The Growler’s Ultimate Beer & Sandwich Pairing Primer

kevin wood beer sandwich

Some of you reading this may already know me, but in all likelihood you probably don’t. Well, my name is Kevin and I have a bit of a thing for sandwiches and great beer, as documented on Instagram at @thissandwichthatbeer.

The sandwich is the perfect food to pair with beer and vice versa. A sandwich is only as good as the bread it’s made with, and that bread is made from some of the same ingredients as beer itself: grain, water and yeast. As a result, beer naturally complements any sandwich. Here are a few of my favourite beer and sandwich pairings. Hope you enjoy!


Cubano & Pilsner

An authentic Cubano comes with Cuban (or mojo) seasoned pork shoulder, ham, pickles, swiss cheese and mustard on Cuban style bread. The bread is the real secret to this sandwich as it’s traditionally made with lard which adds a richness to the sandwich. The two main meat elements are accented nicely by the brininess of the pickles and a healthy amount of the sharp yellow mustard. The sandwich is then pressed to melt the Swiss cheese and for a nice crunchy texture on the bread. This sandwich makes me real happy. My beer choice with a Cubano is a nice crisp pilsner, as this style is refreshing and palate cleansing and won’t compete too much with the sandwich.

Beer Pick: Steel & Oak, Simple Things


beer sandwich illustration

Banh Mi & Saison

The banh mi sandwich or Vietnamese sub can come with a variety of different main ingredients but always has fresh jalapeno, pickled vegetables and cilantro on a French baguette. I usually go with what’s often called the “special combo,” which comes with Vietnamese cold cuts, such as sliced pork or pork belly, cha lua (pork sausage) and head cheese, along with the liver pâté. Good heat comes from the fresh jalapeno, and the pickled vegetables bring great acidity and a touch of sweetness, which is rounded out perfectly by the cilantro.

I really like the delicate drinkability of a nice saison with a banh mi. Saisons can vary a bit but most often pour a mildly cloudy golden yellow and have a crisp dry mouth feel, light citrus and peppery notes, a subtle tartness and just a little bit of funk.

Beer Pick: Dageraad, Randonneur Saison


Clubhouse & West Coast Pale Ale

A clubhouse sandwich is one of my all time favourites and may well be the sole reason I am now a somewhat sandwich-obsessed person. Now, as a club sandwich purist, my ideal sandwich must be as follows: sliced chicken breast, bacon, tomato, iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise on three slices of bread cut into four with frilly toothpicks. Not sure there’s much else to say about this one really. We all know it, and I can’t even find the words to describe its flavour other than to say it’s out of this world. A big West Coast-style pale ale is what I’m having with my clubhouse sandwich. It’s crisp and refreshing, offers up a nice maltiness with piney, citrus notes and a hop forward finish.

Beer Pick: Brassneck, Passive Aggressive


Reuben & Stout (or Porter)

The reuben sandwich is a classic and traditionally comes with corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread. This sandwich is at its best when the corned beef is sliced nice and thick and the flavour is deep. The sauerkraut’s acidity offsets the saltiness of the corned beef and the Russian dressing adds a nice zesty flavour. The gruyere is subtle and brings nice salt content to the sandwich. All this sits between two thick, soft and moist slices of rye bread, which is just spectacular. I find that a nice dry stout marries wonderfully with the salty corned beef and sauerkraut, while it’s crisp and refreshing mouth feel balances some of the fattiness from the meat.

Beer Pick: Strange Fellows, Blackmail


beer sandwich illustration

Croque Madame & India Pale Ale

A croque madame comes on thick sliced brioche bread, filled with ham and topped with melted cheese, often béchamel sauce and a soft fried egg. The ham should have a good amount of fat keeping it moist, be flaky and fall-apart tender with a flavour that is salty and slightly sweet. Often done with gruyere, emmental or Swiss cheese and béchamel sauce that is lightly browned, it is delightfully creamy and decadently rich. Then sitting atop this already magnificent sandwich is the softly fried egg. I recommend slicing the yolk open and letting it run its own course all over the sandwich. The beer style that’s just right for me here is an assertively hopped West Coast or hazy IPA that can be a super palate cleanser in between bites of this rich style of sandwich.

Beer Pick: Superflux, Colour & Shape

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