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How much alcohol is in beer cheese sauce?

Beer cheese sauce is a popular condiment often served warm as a dipping sauce or topping for foods like pretzels, chips, nachos, wings, and more. The sauce is made by mixing beer and cheese to create a smooth, creamy dipping sauce with a distinct beer flavor. But with beer as one of the main ingredients, many wonder just how much alcohol remains in the finished beer cheese sauce.

What is beer cheese sauce?

Beer cheese sauce is a creamy, cheese-based sauce that incorporates beer as one of its main ingredients. It often contains a blend of cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and/or blue cheese melted together with beer, garlic, and other seasonings. The beer adds a slight bitterness that balances the rich creaminess of the melted cheese. Overall, beer cheese sauce has a tangy, savory flavor perfect for dipping a variety of snacks and appetizers. It’s thicker than traditional beer but thinner than a cheese sauce made without beer. The sauce may be served warm or at room temperature.

Some key ingredients found in most beer cheese sauce recipes include:

  • Beer – Typically a pale ale or lager. Dark beers can also be used.
  • Cheddar cheese – For a creamy, smooth base. Shredded or cheese curds are often used.
  • Blue cheese – For added tangy flavor. Blue cheese crumbles are common.
  • Gouda or other cheeses – For a more complex, rich flavor.
  • Onion and garlic – For aromatics and flavor.
  • Cream cheese or evaporated milk – For extra smoothness and body.
  • Hot sauce – For a spicy kick.
  • Seasonings like mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or smoked paprika.

The beer and cheese are slowly melted together, often with a roux as a thickener. The sauce can be prepared on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Once smooth and creamy, it’s ready to be served alongside a variety of snacks.

Does cooking reduce the alcohol content?

Yes, the cooking process does reduce the alcohol content of beer cheese sauce compared to an equal amount of regular beer. However, beer cheese sauces still retain some alcohol after cooking.

When beer is heated, the alcohol begins evaporating. How much alcohol cooks off depends on factors like:

  • Cooking time – The longer the sauce cooks, the more alcohol evaporates.
  • Cooking temperature – Higher heat causes more rapid evaporation.
  • Cooking method – Gentle simmering on the stovetop results in more evaporation than cooking in a slow cooker or oven.
  • The alcohol content of the original beer – Higher alcohol beers retain more alcohol.
  • How much beer is used – More beer means more alcohol to start.

Most beer cheese sauce recipes call for simmering the sauce for 20-60 minutes, which allows some of the alcohol to cook off. However, it’s difficult to completely eliminate all traces of alcohol just by cooking.

Factors that affect alcohol retention

The amount of alcohol that remains in beer cheese sauce depends on several key factors:

Type of beer

What type of beer is used affects how much alcohol is available to cook off. Beer can range from 3-12% ABV or alcohol by volume. Some examples:

  • Light lagers – 4-5% ABV
  • Ales – 4-7% ABV
  • India pale ales (IPAs) – 7-12% ABV
  • Stouts and porters – 8-12% ABV

So a sauce made with an IPA or stout will have more alcohol to start than one made with a lighter lager. This means more alcohol will likely remain even after cooking.

Amount of beer

Recipes that use more beer proportionally will also have higher amounts of alcohol overall. A sauce with a 1:2 ratio of beer to cheese will be higher in alcohol than one with a 1:4 beer to cheese ratio.

Cooking time

As mentioned, cooking for longer periods gives more time for alcohol evaporation. A sauce simmered for 1 hour will likely have less alcohol than one cooked for only 20 minutes.

Cooking temperature

Higher heat causes alcohol to evaporate more quickly. Gently simmering on medium heat allows more alcohol retention compared to rapidly boiling.


Proper ventilation above the pot or slow cooker allows alcohol vapor to escape. Covering the pot tightly or oven-baking traps more alcohol vapor.


Thicker sauces made with flour, corn starch, or roux retain more alcohol as evaporation is reduced. Thinner sauces allow alcohol to cook off more easily.

Rough estimates of alcohol retention

It’s difficult to provide exact alcohol amounts left in beer cheese sauce, but here are some rough estimates based on typical recipes:

  • Sauce simmered for 30+ minutes – 25-60% alcohol retention
  • Sauce cooked for 1+ hours – 15-40% retention
  • Thick sauce, cooked at low temp – 30-50% retention
  • Thin sauce, cooked at higher heat – 15-35% retention

For a point of reference, regular domestic beer is around 4-6% alcohol. So even with 50% retention, a sauce made with domestic beer would have only 2-3% alcohol. For safest estimates, it’s best to test the finished sauce.

How to estimate alcohol content

While it’s difficult to calculate exact alcohol amounts left in beer cheese sauce, there are some methods to estimate the relative alcohol content:

Use an alcoholmeter

An alcoholmeter is a tool that measures the alcohol content of liquids. Simply add a sample of the finished sauce and it will provide you with an alcohol by volume percentage. This provides the most accurate estimate.

Compare viscosity and taste

Compare the thickness and taste of the sauce to the original beer. If the sauce is significantly thicker and the beer taste has been mellowed, more of the alcohol has likely cooked off. If it remains thinner and tasting strongly of beer, more alcohol likely remains.

Burn off leftover alcohol

To further remove alcohol, briefly simmer the sauce for 5-10 minutes after initial cooking, leaving the pot partially uncovered to allow steam to escape. This can burn off additional excess alcohol.

Add it to a non-alcoholic dish

Add a small amount of sauce to something you know is completely non-alcoholic, like plain pasta. See if you can detect any alcohol taste. If not, very little alcohol remains.

Serving suggestions for minimizing alcohol intake

If you want to minimize alcohol consumption from beer cheese sauce, here are some serving suggestions:

  • Cook the sauce for longer periods at lower heat before serving.
  • Mix in some extra cheese at the end to make it thicker.
  • Cook in a wide, uncovered pot to allow alcohol to dissipate.
  • After cooking, let the sauce cool and refrigerate overnight. This allows a bit more alcohol to evaporate over time.
  • Avoid adding sauce directly to the top of hot foods. Instead, serve it on the side for dipping.
  • Don’t save and reheat leftovers. Make fresh sauce each time.

Focusing on portion control can also limit alcohol intake. Only use about 2-3 tablespoons of sauce per serving.

Should you avoid beer cheese sauce if avoiding alcohol?

For those avoiding alcohol for personal, health, religious or addiction reasons, it may be best to avoid beer cheese sauces altogether. Even with cooking, some residual alcohol likely remains. If you want an alternative, look for recipes using non-alcoholic beers or other cheese-based sauces without beer.

For others who can tolerate small alcohol amounts, enjoying beer cheese sauce in moderation should be fine. Just be mindful of portion sizes. Avoid consuming very large amounts at once or having multiple servings in succession. As with any food containing alcohol, it’s best enjoyed responsibly.

Making non-alcoholic beer cheese sauce

If you want to avoid alcohol entirely, you can make beer cheese sauce using non-alcoholic beer. These beers contain under 0.5% ABV.

Simply substitute the regular beer called for in any recipe with an equal amount of non-alcoholic beer. Be aware the flavor may differ slightly, but the sauce texture should remain the same.

Types of non-alcoholic beer that can work well in sauce recipes:

  • O’Doul’s
  • Clausthaler
  • Coors Edge
  • Budweiser Prohibition
  • Heineken 0.0

Just check labels and only use beers containing 0.0-0.5% alcohol. They provide the beer flavor without the alcohol content.

Nutritional value of beer cheese sauce

Here is the approximate nutritional value in 1/4 cup (60ml) of beer cheese sauce:

Calories 150
Fat 12g
Carbs 2g
Protein 6g

As you can see, beer cheese sauce is high in calories and fat due to the cheese content. It also contains a good amount of protein.

The sauce makes for a tasty treat but is quite rich, so portion sizes should be kept modest. Around 1/4 cup is a reasonable serving.

Storing and reheating beer cheese sauce safely

To store and reheat beer cheese sauce safely:

  • Store sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
  • When reheating, place sauce in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir frequently.
  • Heat sauce until warm and bubbly, 5-10 minutes. Do not let it come to a boil.
  • Pour heated sauce into a clean bowl or dipping cups to serve.
  • Avoid saving and reheating sauce more than once, as quality declines.
  • Do not reheat sauce in the microwave as it can separate and curdle.

Proper storage keeps beer cheese sauce fresh. Reheating gently preserves the texture and flavor. This prevents the sauce from breaking or tasting unpleasant.

In Summary

While cooking does reduce the alcohol content of beer cheese sauce, some alcohol still remains depending on factors like beer type, cooking time, and thickness. Rough estimates suggest 25-60% alcohol may remain after typical preparation. For those wanting to avoid alcohol, non-alcoholic beer can be substituted. When stored and reheated properly, beer cheese sauce can remain safe and tasty to enjoy in moderation as an appetizer dip or topping.