A Master Of Gastronomy Chose The Best Beers To Pair With 12 Classic Sandwiches

Beer. Sandwiches. Need I say more? Well, I will, because even though the two make for an obvious double-fist situation, there are a few specific beer and sandwich pairings that are straight-up wins. Just as the components of a good sandwich are thought out to cover all the key components of taste, a good pairing needs to do the same. During my Master's program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, I had sensory training about beer styles and what to consider when pairing them. Taking into account bitter, spicy, salty, sweet, umami, and more when choosing a pairing is what truly sets it apart from any old combo. Matching like with like, such as a full-bodied stout with a rich and fatty sando is a good bet, while a less heavy Hefeweizen pairs great with lightweight foods, like a bahn mi. Contrasting styles, flavors, and aromas can work well, too, making the overall pairing shine brighter than the two individual parts.

This list of classic sandwiches and beer pairings takes into account all of the above to make dreamy combinations that you will want to order again and again. Citrusy hops cut through hot, saucy chicken sandos while wild fermented saison brings subtle spice and sour components that pair perfectly with a vegetable-forward falafel pita. Striking that balance between beer and sandwich elevates both to new heights. So whether you are a Philly cheesesteak connoisseur or a BLT diehard, there is a pairing waiting for you.

Stout and pulled pork

A smoky and saucy BBQ pulled pork sandwich is surprisingly delicious solo. But when you add a few more components, like a fresh and acidic slaw, and a richly textured stout, the whole thing really comes together, hitting a bunch of key flavors along the way. While a few different beers can pair well here, a stout really highlights the smoky char on the pulled pork, making this duo a real homage to the barbeque. The piquant, edgy sauce is balanced by the fattiness of the pork, something stout contrasts nicely with its subtle bitter pine resin and rich chocolate and roasted notes.

This pairing is a full-flavored, full-bodied combination that will likely have you taking a post-meal lay down while scrolling your phone looking at grill upgrades. Traeger anyone? A heavy-hitter match in all the best ways bringing sweet, smoky, saucy, rich, and roasted notes together in one bite. I love the Deschutes Obsidian Stout with its depth of barley, malt, and espresso. It's rich, compelling, and elevates the pulled pork sandwich just the way it deserves.

India pale ale and Philly cheesesteak

Ah, the Philly cheesesteak. A decadent combination of charred ribeye steak, gooey melted cheese, and caramelized onions on a hoagie. It's a classic sandwich for when you have a big appetite that needs addressing. When it comes to the beer pairing, think more along the lines of opposites attract. Pairing a more aggressively hopped India pale ale with notes of citrus and bitter pine is a direct contrast from the protein-rich, fatty, and caramelized flavors of the cheesesteak. The sharp and direct notes of India pale ale cut through those rich flavors and bring a much-appreciated freshness to the combo. At the same time, the heaviness of the sandwich counters the bitter edge of an IPA, creating a complementary combination that you'll want to repeat more than a few times.

If you're not in Philly tracking down the best cheesesteak in the city, but you're still looking to get your Philly cheesesteak fix, you can roll up your sleeves and make a pretty bomb one at home. I recommend chilling Long Island Farm Brewery's American IPA, Golden Hour, which is dry-hopped with big fruity, floral, and citrus aromas that bring all the fresh vibes to this combo.

Pilsner and Cubano

The Cubano is one of many foods that made its way across the country thanks to Cuban immigrants in Florida. With influences from adjoining food cultures, the classic sandwich is a great representation of what multiculturalism looks like on the table, not to mention perfectly seasoned and marinated pork butt with all the right accompaniments. The crispy panini is packed with highly flavorful pork, acidic pickles, thinly sliced ham, and Swiss cheese, and smeared with mustard to make up a masterpiece.

When it comes to a beer pairing, a Pilsner makes a dry, crisp, and refreshing match with lightly hopped notes and aromas. The lightness of the beer pairs great with the pork marinade which is generously flavored with sweet notes from brown sugar, bright and floral citrus notes from orange juice and lime juice, and spicy notes from cumin and paprika. Not only does the combo taste good, but the inherent citrus, spicy, and sunny nature of the pale lager channels a beach club lunch, and it may or may not have you planning your next vacation. The classic Czech Pilsner Urquell is a choice pairing with its delicate hops and bitter notes coming through in each golden sip.

Hazy pale ale and hot chicken sandwich

While hot chicken originated in Nashville, today, you can find hot chicken sandwiches nearly everywhere. The nation took the concept and ran with it, and for good reason. The spiced and extra crispy fried chicken exterior with a tender and juicy interior is put on a bun, possibly with cheese, likely with pickles, and most certainly with some sort of special sauce. This classic chicken sandwich is absolutely one you want to pair up with a beer. The heat from the dry-rubbed fried chicken is hot hot hot and it needs a beer that will tame the spice and cool down your mouth with a few sips. Enter the hazy pale ale.

Hazy pale ales have less bitterness than IPA's and more fruit-forward notes of citrus, mango, or passionfruit. They are distinctly rounder in the mouth, feeling softer and fuller textured, giving a smoothness that offers the perfect counterpoint to the crispy and spicy exterior of the chicken. A couple of cloudy little numbers that will be luscious matches for that messy, spicy classic sandwich are Reuben's Brews Crushable Hazy Pale Ale and Fremont Brewing's Sky Kraken Hazy Pale Ale.

Saison and falafel pita

A pita stuffed with herby falafel, cucumber, tomato, red onion, hummus, and tzatziki, is more than just a favorite of vegetarians, it's a sandwich that satisfies vegetable, protein, and sauce cravings all at the same time. Somewhat of a textural dream, the pita also hits a wide variety of flavors, from pickled components to garlic-forward hummus to aromatic and punchy spices in the falafel. It's a fresher and lighter take on a sandwich that is well-suited to an equally fresh and light beer, such as a saison.

This farmhouse-style ale is light in body with distinct earthy, spiced, and fruit notes that play perfectly with the flavors in a falafel pita. Dry, with vigorous carbonation and subtle barnyard funk, a saison is a vegetable medley's best friend, and vice versa. The yeasty notes from the beer align themselves with the yogurt-based tzatziki sauce, while the spices in the falafel, like cumin and coriander, are matched by the citrus, clove, and pepper notes in the beer. The dance between the two makes a brilliant pairing that feels fresh and flavorful. Holy Mountain Brewing Company's, Witchfinder, is a crushable saison with bright aromatics and soft minerality that I adore and highly recommend.

Blonde ale and muffuletta

The muffuletta is an ode to Sicily that originated in New Orleans' Little Palermo, a neighborhood that was bustling with Italian immigrants creating a new Italian American food culture. When you look at the ingredient list, there's no mistaking its Italian heritage. A cold-cut sandwich built around mortadella, soppressata, provolone, and ham, with briny bits, like olives and giardiniera, the sammie is even better when paired up with a blonde ale.

Because there are already so many piquant flavors from the giardiniera, olives, and pickled pepperoncini, a heavily hopped beer would push this over the top. Instead, the mellow bitter notes and hop flavors and aromas in a blonde ale balance out all the acidity from the pickled components. The subtle malty sweetness and biscuit notes in a blonde ale add roundness to the pairing while ending dry and letting all those muffuletta sandwich flavors shine through. This is a sandwich and beer pairing that is very doable at home once you collect all the ingredients for the recipe. I love Hill Farmstead Brewerys', Walden, a low ABV blonde ale with grassy notes, biscuit, and bready complexity, and a dry, clean finish.

Porter and Reuben

The Reuben is a thick and meaty wonder that so many of us adore. The unique flavor from the rye bread, layered corned beef, melted Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut packs a big flavor punch that is impossible to overlook. Nearly every ingredient that goes into a Reuben brings a distinct flavor to the sandwich, making it a complex piece of edible artwork with an explosion of taste in each bite. The corned beef has layered spices which bring a lot of nuances while the sauerkraut and Russian dressing have unparalleled sourness and edge. With all that bold flavor, you need an equally bold beer to accompany the sandwich. The perfect pairing? A rich and luscious Porter.

A Porter's full-bodied character is not so unlike a Reuben's full-flavored and densely packed sandwich composition. The roasted, nutty, and chocolate notes in a Porter-style beer are distinct, strong, and complex, playing into the depth of flavor from the corned beef and accompanying pieces in a Reuben. The combo hits sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and umami all in one bite (and one sip), making it a powerful and tasty pairing. Search out the porter from Russian River Brewing, it's rich with notes of chocolate, coffee, and toasty malt.

Double IPA and pastrami

We can thank the Jewish American community in New York for pastrami on rye. A deli staple, the sandwich is an alarmingly thick stack of cured beef brisket that delivers salty, savory, and smoky flavors through and through. Made with a distinct pickling spice mixture of black pepper, mustard seed, garlic, and coriander, the triple-treated beef has a punchy flavor that needs an equally punchy beer to hold up to it. An aggressively hopped India Pale Ale fits the bill. Utilizing numerous hops for flavor and aroma, a double IPA has a distinct bitterness while remaining fuller-bodied.

The boldness of the rye, smokey, and spiced pastrami, and a smear of piquant mustard need a full-bodied beer with distinct bitter and citrus notes to cut through the richness of the sandwich. The bitter plays particularly well with the coriander and smokey profile, while the fuller mouth feel mellows all the combined flavors on your palate. While you're hunting down the best pastrami sandwich in the country, reach for the Tricerahops Double IPA from Ninkasi Brewing Company. It's big, balanced, and smooth with earthy and floral hop aromas that add a real kick to this match-up.

Witbier and lobster roll

Are you a native New Englander or a summer beach baby? Even if your answer is no, you likely still enjoy sweet and luscious lobster meat, which means you simply cannot pass up a good lobster roll. While the OG lobster rolls are simple, it just goes to show it's all about that fresh and delectable lobster meat. Whether you go with pure butter or gussy it up with tarragon mayo, the pairing here really needs to let the lobster shine. That's where Witbier comes in.

Witbier doesn't overpower the delicate white meat but actually enhances it with similar notes of subtle sweetness. Often it has a tinge of sourness, with a citrus peel aroma, not unlike the fresh lemon that likely hit your lobster roll right before you dove in. Its pale yellow and cloudy character is also heavily carbonated, helping to cleanse the palate while providing a refreshing take to the light-weight pairing. The match is built for sunny, summer beach day lunches. Try your next lobster roll with the Hoegaarden White, a witbier with fruity aromas and hints of orange and coriander.

Berliner Weisse and BLT

The BLT is a classic sandwich that is equally satisfying to order or whip up at home. When it comes to this sandwich, the bread is somewhat interchangeable while the insides are what really define it. Crispy bacon brings fat, salt, and texture, lettuce is a neutral, herbaceous layer, and tomato brings a sweet and tangy layer. Throw avocado in and you have a rich, creamy addition. With toasted bread and mayo to cap it off, the sandwich isn't overwhelmingly strong in any particular sense, yet, arguably delicious.

When paired with a Berliner Weisse, the low-ABV wheat beer brings subtle notes of sourness and tang from the lactic acid. The relatively bitter beer has good acidity to cut through the fattiness of the bacon, and offers up surprising complex notes of bread or cracker, mimicking the toast component of the BLT. The pairing is light, salty, sour, and sweet. Grab your BLT ingredients and get your bread toasting and your bacon browning. Meanwhile, pull a chilled Berliner Weisse from Professor Fritz Briem from the fridge. It's about as good as they come and your BLT is worth every sip.

Helles and grilled cheese

What is more classic than a grilled cheese sandwich? From the children's menu of white bread and American cheese to the elevated sourdough with Beecher's aged cheddar to all the BLT hot takes in between, the grilled cheese has been made all the ways and is a proven classic again and again. Pairing this American staple with the Southern German pale lager may not be the most intuitive at first glance, but here's why it works.

Helles lagers don't swing to one end of the spectrum or the other when it comes to intensity, and neither does a grilled cheese. The stronger or more aged the cheese, the stronger and more piquant the overall sandwich becomes. Helles fall somewhere in the middle, with spiced hops, light bitterness, a touch of sweetness, and a soft mouthfeel. These characteristics resonate with a classic grilled cheese, mimicking the sweetness of the cheese, yet bringing some acidity and bitterness to counter the fat. Overall, the beer pairing brings a bit of lightness to what can be somewhat of a bomb (depending on how much cheese you load on the thing). Helles also have an inherent bread note, thanks to the definitive malt, which plays well with the toasted character of the bread. Try the Tegernseer Hell from Herzoglich Bayerisches Brauhaus Tegernsee, it's thirst-quenching and refreshing, exactly what a grilled cheese needs.

Hefeweizen and bánh mì

The bánh mì is a brilliant mash-up of French and Vietnamese cuisine that brings the best of both worlds to life between none other than, a baguette. With Vietnamese-inspired marinated chicken, the sandwich is full of distinct flavors from sesame oil to hoisin sauce. Brightly acidic pickled vegetables add zip to zing, resulting in a sandwich that has a lot of character without being overly heavy.

For a classic like this, the German hefeweizen is a great match. Directly translating to "yeast wheat", the hefeweizen is a medium-bodied, white beer with distinct notes of clove, banana, and bubblegum. The flavors in the beer make a fun addition to the acidic pickled carrot and cucumber in the bánh mì while the particularly carbonated nature of the hefeweizen is a refreshing match to the marinated chicken. Equally unique, the two come together to make a stellar match that highlights the nuances in each individual component. The hefeweizen from Pyramid Brewery is a great place to start with this pairing. It offers distinct citrus and spice while maintaining a smooth body.