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Brew Blog: Indian Food and Real Ale Brewing Co.'s Phoenixx Double ESB

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This week on Brew Blog: a suggested beer pairing.

We stumbled on this one last week after cooking up an Indian feast at home (dal, Bombay potatoes, veggies, naan). Thinking of the ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander and mustard seed madness to come, we wagered a bet on a beer we hadn't tried before (being new to the region).

We pulled out Real Ale Brewing Co.'s Phoenixx Double ESB, the Blanco, Texas, brewery's winter seasonal. (ESB, for newbies, means Extra Special Bitter, a label with roots in Britain.) An inspired choice, if we do say so ourselves.

The beer and the foods were both rich and bitter, but each complemented the other in engaging ways. Without any chutney or sweet sauces on the table, what malt there was in the beer really came through in a complex, mellow way. (It should be noted we tried it several more times solo and found it remained a very balanced, very good, brew).

At times the intensity of the beer also served to heighten the spices in the mouth, as if a chemical reaction was underway. We're not sure which spice was triggered by those sips, but that twist added to the enjoyment. As good as the flavor combination was, the textures worked just as well together.

When the pasty texture of the dal and the potatoes got a bit too cumbersome, a hit of carbonation from the beer cleared the palette nicely. We'd also forgot to pick up yogurt for the meal, so the cool temperature of the beer stepped in to fill that role, too.

If you're in the mood for an intensely flavored meal, this is certainly a beer we'd recommend to go with it. But as noted, including a sweet chutney on the table could throw the balance off a bit. Any other pairing suggestions out there?

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