21 great uses for beer

By Paul Michael on 4 March 2008 (Updated 21 May 2010) 19 comments

I’ll make no bones about it; I love beer. From a warm, nutty pint of English bitter, to an ice-cold Belgian lager, I’m all over it. But you don’t just have to drink beer straight from the bottle or jar (although that’s the best way to use it). If you’re feeling experimental, here are 21 (the legal drinking age in most states) different uses for beer, other than just pouring it down your throat.

1. Put it in your chili

One of the best ways to add flavor and a little extra liquid to a chili is with a nice bottle of beer. Use the darker beers — they have more flavor and add more punch.

2. Make bread

My wife’s grandma is from Germany and she swears by a good loaf of beer bread.

INGREDIENTS
1 12oz can of beer
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch baking pan.
3. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
4. Add the beer and sugar, mix well, place in pan.
5. Top with melted butter.
6. Bake 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

3. Kill slugs

Worms are a gardener’s best friend, but slugs are not. Salt is a great way to dry up these slimy pests, but that means you have to find them first. Instead, entice them with a little beer, which slugs love. Simply pour a little into some empty jars and place them in the soil, with the rims of the jars at ground level. The slugs will drop in for a drink, but they can’t get back out. And what a way to go; Certainly better than the salt-shriveling death.

beer bath

4. Take a beer bath

It’s said the Cleopatra used to bathe in milk. Pah, that’s for lightweights. P. Diddy went one better and filled bathtubs full of expensive champagne at a birthday party. I say, go with the middle ground. Drain a few kegs into the tub and let the invigorating bubbles cleanse the skin and exfoliate. The yeasts and other ingredients are great skin-softeners. Then take a long shower.

5. Cure your lawn of brown spots

I’ve done a cure for a green lawn already, but I talked to another gardener who assured me that the acids in the beer would help kill off bugs and the other ingredients would help promote green growth. Does it work? Alas, I cannot swear by it as I haven’t tried it yet. My lawn is dormant here in Colorado. But if anyone can try it for me, that would be great!

6. Ease a stomachache

What? Surely not. Well, the carbonation in the beer can help ease your nasty tum rumbles. Of course, this is not a good one for children, or people with an ulcer or serious other stomach illness.

7. Stain removal

Something nasty on your carpet? Maybe a red wine stain? Well, a light beer will help pull that stain out. Sometimes a little club soda first will also help. Then use a regular carpet steam cleaner after to lift out the liquid and the smell.

8. Make a killer meat-tenderizing marinade

I have used soda in the past to help soften a steak before putting it on the grill. But that was sweet, too sweet for me. Now, I use a good beer or lager, and sometimes a stout if I’m feeling the need for some hearty flavor. The beer will really help soften the meat, add a distinctive taste, and it’s way better than those chemical tenderizers.

9. Revive wooden furniture

Got a few opened, half-empty beers from a party? Well, flat beer makes a great wood reviver. Just dampen a microfiber cloth with your flat beer, then rub gently into your furniture It will give it a polish and bring back some color.

10. The easy hair highlighter

Give your lovely locks that sun-kissed glow. Soak you hair in beer and then lay in the sun. It will pull out terrific highlight and make you smell deliciously hoppy! (Alternately, wash the beer out if you’d rather smell like a normal person.) Beer is also a handy hair conditioner.

11. Polish your gold jewelry

Don’t bother buying expensive store-bought cleaners. Drop your rings and other trinkets into a dish of beer, then remove and polish to a beautiful sheen using a dry cloth.

12. The bee attractor

I really don’t like bees and wasps, especially at barbecues and get-togethers in the park or back yard. So, an hour before the event is due to kick off, place some small containers of beer around the perimeter of the yard. The sugar and smell will attract the bees and they’ll be happy enough around the beer while you enjoy your shindig bee-free.

fish chips

13. The inevitable beer-batter

I’m English, I love my fish ‘n’ chips. And a good batter is essential. Follow this recipe for great-tasting beer-batter on your piece of prime cod.

1 12oz bottle of beer
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten

14. Use it to heal

As some of you may know, beer is a diuretic. And therefore, it can be used to help pass a kidney stone. It cannot, however, be used like other diuretics — to treat liver cirrhosis (for obvious reasons).

15. Liven-up some bland shrimp or lobster

Well, OK, lobster usually isn’t that bland. But shrimp can certainly lack “oomph” on occasion, and flat beer can help. Simply boil it up with some spices, like turmeric, Cajun seasoning, the classic Bay Leaf, salt, pepper and a touch of cayenne pepper. Then, add your raw shrimp and cook for around 5 minutes (15 for lobster). Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.

16. Make beersicles

Get yourself a popsicle maker from your local grocery store and instead of adding fruit juice, add a selection of different beers. An Indian Pale Ale, a lager, a bitter, a stout and so on. You’ll have a set of tasty adult treats for a hot summer day. (You can also make smaller versions using an ice-cube tray and toothpicks.)

17. Start a conversation

By carefully spilling a little of the beer of the attractive person next to you, male or female, you give yourself an opening to apologize, buy them a new drink and start a charming conversation. Just a nudge though, if you drench them they’ll be ticked off and you’ll be considered a prize moron.

18. Soak your feet

If you’ve had a hard day at work, a cold beer isn’t just good for your spirits. Those tired, aching feet can be revived by a beer foot-bath. Please, don’t be tempted to drink the contents afterwards…I’ll never do that again.

19. Turn ordinary rice into something very special

Next time you cook up a pot of long-grain rice, perhaps Jasmine or Basmati, cook the rice up in beer. Something with a lot of flavor will work well, like a brown ale or stout. The rice will absorb the beer and have a lovely flavor. Better still, it will look brown in hue, making people think you’re eating healthy!

Insomnia

20. Wash your pillowcases in it

This may be an old wives tale, but apparently the nutty smell of hops helps you fall asleep. If you’re an insomniac, try washing a pillowcase in beer and you may just get to the land of nod sooner than you think.

21. Give yourself movie-star looks

Simply buy many bottles of beer for the person you want to date and ensure they drink it all. By the time they’ve finished, they’ll think you have the looks of a million-dollar Hollywood star. (Warning: beer-goggle effects will wear off quickly.)

And a few things I wouldn’t do with beer:
1: Put out a fire — what a waste of good ale.
2: Give it away as a gift — it’s mine, all mine.
3: Make an icy slide out of it.

If you know of any other uses for the mighty brew, please let me know. And as always, never drink and drive folks. Stay safe.

Additional photo credit: Stock Exchange
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Guest's picture
Guest

Are you sure about Granny? I've never seen a recipe call for Self Rising flour AND Baking Powder/Salt, since those things are in Self Rising Flour...

Yay or Nay on the Self Rising Flour? I wanna try that bread!

Paul Michael's picture

That would be a fatal error on my part. Try it, it always works for me. I've also seen the recipe on All Recipes and it gets stellar reviews.

Guest's picture
Derek Fellion

Speaking for all of Wisconsin, there is nothing better than a beer brat.

Guest's picture
Luke

Years ago I lived in a large house with other college kids. Not surprisingly, we had a kegger or two. The problem was, what to do with all the beer afterwards. So for the next week or so we cooked with beer, ate with beer, killed snails with beer, washed with beer and bathed with beer.

In particular there was great interest in the beer-as-conditioner idea (it was a coed house). Well let me tell you: unless you rinsed a LOT, you smelled like beer. Not yeast, but beer. Like you'd been sleeping in a puddle of it all night complete with cigarette butts. But if you rinsed enough (and it takes a lot of rinsing) to get rid of the smell, then any conditioner effect washes away.

So, if you're willing to smell like an old beer party, it's great.

Guest's picture
Germx

Try it at the beach. Spray or pour beer on hair and lay in the sun. Let your hair soak the beer and sun. After your hair is nice and toasty head for the water. The combination of sitting in the sun and then rinsing it off in the salty water seems to take the smell away.
You might night see the highlight-ing affects instantly..

Guest's picture
Mel

Beer Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

* 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 cup beer
* 2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour in the egg, beer and melted butter; stir with a whisk just until blended - a few lumps are okay.
2. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Coat with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot surface for each pancake. When bubbles appear on top of the pancakes, flip, and cook until browned on the other side.

Paul Michael's picture

And I thought pancakes could't get any better. I wonder if they're good for a hangover. The pancakes that bite the dog that bit you.

Guest's picture
njtrout

Nothing better tasting than hot dogs boiled in beer. With a cold one on the side, of course.

NJTrout

Guest's picture
RainKing

I do believe that the legal age of all United American states is twenty-one. Unless I am mistaken, my home state of Louisiana was the last to up the ante to 21 from 18, on threat of national funding for roads being pulled.

Another great use for beer is simply health benefits from consuming alcohol. I believe that the standard accepted intake amount is one beer/glass of wine for women a day, and two for men, with a beneficial effect on the general overall health.

Guest's picture
Mary

I've always wanted to try making a beer slushie (using a slushie maker or ice cream maker). I bet it would be FANTASTIC on those 102 degree summers in the CA valley...

Guest's picture

This list is awesome! Just when I thought beer couldn't get any more useful or wonderful. That said, here is an additional use: Stoofvlees - Belgian Beef Beer Stew!

Here's a recipe: Stoofvlees

Enjoy!

Guest's picture
Worchestershire

No one has mentioned the possibility of brewing your own. If you are like me eventually you will be able to brew beers and ales that you prefer over most brands.
The cost and enviromental benefits are fabulous.
I can brew a 5 gallon batch (50, 12oz bottles or over two cases) for approximately $15 or less. I have spent less than $250 on equipment and I am developing a terrific appreciation and understanding of beers and ales from this hobby.
Here are the ingredients and costs:
1. Malted barley- milled it will cost you anywhere from $.60 to $2.00 per pound- depending on the recipe you may need 6 to 15 pounds.
2. Hops- well these have gotten quite expensive lately but certainly last year you could buy them for $10 a pound or about $.65 an oz and you may use anywhere from 1.5 to 6 oz. They now are costing in the $2./ oz range, but the price will come down with the next crop.
3. Water- you have that- it may need a little conditioning- a complex subject, but my tap water works fine- I add a bit of Calcium Sulfate for hardness, but that cost about $.20 or less for a tablespoon.
4. Yeast: this miraculous micro-organism will turn the fermentable sugars into alcohol and flavors. You can get packet yeast for $2.00 or get the specialized Wyeast packets or White Labs vials for about $6- but you can pitch it several times and get 20 gallons out of a single vial- Then too if you live near a brew pub they may even give you yeast.

Equipment is a mashing vessel, a 6 gallon or large SS pot, a cook stove, and a glass carboy or bucket fermentation vessel. Recycle you bottles or get the re-usable Golsch-type bottles and brew away.
You are recycling bottles, using only the shipping/energy costs of the hops and grains. Supporting agriculture and maltsters. Some resources are at www.beertown.org- site of the American Homebrewers Association.
Cheers

Paul Michael's picture

I don't really have anywhere to brew the ale right now, space is a major issue in our current tiny home. But, it's something I desperately want to try. A good friend of mine brews his own beers and they rock. I also went to a beer convention and tasted some amazing Bourbon Stouts. One day, the Paul Michael brewery will be open. One day...

Guest's picture
Maaka

Hubby and I had a keg of Shiner Bock at our wedding reception 11 years ago and we ended up with half a keg left. (That wouldn't have happened if either I or hubby had been drinking at the time. Sigh.) We pumped the contents onto our compost pile and a couple of months later had the richest, most sumptuous compost imaginable. It grows great tomatoes.

Guest's picture
Guest

Beer on the lawn worked like a charm. Kegs usually start a little foamy if you don't let them sit for a day or so. I got a fresh keg of Coors Light and tapped it right away. I filled half of a pitcher with the foam and let it sit, then poured it on the brown spots on my lawn from my damned dog pissing there. These are brown spots that I haven't been able to get rid of all summer and within two days it was as green as the rest of the lawn. It was sad pouring beer onto the ground, but well worth my wife getting off my ass about the dog pissing on the lawn.

Guest's picture
PBGV

Not sure using beer for some of these things is very economical, like soaking feet, in unless of course it's sunk beer you'd have to throw it out any away.

Olivia

Guest's picture

Yesterday I received 24 bottles of lager from a weekly magazine because I had written the best letter to the editor last week.

Last night I wrote to some friends asking their advice on what I should do with them. My brother-in-law says it can be used as shampoo/conditioner (if you're looking through beer goggles your hair will always look wonderful!), a friend says his wife uses it for making bread and my sister says a mature drinker might not misuse the liquor I've been given. And one special friend gave me a link to this website.

I don't think I have yet found the ideal use for the alcohol I've been given. I could use the bottles to club snails!

I'm a teetotaller because 1/ the liquor industry causes too much misery for people, so I'm boycotting the industry, 2/ I can easily get hooked on unproductive activites (such as playing Minesweeper or Solitaire on the computer or playing Sudoku) and I'm sure I'm in less danger of developing a dependancy if I never start, 3/ I want to be a good example for other people--there are too many people who think they need alcohol to have a good time and I want to show them that I can have a good time without ever using alcohol. Being given 'free' beer isn't enough to change my mind on a sober policy I've held for a long time.

Cheers!
Nigel

Guest's picture
Charity

So, this article was written awhile ago..but as I just found it I will add my "other use" for beer here. Last summer, we were all down in FL on the beach for about a week...unfortunately, during that time almost all of us were stung by jellyfish at some point...pour the beer over a jellyfish sting and it will take the sting out of it. My husband apparently got hit by a wave of them and had stings all over his back...pouring a beer on his back took the sting away almost instantly (also...we rubbed the beer in a bit just to make sure!)