I already get the fair share of quizzical looks with my beers (”No IPA?!”), and the new Tafelbier will ensure that continues. This is a Belgian influenced table beer of 2.8% ABV that relies on subtlety and created with a pretty simple idea in mind – a refreshing yet interesting thirst quencher for the heat and extended activities of summer.
I kayak all the time in the summer, and I like to pack beer for lunch and breaks along the way. Kayaking is no time to be drunk, really, but having some beers along the way is FUN. Yes, beer can still be fun! Notch Tafelbier is exactly the beer for that time – light bodied, yet tasty, and perfectly acceptable to be pulled from cooler ice cold and consumed right out of the bottle. I also like to spend long days barbequing in the yard – real wood smoked barbeque, the 4 to 12 hour marathon ordeals – where you gauge the addition of more wood or charcoal with each beer you’ve consumed. If you have a pork shoulder to attend to, a 2.8% beer is your friend for the day (and night). I’m sure you have some summer rituals or activities that Notch Tafelbier could help you extend?
The history of Tafelbier (Table Beer) is a fun one. It is a Belgian lower ABV beer consumed by families at meal time, including children. Unlike the US, parents in Belgium were able to introduce their children to drinking beer in the home at a fairly early age. Table beer over time was replaced by sugary sodas, and many blame the more rotund children on the disappearance of table beer. You can debate the merits of the approach on your own, but this style of beer is just another example of lower ABV beers that we have ignored in the US, and Notch is here to represent yet another.
I know, many people will not get it. They’ll scratch their head and move on. Or, they’ll loudly tweet as much. But for those of you who understand beer is about the moment, here’s a great beer for those moments that last just a bit longer in summertime. Really, try it. If you’ve never consumed a few beers of 2.8% ABV over a period of time, you won’t understand how it can fit the moment and extend the good times.
And a bit of a tangent here, but people always ask me what temps to drink my beer, or what glass works with what style. I have my personal preferences, but that doesn’t require you to follow them. To each his own. But with the Tafelbier, I suggest you break convention with most of the craft beer dogma about serving temps, drinking vessels and such. Drinking straight from the bottle out of an icy cold cooler is perfectly acceptable, as is drinking it from a chilled mug from the freezer. No beer police will summons you, or question your beer geek cred. Have fun, there’s always plenty of time for serious beer contemplation later.
So what about the beer, the specs, the deets? It all seems a little showy for such a modest beer, so this will be quick – Belgian and Canadian malt, European hops (Saaz and Styrian Goldings), and Belgian yeast. The yeast provides a slight refreshing tartness, while the hops are the subtle and classic European variety. About a pound per barrel of hops, of which 75% were for dry-hopping, and this will certainly mislead you. These hops do not dominate the beer nor overwhelm with bitterness, but they just sit there in the background, reminding you they are there to help the dry, refreshing finish. Sorry, that last bit got showy.
Anyway, go out and have fun with this beer, and look forward to the dog days!