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Why not IPA served with Indian Food?

There is so much interest in India Pale Ale (IPA) so why have I never seen it featured with Indian food? Actually, I think it would be a pretty good match, much better than those (usually) lousy lager beers from India.

What do you think?

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  1. this place has been in Omaha for a long time


    1. The better Indian restauarnts in London have been serving IPAs and other ales for some years now. One Dishoom even has it's own IPA, brewed by a London micro brewery.

      1. Wheat beers are actually a much better pairing for the cuisine.

        1. Hoppy beer and spicy food is a lousy pairing, IMO. Lager works pretty well, I think.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Josh

            I agree...a good lager works very well with Indian food.
            I also like a good Special Bitter (like Fuller's) with such a meal. I recently brought a few bottles of Yuengling Lord Chesterfield Ale to an Indian resaurant and that paired quite nicly as well.

          2. Sour beer, too, actually works.

            1. Ok so firstly India Pale Ales are not of Indian origin but English origin. They are called India Pale Ale because they were shipped there to English troops stationed in India at the time. The beer was apparently made stronger and hoppier to survive the voyage w/ the intention of being diluted before consumption. Officers had other ideas;]
              In regard to pairing w/ Indian food in my experience the spiciness of the cuisine and the beer clash terrifically. I've always preferred bigger sweeter beers w/ Indian food to coat the palate and counter the heat.

              1. Interesting, by the way, how Kingfisher is produced in New York for the US market. This brings to mind the tale of an Indian brewing tycoon taking a controlling interest in a pioneering US craft brewer back in the '90s. But that's another story.

                1. At least in NYC a good number of Indian restaurants are BYOB (either to avoid the cost of the liquor license or because they're owned by Muslims) and you can pair the food with any beer you like.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                    I remember we BYOB'd to a Bengali (bangladeshi to be exact) restaurant in queens once... wonder if it's still there. All the chowhounds brought a bottle of something and the muslim hosts were great.

                    There's probably a thread on that dinner somewhere.

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      They're BYOB likely because of the former (no liquor license).
                      As I understand it, the vast majority of Indians are Hindu (where as Pakistanis are predominately Muslim).

                      1. re: The Professor

                        While the vast majority of Indians are Hindu, the vast majority of Indian restaurant owners in NYC are not. There are Hindu restaurants here to be sure, in Jackson Heights and Rego Park and other immigrant neighborhoods. Some on Lexington Ave. near 27 St. too.. But the classic Indian Restaurant Row on 6th Street in Manhattan and environs where most non-Indians go (and where I first had Indian food in NYC, especially since I lived near there at the time) is mostly run by Bengali Muslims.

                      2. Full disclosure: I am not an ale lover in general. Pale, IPA, etc. etc.: the hoppier it is, the less it does for me -- blame my German heritage.

                        But with spicy (that's how I prefer it) Indian food, a lager is a better match. Preferably a light pilsner like the super-bland Warsteiner, or my go-to: Spaten.

                        I organize a weekly Sichuan jour fixe, and don't think I would want an IPA with that spicy food, either. I agree with others in thinking that the flavors might clash.

                        IPA is so dry to me, it just doesn't quite quench the thirst as much as a lager would.

                        A sour beer like a Berliner Weisse-style beer would work really well, too, as Josh suggested, or even a semi-sweetish wheat beer.

                        20 Replies
                        1. re: linguafood

                          I've done beer-pairing dinners with Sichuan and Thai cuisines and hoppy beers never made into the mix.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Riesling is great, too. Sadly, not really a beer '-)

                            1. re: Josh

                              I don't think hoppy beers pair well with any spicy and aromatic cuisines. Highly hopped brews provide a palate and aromatic stimulation that you would already be getting from the food. And the flavor of most hoppy brews is often not complimentary to those cuisines anyway. It's a hyperbolic example, but who would want to smell pine resin while they are eating palak paneer or tripe-beef tendon in chili oil or green curry with coconut milk? Kind of nasty...

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                IPA as a category can be fairly wide. I would say a sweeter ipa with a grapefruit/citrus hop profile would work well. I don't think all IPAs across the board are bad with spicy food.

                                1. re: MVNYC

                                  I tried DFH 60 and 90 with various Thai dishes and it was nasty. Like real noticeably. And I love those types of IPAs for the reasons you stated. While I can't categorically say IPA's don't pair well with all spicy food, those types of "cuisines", where you are ordering several dishes, I don't think are good fits.

                                  1. re: Silverjay

                                    And interestingly, Thai restaurants generally serve Singha, which is rather hoppy if I recall.

                                    It used to be stronger, too. I recall reading that they added cane sugar to the wort for that beer, perhaps not anymore with the reduced alcohol content. Of course, it often came in that large bottle, with elevated alcohol, with predictable results while one sipped it on an empty stomach while waiting for food to arrive.

                                    But I digress.

                                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                      You can definitely taste the hops but I don't know if I would use the word "hoppy" to describe it.

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        Well, I haven't had that beer in many years, so it could have been toned down, or perhaps it seems tamer in today's hoppier world.

                                    2. re: Silverjay

                                      Pairings are obviously personal and I don't think that everyone will agree but I do have Garrett Oliver backing me up


                                      1. re: MVNYC

                                        Haha, well there you go!....But on the topic of Brooklyn beers, Sorachi Ace goes real nice with Thai food. While the namesake hops are a feature of the beer, it's more of a saison than an IPA and I think that style is much more complimentary with Thai cuisine...Qi Thai Grill in W'burg, which is not as destination-worthy as any of the usual NYC darling Thai places often discussed, does have a pretty great bargain for pitchers of Sorachi Ace- $13 when you order a couple of dishes....and they had some deal for $10 pitchers as well. All better deals than you can get at the brewery three blocks away...

                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                          Sounds like a pretty good deal. Now that the weather is getting nicer I will need to plan a day out there. Have you been to Dirck the Norseman yet?

                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                            Not yet!...but I hear they are pouring the in-house stuff now. I need to check it out.

                                          2. re: Silverjay

                                            It's definitely a saison. Farmhouse ales can work really well with spicy foods, provided the phenols are restrained. That's usually the biggest issue I've run into with farmhouse ale pairings, especially from American producers who often seem to have trouble with phenols being too dominant (though this definitely doesn't apply to Sorachi Ace, which is a masterfully-made beer IMO).

                                    3. re: Silverjay

                                      Yeah, I think hoppy beers work better with semi-generic bar food -- fries, burgers, ribs. Blandish, salty & greasy kind of food.

                                        1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                          Hops are a spice right? Why would anyone wanna marry a heavily spiced beer w/ heavily spiced food like Indian? Redundant.

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            I was replying to the post above:

                                            "Yeah, I think hoppy beers work better with semi-generic bar food -- fries, burgers, ribs. Blandish, salty & greasy kind of food."

                                              1. re: chefj

                                                I think that is what this is saying. Of course, Chinon00's point is probably made regardless of whether it's an herb or spice.


                                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                  Agreed the point remains, just correcting a mistake.