The best way to get a true glimpse into any city you’re visiting this fall is to try the local specialty, and there is no better way to do that in America than by trying the area’s must-have sandwich. Whether it’s a lobster roll in Maine or a pastrami sandwich in New York City, every regional sandwich tells a story of the place and the people serving and eating it.
We can think of no better way to wash down your favorite sandwich than with a craft beer from a nearby brewery. That’s exactly why we paired six classic American sandwiches with their best local craft beer counterparts for the ultimate regional experience!
Philly Cheesesteak and Pale Ale
You may visit The Liberty Bell and attempt to sprint up the famous Rocky steps, but if you really want a taste of the City of Brotherly Love, you’ll be indulging in a Philly cheesesteak. The soft, chewy bread is filled with grilled rib-eye beef, either sliced or chopped, depending on who you ask. The sandwich is classically finished off “wit” onions and cheese including provolone or more commonly, bright orange Cheese Whiz.
Although flavorful, a cheesesteak has a mild taste that pairs perfectly with a pale ale. The slight hoppiness stands up to the onions and hearty meat, and the cleaner finish is refreshing after the salty beef and cheese. It’s satisfying but not overpowering, just like the sandwich.
- Yards Brewing Company | Philadelphia, PA | Philadelphia Pale Ale
- Weyerbacher Brewing Company | Easton, PA | Verboten, Belgian pale ale
- All Saints Brewing Company | Greensburg, PA | Laurel Highlands Pale Ale
- Breaker Brewing Company | Wilkes-Barre, PA | Lunch Pail Ale
- Appalachian Brewing Company | Harrisburg, PA | Purist Pale Ale
- Copper Crow Beer | Lafayette Hill, PA | Copper Crow Pale Ale
Pulled Pork and Porter or Smoked Beer
You haven’t eaten barbeque until you’ve had it in the South, and the Carolinas often serve up their barbeque in their classic pulled pork sandwich. With a love and appreciation for pork, Carolina natives take their time by slow-smoking it for hours to the point that it literally falls apart.
With an explosion of flavor from the meat, you need a beer to compliment its potency, so grab a porter or smoked beer. The meat is often smoked with various types of wood to infuse the meat with that smokey, deep taste. The sauce it’s slathered in packs a punch as well. You’ll either get some heat with a traditional barbeque sauce, or a tangy twist with South Carolina’s gold sauce, consisting of mustard and vinegar, so what better accompaniment than a smokey, burnt-flavored beer.
- Coast Brewing | Charleston, SC | Porter, Smoked
- Holy City Brewing | Charleston, SC | Smoke Break, smokey wheat beer
- Wedge Brewing Company | Asheville, NC | Community Porter
- NoDa Brewing Company | Charlotte, NC | Coco Loco, porter
- Carolina Brewery | Chapel Hill & Pittsboro, NC | Oatmeal Porter
- Thomas Creek Brewery | Greenville, SC | Pump House Porter
Pastrami and IPA
Eastern European and Jewish immigrants brought over the savory Pastrami sandwich when they settled in New York City, and it’s still loved today. The meat is brined, smoked, boiled and steamed, then seasoned with garlic, coriander, black pepper, paprika, cloves and mustard seed. After all that, it’s served on rye bread and topped with mustard for a palate pleasing lunch.
With all of those powerful seasonings, you’ll need a more pungent beer like an IPA. The bitterness of an IPA won’t get lost amongst the liberally seasoned and smoked deli meat, rye bread and tangy mustard. The citrusy finish from the beer will quench your thirst after the salty pastrami.
- Sixpoint Brewery | Brooklyn, NY | Spice of Life Series
- Bacchus Brewing Company | Dryden, NY | Bacchus IPA
- He’Brew The Chosen Beer | Saratoga Springs, NY | Hop Manna IPA
- Barrier Brewing Co. | Oceanside, NY | Sanity IPA
- Captain Lawrence Brewing Company | Elmsford, NY | Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA
- Blue Point Brewing Company | Patchogue, NY | White IPA
Lobster Roll and Summer Ale
Summer on the East Coast means lobster rolls: ultra succulent, fresh lobster filling a New England-style hot dog bun. If you find yourself in Maine, you’ll be having your lobster bathed in a creamy mayo, but in Connecticut, it’s accompanied by a silky butter. Butter or mayo, which seasonings, and whether to add fresh herbs or crunchy celery is debated, but no doubt you’ll feel like you are taking a bite of the ocean with this coastal delight.
What better way to enjoy a seasonal food than with a seasonal brew. A summer or blonde ale are a good match as they ensure the delicate seafood is still the star since these beers have a light, malty taste and a very mild fruitiness.
- Baxter Brewing Co. | Lewiston, ME | Celsius Summer Ale
- Thomas Hooker Brewing Company | Bloomfield, CT | Blonde Ale
- Allagash Brewing Company | Portland, ME | White, Belgian wheat beer
- Atlantic Brewing Company | Bar Harbor, ME | Summer Ale, American blonde ale
- Cisco Brewers | Nantucket, MA | Bailey’s Blonde Ale
- Harpoon Brewery | Boston, MA | Summer Beer, kölsch-style ale
Bahn Mi and Hefeweizen
Bahn Mi is a perfect example of California cuisine. It’s generally healthy and filled with fresh vegetables including carrots, cucumber and cilantro. The torpedo-shaped baguette is also packed with Vietnamese ingredients, which is indicative of the large Asian population that calls the West Coast home.
The vibrant, fresh taste of the cilantro, chili, and other vegetables needs a lighter, fruity counterpart like a hefeweizen, or for a bit of more malt character, a dunkelweizen. The hints of flavors in these wheat-based beers, like banana and vanilla, fit right in with the natural sweetness from the carrots.
- Anaheim Brewery | Anaheim, CA | Anaheim Hefeweizen
- Bear Republic Brewery | Healdsburg, CA | Wine County Wheat, hefewizen
- Stumblefoot Brewing Company | San Marcos, CA | Dunkelweizen
- Pyramid Breweries | Berkeley, CA | Hefeweizen
- Bootlegger’s Brewery, Fullerton, CA | Old World Hefeweizen
- Bayhawk Ales | Irvine, CA | Hefeweizen
Chicago Italian Beef and Barley Wine
With the absurd amount of toppings on a Chicago-style hot dog and the mammoth-sized deep dish pizza, it’s obvious that Chicagoans like a rib-sticking meal, and the classic sandwich coming out of the Windy City is no different. The Italian beef sandwich is thinly sliced, tender beef, drowned in its own liberally seasoned juice and pilled into a crusty Italian bread.
The juice from the Italian beef is filled with garlic, oregano, and Italian seasonings that a barley wine can stand up to. The intense, high alcohol barley wine doesn’t overshadow the bold taste of the beef. This is especially true when the sandwich is topped with giardiniera, a mixture of spicy, pickled vegetables.
- Half Acre Beer Company | Chicago, IL | Marty Stouffer’s Wild America, barley wine
- New Holland Brewing Company | Holland, MI | Pilgrim’s Dole Wheatwine
- Arcadia Ales | Battle Creek, MI | Cereal Killer, barley wine
- Dark Horse Brewery | Marshall, MI | Off the Scale, barley wine
- Goose Island Brewpub – Clybourn | Chicago, IL | King Henry, barrel-aged barley wine
- Three Floyds Brewing Co. | Munster, IN | Behemoth, barley wine
Photo © Neil Conway Flickr CC
Kristen Kuchar is a writer and editor that is fortunate enough to cover her greatest interests: travel, food, and craft beer. The Chicago native recently returned from a twenty-one state culinary and beer road trip where her passion in both increased even more. She is also a member of the Pink Boots Society.
Last Updated: December 5, 2012