India Pale Ale differs from regular pale ales (which are golden coloured and mid-bodied beers) in that it tastes stronger and hoppier. North American India Pale Ale tends to be even stronger than the original British versions and has more of a citrus flavour.
India Pale Ales were originally brewed in England, and sold to the British Colonists in India, along with the British soldiers in the 1800’s. The reason was that the hops used in beer help preserve it, which was vital as it was a long haul from England to India.
IPA & Indian Cuisine
The Brits also found that fragrant and bitter hops found in the beer went fantastic with the herbal and spicy Indian cuisine. For myself, I love an IPA with Butter Chicken, Samosas and Tandoori Chicken.
The hops in an IPA impart floral, grassy and herbal aromas which pair well with the Indian herbs and spices that the Indians were known to cook with. Meanwhile, the carbonation in the beer cuts through the yogurt or cream bases used in a lot of Indian cooking. To this day, IPA remains fantastic with Indian cuisine. While the British no longer seem to be brewing this version of Ale, it remains quite popular in North America.
IPA and Spicy Food
India Pale Ales also go fantastic with Cajun cuisine, where the lifting power of the carbonation can cut through the dominant flavours of these spices. Anything spicy, like Tex Mex Cuisine, Ethiopian dishes, or Chilli is going to go well with this beer as the carbonation will cut right through those spices, while the hoppiness will complement the flavours found in those spices.
India Pale Ale and Pub Food
IPA Beer’s are great with standard pup fare like battered and deep fried calamari, chicken wings, fish and chips, poutine, loaded hamburgers, or nacho chips with guacamole, sour cream and salsa. The hops cut right through the grease making each bite taste fresh.
Notable Producers of IPA
Notable Producers of India Pale Ale are Alexander Keiths out of Nova Scotia, Flying Monkeys & Mill Street Brewery from Ontario, Full Sale Brewing Company in Oregon, Anderson Valley Brewing from California, Russian River Brewing from Sonoma County, Bridgeport Brewing Company from Portland, and Redhook Ale Brewery in Seattle. We at What To Pair also encourage you to check out and support local craft brewers and try their premium beers out. For example, if you visit Ontario Craft Brewers, you will find a list of breweries near you if you live in Ontario. If you are interested in becoming more knowledgeable about beer, be sure to follow our blog, and follow local beer blogs and forums that exist in your city/province/state or country.
India Pale Ale is a fantastic beer overall, which is full of character and flavour and quite versatile with food. Each producer seems to produce something different, which makes food and beer pairing even more complex and exciting, but you’ll also find that this style of beer will pair up nicely with a wide range of foods.