There’s nothing quite as nice as enjoying a cold drink on a hot summer day.
That also means there’s nothing quite as disappointing as realizing you don’t have anything iced down. Maybe you drank your last beer, or you just picked up a case of warm sodas at the store. No matter the reason, that sense of panic that hits when you realize you don’t have a cold one is no fun.
And while there are tons of inventions that can help you get a can or bottle ice cold within just a minute or two, most people have one way surefire way to get things cold — the fridge or the freezer.
Of course, we all know that it will take some time to cool down a beverage from room temperature to ice cold. But exactly how long does it take? And how much faster is it to cool your beer or other drink in the freezer compared to the fridge?
To get the answer, we recently bought two cases of beer and measured exactly how long it took to chill them down.
The Test: Room Temperature to Ice Cold
For our test, we devised a simple plan. We purchased two cases of beer, both at room temperature. From there, we put one dozen cans in the refrigerator and another dozen cans in the freezer to see how long it took to get them cold and compare the results.
After putting the cans inside, we set a timer for one hour. At the end of each hour, we took out a can, opened it and measured the temperature.
The initial starting point was room temperature beer — 72.0 degrees. The refrigerator was set to 40 degrees and the freezer was set to 0 degrees. Our test took place during an average day in the household, meaning there was an occasional opening and closing of the fridge and freezer, as you might find in any home.
How Long It Takes to Cool a Drink in the Refrigerator
While we tested the fridge and freezer at the same time, let’s start with the results of cooling a can in the refrigerator.
As mentioned above, we started with a dozen cans at room temperature — measured at 72.0 degrees. Placing the cans in the top of the fridge, we then pulled them out at one-hour intervals to test their temperature.
You can see the full results in the graph below:
As you can see, our test was able to chill the cans of beer down to about 45 degrees before bottoming out. The cans reached that temperature nine hours after we started, and then held there for the rest of the test.
In other words, it takes nine hours in a 40-degree refrigerator to cool a can of beer.
Want to chill a beer in 60 seconds? Check out our review of the drink chiller that spins your beer cold in less than a minute.
Beyond that, there was some interesting data from our test. First, the biggest drop in temperature occurs in the first few hours in the fridge. Here, our drink cooled from 72 degrees at the start to 53 degrees at the three-hour mark — nearly 20 degrees. So it only takes a few hours to start to get your drink chilled.
After those initial hours, the temperature continued to drift down much more slowly. From hour three until the end of the test, the temperature dropped only eight more degrees.
The bottom line, if you have some time, it takes about nine hours to get your beer or other canned drink cold in the fridge. Put it in during the morning and you can be enjoying something cold by the afternoon.
But what if you want to get your drink colder, faster? The obvious solution is to put it in the freezer. We tested that as well…
How Long It Takes to Cool a Drink in a Freezer
We did the same test as the refrigerator, but instead, put 12 beers into the freezer. Compared to the fridge, the results were stunning. In fact, we had to cut the test short as the beer quickly became too cold, too fast — turning into slush instead of liquid.
As before, we started with 72-degree beer placed into the freezer set at 0 degrees. We then checked it every hour.
You can see the results below:
That’s right, starting with a room temperature beer, it quickly cooled to 36 degrees just one hour. In other words, the freezer got the beer colder in one hour than the refrigerator did in the entire test.
After two hours, we checked again and the beer had cooled below 21 degrees. In fact, the can we opened to check the temperature had slushed ice inside of it. With that, we actually decided to end the test instead of continuing to open frozen beer.
Bottom line: If you want to cool your beer in the freezer, it will only take about an hour to get it frosty and two hours to start freezing.
If you want to chill it even faster, you can see our review of the Chill-o-Matic, which got our beer cold in about a minute.