Beer does some amazing things in batter for deep-fried foods. The CO2 gas in a can of Bud keeps things light and airy, and helps the batter cook fast, meaning the cod underneath can emerge moist and properly à point. But what kind of beer?
Aggressively hoppy beers (West Coast IPA, for example) can leave those zucchini fritters trailing a bitter aftertaste, but that doesn’t mean your best option is a bland factory macrobrew. A deeper, richer flavor can be important in some battered fry foods—think of the malty, bready flavors in a porter, for instance, in that batter for sweet apple fritters. Here, in random order, is a brace of beers you should consider adding to your fry-batter mix.
1. PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon)
Cheap, accessible, and classic, this pop-top macro lager adds CO2 without aggressive flavor, and a hipster credibility that might be the perfect accessory for your semi-ironic Midwestern Friday fish fry.
2. Coors Banquet
Another macro lager (see PBR, above), this Golden, Colorado classic gives you unobtrusive flavor and a big, fizzy lift.
3. Old Milwaukee
A Wisconsin fish fry calls for a Wisconsin macrobrew. Also, for the cost of a craft-brew 6-pack, you can lug home a 24-pack. Plenty for the batter, plenty for you.
4. Deschutes Brewery’s Bachelor ESB
British bitters aren’t actually bitter, they’re rich and malty, with a bready taste that works really well in batter. This Deschutes Bachelor gives a nice golden-brown color to the finished coating, too.
5. Widmer Brothers’ Drop Top Amber Ale
Amber ales are relatively sweet, but in a batter surrounding the right food (fennel or zucchini slices, for instance) it tastes exactly right.
6. Samuel Smith’s Pure Brewed Organic Lager
Fish and chips taste extra-English when you pop a bit of this in the batter. This pale, malty lager adds fizz and a bit of subtle richness without asserting itself too much.
7. Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Lager
Clean and crisp, with a nutty bit of caramel at the end. This is a pedigreed craft brew to devote to your fry-up, so wait till your guests arrive to tip it into the bowl.
8. Portland Brewing’s MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale
The hops give this one a floral quality—they’ll be lost in the cooked batter, but the caramel-edged malty sweetness should survive nicely.
9. Newcastle Brown Ale
Roasty, with a lightly malted flavor, scant caramel and zero bitterness. Perfect choice for a vegetable fritto misto.
10. Asahi Super Dry
Crisp and elegant, but with a richness you feel mid-palate. Tip some into calamari batter and sip the rest.
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