Skip to content

Table Beers: The Ultimate Guide

The universe of beers is always expanding. And a recent addition? Table beers. 

Table beers have begun to crop up on the menu of many craft breweries recently. And despite their name, you can’t just plunk any old beer on the table and call it a table beer. (Well… you could but no one would understand the joke.)

These lower-alcohol beers have had a recent boom in popularity. Why? Who really knows? But we’re gonna talk about them anyway. 

What is a table beer?

Simply put, a table beer is brewed with less alcohol. But is not technically a low-alcohol beer. They were originally served in a large vessel for the table to share at dinner. In general, they tend to be somewhere in the range of 1.5% – 2.9% ABV – above the low-alcohol 0.5% but below the 3 – 4.5% range of session and “light” beers.

So a Super Session beer like our Satellite low ABV beer could totally be a table beer. But Lazer Crush (0.3% ABV) or Bones (4.4%) could not.

What type of beer is table beer?

As long as it has a lower ABV than normal, any beer (lager or ale) can be considered a table beer. So if you don’t like IPA, a lower-alcohol lager would totally work instead. 

Where did table beer come from?

The boomers love to tell us young people off for killing various industries – we’re already responsible for the demise of the high street and the concept of guest bedrooms (can you hear our eyes rolling?). The most recent thing? We’re apparently killing drinking culture – more people are opting to drink low-alcohol options nowadays and going out less. But little do the boomers know that table beers, also called small beers, have been a thing since "the olden days". 

This type of beer was drunk all over Europe in Medieval times. It was made to be shared by everyone around the table at dinner time and was pretty light (in both flavour and ABV) to appeal to everyone.

It probably tasted way better than the water that was available at the time and might even have been safer than drinking the water you could find in Southwark (not scientifically proven). Not to mention that it was also a cheap source of calories – basically liquid bread – so was often drunk by poorer folk when food was scarce. 

Nowadays, a table beer can basically mean any beer that has a low alcohol volume. Easy drinking without the headache the next day. And don’t worry, you don’t have to share. 

What does table beer taste like?

We’re not going to beat around the bush here… table beer (and other lower-alcohol beer) tastes basically the same as regular craft beer. You still get that out-of-this-world hoppy, bitter, refreshing flavour, just with less alcohol in. 

Don’t believe us? We have a whole blog post on how and why alcohol-free beer tastes so good. 

What’s the difference between table beers and session beers?

Both table and session beers are brewed with less alcohol. But they have some differences. Your average session beers will have an ABV level between 3-5% (a regular IPA can be anywhere from 5 to 8% usually). So it’s lower than a regular beer but still not that low. 

A table beer will be somewhere between 1.5-2.9%. Which is way above the level of a low-alcohol beer (0.5% ish) but still below the range of a session IPA, for example. 

And that’s the skinny on table beers. Phew. Time to crack open a cold one we reckon.