English beer never used to travel well, especially on the long journey to India in the 17th century. The men of the East India Company were getting restless. And very drunk on arrack, the local moonshine. Then along came George Hodgson, who started exporting specially created Indian Pale Ale (IPA) from his Bow Brewery. The traders liked him because he gave them 18 months credit and unlike the dark Porter beer that was popular in England at the time, his IPA didn’t suffer from journey round the tip of Africa; in fact the rolling motion of the ships actually improved it. The men were no longer restless and could get on with making money and eating curry now they had a decent beer to wash it down.
Such is the entertaining tale of beer expert and author Peter Haydon, who is one of the presenters at the National Maritime Museum’s Curry and a Pint evenings (next one is 25 Nov, then 2 Dec at £25, Bookings).
Haydon is a consultant to the Meantime Brewery and visitors get to taste the local brewery’s IPA as they enjoy a biryani in the Mogul restaurant in Greenwich town centre at the end of the event.
The super knowledgable historian Rozina Visram starts the evenings by giving a run down on the nation’s favourite dish in the museum. You might be able to get curry powder down the Co-op these days but way back when, Visram explains, this was the preserve of chemists, who promoted its mixtures as cures for all sorts of ailments, each one claiming its own blend was the best. Which, of course, makes perfect sense to anyone who’s chewed on a clove to help a toothache or gargled turmeric to help with a cough.
The evenings are part of a series of events to celebrate the opening of the new Traders gallery at the museum.