Table Beer | Away Days/nebuleus
There’s just something about table beers. Well, good table beers. While not the sexiest or most boundary pushing beer on the list, the table beer gets the job done. As I said on our Just Tables show, I typically drink water (or something not beer) rather than the beer in front of me with food. I recently visited Triptych with some food I picked up at Freddy’s before I arrived. I grabbed two barrel-aged stouts, a water and their table saison. While the barrel-aged stouts did everything I expected of them (and in some cases more), I actually reached for the table saison instead of water for pairing with my Freddy’s. Table beers are now my go-to for pairing with food. We need more of them! On my recent visit to Portland, OR I managed to obtain a table beer collaboration from Away Days and nebuleus.
Away Days opened in June 2019 in southeast Portland. Owners Niki Diamond and Pete Hoppins focus European ales, Northwest-style beers, English soccer, and cask ales. (Yes, I’m kicking myself for not going while in Portland.) Both born in England, Niki began serving beer in Germany at 16 while Pete worked as head of design for Nike soccer before starting Away Days. Right next to Away Days sits The Toffee Club, Diamond and Hoppin’s English football pub that opened in 2016. They also run Home & Away Studios, a community focused design agency.
nebuleus, on the other hand, is a bit more, um, nebulous. Officially started in 2021 by Tim Crook and Rachel Olin, they release extremely small-batch barrel-aged mixed-culture beer (typically) that pop up online (sometimes in-person only) for purchase. They recently won 3 awards at the vaunted Oregon Beer Awards – a gold in Mixed Culture Beer, a bronze in Fruited Mixed Culture Beers and Small Brewery of the Year. Their website used to have only an about us page and a procure saison page, but now that website has expired, so the mystery persists!
Table Beer pours a burnt golden color. Most of my glass filled with a pillowy white head that over time slowly reduced to a thin layer. It takes a good five or so minutes for it to get there but it will eventually. Subsequent pours inflamed the head, causing it to spike back up again before calming down. While parts of the beer appear a pale golden when held up to the light, Table Beer looks as dark as anything we had on Just Tables. Definitely not straw gold.
The aroma had me questioning things. Like whether Table Beer was a hefeweizen in disguise. Yeast, bread, and banana shine through, giving this table beer a big banana bread aroma. The hops provide some citrus fruit notes and a little bit of faint grass. The citrus fruit doesn’t really come off as typical orange or grapefruit; Table Beer goes for more of a “darker” citrus fruit, like a kaffir lime. But all those hefeweizen nose flavors did surprise me in a good way.
If handed to me blind, I’d guess Table Beer is a hefeweizen. What I wouldn’t guess – even after multiple tries – would be a table beer. The only hint comes from the light and refreshing finish. That’s it. A nice little bitter kick shows up in the finish, recalling a wheat pale ale (that will be on one of our upcoming shows). The banana bread note permeates the palate as well, giving off those hefeweizen vibes. While a hefeweizen drinks a little heavier, with all these hefe-y flavors coming at me I couldn’t tell the difference. There’s even some small lemon and lime notes that show up as well!
Table Beer moves though. If you couldn’t tell from the pour, the carb is high here but the beer overall coats the tongue. That full mouthfeel really helps with the flavor during the sip, allowing an unusually high amount of flavor for a table beer. The fact that it fills the tongue, has some flavor and then gets out of the way makes Table Beer vanish from the can. Seriously. I was drafting a fantasy football team while drinking and reviewing it and I had to slow myself down multiple times.
In the context of our recently released Just Tables show, Table Beer would rank fairly high. That full mouthfeel likens it to Metropolitan’s Micro Volt in my eyes. But Table Beer has more flavors going on in it. The fact that it masks itself as a hefeweizen should be reason enough to include this on a “table beer to try” list.
On the whole, Table Beer does an excellent job of imparting mouthfeel, flavor, and aroma while still maintaining some table beer qualities. It finishes light and refreshing, has a low 3.7% ABV, and has a multitude of flavors popping up, ranging from a hefeweizen to Sprite/7-Up-like. It would slay with a variety of foods. I could have finished a 4-pack without batting an eye – and would have enjoyed every minute of it. More table beers in any form please!