Whole Life Soaps

How About a Bar of Beer?

Bill McConnell

Twice a year, I make beer soaps. I usually make them around St. Patrick's day and Fourth of July. I do this because it's my contribution to two holidays that seem to revolve around drinking. Whether that''s a good thing to promote is a a matter of opinion, but as a businessman, it makes sense to offer a seasonal product.

I always make my beer soaps out of whatever beer I happen to be drinking. I like to think I drink good quality beers. For beer soap production, I enjoy using IPA and stout. Both have exquisite, aromatic properties that provide the soap a woodsy, aromatic tincture.

This past February, I made two batches of beer soap (128 bars total). The first batch is an IPA beer, made from Stone Brewery's traditional IPA (the one in the green can...yum). This is a simple process. I gather all of my oils (a proprietary blend of coconut, olive, castor, and Shea butter) and when I make my lye solution, I substitute the water for beer.

The beer must be prepped, though. The beer must boil for about 20 minutes at a solid, rolling boil. When the beer comes to a full boil, that's when I start my timer. About five minutes into the boil, a thick skin of foam starts to build up on the surface. This is the alcohol burning off. It takes about ten minutes for this to completely happen. After ten minutes, I vigorously stir the pot and within a couple of minutes, a new head of foam starts, but this one continues to rise. This is the yeast burning off. It can fill the pan (and I use a 20 quart pot). I boil a 12-pack down to about 72 ounces (a 50% reduction). If I boil it too long and find that I need more liquid, I'll add a little distilled water to compensate.

Once the liquid has cooled, I add it to my melted oils, thicken it to trace with a stick blender, add any scents, mold it and wait for the magic to happen.   

This year, I added a blend of cedar and vetiver oils to my IPA soap. I found that the woodsy scents of these two oils complemented the slightly toasted scent of hops that remains in the finished product.

My stout soap is comprised of a blend of three stouts: American Stout, Coffee Milk Stout, and Xocoveza Stout (all by Stone Brewery). For scent, I add only a small amount of vanilla, as these beers have a natural chocolate-like, almost caramel scent to them. They are sweetly aromatic, not cloying. And, they have a faint spice texture to the nose.

The colors are just the natural color of the beer--nothing more. 

Aside from all of this, the benefits of beer soap include better lather, better hardness, and better oil-fighting ability.  A beer soap can fight off acne, soothe slight skin irritation, and can function as a shampoo.  The natural wheat proteins in beer are good for both the hair and the skin.

If you'd like to check out my IPA soap with cedar and Vetiver, or if you'd prefer our Vanilla Stout Soap. please click on our shop now link above, where you'll find these soaps as well as a bunch of other great products.

Thanks for stopping by.