Beer & Spice: Naughty or Nice?
Your guide to spicy food and beer pairings.
Me, my father, his father and his father’s father have all been taught that there’s nothing better than a cold beer with a spicy meal or curry. Who am I to argue with generational wisdom? Not I! Science however...
Let me start by saying, despite the science, it truly depends on what you want you’re trying to achieve. Are you chasing a nice cold beer to soothe the burn, something to compliment the spices or a drink that’ll dial the heat up a notch? Read on to learn more.
The Science in question is from a small Sam Adams study in 2016 where participants ate spicy wings followed by a variety of IPA’s and observed the results. This study found that very high strength IPA’s (8.4%) resulted in increased heat, high strength IPA’s (6.5%) seemed to decrease the heat, while your average IPA (4.5%) resulted in the heat lingering in the mouth.
Other observations from this study and elsewhere note the effect of carbonation, hops and malt in the beers drunk. If a beer is high in hops or hoppy flavour it will increase the spice and heat in food consumed; the same goes for highly carbonated beers. Interestingly enough, beer high in malt and amber beers/lagers have the opposite effect; balancing the spice and taming the heat. It’s no wonder then that curry with lager in Europe and amber cerveza’s with Jalapeno dishes in Mexico are cultural combo staples.
The next time you order a spicy meal or bags of our Jalapeno and Habanero jerky it begs the question; do you want to feel the heat or simmer the spices? Either way, now you know which beer to match.
Brisbane based jerky lover, marketer and fan of almost all sports.