Can Beer Be Composted: A Guide To Composting Leftover Beer

Hand Holding A Glass Beer Bottle
beer compost
(Image credit: ivanmollov)

You may or may not be aware of how beer can be used in the garden, and the title of this article may induce shudders of revulsion in teetotalers and cringes of dismay in beer aficionados; nonetheless, the questions stands. Can you compost beer? Maybe a better question is should you compost beer? Does beer in compost add anything to the pile? Turns out that composting leftover beer has a few surprising advantages. Read on to learn more.

Can Beer Be Composted?

Those new to composting may have some trepidation introducing anything “out of the norm” to the compost pile. It is true that a compost pile requires a delicate balance between carbon and nitrogen, moisture, and sufficient aeration in order to create enough heat to break down. Too much or too little of one thing can disrupt the balance, leading to a wet, stinky pile or a dry one where nothing breaks down.

With regards to composting leftover beer, yes, beer can be composted. In fact, if you have beer that is going south after a party, it is a better idea to put the beer in the compost than to dump it down the drain. Read on to find out why you should compost beer rather than throwing it out.

About Beer in Compost

Now that we have ascertained that you can compost beer, here are some reasons why. Beer contains yeast, which is nitrogen rich and ideal for breaking down carbon-based materials in the compost pile. Yeast stimulates the decomposition of organic materials, accelerating the composting process.

You can just add the spent beer directly to the pile, or you can make an accelerant by combining the beer with ammonia, warm water, and regular soda and add it to the compost pile.

Beer added to the compost pile also increases moisture to the pile. This is a great way to use old beer in areas of water restriction. Plus, adding beer adds the nitrogen and yeast that stimulate bacteria into breaking down materials more rapidly.

That said, if the pile gets too wet, the pile (bacteria) can die. If it seems too wet, add some shredded newspaper or other dry carbon material to the pile and turn it to aerate and mix it.

So, the next time you have a party and end up with open growlers leftover, use them in the compost pile instead of disposing of them down the drain. The same, by the way, goes for those open bottles of wine. Unless you are drinking or cooking with it right away, add the wine to the compost pile. Just remember not to make the pile too wet or you will kill off the beneficial bacteria.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.