Beer Glaze

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:

1. Binder

2. Solvent

3. 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.

How to create a beer glaze?

The best beer to use is a dark beer such as a Guinness because dark beer has more hops, barley, and sugar.

  1. Open a dark beer and pour it into a bucket and whisk. (Whisking is done to help get rid of carbonation.)
  2. Let the beer sit for 24 hours to allow it to become stale. (If time is a issue make sure to really whisk it to use right away.)
  3. Add a colorant by using powdered pigments to tint with or gouache. The advantage of using gouache is that its 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.

Pierre Finkelstein guache paints for beer glaze

Gouache used to tint the glaze.


Pierre Finkelstein Beer Glaze mixture

Beer mixture (beer and gouache mixed and ready to use)

When this medium is used.

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 wood grainer 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. (Yes 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 varnish and the door is done. It’s really a quick and easy process.

Pierre Finkelstein beer glaze

Flogged surface using beer glaze over an oil base coat


Pierre Finkelstein beer glaze finish

Oil glaze over a beer glazed surface


Why use this medium?

Beer glaze is used because it allows you to not tape off. For example in the picture below you will see a pedestal which if were real wood, would have been made in sections. To create this look faster and more efficiently I use the beer glaze.  This lets me work each part and if glaze bleeds on the connected section I can with out worry continue and reactivate the bleeding. I could not achieve this technique as quickly with an acrylic because once acrylics dry they are no longer able to be reverted back to a liquid, therefore I would have had to tape off each section as they dried. Also what is great about using the beer glaze over acrylics is that there is no color shift from wet to dry. It’s also a sheerer medium making it great for transparent layering.


Pierre Finkelstein beer glaze

Sections created easily with out tape.


I use acrylics and beer equally based on the type of surface, complexity and size of the area I am working on. It has more to do with efficiency then look.

This is also a great medium for practice! If it dries or you are not happy with the outcome of a piece you can easily rework the glaze. The only time you cannot rework the glaze is when it has been sealed.

*Remember, once you use beer you will have to use an oil base system over top so that it does not reactivate the water based glaze. Otherwise, you can shellac before using acrylics to seal the reversible glaze but, that is an extra step! Those considerations play an enormous part in which medium I use.


  1. Thanks for finally writing about >Beer Glaze – From the
    Studio of Pierre Finkelstein <Liked it!

  2. Genial. je vais essayer. J’ai deja essaye le vinaigre de cidre mais cela coule trop. J’essaie de faire une ronce de noyer sur de l’erable brut c’est a dire que je dois d’abord teindre l’erable puis le vernir pour qu’il ne soit plus poreux et alors je peux commencer le “graining” J’ai essaye ;la recette du glacis a l’huile classique mais cela coule trop j’ai donc melange glacis commercial plus kero et huile . C’est pas mal mais le trait a tendance a disparaitree donc il faut que je trouve une autre formule pour que mon trait de brosse se voit tres nettement dans le glacis . Comme je dois faire une “island” dans une cuisine le faux finish doit etre tres resistant et ce n’est pas evident de faire du tres resistant en faux tout en gardant beaucoup de transparence et en evitant le jaunissement.
    En tout cas un immense merci pour vos renseignements; votre livre sur les faux technique est une bible pour moi depuis des annes. J’admire enormement votre travail. Christine

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