Innovations in refrigeration often result from noble intentions to better preserve and deliver vital food supplies. Then again, the Next Great Idea may simply come from the desire to keep the beer cold.

In the latter category, consider Adam Hunnell, Aaron Noland, and Nathan Slavin, all recent graduates of West Virginia Wesleyan University, Buckhannon W. Va. - where they were, of course, fraternity brothers.

Faced with the dilemma of half-empty kegs of beer and no ice, and fueled by a $20,000 entrepreneur grant from the National Collegiate Inventors program (which provides grants for projects and technologies with commercial potential - and which has people who may not read the proposals too closely), the trio came up with "Keg Wrap."

Cold Beer

It is a heating blanket that chills instead of warms, powered via a plug that can be used with an electrical socket or car battery, according to an Associated Press story.

According to Hunnell, the key is portability - the ability to take a keg anywhere and keep it cold. That, according to the news story, is bothering the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization.

"It's always a concern whenever you have a new gadget that makes it easier for people to party," said a MADD representative.

The commercial potential is for beer distributors who would rent the Keg Wrap to keg buyers. But some of the distributors wonder about the adequacy of a power source involving a car battery. They say the most practical method of power in a vehicle would be through the cigarette lighter - but now the power question really has to be asked.

Up until now, the cold keg solution involved setting the keg in a large bucket of ice.

No Beer For Peter

I led a boring life in college and never went to frat parties or any event involving beer kegs.

But having been in the refrigeration industry for some time, I'm pretty sure that if one wants to keep beer cold, the best choice is still ice.

And if ice is running low, here's a thought: It is a really remote location that doesn't have a 24-hour supermarket or convenience store that sells ice.

If you need ice, just buy some.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 11/01/2004