7 Beers That Pair Perfectly With Indian Dishes


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Ah, beer and curry, a classic pairing introduced to the British by the East India Company in the early 1700s. The best beer for Indian food has become a tough choice between lagers and the new style of Indian pale ale (IPA).

By the early 1800s, a growing community became fans of drinking cold, refreshing, bitter beer with spicy local food, a preference that they passed on to future generations who were sold on the combination of beer and curry.

While you could experiment with pairing various styles of Western beer with curry and other Indian dishes, I recommend you try Asian or Asian-style beers explicitly brewed to complement spicy food.

Best Beers For Indian Food

Crisp, complex and slightly bitter, the best beers for Indian food pair well with everything from a mild chicken tikka masala to an extra hot lamb vindaloo. Here are 7 to consider.

1. Cobra Premium Beer

Cobra Premium Beer
Credit: Cobra

Overview

  • Brewery: Cobra
  • ABV: 4.5% (9 Proof)
  • Country: India
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Lord Karan Bilimoria founded a brewery in Bangalore in 1989 to create a smooth, premium, low-gas lager specifically to complement the spiced flavours of Indian food.

Cobra Beer is a pale lager brewed in India and England from a complex Indian recipe involving barley malt, yeast, rice, maise, and some hops for bitterness. The brewery uses a controlled brewing technique to ensure lower carbonation for an ultra-smooth taste.

Taste Notes

The taste is balanced, with slightly sweet grassy and grain notes accompanied by bright malt, a hint of lemon, and mild hoppiness. The mouthfeel is light and carbonation moderate, and the finish is dry and reminds me of some Italian beers I reviewed.

Dishes To Pair With

Complex yet well balanced between smooth and bitter, Cobra Premium Beer pairs incredibly well with a mild korma, mid-range spiced Indian dishes such as the tikka, rogan josh, and bhuna, up to a tongue-burning phaal.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Kingfisher Lager

Kingfisher Lager
Credit: Kingfisher

Overview

  • Brewery: Kingfisher
  • ABV: 4.8% (9.6 Proof)
  • Country: India
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Kingfisher is the flagship product of United Breweries. This brewing conglomerate began in 1915 when Thomas Leishman brought together five breweries in Bangalore.

In the 1960s, they introduced Kingfisher to the domestic market, and it has grown to be India’s favourite beer and is available in 69 countries worldwide.

Kingfisher Premium is an American-style lager (a variant of pilsner) brewed from malted barley, with the addition of rice or maise and sugar using bottom-fermenting yeast, and bittered with premium varieties of hops.

Taste Notes

This beer display low bitterness, opening with hints of citrus, leading to prominent grain notes and honeyed corn sweetness, with slight skunking. It is medium-bodied and refreshing, with a smooth grassy hop finish.

Dishes To Pair With

Kingfisher Lager is the chameleon of food pairing. It works incredibly well with a coconut-rich korma, tandoori chicken, chickpea curry, and all the way to the most eye-watering phaal curry.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Jaipur India Pale Ale

Jaipur India Pale Ale
Credit: Jaipur

Overview

  • Brewery: Thornbridge
  • ABV: 5.9% (11.8 Proof)
  • Country: India
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

In 2005, Jim Harrison and Simon Webster set up a brewery at Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire. Jaipur IPA has won numerous awards and is widely recognised as the UK’s first craft IPA. High demand led to Thornbridge opening a second brewery in nearby Bakewell.

Jaipur is an American-style Indian Pale Ale (IPA) with an unusually high ABV. It is brewed from low-colour Norfolk Marris Otter barley malt and six varieties of American hops for added bitterness.

Taste Notes

Jaipur IPA opens with floral lemongrass and elderflower notes, leading to a blast of zesty grapefruit and tropical fruit hoppy bitterness, with light malt keeping it balanced. It has a rich mouthfeel, with good carbonation and a long aftertaste.

Dishes To Pair With

Jaipur India Pale Ale is best paired with spicier dishes such as one of my faves, Kolhapuri chicken with extra chillis. Also, consider a Belgian craft beer as they are similar.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Singha Thai Beer

Singha Thai Beer
Credit: Singha

Overview

  • Brewery: Singha
  • ABV: 5% (10 Proof)
  • Country: Thailand
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Praya Bhirom Bhakdi was introduced to beer in 1929 by a German acquaintance and, in 1933, received a government license. He built his first brewery that year in Bangkok, and by 1967, Singha became the number one beer domestically.

This is a flavoursome pale lager brewed from premium barley malt and bittered with Saaz, Hallertau, and Perle hops to produce a distinctly Thai take on German-style beer.

Taste Notes

Singha opens with lemon notes, leading to bready and floral flavours with herbal, peppery hop bitterness in the tail. It has good carbonation and a medium body, with a crisp, refreshing finish.

Dishes To Pair With

Due to its hop bitterness on the finish, I prefer to pair Singha Thai Beer with milder India dishes such as a chicken Korma or prawn Tikka Masala.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. Tiger Asian Lager

Tiger Asian Lager
Credit: Tiger

Overview

  • Brewery: Tiger
  • ABV: 5% (10 Proof)
  • Country: Singapore
  • Colour: Pale gold

Review

In 1930, Singaporean soft drink manufacturer Fraser & Neave joined Heineken to create Malayan Breweries. In October 1932, they released the first batch of Tiger Beer, which quickly became a local favourite and is now brewed in seven countries across Asia.

Tiger is an award-winning European-style pale lager brewed from barley malt with added sugar, rice adjunct, and a touch of Zeus hops for bitterness. It undergoes a “tropical lagering” process. Does remind me of some Italian beers.

Taste Notes

Tiger opens with tropical fruit notes and has a crisp, refreshing, sweet malty character with slight citrus hop bitterness. It has a generous mouthfeel, a silky texture, and a clean finish.

Dishes To Pair With

Due to its silky nature, Tiger Asian Lager is best paired with aromatic curried fish dishes, coconut-rich sauces, and chilli king prawns.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Bangla Beer

Bangla Beer
Credit: Bangla

Overview

  • Brewery: Hepworth & Co.
  • ABV: 5.2% (10.4 Proof)
  • Country: Bangladesh
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Bangla beer was created in Bangladesh specifically to complement Bangladeshi and Indian cuisine and is brewed in Manchester by Hepworth & Company. It has won some gold awards for its quality.

Bangla is a European pale lager brewed from barley malt and bittered with hops for a full-flavoured, smooth beer that complements spicy food. Also, consider checking out my review on Mexican beers.

Taste Notes

Bangla opens with a slight fruitiness, leading to smooth and flavoursome rich malt with a distinct tangy and grassy hop bitterness that is well-balanced. It has a thick yet crisp mouthfeel and is close to a golden ale. Bangla is a refreshing beer with good carbonation and a long finish with lingering hops.

Dishes To Pair With

With its good carbonation and rich malt tones, Bangla Beer pairs well with particularly spicy dishes such as the vindaloo, phaal, or laal maas.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Marston Old Empire

Marston Old Empire
Credit: Marston’s

Overview

  • Brewery: Marston’s
  • ABV: 5.7% (11.4 Proof)
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Colour: Pale Gold

Review

Marston’s brewery was founded in 1834 in Burton-Upon-Trent, Staffordshire, by brewers drawn to the unique flavour potential of local spring water filtered through gypsum rock. In 1898 the brewery moved a short distance to the Albion brewery, where brewers make various different styles of beer, including this India Pale Ale.

Old Empire is an English IPA brewed from barley malt and bittered with Fuggles, Goldings, and American Cascade hops to recreate the style of beer exported to India during the Raj. I find it similar to some of the Trappist Beers I recently reviewed in Bruges.

Taste Notes

Marston’s Old Empire opens with peppery citrus hops, leading to caramel and toffee malt, like a cross between IPA and amber ale. It has a medium body with good carbonation and a dry finish.

Dishes To Pair With

This well-balanced Indian Pale Ale pairs well with gently seasoned Tandoori chicken or lamb dishes.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

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Andrew’s Top Pick

best beer for Indian food

Cobra Premium Beer

My top pick is the workhorse of beer & Indian food pairings, Cobra Premium Beer, because it works well with so many dishes.

A well-balanced combination of slightly sweet grassy and grain notes accompanied by bright malt, a hint of lemon, and mild hoppiness. Nicely carbonated too.

Beer & India Food Q&A

Beer & India Food Q&A

What Type Of Beers Go With Indian Food?

The type of beer to drink with Indian food depends to some degree on what kind of Indian food we are talking about: not all of it is face-melting in spiciness.

Mild, creamy chicken korma goes best with a light, mild beer. However, if you are eating hotter food, your best options are bitter beers with some residual sweetness, which is why lagers and India pale ales work so well.

Why Does Beer Go Well With Curry?

The clean crispness of beer lets the complex flavours of curry shine through, while the hoppy bitterness of beer stands up to the heat of curry and draws out subtle nuances in each.

Sourness in curry that can kill a wine meld with the sour notes in beer to complement each other, and residual sweetness in beer tempers spiciness, producing a beautiful balance.

What Is The Most Popular Beer In India?

The most popular beer in India is Bangalore-based United Breweries’ Kingfisher, which comes in several variants, including premium and strong. Together, the various forms of Kingfisher account for around 36% of the Indian beer market.

Conclusion

chicken korma dish

Whether brewed in England or Asia, these distinctive lagers and Indian pale ales, shaped by the climate of Asia, make a perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian food.

You may experience difficulty tracking some of them down in your local curry house, but who knows what beer you may when travelling? Try the ones you can find with your favourite curry and experience how pleasing the combination is.

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Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, cocktail recipes and more.

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