|My Black and Tan Beer soap|
A couple of months ago, I got a lovely message from Kristen at Bramble Berry, telling me how much Team Bramble Berry enjoys my blog and YouTube channel. (Little ol' me? Aww, shucks!) Kristen asked me if I would be willing to pick out some Bramble Berry products gratis, give them a try, and then blog about it.
|My "Givember" haul from BB|
What did I say? Um ... heck yes!
I took a look at BB's Cold Process Kits and carefully considered my options. It was difficult to choose, but I settled on the Black and Tan Beer Soap Kit. It looked like a cool project, and I adore beer soap. (And I had also been coveting BB's vertical mold, which is included in the kit.)
A couple of weeks ago, I received my box of goodies. Opening the package was like opening a present. Pretty pink tissue paper and a note from Team Bramble Berry greeted me when I pulled open the box flaps. (And Bramble Berry has also offered a special treat to you, dear readers! More on that in a moment, so keep reading.)
After inspecting my new toys and sniffing my new fragrance oils, I put them away until the next opportunity to make soap.
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I got busy on my project. I decided to follow Anne-Marie's Black and Tan Beer Soap tutorial so that my soap would turn out as fabulously as hers did. After all, I want to make Bramble Berry proud!
|Black and Tan beer made with Bass and Guinness|
The day before making the soap, I boiled two bottles of dark beer to cook off the alcohol (so the soap wouldn't seize), and then chilled the beer overnight in the fridge. (Some of the beer evaporates when it boils, so that is why I used two bottles. Mine were 11.2-oz. bottles.) I was able to replace nearly all of my water with beer, but I did use a little bit of distilled water to make up the difference. Using beer in a soap recipe requires a little bit of preparation in advance, but it is worth it. I love beer in soap - the natural sugars in the beer increase the lather and create a bubbly, luxurious bar.
The idea behind this soap was to create bars that resemble Black and Tan beer. You may be familiar with Black and Tans - they are traditionally a mix of a pale ale or lager (like Bass or Harp) with a dark porter or stout (often Guinness). The stout is carefully poured over the ale. Because the stout is less dense, it floats on top of the ale. Thus, the drink is called a "Black and Tan" due to the two distinct layers of beer.
For the scent, I used Oatmeal Stout and Almond Biscotti fragrance oils, both provided by Bramble Berry. For my four-pound batch, I mixed three ounces of Oatmeal Stout with one ounce of Almond Biscotti. The scent combo smelled to me like Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies. Yum! (Of course, I wanted Oatmeal Creme Pies for the rest of the day, and I still kinda want one now.)
|A view inside BB's vertical mold|
To make my lye-beer solution, I slowly added my lye flakes to my beer, stirring constantly. Then I placed my lye pitcher in an ice bath to keep things from overheating. (The natural sugars in the beer can heat up, causing problems like scorching or lye volcanoes.) When the lye was about 105 degrees Fahrenheit, I added it to my oils, which were approximately the same temperature.
After I stickblended my soap to a light trace, I split the batch into two equal parts. To one portion, I added a heaping Tablespoon of Super Pearly White mica (which Bramble Berry also provided) and only one ounce of my fragrance oil combination to keep the soap a lighter tan color. To the other portion, I added the remaining three ounces of the fragrance combo, which will cause the soap to discolor to a dark brown.
Once I brought my soap to a medium trace, I poured the "tan" soap into one side of the vertical mold, and the "black" soap into the other. (I think next time I will try to pour both sides simultaneously because a little bit of my tan soap crept into the black soap's side near the bottom of the divider.) Once both soaps were poured, I carefully pulled the divider up out of its nook at the bottom of the mold, and then twisted it at a 25-degree angle while pulling it up and out, creating a slant through the middle of the bars.
Check out this video I made of the process:
I left the soap in the mold for about four days before unmolding it. I did use sodium lactate at about 1% (1 teaspoon per pound of oils) in this batch to not only help with unmolding, but also to create a harder and longer-lasting bar. I think the sodium lactate helped because the plastic sides pulled away from the soap very easily. It also looks like Anne-Marie's recipe creates a hard bar, too.
Sodium lactate is not an ingredient in the original recipe in the tutorial, but I like to add it to all of my batches now. The only other thing I did differently from Anne-Marie is that I used the full water amount - it looks like she did a little bit of a water discount.
When I cut the bars, one side was darker than the other. Over the next couple of days, the colors of the soap deepened, and soon one side was a medium tan and the other became a very dark brown. As of this writing, the soap is just over a week old, and I think it might darken even more as it cures.
I think that my soap turned out a lot like Anne-Marie's did, don't you? I love how it looks (and smells), and I can't wait to use a bar!
Okay, so now here's the treat for you that I alluded to earlier: During the month of November, Bramble Berry is doing a little something called "Givember" to thank their customers for their support. Included in my box of goodies was a special offer and coupon code for me to pass on to you, my wonderful blog readers! Any Bramble Berry order placed during the month of November that includes the code GIVEMBER50 will get you entered in a drawing for a $50 Bramble Berry gift certificate. This code only applies to orders placed during November - don't forget to include the code during checkout!
I want to say a big thank you again to Bramble Berry for the free goodies and for sponsoring Givember! I love the vertical mold, and see the two of us having a very happy life together. Have fun shopping, everyone, and best of luck in the drawing!