Curry is often described as ‘Britain’s national dish’, contributing over £5 billion to the economy every year and celebrated with a National Curry Week in October. Curry goes hand-in-hand with Britain’s national drink, beer, but the variety within Indian cuisine means finding the right brew to match each curry is an art in itself.
Which beer goes with which curry?
Curry varies widely in terms of richness, spiciness and heaviness, as well as in ingredients used. A beer that goes well with a richly spiced chicken vindaloo could overpower a more delicate coconut curry. In general, lighter dishes should be paired with lighter beers, and heavier dishes with amber ales or porters.
Vindaloo or Rendang
You might instinctively reach for a lager to quench your thirst with a hot chicken vindaloo or red meat Rendang. In fact, these hot, spicy dishes are best complemented by a brown ale, Hefeweizen or porter. A Hefeweizen (German wheat beer) with a rich, smooth texture and a touch of clove plays well with the chilli heat and fragrant spices. Try the Festival German Weiss Wheat Beer (4.8% ABV). A porter like Festival Pride of London Porter (6.5%) is also a good match.
With chicken tandoori go for a full-bodied, strong cream stout with a bittersweet taste, such as St Peters Cream Stout (5%). This combination of flavours picks up the smokiness of tandoori meat beautifully.
Jalfrezi or Biryani
Hoppy lagers and IPAs are ideal matches for these flavourful dishes. The Better Brew Czech Pilsner (4.8%) or Mangrove Jack’s Pink Grapefruit IPA (5.7%) both combine sweetness and spicy, tangy hops. These beers are refreshing, while also complementing the onion that dominates the jalfrezi and biryani.
Believed by many to be a British invention, the chicken tikka masala is often argued to be the nation’s most popular dish. A strong IPA can hold its own against the rich, creamy sauce and the chilli, ginger, cumin, turmeric and garam masala. Choose one with a malt body and floral hop flavour, like Muntons American Style IPA (5.5%), to echo the masala’s blend of spices.
Curry goat is a staple of both Caribbean and Asian cuisine, and although in the past goat has been an unpopular meat in the UK it’s increasing in popularity. The strong flavour of goat and the spices which accompany it call for a sweet, smooth wheat beer such as the Muntons Connoisseur’s Wheat Beer (4.5%).
Fish curries are characteristic of South India, particularly the island of Goa. They often use lighter flavours like coconut, so as not to overwhelm the fish. A great (and perhaps surprising) drink choice is cider. Muntons Premium Gold Autumn Blush Cider (5.0%) is a perfect choice to avoid overpowering a delicate fish dish.
Thai Green Curry
Light lagers and blonde ales are needed for a creamy coconut curry like the traditional Thai green curry. A zesty, light beer such as Festival Summer Glory Golden Ale (5%) picks up the aromatic, citrusy spices, while the American New World Belgian Saison Beer (6.3%) adds the tang of the Saison yeast for an extra kick.
Japanese katsu curry is a breaded piece of pork or chicken in a thick, salty and sweet sauce. It is therefore a perfect match for an American IPA, which similarly balance contrasting flavours. With American India Pale Ale Beer (6.5%), the tangy hops are offset by the sweetness of the malt.