Last month, we introduced our interpretation of a table beer – affectionately dubbed Table Beer – as part of our new Mise en Rose Collection.
We’ve received quite a few questions about this lone bottled beer that’s been available in our taproom. The concept of a “table beer” isn’t as straightforward as some other historic beer styles – it is a broad and amorphous category with roots in several European countries and countless modern interpretations, so a bit of explanation seems appropriate.
Table beer (referred to in Europe by the Dutch word tafelbier) has meant many things over its centuries-long history. The tradition was central to the rural areas of Belgium and Northern France, with farmhouse brewers making low-alcohol beers for themselves and their families (children included) to consume throughout the day. Because of their frequent companionship to meals and basic nature, these beers came to be known by the straightforward catch-all ‘table beer’.
As the industrial revolution pushed the European farmhouse brewing tradition out from rural homesteads into urban factories, table beer became a commercial product that has since come in all shapes and sizes: light, dark, clean, funky, spiced, hopped, and everything in between.
Despite its many forms, there are a few common threads that have come to define the table beer style, however loosely. The most prominent of these features is a low alcohol content and a reserved, balanced flavor profile. They are complex but unassertive, serving to complement other flavors without stealing the show. Belgian-style tafelbiers share quite a bit of conceptual overlap with the saison category of farmhouse beers – a style which is already the Swiss Army knife of food pairing solutions – and further accentuate those food-friendly elements.
Given our passion for beer and food, Table Beer is a special thing to us. Our version is a straw-colored farmhouse ale that’s been aged in oak foeders with our house culture, then naturally conditioned in the bottle. It has a lightly funky aroma of lemon, pear, and hay, with flavors of oak, earth, cracker malt, and a very mild tartness. We’ve designed it with versatility in mind, so that it may be shared with good people and good food of any variety.
Table Beer serves more or less as the flagship beer of the Collection, and is the only Mise en Rose brand that we are aiming to keep permanently available. This is a beer that we want to see enjoyed alongside a meal as often as possible.