Do Beer Koozies Actually Work? An Experiment.
When I die, bury me in koozies. I'm kidding, of course, but really, I love the little guys. The colorful beverage sweaters stand for all things summer fun: outdoor drinking, pool parties, backyard cookouts, and (duh) beer. You know what? I love beer. I drink it all the time. And let me tell you, you drink enough of the stuff and you too will wind up with quite a koozy collection. Eventually you'll find yourself in my slippers, standing alone in your dingy, neglected kitchen, rooting through drawers in search of a meat thermometer or slotted pasta spoon and, surprise, surprise, all you'll come across is koozy after koozy, stuffed inside every crumby crevice, piled onto every sticky shelf. And then suddenly, with each hand stuffed mitten-like into a cozy foam sleeve, you'll ask yourself, "Do these things even work, though?"
Seriously, do koozies actually keep your precious beer chilly on a hot day? Or are they merely foam billboards for your favorite MLB team, your Zazzle.com-obsessed friend's bachelor party, or Florida's board of tourism? I just had to get to the bottom of this.
To keep things fair, I performed this 1,000% very scientific and official experiment using three different portable drinking vessels: a regular 12oz can, a 16oz tallboy, and a 12oz bottle, each vessel swathed in its own specifically designated, perfectly sized koozy. For brews, I went with two lighter lagers and a semi-dry hard cider, all low-alcohol, warm-weather styles best consumed cold, quick, and while roasting under a hot, hot sun.
All the beers started their day chilling at a cool 38-40 degrees inside Thrillist's trusty office fridge. When the time came, I diapered one and let the other go commando, cracked them open, popped them in a box, and headed down to the street, fending off thirsty passersby and pad-tapping police with an innocent smile, a watchful eye, and a tight grip. It's July, so at 2:30pm, Downtown Manhattan was a balmy 92 degrees with no breeze -- excellent can-sweating weather.
After about 30 minutes spent schvitzing on the stoop -- about the time it would take a person to blow through one beer at a leisurely pace (or, in my case, one podcast/two American Spirits) -- I toted the babies upstairs, tried a few sips of each, and recorded my findings...
The regular can
Koozied: The first thing I noticed was the temperature: unexpectedly warm, like jumping into a heated pool on a hot day. The hop bill moved into the forefront, producing a syrupy, lingering bitterness that just didn't jive with the style's signature crispness. On the plus side, the beer maintained a decent level of carbonation, which really helped soften the skunky blow.
Commando: A half-hour in the heat and this poor beer went from one of the best Pils I've tasted in years to a mouthful of lukewarm spittle. The un-koozied version drank a tad warmer, but not by much. The main difference was the bubbles -- or lack thereof. It drank flatter and quite a bit more watery than its blanketed counterpart, like some kid accidentally turned a hose on it. It wasn't altogether awful, but it was by no means a pleasant experience.
The winner: The koozied beer was better, but negligibly so.
Koozied: When I rescued this guy from its gorgeously designed royal-blue and orange casing, it was just slightly cooler than room temperature -- not bad for 30 minutes spent soaking up sidewalk steam. And for a beer I usually like to drink tooth-achingly frigid, I was surprised to find that it wasn't terrible. It wasn't as easy-drinking as it could've been, sure, but the carbonation level remained passable and I could only detect a passing whiff of skunk.
Commando: Damn, that was some flat-ass beer. To be honest, it was consistently balanced on the palate throughout and I got a touch of carbonation on the finish. I just couldn't get down with that watery business, though -- it wasn't as bad as I expected, but it wasn't great either.
The winner: Old koozy strikes again!
Koozied: Alright, alright, alright! Now we're cooking with gas. Buster Posey and the gang must have defended this bottle well, because it was definitely the coldest yet. I'm not saying it was ice-cold, but the temperature change was subtle enough to garner this guy 100% drinkable, refreshing even. It flattened out at the end, but its relatively strong carbonation level up until then adequately made up for the drop-off.
Commando: The condensation dripping off the bottle told me everything I needed to know about how well this puppy fared during its outdoor adventure. It was much warmer than its protected brother, settling in around room temperature, with a barely noticeable bubble situation and a strange, lingering tartness that made my jaw clench. No thanks.
The winner: The koooooze, by far
Dang, dude, these dumb beauties do work! Obviously, their effectiveness level differs depending on several factors, including packaging material (i.e., can vs. bottle) and time spent in hand/on mouth (something we weren't able to measure since drinking outside is legally frowned upon here in the big city), but I was able to gauge a noticeable difference in each test case. The takeaway? Stock up, fellow drinkers, because the only bad beer is a hot beer.
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