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Beer Glaze – The Recipe

A beer glaze is a reversible glaze, meaning that it is water soluble when dry. Once the glaze has dried it can be reverted back to its liquid state. Pictured above: Oil glaze over a beer-glazed surface


A beer glaze is a reversible glaze, meaning that it is water soluble when dry. Once the glaze has dried it can be reverted back to its liquid state.

Glaze in general is made of at least these three components:

  • Binder
  • Solvent
  • Colorant

The binder is the “glue”, the solvent is the vehicle, and the colorant is the color agent. In the beer glaze the binder is the sugar, hops and barley. The solvent is the water, and all that’s needed is the colorant.


This glazing technique is rooted in the early 19th century as a fast drying glaze that can be over glazed with oil.

This was convenient because the woodgrainer who had to paint a door could do the first step in beer which quickly dries (5 mins), and can then directly over glaze in oil. The next morning come back to do the overgrazing in beer. It is completely possible and compatible to do a water glaze over oil – all you must do is talc your surface. Then lastly topcoat with an oil-base varnish and the door is finished. It’s really a quick and easy process.


Beer glaze is used because it is reversible and allows you to not need to tape off the sections while working. For example in the picture above you will see a pedestal, which if it had been made from real wood, it would have needed to be painted in sections. To create this finish faster and more efficiently a beer glaze was used. Using a beer glaze allows the painter to work on the parts without taping off. If the glaze bleeds from a different sections then there will be no issue since you can always reactivate the bleeding glaze.

This would not be achievable as quickly with an acrylic glaze because once acrylics dry they are no longer able to be reverted back to a liquid (non-reversible). Therefore they would need to be taped off in sections until they dried. Another great thing about using the beer glaze over acrylics is that there is no color shift from wet to dry. A beer glaze is also a sheerer medium making it great for transparent layering.


Use our step-by-step instruction below


Here is a list of the tools & supplies you will need to achieve this technique.  Supplies available at are linked below and listed at the bottom of the page.

  • Dark Beer
  • Bucket
  • Whisk
  • Colorant (powdered pigment, or gouache)


STEP 1 – WISK BEER:  Open a dark beer and pour it into a bucket and whisk. (Whisking helps get rid of the carbonation)



STEP 2 – LET SIT:  Let the beer sit for 24 hours to allow it to become stale. (If time is an issue make sure to really whisk it to use right away)



STEP 3 – ADD COLORANT:  Add a colorant by using powdered pigments to tint with or gouache. The advantage of using gouache is that it’s reversible and the pigments are finely ground.

Gouache is best used for small jobs because it is more expensive whereas pigments are more economical for larger projects. I tend to use gouache as it has a higher quality than powder pigments.