How to choose a suitable beverage refrigerator for the party?
Posted by Colzer, 13th November 2020
7 Reasons why you need a beverage refrigerator.
1.Freeing up your refrigeration space.
Beverage bottles and cans takes up an enormous amount of space inside your food refrigerator and even if you use your fridge only to keep the necessary foodstuffs cool, you will find that with just an average size family, you soon run out of refrigeration space.
By the time that you have catered for your family’s needs and stocked your fridge with fresh vegetables, dairy products, cold cuts, condiments, and stowed away leftovers etc. there generally isn’t much room left for six packs of beer, sodas, soft drinks, bottled water and bottles of wine.
2.Easy access to beverages.
Whether you are watching the game with your buddies, enjoying family time, or having friends over for dinner you have the option of installing your beverage cooler right where the action is.
A beverage fridge fits in great where ever you entertain, it is a welcome addition to a games or TV room and what will a man cave be without easy access to cold beer.
An outdoor cooking area for your BBQ becomes a wonderful entertainment area and having a beverage fridge on hand makes perfect sense. Couple this with your poolside and you no longer have an endless run through of wet feet into the kitchen. As long as your beverage cooler is well protected against the weather and not exposed to direct sunlight, offers adequate UV protection and has a strong compressor, you are looking at a win-win entertainment solution.
Having a beverage cooler in your reception area at work makes it easy to welcome your clients and being offered a cool drink makes waiting a little more tolerable. It is also visually appealing and creates a much more welcoming feel to your reception area, especially when it’s coupled with a coffee station.
5.Keeping the party in your entertainment area.
We have all been there. You have arranged a cocktail or dinner party and before long, everybody has migrated to the kitchen, disrupting the catering and food preparations.
With a beverage cooler situated in your entertainment area, your guests will remain where you want and your kitchen can be used for its intended purpose.
Beverage refrigerators are attractive and because they usually incorporate lighting, they form a natural focal point in a room. It lends an air of sophistication to a well-appointed interior and as such reflects well on your own standing.
Having lockable doors helps you to better manage who has got access to the wine and beers that you store in your beverage cooler and it will also offer you peace of mind, knowing that your children don’t have unlimited access to sugary soft drinks.
Investing in a beverage refrigerator will solve the problem of available space inside your kitchen fridge and have the added bonus of being able to keep your drinks at the optimal serving temperature.
But, before you rush off to your nearest appliance store, allow me to highlight some key features and functions to look out for when you are making your selection.
Choosing a beverage refrigerator to suit your specific needs.
- Freestanding or built-in?
The first thing that you will need establish, is where you are going to place the fridge.
Freestanding fridges can be placed any ware as long allowance has been made for adequate ventilation. Generally, 3” surrounding the appliance is considered to be sufficient to prevent the fridge from overheating.
Built-in units tend to be more versatile as they can be easily installed underneath a counter or into a customised space between other units.
This is because built-in refrigerators make use of a front venting system. This allows the unit to expel hot air through vents, usually situated at the bottom of the fridge as opposed to the cooling vents at the back of the unit as is the case of freestanding fridges.
With a built-in refrigerator, you have the option of using the fridge freestanding or installed into your kitchen or bar fixings.
- Outdoor fridges.
By default, most beverage refrigerators are designed and build for indoor use. Should you wish to install a beverage fridge outside under a covered patio area for when you are hosting pool parties or BBQ get-togethers, you would be well advised to make sure that the appliance you buy is well adapted to your needs.
As the majority of beverage fridges have glass doors, make sure that the product that you choose offer suitable UV protection and that the fridge has a strong enough compressor to cope with the greater temperature fluctuations. There are solid door fridges available in the market should you prefer, but always bear in mind that a fridge should be under cover, protected from rain and not be exposed to direct sunlight.
Once you have decided where you are going to place your fridge, you have to consider its capacity.
If you are merely acquiring the beverage fridge because you are a large family and you wish to free up space in your food refrigerator, your needs may differ from someone who regularly play host to several friends and colleagues.
Beverage refrigerators comes in various sizes, from small countertop units to full-size commercial fridges and everything in between.
Because beverage refrigerators can be seen as speciality appliances, most people do not fully realize its value until they own one and it is therefore easy to misjudge the right capacity when you first set out to buy one.
Investing in a unit that is too big will just add to your running costs and will become a white elephant. On the other hand, buying a fridge with a limited capacity, could result in you “out growing “it quickly and will result in frustration. (– you do not want to spend all your time restocking your fridge with warm beverages.)
Carefully evaluate your requirements and allow a good margin for expansion, bearing in mind that once you start making use of a beverage cooler, you will wonder how you have ever managed before without one.
- Temperature control.
What you store in your beverage fridge, will determine the temperature at which you want to regulate your fridge. Some fridges offer dual or even triple zone cooling so that you can store several different drinks at different temperatures, depending on your preference.
This is a particularly handy feature in wine coolers where you may wish to age and keep both red and white wines and have them ready for consumption directly from your wine cooler.
The majority beverage refrigerators are single zone models that will allow precise temperature control with either a digital display or a control knob. It is important however is that the unit you choose will be able to maintain a steady temperature even under heavy use.
This is a factor that easily gets overlooked. Since your beverage cooler forms part of the décor in your entertainment area it attracts attention to itself and naturally becomes a focal point. Most models have either blue or white interior lighting that enhances its visual appeal.
This also have a practical implementation since it allows you to see the product through the glass before you open the door to remove it from the refrigerator, limiting the time required to leave the door open.
You should be able to switch the light off when you do not require it.
- Lockable doors.
With children in the house, this is a must have feature, not only because you are keeping alcoholic beverages in the fridge, but also in order to limit children’s access to sugary soft drinks.
The best beverage refrigerator for your needs is the one that fits in with all of the above and falls within your budget.
Needless to say, you can pick up an inexpensive unit from as little as $200 if all you need is to keep a few beers cold to paying in access of well over $1000.
Always bear in mind that once you get accustomed to having a beverage cooler, you will end up making use of it more than what you thought you would.
Refrigerating beverages, some more tips and advice
When it comes to sodas and soft drinks, serving temperature is not such a crucial factor. Depending on personal preferences, the temperature range for most sodas are between 38° and 42°, with 40° being the happy medium.
As with any natural fermented product, certain flavours and aromas only come to their full when it is served at the right temperature.
Most people come home or are watching a game on the TV and what they want most of all is just an ice cold beer straight from the fridge. There is nothing wrong with this approach if all you are after is refreshment, but if you really want to appreciate the subtle flavours and nuances that beer has to offer, there is much more to consider.
The serving temperature of beer depends on its flavour profile.
Cold temperature enhances some qualities of beer while at the same time it masks other flavours and aromas.
The cold hampers the volatilization of the beers unique aromatic compounds and since not all the aroma is released from the beer, your experience of the beers flavour is compromised.
Qualities, such as dryness, bitterness and carbonation are enhanced when you serve beer at colder temperatures and that can give the beer a “thin” taste and a harsh texture.
Cold temperatures could also cause normally clear beer to appear hazy or cloudy.
On the other hand, warmer beer will allow the release of more flavours and aromas, but as beer start approaching room temperature, you will lose the bitterness and carbonation from the hops, giving the beer a “flat” taste.
The perfect serving temperature for beer depends on the style of the beer, its brewing process and tradition.
There are no 100% fixed rules, but the following guidelines should direct you in the right direction and you may bend and apply it to fit your personal preferences.
General serving temperatures for beers:
- All beers should be served between 38°-55° F.
- Lagers are served colder than ales.
- Stronger beers are served warmer than weaker beers.
- Darker beers are served warmer than lighter beers.
- Macro lagers are served as cold as the Rockies.
- Serve beers a few degrees colder than the target temperature, to accommodate for warming from the glass and the drinker’s hands.
American Mainstream Light Lagers
33° – 40° F
Pale Lagers, Pilsners
38° – 45° F
Cream & Blonde Ales
40° – 45° F
40° – 45° F
Belgian Pale Ales, Abbey Tripels
40° – 45° F
40° – 50° F
40° – 50° F
45° – 50° F
American Pale Ales & IPAs
45° – 50° F
45° – 55° F
50° – 55° F
Real & Cask Ales
50° – 55° F
50° – 55° F
Data from Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher.
Your kitchen refrigerator typically runs at about 35°, which for some would be acceptable for Mainstream American Light Lagers, but too cold to bring out the flavour of any other premium beers.
There is a separate blog dedicated to storing and aging wine and the value derived from investing in a dedicated wine cooler.
Wine is often kept for several years and therefore a wine cooler differs in its function from a beverage refrigerator. I do not wish to repeat myself here, so I am only going to underline the general serving temperatures of wine.
As with beer, the aroma and flavour of wine is greatly affected by temperature and can only be fully appreciated when it is released into the air.
When wine is served to cold, the aromas will be supressed and you will find that the wine taste too acidic and tannic. To hot, and the wine might taste flat, lifeless and overly alcoholic.
It is generally safe to assume that light red wines can be served between 55° and 60°F.
Full-bodied red wine can be served, slightly lower, between 50° and 55°F.
Light white wine is good at temperatures of between 45° and 50°F.
And full-bodied white wine can be enjoyed between 50° and 55°F.
The recommended serving temperature for sparkling wines is between 45° and 48°F.
When it comes to spirits, they generally contain enough alcohol to be stored at room temperature. Although it is not a necessity, there are people who swear by keeping vodka, gin and schnapps refrigerated or even in the freezer. As no harm can come from this practice and these spirits are best served chilled, it’s up to you to decide what you prefer.
Fortified wines, such as port, sherry and vermouth does need to be kept cold. The same goes for cream-based liqueurs. See how quickly your beverage refrigerator fill-up?
As you can see all these temperatures are much higher than what your kitchen fridge is running at.
Overly cold drinks, even water, numbs your taste buds and it has an effect on how you experience its taste.
Beverage refrigerator vs. mini refrigerators
The question often comes up, whether a compact refrigerator won’t serve your needs just as well, after all, both appliances are designed to keep products cold and are of a similar size.
To answer this question, let’s look at the five main differences between compact fridges and beverage coolers.
- Shelving and layout.
Beverage refrigerators are designed with one purpose in mind and that is to store bottles and cans as effectively and efficiently as possible in the available space. The interior racking and shelving maximizes its use ability for this purpose and therefore it increases the refrigerators capacity to this end.
Mini or compact fridges are designed to accommodate a greater variety of different items in its interior space. The layout of shelves are not item specific and even if the cubic dimensions are the same as that of a beverage fridge, its capacity might be considerably less.
With a mini fridge you will also find that getting your beverages in and out of its confines is not as easy as with a beverage cooler and that a lot of space is left unutilised.
Compact refrigerators are essentially just a scaled down version of your full-size kitchen fridge. The temperature range that it has been designed to operate in is such that it is optimized to keep a variety of foodstuffs fresh and is generally lower than that of a beverage cooler.
From the temperature chart above, you would have noticed that most beverages should be stored at different temperatures than perishables.
- Purpose and design.
It really comes down to the fact that although both appliances keep its contents cool at a steady temperature, the one has been designed to be used as a smaller version of a full-size kitchen fridge. This is because there are several situations where a fridge is needed, but space is limited and cannot accommodate a big appliance.
Think about a collage dormitory or a senior citizens home.
Beverage refrigerators are just that, a specifically designed appliance custom engineered for the purpose of keeping refreshments at its optimal serving temperature.
Both mini fridges and beverage coolers are attractive in their own way. Most modern appliances emphasize the visual appeal and products are designed to enhance the attractiveness of its surroundings.
However, these are two very different products and although a mini fridge won’t look out of place in a wet bar or man cave, one cannot overlook the fact that beverage coolers are specifically designed to form an integrated part of its surroundings and in many cases to be a focal point or a feature.
We have already touched on most of the practical differences between mini fridges and beverage coolers, but it is worth mentioning that most mini fridges are predominantly freestanding units. This means that they can’t easily be incorporated into confined spaces between existing cabinets or built-in under counters.
Perhaps the solution when setting up a home bar or extension to your entertainment area is not to choose between a mini fridge and a beverage cooler, but to incorporate them both into your design. Just as important it is to keep your drinks cold, having a dedicated fridge for snacks would certainly make entertaining that much easier.
If space and your budget allows for it then it is an option worth considering.
Just before I conclude, I’d like to recap some of the technicalities of how refrigeration works what to bear in mind when you set out to purchase a beverage refrigerator.
Thermoelectric cooling and compressor refrigeration.
Although there are wine coolers available on the market that makes use of thermoelectric cooling, the majority of beverage refrigerators operates, using a compressor, the same as your kitchen fridge.
The reason for this is that compressors are much better at cooling and more effective than thermoelectric refrigeration. Compressors can also cope much better to regulate the temperature even when the fridge is frequently opened while you are entertaining or hosting a function.
Manual and auto defrost.
Models that feature an auto defrost function does so by automatically heating the internal coils on a regular basis to melt away any accumulated frost and ice built-up. Although this does use more energy as the fridge will have to compensate for the heating process by working harder to keep the inside temperature constant, this is a handy feature and worth keeping in mind.
Manual defrosting requires you to empty the unit of its contents and unplugging it in order for it to defrost. Care should be taken to protect the floor from moisture and the cleaning process is the same as cleaning out your kitchen fridge.
As I have mentioned earlier, the ideal beverage cooler is the one that will address your specific requirements as far as size, capacity, functionality and aesthetical considerations are concerned and that fits into your budget.
There are several choices and Colzer have two of the most versatile options available on the market.
There is the 15 inch beverage refrigerator and wine cooler that has a storage capacity of up to 134 cans and is slender shape will fit snugly in between your existing cabinets or you could use it as a freestanding unit.
Colzer also have a 24 inch beverage refrigerator and wine cooler available that can accommodate up to 175 cans or 46 bottles of wine. Likewise, this unit can also be used freestanding or be built-into your fixtures.