Sounds odd I know, but some preservatives in beer can be an allergen... I found a beer cheese soup that I really really enjoyed. My question is, are there non-beer substitutes for "dark" beer that might do well in a spicy beer cheese soup like the one linked below. I'm curious if anyone has found a sub that still gives off the same dark beer flavor in the end result?

Simply Altered Eats: Beer Cheese and Chicken Soup

  • 2
    Does preservative-free homebrewed beer count?
    – nick012000
    Mar 24, 2021 at 5:24
  • 1
    Often people are allergic to hops and mistake it for sulfite or other preservative allergies. I can't drink super-hoppy stuff even though I love it, gives me headaches.
    – GdD
    Mar 24, 2021 at 11:06
  • 2
    Would a yeast extract (such as marmite/vegemite) or malt extract work?
    – Stuart F
    Mar 24, 2021 at 13:27
  • @Tetsujin : unless testing has improved since I went through it, if it's a food intolerance and not a full blown allergy it can be difficult to pin down without some sort of major elimination diet, like FODMAP.
    – Joe
    Mar 24, 2021 at 14:27
  • 1
    @StuartF's idea is good if preservatives (sulphites presumably) really are the issue
    – Chris H
    Mar 24, 2021 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


Note: This is a suggested experiment, rather than a tried-and-tested solution

From the comments, yeast and malt extracts were suggested. I'd go further and say both, as neither will replicate beer flavour alone.

Both are rather variable. Some experimenting will be required.

In case you go too far with either of them, I suggest you have spare ingredients on hand to allow dilution (leftover soup should freeze well, to avoid waste)

I suspect that too much yeast extract will be worse than too much malt extract, so use caution on that. Yeast extract (referring to Marmite/Vegemite or own brand equivalents) is used in some vegetarian recipes as a source of umami; it's useful in savoury dishes but can get overpowering. It also has salt, so you might need to reduce the salt in your recipe.

I'd guess at a starting point of 2 tbsp of the liquid malt extract I've used and 1 tsp of yeast extract plus 0.5l (1 pint) of water for 1 pint of beer. That balance could be way off, but luckily both are highly processed and won't change much in cooking so you can add more to taste (as you can with salt).

A little acid wouldn't hurt (ideally lactic acid), maybe 1/2-1tsp of malt vinegar in that same substitute pint.

A way-out idea I'd be tempted to try (as I've got it on hand) is replacing the flour with dried sourdough starter, to bring in some yeast flavours and acid

Luckily that recipe doesn't call for a particularly bitter beer, as that's harder to get right. I wouldn't worry about bittering agents. You could though: hop extracts are rather strong (used at a few ml per gallon of beer, though they're available. If you wanted to try them you'd need to dilute the extract first then add, otherwise you might find one drop too little, two drops too much.

  • 1
    Well that turned into more than I thought - it was going to be a comment, as it's suggestions for experimenting rather than a proven substitution.
    – Chris H
    Mar 24, 2021 at 15:18
  • These sound like really good leads for sure. I will have to experiment as you’d say. Appreciate the ideas!
    – AHAH
    Mar 25, 2021 at 2:17
  • I am going to add this idea here under your "experiment" heading because that is what this is.. Blackstrap molasses seems to me to have some similar flavor notes as dark beer. You could make a blackstrap and warm water solution to taste then add yeast as though you were proofing it. The yeast will add its own flavor and reduce the sweetness even more. After an hour or so use the solution as your dark beer substitute.
    – Willk
    Mar 27, 2021 at 17:00
  • @Willk, good point, and easier to find than malt extract. I think without doing something it would be too sweet,but your approach might well deal with that
    – Chris H
    Mar 27, 2021 at 18:08

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