They’ve been done to death because they work and, let’s admit it, they’re kind of fun.

But sidewalks and parked cars lack a real utility. Would you eat that egg? Would you leave cookies on the dash as a shortcut for dinner-time desserts? Sounds like domesticity done by Bear Grylls.

This stupid awful polar vortex is an extreme (and unprecedented) weather event in Memphis. It's mucking things up from the interstate to the airport and it's freezing and bursting pipes and causing falls and, well, the list goes on.

But this weather event has one up on extreme hot temperatures. It offers at least one utility. This polar vortex is a beer fridge.

I popped a few room-temperature cans out back a few nights ago. The temperature was 1 or 2, definitely in the single digits. That polar vortex cured those warm beers (and cured my warm-beer blues).

However, I was not in a beer-mergency. I had cold ones on deck — my outside boiz could take their sweet time. But then I thought, “what if this was a beer-mergency? What would Bear Grylls do?”

There are time-tested methods to quickly chill your oat soda cold, pulled-from-a-Rocky-Mountain-stream kinda cold. The towel wrapper in the freezer method works. Trust me. But I wanted to see how well Mama Nature did it.

click to enlarge TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
An instant-read thermometer told me it was 71 degrees in my house. The beer was 68 degrees. The temperature outside was 16 degrees.

After five minutes, the beer had cooled to 66 degrees. In another five, it had cooled to 54 degrees. Another five, it was down to 50 degrees.

This part got boring. I was busy. So, I waited another 10 minutes before checking again. It had only cooled to 49 degrees. But at least we were getting somewhere.

Not all beers have to be served teeth-busting cold. Most of them are not supposed to be served that cold. Bud Light (and those like it) should be served at around 38 degrees at the coldest, according to the Home Brewers Association (HBA).

The local IPA I was testing? The HBA says those should be served between 45 degrees-50 degrees. Another 10 minutes, the beer was down to 42 degrees, perfectly quaffable by the HBA guidelines.

So, the Polar Vortex Beer Fridge (patent pending) got the job done to standard in 35 minutes. The beer was plenty cold enough to enjoy it.

Serving temperatures all have to do with aroma and flavor. But I’m not snooty. I like a cold, cold beer. So, I let my beer cool even more. In another 10 minutes, the beer had cooled to 37 degrees and I could hear the Busch beer jingle: “Busch. Beer. Head for the mountains with, Busch. Beer." I was headed to the mountains but with better beer.

The cold temperatures will definitely turn your warm ones cold. It’s not instant but it works. Hey, we gotta take vortex wins where we can get ’em, right?

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