What was just spoken casually in a drinking spree now became a valuable beer business for three Filipino guys namely Luigi Nunez, Vincent Co, and Jay-Jay Angala, who developed a beer technology called Beer Below Zero or BBZ. As the name suggests, it is, well, beer below zero, meaning that it is colder than the average beer which freezes at zero degrees Celsius.
But it is not a brand of beer, and instead a brand of beer freezing technology. As how Nunez puts it, “it is the technology of processing any kind of beer and serving it just below freezing point… of course below zero degrees Celsius.”
The business started with only P 150,000 in capital, an amount Nunez would say as something they could play with that kind of investment for fun. Since they realized that there was a demand for the beer-cooling technology they just poked fun in a drinking session, it was time for them to get serious with the business.
So they hired refrigerator experts, chemists, and engineers to forward the idea. After six months of hardwork, they have created the technology that cools beers at minus 8 to 13 degrees, which is said to be the best temperature to enjoy the brew. It relies in scientific phenomena called freezing point depression and supercooling.
There are two critical factors to produce the BBZ. One is the specially-modified freezers and the other is the shuffling technique done by what they call as Beertender.
An ordinary chest freezer keeps the beer cold on 8 degrees Celsius on average, but the chest freezers which keeps the BBZ can go as low as between -6 to -10 degrees Celsius, which depend on the bottle thickness and beer consistency. They are slightly tweaked to keep beer at a temperature where it won’t freeze so easily.
Beertenders take care of these chest freezers and prepare the beer through a technique called shuffling. They are intensively trained to load, shuffle, and dispatch the beers, which requires proper timing so the beer they serve will not break or explode.
One thing to note about the BBZ is that when it is already popped open, the beer is at a sensitive phase – meaning that any change in its balance can cause ice to form immediately. Which is why when you tap the bottle or pour the beer in a glass, it freezes immediately. The bitter, strong taste of beer is infinitely better when it is ice cold.
Beer Below Zero debuted in May 16, 2008 and was quickly embraced by the beer-loving Filipinos. It became an easy product to sell because many were curious to try the ‘coldest beer ever’, and it did not disappoint. In case you missed it, ice cold beer is a hangout and party staple in the Philippines.
Now there are about 1,500 establishments offering Beer Below Zero in the country and abroad, with presence in Hawaii, San Francisco, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Palau, Guam, and Singapore, among others. It was also already commissioned by San Miguel Brewery for their annual Oktoberfest and Summer Babad projects, which was done when the BBZ was barely four months old.
To secure BBZ’s exclusive ownership and rights to the trademarks “Beer Below Zero,” “BBZ” and “Beer Below Zero Mark,” its makers have filed a patent which was granted early in 2015.