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Beer Pairing with Reuben Sandwiches?

Mrs. Mousse will be making corned beef reubens for St. Paddy's day this year. There are so many strong flavors, I'm at a loss for beer pairing. Part of me thinks Pilsner's acid would cut into the fat nicely, but it might get lost amongst all the strong flavors. I'd normally serve beef with an amber or brown ale, but I'm not sure how that will match with the condiments. I don't like Guinness.

The sandwiches will include:
-corned beef piled high
-a mild gruyere
-classic sauerkraut
-homemade russian dressing (sour cream and relish base)
-rye bread

Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. My go-to beers for food like this are always Belgian, either witbier or lambic (sour lambic, not Lindemans).

    Both of these styles are light in body, so they won't sit too heavily; palate-cleansing; refreshing; and citrusy.

    For my money, witbier is one of the greatest food beers ever, especially with stuff like that Reuben. It won't conflict with the sauerkraut, the cheese, or the russian dressing.

    The ones I like are Unibroue Blanche De Chambly, Blanche de Bruxelles, Avery White Rascal, Hitachino White Ale, Ommegang Witte, and Allagash White. I'm not a fan of New Belgium's Mothership Wit, or Lost Coast's Great White.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        I second Allagash White w/ the Reuben, great pairing!

        1. re: Josh

          Just ordered an Ommegang Witte to accompany my Reuben at Blind Tiger..psyched

        2. I like a German hefeweizen with my reubens. Franziskaner is my standby. The tang goes with the kraut and dressing and there is some acidity to cut through the fat.

          1. Call me pedestrian, but I'd grab a bottle of heineken. I think you want something fairly clean and crisp, so while I love belgians and weizens, I just don't know if the sweetness, spiciness and heaviness is what you want. its all personal taste and some folks dont like that skunkiness that I like in heineken, so just my $.02

            2 Replies
            1. re: chrisinroch

              Heineken is actually not skunky if you have it out of the can, on tap, or out of the 1.5 liter bottle. Any beer in green glass bottles can acquire that same skunky flavor by being exposed to UV rays.

              Also, I'm wondering if you've had witbier before, because I can't imagine anyone describing it as either sweet or heavy.

              1. re: Josh

                Right, my reply was to both your post and the post about hefeweizen. That is why i referenced both belgians and wiezens. I guess I should have been clearer.

            2. Bloody 'ell! If yur gonna celebrate St Padies Day, drink Irish, man, drink Irish. If you don't like Irish mother's milk, then at least do Mother McCrea a favor and drink Harps before ya go ta heaven and hear one!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Passadumkeg

                The Reuben sandwich is about as Irish as the last name Rabinowitz.

                1. re: Josh

                  Yea, I know that! But what do I tell the poor schmuck, drink Manischaevitz? Oye vaei! A Jewish/Irish fusion meal! Only in America! God bless Katz and the Blarney Stone!

              2. I second Passadumkeag. Guiness or Murphy's. As for Irish-Jewish fusion, remember Eamon de Valera!

                1 Reply
                1. re: mollydingle

                  Yeah, I dunno. Not really a supporter of basing food pairings on country of origin. It can lead to really inappropriate pairings. Wine isn't really chosen on this basis, nor should beer be.

                  Food pairing is about finding flavors that harmonize, or enhance. The roasted coffee flavors of stout, to my palate, have zero affinity for almost all the ingredients in a Reuben, with the exception of the rye bread. The sauerkraut and Russian dressing both have a pronounced sour component that is not going to find any sympathy in the flavors of a stout.

                2. Lately, I have been loving the Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus with fatty+tart/sour things. Had it a couple of weekends ago with a starter of smoked duck, cranberry chutney and sweet potato and it was perfect. I can see it working well with a pastrami+sauerkraut combo.

                  Otherwise, the Belgian suggestions are all good. I have trouble though not drinking an IPA with a meal... if you want to stay away from crazy hopville, there is a good danish IPA, Mikkel IPA, on the market that went well with some spicy sausages last week.

                  1. Try a rauchbier, especially if you make it like I do and have smoky bacon involved in the sandwich.
                    otherwise, a good ipa or double ipa would cut through it beautifully as wood a belgian trippel.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: yankeefan

                      Interesting. I always think of the extreme astringency of the alpha acids in a DIPA as being very hostile to most foods. In fact, I can't think of a single food I'd pair with a DIPA.

                      1. re: Josh

                        completely disagree.

                        give it a try with spicy foods.

                        1. re: yankeefan

                          I've had them with food, spicy and otherwise. They're a disaster, IMO.

                          I don't like astringent flavors with food. Everything I've learned about food/beverage pairing stresses that like flavors are ideal, and clashing flavors are best avoided. To my palate, what is ruinous about DIPA for food pairing is it's very high degree of astringency. I could see it working with a very bitter food, like charred eggplant or something, but for most anything else I'd opt for something with substantially less hop character.


                          1. re: Josh

                            There are a lot of great points here. I agree with Josh on a lot of these food/beer pairings. I have another idea. Try a malty porter. I believe the higher alcohol (fat dissolver) will better clear the palate. As long as you stay away from a real dark roast and hops I think this would be a great pair.
                            Going out on a limb here...DIPA paired with Haagen-dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream. Polar opposites of sweetness and bitternes. Also the fat from the ice cream blocks some of the intense bitter hops. I supposed in a way the medium roast will compliment this caramel ice cream well. Just a thought.

                            1. re: fiscuspv

                              I'm not sure I'd do it with a DIPA or even an IPA, but I had a beer float with vanilla ice cream and Grand Teton's Black Cauldron Stout, and it was surprisingly delicious, especially when the ice cream started to melt a little bit and became more integrated with the stout. I've also had good luck pairing barrel aged barleywines with sweet desserts. For the reuben, I might go with an altbier or a dark lager, like Death and Taxes from Moonlight, and a weizenbock or dopplebock would probably work too.

                              1. re: fiscuspv

                                Vanilla ice cream (and yellow cake) go very well with IPA's.

                      2. Bet you can't guess what I'd recommend?

                        Check my screen name and make it a Triple.

                        1. Mother Machrae, enough already, just have a nice glass of butter milk and go to bed will ya lad?

                          1. Thanks to everyone for the feedback. My friend showed up with a beautiful array of German beers. The crowd favorite for pairing was definitely bock, and we really enjoyed the darker hefeweizens as well.

                            1. Considering that a Reuben sandwich is made from corned beef, cheese and sauerkraut, you have salty and sour flavors to contend with in pairing a beer. You may want to try a Pilsner that is not to "hoppy" or an ale, such as a pale ale or an IPA which have a sweeter finish to balance off the acid and saltiness in the sandwich.

                              Hope this helps!
                              Chef Marko

                              1. Was thinking of this thread this weekend when I was out and ordered a pastrami reuben- had a duvel with it when ive always had sauerkraut with IPAs. The duvel was very nice touch- impressed - cleasned the palatte after each sip.