Welcome to Ask Kate About Beer, in which The Takeout’s resident beer expert answers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about beer but were too drunk to ask. Have a question? Shoot it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Science is broad. Its applications are innumerable, from answering the largest questions about human consciousness and the nature of time to solving the most mundane, ordinary of problems. Like, say, how long should I chill this beer to cool it down?
A few weeks ago, I heard from Álvaro Díez, a masters student at the University of Warsaw who studies simulations and computer modeling in physics. He wanted to share news of a beer chilling calculator he and his research partner, Tibor Pál, a PhD candidate in macroeconomics, had created. Would I be interested in learning about it?
Hell to the yes.
The calculator he and Pál created was inspired by their work together at the Omni Calculator Project, which seeks to answer basic, everyday questions through numbers.
Their question was: How long, exactly, would it take to chill certain types of alcohol to their proper serving temperature?
“This summer, we realized that cooling down one’s drink is an everyday task wherein we often use our intuition. Tibor, with his experience in the beverage industry asked me if such a calculator is possible, and that’s how we started with our research,” Díez tells The Takeout.
While guidelines for this certainly exist already, Díez and Pál’s calculator is customizable. Plug in the type of alcohol you want to chill—beer, in my case—then what type of vessel it’s in, roughly the temperature it’s at, whether you’ll place it in a freezer or fridge, and what temperature you’d like to serve it at.
Press a button, and you have the exact time you’ll need to chill the beer before it’s ready.
Here’s an example I tried, assuming a tallboy of beer at room temperature that I want to put in the freezer:
You can also use the calculator for water or soda or juices or liquors, if that’s your thing.
I ask Díez how accurate his calculator is, given variations in refrigerators and packaging materials. Surprisingly, it’s still pretty accurate given those variables.
“The results that are below 40 mins are up to 97% accurate, and as we go up with the time, the accuracy goes down to 75%. However, that is still a good accuracy, since in physics we try to make approximations to generalize various models,” he says. “We wanted to make our calculator handy and accessible to everyone, and we think we did it. For example, knowing that you need to wait about one hour and not 10 mins for a certain drink makes a big difference.”
Totally. In the example I tried above, 7 minutes is much shorter a time frame than I would have guessed I needed to wait to optimally chill that beer.
Knowledge is power, friends, and we have science to thank for it.