Archive for the 'Fantome' category
It’s been a looong time since I’ve had an actual Belgian ale. I think it has, at least. To be honest, I’ve been so consumed keeping caught up with all the great American craft brewers lately that I find it hard to get across the pond to the Belgians that are, in many ways, my favorite styles around. Then again, there’s also the issue that the Belgians, inevitably, cost a premium. But, hey, every now and again it’s worth it to treat yourself. Also, I’ve had some killer beers from Brasserie Fantome in the past, so when I see a new one, I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it’ll be worth the cash.
The Dalmatienne is the messiest looking pour I’ve seen in a long time. Basically, it looks like a cup of unsettled muddy water. It is a medium brown color with tons of thick debris that swirls around in a manner that is, to the layperson, positively unappetizing. In the beer’s defense, I did have it stored horizontally in my fridge, and it was super effervescent when I opened it, which no doubt caused a lot of this mess. However, I’m rarely disconcerted by a cloudy beer, so I’m not too worried about it.
In the nose, this brew is citrusy and sour and lightly burns the nostrils (in a good way). The flavor of this brew is full and biting and doesn’t exactly match up with the appearance. The initial flavor is lightly sweet with some bready malts. Quickly, a sharp sourness hits the tongue, making you pucker up a wee bit. This sourness is slightly citrusy, but has a richness to it that you don’t find in a traditional saison ale. The sourness never diminishes through the mouth, and stays strong all the way into the aftertaste. The only further enhancement is some additional candi sweetness that comes into the aftertaste, mediating the sourness and making the beer quite a party in your mouth. Basically, this is a dark Belgian farmhouse ale. It’s dark and malty, but with all the sour and quenching characteristics that we get from the lighter French saisons, and it has a bite that you’ll definitely recognize. I really like this a lot. It looks odd enough that nobody is going to steal it from you, but it tastes like a million bucks. Good combination.
This interesting farm-house ale differs from other traditional French saison varietals. It is darker and exhibits characteristics of plum and dark chocolate that you won’t often find in such a beer. However, the presentation is what makes this ale a real jewel. It enters the mouth smooth and tasty and subsequently blossoms into a myriad of flavors finishing with a pleasing aftertaste. An excellent beer, and a brewery that I am sure to re-visit
Taken literally, the name of this beer is French for “ball-buster”. The apparent intent of this beer was to brew a French Saison ale that was so sour that noone would want to drink it. However, as is often the case with beer, the more extreme you make the flavors, the more desireable you make the beer.
The pour of this beer is the usual golden of a saison ale, only a bit darker and a bit cloudier. The aroma is heavy with malt with a hint of lemon and grass – quite pungent, really. The flavor is where it gets interesting. This is essentially an Imperial Saison, which isn’t a genre that I would expect to discover. As you may know, saison ales were originally brewed to be especially sour and thirst-quenching, so that the farmers in the field would have a refreshing beer to drink after a tough day in the sun. In general, saison’s are rather sour, but this one takes it to the next level. When this initially hits your tongue, it has a rather sharp burn – partially from carbonation and partially from the hops. About the middle of the tongue, the burn turns into a heavy sourness that makes you want to pucker up. Then, you are hit with a malty sweetness at the back of the mouth that subsides back into a lighter sourness in the aftertaste. While this sounds a little weird, it is quite good – very refreshing, very tasty, and very unique. I never would’ve expected or even wished to drink an Imperial Saison, because this isn’t a favorite genre of mine. But, now that I’ve had this one, I would gladly repeat the experience. (And apparently I’m not the only one to agree, because this has taken top marks in more than one Belgian beer rating)