Beer Pairings for a Casual Buffet
Uma Anandakrishnan didn't serve alcohol at her party, but for those who imbibe, the strong seasonings of traditional Indian cooking call for an aggressively hopped beer such as, appropriately, an India pale ale. (Incidentally, that style is named because it was brewed for export to India, not in India.) IPA is one of the most common styles of American microbrews.
The complex, floral Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale from Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Ashburn will also stand up to Indian cuisine, as will the drier, sharper Tuppers' Hop Pocket Pils.
German Hefeweizen (unfiltered wheat beer), with its clove notes and bubble gum fruitiness, also pairs well with many sweet-and-hot Asian dishes. (Try Schneider Weisse or Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier.)
Another alternative is an American spiced ale. Half-e-Weizen, from Rogue Ales in Newport, Ore., is a Belgian-American hybrid flavored with coriander and ginger. The 2006 edition of Our Special Ale, a Christmas offering from the Anchor Brewing Co. in San Francisco, combines the ruby color and creamy head of a stout with a bouquet of nutmeg, clove and maybe a little cinnamon or ginger. (The brewery keeps the recipe a well-guarded secret.)
India produces several respectable lagers, including Golden Eagle, Taj Mahal and Kingfisher (the latter brewed under license in upstate New York). Those will quench your thirst but add little else to your meal.
-- Greg Kitsock