Ten amazing uses for beer (besides drinking)

May 22nd, 2012

Appliance Talk

Dry July is coming up.  If you or a loved one is participating, you’ll want to get any temptations out of the house – that includes the emergency beer supplies tucked away in the back of the fridge.

Even if you’re not participating in Dry July, it’s an unfortunate reality that sometimes beer gets left out, and ends up warm, flat, contaminated, or otherwise unfit for human consumption.

But what can you do with beer other than drinking it?

Well, beer is an ancient beverage, and over the centuries, a multitude of exciting uses for the amber fluid have been found, including cooking, cleaning, gardening and more.

Here are just a few ways you can put beer to use:

Washing your hair

Want to put that bounce back in your locks? Get more air in your hair?  Why not try using beer as a shampoo or conditioner?  The vitamin B, proteins, natural sugars and low pH level of beer all help to strengthen hair, even as it cleans.

There are a few methods to use beer on your hair.  One is to just take some flat, warm beer into the shower with you and rub it through as shampoo, conditioner, or both.  Some recommend preparing the cleansing solution beforehand by combining a few tablespoons of beer with half a cup of water.

Another method is to mix beer with a raw egg (another common folk substitute for shampoo).  Others like to boil the beer first (reducing it to remove the alcohol, which can dry hair) before combining it with store-bought shampoo.

If you’re really keen, some people believe that soaking your hair in beer before lying in the sun can help to lighten your hair.

In any case, don’t forget to rinse afterwards…

Deal with pests

Is your kitchen infested with bugs?  Rodents?  Slugs and snails?  They may all be after the contents of your beer fridge.

The heady aroma of beer can prove a powerful attraction to slugs and snails – taking a dishful out to the garden should distract them from eating your lettuces.  Of course, they can’t breathe the stuff.  Be sure to fish their drowned remains out the next day.

Other insects attracted to beer fumes include flies, cockroaches, bees and wasps.  If you’re planning a barbeque, leave a beer dish at the far end of the garden to keep the little buggers away from your guests.

Mice and rats are also fond of a drop – you may find a few blissfully happy rodents snoozing by your dish in the morning, ready for relocation.

Of course, if you DON’T have pests, but would like to attract some lovely butterflies to make your yard more attractive, try this recipe for butterfly bait, using the secret ingredient of beer.

Polish furniture

If your wood furniture is looking a bit dusty, stained and dull, maybe it just needs a nice, refreshing beer.

Simply rub just enough flat beer to moisten a towel into the surface, wipe it off with a dry cloth, and watch the shine return.

I’m not sure if this particular property of beer was discovered by accident or determined following an extended course of rigorous scientific experimentation.  I’m more inclined to believe the former…

Polish metal

Yep, beer works to clean more than one type of surface!  We understand that leftover beer is sometimes used in breweries to keep their copper vats clean and shiny, so it should work on your sinks as well.

If the metallic surfaces of your kitchen, bathroom or laundry have lost their shine, the slightly acidic amber fluid can help rub off some of the tarnish.  It even works on jewellery and brass!  You can leave your metallic items to soak in beer, or give them a rub with a beery cloth, just like the wooden furniture.

For a real challenge, try using beer to clean a rusty bolt – the acids and carbonation in the beer just might be enough to dissolve some of the rust and get it turning properly.  Another reason to keep a bar fridge full of beer in the garage or workshop!

Clean carpets

Nasty spills on your carpets and rugs don’t have to remain there, taunting you with their brown permanence from the floor, resisting every attempt by your vacuum cleaner and other cleaning gear to lift them.

If chemical cleaners aren’t a viable option because of the danger to Puss, Fido or Junior, then it may be time for a drink!

Spot test first to confirm that it works for you, but lightly rubbing beer into a tea, coffee or red wine stain on your carpet, the stain should lift straight out.  It may take more than one application, so keep a six-pack handy.  Oh, and wash the carpet with soap and water or a regular steam cleaner afterwards to get the smell out.

Protect and fertilise the garden

Once you’ve used the earlier tip to get the pests out of your garden using beer, you can put any leftover beer to work in the garden as well, fertilising your plants and protecting them from harmful fungi.

Plants love the yeast and natural fermented sugars in beer, which helps them grow healthy and strong.  Pour a bit around the roots and watch the magic happen.

Garden fungi can be eliminated with a splash of beer, thanks to the acids in the drink.  Apply directly to the affected areas – those brown patches on the lawn will soon be gone, and healthy grass will take its place.

Refresh and soothe your skin

Already got your hair looking amazing thanks to beer?  The rest of your body can benefit as well, thanks to a lot of complicated science.

Those yeasts and other ingredients that benefit your hair will also refresh and revitalise your skin, softening it.  Add some beer to your bathwater, or pour some cold ones in a bucket to refresh your feet, and see the results.  As usual though, don’t forget to rinse.  Try a pedicure afterwards!

You can even make your own moisturising beer mask!

Pass a kidney stone

Okay, this one does involve drinking the beer.  But it’s for a genuine medicinal purpose!

All beer drinkers know that beer is a diuretic – in layman’s terms, it makes you pee.  If you’ve had problems with bladder infections or kidney stones, as well as swigging water and cranberry juice to dilate your ureters, you can chug back some beers to provide further benefits (and take the edge off the pain).

But don’t try this if you’re on antibiotics, painkillers or other prescribed drugs.  They do NOT go together well.

Cure insomnia

No, not by drinking too much!  That would be too easy…

An old wives tale goes that the nutty aroma of hops (which is used to make beer) is great for helping people sleep.  If you don’t have any hops handy, you can try adding some beer to the cycle of your laundry while washing your bedclothes.

If the old wives were right, the beer fumes from your sheets should lull you off to dreamland, leaving you completely refreshed the next morning (unlike some other nights that have involved beer).

Cooking with beer

You know the classic “beer can inside a chicken” trick.  Maybe you saw it on MasterChef.  But beer can also be used in cooking in many more ways (and not just as a chef’s assistant…).

Beer-battered fish and chips is a tried-and-and true recipe for the deep fryer.  When cooking rice, using beer instead of water will infuse the rice with a very different kind of flavour.  Both meat and mushrooms can be marinated in beer to become soft, tender and flavoured prior to cooking.  Beer can even be used in baking bread.

Beer can be used as an ingredient in so many recipes that it’s almost worth a blog post in itself.  Keep an eye out for future updates!

And for the sake of your health, please drink responsibly.

Other than drinking, what’s you favourite use for beer?  Please let us know!

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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