What is Beer Soap?

What is Beer Soap?

If you have no idea what beer soap is, you are in great company!

All White Pine Bath & Brew soap is made with Maine craft beer. I'd say 95% of the people I talk to have never heard of beer soap. At the most simplistic level, beer soap serves the same purpose as bar soap - we use it to cleanse and refresh our skin. To stop there, though, would be doing beer soap a huge disservice. While so many people complain about bar soap being harsh and drying to their skin, my clients rave that this beer soap does the opposite! How is that possible?

The real question is, "What makes beer soap different from other bar soaps?"

A common misconception about my craft is that I use the spent grains or "mash" from the brewing process to make soap. In reality, I use the beer itself. All soap recipes require some type of liquid to act as a solvent. This is used to dissolve the sodium hydroxide (another essential ingredient). Most of the time, that solvent is just water. You may be familiar with goat's milk soaps too; these recipes replace the water with goat's milk as the solvent. I'm always surprised more people don't deviate from the norm when it comes to making soap. (To learn more about the full chemical reaction that turns these ingredients into soap, check out my first blog post, The Science Behind the Suds.)

Why stick to water when you could use beer and bring added benefits to your skin? There is a surprising overlap between the ingredients in beer and those that are used in skincare! The hops in beer contain amino acids. Amino acids can help to soothe skin irritation. The brewer's yeast contains biotin (vitamin B7), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), and other essential vitamins. Swapping beer for water can also generate a more luxurious and satisfying lather. Who doesn't love bubbles?

Using beer instead of water does change the process for me a bit. I have to remove the alcohol and the carbonation before being able to process it with the other ingredients. That means boiling! And yeah, I've already heard it all before - "That's a waste of perfectly good beer!" Except that it isn't. If you think about it, finding multiple purposes for a substance rather than just one is the opposite of wasteful - beer or otherwise. It's actually pretty resourceful! The other thing about my beer soap is that I source from unsellable beer whenever I can. This means that the waste our local breweries generate (short fills and past codes) doesn't have to be thrown away! Although, I'll touch more on how I source beer in a later post.

While craft beer soap is by no means just some gimmick, it certainly makes the product more exciting.

Craft beer is a whole culture here in Portland, Maine. I would be crazy not to lean into it. I could use the cheap stuff. I could make every batch of soap out of frat party fuel, but I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to cross promote other small businesses in my community. I wanted to collaborate with the breweries and businesses in my own neighborhood. Maine businesses, (especially Maine breweries) do a fantastic job of prioritizing collaboration over competition. I wager this attitude has been conducive to the peaceful coexistence of the 165+ breweries that have popped up across the state. So yeah, it's a veritable playground up here. That's just one more reason why I use exclusively craft beer from Maine in all my soap - there is certainly no shortage. Why go elsewhere when I could form a symbiotic relationship with the businesses in my own backyard!

Cheers,

Elaine

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