Beer batter has many applications. In this article, we will explore the best beer for beer batter and provide suggestions for some of the best examples.
Beer batter is one of the best options for lightly breading your favorite foods. Because it is so crispy, beer batter doesn’t overpower foods. However, the key to a good beer batter lies in the type of beer you choose.
A beer batter recipe can be made with just about any beer style. While you can use any type of beer, some are better than others.
Each beer style will give your batter a different flavor or texture. When your fried food is resting on paper towels or on a wire rack, the way they look is related to the beer you use.
In this article, we will offer you our thoughts on how to use beer when making the batter and the best types of beers for the job. We will then give you our favorite beers for making beer batter.
What To Look For In The Best Beer For Beer Batter
Before you go dropping a bottle of beer into your batter mix, there are some things you need to consider about beer. Below are some helpful hints about beer features that you should consider when selecting the best beer for beer batter.
The flavor of the beer that you select for your beer batter really should work with the type of food that you are going to be frying. Foods that already have a mild flavor do best with a mild-tasting beer.
You don’t want to overwhelm your delicate beer-battered fish with a strong stout-based batter. On the flip side, foods like onion rings or fried pickles will do nicely with a more robust beer option.
You will want to match your beer with the ingredients in your batter. Many people like to use garlic powder, citrus, paprika, or black pepper in their beer batter recipe. Finding a beer that pairs well with these sorts of ingredients will make your beer batter burst with fresh flavors. You also need to consider the type of base ingredients in your beer batter recipe.
Are you using all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour? Does your recipe contain cornstarch or baking powder? These base ingredients interact with the carbohydrates in your beer selection differently.
Believe it or not, the amount of carbonation in your beer does make a huge difference in the quality of your beer batter. If you are looking for that typical, light, and airy beer batter style, you need to select a beer that has a decent amount of carbonation. The air pockets in the batter created from the beer bubbles make your beer batter light and fluffy.
Beers with a good amount of carbonation are ideal for white fish that is typically used for fish tacos because it creates a crispy coating while leaving the fish flaky and moist. Carbonation may also increase your prep time for making your batter, as you may need to allow the batter to settle before you dredge your foods.
Normally, we would tell you that the higher priced beer you select, the better the result. In theory, the more the product costs, the better it is, right? Well, when it comes to beer batter, this isn’t necessarily the case.
Price certainly is a consideration, especially if you are making a lot of batters and don’t want to spend a ton. There are great beers for beer batter that are more expensive.
How To Pick The Best Beer For Your Beer Batter
How do you know which beer is the best for your beer batter recipe? Well, that really depends on what you are cooking and how you are frying your food.
Let’s first consider the type of food that you are cooking. Fish & chips, for example, is a popular meal that is often made using a beer batter recipe. If you are making a batter recipe for extra crispy French fries, the beer you will pick will be different than the one you use in the batter for pieces of fish.
Sure, this may mean you have two different batters for your fish and chips, but it will make a huge difference in how your food tastes.
Speaking of beer-battered fish, different types of fish will do better with a different quality beer batter. Cod, halibut, and haddock are all popular choices for fried fish filets, but they all have different flavors and textures that do better with different types of beer.
Once you know what kind of food you are cooking, you will need to consider your ingredients. Cornstarch and baking powder are both leavening agents, meaning they make your batter puffy.
If your beer batter recipe has either of these ingredients, you will want to avoid highly carbonated beers, as they will add to the puffiness of the batter. Likewise, if you are making foods that are high in saturated fats, like cheese curds, there are a few beer choices that are perfect for your deep fry batter.
Not all beers are created equal when it comes to your beer batter recipe. Hoppy beers, like a West Coast IPA, are not typically used for beer batter because they give a strong aftertaste. We would also consider avoiding beer styles like sours, fruited beers, and even some Belgian-style beers.
If you enjoy cooking with beer, Guinness Draught is a good beer to keep on hand. Despite being stout, this beer is light in flavor and body. It is an ideal beer batter beer for fish & chips, giving your fish filets a malty, bready flavor.
Guinness is also great for onion ring beer batter. Don’t worry about the dark color of this beer. When you pull your food from the deep-fryer or air fryer, the dark color of Guinness will result in a beautiful, golden brown colored breading.
- Ideal for hearty foods like onion rings or zucchini fries
- Batter is smooth with a bit of a malty flavor
- Easy to find and relatively inexpensive
- Not great for light beer batter
- Can give foods a strange color
Deschutes Brewery’s Bachelor ESB
Lots of people avoid ESBs for beer batter because they think that they will give a bitter taste. However, Deschutes Brewery’s ESBs are not bitter. They give fried foods a delightful malty, and bready taste, that is actually perfect for a fish fry batter.
It has a balanced flavor profile and a light amber color. Your resulting fried foods will be flavorful and a perfect golden brown. This beer is also robust enough to stand up to lemon juice, tartar sauce, and malt vinegar.
- Perfect for traditional beer-battered fish
- Amber color gives fried fish a golden brown color
- A good example of a traditional British-style beer
- Has a slight floral or fruity taste
- Slightly bitter
If you are looking for a beer to make a perfect, crispy beer batter for fish tacos or cheese curds, Coors Banquet is a perfect option.
This lager is surprisingly flavorful, and with tons of carbonation, your foods get a light and crispy coating from the deep fryer. The great thing about Coors Banquet is that it gives a little flavor but really lets your food shine through.
- Very easy to find
- Just enough malty flavor
- Not great for heavier foods
- Doesn’t work well with baking powder or cornstarch
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Typically we steer away from too many macro-brewed beers, but we cannot skip Pabst Blue Ribbon when we are talking about deep-frying foods. If you are looking to create the perfect midwestern-style fish fry with all the fixings, Pabst Blue Ribbon is a must.
Use this beer for frying fish filets and cheese curds. PBR is perfect for making a light, crispy, and mild-tasting batter that really works well for any fried food.
- Super easy to find
- Nice amount of carbonation
- A pretty basic beer
- Doesn’t add any noticeable flavor
Left Hand Brewing Company’s Nitro Milk Stout
We need to give you a beer option for frying sweet foods, and our favorite is Left Hand Brewing Company’s Nitro Milk Stout. This creamy and slightly sweet beer is ideal for frying foods like cinnamon apple fritters or carnival favorites like funnel cakes.
The nitrogen used to carbonate this beer results in a denser batter that is fluffy and comes out of the deep fryer golden brown. If you want to be adventurous, try this beer in your favorite fried fish recipe.
- Perfect for sweet foods
- Versatile beer, good for most fried foods
- Makes a dense but fluffy batter
- Gives bland foods a boost
- Adds noticeable sweetness
- More expensive and not as easy to find
Newcastle Brown Ale
Newcastle Brown Ale is another English-style beer that is ideal for cooking. When we use this beer for our fish and chips, we know that we can dunk our filets in tartar sauce and malt vinegar and feel like we are sitting in a proper English pub.
This beer is light and mildly flavored. It will give your foods a bready flavor and a light golden brown color. This beer is also great for beer batter for vegetables, fried pickles, and onion rings.
- Light bready flavor
- Not bitter
- Brown color gives a nice golden coating on foods
- Is slightly sweet
- More expensive
- Not available everywhere
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Pale ales are great if you want more flavor for your beer batter. Sierra Nevada is a good option because it is a balanced beer with a subtle hoppy flavor.
It is nicely carbonated, so you get a tasty batter that is nice and crispy. We like this beer for fried chicken, chicken tenders, and chicken fried steak.
- Pairs well with most meats
- Sweet and malty flavor
- Flavor is not overwhelming
- Hoppy notes add some bitterness
- Only available in the US
Goose Island IPA
We normally don’t suggest IPAs for fried foods, but Goose Island is the exception. This IPA has a more malt-forward taste and is not too strong on the hoppy notes. The floral notes of this beer quickly cook off in hot oil, so you don’t have to worry about strange flavors.
We like this beer for foods that need a very light crust or batter recipes that use ingredients like citrus. Try this beer in the batter for French fries, calamari, cheese curds, or fish fillets for fish tacos.
- Perfect beer for light batters
- Gives an extra crispy and flaky crust
- Has enough flavor for mild foods
- Not great for heavier foods
- Has a slightly bitter aftertaste
To come up with our list of the best beers for beer batter, we took the time to cook our favorite fried foods in a variety of beer batters, using lots of different beers. This list and our recommendations for how to select the best beer for beer batter come from trial and error, lots of hot vegetable oil, and many meals.
Why You Can Trust Me
Beer is one of my favorite ingredients for cooking. Whether it is beer-battered fried foods, bread, or soups and stews. My experience cooking with beer gives me the ability to give you great advice on how to cook successfully with beer.
If you liked this post, you might also be interested in our guide on the best beer for beer cheese. You can also check out our round-up of the best beer for beer bread.