Cheese and beer. Chocolate and beer. Coffee and beer. All valid and delicious pairings. But at dinnertime, no one eats a block of cheese, a plate of chocolate, or a handful of coffee beans as a meal. (Though, we should. We really should.) For most of us with a wi-fi connection living busy, hectic 21st century lives, takeout is a reliable go-to for nighttime sustenance.
Because no meal should be without a beer pairing, we asked the fine folks at GrubHub -- in our opinion, one of the most convenient (and popular) food delivery services out there -- to hook us up with a list of their most popular chain restaurants and dishes. Then we spoke to Cliff Mori -- Advanced Cicerone and owner of brewery tour company BREW-Ed in Asheville, NC -- to help us sync these takeout dishes with brews.
Read up on the following pairings and order in tonight!
Your order: Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt
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Wait, you can get Subway delivered? Half the fun at Subway is in pointing to food items behind a glass window, shouting “that!” at various luncheon meats, and watching a Sandwich Artist assemble your dream-hero -- but we’ll admit that delivery makes Subway even more convenient than it already is. When you order the chain’s popular chicken-and-bacon creation, make sure to have some Czech-style beer on hand. “I love the crispness [of a Czech pilsner] and that the bitterness [of the beer] offsets some of the doughy, fatty flavors of a sandwich like that,” says Mori. “A little bit of the spicy hop aroma balances the spices in the ranch, and the crispness [of the beer] cuts through the bacon.”
Recommended beers: Fullsteam Brewery Paycheck, Oskar Blues Brewery Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Your order: The Meats (pepperoni, sausage, beef, bacon, and Canadian bacon)
The only guy who appears in more commercials during football games than Peyton Manning is Mr. Papa John. So if you watch football like we do, you’ve probably been tempted to order a pizza like The Meats more than once. In which case, make sure you’ve got a sixer of American pale ales in the fridge. “You can’t go wrong with a plain old American pale ale like Sierra Nevada,” Mori explains. “[Pizza and beer] is a classic combination, so go with a classic American craft beer on that. The beer’s crispness is going to balance [the pizza] out.”
Mori also points out that Papa John’s sauce is subtly sweet. “You’re going to need something to cut through that [sauce] a little, and something hoppy would work out for pretty well. It’s nice to have a pale ale for the bready malt flavors to play off the pizza dough, but you need something crisp enough to cut through all the meat, and also to balance out the sweetness of the sauce.”
Recommended beers: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Lagunitas Brewing Co. New Dogtown Pale Ale
Your order: Orange Chicken
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Note: Don’t bother trying to order a panda from Panda Express. Trust us -- it doesn't work. (Though paying a friend to dress up like one and eat bamboo might, depending on his desperation level.) However, the chain will deliver their tasty orange chicken right to your door, and the dish goes great with a Belgian golden strong ale. “That beer is sturdy enough to handle all the sweetness and intensity of [the orange chicken],” Mori says. “But you also need something that cuts through the stickiness. Duvel has a lot of hop bitterness, hop aromas, and flavors (when it’s fresh). Even though it’s 8% ABV, it finishes really dry. It could stand up to the orange chicken pretty well, and the fruitiness from the yeast can balance the fruitiness of the orange.” Best of all, Duvel is so good, it only might cost you a six-pack to hire your friend.
Recommended beers: Duvel, Victory Brewing Co. Golden Monkey
Your order: Fatburger (lean beef, toasted bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, relish, mustard, mayo, fried egg)
If it’s two in the morning and you want to have a good day like Ice Cube, you must procure a Fatburger. The legendary California-based burger chain is now in four other states, so check to see if you’re lucky enough to have Grubhub deliver its burgers to your door. With an all-American meal, you’ll actually best be served by a beer style from the other side of the Atlantic ocean: the English Style-Pale Ale or an ESB (Extra Special Bitter). “Since there’s no crazy horseradish sauce or BBQ fried onion rings on top of the burger, the beer has some bitterness to cut through the meat, but it won’t overpower the burger,” Mori explains. “A bitter [beer] and a fried egg is a good combination, too. [The beer] is nice and crisp with fairly low alcohol, and you get a little bit of that fruity English yeast and herbal hops.” Anyone else really need a burger and a beer right about now?
Recommended beers: Fuller’s London Pride, Left Hand Brewing Sawtooth Ale
credits:"[Fatburger / Facebook](
Your order: Mexican Caesar Salad (grilled chicken, Cotija cheese, jalapeno peppers, and tortilla chips with romaine; topped with Mexican Caesar dressing)
Delivery takeout food isn’t always the healthiest option on the planet, but this Chop’t salad has romaine lettuce in it, so...that’s something! Green equals healthy, no? (Maybe that’s why we love green M&Ms...) Regardless of its health benefits, the Mexican Caesar from Chop’t is a unique South-of-the-border twist on an otherwise boring salad, and Mori thinks the beer should have some Mexican roots, too. “Vienna lagers are technically from Austria, but [the style is] actually from Mexico,” Mori explains. “When Mexico was being ruled by Emperor Maximilian [in the 1800s], he brought all these Austrian brewers with him.” Good thing, too, as the beer’s “bready/toasty malt flavors soothe some of the heat from the jalapeños, while its crispness cuts through the Caesar dressing and cheese.” I bet Maximilian would be bummed to hear that Caesar had a dressing named after him, while he was passed over entirely.
Recommended beers: Devils Backbone Brewing Co. Vienna Lager, Dos Equis Ambar
Note: Devils Backbone Brewing Co. is a member of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch.