Skip to main content

10 Wonderful Uses for Beer (Besides Drinking It)

A lifelong gardener, Marcy relies on creativity as she battles the hot, arid, rocky desert environment to grow things in New River, Arizona.

Beautiful, versatile beer

Beautiful, versatile beer

What Can You Do With Beer?

So perhaps you were adventurous and picked up a six-pack of that esoteric craft brew with the appealing label, only to find you can't stomach the taste. Maybe you bought a seasonal selection, and half the beers are so hoppy you're unhappy.

Don't pour it out or give it to that annoying neighbor who starts his leaf blower every Sunday morning at five. There are many uses for beer you don't wish to drink. These are only a few of them.

10 Unconventional Ways You Can Use Beer (Without Drinking It)

  1. Use It as Fry Batter
  2. Use Beer as Hair Foam
  3. Make Beer Brats
  4. Get Rid of Garden Slugs and Snails
  5. Make Beer-Can Chicken
  6. Use Beer on Your Face
  7. Make Beer Bread
  8. Write a Country Song About It
  9. Catch More Flies With Beer Than With Honey
  10. Learn Beer Horseshoes

1. Use It as Fry Batter

Beer doesn't just go over well at the baseball games, it also makes a light, crispy, delicious batter for a variety of fried foods. It is also popular for its ease of cooking: you probably have the ingredients on hand already for a perfect beer batter. Beer's foamy, bubbly nature adds bubbles to the batter, resulting in that trademark lightness.

Beer-batter fish is arguably the best fried fish you can find, but you can use beer-batter for several other dishes as well. I've used it for zucchini, onion rings, eggplant, chicken and jalapeño poppers as well. If you like fish tacos, you'll love beer-batter fish tacos!

2. Use Beer as Shampoo

If you're as long in the tooth as I am, you might recall the beer-shampoo craze of the 1970s. It seemed so daring, then, to consider washing your hair with beer. One particular brand, Body on Tap, dominated.

The premise was that beer shampoos and conditioners not only gave you clean hair but that beer was a superior hair-thickening/volumizing ingredient and that it added luster as well. Guess what? It's true. The grain-based ingredients in beer contain proteins, vitamins and minerals that apparently coat the hair shaft and promote glossy, healthy hair.

You can make your own beer hair products, or you can buy a variety of pre-made products. Although some sources insist that you cannot just pour a pint on your head, that's exactly what I do. I shampoo and rinse, then pour a mug of lukewarm beer on my hair and leave it for a couple of minutes. I follow with a conditioner, as some experts claim that the alcohol can strip the oils—and I am a believer that it makes my hair shinier.

Other beer-rinse pundits recommend boiling the beer to remove alcohol (I don't, but I mention it for your consideration); letting it go flat (I'm not sure why, but if you want to avoid being a bubble-head, maybe it's worthy advice); or mixing the beer with various components. My suggestion? Try the beer-dump rinse method first.

Complicate it from there if you don't like the results.

3. Make Beer Brats

Beer brats, anyone? Ubiquitous at Super Bowl parties, beer brats can be served as an entrée, too. You can turn sausages or even good ol' hot dogs into beer brats by boiling or sautéing in an oil and beer mixture. My method is simple: pour the beer into the frying pan with some coconut oil, sauté, and enjoy.

4. Get Rid of Garden Slugs and Snails (A Use for Old Beer)

My dad loved a cold beer on a hot day. He wouldn't have thought of wasting any—even beer that had gone flat had a purpose. As the capable gardener he was, he knew how to rid the garden of slugs and snails by setting a low dish of stale beer out overnight. You have to give slugs some credit for their taste: they can't resist beer, either. They crawl into the dish, drink themselves silly, and drown in it.

Be careful if you use this garden trick. Other animals enjoy beer, too. Somehow we never suspected that my foxhound, Bonnie, would drink the beer Dad had left out for the snails. Bonnie got a bit tipsy, but she was lucky: alcohol of any sort can easily be fatal to dogs. They're much more sensitive to it than we are. Please keep it out of reach of pets and children!

5. Make Beer-Can Chicken

Beer and grilling go together like a horse and carriage . . . oh, wait, that's a different song. Still, there is an uncanny partnership between a guy, a grill, and a beer. Consider beer-can chicken. It's also known as "beer butt chicken" in honor of the special location of the beer can. It's everything required for grilling great: it has a gimmick, a great flavor, and it's just a little bit redneck.

There are plenty of recipes available for your own beer-can chicken. The premise is this: you put a half-finished can of beer inside the whole chicken's nether parts so that it forms a pedestal of sorts with the chicken perching strangely on the can, and as you're cooking it (either on the grill or the oven) the beer continues to moisturize the chicken from within. That half-can of beer also ensures an even cooking temperature throughout the meat.

6. Use Beer on Your Face

Beer is fermented using brewer's yeast—and most of us are familiar with the health benefits of consuming brewer's yeast as a supplement or adding it to the diets of our dogs and horses. High in B vitamins, this same yeast in beer, when applied topically, can help combat acne as well as evening out skin texture.

It can also reduce the sebum (oil) produced, so those of you who suffer from oily skin, as I do, might benefit from beer's astringent effect. The slightly acidic beer is also said to maintain the appropriate pH balance of the skin. The hops in beer are considered a medicinal herb (Humulus lupulus) that are known to have antibacterial properties as well as having calmative (sedative) effects.

You can now buy complexion products that contain beer, from artisan soap to lip balm, or you can make your own beer mask with simple recipes easily found on the internet. You likely already have all the ingredients you need to make your own. My favorite beer + facial mask is about the easiest you can make: use dry, powdered bentonite green clay as your base, and use beer instead of water to make a thick paste.

The beer shouldn't be completely flat for this one. Let the paste dry on your skin until it cracks (the mask, not your skin), and then gently rinse off with warm water. Your face will tingle and glow with clean health. You can also use this on irritated skin, whether from sunburn, exposure to irritants or allergens, or abrasion. (Bentonite green clay is the "healing clay" that promotes wound healing.)

Bentonite clay and beer:  brew up a refreshing facial mask.

Bentonite clay and beer: brew up a refreshing facial mask.

7. Make Beer Bread

Beer bread is ridiculously easy to make, even if you have no bread-making experience. It only makes sense: beer contains yeast. Bread contains yeast. Use beer to make your dough, and the yeast is already included. As some recipes will remind you, make sure you sift your flour, or you will get a loaf that is too hard and dense.

Remember, brewer's yeast is a superfood. It is high in protein, iron, zinc, selenium, and the B vitamins. Beer bread is filling and nutritious.

Beer, cowboy hats and country music just naturally go together.

Beer, cowboy hats and country music just naturally go together.

8. Write a Country Song About It

What would country music be without beer? From Hank Williams Sr. with the classic "There's a Tear in my Beer," to Toby Keith and Willie Nelson's "Beer For My Horses," beer has a long, worthy history as a muse to the musicians. Tom T. Hall's "I Like Beer," is one of the cheeriest of beer songs, while what Baby Boomer hasn't sung "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," while on the great American roadtrip as a child?

In more recent decades, Neal McCoy's rendition of "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On" celebrates the perfect cocktail of beer-drinking men and the alcoholic equivalent of rose-colored glasses, while Billy Currington reminds his fans that God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy—and that he's pretty good at drinking beer. Heck, beer is the best thing that ever happened to some lyricists.

9. Catch More Flies With Beer Than With Honey

If you are plagued with fruit flies at certain times of year as I am, you'll find it handy to know that you can trap the little devils as easily with beer traps as with the traditional apple cider vinegar traps. I use a small plastic juice bottle, stab holes on the upper half with an ice pick or awl, and fill the bottom with beer.

The flies can easily get in through the holes but because the plastic is punched inward, it forms a funnel of sorts that the flies (not being Mensa members) can't escape. They will soon drown in the beer. Set your bottle-trap anywhere the fruit flies congregate and empty it and rinse as necessary. If the flies don't find it right away, shake it every few days to refresh the odor that attracts them. Hey, at least they die happy.

10. Learn Beer Horseshoes

As a fiction writer, I make a lot of stuff up, but I'm not making this up: After the beer has been drunk or even used in the kitchen, garden, or bathroom, some folks use the leftover beer cans (or bottles) to play beer horseshoes (also known as Polish horseshoes).

Played similarly to traditional horseshoes, but relying on PVC pipes for the stakes and a frisbee as the projectile, the can or bottle is placed over the top part of the pole. The goal is to either strike the can or to knock it off the pole; different point allocations are given for strikes versus knock-downs.

Since this is not an Olympic-sanctioned sport, there won't be much outcry if you make up your own rules—if you know horseshoe rules, you'll have no problem applying them to beer horseshoes. For beer horseshoe aficionados, "official" rules are available online. Play to 21 points.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Marcy J. Miller

Chime In!

Arco Hess from Kansas City, Kansas on October 11, 2014:

Beer bread! Also, use it for chili. Both of these uses are highly underrated. You can actually use beer in anything that asks for yeast, too. It works great.

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on June 26, 2014:

Mona, thank you for your comment! Having known a couple of people who drank themselves to death with beer … I guess some of us aren't all that different from the humble fruit fly after all. Do try the hair rinse!

Best -- Mj

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on June 25, 2014:

Great ideas on what to do with your beer. The hair shampoo sounds interesting, as does the use of beer to kill fruit flies. As you said, at least they die happy, lol!

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on May 14, 2014:

Thank you for sharing that adage about beer, Andrew -- it is new to me. Good idea -- now I will have to experiment with what to do with those bottles of Merlot that people seem to love giving me (but I detest Merlot). Currently I use it for making wine sauces and marinades … but I'm sure I can be more creative than that.

Best -- Mj

Andrew Spacey from Sheffield, UK on May 12, 2014:

Great job done with this informative boozy hub. Having just survived a family party where the beer (and ale) was flowing in all directions - yes, over the carpet for a minute or two - I can appreciate the need to do different things with this most ancient of beverages. You've covered most of the bases I think.

I wonder if wine has other uses too? Perhaps another hub in there somewhere?

Being married to a dutch lady she always asserts - wine before beer, oh dear, beer before wine, everything's fine.

Votes and a share!

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on May 10, 2014:

Hi, Jodah,

Thank you so much for your kind comment! I didn't even touch on the value of drinking beer … but according to Dr. Miriam Nelson, it is one of the more nutritious alcoholic beverages (which may explain why some of the crusty old "beer for breakfast" men I've known lived much longer than I would've otherwise expected). Valuable stuff, that age-old wonder we call beer. No wonder the slugs, snails and fruit flies are literally dying to get some!

Best -- Mj

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on May 10, 2014:

Hi MJ, what an interesting and well written hub (enjoyed the humorous snippets too). I love beer battered fish and can remember using beer shampoo. I heard that slugs and snails liked it too, but this article is a great reminder of all the handy uses and some I wasn't aware of too. Well done, voted up and shared.

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on April 29, 2014:

Aww, thanks, Suzette! The beer facial is such a luxury … I used it last week when I had a pimple (now, if I'm going to have adolescent issues at my middle-aged stage of life, I'd much rather they be rebellion rather than acne, but I didn't get to choose) and by the next morning my face cleared up completely. Great stuff, that -- but the beer rinse for my middle-aged hair is better yet.

Best wishes -- Mj

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on April 28, 2014:

Ingenious hub! Some of these uses of beer I have heard about, but not the beer facial. That's a new one to me. LOL! Thanks for sharing this with us. Some great ideas!

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on April 28, 2014:

Thank you for stopping by, Ologsinquito. It's amazing what beer attracts -- whether at the bar, the BBQ, or the garden. Thank you for sharing!

Best -- Mj

ologsinquito from USA on April 28, 2014:

What a fun article. Beer is a magnet for garden slugs. If you leave some beer out at night in the summer, you are pretty much assured to find a slug or two floating in it the next morning. Voted up, shared and pinned.

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on March 22, 2014:

Thank you for checking it out, Alicia! If you enjoy sausage ... Try sautéing it in beer and you'll appreciate just how versatile the stuff is ... And by all means, give the hair rinse a try. It's noticeably effective.

Best -- MJ

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 22, 2014:

I never realized that beer had so many uses! I was familiar with a few of the ones that you describe, but the rest are new for me. I'm looking forward to trying all of these - especially the ones that have anything to do with food! Thanks for a useful and interesting hub, MJ.

Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on March 22, 2014:

Oh, Danida, does one really need an excuse? Beer is wonderful stuff -- I think it's brought more people together than Facebook! Thanks for your kind comment!

Best -- MJ

Danida from London on March 22, 2014:

Haha, "besides drinking it"!

I never knew beer had much uses besides that. Great hub, now I have an excuse to buy beer :P


Marcy J. Miller (author) from Arizona on March 21, 2014:

Thanks, Julie. I can't stand to see beer go to waste -- and I've had to do something about the pale ales in the 'fridge that just don't suit my smooth-beer preferences. Funny, "Juniper Ale" sounded so good until I actually tasted it … so I used it on my hair this morning.

Best -- MJ

Elizabeth from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions on March 21, 2014:

Mmmmm beer. Now I want beer even more than I did earlier. :-) great, interesting post