Stubby holders. They keep your hand from getting cold and your beer from getting warm — what could be better? One that keeps your beer cold for much, much longer, that’s what.
It’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science and alcohol.
Stubby holders are everywhere. You’ve seen these soft-foam beer can holders given away free at baseball games, adding splashes of colour to otherwise drab construction sites, and your uncle in Myrtle Beach has like 50 of them.
But what separates the Yeti Cooler from all the freebie stubby holders out there (aside from the price) is that instead of foam and neoprene it’s made of 18/8 stainless steel with double-wall vacuum insulation. It’s basically a thermos for your can of beer that will keep your brew cold for a very long time. How long exactly? I decided to find out.
Test #1: Cans on a Hot Day
Yeti makes some of the best drink coolers out there, and they range from the very large — 268 beers while maintaining a 2:1 ice to beer ratio — to very small. The Colster is the smallest: 1 beer, no ice. This is the one I tried.
It works like this: unscrew and remove the plastic gasket at the top of the Colster. Put your cold, 350mL can of beer in. Replace the gasket. Drink.
For the test, I stuck three cans of beer in the freezer to get them down to between -0.6C and 0C. Then I dragged a space heater into a small bathroom and managed to get it up in a temperature ranging from 31.4C to 38.4C. The fluctuations were caused by me entering and leaving the bathroom and by the heater cycling, but all three were exposed to the same conditions for the whole time. It was hot.
Then I opened the cans and put one in the Colster, squeezed one into an old Coleman stubby holder my aunt had (which is probably better than your standard stubby holder), and left one naked to act as a control. I used an OXO instant read digital thermometer to measure all three, swirling them before each measurement to ensure the temperatures would evenly distribute.
The results? The Yeti went all abominable snowman on the others.
As you can see, the Yeti jumped out to an early lead and didn’t look back. At the 60-minute mark, it was still just 3.6C, up from -0.6C. About four degrees during the course of an hour in a 38C room is damn impressive.
By comparison, the rubber stubby holder was at 10C and the control was already up to 17C. The Colster didn’t sweat at all (though neither did the regular stubby holder). By the end of the two hours the results were even more dramatic. Keeping cooler meant the Colster’s can retained more of its carbonation too.
Test #2: Glass Bottles at Room Temperature
For the glass bottle test, things were a bit more moderate. I grabbed three 350mL glass bottles of Juice Squeeze (don’t ask) and submerged them in an ice bath for a couple hours. The room I was in stayed between 20.8C and 22.5C. I then followed the same testing protocol as I did with the cans of beer. While less extreme, the results were essentially the same.
The control was the clear loser here, but it was definitely a closer call between the Yeti and the stubby holder. The biggest disparity was at the 45-minute mark, when the Yeti was at 7.3C, the stubby holder was at 9.4C, and the control had shot up to 13.6C. Again, less extreme conditions and hence less extreme results. A six-degree difference is not one you’re really going to notice while drinking a beer unless you’re actively looking for it and comparing. Still, though, the Yeti was the hands-down winner.
One thing I should note is that while I found that the 350mL cans fit in the Colster just fine, there’s a lot more variation in shapes and sizes between beer bottles. Almost all of the 350mL bottles we tried in a liquor store were on the skinny side, which left some space between the bottle and the Yeti’s walls, which would rattle and almost certainly reduce its efficiency. Also, while you can fit 475mL cans into the Colster, you won’t be able to put the cap down on top of it, again reducing efficiency. It didn’t fit much better in the regular stubby holder either. Forget about a 22.
The bottom line
This baby works as advertised. Cold cans stayed very cold, and it doesn’t sweat and it doesn’t chill your hand. You could also just use it as an insulated tumbler and pour whatever you wanted in there, hot or cold.
The downside is, it’s expensive, to the tune of 30 bucks. Sure, it out-performs a normal stubby holder, but your normal stubby holder was also probably free. Is it worth it? I mean, look, it’s pretty awesome. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and it looks good while doing it. But it’s reasonably hard to justify spending $US30 on something that’s generally gifted to you. So here, I made a really crappy flowchart to help you make your decision.
Got it? Great. Enjoy.