There is nothing like a chilled drink after a hard day at work or to celebrate a special occasion. But what happens if you forgot to put your favorite drink in the fridge ahead of time? Well, you would just put your drink in the freeze for some time to chill it down quickly. Since beer and wine can freeze in a conventional freezer, causing bottles to break or even explode, you should make sure not to leave your drinks for too long. Stronger alcoholic drinks usually don’t freeze in a conventional freezer – this post gives an overview of the freezing point of various alcoholic drinks.
In general it can be said that the more alcohol a drink contains, the lower its freezing point. The freezing point of water is at 32°F (0°C) while the freezing point of ethanol (the alcohol we drink) is at -173.4°F (-114.1°C). Since alcoholic drinks are mostly a mixture of water and ethanol, the freezing point can be derived by the alcohol content in the mixture.
The fact that alcohol and water freeze at different temperatures is also used in the commonly called freeze distillation process, or freeze concentration process. During this process, a fermented liquid is frozen at a temperature below 32°F (0°C). During the defrostation process, the alcohol and flavor components will liquidify before water does. All you need to do is to collect the liquids and discard the leftover ice – which is mostly water. This is a great way to “distill at home” without the need of a still or heat. You can check out our post about freeze distilling here and learn how to create some great fortified wine at home without a still.
But now, let’s have a look at the freezing temperatures of conventional alcoholic drinks and whether it is safe to store them in a freezer:
An average beer has an alcohol by volume (ABV) level of around 5%. This means that beer freezes at a temperature of around 28°F (-2°C). Since a conventional freezer reaches temperatures of around -0.4°F (-18°C), beer can freeze very quickly inside a freezer.
Since the carbon dioxide inside the beer expands greatly when the drink freezes, freezing a beer bottle usually makes the bottle explode. This can either mess up your fridge or even hurt you. So make sure not to leave beer in the freezer for more than 10-15 minutes.
The ABV of wine is usually between 9-12%. This means that wine freezes at a temperature of around 23°F (-5°C). Depending on the position where it is placed inside the freezer, wine could freeze within one hour. Freezing wine in a bottle often breaks the cap of the bottle or the entire bottle. While it is not as explosive as beer, freezing your wine will greatly deteriorate its quality. So never leave wine in the freezer for more than one hour. And be especially careful with sparkling wine as the bubbles will cause the thick glass bottle to explode, leading to serios damage inside your freezer.
The average whiskey with an average alcohol proof of 84 (ABV 42%) freezes at a temperature of -17°F (-27°C). Most conventional freezers do not reach this temperatures so storing whiskey in a freezer is generally ok. The alcohol and the taste will remain unchanged. However, the recommended drinking temperature of whiskey is 60-65°F (15-18°C) so storing it in your freezer would not help the drinking experience. This is more common with voda or jägermeister drinks.
Most commercial vodkas have a minimum ABV of 37.5%, up to 42%. Therefore, vodka will not freeze up to a temperature of around -15°F (-25°C). A temperature that is not reached by standard freezers. Storing vodka in a freezer is actually quite common. You can just pour the vodka from the bottle right into your glass – extremely chilled and refreshing.
Sake is a Japanese rice wine and usually has an alcohol by volume of 15-20%. Therefore, sake freezes at a termerature of around 22°F (-6°C). Therefore, it is not recommended to store sake in a freezer for an extended period of time since it will frezze and possibly break the bottle. Also, sake is mostly served at room temperature or even slightly warm – so no need to bring it down to chilling temperatures.
Like vodka and whiskey, most gin blends have an ABV between 37.5% and 50%. Therefore, gin might start to freeze at temperatures of around -15°F (-25°C). That means that it is safe to store gin in a freezer even for extended periods of time.
Rectified spirit is the nearly pure ethanol alcohol that can be achieved by repeating the distillation process numerous times. The ABV of rectified spirit is usually around 95% up to a practical limit of 97.2%. Since there is hardly any water content left in the distillate, rectified spirit freezes at a temperature of around -150°F (-100°C). A temperature that does not naturally occur anywhere on our planet.
Rum is a distillate of cane sugar and comes in numerous varieties that difffer in taste as well as the alcohol content. Standard rum usually has an alcohol proof of around 80 and therefore has a freezing point similar to vodka and gin at around -15°F (-25°C).
The ABV of tequila ranged between 32% and 60% – usually it is around 40%. It is therefore safe to store tequila in a conventional freezer, even for an extended period of time.
There are various varieties of dessert wine or fortified wines. Their alcohol by volume usually ranges from 14% to 25%. These drinks freeze at temperatures around 22°F (-7°C). Therefore, we only recommend to place dessert wines in the freezer for a short period of time to avoid complete freezing of your drink. Once frozen, a good dessert wine can lose a lot of its flavors and aromas.