Monday, October 29, 2012

Black and Tan Beer Soap ... and a Surprise from Bramble Berry!

My Black and Tan Beer soap
One of my favorite soapmaking suppliers is Bramble Berry - they have just about everything a soapmaker could ever need, want, or hope to have. Although I do purchase supplies from several sources, I turn to Bramble Berry again and again as my main go-to vendor because I know I can count on great service and convenient one-stop shopping. And Anne-Marie and her team are committed to helping soap and toiletry makers not only through their products, but also through the Soap Queen blog, Soap Queen TV, Teach Soap, and the Teach Soap forum.

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
The vertical mold is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Sturdy plastic lines the inside of the wooden mold (and the plastic sides pull apart easily, as does the side of the wooden mold, for easy unmolding), and a removable plastic divider evenly splits one side from the other. The plan for this project was to pour a lighter colored soap into one side (for the tan), and a darker soap into the other (for the black).

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!

30 comments:

  1. Ooooh! Cool! You picked a great project--that mold intrigues me, even more now that I'm seeing the two of you in your happy life together!

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    1. Thank you, Amy! I am enjoying the vertical mold and can't wait to make more batches with it!

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  2. Oh, wow....what a great treat, how exciting! I loooove the way your beer soap turned out Jenny, have fun with your new mold..so many possibilities! =)

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    1. Thanks, Cee Gee! I am very happy with how the beer soap turned out - it looks and smells so nice! I have some fun ideas for the vertical mold, and I'm looking forward to playing more with it.

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  3. Jenny, how wonderful for you to be able to do that! BB rocks! I love the way your soap turned out. I made beer soap using the Oatmeal Stout FO and it's so nice. I bet it smells great mixed with the almond one. I really have to get that mold now. :)

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    1. Bramble Berry does rock! I was so happy to have this opportunity. I'll bet your Oatmeal Stout beer soap is very nice, Linda - beer soap is so wonderful, and the Oatmeal Stout smells great. The Almond Biscotti was fantastic with the Oatmeal Stout. I hope you enjoy the mold if you get one - you can create some neat effects with it. Thanks for your comments!

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  4. Those look neat! Its cool how the beer makes it later better! It sounds like it smells great too!

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    1. Thanks, Kristina! I was very pleased with how this batch turned out. Beer is so nice in soap - I'll have to make sure you guys get a bar at Christmastime. ;)

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  5. Wow, congrats Jenny! How sweet of BB, and your soap looks great! We just made a batch with hard cider yesterday, can't wait to try it. Glad you are are enjoying the vertical mold, I love it too!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! It was very nice of BB to include me in their Givember event. Glad to hear that you enjoy the vertical mold, too! Your hard cider soap sounds great - I got a sample of an apple cider FO a couple of years ago, and I'll bet it would pair wonderfully with some hard cider!

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  6. Beautiful soap, Jer! That mold is so cool! The Oatmeal Stout and Almond Biscotti fragrance oils must smell divine!

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I love the vertical mold - I've been wanting it for a while. The fragrance combo is fantastic! Every time I catch a whiff of the soap curing, I want Oatmeal Creme Pies. :)

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  7. Beautiful soaps, you did a grate job!

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    1. Thank you, Gordana! I am very happy with how the soap turned out!

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  8. Soap and video are seriously cool! Now I want that mold, and I have a great desire to make beer soap. :)

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    1. Thank you, Nancy! I thought the soap turned out well, too, and I'm glad that you liked the video. The vertical mold is fantastic - I think you will enjoy it!

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  9. Very cool! I love Anne-Marie and Brambleberry! Great company, and great service!

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    1. Thanks, Amy! Bramble Berry is a wonderful company - Anne-Marie and Team Bramble Berry do so much for the soap and toiletry community. I was so glad to be chosen to participate in their Givember event!

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  10. You are so lucky, Jenny! I wish I was in US also when I see all the fragrances BB has :).
    Your soap is beautiful and the scent( thinking of almond and oatmeal) suits your soap.
    Thanks for sharing your video too!It's always nice to see you working with passion!!

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    1. Thank you, Natalia! BB has so many great fragrances, and the Oatmeal Stout and Almond Biscotti worked wonderfully together. (They're pretty great all by themselves, too!) I'm glad that you enjoyed the video!

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  11. the black and tan soap turned out awesome...and how great of a treat from BB is that? Is Oatmeal Stout sweet? I will put it on my list. I love the Honey Ale fo, and if I remember correctly, so did family members..it got used up fast. Thanks for the coupon code too! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kalla! This project was so much fun, and it was so nice of BB to send me some of their lovely supplies. The Oatmeal Stout does smell a bit sweet to me - it almost has a bit of a coffee or chocolate undertone, but it's probably the butterscotch I'm smelling. It also has vanilla and almond notes, which lends the scent a bit of sweetness. It's yummy! BB's Pumpkin Lager is also nice - it smells kinda like pumpkin pie and maple syrup to me. I haven't tried the Honey Ale, but it sounds nice, too. And you're welcome for the coupon code - best of luck in the Givember drawing!

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  12. Jenny the soap looks great! It's so awesome that you were selected by BB. I love your videos! I have not attempted to try to soap with beer yet. I guess I am a little hesitant due to the fear of seizing, but your blog is encouraging! :)
    Roxana

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    1. Thanks so much, Roxana! I was thrilled that BB offered me this fun opportunity. I've made several batches of soap with beer and haven't had any problems so far, knock on wood. I think boiling the beer and then chilling it really helps to avoid problems with seizing and overheating. (The beer may smell a little funky when the lye hits it, but the smell cures out quickly.) Beer is so nice in soap - it creates such a wonderful lather. I hope that you do give it a try someday!

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  13. Do you know I have all the ingredients for this exact project and still haven't gotten to it? Yours turned out great! It makes me want to go do mine now, too! :)

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    1. Thanks, Ruth! How cool that you have all of the ingredients for this project! It is a fun soap to make, and the scent combo is amazing. I hope that you give it a go!

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  14. OMG, I love how it turned out! You did an incredible job with the beer and with those scent I know it turned out fabulously. Thanks for sharing your fun soapy creation and thanks for the shout-out! :)

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    1. Hi, Anne-Marie! Thanks so much to you, Kristen, and everyone at Bramble Berry for including me in your Givember event! I was honored to be chosen, and I had a blast making the Black and Tan soap. I love the vertical mold - it will have a wonderful home here with me! The fragrance combo is fantastic, and I love how the soap turned out. I can't wait to try one of these bars! Thanks again!

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  15. Jenny,
    That looks awesome. The tan/brown soaps are increasingly more popular than ever.
    Please tell me, did you insulate your mold with towels or do a CPOP? Or just let it sit in the mold uninsulated for 4 days?
    Thanks,
    Angela

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    1. Hi, Angela! Thanks for the compliments! I draped a towel over the vertical mold and tucked the excess around the bottom, but I probably didn't need to insulate at all. Between the wooden mold and the thick plastic liners, the soap would probably be plenty warm. Plus, the beer can heat things up. I peek quite a bit after I pour, just to check on the soap. I noticed after not too long that I was getting some slight cracking on the end piece at the top of the mold, so I removed the towel and the soap gelled just fine. I left the soap sitting in the mold just like that for four days before cutting. I hope that helps! Thanks again for reading. :)

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