Beverage Cooling Contraption Contest

Let’s face it: no one likes warm beer. In the arid August air of Las Vegas, though, it’s difficult to get anything else. To combat this problem, Deviant has hosted a competition the last three years at Defcon called the Beverage Cooling Contraption Contest, or BCCC. We’re not talking about something as simple as a Coleman cooler or even a peltier cooler: the devices entered in this contest have to be able to take a beer from hot to cool and your glass within minutes.

Contestants must pour 72 ounces of beer into their device where it must emerge in a continuous flow no more than one minute after having been poured. No internal reservoir is allowed; the idea is that the beer must be cooled as it flows through the device. The target temperature of the beer is 38º F, but they often start out at temperatures topping 90º F.

Raw numbers are one part of the competition, but another is efficiency and elegance of design. One design that has been entered and refined every year is a styrofoam cooler filled with a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and dry ice. The latest design dipped ziplock bags full of beer into the mixture, cooling it at a rate of nearly one degree per second. With the current rules, however, this method would not be allowed. The rules are tougher than ever, but if you want to compete, you can sign up at the Defcon forums. Defcon 16 will be on August 8-10 at Satan’s rectum the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, and the fourth BCCC will be at noon on the 8th, next to the pool.

[Thanks Renderman]

24 thoughts on “Beverage Cooling Contraption Contest

  1. Gravity-fed Jockey box. 50′ of 1/4″ – 3/8″ Copper tubing, coiled around inside a round cooler. Fill it with ice/water/liquid nitrogen. The colder, the better since the greater the delta, the less copper you’ll need. Have a funnel on the top, pour your beer. I guess since a spigot is not allowed, replace the spigot with a nipple, and that into a more elegant delivery device. go’ers might wanna give this a shot. I can only imagine what Yuri might do here.

  2. seakip18:

    That was actually tried on the mythbusters, they only used salt and Ice water, but the beer still froze on the inner surfaces of the coils, to have it work, you’d probably have to either circulate the beer very quickly, or keep the coils slightly above freezing.

    Best of luck either way,

  3. Ok here is my idea it is a bit long so bear with it, I think it is ace and has commercial potential (as well as stylish nich ;)

    Have a number of plates of copper (I would prefer silver but it is unrealistic unless you rich lol). Have the drink poured into a small funnel/resivoir with a small opening at the base to allow the drink to flow out at a controlled speed.

    In the copper plates have a channel grooved out circling from the outside reducing itself to the centre of the plate.

    The plate would need to be cooled by some form (probly peltier (sp?)).

    Each plate would have a copper tube drop the drink from the above plate centre to the below plate outside groove. Also each plate would be reduced in size from the above plate.

    After calculating and testing you would come to the required number of plates and the required flow rate to cool the drink to the desired temperature.

    At the bottom of the plates you would place your glass and let the drink make its way to your glass.

    For bars etc you could have many grooves carved out to allow multiple drinks to be cooled at once without them mixing, at the bottom and centre of each plate have copper pipes flowing the drinks out to grooves/glasses to avoid mixing the drinks.

    here is a quick ms paint quick idea of what it would look like;

  4. Wolf: That Mythbusters episode was the inspiration. That and the huge amount of warm beer around.

    Anything with a copper coil used by other teams tended to freeze to the inside and plug the pipe. Using something like that in the -70deg C slurry I’ve used would be nearly instant. It’s a matter of finding ways to tune it so that it goes in hot, but comes out the end, just above freezing.

    Believe me, I’ve competed since the beginning, it’s tricky.

  5. Brewers use jockey boxes all the timewith either copper or SS piping to take hot beer and serve it cold. They use CO2 to push the beer through. Since you’d need a holding chamber to push the beer through, that’d violate the rules. If you are freezing the beer, your coil is in contact with the chilling medium for too long. The solution is to decrease the coldness of your chilling medium or to shorten your coils.


    What you described is sounds a lot like a plate chiller/heat exchanger used in conjunction with a pump. Cold water passes through, chilling the plates and then is given to the hot beer going the other direction. Good idea with reducing the sizes.

    -The gimpster
    It might have to do with how CO2 is absorbed. The hot beer can is ready to release all of it’s CO2 at the temperature, but as it cools, the CO2 redissolves into the beer. Super cooling it may instead leave you with a flat beer. Though I doubt you’d lose ALL your carb. Then again, ever open a warm beer then try to cool it? Not tasty.

  6. I saw that episode of mythbusters. I loved it. This would provide an elegant solution to the warm beer issue that comes with a long night of beer pong in the garage.

  7. Mojo:

    Thats a good idea, but I was thinking, why run from the outside to the inside? why not just alternate them, outside outside, inside inside, and so forth, that way, all your plates would be interchangeable, and be the same size.


    About the coil system, it can be as complex as you make it, personally, if I was going to build one of these, I’d build a tight coil around a foot in diameter and about 2′ tall then build a insulated styrofoam outer and inner sheath that could be be moved down over the coil to add or insulation and thus adjust the temperature. I’d use plain old ice water for the coolant, so as to avoid sidestep the freezing problem altogether (remember, the beer can be in the machine for up to a minute, so as long as you’ve got allot of pipe you probably don’t need a super cold water bath to get it down to 38). Also, I’d add some paddles or something to circulate the water, to keep the water around the coils from warming up too much.

    True, using a coil and water bath is pretty much the standard engineering solution for this sort of thing, but I’d be surprised if someone came up with something within the rules that beats it for cost or effectiveness.

  8. Idea 1: a supercooling apparatus in which you moderate the flow rate with temperature censors. Use plastic tubing immersed in ice bath.
    Idea 2: alternating heat/cold sections. Because the rate of temperature change is more or less proportionate to the difference of the two temperatures, it can be designed such that liquid that is too cold will be heated more than cooled, and vice versa. Horribly inefficient, but there might just be some effective designs. (You could also try simply heating the liquid to 90F or whatever the max is and then dumping it through your LN setup.)
    Idea 3: Fill the cooler with a matrix of metal beads, pre-cooled to minimal temperature at which beer is in its liquid phase. This creates a huge surface area for contact/cooling. As long as the mass of the matrix is much larger than whatever you pour through it, it should be able to handle cooling the liquid to the matrix’s approximate initial temperature.
    Idea 4: a supercooling apparatus in which you inject the beer with antifreeze. With any luck, the rule-makers did not stop to think anyone would be crazy enough to come up with a solution that rendered the end result toxic. :P

  9. Why not try this:

    Take a long spiral tube of copper, and put it into a pvc tube. the beer runs from top to bottom, so find a thickness of copper tubing that gets all the beer through in just under the time required.

    Then take a big-ass keg of ice cold water, and gravity feed it through the pvc piping from bottom to top. Its a simple counter-current system, and should get the beer to 0 celius with no freezing issues.

  10. Heh, crazy Brits.

    Why not take an air conditioning approach, to avoid freezing problems? Compress the beer (does it count as a “container” if you’re just sealing, then unsealing, the tubes?) so it heats up more, then cool it to just above freezing, then decompress it and serve. During decompression it will cool itself! Ehhhh????

  11. James, your idea would work if one of these conditions were met:
    1. Beer is a gas.
    2. Beer changes phases as you change the pressure.
    The process you describe is called adiabatic heating/cooling. From wikipedia: “Adiabatic heating occurs when the pressure of a gas is increased from work done on it by its surroundings, i.e. a piston.” Since liquids change volume negligibly in response to pressure changes, almost no work is done on them.

    If you were decompress the beer (such as with a vacuum pump) to the point where it vaporized, the temperature of the “beer vapor” would be lower than the liquid beer. At that point, heat would flow into the beer vapor from its surroundings due to the temperature difference. When you removed the vacuum, the beer vapor would condense into beer at a slightly higher temperature than it started.

  12. to avoid the freezing problem, use a tube-in-a-tube counter-flow heat exchanger. Beer in inner tube, surrounded by cold fluid in outer tube. Put a temperature sensor on (or in, if possible) the beer tube close to the outlet and use that to adjust the coolant flow in the outer tube. Faster flow means more fresh cold coolant and more cooling. Slower flow means the coolant will exchange its heat with a larger volume of beer and therefore will get warmer and reduce the risk of freezing. A start-up pump profile will need to be created to deal with stabilizing the temperature of the first bit of beer. Use the smallest practical inside tube diameter to minimize this issue.

  13. When I was in the military, we just dug a trench as wide as a case of beer, and as long as nessisary for the number of cases we had. place the beer in the trench, cover with a tarp, lift one end of the tarp, and empty a 20 ld, CO2 fire extinguisher into the trench. Leave for a few minuites ,drink very cold beer. repeat as nessisary.

  14. First thanks to Fred and James for the genuine LOL. Moving on, IMO the focus should be on cooling whatever the beer is contained in, NOT cooling the beer after it flow from the container. Yea I understand this is all in good fun, but it may be a waste of good beer. Keep it on ice withe severpunishment for those charge with keeping a good supply of cold beer at the ready if they fail

  15. My solution to warm beer is to use a bag od frozen peas. Cut a slightly larger than pin hole in the bottom and a larger bottle mouth shaped hole in the top. Pour beer in and collect from bottom. Very cold but tastes slightly of peas. Good hack in an emergancy cold bear situation.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.