*This content is directed toward an audience of legal drinking age.
Wow! We’ve come a long, long way in cooler technology in the last decade. Super-insulated, roto-molded coolers are at nearly every campsite you visit these days. There are dozens of manufacturers cranking them out, and they’re all pretty danged good. These super-coolers hold ice and keep your food and drinks cold for twice as long as old-style coolers – often 3-4 times as long.
Confidence in the technology makes it easy to get sloppy in loading your roto-molded cooler for maximum efficiency. So here’s a quick refresher course on “Best Cooler Practices.” And … if you stick it out to the end … we’ll share a trick on keeping your beer at the optimal temperature to deliver full flavor.
1. If possible, pre-chill your cooler. That could mean storing it open, overnight in a walk-in freezer if you have access. If not, put a couple of “sacrificial” bags of ice inside it overnight. Close it up tight. Then when you go to pack it the next day, the inside of the cooler is already cold.
2. The most important thing to remember in packing a cooler is: COLD AIR SINKS! That means the stuff you want to keep coldest longest goes in first. For a typical camping trip, that means frozen solid stuff you won’t be using until later in the trip – frozen meat, vegetables, desserts and stuff like that. It goes at the bottom.
3. For maximum cold, intersperse frozen water bottles among these items at the bottom. They’ll hold the cold and fill up space. A cooler FULL of cold stuff stays cold better, through a whole lot more openings than a partially filled cooler will space to take in the warm air every time it’s opened. The other advantage of the frozen water bottles is you can drink them once they thaw.
4. Immediately on top of the frozen items and water bottles goes your primary ice. Big pieces of ice melt more slowly than cubes, so use block ice whenever you can. A couple of big blocks with frozen water bottles filling the gaps are optimal.
5. On top of the bulk ice goes the food you’ll want to access more often. Things like condiments, hot dogs, cheese, butter, eggs, bacon, milk, etc. –stuff that will be in and out several times a day.
6. This is a little-known, but important trick. On top of that essentials layer, put some kind of insulating mat. It might be a piece of a wool blanket, an old foam sleeping pad, or something similar. It should be cut or folded to custom-fit as well as possible inside your cooler. Then when you open the lid to grab something, just lift up enough of the insulating mat to find what you’re after. When you’re done, drop the mat back in place. You won’t believe what a huge difference this makes in keeping the cold in and warmth out.
7. Okay, lucky number seven is the beer trick we promised. The optimal drinking temperature for beer like this Ballast Point Fathom IPA is just at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Slamming it in a cooler or a bucket and pouring ice cubes over the cans is going to make it a lot colder than that, robbing you of the premium experience you paid for.
So our trick is … leave room ON TOP of the insulating mat in your roto-molded cooler and lay the cans out on top of it. This will keep them cool, not cold, and deliver all the flavor. If you have other drinks you want REALLY cold, put them in a separate cooler and shovel in the cubes to your heart’s content.
There you have it – everything you need to know about packing your camping cooler for maximum efficiency … and flavor!
Why drink Ballast Point Fathom IPA at 50F?
Ballast Point Brewing’s Fathom IPA is a sessionable beer with just the right amount of depth. If you chill it so cold the frigidity shocks your taste buds with each swig, you won’t be able to appreciate the zesty orange and piney hops notes they so painstakingly brewed into it. If you’re a guy or gal who loves and lives ICE COLD beer … great! You’re welcome to enjoy your Fathom IPA however you like it, but sometime … just once … give 50 degrees a shot. Keep the Fathom IPA just off the ice … and see what you’re missing. You can find Ballast Point IPA most everywhere these days. Give it a try!