Alternative Developing Techniques: Beer Development


If, after a summer party, you find yourself with lots of flavored beer still in your fridge, it may be a perfect opportunity to experiment and develop your latest roll of Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8

Don't be afraid of the low ISO. When shooting during a bright day with a high contrast scene, it will give you wonderful results of good contrast and fine grain.

Images out of the scan, no edit. Photo by Elisa Parrino

In our Fantôme Kino Film Guide, under the development chart you can find the suggested development dilution and time for a standard black and white. Like for all the other alternative development solutions that we have explored, we need to make some adjustments to our recipe in order to give enough power to the solution to act on the film.

What you'll need:

Firstly, the beer that you choose is important to achieve a good result. If you choose a beer that has a higher acid PH, for example a flavored beer that has vitamin C from the citruses, it will boost the chemistry needed to develop. Whatever brand of beer you choose, make sure that there is a high acid component such as lemon/orange flavors.

For 500 ml of beer you will need:

  • 50 gr of Washing soda
  • 15 gr vitamin C

Proceed to warm the beer to 30℃. Mix together the washing soda, the vitamin C and the beer. It will foam so choose a tall container. For those who have a 33ml beer can or bottle, here is the adjusted ratio:

  • 33gr washing soda
  • 10 gr vitamin C
Images out of the scan, no edit. Photo by Elisa Parrino

Now that your brew is ready, pre-wash your negatives for one minute in water at 20℃. Start developing with your mixture for 18 minutes. Regular agitation in the first minute, with 5 inversions; then we employ 10 inversions every minute, to get extra contrast in the final negative. Fixing as usual, 4 minutes total with 5 inversions every minute.

To wash and save some water: fill the tank once and make 5 inversions, empty it, then fill up again, make 10 inversions, empty and fill one last time, add 3 drops of photo-flo and invert 20 times. Re-use the water to wash your tools.

Images out of the scan, no edit. Photo by Elisa Parrino

The final result will be a thinner film, and with lower contrast, than a standard developed one. However the Fantôme Kino film retains quite a lot of information that will be visible when printing or working in post production.

One downside of alternative techniques is that washing soda or vitamin C do not dissolve completely, and tiny particles of dust can damage your negative when agitating. Be extra careful when mixing the solution to minimize this issue.

What is most important is to get a decent negative that we can still use for other purposes. Compared to other techniques that we have explored, beer gave us some of the most satisfactory results possible. Pairing alternative development formulas with a film that performs well with grain is also an important factor to keep in mind when you decide to go this way.

Have you ever tried an alternative development technique? Show us your results and comment with your experiences below.

written by eparrino on 2022-08-31 #tutorials #black-and-white #alternative-development-techniques #beer-development

Mentioned Product

Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8

Fantôme Kino B&W 35 mm ISO 8

Fantôme Kino B&W Film is perfect for pinhole, striking portraits, and gritty street scene snaps. With low ISO and small exposure latitude, this impactful black and white film navigates inter-tonal shifts with ease resulting in rich, low grain depictions with vibrant micro-contrast. The Fantôme Kino B&W Film brings scenes to life, capturing life’s most evocative moments in showstopping black and white splendor.


  1. klawe
    klawe ·

    I prefere 500ml beer, drink 170ml and take 330(!)ml for the developer ;-)

  2. eparrino
    eparrino ·

    @klawe LOL very efficient :D

  3. polock
    polock ·

    Very nice results, looks like the development even helped calm down the films wild tendency to heavy contrast.

  4. eparrino
    eparrino ·

    @polock Indeed the alternative techniques always pull down the contrast; something to remember, either if you love it or hate it. ;)

More Interesting Articles