Reviewed: Allagash Hoppy Table Beer
Product description: 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. A mildly hoppy aroma full of grapefruit springs from this straw-colored, light-bodied ale. Flavors of pine and stone fruit balance the beer’s clean, slightly bitter finish.
Allagash Brewing – Allagash Hoppy Table Beer – 12 oz. bottle poured into a chalice – 4.8% abv
Hoppy Table Beer is a new, year-round core brand from Allagash, a brewery well-known for its Belgian-inspired ales. Table Beer isn’t a hard and firm beer style, but I usually expect something in the farmhouse ale realm like a lighter, session saison or grisette. Really any blonde ale with lower ABV, expressive yeast aroma, and dry mouthfeel fits the bill.
From a 12oz bottle into wine stemware, Allagash Hoppy Table Beer is glowing, neon yellow in color with slight turbidity. High carbonation helps generate a large, pillowy white head that persists for 10 minutes or more. After each sip, perfect layers of lacing are left along the edges of the glassware. It’s a work of art.
The aroma is fresh and on the superlative level for this style with fleeting lemongrass, cracked grain, sourdough bread, lemon meringue pie, and even floral with cherry blossom. It richens as it warms to sweet eggy custard and angel food cake – phenomenal. Some interpretations of this style have Brett and funkiness, but this is clean. Flavor-wise, it is super light-bodied and refreshing like white grapefruit seltzer, but it isn’t watery as the oats addition and spectacular Marris Otter and 2-row house malt blend add fresh grain and white bread density/chewiness. Some table beer interpretations have an acid component, but this has none. I can’t pick out the coriander addition, which is good because I don’t want to be thinking witbier while drinking this – it’s more delicate and I want to approach it as a session saison.
The finish is extremely dry and crisp. Frequently, heavy bitterness plus dry mouthfeel creates an astringent mouthfeel (think Belgian IPA), but the bitterness here is balancing only and manifests as a delicate grassy sharpness. Reading the product description, there is mention of four different hop varietals, three of which I usually consider high alpha-acid and more aggressive (Chinook, Azacca, Comet). So even though I’m expecting intense bitterness, these are relegated to a mild bite. Lastly, the lower 4.8% ABV is unnoticeable as if it were an N/A beer.
Honestly, this is one of the most perfect beers I’ve ever tried. It’s ultra-dry, crisp, delicate and endlessly refreshing with ethereal perfection on the level of De Ranke XX Bitter, Thiriez Extra, and De la Senne Taras Boulba. It has super authentic saison feel – the truest saison in the original sense of being a summer quenching beer for farmers. It is more grassy bitter than a typical saison or grisette, which ties it closer to the beers I mentioned above. Still, it is the perfect example of a sessionable Belgian pale ale. I would finally get a kegerator just to have this on static tap at my house.