Perhaps the saddest thing we know as brewers is that our beer won’t last forever and sometimes it just goes off. So what can we do with that stale beer so that its life wasn’t wasted in vain?
Most people would just chuck it down the drain, but I’m not most people so I had a little look around the world wide web.
So, how can we reuse or recycle stale beer at home?
There are at least 26 ways that I found to reuse stale beer from washing your hair to saving your dying garden. You can use stale beer in the home, in cooking, in the garden, and as an insect repellent. There are so many useful ways to reuse stale beer, so never throw it away again!
Now, some of these methods are going to seem more believable than others. Many more of them you will have to really try to convince your better half (speaking to you men out there) to try them. If you can, I’m sure they will thank you.
The main thing to remember is that you can repurpose all that wasted beer and save yourself money at the same time! I’ve split these ideas up into three groups: At Home, Outdoors and Personal Use.
Reusing stale beer in at home
Polish beer…I mean beer polish
No, it’s not something a drunk person says when they spill their beer on your wooden table, you can really polish wood with beer. It’s because of the nutrients which are still present in flat and stale beer.
Simply take a clean cloth or microfiber and rub the surface of your tired wooden furniture until it takes on a new shine and the color deepens. The buff with another dry cloth to finish the polishing.
If you are feeling more adventurous you can even mix 1 quart of beer (950 ml) to a tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of beeswax in a pan and then boil it. As soon as it boils, remove it from the heat and let it cool down naturally with a paper towel or cloth covering it. When it is room temperature, wipe it on varnished oak furniture and leave it to dry. Then buff it up with a soft cloth. It really works wonders.
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Make those pots and pans sparkle
Because of the natural acidity in beer, it’s not only good for putting a shine on copper pots and pans by removing tarnish build up, it can also get some of that unwanted grease off of them too.
If you’ve got some stale beer left over from the Christmas party, you can soak your pots in for an hour or so then wipe it off. If you buff up the outside after using beer as a soaking agent you’ll get a really nice shine to that copper. This is exactly how brewers traditionally kept their copper vats looking so impressive in days gone by.
Liquid gold cleaner
Just as with copper, beer is also a nice natural way to give your gold jewelry a nice new shine to it.
Just pop your rings or whatnot into a glass of stale beer (best not to try this randomly at the local pub!) and then fish it out and give it a good buffing up to refresh your heirlooms.
Beer can remove any stain!
Stale beer, or any beer for that matter, is a good way to get out a stubborn coffee or tea stain from your carpet.
Before you go ahead and pour gallons of stale beer in your TV room, color test it on an off-cut of carpet or somewhere which is normally hidden. If you are brave then you really need to do this with the same staining agent, tea or coffee. If, when the beer dries, it hasn’t left a stain itself, then go ahead and pour small amounts on the stain a little at a time while blotting the beer up.
I haven’t tried this on red wine stains, but it might be the next big global discovery, so let me know what you find out!
The next few ideas are more Kitchen hacks as they involve food and drink
Note: Stale beer may not be that appealing when you drink it, but mix it with something else and you are back in business. Have a look at some of these interesting ideas for repurposing stale beer in other dishes and drinks:
Anyone for tangy BBQ sauce?
Stale beer still tastes excellent when it is processed in other dishes. If summer is coming, why not work on your secret barbeque sauce which will be the envy of the backyards on your block.
Mix the stale beer ( about 1 cup) with some chopped onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard, molasses, brown sugar, salt and pepper and some hot sauce, and you have a very interesting BBQ sauce to share with friends and family.
Marinate your meat in it
We’ve all tried this, at least all the Australian soaps I used to watch told me how to directly marinate sizzling sausages on the “barbie” with beer. But, actually, marinating your meat with beer beforehand has some very beneficial effects and stale beer is no different.
Beer helps to tenderize the meat if you leave it soaking in it for an hour or more. It also adds a little something to the flavor. Also, in my research, I found out that beer can also help protect you from PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which can form when barbecuing meat and may lead to cancer (source). If saving up that old beer didn’t sound appealing before, it sure should now!
Mix in a little soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic and let your steak sit in it for around 2 hours before you grill, it’s going to be tasty!
Make some beery bread
You can literally make bred from a bottle of beer ( or the equivalent quantity of stale beer), white sugar and self-rising flour. That’s it.
This type of beer can go great with beef, so I’m thinking beef sandwiches or a nice beef curry with some beery bread to mop up the sauce.
You need 12 fl oz of beer, 3 tablespoons of white sugar and 3 cups of self-raising flour. Mix up the sugar and flour and then introduce the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon and then your hands until you have a sticky dough. Put it into a greased loaf pan and bake for an hour at 350 °F. You will be left with a top-crunchy soft in the middle loaf with a beer twist.
Impress your friends with beer chicken
Have you ever looked at a whole chicken you just bought from the store and thought, you know I could probably fit a whole beer can up there?
Well, you would be right! Introducing BBQ beer chicken.
Prepare a whole chicken and season it as you like, dark brown sugar, salt, paprika, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper are just some suggestions. Make sure the chicken has been cleaned inside and out then place a half-full beer can inside it (you can also add some seasoning to the beer to make it foam.
Put the chicken on your barbecue and cook it thoroughly. The beer will evaporate and moisten the meat while flavoring it (and the aluminum can will also help cook the inside of the chicken). It’s a fun and unusual way to present BBQ chicken at your next cookout or yard party.
Beer cocktail anyone?
OK, I know you’ve been thinking it since the start, so yes, you can still drink that stale beer!
If you really don’t want to drink the beer straight, you can make yourself (and anyone else desperate enough to join you) some beer cocktails.
Here are 3 random examples:
Hop Skip And Go Naked Punch: stale beer, lemonade, whiskey, and lemon-lime soda. Serve over ice.
Beer Sangria: stale beer, vodka, and mixed fruits. Make sure you let the fruit soak for at least 8 hours to really give it a kick!
Blood Orange Shandy: (light) stale beer, blood orange juice, and lemon/lemonade. The fizz needs to come from the lemonade in our case!
If some aunt bought you a fondue set for your wedding, it’s time to find it and use that stale beer in a cheesy fondue adventure.
Get some cheddar and Swiss cheese (8 oz a piece) and mix it with flour (2 tablespoons) salt and pepper in a bowl. Then rub some garlic on the inside of the fondue pot. Next, pour in 12 fl oz of beer and bring it to a simmer. Mix in the cheese slowly so that it combines with the beer over the next 15 minutes. Consider adding a dash hot pepper sauce and then start dipping bread!
British Fish and Chips
Now as a Brit I am going to be a little biased here, but beer-batter fish is just amazing. I have a whole story about working in a small British pub in the center of France where my boss made amazing beer-batter Fish ‘n’ Chops which I won’t get into now.
There are plenty of recipes out there, but you can generally recycle your stale beer in beer-batter for any type of fish dish you like. It really brings a new twist to pretty much the only food that Britain has ever managed to export to the world. I’m not bitter. Not at all!
Brine your meat with it!
Now, I have to admit that I wasn’t really sure what bringing meat was until I looked it up. What I do now know is that you can do it with stale beer.
In the brining process, salt interacts with the meat and make it tender while also denaturing the proteins in it. This is especially true of the muscle fibers left in your meat. The brine gets into these areas and leaves flavor pockets and much juicier meat.
By mixing stale beer with brown sugar, salt water, and herbs, you are able to soak the meat overnight to make it a much more succulent dish when you cook it the next day. source
Beer birthday cake
This is perhaps the second best thing that can happen on your birthday!
If you have a stale stout or darker beer and you have a sweet tooth, why not make a beer chocolate cake. This works well with most recipes but I found a pretty good one here if you want to check it out.
Lovely winter beer stew
If you are from a colder climate or have a passion for stew, then stale beer can be another key ingredient in your cooking adventures.
Take some stewing cuts of beef, lamb or chicken, mix them with some veggies and a little bit of stale beer (stout or darker ales work best) and wine to make a thick and tasty stew that you can eat over a couple of days. I use to do this a lot when living in Belgium and those Trappist beers really give the ordinary stew a divine flavor (I can only apologize for that awful pun).
I woke up this morning and got myself a beer breakfast
Ever since I heard the Door’s Roadhouse blues I’ve always dreamed about waking up and starting the day with beer. My wife seriously doubts the benefits of this, until now!
Grab 2 cups of self-raising flour, a bottle of beer, half a cup of unsalted butter, a quarter of a cup of milk, a couple of eggs, a little honey and vanilla extract and you have everything you need to make beer waffles.
Mix up the ingredients and use a conventional waffle iron to live out my Jim Morrison fantasy for yourself.
Reusing stale beer outdoors
If you can’t actually ingest that stale beer, you can use it in a wide variety of ways in your yard or while you are enjoying the great outdoors.
Need a Slug, snail or earwig trap?
Slugs, snails and apparently earwigs are all attracted to the yeast in beer. If you had a batch which didn’t ferment as you had planned or tasted strange early on in the bottling stage, then this would be perfect for slug beer traps. Simple stale beer also seems to work fine.
Put the beer into a DEEP cup or container. If you can bury it into the ground so it is level to the surface and make sure there is a fair amount of liquid in there it will be more effective.
Basically what happens is the slug, snail, or earwig is attracted to the beer yeast smell, it falls into the trap and breaths its ‘last’. It may sound cruel but these creatures can do havoc to your garden and prized vegetables. This time we are using beer to do evil so that good can prevail.
You can trap pesky fruit flies too!
In summer, fruit flies can become an annoying pest in even the most spotless of homes. Luckily, just like slugs and snails (oh and earwigs), fruit flies love the smell of beer.
Take a jar with a metal lid and fill it about halfway with stale beer (you can use juice but that’s not what we are about). Make some rows of small holes in the lid, big enough to get in but not easy to get out. Put this jar in the place where the flies seem to be most active and just wait for them to take the bait. Every so often you can empty the jar and replace it with fresh stale (?) beer.
Get that compost started
If you are a home brewer then you will have access to a lot of great material which you can turn into compost for your garden.
The key ingredient in brewing beer, yeast, is also great for breaking down the material in your compost heap.
If you take a bucket and add around half a bottle of stale beer, a half cup of ammonia, a couple of gallons of warm water with a can of soda in it you’ll have a powerful activation agent for any compost heap. Simply pour this mixture onto your compost. In order to retain the right level of humidity in the compost, you can add newspaper or grass clipping. Also, you can save most of the mixture to use on a later date.
Give your lawn some luster
If you have been experiencing brown spots on your lawn, you can use stale beer to solve the problem.
Mix a can or bottle ( about 12 fl oz) of beer with 1 cup of ammonia and 1 regular size can of soda. If you find that this isn’t enough you can double the proportions as needed. Stale home-made beer is really great here because it has fewer chemicals in it.
Spray the mixture onto the brown spots fairly aggressively to kill fungi and restore the lawn to its previous beauty. You might have to repeat this process a few times to get the results you need.
You can also try a mixture of ammonia, dishwashing liquid, liquid lawn food, molasses with a can of beer and apply to all of your lawn. This will give it nitrogen and nutrients so that it remains healthy and green.
Attract some beautiful butterflies
If you don’t want to kill or ward away the wildlife in your garden but rather want to encourage it, then you can use beer to attract butterflies.
I had no idea what butterflies ate before researching this article. It turns out that they eat some strange stuff from rotting meat to dung to flower nectar. They can also feast on beer!
Mix a pound of sugar, 2 cans of stale beer, 3 overripe bananas, a cup of syrup or molasses, a cup of fruit juice and a shot of rum (who knew butterflies like to party!) and spray this mixture around your garden or local area. This will encourage those beautiful, but strange food craving, butterflies to bless your yard with their presence.
Beer brigade at your service
Although not advised as the best fire prevention approach, if you are having a charcoal barbecue or outdoor fire of any sort, you can use all that saved up beer to put out the blaze at the end of the evening. Unlike distilled spirits, you won’t end up singing your eyebrows in the process.
If your house catches on fire, however, don’t reach for the home-brew, get the fire brigade out asap!
Ward off mosquitoes
There are lots of things that mosquitoes don’t care for and one of them seems to be beer. Although they will more likely feed on a beer drinker because of their higher body temperature when drinking, they don’t actually care for the beverage.
Mix 1 bottle of mint mouthwash, 3 12 oz bottle of stale beer, and 3 cups of Epson salt to produce a powerful anti-mosquito repellent for your yard and outside space.
Spray this mixture around your garden, your tent or camper to ward off mosquitoes while you enjoy a few fresh beers with the company of friends and family.
Reusing stale beer for personal use
Give your hair do new life
Beer really is rich in nutrients and those same nutrients can give your hair a beautiful shine.
I suppose this one is more for the wives in attendance, but fellas you can try it too. Simply wash your hair with stale beer, let it sit for up to 5 minutes and then rinse it through with cold water. Keep doing this on a regular basis and you will see an improvement in the appearance and health of your hair.
Get a beer face lift
Another one to put out there for my female readers (No, you’re right, men should also be doing this too!) is a beer face mask. Yeast in beer is great at balancing the pH levels in the skin and so can make for a great beauty product.
Take some stale beer, a few tablespoons should be enough, and mix it with some egg whites, a little olive oil, almond extract, and plain natural yogurt. Apply the paste to your face and allow it to set for at least 30 minutes. The wash it off with warm water. This will give your skin a real natural boost!
Beer toes anyone?
As I just said, the yeast in beer is great for the skin. It can also soften hard skin on the sole of your foot.
If you’ve had a party recently or have a home-brew that went foul, pour in some warm water and stale beer into a basin. Let your feet soak in it for 30 minutes to an hour and feel the difference in your skin.
Did you know beer helps you sleep…no really!
We all know that a few beers help us nod off on the sofa, but alcohol doesn’t provide us with quality sleep.
I’ve always struggled to get a good night sleep and one of the most successful methods I found was using fresh hops in a bag inside my pillow. Hops has a mild sedative quality which can really help you drop off. (shop for your hops online at homebrewing.org).
Another method is to wash your pillowcase (or if find it work the entire pillow) in stale beer. This works in particular if you are working with a hoppy beer such as an IPA or another recipe which has been dry-hopped. Although your partner may complain about the brewery smell ((buy beer from local breweries), they won’t be kept awake by your tossing and turning.
I hope you have enjoyed this article, happy brewing!