Beer and a curry. A classic British combo nowadays, arguably more so than fish ‘n chips or a nice cuppa tea and a sit down. As a nation we’ve embraced spice, so much so that we’re never too far from a good curry house, but however good the food is the beer is, nine times out of ten, not quite up to muster; heavily chilled, bland, mass produced, over-priced lager that only seems to take the heat from your mouth because it’s so cold it just numbs your senses (and therefore diminishes any flavour you were getting from your food). Id love to be able to rave about the cuisine in a restaurant and have some decent beer to recommend whilst I’m at it and it seems that I’m not the only one as Modha Ales are working to make that happen.Brewed in small batches, True Maharaja: Cardamom Beer is designed with spice in mind, this beer is finding its way into restaurants as the perfect accompaniment to your curry.
It pours a vibrant, clear amber with an excitable, fizzing, near- white head. The cardamom dominates the aroma and it’s an inviting smell without being overwhelming. A second whiff reveals a lemony citrus note in there too.
To taste, this beer is very refreshing indeed, that cardamom is clearly identifiable but it’s so well balanced that it never throws its weight around, instead it plays nicely with lemon citrus notes and a good level of bitterness that develops in the finish and marks this out to be, at heart, a really decent traditional British pale ale; just the ticket. It’s a pleasing beer – and that’s without the pairing with food – it’s sessionable; my palate never got tired of that Queen of Spices, cardamom. It stands alone well. With a curry however, it really comes into its own.
The curry spices (I whipped up a Tikka Masala) seemed to bring out an extra level of complexity in the beer and I found a gentle ginger hint came through. The lemon note was also boosted. As for the cardamom, that enhanced the flavour of my dish, bringing out a touch of sweetness in the sauce and generally complimenting the flavours and whilst served cool, rather than chilled, I found my palate being refreshed without being numbed. The finish in the beer was more floral with a herbal bitterness.
I was impressed and I decided to ask Bhavesh, creator of the beer, a few questions:
-How long have Modha Ales been producing beer?
This will be our first year for producing beer, but we have been working on developing this new craft beer concept with our Yorkshire contract brewery for 18 months prior to producing.
-Is True Mahraja available in cask or keg as well as bottles?
True Maharaja is presently available in bottles, we will look at cask and kegs as we progress forward.
-Do you have plans to expand the range?
We are currently developing and plan to expand the range and implement more Asian spices for our True Maharaja Brand and increase our product range in the coming year.
–What’s your ideal food match for the beer?
I have had the pleasure to match True Maharaja with a variety of Asian cuisine favourites, from stir fry’s to curries and for me personally I enjoy True Maharaja with a spicy curry, I feel the subtle taste and aroma of the cardamom complements the spicy dishes, True Maharaja when served cool creates a refreshing moment with a curry. In my opinion; aromatic food cooked with a array of spices seem to partner True Maharaja beer really well.
I also put the idea to Bhavesh of pairing True Maharaja with a sweet dish such as an apple pie or crumble
“…before True Maharaja was launched I took it upon myself to pair the beer with a variety of all three courses (a difficult task, with no complaints from me).
I paired the beer with appetisers; from the usual poppadoms to samosa’s, main courses from biryani’s to vindaloo and many deserts from Indian sweets to pies and crumbles.
Overall conclusion; aromatic food cooked with a array of spices seem to partner True Maharaja beer really well.
True Maharaja with an apple crumble was remarkable, it works very well with similar deserts but it all comes down to individual preference.”
Traditional at heart but with a contemporary twist, craft but not too abstract, this beer has the potential to appeal to a wide audience; trad real ale fans, craft enthusiasts, generic lager drinkers and curious foodies alike.
I hope this beer makes it into an Indian restaurant near me soon (or any restaurant for that matter), I’ve a hankering for a biryani and there’s only one beer I want to wash it down with.
You can check them out here: www.modha-ales.co.uk
(this beer was free to me, however I didn’t let that affect my view of it)