Saturday, 4 December 2010

Which beer goes best with Curry?

Next time you’re settling down to a takeaway or tucking yourself in at your local Indian you might want to consider which beer to order.

Now let’s be clear, I know many people like a powerful IPA or fine Wheat Beer with their curry, and I certainly wouldn't disagree with you, both have their merits, but the below is my attempt to review all the readily available "curry beers" to find out which one comes out on top.

Kingfisher - An old stalwart of the local restaurant, and also a favourite in India and Bangalore where it hails from. But the one you drink in your local will have been brewed in Kent by Shepherd Neame
Cobra - The beautiful ornate labelling would bring many to think this is an Indian beer, think again, it was invented by an UK based accountant. It was initially imported from Bangalore before being brewed by Wells & Young's in Bedford, and now Molson Coors in somewhere in the EU, supposedly Poland.
Mongoose - A new player to the market, its brewed by Wells & Young's using the old Cobra recipe from before they sold it to Molson Coors, relaunched with a new cheeky Cobra eating name.
Bangla - Another relatively new face inspired by the richness of Bangladesh, it’s brewed and bottled in the UK.

So the tasting, we had a range of curries, Dhansak, Jalfrezi, Korma, Tikka Massala. The beers were drunk simultaneously and with myself pouring out of sight to keep the tasting as blind as possible.

The Results
Kingfisher - Crisp, light, clean taste. Light gold beer. Dry finish with hints of toast but sadly very limited, almost unnoticeable hopping. Like a refreshingly blank canvas allowing the curry to dominate the flavour.
Cobra - Crisp taste, slightly maltier, light sweetness. Big bold dryness in the finish, very fresh, slight hints of fruit but again unnoticeably hopped. Slightly more malty and stronger taste allows it to work with the curry but still overpowered quite easily.
Bangla - Big fruity sweet malty, instantly very different to the competitors. A lovely tangy fruit middle, signs of a yeast characteristic, more sweetness. A very disappointing finish, little in the way of dryness or hop bittering. A dominant sweet and fruity, packs plenty of flavour to compete with the strongest of curries.
Mongoose - Fresh, crisp, slight sweetness, noticeable malt. Hints of fruit, maybe melon, dryness and slight hopping in the finish. Of a similar vain to the Cobra but more depth, a lovely balance that rides alongside the flavours of the curries.

The Winner?
Well if I had to drink one on its own without out the curry it would be Bangla, its the least like commercial lager, it has big malty fruit sweetness and you can taste some of the yeast characteristics. This full malty flavour goes beautifully with the curry, matching its strong flavours. Sadly the finish is a bit thin, and its sweetness might clash with a sweet fruity curry like a Dhansak or a Ceylon.
Mongoose takes the runner up prize, it’s a good all-rounder with a decent malty depth and finish. The Cobra isn't vastly different to the Mongoose but slightly thinner tasting. As for Kingfisher, some may love this, but to me it’s very thin commercial lager. But I do accept it could be considered crisp and refreshing by some.

Gold - Bangla
Silver - Mongoose
Bronze - Cobra


  1. My own favourite beer is a low hop Wheat Beer. Hops are bitter. With a curry I want to avoid bitterness in the accompanying beer.

    Also I would search out those beers with natural gas though second fermentation and not as with most lagers - through artificial injection of carbon dioxide.

  2. Love your blog guys... I thought I knew my beers before, but they're almost all new for me... Seems like there's work to be done! :D
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  3. You can buy Bangla from or /twiiter is @bangla beer /restaurant stockists facebook is officialbanglabeer

  4. My experience is that Kingfisher works best with Bradford curries, though it is not to my taste either. I was pleasantly surprised by Cobra myself recently, but that was with a spicy pizza rather than a strong curry.

    I think I'm with you, a good IPA seems to go nicely with curries or spicy and strong flavoured dishes. That having been said, I had an imported Vietnamese effort with some Thai food that worked pretty well so there may be something in that...

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  6. I guess if you are looking north Bedfordshire area curry, this one will be the perfect match medium curry, suitable for all curry eaters!)

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