A new beer available in Birmingham has an interesting twist, inspired by an award-winning Indian chef and entrepreneur who collaborated on it with Monday Night Brewing.
Chef Series: Meherwan Irani is a lager (4.5 percent alcohol) made with rice and wheat along with the standard barley, akin to beers like India’s Kingfisher. The twist: this brew is flavored with turmeric, the vibrantly yellow-orange rhizome that is commonly used in Indian, Pakistani, and Nepali cooking.
The special is available in cans now at Monday Night’s five taprooms, including its Birmingham location near Railroad Park and Regions Field.
Proceeds benefit The Giving Kitchen, a non-profit that provides emergency help to food-service workers in Atlanta, where the brewery is based. But that’s not the main point here. Where else in Birmingham, where brewers love to push the envelope, will you find one spiked with turmeric?
“The turmeric adds a fun je ne sais quoi quality,” Peter Kiley, Monday Night’s brewmaster, says in a news release. “The combination of wheat, rice, and pilsner malt help to create a beautiful canvas to allow the turmeric to showcase its floral, citrus, and earthy bitter qualities.”
The idea behind Monday Night’s Chef Series is to showcase, and somehow reflect, top chefs with one-of-a-kind creations. The first beer in the series riffed on a popular dessert at an Atlanta restaurant.
Designing the second in the series presented unique challenges.
“I couldn’t imagine a liquid that could even come close to competing with the flavor profile of any authentic Indian dish,” Kiley says in the release. “So, I decided to create this beer around Meherwan’s unique story, a biography in a beer, so to speak.”
A native of India, Meherwan Irani founded Chai Pani Restaurant Group, which has restaurants in Atlanta and the North Carolina cities Charlotte and Asheville. A multiple nominee for a prestigious James Beard culinary award, Irani also owns the small-batch spice shop, Spicewalla.
Indian foodways provided the initial spark for Kiley’s recipe. Wheat is the predominant grain in the northern part of the subcontinent, while rice rules in the southern half. Turmeric, commonly used by cooks throughout India, ties the regions together.
Irani says he is touched by the tribute, and pleased that it supports a good cause. “Beer that tastes good and does good, what could be better?” he says in the release.
Could the future of the Chef Series include a metro Birmingham collab? It’s easy to envision an Oyster Stout with Beard Award-winning chef Adam Evans of Automatic Seafood and Oysters, maybe a Smoked Porter with a homegrown barbecue pit king like Sam Nakos, second-generation owner of Demetri’s in Homewood.
Or here’s a challenge: a fermented homage to Birmingham’s Greek hot dog tradition, like the special dogs with sauerkraut, beef chili, mustard, onion, and sauce at 76-year-old Gus’s Hot Dogs downtown.
Just a few thoughts.