Stouts are darker brews of beer made by roasting the malt or barley before adding in the hops, water and yeast. The end result is a dark, strong brew with a distinct flavor. A recipe that calls for stout is using it for its deep, rich flavor, but in most cases you can substitute it out for another beer or a nonalcoholic alternative.
Understand Your Stouts
Some recipes are very specific as to the type of stout; therefore, if a recipe calls for one kind, you can replace it with another. The five common types are dry, flavored, imperial, oatmeal and sweet. Dry stouts are bitter and have a drying taste on the palate. Flavored stouts are sweeter and have notes of coffee, chocolate or fruit. Imperial stouts are dense, strong and have burnt, bitter after notes. Oatmeal stouts are sweet, because part of the malt is replaced with roasted oats. Sweet stouts are sweetened with flavors of chocolate and caramel. Use a different type of stout in equal proportions to the stout the recipe calls for, but use one that matches the dish's flavors.
Try a Porter
Porters have a red-brown to black color and offer a smoky, subtle malt flavor. The flavor is much milder than stout, but it still has a bitter flavor from the roasted malt. The alcohol content of porters is lower than stouts. Use in equal proportions to stout.
Use a Stock or Broth
Stouts are added to soups, sauces and gravies to produce a dark rich flavor. If you want a nonalcoholic substitute, try a rich, hearty stock or broth made from beef, chicken or mushrooms. You'll lose the bitterness and richness of the stout, but the stock will provide the body and necessary flavors to complete the recipe. Use 1 cup stock for every 1 cup of stout in the recipe.
Add Caramel or Coffee
In desserts, stouts are used in sauces, cakes and pastries to add flavor. Typically dessert recipes use oatmeal, sweet or flavored stouts -- which are flavored with notes of caramel and coffee. Replace the stout with caramel or coffee instead to get the same flavor, but without the alcohol or beer-like aftertaste. Use 1 tablespoon of caramel for every 1/2 cup of stout or use 1 cup coffee for every 1 cup of stout.
Stouts are used in breading batter for fried foods, because the flavor and carbonation of the stout creates a lighter, tastier batter than just using milk or water. To get a lighter batter, replace stout with a lighter beer for a tempura-like consistency or use seltzer water for a nonalcoholic batter.