What Happens If You Make Beer Batter With Non-Alcoholic Beer?

From out-of-this-world fish and chips, to next-level onion rings, beer batter is a firm favorite in many kitchens, and it's not hard to see why. As noted by Serious Eats, the bubbly beverage helps create a deliciously browned, though light crust that we just can't quit. Just one question: Is it possible to sub out the beer in the batter for a non-alcoholic alternative?

According to Cook's Illustrated, the inclusion of beer in beer batter comes down to way more than a preference for the drink. For starters, the outlet explains that the bubbles in the liquid make for a more airy crust. For that reason, the outlet notes that just about any carbonated drink could do the trick. Having said that, we don't often hear of sparkling water-battered fish. 

That being said, the flavor beer adds to the batter absolutely plays a role in its popularity. And, depending on the type of beer used, you can experiment with a variety of flavors. For example, speaking to Vinepair, Seafish marketing manager, Andy Gray suggested using a light ale to create a, "slightly sweeter batter." 

Here's the thing: as noted by CNBC, non-alcoholic beer is only becoming more popular, and many would-be beer drinkers are reaching for less boozy alternatives. So, our question remains. Is non-alcoholic beer a viable alternative for our favorite crisped-up morsels? 

Alcohol plays a pretty important role

Carbonation might not be exclusive to beer, but unfortunately for those hoping to make a non-alcoholic beer batter, there are two other factors that prevent alcohol-free options from being a decent substitute. 

As pointed out by Scientific American, the alcohol content in beer plays a pretty active role in the batter. According to the outlet, alcohol takes less time to heat up than other, non-alcoholic liquids. What does that mean for your beer-battered snacks, you ask? A faster cooking time, sure — but more importantly, a juicy, tender tidbit on the inside of your crisped up delicacy. 

As for the other factor, the outlet also points out that the foaming agents found in alcoholic beer shouldn't be underestimated. Unlike most other sparkling drinks, those agents trap carbonation bubbles in place. While there is some foam in most non-alcoholic beers, Beer & Gardening Journal points out that the amount of foam is negligible. In other words, not a real substitute. 

So, can you make beer batter with non-alcoholic beer? If you're looking for an authentic alternative, comparable to the original, probably not. If you're wanting to nix alcohol completely, it may be better to stick with another batter recipe altogether.