A sandwich can be simple, complex and everything in between. From straight forward cheese to the ultimate Cuban. The combination of flavours in our favourite sarnies delight and dazzle on their own but pair that sarnie with the right beer and the whole thing moves up a level.
Sandwich preferences vary wildly from one person to the next. With so many different flavour profiles out there beer has lots to contend with – a challenge though it copes with comfortably.
So let’s take a walk through some of the nation’s favourite sandwiches and take a look at the beers best to enjoy alongside them.
Let’s take the simple cheddar cheese sandwich. The cheese displays sweet, fruity flavours with a slightly salty and nutty edge. To cope with the robust flavours and dry saltiness you need to reach for a beer with a touch of sweet fruitiness and a solid body to temper the saltiness and complement the cheese. A lager offers what’s needed with Republika, from Berkshire brewery Windsor & Eton, displaying a sweet malty backbone and a palate cleansing effervescence. Or if your Cheddar is extra mature opt for an IPA, such as Lagunitas, where the fruity flavours from the beer will spike similar in the cheese and offer that all important mouth refreshment.
Let’s move the sandwich fillings up a notch. Smoked bacon, Stilton, sun dried tomatoes and lettuce all being cuddled by wholemeal bread has a bit more about it. Here’s where the beer and sandwich flavours need to work together and bring out the best in each other, and Meantime’s London Porter is the perfect choice. There’s sweetness to temper the saltiness of the bacon and Stilton and also complement the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.
Let’s bring it back to another sandwich classic that goes perfectly with the right beer – the humble ham and mustard. Ham packs saltiness and some natural sweetness so the beer needs to contrast the former and lift the latter, which is where a Belgian ale such as Affligem Blonde comes into its own. Staying with pork, the classic BLT can be enlivened by a beer accompaniment and a dark lager fits the bill. There’s sweetness from the darker malt that will complement the tomato and contrast the saltiness of the bacon and its carbonation will cut through the heaviness of the bread and refresh the palate. Ones to look out for include Brooklyn Lager, Negra Modelo, Peroni Gran Riserva, Freedom Organic Dark and Celia Dark (which is also gluten free).
Should your sandwich favourite be fishy, there’s a beer for that too. Several actually. A salmon sarnie perfectly illustrates beers versatility with wheat beers and lagers both offering citrus notes that will complement the fish without overwhelming it. A zesty Belgian wheat such as Hoegaarden or Blue Moon are readily available options, as are Pilsner Urquell, Birra Moretti and Mahou on the lager front. Look to these beer styles too for prawn, crab and tuna sandwiches.
At a recent Beer Club beer and sandwiches was the evenings topic, with our community naming their top sarnies and us supplying the beers to match. The choice of sangers was as varied as the beers to pair with them but one stood out, and it wasn’t the colossal Reuben (Google it). No it was the lasagnwich – warmed up lasagne on white or brown bread. With this big, dense beast of sandwich the beer needs to be able to stand up to the meat and cut through the richness of this brilliantly absurd creation. Step forward the classic British bitter. Sweetness from the malt to complement the meat and enough prickly effervescence to cut through the denseness and refresh the palate. Keep an eye out for Harvey’s Sussex Best, Fuller’s London Pride, Jennings Bitter, Theakston Best and Wadworth 6x to name but five. And if one sandwich is going to require your palate to be refreshed it’s a lasagnwich.