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7 Alternative Uses for Beer

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“Beer: the cause of – and solution to – all of life's problems.”
- Homer J. Simpson

When Homer uttered those fateful words, he was referring to drinking his favorite alcoholic beverage. However, as you'll see with these alternative uses for beer, the same could be true even if you don't belly up to the bar.

1. Bathe In It

The next time someone says you smell like a brewery, tell them you just got back from the spa. All over Eastern Europe, people are literally bathing in warm beer as a physical and mental therapeutic treatment. Not only are the yeast and vitamins great for the skin and hair, but the natural aromatics of the hops, a key ingredient in beer, offer a dip more relaxing than a regular hot tub. At most spas, like the Chodovar Brewery and the Bahenec Hotel in the Czech Republic, you can slip into a vat of beer big enough for you and a partner for between 25 and 45 euros (~$35-$65USD). But if you want to bring all your beer-drinking buddies along, you'll need to go to the Starkenberg Brewery in Germany, where, for 135 euros per person (~$185USD), you can bathe for two hours in swimming pools filled with warm, dark beer. [Image courtesy of Beer Spa Bahenec.]

2. Eat It

While drinking may be the preferred method, eating beer is not out of the question. Everyone's had beer-battered fish or chicken, but Mark Zable brings a whole new twist with his patent-pending fried beer recipe. Zable's secret is a ravioli-shaped pocket of dough that protects the beer inside while the outside gets fried to a crisp after 20 seconds in hot oil. The invention earned him a top award at the 2010 Texas State Fair's Big Tex Awards, a competition filled with odd, deep fried concoctions like Pop Tarts, a club salad, and another alcoholic entry, Deep Fried Frozen Margarita.

If you're going to eat beer, you have to go to extremes – either fried in oil or frozen. From Ben & Jerry's 2006 beer-flavored Black & Tan, named after the famous drink mixing a dark stout and a pale ale, to specialty shops all over the country that make their own combinations, beer ice cream has really hit its stride in the last few years. During Denver's 2010 Great American Beer Festival, local creamery Sweet Action Ice Cream came up with six special flavors using local brews to celebrate the event. Some of the highlights included HMS Victory ESB with Oreos, Fort Collins Brewery's Double Chocolate Stout, and Smoked Baltic Porter, mixed with marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for the taste of campfire s'mores. The shop usually carries at least one beer ice cream every week, and plans on bringing back the special beer blends for the 2011 festival in September.

3. Control Pests With It

Beer has a tendency to bring unwanted pests to your home, usually in the form of people who don't chip in for the keg. But you can use beer to get rid of pests, too. If you have mice pour about an inch of beer in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket, then lean a 2x4 on the outside to create a ramp. The mouse will climb up and in to get his fill, but not be able to get out. With the mouse trapped inside, you can carry the bucket to a nearby field and pour him out.

4. Found a Political Party With It

In the mid-1990s, The Beer Lovers Party had candidates in Belarus (their mascot was a drunken hedgehog) and Russia (they raised nearly 700 million rubles for the 1995 elections). In Norway's 2005 parliamentary election, the Beer Unity Party received 65 votes. The Lower Excise Fuel and Beer Party has had candidates in the 2001 and 2005 Australian elections. Even Canada's Draft Beer Party had a candidate in a 1979 provincial election.

Normally these beer parties are used as a joke to make a satirical comment on the political process. Their point made, they collect an insignificant number of votes, then disappear forever. However, that wasn't the case with the Polish Beer Lovers Party, which started as a farce, but wound up becoming a serious political platform. For the 1991 parliament elections, voters were looking for a different perspective in government. Many found that difference in the pubs where the Beer Lovers Party would gather to have serious discussions about the direction of the country. With the help of this grassroots movement, the party wound up capturing 16 parliament seats. Upon seeing the opportunity to create real change, some members dropped their satirical ways and renamed their faction the Polish Economic Program. They went on to become a legitimate force in the 1992 election of Hanna Suchocka as Prime Minister.

5. Play With It

Drinking games have been around for thousands of years. But a rousing game of Kottabos – a Greek game where players flung the last bit of wine from their cups to knock over targets – isn't exactly taking modern party-goers by storm. Beer pong is all the rage today, especially in fraternity houses, even though it was invented nearly 60 years ago by the Maune brothers of St. Louis. The game has been simplified over time (the original version required paddles and a net) to the point it is now little more than beer cups on both sides of the table that are targets for a thrown or bounced ping pong ball. While rules and gameplay differ from party to party, there has been some effort to legitimize the sport with the establishment of the World Series of Beer Pong, held annually since 2006. The World Series' governing body of bros have set up rules that are used at official regional tournaments, leading up to the big finale in Las Vegas, where the champion two-man team takes home $50,000.

6. Start a War With It

Between 1937 and 1941, Japan and China fought what has become known as The Second Sino-Japanese War. An estimated 1.5 million Chinese and 396,000 Japanese soldiers were killed, not including countless civilians on both sides. The hostilities began in earnest on the night of July 7, 1937, at what has now been dubbed The Marco Polo Bridge Incident.

That evening, Japanese forces stationed in a neutral area near Beijing conducted unannounced military maneuvers by the bridge. China's National Revolutionary Army mistakenly thought they were being attacked, so a few shots were exchanged. There were no reported deaths or injuries, but when a member of the Japanese army did not return to his post, it was thought that he had been captured by the Chinese.

Throughout the night and early morning, shots were fired, troops and artillery were amassed on both sides, and everything appeared headed for all-out war. A cease-fire was eventually called, but hostilities remained in the region. A month later, after more skirmishes, Japan launched a full-scale invasion.

Where does beer fit into all this? The missing Japanese soldier was eventually found alive and well. According to legend, he ducked out during the military maneuvers and went to a nearby bar to get a bottle of Five Star Beer, a popular brand in Beijing.

7. Build With It

In the deserts of the American Southwest, there aren't many natural resources for constructing buildings. So when small mining settlements started cropping up in the early part of the 20th century, people had to use whatever they could to build. Because a saloon was usually one of the first things raised in these small towns, there was always an ample supply of empty beer bottles. By using bottles as bricks and adobe or concrete for mortar, many homes and stores were constructed with tens of thousands of empty beer bottles. The glass is said to be perfectly good for insulation and creates a strong exterior, able to withstand just about any weather Mother Nature can throw at it. The trend caught on and bottle buildings can now be found throughout the country.

While these houses are impressive, they're nothing compared to Thailand's Buddhist temple Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, known as “The Temple of a Million Bottles.” Since 1984, the monks living there have used approximately 1.5 million discarded beer bottles from nearby towns to create a 20-building complex complete with a main temple, living quarters, and prayer room. The monks even use old bottle caps to create mosaics and other decorative touches.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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