Amber Ale

The Beer Lover’s Table: Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry and Wiper & True Amber Citra & Rye

I clearly remember the first time I tried Wiper and True’s Amber Ale. It was at Darjeeling Express in Soho – then a newly opened restaurant getting good buzz, now an upcoming star of Netflix’s Chef Table series – and it was served alongside a selection of some of the best curries I’ve ever eaten.

To give credit where it’s due, fellow HB&B columnist Matt Curtis was the one who ordered the beer. At the time, I didn’t particularly gravitate towards amber ales. But after having a sip, I was struck by how adeptly this one worked with the heavily spiced, boldly flavoured dishes that we ate that afternoon.

The notion that IPAs and other hop-centric beers should be served with spicy dishes is a strangely enduring piece of pairing advice. Unless you want a mouth full of flames, you’re actually much better off going with something cooling and malt-driven, something with enough sweetness to counteract the heat. This beer, for instance, which the brewery describes as “a full-bodied and sweet amber ale finished off with spicy, peppery rye malts”. It tastes irresistibly like caramel and is rich in the mouth, almost tongue-coating. This iteration is also hopped exclusively with Citra, which adds the subtlest, anchoring bitterness, as well as a light fruitiness.

With that Darjeeling Express meal in mind, I decided to pair Wiper and True’s Amber with a chickpea and sweet potato curry. Hearty, complex and perfumed with autumnal spices like cardamom and cinnamon, this dish is made for crisp nights. Serve it alongside rice or a flatbread of your choosing (I went with flaky parathas) and top with a few verdant sprigs of coriander.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry
Inspired by Serious Eats
Serves 4

For the spice mix
½ tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the curry
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bird’s-eye chilli, roughly chopped
1 lemon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 small sweet potatoes (approximately 370g)
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
Fine sea salt

To serve
Basmati rice or flatbread
Fresh coriander

1. First, make the spice mix. Add all the ingredients to a ramekin or small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

2. To a food processor, add the ginger, garlic, chilli, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Process until finely minced, or the mixture begins to form a paste. You can also do this using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

3. To a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the onions and stir to coat. Add a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low – you don’t want the onions to scorch – and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and beginning to caramelise.

4. While the onions are cooking, peel the sweet potatoes and dice into roughly ½-inch cubes. Set aside.

5. When the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, turn the heat to high and add the ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for approximately 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the spice mix and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly. Then, add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, the sweet potatoes, and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to evenly combine. Top with the water and stir to mix.

6. When the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are just fork-tender. Remove the lid and turn the heat to high. Cook for roughly five more minutes, stirring frequently, until any excess liquid has evaporated and the curry has thickened. Season to taste and squeeze over the remaining lemon half.

7. To serve, divide between plates and garnish with coriander. Serve alongside rice or flatbread.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Matthew Curtis's Unsung Heroes - #1: Fourpure Amber Ale

It’s easy to get cut adrift in a constantly ebbing and flowing sea of ever changing pale ales and IPA. To make things even more confusing, a fashionable newcomer, session IPA, has been added to the mix.

Bermondsey’s Fourpure are no different - not content with already knocking out a stunningly juicy pale as well as a rich, well-defined IPA, they also produce a zingy, bitter and low in alcohol session IPA. Shame on them for giving us such a wonderful choice in hop forward beers.

The other problem I have with Fourpure’s range of pale ales and IPA, apart from them being so very delicious, is that they have a tendency to overshadow one of my favourite beers being produced in London right now. Amber ale is a style that doesn’t get enough attention and Fourpure’s Amber is no different. Sure it might not be as exciting as the latest triple IPA or yuzu and lime Berliner Weisse but it’s solid, dependable and tasty.

With its gentle, bready malt character and light snap of Willamette hops, Fourpure Amber is barely trying to get your attention. It’s inspired by New Belgium’s ubiquitous Fat Tire, the Colorado amber ale that helped teach a nation how to love Craft Beer.

If you ask a Colorado native about Fat Tire they’ll likely turn their nose up at you before sinking back into a pint of IPA. But find them a few hours later at the end of a heavy session and you can guarantee they’ll be sipping Fat Tire until it’s time to go home. Fourpure Amber has a similar quality, it’s a beer for any time that requires little thought to enjoy and always manages to satisfy.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis.