… Although, maybe someday soon a candle from Mother’s?
Hosting a dinner party? Need to give a house-warming gift? Or maybe you just need a pleasant aroma for the bathroom? Candles are always a good option. But now, rather than agonizing over whether the occasion calls for more of a “warm sugar cookies” or “fresh pine” or maybe even “ocean breeze” scent, you can make your space smell like something you really love… beer, of course!
No, really. It sounds a little crazy, but read on, my friends.
Maybe “beer candle” makes you think of that warm-malty-wort smell that floats around breweries. Or maybe it conjures the aroma of your sticky kitchen floor after a day of home brewing. Or maybe you’re imagining the grassy-piney-flowery smell of pure hops. Maybe, like me, you assumed these candles must be all gimmick, where some sort of beer concentrate is poured into candle wax, a wick is added, and – voilà ! – beer candle. But, also like me, you would be wrong.
Barley & Hops, and Wax
The beer candles made by Marsha Flowers and Carrie Atkins at Barley & Hops Craft Candles, capture the essence of the unique aromas of several local beers without compromising the lovely, inviting aroma of a great candle. Carrie met me at Border Brewing for a beer and an opportunity to talk to me about the candles. She explained their process like this:
- Marsha and Carrie meet with each brewery before candle making begins. A discussion takes place to catalog the aromas and flavors present in the beer.
- They take their notes back to a catalog of essential oils and begin experimenting. Meticulous pairings and testing eventually yield an oil blend that mimics the aroma of this particular beer.
- Back at the brewery, brewers and staff do a side-by-side comparison to verify the candle captures the essence of the beer. Adjustments are made.
- When the brewery and candlemakers agree, only then are the candles ready for production.
Every candle from Barley & Hops comes in a glass container sealed with a large cork. The glass which holds the candle is recycled from the bottom half of a 750-ml bomber bottle. The wax is apricot wax, pressed from apricot kernels. The candles are labeled just like the beers they smell like. Each candle is designed to burn for about 80 hours.
Barley & Hops features brewery-approved candles from local favorites Boulevard, Border, Torn Label, Big Rip, Stockyards, Martin City, Cinder Block and Weston. Happy Basset (Topeka, KS), Norsemen (Topeka, KS) and Odell Brewing (Ft Collins, CO) also have joined in the fun. The brewery-approved beer candles are available on Barley & Hops’s website, and most are also available in that particular brewery’s taproom or gift shop. You will also be able to find them in the Maker’s Market next weekend at Boulevardia.
Carrie was kind enough to send me home from our meeting with a pair of candles. I wanted to try something truly aromatic, namely a hop-forward beer, and another one that I thought they might have a harder time matching, like a stout. I chose “Don’t Call Me Radio”, based on the IPA at Double Shift, and “House Brew”, from Torn Label’s coffee stout. As soon as I got them home, my wife was intrigued and we lit the first candle. We burned the second the next day.
The “Don’t Call Me Radio” burns with a bright, citrusy aroma that captures the beer well. The candle based on “House Brew” smells very sweet, with coffee undertones and caramel aromas. Neither candle smells like beer, exactly, but each calls to mind the elements of the aroma and flavor that feature most prominently in the beer.
Both are delightful additions to our home, and fun conversation starters to boot! These candles are sure to bring a smile to the nose of beer connoisseurs and candle-lovers alike.