A Stupid Question

microwaveIt’s been said that a stupid question deserves a stupid answer. But in this case, the question is so fundamentally flawed that it might actually deserve an intellectually informed, well-reasoned answer. At least that’s my hope.So here goes: Can you microwave beer? Now many of you are probably thinking the same thing, and that’s “WTF?!” But hear me out. I presented my wife with an icy cold Post Road pumpkin ale last night. It was so chilly that it had almost no flavor. It was getting late, and I thought, “I wish I could warm this thing up quickly.” Then it hit me – the microwave! Maybe if I popped the beer in for 5 to 10 seconds it would knock the chill off and open up the flavors.

Now I know there’s probably a very good reason not to do this, but I don’t know what it is. Perhaps something about the molecular structure of beer, or how microwaving will destroy carbonation etc. Anyway it sounds like a stupid thing to do, so I didn’t try.

Do any of you know why not to warm a beer up in the microwave? Even uninformed speculation is welcomed. Perhaps an experiment is in order. I have an old bottle of Bud in the beer fridge, and I wouldn’t mind sacrifice it the name of science.

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Categories: Beer

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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16 Comments on “A Stupid Question”

  1. October 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    The major problem would be loss of alcohol. Ethanol boils at 173.1 F, which while still well under the 212 F required for water, would still mean that the first thing to go in that solution will be the ethanol. Other problems? Well… Heat and ethanol make boom. The appropriate way to warm a beer would be to microwave a bowl of water to near boiling, and warm the beer in that.

    • Jim
      October 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

      Thanks, Brian – great answer and an even better solution. I’ll definately keep that in mind for next time. I don’t want to sacrifice the alcohol, that’s for sure!

  2. Don
    October 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that said “if Barack is the answer then it must have been a stupid question” (Keep in mind I live in totally Red Idaho), so Jim I guess my answer would be Barack…

    Really I was thinking that Brain’s answer was more fundamental. I was thinking about a pan of water on the stove with the beer inside like we used to warm up baby bottles in the old days. Another possibility is to keep your beer in the basement or garage unrefrigerated. Now you don’t want to do that in the heat of the summer, but it is probably ok any other time.

  3. October 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    To specifically answer the question, I would say sure, you could microwave anything! I think Don is right, just keep a few in the basement and then stick em in the fridge a few minutes to ‘cool up’ if necessary. I find a lot of ales are quite nice right @ basement temperature.

    Still, I think the main issue here is why is there is a Bud in your fridge? Jim, this is the interweb that Al Gore invented, so come clean!

    • Jim
      October 23, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

      The bud is from my sister in law’s baby shower 14 months ago. I’ve managed to pawn the others off on unenlightenable beer guzzlers, but one still remains.

      On the basement front, mine is the warmest place in the house right now, as the furnace is down there. I don’t really have a cool dark place to store stuff, so I use the beer fridge.

      • Don
        October 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

        What about your garage? Put up a beer shelf!

        • Jim
          October 23, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

          The garage gets really hot in the summer. I’d have to keep moving my stash from the basement to the garage in the fall and from the garage into the basement in the spring. Or I could just keep ’em in the fridge all the time.

          I know, poor me. How I suffer for my craft (beers).

        • Don
          October 23, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

          You know Jim, When my kids were babies we had a bottle steamer that worked great. You just pour about two tablespoons of water into the thing and plug it in, and it would shoot steam at the bottle to warm it up. I’m sure you could just pull the bottle out of it when it got to about 50 degrees, instead of actually heating the beer. I’d give that a try. I think you can get one at Toys or Babies r us. Should be less than $20.

        • Jim
          October 23, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

          Will it warm up my bottle nipples, too? 🙂

        • Don
          October 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

          Yeah…I called you out on Simply Beer! You’re gonna get it! I could say something very crude about your bottle nipples, but I won’t because I’m a f@#$@&^$ing GENTLEMAN!

  4. October 23, 2009 at 7:20 pm #

    Jim, you probably have a snuggy or two, right? Just sew some pockets into the inside of your snuggie, and then go watch TV for awhile. Your body warmth will naturally warm up the beer, without using all the electricity that Don’s suggestion would otherwise use. You’re just not using your snuggies to their fullest, that’s all.

    • Don
      October 23, 2009 at 7:32 pm #

      Scott that would be like having someone put their cold hands down your shirt! I say use the modicum of electricity and enjoy!

    • Jim
      October 23, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

      Genius! The Beer Snuggie!! We’re gonna make a fortune, Scott.

  5. nostawetan
    October 23, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    I think the first guy gave a good answer. You could easily evaporate the ethanol in beer. Microwaves could also destroy the foam simply because the waves actually work by disturbing and quickly agitating liquids. When you heat something in a microwaves what it actually does is heat the liquid/water molecules within. Because of that, they attack those molecules that are liquid specifically. The warm water trick is about the best. You could also separate the beer into a more shallow and wide container to increase the surface are of what you are heating.

    • Jim
      October 23, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

      I agree that Brian’s answer was a good one. Of course I could always just try to be patient, but that never works. I always wind up at the bottom of the last glass and think “now this is the perfect temperature!”

  6. Joe90
    October 11, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    Here in the UK stores have this obsession with chilling beers,even those of the traditional type which state on them serve at room temperature. The older generation like their ale as it is supposed to be, sort of tepid so they microwave it for a few seconds. It does not harm beers or ciders and does not reduce alcohol volume so the answer is…….go ahead!

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