Chuck’s Deli Reuben Slabwich and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout – A lesson learned

This was a pairing that sounded much better than it tasted: proof that two good things put together don’t necessarily make a something great. I’m a big fan of Chuck’s Deli’s hearty, flavorful slabwiches with homemade ciabatta and their addictive Chuck’s Sauce and garlic sauce. I actually got to rub elbows with the owners at the Tasting Corner’s moving-in party at Craft Pub and Grill, and pushed that they start carrying some of Global Beer Exchange’s craft beers. I wasn’t the only one who would buy a bottle to-go from the Distillery nearby and drink it with one of their heart-stopping sandwiches. A couple of months later, they did end up serving some craft brews.

Troop over to Chucks I did back in November, and I decided to go with their much ballyhooed Reuben, one of the handful of sandwiches on their menu that I had yet to try. The Reuben, of course, is your traditional corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich. At Chucks, it’s just that, only done really well. The crisp, crusty, almost flaky ciabatta yieleds only the slightest resistance between bites, leading on to the tangy, savory and umami flavors of the corned beef and sauerkraut with a blend of their awesome sauces squeezed in.

One would think that this is a can’t-go-wrong dish to pair with beer, and I chose the Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout to go with my slabwich. As much as I love the balanced roasty sweetness, and only trace hoppiness of this beer, it just didn’t go well with the Reuben. Stouts, even sweet stouts, generally go well with beef, and contrast ought to be a good way to choose pairings – sweet and sour commonly work together quite nicely. But the end product in this case just tasted off. The beer ended up tasting somewhat astringent after a mouthful of the sandwich, and after a while just seemed to lose its taste – perhaps overpowered by all the different flavors in the Reuben itself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll definitely go back to both the bite and the brew, but just not together.

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