The well-prepared host knows that there's nothing more uncouth than handing one's guest an insufficiently-chilled beer. But if you're a frequent entertainer, you may find your kitchen fridge overflowing with cans and bottles. A separate beer fridge can solve that problem: you can keep your favorite beers (and wines, sodas, and beyond) at the perfect temperature, ready to be cracked open when expected or unexpected guests stop by.
If you think a beer fridge is merely a mini-fridge, however, think again. There are fridges that lock, which is helpful if you have little ones running around, and fridges that chill to specific temperatures that can be adjusted to pair with the beer inside. There are even slim coolers that fit under counters or moveable fridges for roving parties. What you buy will depend on the size of bottles you'll store, and how much space you have. Temperature and the cooling system are factors, too.
NewAir Beverage Refrigerator Cooler
Customizable thermostat settings
Door is difficult to reverse
This roomy NewAir cooler can handle just about any beer chilling need. In terms of size, it's large enough to hold up to 126 cans. Measuring 18.4 x 18.9 x 32.9 inches, the freestanding fridge boasts a classic stainless steel design and four storage racks that are removable and adjustable, so you can make space for larger bottles and cans. If you're a beer enthusiast, you'll likely appreciate this flexibility.
For those looking for chillier drinks, or need their beers cooled down quickly, this refrigerator bottoms out at a frigid 37 degrees F—far cooler than most standard beer fridges. Or, choose from one of the seven customizable settings the thermostat offers, which is a great feature because not all beers taste great at the same temperature. A 35dB compressor runs at a whisper level, making this a great option for offices or shared spaces. The only bummer? The door is difficult to reverse, so keep that in mind when determining where to place it.
Dimensions: 18.4 x 18.9 x 32.9 inches | Capacity: 3.4 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: 37℉ | Installation Type: Freestanding
Price at time of publish: $475
Kismile Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler
Protects from UV rays
Can be loud
This compact Kismile cooler is perfect for discreet locations—think tucked under a home bar or office desk. The 18.6 x 17.5 x 19.6-inch cooler is roomy enough for 60 standard cans or 17 bottles of red, white, or sparkling wine. It's also outfitted with high-tech advanced temperature control that can be programmed from anywhere between 39 and 61 degrees F. It's more than ample.
A removable shelf makes it easy to repurpose the fridge for beverages of various sizes, and a soft blue LED light allows you to find your favorite chilled drink in the dark. Thick, double-paned glass protects beverages from UV rays and helps the fridge keep its ideal humidity level. It's a great little fridge for tight spaces, but it can be loud.
Good to Know:
Erin Grey, a cicerone from Ecliptic Brewing in Portland, Ore., finds customizable temperature a key factor when buying a beer fridge. “I keep my beer fridge warmer than my food fridge, so my beers come out at perfect drinking temperature," he says. "I keep mine around 45 degrees, and if I am taking out something really big, like a barrel-aged barley wine, I will let it warm up on the counter for a little bit before I open it.”
Dimensions: 17.48 x 18.43 x 19.33 inches | Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: 39℉ | Installation Type: Counter top, tabletop, under cabinet
Price at time of publish: $230
Danby 36-Bottle Wine Cooler
Protects from UV rays
Generous temperature range
Doesn't have a temperature display
Danby’s compact beer fridge design is ideal for those who live in an apartment or whose kitchen space is at a premium. At a slim 23.6 x 15 x 34.4 inches, the freestanding fridge can hold an impressive 36 bottles of wine, with 3.3 feet of cooling space. The metal shelves can be removed and reconfigured for wine bottles, soda bottles, or tall beer cans.
The double-paned glass door protects the fridge's contents from harmful UV rays, plus the fridge’s light and temperature levels can be controlled via a sensitive digital control panel. The temperature range is an impressive 43 to 57 degrees F, but we wished this had a temperature display.
Note stylish design features such as an energy-efficient, blue LED light that illuminates your favorite beverage, attractive black wire shelving, and a recessed, pocket-style door handle. This fridge caters to both lefties and righties, as the reversible door hinge can be adjusted to both right- and left-handed openings. Reversible door openings are really helpful if you need to match the fridge door to your cabinets, so there's no weird awkwardness around opening doors onto each other.
Dimensions: 23.6 x 15 x 34.4 inches | Capacity: 3.3 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: 43℉ | Installation Type: Freestanding
Price at time of publish: $438
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Best for Portability
Cooluli Classic Mini Fridge
EcoMode helps save power
Comes in various colors and sizes
Cannot adjust temperature
For on-the-go adventures, this portable Cooluli cooler is an excellent option. The lightweight fridge weighs about 10 pounds and has a small footprint, making it easy to haul anywhere. And we mean anywhere: this fridge is equipped with a dual-voltage (100-240V/12V) construction that adapts to any plug around the world. This means you can use it at campsites, vacation rentals, dorm rooms, and beyond.
This fridge's 100 percent EcoMax technology prevents frosting and keeps energy use to a minimum. When the maximum energy is used, the fridge goes into EcoMode to save power. Additionally, the fridge is equipped with two adjustable and removable shelves, as well as a two-container basket. You can't, however, adjust the temperature. We also like the fun look of this fridge, as it's available in an array of playful color schemes, including green-on-white, pink-on-white, and black-on-white.
Dimensions: 9.75 x 12 x 14 inches | Capacity: 15 liters (about half a cubic foot) | Minimum Temperature: Cools to 40℉ | Installation Type: Countertop
Price at time of publish: $100
Best for Beer and Wine
Lanbo Stainless Steel Dual Zone Combo Wine and Beverage Refrigerator
Can set two different temperatures at once
Lanbo’s Dual-Zone Wine and Beverage Cooler offers 5.93 cubic feet of storage space and can hold up to 70 12-ounce cans or 33 standard Bordeaux bottles. Featuring an extra-wide design (29.5 x 23.6 x 34.5 inches), the fridge's two zones and double doors let you chill beverages to two different temperatures at once—use one for icy cold beers and the other for slightly chilled wines. This way, you don't have to decide whether your beer will be too cold or too warm depending on what the wine wants, and vice versa.
The left zone chills between 41 and 64 degrees F, and the right zone ranges between 39 and 50 degrees F. The cooling system also uses front vents to better achieve heat dissipation and prevents frost from building up on the outside of bottles. Better yet, two large windows showcase your favorite bottles and beers. All these features and capabilities come at a price, however, and this one is rather high. But it eliminates the need to buy two separate fridges for two separate beverage types.
Good to know:
A dual-temperature fridge is a big draw for Grey. “If I had to buy a new beer fridge, I would install two fridges: one for cellaring beer at 50 degrees and the other for cans of beer I want to drink fresh at 40 degrees.”
Dimensions: 9.75 x 12 x 14 inches | Capacity: 5.93 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: 39℉ | Installation Type: Built-in
Price at time of publish: $1,074
Best for Garages
Frigidaire Mini Fridge with Top Freezer
Multiple temperature modes
Doesn't include a light inside
Not easy to regulate temperature
This Frigidaire is by far one of the most versatile fridges on the market: at 3.3 cubic feet (19 x 18 x 33 inches), it holds dozens of beers, while a small freezer allows the unit to quickly chill down beers or store frozen food items. Plus, removable glass shelves give you space to store and chill down glasses.
Better still, a stainless steel door protects the contents, making this an ideal and durable fridge for a garage or an outside space that will get a lot of action. The small cooler can be adjusted to three temperatures: Max, Med, and Min. While it doesn't boast many high-tech features, it’s a low-budget beer fridge that gets the job done. It does not, however, come with a light inside, which may not be an issue if your garage is well-lit. And it can be tricky to know exactly how cold it gets on the inside, so it's smart to put a thermometer inside to be sure.
Good to Know:
What's the ideal serving temperature for beer? It depends on who you ask. Arlene Roldan, co-owner of The Mermaid in Los Angeles, notes that “as a craft beer advocate, we serve beer between 38 to 40 degrees. Served too cold, the layers of flavor will be lost.“ Meanwhile, Patrick Bisch, certified cicerone at Illinois' The Open Bottle, suggests that “beer tastes better between 40 to 50 degrees and not ice-cold."
Dimensions: 19 x 18 x 33 inches | Capacity: 3.3 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: N/A | Installation Type: Freestanding
Price at time of publish: $259
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Best for Camping
Iceco VL45 Portable Refrigerator
Chills drinks quickly
Generous temperature range
Rainproof and shockproof
Have frosty beverages ready wherever you're headed with Iceco's portable refrigerator. All this 45-liter fridge needs is a place to plug in the two power cables (12/24V DC and 110 to 240V AC) and it works just as efficiently as a standard beer fridge.
This system is designed to chill drinks quickly, with a range that spans 0 to 50 degrees F (keep an eye on your beers if you set the unit below 32!). Ideal for camping and outdoor adventures, the tough design will run on slopes of up to 40 degrees F, and the rainproof and shockproof construction will withstand whatever environment you’re facing. Better yet, the spacious unit can hold up to 20 six-packs of beer—or a week’s worth of food. Tough choice! Maybe split the difference?
The only thing we don't really like about this fridge is the price; it's not cheap.
Dimensions: 27.4 x 15.8 x 19.2 inches | Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: 0℉ | Installation Type: Freestanding
Price at time of publish: $609
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Best for Parties
EdgeStar 26 Bottle 80 Can Side-by-Side Wine and Beverage Center
Generous temperature range
Has a security lock
This isn’t your tiny, inconspicuous, under-desk beer fridge: Edgestar’s unit is roomy, heavy-duty, and ready to be stocked with any beverage in your arsenal. On one side, store your favorite wines and keep them at perfect "cellar temperature" until your party guests insist that you open one up and share it. On the other side, stash your cans of brewski at a frostier temperature so that they’re ice cold when you pull them out. And what to do with that capacious bottom shelf? Edgestar recommends using it for large bottles of club soda or sparkling water—or other oversized bottles. The beer side cools between 38 and 50 degrees F, while the wine side offers temperatures between 54 and 65 degrees F. The bottom zone, meanwhile, chills out between 40 and 54 degrees F. These generous temperature ranges are helpful, but this fridge set-up is the most expensive on the list.
Other features include a tinted glass door, a security lock, and touch temperature controls. (Note that you do have to screw together the doors when it arrives.)
Dimensions: 23.5 x 30 x 32 inches | Capacity: 3.3 cubic feet | Minimum Temperature: 38℉ | Installation Type: Built-in or freestanding
Price at time of publish: $1,428
NewAir’s Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler reigns as the best overall beer fridge thanks to its large interior, affordable price, and customizable settings. If you’re looking for an all-encompassing beverage fridge, Lanbo’s Dual Zone Beverage and Wine Refrigerator has an extra wide design that earns top marks.
What to Look For in a Beer Fridge
One of the biggest considerations when looking for a beer fridge is size. There are compact beer fridges for dorms and small spaces and massive beer fridges for more spacious home bars. It all depends on what you’re looking for and what space you have to work with. One rule of thumb when considering size is to think of what beers you like: if you prefer cans, opt for a shelving situation designed for storing your beers. If you prefer larger bottles of lambic, big bottles of bubbly water, or wine, look for a beer fridge with removable shelves to fit all your bottles.
While it may seem like the prices of these fridges range wildly, the cooling system has something to do with that reality. Smaller, inexpensive units use a thermoelectric system, while pricier options utilize compressors, just like a regular-sized fridge. What’s the difference? Compressor coolers get much colder than a thermoelectric unit; the latter can only chill contents to 50 degrees F. They're also less energy efficient, making them more expensive to operate.
While you may operate under the idea that colder is better, the optimal temperature for many beers is actually far above freezing. Different beverages have different drinking temperatures. For example, stouts should be slightly below room temperature, while lagers are best sipped icy-cold. Red wines should be stored at cellar temperature, while barrel-aged beers need a slightly chillier temperature. Keep your favorite beverage in mind when picking out your beer fridge.
How long does beer last in the fridge?
You may be surprised to learn that beer actually has a shelf life! Always take a peek at the expiration date on the package—but, as a rule of thumb, most beer lasts between six to nine months. Craft beer has a shorter lifespan (even as short as three months after bottling), while more mass-produced beers will last longer. And certain high-alcohol beers (barrel-aged stouts, vintage porters, etc.) are designed to drink well for a number of years.
How do you store beer bottles?
Keep your beer upright in a cool (but not freezing) dry place. Note that light kills beer—even a cup of beer can start going bad when you’re drinking in the sun. A great beer fridge will protect your cans and bottles from the sun's harmful rays.
What temperature should a beer fridge be set at?
Elongate a beer’s lifespan by placing it in the fridge as soon as you get it. Think of it like any produce item: it will age regardless, but when you store it cold, that aging process is slowed down.
With that in mind, you may be inclined to crank your fridge down to the lowest possible setting. But keep in mind that the recommended serving temperature for stouts is 50 to 55 degrees F, pale ales at 45 to 55 degrees F, and lagers between 40 and 45 F.
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This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, whose "desert island" beer would depend entirely on the island: a crisp pilsner if we're talking somewhere in the Bahamas, but a hearty stout if it's some desolate rock off the north coast of Scotland.
Kate Dingwall has been writing about wine and spirits for six years. Outside of writing, she is a trained sommelier and a working bartender.
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