What's Brewing?

Take The Excuses Out of Brewing January 16, 2018 07:00 3 Comments

You LOVE beer.  You LOVE to brew.  But, how often do you find yourself coming up with excuses as to why you can’t brew?

How To Plan A Brew Calendar January 09, 2018 14:12 2 Comments

Creating a brew calendar can make your life a little easier in the brew department. It allows you to create less waste in the long run, and bring more intention to what you are brewing. Read more..

Figuring Out What To Brew in 2018? January 02, 2018 08:30 3 Comments

what to brew

New Year, New Beer!  I love January.  It brings a feeling of fresh starts, new beginnings, and new beer to brew! But how do you know what beer to brew? Read more...

Three Top Questions People Have About Beer Soap July 06, 2017 00:00

We know you have questions.  Here are the top three!

  • Will I smell like beer?

No you will NOT smell like beer… we promise.  But you will notice the lather it adds to the soap.

  • If I get pulled over by the cops, can I blame it on the beer?

Good try….  But no!

  • Do you use the bi-products or the actual beer?

Both… we use spent grains, hops and actual beer.  Learn more about the process here!

Check out our other questions here and leave comments below for any additional you have! We’d love to answer them!


3 Signs That You Live With A Homebrewer May 19, 2017 00:00

In this episode of Confessions of a Homebrewer's Wife, we dive deep into the topic of how to identify 3 signs that you live with a homebrewer!

Confessions of a Homebrewer's Wife: Vocabulary Lesson - Mashing and Wort May 01, 2017 00:00 1 Comment

On this episode of Confessions of a Homebrewer's Wife, I discuss Mashing and Wort in the Home-brewed Beer process.  Leave your questions and comments below!

Need tips for brewing with kids?  Click HERE!



Confessions of a Homebrewer's Wife: Three Ways To Involve Kids On Brew Day March 24, 2017 00:00

Brew day is a family event around here and the kids love to be involved.  Believe it our not, there are things they can be involved with:

They mill the grains, add the ingredients, and even taste the wort. They certainly have a blast.  These brew days create many memories. They allow our family to slow down from the hustle and bustle of life, and enjoy one another while making great beer!

We'd love to hear how you involve your kids on brew day!




4 Uses For Spent Grain February 27, 2017 13:26

Spent Grain Brewing Beer with Handbrewed Soap

Brewers are always faced with the question, “What do I do with my spent grain?” If you are anything like us, we hate to throw it away. So, we’ve provided you with some alternatives to keeping that spent grain out of the landfill.

Compost: Most cities have a compost program where a company will pick up compost for you. If not, start a compost yourself if you have the space in your backyard. Your garden will thank you.

Dog Treats: As long as these grains haven’t come into contact with hops, you’re good to go. (Hops are toxic to dogs.) Dry the grain out (instructions here,) add some peanut butter and BAM... doggy treat heaven!

Bake With Them: You can make bread, pretzels, or pizza crust out of them. It’s high in fiber and protein.

Bathe With Them: Add it to your handmade soap. We use our spent grain in our Spiced Ale Beer Soap. The spent grain acts as text that helps remove dead skin cells.

We hope this helps you decide what to do with your spent grain!



HOPS AND DOGS February 06, 2017 00:00

Hops and Dogs

This is a Public Service Announcement: HOPS ARE TOXIC TO DOGS!!!

We are now a proud owner of an Australian Cattle Dog! His name is Otter…(because he looked like one when he was born) and we’ve added Pop to his name because who in my generation didn’t like Otter Pops?

Otter-Pop is an amazing dog. He’s really good with the kids, especially our one year old. He trains quickly, and hasn’t peed or pooped in the house to date (I just jinxed it!)

As you know we grow and harvest hops. Hops and dogs don’t mix. When a dog ingests hops, the hops can cause Malignant Hyperthermia. That’s two big words for 'your dog can over heat RAPIDLY and die.' If you think your dog has eaten hops, get them to a vet pronto. Your dog may be vomiting, or having seizures.

On brew day, make sure you keep your unused hops away from dogs, and be conscious of spent hops that you may put in your compost. Dogs like those grains, so if you are adding spent hops to the mix, keep your dog away!

If you grow hops, cage them off. We’ve found that our dog LOVES digging them up.

Interested to hear the precautions you take!

HOW TO HARVEST HOPS September 03, 2016 00:00

Harvest Hops

There are two main ways to harvest your hops when it is time. You can either pick them off the plant or cut the whole bine down, and then pick them. Each way has their benefits. Below is a description of each that should help you determine which is best for you.

1) Pick The Cones Off The Plant - This technique should DEFINITELY be used if this is your plant’s first harvest. By picking the cones by hand off the plant and waiting for the bines to die, will allow important nutrients to go back into the root system for next years growth.

2) Cut the Bine Down With The Cones On It- This technique should be used on all future harvests. Make sure you cut two to three feet above ground so that the root system doesn’t become injured. Also, be careful not to damage the lupulin (the yellow sticky powder) as you cut the bines down.

And remember, you will need to have a ladder, clean shears, and gloves on hand. Wearing a long sleeve shirt is also important so you don’t get cut by the plant’s sharp barbed hairs!

Find out WHEN to harvest your hops, here!

Happy Harvesting!

Havest Hops

Behind The Brew: The Building of the Handbrewed Soaps Studios May 26, 2016 22:40

Handbrewed Soaps Studio - Sheds

Sometimes there needs to be a separation between soap and family. In 2014, my awesome Father came up with a brilliant idea.  This idea was spurred by the fact that he couldn’t distinguish where my kitchen and living room began and where my soaping ventures ended.  Everything was mixed together.  “Hey Alyson, have you ever though of getting a soap studio?”           

 Of course I had, but our business was not making enough money to pay Bay Area rent.  Though we had an extra bedroom, our family was expanding, and we needed it for a bedroom! Instantly, we both looked out into the backyard, which at the time was filled with weeds (aka a blank slate to build and grow things on!)    To make a REALLLY long story short, by the following Fall, I had my soap studio, empty, but a studio!  We went with Casita Shed of Castro Valley,CA to construct the studio. If you look at their prices, it beats the price on any Home Depot / Lowe’s shed by square footage and the labor was included in the cost.  The fact that it went up in two days was AWESOME. I recommend them to anyone who has the ability to add one to their backyard!  It was so affordable, that we built two…  his and her studios… now everyone’s happy!  I highly recommend this Bay Area Company.  We had a great experience! 


Handbrewedsoaps Logo  Bathtub BeerWhen you first think of the bathtub and soap you kind of go, “Yea right! Soap gets you clean so of course they have a bathtub for a logo.” But that wasn't exactly what we were going for. OUR bathtub stands for ‘bad-ass-ness’, innovation, and a ‘sock it to the man’ attitude!!! We’re not a pamper yourself kind of soap company; we’re a get your hands dirty, DIY kind of people. We find solutions and ‘work arounds’ when we are told you can’t do something.

Our logo pays homage to the original innovators, ‘the forefathers and foremothers’ of the liquor movement. They were the innovators of the Prohibition Era  (otherwise know as bootleggers) that brewed beer, wine, whiskey, and gin in their bathtubs.

The bathtub had two important rolls in the Prohibition Era. Many times water was added to grain alcohol to produce liquor. The bottles that needed to be filled with water were often too big to be filled from the kitchen sink; so many bootleggers used the bathtub tap. As bootleggers grew their operations, the bathtub was used to mix grain alcohol, flavoring, and water. The bathtub was one of the biggest vessels large enough to make brew for consumer demands, but created a small enough operation to go undetected by law enforcement.

Though Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933, brewing homebrew beer didn't actually become legal until 1978. This law's basically says that any person can legally ferment 200 gallons of beer or wine each year tax-free! Cheers to US!

So there you have it! We aren’t just your average soap company, with a bathtub as a logo… We are Handbrewed Soaps… a soap company that honors those that think outside the box, that understands the importance of getting good beer out to the masses, and the importance of getting clean after a dirty job!  Cheers!

Keep a look out for our Famous Bootlegger Series!

(Photo credit goes to our awesome friend Shamir! Thanks for letting us use your picture!)

5 Tips to Successfully Brewing Beer February 24, 2016 16:21

5 Tips to Brew Beer

An interesting conversation arose last night as Eric and I were talking about beer (while consuming it!) I asked him what 5 important things he learned over the years about brewing a great tasting beer. Here’s what he said:

The key to a successful brewed beer is in the sanitation.

You can make the most yummy beer, but if you forget to sanitize, say goodbye to your 'liquid gold.' This happened to us once in the early years. We had sanitized EVERYTHING ( so we had thought.) We bottled our beer, came back two weeks later, and saw floaties in the beer. It wasn't just one bottle, it was all of them.  We thought it was yeast that got into the bottles during transfer. To make sure it was ok to drink, we took a bottle to Brewmaster, a local brew supply store, and they confirmed it as bacteria. We had to ditch the beer. We figured out we didn't sanitize the bottles good enough. Something must have been at the bottom of the bottles that we missed while cleaning them. Lesson learned!

Don't drink so much beer that you boil over.

You have to drink beer while you brew, it's the law of home brewing! But just watch yourself on brew day! We had a brew day where four different brewers (two had won awards for their beer, the others were just learning) came over, with their equipment and supplies. One of the award winners kept saying through out the day about not boiling over. You can lose a lot of beer when it happens and then your recipe is off. (There are work arounds, it just plain sucks when it happens!) This advice quickly turned into bragging rites, with the more beer he drank. Soon his warnings turned into jokes, "How can you tell a beginner brewer from an expert brewer? If he boils over!!!!!" And guess who was the only one to boil over that day? Yep, the "expert" of the bunch! He will never live this story down!!! 

Don't forget to transfer your beer! 

Always write down your transfer/ bottling schedule on a calendar. We forgot to transfer our beer into secondary in a timely manner ( 2 weeks is the norm, we transferred at 6 weeks!) As a result, the water in the airlock got so low that air got into the carboy and bacteria started to grow. We had to dump 10 gallons of beer. However, we just learned a new technique that using a conical fermenter, so check out our article!

If you're brewing in California, or a place that is experiencing a drought, make sure to capture your water as you are cooling it with your wort chiller.

We run our water into barrels so we can later use the water for hydrating our plants.

Start with an extract for first time to get the hang of brewing.

There is a big learning curve when starting to brew. Start slow and small. A kit is a great way to learn to process and jargon, while successfully creating  a drinkable beer!


We hope you find these tips helpful. We would love to hear any tips you have!  And feel free to learn more about brewing with our article, "Making Beer."



Conical Fermenter Review for the Homebrewer - Our New Toy February 19, 2016 15:14

Conical Fermenter Handbrewed Soaps

I recently purchased a plastic conical fermenter. Conical fermenters are used to minimize the amount of time it takes to transfer beer from primary fermentation to secondary fermentation and then into a keg/ bottle. By the switch of a valve you can go between primary to secondary, and by attaching a half-inch hose to the bottom, you can bottle directly from the conical. So what does this mean in the long run? Fewer steps, especially in the syphoning and sanitation arena!

I’m hoping to save time on brewing beer for Handbrewed Soaps. I’m hoping this system will help me quickly brew on the weeknights without having to use so much equipment, and will save me some time by eliminating the primary and secondary transfer and all the sanitation that is needed for these additional steps.

 Thoughts on the conical after the first use:

Things I Love:

  • Eliminates a lot of equipment

  • Eliminates the need to sanitize said equipment

  • Has a thermal well to attach thermometer

  • Knocks off at least two hours of sanitizing and transfer time

  • I can brew more beer very quickly!

  • Bottling and Kegging have never been so easy!

 Things I need to learn more about:

Blow off valve: The conical vessel holds 7.9 gallons. It is said that you don’t need a blow off valve for our 5 gallons of beer. Had we not put a blow off valve on it (just incase) we would have had a HUGE mess on our hands. We need to experiment with how much beer we can put in there without needing the blow off hose.

Lid Leakage: Our lid leaked and I had read something online about a break in the seal. I'm not sure if that's something I need to do or if I need to look into adding some food safe silicone lubricant over by the seal for the top lid

Plastic Limitation: The last thing that is kind of a dislike but it's one of the limitations of plastic in general was that you can't scratch it. When you create scratches on the inside you're creating little pockets for bacteria to grow.

 Overall Review After The First Use: This is a really nice fermenter. I really like the fact that I don't have additional cleaning, sanitizing, or racking from primary to secondary and then into a keg. I really like the fact it has minimized my time to perform both of those tasks. So, in the long run it's going to save me time AND money!

Looking forward to sharing more as I continue to use it. I would love to hear any tips you have about conical fermenters!


Why We Went from Brewing 10 Gallon to 5 Gallons of Beer! January 07, 2016 05:00

Eric walked into the house from our backyard proclaiming, "I'm not going to brew 10 gallon of beer anymore, I'm only going to brew 5!"  Hum, I thought.  What does this mean for Handbrewed Soaps?  I mean, I need beer (twitch, twitch!) You'd think I would have started screaming, "What the hell are you thinking? We'll drink that beer before I can make soap out of it!!!!" But I didn't want to come off as desperate.  So I took a moment before I replied (this COULD BE a pivotal point in our business) and calmly ask, "Why?"     "Because it's freakin' cold out in the brewhouse, and our heating bill is through the roof! If I brew 5 gallons, I can brew in the kitchen which would heat up the house a little.  It could save us a few buck with PG&E!  And I could experiment with all the different hops we harvested this summer by making smaller batches."My blood pressure returned to normal!  God I love this man, he's a smart cookie! First off, it doesn't usually get this cold in Oakland, but thanks to El Nino, we are experiencing what others would think is still be on the warm side, 42 degrees. To us though, it's blizzard weather and brewing inside would heat up our house! And second, we can hopefully use up all those hops...

So we'll keep you posted on our kitchen brewing...