Part of enjoying your favorite beer is being able to keep it cool. Whether you’re a hardcore beer snob, or more a fan of mainstream lager, keeping your beer chilled is an important part of taking pleasure in your favorite sudsy malt beverage. If you’re like me, you’re usually happy to keep your beer in the fridge which is fine if you like your beers as close as possible to ice cold. Sometimes though, you will want to do more than just keep your beer ice cold in the fridge. And this is where the beer cooler comes in.
If you’re in the market for a beer cooler, you’re going to need to know what you’re looking for. First of all, do you want something to keep your beer cool while transporting it somewhere? Or, do you want something for use at home. If the latter, you can choose from a variety of coolers designed to hold bottles of your favorite beers. If you’re thinking on more of a grand scale, you might require something to keep a keg of beer cold. The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you need a portable cooler, a beer fridge, or a kegerator.
A portable cooler is essentially an insulated box with a tight fitting lid like the ones we’ve all used on camping trips. The best models are of solid wall construction rather than the insulated vinyl ones. Some models of solid wall coolers will keep your beer cold for as many as five days at a time. Most are reasonably priced and can be purchased within the fifty dollar range. Very few of these coolers will hold an exact number of beer cans or bottles, which is okay. The surplus room will allow you to insert ice or frozen gel packs to help keep your beer cooler, longer.
The next type of beer cooler is basically a refrigerator. Most of this sort of beer fridge come equipped with two sliding doors for easy viewing and access to your beers. With this sort of cooler there’s a few features you’ll want. First, easy temperature control. Whether you’re keeping your favorite mainstream lager or a collection to make other beer snobs weep, temperature control is important. Most coolers of this type will keep an internal temperature of anywhere from 2-10 Celsius. So you can lower it for your lager, and keep it closer to 10 for your ales and such.
Another feature to look for is adjustable shelving. Unfortunately, not all beer comes in convenient 330ml bottles. Many such coolers won’t be able to adjust their shelves to accommodate the 750ml bottles but most will have removable shelves which will do the trick. When picking one of these coolers, try to pick one with a reasonably compact design. Most will either be tall and narrow, perfect for a corner of your favorite room. Or they’ll be short and squat. Decide which design best suits your needs. The bottle oriented beer cooler will range anywhere from $300 and up.
Finally, we come to the keg fridge, also referred to as the kegerator. Your first decision is going to be how many kegs you want to keep at a time. Kegerators can come equipped to hold anywhere from 1-5 kegs at any given time. Aside from how much money you’re going to spend on a kegerator, the most important decision you’ll make is how much space the kegerator will take up. There are larger models built from converted refrigerators for example and will take up a good sized corner of whatever room it lives in.
Some kegerators are smaller units built for the small kegs you see in the liquor stores. Most, however are for regular sized kegs and come in waist sized cabinets. Unfortunately, these bad boys can run a cost of a thousand dollars or more. With these, you want something that can easily accommodate the keg and a CO2 canister. Temperature control is important so you can serve your beer at a temperature you’re comfortable with. Try to find a kegerator whose hoses and nozzles can be easily cleaned between uses. Trust me when I say nothing ruins the taste of a pint of beer quicker than dirty lines.
These guidelines should help you find a beer cooler able to suit your needs. When you go shopping for something like this remember my rule number one. Decide how much money you feel comfortable spending, and find the best thing you can for that amount of money. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around so you can find the best deals. As much as we enjoy our beers, there’s no sense spending more money than necessary to keep them cool.