What Can’t Beer Do? Marinades, Facemasks and Even Cleaning the House
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Of all of humankind’s best inventions, beer is among the greatest — and the oldest.
And while its main use these past 12,000 years has mostly been limited to drinking, the delicious and inebriating alcoholic beverage has also proved useful for a number of other tasks, including cooking, personal care, baiting pests and even cleaning.
While I don’t advise surrendering your Lagunitas for hair care on a regular basis, your beer may prove handy for some of the following tasks in a pinch.
Here are some other uses for beer.
Cooking With Beer
Beer’s most common use (aside from drinking) still ensures we ingest the nourishing nectar in another way—through our food.
Growing up Catholic, I had my fair share of beer-battered fish during the Lenten season, but beer aficionados and adventurous cooks might enjoy their malt beverage in these lesser known dishes:
- Meat marinade: Due to beer’s slight acidity, it acts as a tenderizer for meats like pork and beef, and alters the taste less than wine or vinegar would. As an added bonus, per a Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study, beer might reduce some of the cancer-causing carcinogens found in our meat. Try a stout for the flavor or a pilsner for the health benefits. And a word of advice: Don’t drink the marinade.
- Seafood secrets: Beer-battered fish isn’t the only seafood enhanced by malt beverages. According to Men’s Health, you can also use beer to steam clams and mussels, boil shrimp and scale a fish.
- Bread, rice and beyond: Men’s Health also offers up ideas for using beer to bake beer bread, cook rice and roast a chicken. Want to try a delicious flatbread? Food.com’s 4.5-star recipe takes just 30 minutes and less than a cup of beer (so you can drink the rest).
- Barbecue sauce: I’ve spent the last year living in Nashville, and one thing they do incredibly right here is barbecue sauce. It’s hard to think of a way to top some of the tasty concoctions I’ve sampled down here (the best is at Martin’s), but beer just might be the way to do it. I recommend this garlic-based beer sauce from Genius Kitchen or, if you’re a fan of bocks, this sauce from CraftBeer.com.
Personal Care Suds
If you can manage to get your beer from the fridge and out of the kitchen before it disappears, you might be able to use it for more than just eating and drinking.
In fact, beer can be used for a number of personal care tasks, like washing your hair and face.
- Hair care: After a particularly long day at work or a strenuous spring hike, I sometimes like to grab a shower beer and stand under the running shower head while nursing my drink. Turns out, beer can serve more than one purpose behind the shower curtain. According to Care2 Healthy Living, beer’s natural sugars and vitamin B can add shine to your hair when used after a good shampoo. (Peanut butter is another great option.)
- Face mask: SheKnows.com offers a recipe for beer shampoo as well, but it also features a how-to for a beer facemask. The purpose is twofold: The hops can act as an astringent while the yeast helps to balance the pH level of the skin.
- Pedicures: If my feet are sore from extensive exercise, I’m often tempted to plop on the couch with a crossword puzzle and a tasty beer. My inclination has always been to drink the beer, but Health.com recommends an alternative: a beer foot bath. The beer acts as an antibacterial and antiseptic while the yeast softens the skin.
Using Beer as Bait
I’m not one to give away beer unless I like you, but I’ve learned that beer can be used to bait a number of unwanted pests.
WiseBread offers a number of solutions for baiting pests like cockroaches, fruit flies, slugs and mice. However, not all these solutions are humane, so I would instead advise shelling out money for humane traps and repellents.
But bait isn’t just used for unwanted animals.
You can use beer to attract butterflies and let your little ones marvel at their beauty. Simply mix sugar, stale beer, overripe bananas, syrup, juice and rum (yum!), then spread it around your garden and hang a sponge (soaked with the concoction) from a tree in shade. Butterflies will soon arrive for this tasty treat. (Get the full recipe here.)
Using Beer for Maintenance
Have some work to do around the house? Beer might come in handy — and not just as your reward for a job well done.
- Lawn care: According to Men’s Health, beer can help you get rid of brown spots in your grass, thanks to the sugars. Just be sure to use a chemical-free beer, such as Rolling Rock or your own homebrew.
- Coffee stains: I can’t tell you the number of times I had to clean up beer stains from my carpet in college, so I was surprised to learn that, in some cases, beer can actually be used to clean up other stains, like coffee, from carpets. Reader’s Digest has details.
- Polishing: Flat beer can work as a polishing agent for your old wood furniture, according to The Huffington Post. It can also do wonders for your copper pots and pans and your gold jewelry, per LifeHacker.
It is my professional opinion (speaking as someone who actually has no professional beer training) that beer’s best use is for drinking.
But if you’ve ever let one go flat (shame on you!) or have an abundance of it you’ll never drink, try using some of these other uses for beer. Bottoms up!
Timothy Moore is an editor, freelance writer and craft beer snob. His favorite beer is Flying Monkeys’ Smashbomb Atomic IPA, but he’s also partial to breweries in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio, such as Eudora, Warped Wing and Toxic.