When we think about the best drink as an accompaniment to curry we think beer. Of course wine is welcome at the table but curry is beers’ domain, and with good reason.
Beer complements and lifts flavours, cuts through richness and creaminess, adds depth, combats heat and cleanses the palate. But not all beers do all of those things, so whether you enjoy mild heat or things on the fiery side how do you know which is the right beer for your favourite curry? A good place to start is our beer and spiciness guide.
There are no hard and fast rules with pairing beer and curries – if you like a crisp Kingfisher with your rogan josh then that’s a good pairing (and it is a good pairing). But if you want to bring out the best in a curry the ‘Three Cs’ beer and food pairing principle (cut, complement and contrast) is a good rule of thumb to follow. You can read about what the Three C’s are here.
Take the simple, delicious and mild king prawn masala. Cooked in oil with garlic, ginger, onions, peppers, chopped tomatoes, garam masala spice and the all important prawns. Here a pale ale fits the bill with the sweetness from the malt complementing the natural sweetness in the dish. Pale ales often have a distinct citrus note which will work very well with prawns and the beers’ carbonation will cut through the texture of the curry and refresh the palate in between bites.
Let’s take the heat up a notch and focus on the medium hot lamb bhuna. It has deep, strong flavours, is well spiced with a thick sauce and often garnished with fried green peppers and shredded onions. That seems a lot for a beer to contend with but if you opt for a bitter you get sweetness that’ll dampen the heat and salt, and will also complement the vegetables and lift the flavour of the sauce.
Right, let’s stop messing about and turn the heat up to 10 (up to 11 would just be silly). Take a vindaloo (originally a Portuguese dish, food history geeks) which is basically a pumped-up Madras, i.e the same recipe but with loads more chilli. A wheat beer’s sweetness will contrast the chilli heat and let the sweeter flavours in the curry sing, while its carbonation will cleanse the palate leaving you ready for the next mouthful.
So whichever curry is your favourite and however spicy you like it, there’s a perfect beer to pair it with… and our beer match toolcan tell you which one.
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