Good News, Everyone!
I have made for you: beer soap. What, you say? Soap with beer!?! Indeed. It's true: soap with beer. Unfortunately, though, the alcohol has been boiled out. Sorry, you won't get drunk through your pores on this soap.
Beer soap is an interesting beast. The beer contains a great amount of sugars, and thusly it can be difficult to work with. Many natural sugars react with the soap batter and cause it to overheat - this is especially true if the proportion of those sugars is large (eg: all of your water has been replaced with beer). In addition, anything carbonated (looking at you, beer) can cause caustic bubbles due to the carbon dioxide reacting with lye. Does not sound like fun, right? Right.
As such, beer soap is one of those things that you probably shouldn't try to make without feeling comfortable with the CP soap making process and several batches confidently under your belt. I am pretty confident, and even I had a tough time with this one - be prepared, beer moves FAST. And it gets HOT. Have your freezer ready to go.
I made Soap Queen's Black and Tan beer soap recipe with a bit of modification because I don't have the exact mold she does. My beer soap got very hot and very hard very quickly, and I almost didn't get my dividers out of the mold. (Make sure you soap at room temperature or damn near it! I made the mistake of soaping too hot - lesson learned.) In the end, though, it all worked out, and I got some pretty awesome beer soap. Mine isn't black and tan like hers - it's more just tan and darker tan. I think this is because of the beer I used - DuClaw's "Rye One On" rye IPA. I did not have a dark lager to use (well, I had one...but it was destined for Irish beef stew), but I did have an abundance of rye beer. Our landlord came over to help us out with HOA Inspections and showed up with two six packs like, "Here, have this beer we got at DuClaw." Thanks, landlord and landlord girlfriend! Landlord's girlfriend pointedly said, "Make some beer soap" when they handed it over. Girlboo - I've got a couple bars set aside for you. ;)
So what did I learn while making beer soap? Well first, I learned that, as I previously mentioned, carbonation = bad. Because of this, it's imperative to flatten the beer somehow before venturing forth into soap making territory. Many people have different methods they use to flatten the beer. I used Soap Queen's suggested method of boiling the beer, however I think for my next beer soap, I may open it and let it flatten in the fridge for several days before boiling - just to be sure. Some people only let it flatten, others just let it boil, others do some combination. Choose what you think works best for you.
In addition, since beer undoubtedly has sugars in it, you will need to get it cold before you add lye to it. How cold is up to you - I've seen some people only refrigerate it, and others who freeze it. I chose to freeze the beer. Some people use an ice bath for the beer pitcher when adding lye to keep the temperature down, however I did not do this because my beer was frozen. It's up to you how you choose to do so - just keep in mind that you'll need to keep your beer cool and work fast. Again, I can't stress it enough: soap at low temps. I didn't do this, and I believe it's part of why my soap ran off so quickly without me.
When I got my soap into the mold it started to harden pretty damn immediately, especially the part of the soap with the majority of the fragrance in it (as an aside, I used Bramble Berry's "Honey Ale" fragrance, not the recommended fragrance in the recipe, because my beer was lighter with different notes). I could see it starting to get very hot, and since I was nervous about it cracking or even exploding, I dropped it into my chest freezer and left it there overnight. I came home from work the next day, took it out, unmolded it, and let it warm up on a well ventilated shelf until the next day when I cut it. It isn't the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but it smells awesome and it's really cool to know that I used beer to make it.
I am really looking forward to using this soap - it will be ready in a week or so for pH testing and general giving away - just in time for 4th of July! I have read that beer soap has a bunch of good, skin-loving things in it, as well as a creamy lather, so it should be a hit to anyone who loves beer and personal hygiene! Or just beer!
Bring on the next batch!
Elizabeth is a new to soap making, and wishes to share her journey in learning to make cold process soap with the hope that it will help other newbies who may stumble upon this site as a resource. From swirl techniques, choosing colors, combining fragrances, embeds, toppers, and textures, she chronicles her lessons and stories here.