This was a recommendation from Paddy at the Post Office Vaults, I’ve never tried any Fantôme beers before. My Belgian beer education started with Trappist and Abbey beers and while it’s growing there are still so many breweries, even styles that I’m yet to try. Fantôme beers are apparently all Saisons which are sour farmyard ales, think Orval but less sweet, made with herbs and spices. Fantôme de Noel is the strongest at 10% though most others seem to be 8 so they’re all fairly serious beers.
The first thing we notice is the massive, lingering fluffy head; even with two glasses poured the bubbles start erupting from what’s left in the bottle after a couple of minutes. This head sits on top of an orangey red beer which has a rich, slightly tangy aroma.
I haven’t much experience with sours so this feels like a bit of an adventure though Jess has really taken to them since discovering them in Belgium. The taste is spicy and rich, perhaps in a Tawny Portish sort of way, then quite bitter and sour. It has a distinctly thin body for something so strong. In the mix is some woodiness and a certain earthiness which Jess describes as bitter cocoa. There are also some hop flavours, maybe some pine, while the best way that we can think of describing the sourness is like a sharp cooking plum or a very dry cherry liquor. This never overwhelms the other flavours, however, it’s more dominant in other sours we’ve tried.
It’s an interesting experience, pushing my taste boundaries in an enjoyable way and we’re definitely going to look out for more Fantômes!