≡ Menu

How to Make Beer Cold Without Refrigeration Tip

One of my main tips for budget travel is to stay out of bars. A single night in a bar in most places of the world can easily flush an entire week’s (or more) worth of travel funds right down into some dirty pisser. I enjoy drinking, it is a good mechanism for social bonding, [...]

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

One of my main tips for budget travel is to stay out of bars. A single night in a bar in most places of the world can easily flush an entire week’s (or more) worth of travel funds right down into some dirty pisser. I enjoy drinking, it is a good mechanism for social bonding, but I try to stay away from bars. Rather, I buy my booze from a grocery or liquor store and drink on the beach, in the mountains, my hotel, the woods, in a field . . . anywhere besides a bar — where you pay for existing rather than just drinking.

But how, you may ask, with all of this transport and movement and hiking are you to keep your drinks cold? 

Beer being cooled by evaporation

I found the solution when a group of American geology students offered me a beer at a campsite in Iceland. I, of course, accepted. I was handed a bottle of premium Icelandic micro-brew that had wet toilet paper stuck all over it.

F’cking gross, no?

“Why is there toilet paper all over your beer?” I had to ask the students.

“Oh, that is to make it cold,” one of them answered. ” The wet toilet paper causes evaporation which cools the beer.”


I grabbed the beer that was handed to me. The toilet paper was dingleberried all over the bottle, but it was cool. I popped open the beer and took a drink. It was, by all accounts, cold enough to enjoy.

We were camping, without refrigeration, and I was drinking a cool beer in the middle of a field in Iceland.

Why this works

When a human sweats it is not the excreted water — in and of itself — that cools you. It is this liquid evaporating on the surface of your skin that lowers your body’s temperature. The water — in this case, sweat — requires energy to evaporate, and it takes this energy from your skin, essentially stealing its heat and lowering its temperature in the process.


Apparently, this same principal also works for warm beer or other beverages. Just wrap up the bottles in a blanket of wet toilet paper (or another material that retains water but also allows for it to dry) and wait for the water to evaporate a little. The drier the paper gets (the more the water evaporates) the cooler your beer should get.

So the next time someone whines about how their drinks are going to get cold if they accept your invitation for a toast on a mountain top, just tell them not to harbor any worries: if you have a roll of toilet paper, some water, and a little time to wait, you can have cool beer anywhere.

Icelandic micro-brew


The only way I can continue my travels and publishing this blog is by generous contributions from readers. If you can, please subscribe for just $5 per month:


If you like what you just read, please sign up for our newsletter!
* indicates required
Filed under: Food, Travel Tips

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

20 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

  • Dyanne@TravelnLass July 28, 2011, 1:22 pm

    Ingenious. Whooda thunk?

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 28, 2011, 1:28 pm

      Totally, I guess it just took a team of geology students to figure this out 🙂

      Link Reply
  • Travis July 28, 2011, 5:37 pm

    One night in a bar costs you a week of travel (or more)? I don’t know where you’re travelling, but I don’t see even a blind drunk night at any bar I’ve been to anywhere in the world could cost you that. Maybe if you were drinking in Moscow at a club, and travelled through Thailand. That’s it.

    Good beer tip though!

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 28, 2011, 6:03 pm

      I’ve watched backpackers drop $100+ in nights out at the bars throughout Europe. Use to work in hostels in the east of the continent.

      The cost of travel can also be crafted to remain relatively constant throughout the world.

      Link Reply
      • Emilio July 29, 2011, 10:41 am

        I am one of those travelers. I can spend that kind of money easily here at home let alone at a bar in a new and exciting land with women that don’t speak my language and friends that I have just made. They might not speak English or Spanish but, sure as shit, shots is something everyone understands quite well. ANOTHER ROUND!!!!

  • Nick July 28, 2011, 5:58 pm

    Did anyone ever think that the ambient temperature of *ICELAND* was maybe helping the process out? I’m going to have to test this in the high desert of Las Vegas

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 28, 2011, 6:01 pm

      Don’t be confused by its name, it is actually not that cold in Iceland — especially in the summer. It gets much colder in the northern regions of the USA, Canada, and other countries in Europe. But to answer your question, no, it was a pretty warm day, and those geology guys have used this method in many places around the USA and other countries. Try it in Nevada, and let us know how it works out.

      Link Reply
      • Joseph July 28, 2011, 7:08 pm

        Nevada should actually work pretty well, since it’s so dry. This trick doesn’t work when it’s humid (for the same reason that it is harder to cool down in humid weather – there’s less evaporation), but in dry climates it would be much more efficient. You’ll never get it down to 40F in 110F heat, but you will get it cool enough to enjoy. Cheers!

  • Mike Hostile July 28, 2011, 6:58 pm

    This is a retarded lie.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 29, 2011, 6:09 pm

      Have you tried it?


      Link Reply
  • Bob L July 29, 2011, 9:03 am

    Wade, you’re surprised this went viral? There is no money in “culture”. There is lots of money in vices. If you REALLY want to become rich, figure out a new way for men to kill other men.

    Still, I think taking the high road is still the best way to live.

    As for the beer, first time I have heard of using toilet paper. Towels, paper towels, brown paper sack, etc sure, but toilet paper sure is messy. But if it is all ya’ got…..

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 29, 2011, 9:29 am

      Yeah, I think paper towels may be a little neater. But when camping or out in the bush you are probably more prone to carrying toilet paper over other types of disposable paper items — or at least I would hope haha. Duel purpose bonus!

      Link Reply
  • Emilio July 29, 2011, 10:14 am

    A tip for high temperature climate campers: If you find yourself with beverages that are now too warm to drink AND you have some time, burying your drinks can and will bring the temperature down. It will get them out of the light and the temperature 1-2 feet down will be considerably cooler. This is great if you have a campsite that you plan on returning to after a days hike.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 29, 2011, 10:26 am

      This is truly a good advice here.

      Link Reply
  • anthony abelaye July 31, 2011, 10:13 pm

    Here’s the proper way to chill beer without electricity. (No toilet paper needed.)


    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard July 31, 2011, 10:40 pm

      That’s cool, but who is going to carry a flower pot, sand, and a towel all around with them? The main benefit of this tip is that it is a way to cool beer in remote locations without needing any supplies other than what you’re already carrying.

      Link Reply
  • LAbackpackerChick August 1, 2011, 7:11 pm

    Wade you are my new hero! Will def try this!

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 1, 2011, 7:45 pm

      Thanks! Looking forward to what you start putting up on Wanderlust and the Girl. Send me an email when you have it up and running.

      Link Reply
  • Mack Reynolds August 4, 2011, 4:04 pm

    i saw this post and knew i had to read. i’m going to try this soon. thanks man.

    Link Reply