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Nov 7, 2009 12:56 PM

Indian food and beer

Considering the diversity of Indian cuisine, this could be a challenge. I've noticed that some people, like Garrett Oliver, suggest pairing American ales, including IPAs, with Indian food. Has anyone tried that approach either in a restaurant or at home? Relatively hoppy pilsners, like Victory Prima, might also work well. I think it might be the combination of the palate-cleansing carbonation and the hops working with the spices. Any thoughts?

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  1. Last time at my local BYOB dosa place I drank Otro Mundo's golden ale (Argentina) which I guess would be a pale ale. Great match. Personally, I don't need more complexity (hoppiness) on my palate when I'm already sweating like a pig but to each his own. Victory Prima to me is a perfect pilsner that would go with almost anything... hopped just right for my taste. Maybe Mr. Oliver just wanted to make that IPA/Indian Food connection...

    1. If we are talking about more familiar Indian food that we get in the states (i.e.: vindaloo, curries, etc) with noticeable heat I'd go with a dense sweeter low hop profile beer like Chimay Grande Reserve. It matches well in terms of scale and the sweetness counters the heat.

      1. I've had English-style IPAs with Indian food and enjoyed them (Samuel Smith's India Ale, for example). I've also enjoyed sweeter porters like the Taddy Porter.

        I have yet to really dig into beer and Indian food pairing, but it's on my to-do list.

        1. There's a local Indian restaurant near me that has a decent selection.

          I am always happy with a bottle of Duvel - especially when a big bottle is around $8.

          1. I should add, I was in Vegas and went to an Indian restaurant there that once employed a very enlightened beer fan as their beverage manager. They had 375s of 2006 Cantillon Iris, which was a brilliant match for the food.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              Josh and L Staff, do you have any specific recollections of particular dishes that paired well with the Belgians you mentioned and thoughts about why they worked so well. I know the carbonation would cleanse and refresh the palate, but did the beers pick up on the flavor notes of the specific dishes?

              1. re: chuckl

                In my case, it was definitely more a palate-cleansing refreshing quality. For like-flavors, I don't know what you'd use - I do a lot of Indian cooking and the spices are so varied, and not usually seen in beer. Coriander seed is probably the one element that carries over, so witbier would probably be good.