Beer: Brewers targeting the dinner table

Paul McConville

Paul McConville

Paul is the Irish News sports editor. He has worked for the newspaper since 2003 as a sub-editor and sports reporter. He also writes a weekly column on craft beer.

Whiplash is a table beer they have also billed as a Micro IPA
Whiplash is a table beer they have also billed as a Micro IPA

FOR centuries – and perhaps longer than that – wine has been the go-to drink for the dinner table. Many incorporate a glass of wine with dinner on an almost daily basis and food and wine pairings are often plastered all over the label of even the cheapest bottle of plonk you'll find in your local supermarket.

However, beer has slowly but surely struck back, and although there are no hard and fast rules about what you should drink with food anyway, the notion of a 'table beer' has been one that modern craft brewers have latched onto with often great enthusiasm.

Table beers are not not necessarily a new thing themselves but have received something of a revival as craft brewers look to muscle in on mealtimes. Perhaps it's because a good table beer represents an exercise in great discipline for a brewer. The trick is to make something which has a decent amount of flavour, but not too much so as to dominate the food. It needs to have a decent bit of body but, again, it can't overpower your meal.

So, we need something with good, yet subtle flavours and a bit of oomph, but not too much and it needs to come in at an accessible abv, preferably four per cent or less.

One beer to tick all those boxes is Northern Lights from Whiplash, which is a table beer they have also billed as a Micro IPA, pitching it at the opposite end of the spectrum to all the double – and even triple – IPAs you see at every turn (for the record, I'm not complaining).

The 'micro' refers to the almost minuscule abv of 2.8 per cent. However, in an almost Willy Wonka-style feat of brewing ingenuity, the guys at Whiplash have managed to pack a hell of a lot of flavour into this little beer.

They've used Vienna malt as well as wheat and oats to give it a smooth mouthfeel. It's light, hoppy and citrusy but has a decent bit of body to it as well. It's best drank with whatever you want really, because that's what a table beer is all about really.

Another beer which could be making an appearance at a dinner table near you soon is Kernel's Table Beer. Don't worry, they've out way more thought into making the beer than naming it. This clocks in 3.4 per cent but, again, has a fair amount of flavour to it while being light enough to let the food take centre stage.