Home > Beer Talk, Beers > Lager and Curry – Taj Mahal Premium and Kingfisher Premium

Lager and Curry – Taj Mahal Premium and Kingfisher Premium

There’s a great British drinking tradition that seems to have grown up in recent years. It is connected with imports – lager (not a British traditional drink of yore) and curry (which in England generally means spicy dishes from the Indian subcontinent). The history of these two elements comes together with the nouvelle tradition that is the “boys’ night out”, which revolves around binge drinking and a late night meal (and all too often, relieving themselves in a shop doorway).

When I was a youngster, back in the days when hairy elephants roamed the earth, an evening’s drinking involved going to the pub around 7 o’clock until closing time (11pm), sinking a number of pints of bitter before hying to the nearest fish-and-chip shop for six-penn’orth of chips and a Pukka pie. The beer was typically 3.8% – 4% ABV, the meal about 25% fat.

Taj Mahal Premium Lager

Taj Mahal Premium Lager


This was soon to change; with the advent of the stronger lagers, those who were determined to consume more booze could do so. At the same time, the number of “Indian restaurants” was growing, with business-savvy hardworking immigrants spreading around the country. The scene was set for the lager louts, with their alcoholic pertinaciousness, to consume a more exotic diet of European (and later, American) lagers and evermore spicy curries.

Now I don’t want to give the idea that every British male spends every night filling themselves to bursting point on this explosive mixture before throwing on the way home, nor that this is limited to the female of the species. This is, however a trend that seems to be growing, to the point where the Government is getting concerned; about the binge drinking, not about the curry consumption.

An American tale of curry-and-lager

Recently, we learned about a local curry house in Dixon, about 12 miles away from us. Excited about the prospect of my first good curry in several months, off we trotted to the Punjabi Dhaba restaurant where we decided to sit down a a traditional meal of chicken tikka masala, jalfrezi, naan and bhajis. Washed down, of course, with a traditional Indian lager. Well, two – I opted to go for a small sampling. Not a binge, oh no.

Taj Mahal Premium

I started with a Taj Mahal out of the United Breweries (India) stable. I’m afraid I have little to say about this, other than it’s an American-style adjunct lager. It’s a light colour, with a good white head.

There’s little nose beyond a hint of grain and very little hop. It drinks like any other lager, with a fairly thin body, a light maltiness and the faintest tang of hop and grassiness. I did find it a little sour rather than sweet, which detracted from the overall enjoyment for me.

It’s quite effervescent, not at all sweet, and in keeping with the style, relatively devoid of character. Simple is what it is, and refreshing, and despite the protestations of many curry-and-lager fans, it’s not what I’d choose with a spicy meal. C-minus, and a detention.

Kingfisher Premium

Kingfisher Premium Lager

Kingfisher Premium Lager

The next pick was Kingfisher Premium, another lager from United. This poured with a skinny-looking head that sadly didn’t last long enough for a decent picture, and a tad darker than its cousin. A little maltier in the nose, with some sweetness apparent, it was more appealing and appetising.

There was a little more body than the Taj Mahal, it was sweeter and more flavoursome, the hops seemed a little more forward and it lacked the musty, faintly skunky flavour. Overall it was decidedly more pleasant, with a better balance of taste, a mix of sweetness and a touch of bitter at the finish. It did better than the last, with a C+ rating.

Overall, neither beer really satisfied me. My guess is that anyone who is having a spicy meal won’t notice that the beer is mediocre, because what they want is light refreshment to cool the mouth. For my part, I’d take a pale ale any day, to balance the strong flavours in a curry, and a little more hop would certainly not go amiss with all those spices vying for attention on the palate.

Oh, and I can hear your comments now. Complain all you like that I didn’t get legless and then go for the curry – I have too much respect for beer, food and my constitution to go through all that.

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Categories: Beer Talk, Beers Tags: , ,
  1. Matt
    6 October, 2009 at 01:26

    How was the curry?

  2. 6 October, 2009 at 07:12

    Ah, bless you, Matt! I was so involved with the beer stuff that I quite forgot about the food! The grub was actually quite excellent, rich and fragrant – this is actually the best curry I’ve had since I came to California, so well done, Punjabi Dhaba!

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