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32 Things You Can Do With Beer
By Joe Kita, Men's Health
Beer is so good that you should be able to do more with it than just drink it then flush it away. I'm bathing in it now, submerged in the sweet smell of Original Badebier Neuzeller Kloster-Brau, a German brew of 16th-century origin that costs $77 per 3-liter bottle. It's blacker than motor oil (and only slightly less viscous), but it's uncommonly delicious. In fact, after I had uncorked the bottle and sampled it, it seemed criminal to pour it into a tub of hot bathwater. This stuff is for my insides, not my outsides.
But when I punch on the Jacuzzi jets, my beer bath foams into an impressive head. Had I known about this possibility before, I would be the cleanest man in North America. After 20 minutes of soaking, I step out, heeding the brewer's advice to towel off without rinsing. I expect my skin to be tacky and tart-smelling, like a fraternity floor the morning after homecoming. But my wife buries her face in my chest and says I smell like fresh bread. The yeast — left in to soothe the skin — had made mine smooth and luxurious.
If Badebier weren't so expensive and difficult to obtain (international money orders or cash only to Neuzelle, Germany), I could become a bubble-bath addict.
The experience started me thinking about other possible uses for my favorite beverage. What if beer were like WD-40 — an indispensable product with hundreds of household uses? The next time your bride complains about all the room it's taking up in the fridge, you could argue that it's not just beer, it's lawn fertilizer, a necessary kitchen-safety tool, and an integral part of a chess set.
And, of course, research shows that, in moderation, drinking beer has significant health benefits. It's time, gentlemen, to make beer an even bigger part of our world. Here are 32 new reasons to love it.
1. BATHE IN IT Instead of sipping a beer, try soaking in it. Pour a bottle of German Badebier in the tub and lie back for a real bubble bath.
2. PUT OUT A FIRE Although certainly not as effective as a real fire extinguisher, a can or bottle of beer can mimic one if none is available. Simply shake and spritz. After all, beer is mostly water. This works on small grill flare-ups, and some people have been known to carry an emergency can in their car in case of engine fire. Or at least that's what they tell the state troopers.
3. MARINATE MEAT Beer is slightly acidic — and that makes it an excellent meat tenderizer, says Linda Omichinski, R.D., a nutritionist. This allows you to enjoy leaner cuts that otherwise might be too tough. Beer also won't alter the meat's flavor as much as wine- and vinegar-based marinades do. Poke a few holes in the meat, put it in a Tupperware container (we know you have them) or a large resealable bag, and add beer. (English ale is great for beef.) Marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or, better yet, overnight. Do not drink the marinade.
4. POLISH POTS In days of yore, the last bit of beer from spent kegs was collected and used to polish the copper vats in breweries. Greg Smith, general manager of the Idaho Brewing Company, is keeping the tradition alive by using beer to put a shine on the copper-top tables in his Idaho Falls establishment. "Because of its acidity," he explains, "you can just pour some on, let it sit for a while, then wipe it off. It also works well on Revere Ware pots."
5. MAKE BEER BARBECUE SAUCE Ingredients:
1 medium Spanish onion, diced1 medium banana pepper, diced3 cloves garlic, minced2 Tbsp capers5 ripe tomatoes, diced1 small can tomato paste1/3 c each wine vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar2 Tbsp each Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, honey, Dijon mustard, horseradish, oregano2 Tbsp fresh ground pepper1 tsp cuminDash of ground clove12 ounces amber ale or porter
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and boil for 10 minutes. Lower heat and simmer about 4 hours until thickened. Cool and refrigerate for 24 hours so the flavors can meld. Then baste everything but the dog with it.
6. SHAMPOO HAIR Not only is beer the remedy for a dull party, it's also the cure for dull hair. Dump a cup into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Let it reduce until there's 1/4 cup left. This removes the alcohol, which can dry hair. Let the beer cool, then mix it with a cup of your favorite shampoo. Pour it into an empty shampoo bottle, then wash and rinse as usual. It'll give your hair more shine and luster.
If you don't like to cook, the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Lewes, Delaware, sells 10-ounce Beer Shampoo bars (made with its pale ale) that'll put a nice head on your head. The brewery also makes Beer Soap from its chicory stout. Each bar costs $6 (plus shipping) and can be ordered at www.dogfish.com or (888) 836-4347.
7. LOOSEN RUSTY BOLTS Pour some beer on them and wait a few minutes. The carbonation may help break up the rust.
8. CLEAR UP BROWN SPOTS IN YOUR LAWN According to Andrew Lopez, a professional gardener, the fermented sugars in beer stimulate plant growth and kill fungi. He recommends spraying either home brew or Rolling Rock (both are chemical-free) on those annoying brown spots in your lawn. (Either that, or just stop peeing there.) "The grass will absorb the sugar in the beer and draw energy from it," Lopez explains.
9. STEAM CLAMS OR MUSSELS Fill a large steamer pot with equal parts water and beer, then bring to a boil. Steam the randy little mollusks until their shells open. Couldn't be simpler. The beer imparts a nice flavor.
10. PASS A KIDNEY STONE As you've undoubtedly noticed, beer is a diuretic. It helps flush the kidneys and bladder. This can be beneficial if you're suffering from a bladder infection or kidney stone. "You can drink water or cranberry juice," explains Dr. Alexander, "but beer also works. It helps dilate the ureters [the tubes connecting the kidneys and bladder], which may help you pass a stone quicker and easier. Plus, the alcohol will take the edge off the pain." But don't drink beer if you're taking antibiotics or narcotic pain medications. You'll render the drugs useless and make yourself sick.
11. BOIL SHRIMP Open three 12-ounce bottles of Yuengling Premium or a comparable mild pilsner and pour them into a large soup pot. Wait for the beer to go flat (about 2 hours), then add 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning and 2 tsp ground turmeric (to turn the shrimp a rich yellow). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse 2 pounds of extra-large raw shrimp in cold water and drain. Add them to the pot and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, no more. Quickly remove the shrimp using a large slotted spoon. Serve immediately with cocktail sauce and, you guessed it, more beer. This same recipe makes great lobster, but cook it for 12 to 15 minutes.
12. KILL SLUGS Gather a few empty salsa jars (or similar wide-mouth containers) and fill them a third of the way with cheap beer. Then bury them about 15 feet from your garden, girlfriend, or whatever you're trying to protect. Make sure the rims are almost level with the soil surface. For some reason, slugs love beer. They'll find the traps, drop in, and drown. Do this in the evening, let them party all night, and give them an honorable burial in the morning.
13. FIND DUE NORTH Okay, here's the scenario. A bit far-fetched, we admit, but look who's going to be our next president. Let's say you're hopelessly lost in the wilderness, and all you have is a can of beer, a sewing needle, a small bowl, and a pair of extra-large silk panties. (Because this is a matter of life and death, the camp counselor should give hers up.) First, open the beer, pour some into the bowl, and let it go flat. (Better drink the rest; this may not work.) Next, magnetize the needle by stroking it repeatedly in one direction with the panties. This will generate a charge of static electricity. Then float the needle in the beer. When it stops, it'll be pointing in a north-south direction. Now get outta there!
14. SOOTHE TIRED FEET Pour a couple of cold ones into a bucket and soak your dogs. "Ice-cold beer with lots of carbonation can be soothing for tired feet," says Dr. Alexander. Stop at two; you don't want to start staggering.
15. MAKE A BEER SLIDE Forget volleyball and croquet. At your next party, lay a large vinyl tarp on a slope, then make it slick with lots of beer. Have your friends strip down to their underwear or swim trunks, get a running start, and slide downhill on their butts.
16. LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE John Palmer, a hypertensive home-brewer and engineer in Monrovia, California, puts a handful of dried hops or hops pellets (available at any home-brew store) in a coffeemaker and brews them with hot water. It makes for a bitter tea, but he claims it brings his blood pressure back to normal within 10 minutes by dilating the capillaries. "There may be something to it," says Dr. Alexander. "A person who's intoxicated is usually flushed and sweaty. Some ingredient is dilating the blood vessels, which, in turn, lowers blood pressure." We don't advocate this as a replacement for medication, though.
17. TRICK A CHEAP LANDLORD Live in an apartment where the landlord pays the heat bill and sets the thermostat pretty low? Ice up a can of beer in the freezer, then set it atop the lockbox that encloses the thermostat. The cold from the beer will trick the thermostat into thinking the temperature has dropped so it'll turn the heat on.
18. BAKE BEER BREAD You already know how to put a bun in the oven. Now it's time to go all the way. Here's a healthful, foolproof recipe for high-fiber beer bread from the book Tailoring Your Taste, by nutritionist Omichinski:
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour2 Tbsp each sugar, baking powder1/4 c ground flaxseed1 tsp each salt, dried basil, dried rosemary, thyme1/2 c unsalted sunflower seeds1 Tbsp cooking oil12 oz beer, at room temperature
Mix all the dry ingredients. Add oil and beer. Stir until dough is just mixed. Put dough in a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove from oven and let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to cool some more.
19. CATCH MICE Slugs aren't the only pests with a fatal attraction to beer. According to Neil Herbst, owner of the Alley Kat Brewing Company in Edmonton, Alberta, you can also trap mice with it. He recommends setting out a few small pails or bowls of beer (his competitors', never his own), with a small ramp leading up to the lip. The mice will be attracted by the smell, hop in, drink their fill, then be unable to climb out.
20. TIE A FLY This tip is from the book Curiosities of Ale and Beer, published in 1889: Mix beer, chimney soot, walnut leaves, and a little powdered alum in a small pot. Bring to a boil, then chill. Dipping any natural materials you're using in this solution prior to tying is supposed to make for a tighter, more attractive fly. No promises as to whether it will catch more fish, though.
21. CURE INSOMNIA Greg Smith, author of The Beer Drinker's Bible, says women often show up at his brewery asking to buy not his beer but the hops he uses to brew it. "They sew it into pillows," he explains. "The smell of it is supposed to be a sleep aid, especially for colicky babies. I've never tried it, but we get enough requests that there must be something to it." Hops is a type of flower, though, so be careful if you have allergies.
22. MASSAGE YOURSELF A full can of beer is a great self-massage tool, according to Dori Love-Bentley, a certified massage therapist. For instance, take off your shoes and roll a can underfoot. Or put one in the crook of your back or between your shoulder blades and lean back against a wall, rolling it around as you do so. It works just about anywhere — quads, glutes, neck, calves. "The pressure loosens up muscle tissue," explains Love-Bentley, "and encourages bloodflow to the area."
23. CALM AN UPSET STOMACH Sipping on a highly carbonated beer can settle a stomach just like Seven-Up or Sprite can. Plus, the alcohol helps buffer pain. "I've never seen a true medical study supporting this," says Dr. Alexander, "but I have patients tell me it works. The only time you have to be careful is if you have an ulcer or gastritis. Alcohol can inflame that."
24. BUILD YOUR NEXT HOME Earthship, a house in New Mexico, has walls made of empty beer cans and concrete. Amy Duke, a spokeswoman, explains that instead of using forms for the cement, builders put down alternating layers of mortar and cans. You can do the same to create retaining walls for gardens and other landscaping. Earthship also contains a thermal-mass refrigerator that uses full cans of beer as insulation. The cans line the walls of the unit, helping keep the temperature constant while minimizing energy usage. A ceiling vent allows frigid desert air to flow in during the night. The beer absorbs this cold, but never freezes because of its alcohol content. When the hatch is closed during the day, the beer releases the coolness. The same thing happens when you open one and drink it.
25. COOK RICE Rinse 1 cup jasmine rice in water. Do it twice more, then drain well. Next, dump the rice into a medium-size pot and add 12 ounces of beer. (A nut-brown ale works well.) Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat to low, and cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from the stove and cool for an additional 10 minutes. The rice won't be lumpy, and it'll have a nuttier flavor — just like you after you eat it.
26. STOP SNORING If your log-sawing is ripping a hole in your marriage, try this simple remedy: Get a pocket T-shirt and a 6-ounce mini-can of beer. Put the can in the pocket and fasten it closed with a safety pin. Just before you go to bed, put the shirt on backward. Research shows that you're more likely to snore when resting on your back. This little setup prevents you from rolling over. Plus, come morning, you won't have to get out of bed for breakfast.
27. BUILD A PLANE No doubt about it, Duane Mathis is just plane nuts. A pilot and aircraft aficionado, he started building model airplanes out of beer cans about 10 years ago. Now, at his Web site(www.bcairoriginals.com), he sells the plans for eight categories of beer-can planes, including vintage tri-wings, helicopters, Warhawks, and ones that actually fly. Brings new meaning to the term "getting buzzed."
28. ROAST CHICKEN To make "Swampman Dan's Drunken Chicken," buy a few medium-size whole birds and a six-pack of beer. Drink half a can of beer, cut off the top third of the can, and add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tbsp liquid crab boil, and 1 tsp creole seasoning.
Then shove the can into the chicken and place it in a secure, standing position on the grill. As the brew boils, it'll intoxicate the bird with flavor. Takes about 1 hour.
Compliments of Swamp Cookin' with the River People
29. ICE A HAMSTRING Frozen or very cold cans of beer make great ice packs. Hold one against whatever is ailing you — a sore muscle, a sunburned neck, a pounding headache. With an Ace bandage, you can even wrap a frosty 16-ouncer against the back of your thigh. Or use a sweatband to strap a can near your elbow after a tennis match. "A metal can will transmit the cold very rapidly," says Larry L. Alexander, M.D., medical director of Central Florida Regional Hospital's emergency department. Just make sure to put some thin fabric between the skin and the beer can to avoid frostbite.
30. BUILD DELIGHTFUL PATIO FURNITURE To start, you'll need:
About 65 assorted beer caps1-foot square piece of 1/4-inch plywoodFour, 1-to1 1/2-inch-square, 18-inch postsFour 12x2-inch strips of latticeFour, 3-inch dry-wall screwsSome tacking nailsA tube of tub-and-tile adhesive
Simply screw the plywood to the posts, brace them with lattice as shown, and glue the caps to the top in whatever creative arrangement you like. Warning: Don't leave the finished table out in the rain, because the caps will rust.
31. TAME A WILD HAIR A few drops of beer is sticky enough to subdue any sudden uprising on your eyebrow or scalp that you spot in a barroom mirror. Just wet your index finger and demurely slick it down. Think of it as Miller mousse.
32. SCALE FISH Nail or glue three or four beer caps to a sturdy piece of wood that's roughly 6 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/2 inch thick. Keep the caps in a line and make sure the serrated edges are facing out. Then attack those fish.