Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

A Beer And A Sandwich

By Jay Brooks
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 10:14 am in On Beer.

It’s time once again for Bruce Paton, better known as the Beer Chef, to share some of his culinary magic with us, this time around on the subject of pairing your favorite sandwich with a beer.

Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef

Food & Beer with Bruce Paton

A Beer And A Sandwich

When I got the seriously involved in beer and food pairing I decided my dual missions were to expose people to beer by attracting them with high end food as well as to lift beer and food to the elevated position that wine and food has held forever. While maintaining these missions in the forefront it is good to remember that one cannot fine dine seven days a week and there is also a revered place for beer in a casual dining setting. However just because the food is casual doesn’t mean reverting to mass produced beer.

I have always been particularly fond of sandwiches and with the current movements of comfort food, approachable food and “artisan everything” the sandwich has moved back in to the forefront. So where do we go from here as far as beer is concerned? Well here are some pairing suggestions to accompany classic sandwiches reborn.

Since we are talking classic lets start out with the perennial hotel favorite the Club Sandwich. Toasted bread, roast turkey, bacon, avocado and mayonnaise are all flavors we associate with comfort. To escort this classic sandwich and its mélange of flavors past the taste buds choose a classic easy drinking beer like Anchor Steam. The beers malt backbone recalls the roasted flavors in the bread and turkey while the light hop character washes down the avocado and mayonnaise while taming the salty bacon.


Next up is another old favorite the Grilled Cheese Sandwich. If you’re going the old school way with Mild Cheddar then Trumer’s Austrian Style Pilsner is a perfect feel good pairing. The biscuit flavors in the beer bring out the grain notes of the buttery toasted bread and the Saaz hops accent the nutty characteristics of the cheese. If you are using a more assertive cheese it will call for a more assertive beer.

Biting into a Meatball Sandwich is a multifaceted pleasure. The meaty flavor and firm texture of the meatballs, combined with the tangy tomato sauce and the rolls delicate grain flavors comingle in each bite. The light citrus yeast flavors of a Belgian Style Saison like North Coast La Merle draw out the herbal accents of the meatballs and tomato sauce. The carbonation and slightly dry hop finish rinse your mouth of the tomatoes acidity as well as the fat from the meatballs.


We will finish this exercise with that old classic Peanut Butter and Jelly. Talk about recalling food memories from your youth. Bite into a PB and J and childhood comes rushing back. A Sierra Nevada Porter’s dark roasted malt flavors match up well with those of the roasted peanuts, while the beer’s effervescence washes the stickiness from your teeth. The sweet grape jelly evokes the chocolate notes of the porter creating a truly grown up snack experience.

I could go on and on as there are a plethora of sandwich and beer combinations out there but you should try some experimentation on your own. Also with all the great ingredients out there it is fairly simple to update the classic sandwiches into new classics. So what are you waiting for.


Chef Bruce
The Beer Chef

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