Can Hard Seltzer Go From Cold To Warm? What is the myth

Hard seltzers like White Claw and Truly are absolutely massive right now although they are quite a new product. However you might have picked one up in a fridge or took one out of your own and now it is warm. Will that affect it? Can hard seltzer go from cold to warm?

The origins of this myth that they can’t, probably arise from the thinking that this is how you skunk beer. Spoiler alert, it is not!

Can hard seltzer go from cold to warm?

Hard seltzers can go from cold to warm and even back to cold again. As long as you don’t expose them to extremes of either or for a long time that puts it out of date, nothing bad should happen to your beer. Freezing or cooking your hard seltzer will ruin it, as will having it open too long.

Can a hard seltzer get skunked?

“Skunking” is most commonly applied to beers. It is when the hops in the beer reacts with light to form unpleasant musty flavours. The beer needs to contain hops and be in a glass bottle. As hard seltzers do not contain hops and are in cans, they cannot be skunked.

How skunking happens, its risks and how is it avoided is actually very interesting. 

The one thing to remember, skunking doesn’t happen due to temperature changes!

What does it mean when a drink is skunked?

Skunking, otherwise know as light-strike, is a mechanism whereby the light can make a drink go bad.

Nasty, musty flavour compounds get produced when the hops is in the sunlight which can turn your drink nasty.

What drinks can be skunked?

You need to have hops in a drink for it to be skunked. Until very recently that meant one drink and one drink only… beer.

There is a growing movement to hop other drinks now so theoretically they are at risk from the light.

Some examples are…

  • Lagunitas makes Hoppy Refresher, a non alcoholic but non beer drink
  • Hop tea
  • Hop water
  • Snake River Seltzer
  • Hopster, a German drink from mineral water, tea and lemon
  • Hop soda

Despite these new additions to the hop world, in 99.9% of cases when you think of a skunked drink, it will be a beer.

How does a beer get skunked?

The bitterness in beer comes from hops, a plant. Increasing the hops in beer is all the rage these days with IPAs, double hopped, dry hopped etc all common place. 

They are added to the sugary wort to crease the distinctive flavour. When boiled, hops release iso-alpha acids into the soon to be beer.

However, when the iso-alpha acids are exposed to sunlight, it breaks them down. The resulting compounds bind with proteins that contain sulfur.

The resulting new chemical is so incredibly potent and resembles to famous oder of skunks.

Like a shark and a drop of blood, people can taste it in one part in a billion!

Do you have to refrigerate hard seltzers?

You do not have to refrigerate hard seltzers. The ideal environment to store them is a cool dry area, out of the direct sunlight. The main purpose with refrigerating a hard seltzer is to make it even more thirst quenching but a room temperature will not make it go bad.

Can a hard seltzer go bad if it is not refrigerated?

Like most products, a hard seltzer has a use by date, which is designed to enjoy it before it degrades. 

If you store a hard seltzer at extremes of heat or cold it can affect the flavour and in terms of heat, raise the possibility of it going bad.

You can just store a hard seltzer at room temperature until you want to drink it then you can cool it if required.

Will hard seltzer freeze?

Yes, a hard seltzer will freeze. At only 5% ABV, there is not enough alcohol to lower its freezing point to below freezer temperatures. 

The hard seltzer will completely lose its carbonation and turn still. There is also the possibility that the frozen drink expands and cracks its can.

I tested this out with a White Claw Black Cherry

What happened to the can of hard seltzer on freezing?

Examining the evidence shows that the can of hard seltzer has been damaged. 

The top of the can as buckled up and when i go to squeeze it, there is no give, it is as hard as a rock.

Why has the can been damaged?

Did i drop it in the freezer or has something else fell on it? Nope, the liquid has expanded when it froze, which they do. 

This expansion has meant the can has to buckle to cope with the increased volume of the now frozen White Claw. It is a nifty, if simple science experiment.

Does the hard seltzer unfreeze again?

Yes again, i left the can in the fridge for about 36hours and now you can squeeze the can and shake it about to show there is liquid in it.

Now it is unfrozen, is there any further damage to the can? 

I really did not think there was until i gave it a really good going over. 

The can is much more squeezy than it should be. That might be due to the extra volume from the top buckling up but the more i squeezed the more i heard i little wheezing sound. There is a leak!

As you can see from the picture, right at the point where the can buckled, there has been a tear of the can and now air can get in and out.

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