I remember it to this day: a photo of a family sitting around the evening meal, about to enjoy it with a large bottle of low-strength table beer. Table beer, or tafelbier, is actually a style in Belgium. It’s a low strength beer served down to as little as 1% alcohol by volume, and perhaps lower. It is meant to be enjoyed with a meal, and by all members of the family, including small children. If that thought seems anathema to you, consider that a child’s morning glass of orange juice probably has about .5% alcohol by volume through natural fermentation.
Anyway, the photo I recall was from a beer book, though I haven’t been able to find it in all the ones I own. It may have been Jackson’s World Guide to Beer, since I can’t find that one, though it’s not from the New World Guide to Beer (I checked). Curiously, Jackson doesn’t really delve into tafelbier in The Great Beers of Belgium or The Beer Companion, either. It’s a rare style indeed, one I’ve never come across.
What I can tell you is that Allagash Hoppy Table Beer is not a tafelbier. It’s just too strong; at 4.8% by volume its more than twice as strong as a table beer really should be. The whole point of a table beer is a low strength brew to be enjoyed byt the entire family.
Allagash says this about Hoppy Table Beer on their website:
While Hoppy Table Beer was inspired by the Belgian tradition of low-ABV, easily drinkable beers, it still occupies a hop-forward spot all its own. Brewed with our 2-row malt blend, Maris Otter malt, and oats, the beer is then spiced with a subtle addition of coriander. We ferment it with our house yeast for classic Belgian citrus aromas. Hoppy Table Beer is hopped with Chinook, Cascade, Comet, and Azacca hops, then dry hopped with more Comet and Azacca.
I’m at a loss to say what Allagash Hoppy Table Beer might have in common with a true tafelbier. Besides the incongruous alcohol content, none of the hops used would be found in a tafelbier. Indeed, Allagash Table Beer has more in common with a so-called Session IPA than it does a tafelbier. To me, it’s really more of an American Pale Ale, although the coriander and oats are not in line with that. We’ll just call it a pale ale and be done with it.
Ingredients from the website:
Grains: Allagash 2-Row Blend, Maris Otter, Maine-Grown Oats
Hops: Chinook, Cascade, Comet, Azacca
Allagash Hoppy Table Beer is available year-round and I paid $6.50 for a 20-ounce mug at Taco Mac.
My mug of Allagash Hoppy Table Beer arrived a bright golden color with a light resiny hop nose, light crisp maltiness on the sip with smooth pasty oats, hints of spicy coriander, bright grapefruit and resin, and a moderate dry lingering bitter finish.
I did enjoy this beer very much however you peg it. Just don't peg it as a table beer, because it's not.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.