You might think that soap is just soap, right? Its three basic ingredients are water, lye, and some sort of fat or oil, with scents and colors added for variety, and preservatives to add time to the shelf life. You just use it to wash off the day’s accumulated grime.
If you are interested in using a soap that is not mass-produced and uses all natural ingredients (some of which you might not expect!), handcrafted artisan soaps such as those made by Beveridge Soap Company in Mirror Lake might just be what you’ve been looking for.
Lisa Beveridge of the Beveridge Soap Company has been creating soaps, lotions, and soy candles in small batches in her kitchen for about seven years, using all natural and local ingredients. Her soaps feature the use of cocoa butter, olive oil, or coconut oil, goat’s milk or yogurt, and natural scents, and they have no preservatives or artificial solvents. Once made, the soaps take about four weeks to cure.
About a year and a half ago, Beveridge started incorporating an unusual ingredient in her soaps: beer. “I was making soap with local goat’s milk and water one day while my husband was drinking a beer and I remembered hearing as a teenager that beer was good for your hair,” Beveridge recalled. “I tried adding beer to a small batch and it went like crazy. I also tried using wine and mead in my soaps, which also have worked out well.”
On her website, www.beveridgesoapco.com, Beveridge explains the benefits of adding beer to her soaps and lotions. “When beer is added to the soap-making process rather than water, it adds many benefits. Beer is made up of primarily hops which are known for its relaxing properties. Other great benefits to hops are: it soothes irritated skin, and contains polyphenols thought to account for its anti-bacterial and preservative effects, and also it contains skin-softening amino acids. Dependent upon the beer that we use, the amounts and types of hops, grains, malts, fruits, or nuts used when brewing the beer, each will have its own signature light scent and different degrees of creaminess in the bar of soap, with a subtle yet sweet under-note due to all of those beneficial beer ingredients.”
Beveridge adds, “The soaps do not smell like beer. I use high-quality phthalate-free fragrance oils infused with essential oils. Beer is not just a novelty; it is actually good for your skin. All the ingredients used in the beer-making process — hops, grains, berries, honey, etc. — are incorporated into the soap and onto your skin to make a great bar of soap. You can intoxicate your skin with all the great oils, butters, and beer used. They are good for all skin types.”
At first, Beveridge’s products were only available for family and friends, and available for sale at craft shows. Once word got out about the unusual beer soaps, demand soared and the avocation became a vocation with the creation of the Beveridge Soap Company.
Beveridge says several local craft beer companies, as well as the Sap House Meadery in Ossipee, which specializes in making honey-based wines, have contacted her about her soaps.
On its website, the Beveridge Soap Company states that it currently offers a number of specialized beer soaps and shampoos, including Spiced Pumpkin Soap, made with Cape Ann Brewing Pumpkin Stout; Man Cave Soap, made with Moat Mountain Iron Mike Pale Ale; Dude Soap, made with White Birch Brewing; Pomegranate Soap, made with Cody Brewing No Name IPA; Citrus Soap, made with Peak Organic; Beach Bum Shampoo Bar, made with Narragansett and coconut milk; Intoxicated Shampoo Bar, made with Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale; and Beantown Soap, made with Sam Adams Boston Lager. The company currently is featuring a Cranberry Sage Mead Soap, made with cranberry mead from the Sap House Meadery, and a wine soap called “Girl’s Night Out”, made with red wine from LaBelle Winery in Amherst.
For chocolate lovers, Beveridge offers a special chocolate soap made with dark chocolate from Winnipesaukee Chocolates. According to Beveridge , the soap “delivers a bounty of antioxidants and phytonutrients to and through your skin. Every chocolate lover you know will crave this soap.”
Other artisan soap products include lavender-scented goat’s milk soap and castile soap made out of olive oil.
Beveridge also enjoys making novelty soap products, including soaps shaped into cupcakes that can be used for special events (just don’t eat them!), and bath “fizzies”, a skin-softening soap product that fizzes when added to bath water.
In addition to the soaps, Beveridge makes hand-crafted lotions and lip butters, using hops infused with avocado oil; and soy candles. The soy candles are made from vegetable oil extracted from soybeans, according to the website, and they burn about 30 percent longer than typical candles made from paraffin wax. As an added benefit, soy candles burn relatively soot-free and do not emit harmful toxins into the air, which is great for people who enjoy candles but have trouble with allergies or other respiratory problems.
Beveridge is a member of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and her company has just been awarded New Hampshire Magazine’s “Best of NH 2013” under the category, “Best Reason to Take a Bath.”
Beveridge soaps and lotions are available locally in a few specialty stores, including Zeb’s in North Conway and Butternuts in Wolfeboro, and Hannah Grimes Marketplace in Keene, as well as at Sap House Meadery in Ossipee (mead soap), the Portsmouth Brewery retail store in Portsmouth, and at the Sam Adams Brewery. Customers also will find the soaps for sale at the Farmers’ Market in Tamworth on Saturdays and the Wolfeboro Farmers’ Market on Thursdays, or they may contact Beveridge directly from the website, www.beveridgesoap.com, to get a list of what is currently available in stock and to place an order.
Beveridge, who says she works two other jobs in addition to making soap, credits her husband and her son for helping to turn her business into a success. “I am so lucky to have a husband who can build my soap molds, build me storage closets, and deal with living with lots of soap in the house. My son helps with wrapping soap, loading and unloading my car for markets and shows. He heads off to college in August and we are so proud of him.”
In October, Beveridge Soap will be opening a retail store in downtown Wolfeboro, the Beveridge Craft Beer and Soap Company. “Our store will have craft beer, beer soap, lotions, lip butter, lotion bars, soy candles, and we are searching for local food products that go well with beer,” says Beveridge. “We will be pairing up craft beers from 14 or 15 craft breweries located in New England, and we hope to be able to include all of the micro and nano-breweries in New Hampshire.
“The store is going to be great, so we can keep inventory there and not in my dining room and living room,” Beveridge continued. “We also plan to have tastings on Thursdays. We are so excited that our dreams are finally becoming a reality.”