70 / 100
Bottle shared with me by Jez. It happened sometime and some place in the space-time continuum.
Pours a murky dark red colour, gorgeous head, beige and foamy and very voluminous. Sticky trails of lace left behind. Maybe a bit sparse in webbing but otherwise about the perfect head. Looks great otherwise too.
Smells, I'm not sure what given I don't know the style. Sort of tart but also sort of dark, with some sour cherry character that's quite big, and a roasty coffee note as well. Touch of chocolate too. Maybe some brandy. Interesting and quite intriguingly nuanced aroma.
Taste doesn't elucidate the mystery at all because frankly that's quite weird. Roasty all over it, but not quite heavily bitter or dark, just this flavour of coffee beans and cocoa-rich chocolate, with a slight fruity character, mostly vinous with a rich oaky shiraz kind of flavour on the back. Quite plump and juicy without being tart but a distinct woodiness underlying it. Slight vanilla character midway too, possibly also from the oak. Interesting drop, but I really don't quite know what to make of it, it's complex but somehow doesn't feel grounded, and maybe a bit too unbeery without bringing it back via some good dark malts or some hopping (which admittedly wouldn't suit the beer at all though).
Quite tingly throughout, with a slight boozey pull midway through. Maybe could again use more malt base.
A very curious and worthwhile drop but It feels like a bit of an overall experiment rather than a beer with unusual flavours or a bit of a twist.
750ml green bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Shared with Sam during a brewday.
Pours a vibrant mahogany red colour, quite clear when held to the light, with a frothy, beige crest of foam that leaves good streaks of lace. Body is very firm, holding pleasantly static, but surprisingly coarse carbonation. Lacing forms in leopard-print streaks. Looks pretty good.
Nose definitely has a lot of coffee, with a strong fresh-roasted bean quality to it. This mingles pleasantly with a hint of Belgian yeast spice—although it's certainly not the kind of funk I associate with other Fantôme brews.
Taste is definitely weirder. There's a lightness through the body that is probably the result of the Fantôme house culture, and this brings out more aniseed and carob notes in the coffee. There's some slight hint of melted vanilla ice cream as well, only just with the flavour, not the creaminess. It leaves the back with the aromatics of sweetness, but not the actual sweetness, which again is an odd experience.
Overall, it's indeed unexpected. There's lots of pleasant characters to it, but they're juxtaposed in ways you don't normally see. So it's a bit of a head-scratcher. A pleasant one though.
59 / 100
75cl green bottle purchased as part of a bulk order with some colleagues. Imported into Australia by the International Beer Collector.
Pours a pink-tinged golden colour, with a coarse-bubbled and rather fizze head of off-white, that persists as a bubbly ring. Body is light, and full of effervescence. Weak, sudsy lace forms when tilted. Looks okay, but not much better than that.
Nose has some reasonably pleasant saison yeast notes to it, matched with an earthiness that doesn't really do it much in the way of favours. It's actually quite flat as well, without a huge amount of complexity or broad aromas to give it a lot of interest.
Taste is similar: it doesn't help that it's overcarbonated, with an aggressive fizz on the front-palate that causes some degree of exhaustion. There's some sweet fruit through the centre, with a hint of cherry pit and peach. On the back though, we're back to earthiness, with a rough herbal character and a papery finish.
Overall, this is most certainly a disappointing outing from Fantôme. It's possible the bottle I have is old, but I would have expected more complexity and funk were that the case. I suspect instead, that either the beer just isn't that great (which would be rare from Fantôme), or it's been improperly stored or transported. In either case, it's a bit of a shame.
58 / 100
650ml green, capped and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer. This is a collaboration between Fantôme, Birrificio Math and Brasserie du Flo.
Pours a deep, rich black-brown colour, the colour of dense, untempered dark chocolate, with a head that froths easily at the start, bubbling out to a persistent centimetre or so of beige crest. Minimal, patchy, sudsy lace. Body is not overly light, but seems about right for the ABV.
Nose had a whiff of vibrant hops to begin with, but these quickly dissipate, leaving mostly a semi-sweet chocolate note with hints of coffee grounds and earth. The hop character still provides a slight leavening though, giving some vague overtones of musk, fairy floss or jasmine. Mostly, it's about the darkness though, which isn't an unpleasant thing for an IBA, although it does tend to be unusual.
Taste is sharp from front to back, with a resiny, oily hop presence that seems too high a price to pay for the lack of aroma. Fortunately, there's enough body to buffer it, and there's a slight sweetness towards the back that provides some balance. However, due to the presence of the dark characters, the bitterness does seem too harsh in the finish, evoking characters of char and ash.
Feel is okay. The body has a little bit more weight than a regular Fantôme beer (as it should for the style), but the carbonation is still fairly fierce, leaving it aerated on the palate and bloating in the belly.
Overall, it's not bad, but it ends up delivering neither a great example of the style, nor anything near the top of Fantôme's abilities. These two facts both individually make this a disappointment: together they make it a crying shame.
59 / 100
750ml green capped and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours a very slightly strawberry-tinged golden amber colour, with a big frothy head of loose, off-white bubbles, saved in the glass after a bit of a gush on uncorking. Body is light and thin, with very little noticeable carbonation.
Nose is great. Judicious green-bottle skunk accentuates some funky yeast notes, giving pleasant crushed vegetations notes and sweet spices. There's a slight brassy or sharper green note that could be the result of hops, but mostly it rides on its brewery's roots—and let's be fair, Fantôme's strengths lie in funk and yeast.
Taste is bizarre. Shocking, almost. Because the yeasty, saison, funky characters I was expecting from the aroma are just not there. Indeed, there's a flat thinness throughout the palate that makes it feel a little like someone's amputated my tongue. Instead, there's a weird kind of empty nuttiness, and a rather strong quinine-like bitterness on the back that actually feels rather metallic and medicinal. There's so little body to it that there's nothing to balance it—it's crying out for something else. Some complexity from the yeast would have been great, but it's pulled up stumps after doing all its work on the nose.
This is... challenging, shall we say? It's really something of a shame, because the aroma was great, and I was willing to forgive its complete divergence from the style if it was going to layer on some of those classic Fantôme notes. But in the end, it span around on the spot, had a random stab towards a more hop-focused beer and ended up disemboweling a close friend.
62 / 100
I'm going to call this a BdG and to hell with the consequences. Bottle given to me by Jez; shared with Chris while commiserating over 2016 election results.
Pours a red colour, with dirty murk. Exploded when I opened it, quite frothily. Head therefore is very voluminous and a bit too sparse. Lace is clingy in small clumps. Looks like soap bubbles, and generally a bit disappointing.
Smells fruity and tangy. Big lychee character with sherbet and a touch of rubbery funk. Fairly decent, but a bit of astringency on there. I like most of the fragrance but it's somehow a bit off, as well.
Taste is funky, quite bitter really. Rubbery upfront with a touch of vinous flavour, then some tang with lychee and pineapple on there followed by a big bitterness, mostly hoppy bitterness with some resinous and phenolic notes. Slightly peppery on the back and a hint of freshness but then the bitterness emerges again very late, as an afterthought. Quite medicinal really. But OK.
A bit foamy, touch of sharpness as it goes back, maybe a bit boozey.
Decent complexity and the flavours are largely good but there's some odd notes that just drag it down a bit. Not quite up to Fantôme's usual standard.
75 / 100
750ml classic green Fantôme bottle purchased from Leura Cellars. Shared with Sam and our Dad.
Pours a peachy yellow-orange colour with a massive head of foamy, egg-white crust that settles out to a silky foam. Firm, thick lace that causes a solid basin to form in the head. Body is light and vivid holding some lively carbonation. Looks good overall.
Nose is pleasant rounded classic Belgian characters bright and tending towards the fruity notes. Classic Fantôme notes, with a stewed tomato baked bean note, but dusty with some dry chocolate cocoa hints, and an aroma of rosewater as it warms. It's very interesting.
Taste is also pleasant. It's clean and light, with a quite pronounced fragrant saison character around the back. Slight bubblegum note and something a little bit plastic and green with a sharpness like underripe tropical fruit. There is a hint of spicy bite on the back from the chili, but the chocolate isn't around at all on the palate—it's only there from the nose.
Feel is thin and clean. Fine for a saison, but always surprising for a 8% beer.
Overall, it's really a very interesting beer. It's subtle in its differences from the regular Fantôme range, but enough to make it stand on its own. I like it.
70 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez with me and Father.
Pours a pale amber colour, hugely cloudy: sedimenty in fact. Sudsy head, large bubbles, white. Nice lacing. Pretty good.
Smells saisony. Patented Fantôme yeast character - barnyard, with a slight vanilla sweetness and a touch of berry. Pleasant indeed, even though I don't get a lot of cocoa or chilli.
Taste is big and saisony, with a large cherry ester on the mid-palate. Barnyard, phenols, some rubbery notes on the back, and a very mild chilli warmth on the very back. Not very spicy but a linger. Not a lot of cocoa either. Tangy, funky mostly. Still, enjoyable.
Smooth, substantial body with a bit of a drying and bitty texture.
Lots of nice character, but doesn't really deliver on its promise of chocolate or chilli. It misses an opportunity to make itself something great.
75 / 100
Vibrant orange colour, with slight cloud. Head is foamy, off-white, gorgeous lacing. Great retention. Looks fab.
Smells funky, earthy. Lots of savoury notes with a touch of tangy fruit - clementine and pear, lots of spice, barnyard funk. Yum. Plenty going on here.
Taste is a bit disappointing. Just doesn't burst with flavour like the aroma predicted. Notes of citrus pith, some earthy barnyard funk, peppery spice. More bitter, spicy, organic and lacks the pop of freshness. Somewhat tannic, too. Feels like it needs an orange character. It's just subdued behind a bit of organic funk. Nicely balanced, though I guess.
Lots of texture, body goes down easily so though there's an edge here and there it feels pleasant.
Could definitely be drunk all night. Feel it falls short of true greatness in terms of flavour, but bags of pleasant character still remains.
72 / 100
750ml corked and capped green bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam on a brew day, coincidentally, right after Halloween, which seemed appropriate.
Pours a hazy coppery golden colour, with a very fine and firm head of off-white, that sits as a pleasantly thick film across the top, even in the humidity of an early Sydney summer. Lacing is great as well, forming in wide but intricate streaks. Body is very solid, and holds nice powdery carbonation. Overall, it's a good looking beer.
Nose is mild, but pleasant. I wasn't actually convinced that this beer had pumpkin in it, but there's definitely a rather vegetative sweetness to the nose that could well be pumpkin. It's balanced by the classic clean and slightly funky Fantôme saison acidity and a slightly rubbery tone. The sweetness tends to win out though, and leaves a rather full-bodied aroma. I like it.
Taste is definitely drier, and slightly more phenolic, with a definite rubbery character running through the mid-palate. There is some fruitiness around the edges, and a full-bodied feel that allows some of the other complexities to come through. There's definitely some of the classic Fantôme saison characters, but softened and perhaps dampened somewhat by the vegetative sweetness. It's not bad, but the aroma was better.
Feel is good—there's a thickness to it that really supports the characters, and yet the suggestion of acidity stops it from feeling too heavy.
Overall, it's really very drinkable, and another example of how Fantôme do such a good job of playing within one particular style. I'm still not convinced this actually has pumpkin in it, but in any case, they do a good job of invoking some of that type of character within the confines of their classic saison structure.
Pours a nice rich red colour, somewhat cloudy. Head is nice and dense, settled out to a thin film. Swill revives it well; looks good, and nice lace. I like it a lot.
Smells weizeny. Good amount of banana ester on there, with some medicinal notes, and sweet spice - vanilla, clove, maybe a touch of cardamom astringency. Slight fruit, mostly desserty sweetness. Bit pedestrian, but nice.
Taste is a bit more spice-forward. Notes of pepper come through strongly, mixing with that clove and cinnamon character. Backbone is banana, seems to be heading to nice, sweet back palate but it has a twist too much spice, and gets somewhat astringent to cut the fruit esters short. Kind of aniseedy and a touch of fenugreek. Green, herbal at times too. Good weizeny character, touch of medicine, but leans a little too heavily on some and leaves me wanting more sweetness.
Nice body, dries up a bit at the end but leaves a bitty texture. Booze is not detectable.
Very weizenbocky. Bit sharp on the finish, but nice complexity. Almost a total winner for me, but some noticeable flaws.
750ml swing-top brown bottle purchased from Ales Unlimited in San Francisco. Muled back to Sydney where I cracked it open on a brewday with the Jabberwock brewing crew.
Pours a deep, reddish amber hue, with a fine, but somewhat insubstantial head of just off-white. Body has a little bit of weight to it, but it stays pretty fluid. Lacing forms in nice sticky, complex streaks. Carbonation is very low. Looks pretty decent all up.
Nose is actually a little muted. Some mild malt with a slight clean overtone of something green and vegetative. There's also a slightly loamy earth character as well, which is quite pleasant. But there's clearly not much of those big bright saison characters that so enamoured me of Fanôme's original beers. Overall, it ends up a little bit underwhelming for what it is.
Palate is quite interesting. It's more malty than many of Fantôme's regular saisons, and it has a depth of sweetness that is a little unusual. But it's balanced with a very fine and rather pleasant Asian pepper character through the mid- to back-palate. The finish has a slight kick of something grassy or vegetative, which is just enough to clean it up. It's rather pleasant.
Feel definitely seems a little heavy. It's a bit like they have really over-accentuated the malt over ever aspect.
Overall, in the scheme of things I'm disappointed. I feel like it's one of the weaker entries from Fantôme, who are usually the benefactors of superb beers. There are some interesting things to it, but it's much the lesser of their regular saison, for interest, and at something like triple the price, I'm left a little bemused.
92 / 100
750ml green bottle capped and corked as is the Fantôme way. Purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA and shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a wonderfully clear and bright pale straw colour, almost like a fine pilsener. Head forms a fairly coarse-bubbled, but substantial and frothy head of pure white that settles out to a persistent half-centimetre of foam. Lacing is great. Body looks fairly light, but it has a hidden weight to it that forces some fairly languid carbonation. Looks really very good indeed.
Nose is wonderful. Bright, gripping funk that's clean and green, giving a crispness and vitality to the beer. There's a slight organic character to it that comes through, with a bit more earthiness and a sense of weird aromatics. It's mostly just bright and very clean—a really lovely aroma.
Taste is also extremely clean and bright, with a moderated funk that lends a crispness and a touch of acidity. Then all of a sudden, the green organic note evokes a hint of smokiness which is completely unexpected, but with the crispness of the body, and the mild acidity works really well. Finish is minerally and bright, with an almost salty accent to really clean things up. Quite remarkable stuff.
Feel is light and crisp throughout, with a slight frothiness that expresses some of the more delicate flavours.
Overall, this is gorgeous stuff, getting towards Fantôme at the top of their game. And with a brewery this good, their top game is fairly spectacular.
Cheers to @headlessclown for sharing this one. Drunk with him and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a dirty dark brown colour, very hazed, but turning to a dark red when held to the light. Head is very fizzy, and forms a large crest that runs out of puff and leaves a slight foamy film. Lacing forms in large, indulgent streaks. Looks decent enough.
Nose is certainly dark, leavened with funky, bretty characters that leave it somewhere between liquorice and fairy floss. Some vegetative, herbal characters come through too, like fresh mint and crushed leaves. I don't get much in the way of actual acidity, but it's a nice melange even so.
Taste has the acidity a little more: leaving a metallic twang throughout. The toasty roast character comes through pleasantly, but with the coppery note it almost tastes meaty and bloody like a rare steak. Body is very light, meaning it leaves very little on the back palate. Some peppery and spritz is the only thing to provide some punctuation on the back.
Overall, it has some strange parts to it, some of which work, and some of which don't. I'm not quite sure it's as good as many of Fantôme's other offerings, but it's an interesting diversion.
69 / 100
Pours a bronze colour, slight cloud. Head is white, bit thin but lacing is nice. Looks alright.
Smells saisony and nice. Funky, but sweet, with brown sugar on there, notes of cherry, horse blanket and even salt. Very intriguing, but highly pleasant as well.
Taste is a little bit disappointing. Tastes quite yeasty for the most part with notes of tart, vinous characters upfront and some cherry on the back, with champagne and some of that brown sugar note. Very decent saison, with a bit of richness to it as well. Could use maybe more full flavour, and a bit more balance away from the yeast.
Bit of sizzle, but nicely padded by the body.
Fruity notes on an otherwise standard saison. Not bad at all.
69 / 100
Pours a vibrant red colour, cloudy but bright. Beige head, dense and thick, good retention. Lacing is decent.
Smells odd. Very sweet, with poached apple, cherry notes and merlot. Hint of barnyard funk on the midpoint. Otherwise, sweet.
Taste is more fruity again, with cherry, blackberry and some hints of peach. slightly dark, and mildly funky on the back with light phenolic notes. Coffee on here as well, otherwise all dark fruits and tart. The sourness comes as a bit of a surprise, but it's a welcome one.
Smooth enough, bit of fizz, bit dry, but alright.
Weird beer, no doubt. But balanced enough to be enjoyed.
50 / 100
Pours a shiny gold colour with no head. Thin film around the edge with dense bubbles. Decent lace. Not bad, but not great.
Smells sweet, honey and nutty. Lots of almondy notes. Sweet predominantly with hints of Belgian phenols on the back. Marzipan, pecan and peanut. I'm definitely missing the funk here.
Wow, world of difference on the palate. So sour. A lot better, and yet still a bit simple and underdeveloped. Peanut notes, some chestnut, with tart vinegar character and some lemon/apple cider notes. Not particularly interesting, just tastes a little unnuanced to me.
Tart mouthfeel with pull from the yeast. A bit dry and acidic, but not bad.
Maybe it was a mistake following Logsdon's excellent Seizoen with this, as this just doesn't taste right to me. Tartness is there but there doesn't seem to be much else.
90 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with a slight cloud. Head is off-white, light specks of lace but big, fluffy, generous look otherwise. Great.
Smells saisony, but sweet. Cinnamon toast with notes of quince, peach and raspberry. Horsey funk as well, oxidised vinegar, but all very well balanced to entice and uplift. A treat.
Taste starts off quite tarts, and gets even more so. Vinous with champagney notes, lemon curd, raspberry vinegar and of course that organic barnyard funk. Light spice notes, peach fruit and even guava. Vanilla comes through on the back, providing some sweetness late. Lovely mix, really as though it were deliberately and cleverly thrown together, but still with a rough, untamed edge.
A bit of pull on the mouthfeel but it works well. Nice and dry on the finish which helps to counteract that late sweetness.
Clever beer. All the right funky notes but patched up in all its oddities to make it refreshing and supremely drinkable. A memorable drinking experience.
81 / 100
Pours a deep golden colour, still but massive, and celestially beautiful head - off-white, fluffy, serene. Just impeccable look.
Smells lovely too. Funky, but fresh with apricot, lemongrass and pepper at the back. Slight vinous bordering on white wine vinegar, just a touch of acidity. Beautiful.
Taste is vinous upfront, bit of oaky chardonnay that develops malty sweetness with a touch of fennel, clove and overcooked sweet pastry. Nice crispness at the back, just a whisper of tart on an otherwise funky palate. Bit metallic as well? Very nice, anyway.
Bit of sizzle on the mouthfeel but not harsh. Works quite nicely with the body.
Lovely saisony notes. Fresh, complex and enjoyable.
89 / 100
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney, where I shared it with Rich and Sam for our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours a mildly hazed but very pleasant deep golden colour, with a fine bit slightly filmy head of white. The head really only consists at the edges, forming some pocked bubbles in a pleasant ring, but feeling a little lacklustre elsewhere. Body is solid and holds some nice carbonation. Some patchy but inconsistent lacing. Not one of the better looks of the FantÃ´me range.
Nose is pleasant and clean, with a mild chamomile sweetness and a slightly green herbal quality. Clean and very pleasant funk comes through lending some crispness and a touch of acidity. Underneath is a very nice sweetness, almost a honey character: this is subtle, but it really provides a lovely basis for the other characters. Very pleasant indeed.
Taste is also very good: clean, light, really well-balanced acidity, bouncing off the other complexities that flit and dive in and out of the palate. There's herbal qualities, sweetness, faint pepper, even a pleasant carbonic character that works very nicely with the beer. Pearskin rounds it out, but really, the flavour keeps going for much longer, with a dance of acidity and tartness cavorting right to the very end. Lovely stuff.
Feel is great: smooth but with a clean acidity to cut through it very nicely.
Overall, this is a fantastic beer. It's so refreshing and very, very drinkable. 8% ABV? Not a hint of it: this looks like a clean, summer session beer, and seriously I would drink it as such. It's so very, very drinkable and so very delicious.
89 / 100
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K & L in Redwood City, CA around a year before reviewing. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable in Sydney during our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours a lovely slightly hazed red-amber colour with a fine but subdued head of yellow-beige. Minimal lacing, and really surprisingly little retention given the other FantÃ´me beers we've had today. Body is solid and heavy, with a pleasant effervescent but fine carbonation throughout. Looks very good indeed. A bigger head would have given it a 5.
Nose is sticky and sweet, but with an underlying earthy funk and a hint of acidity that really lends some oddity and some depth to it. Strawberry jam laced with sawdust, or sweet fermenting fruit. Some dustiness comes through, suggesting a pleasant age that has perhaps integrated the characters a little more.
Taste is deeper and darker than the other beers we've had today, with the malt taking a more prominent role, and the yeast providing a more deep dark fruit and pudding character. Some pepper and a hint of antiseptic towards the finish, along with a wash of funk and organics that sets this apart from another big dark Belgian brew.
Feel is lovely. Smooth and rich, but with a lightness from the acidity which allows the beer to express itself, and lightens the load of the complexity.
Overall, this is really good, and a very nice diversion from the regular FantÃ´me range. The depth is very, very good indeed, but the omnipresent acidity really cuts it back and makes it accessible and refreshing. Really very good stuff indeed.
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable in Sydney as part of our FantÃ´me tasting day.
It uncaps without as much as a thunk, and pours similarly: rather flat and heavy. A mild ring of white forms around the edge, but otherwise it looks uncarbonated and pretty dense. Colour is a pleasant slightly hazed golden hue, and it picks up the light nicely: giving it a glow. Overall, it's not bad-looking, but is missing some of the key points of the style and the brewery.
Holy crap, what's going on here? Sweet and sour intensity, like heavily oaked botrytis semillon, with a hint of earthiness and a phenolic, gueuze-like bite. Some marzipan almond acridity. This is very strange: possibly just wrong.
Taste is similar, but maybe a bit better: apple and pear cider characters come through along with a pronounced acidity, and a slightly herbal and slightly carbonic bite on the finish. It feels rather thin, however, and has very little residual body: it's this more than anything that makes me believe this is not how it was supposed to be.
To be honest, I didn't hate it, even though it feels like this sample is infected with something that wasn't meant to be there: the stronger acidity is actually an interesting addition to the base FantÃ´me beer, which still managed to retain some character. But this is less good than it should have been, I feel, and I wonder just how much this has veered off from its goal.
83 / 100
750ml capped and corked bottle purchased from K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to share with Sam & Rich during our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours a very light and pleasantly clear golden hue, with a frothy, messy and rather sticky head of pure white, bubbly foam. Lacing is chunk and forms honeycombed patterns across the inside of the glass. Some fine carbonation, but surprisingly little. Body is quite light. It looks quite refined, but a little bit aloof, like it has hidden secrets.
Nose is smooth, classic and very pleasant. Slight green vegetative bite, with a smooth, rounded Belgian yeast overtone. Light, lilting citrus characters, with an underlying sweetness that gives a sherbet or fairy-floss undertone. It's really very nice, if lacking some real bang.
Taste is clean and crisp, with some mild lemon pith characters around the edges of the palate, and a direct, mildly bitter note through the centre. Some peppery characters come through on the end, along with the first truly earthy, rustic characterâbut even then it's quite subdued for a Saison; it comes through as a strong Belgian golden ale would.
Feel is light, but a little bit acidic: even though there's not a lot of tartness or true acidity in the flavour.
Overall, this is a really very nice Saison indeed. It's clean and fragrant and classic, and superbly refreshing. It's light, but it has subtle complexity throughout. A real winner, as far as I'm concerned.
77 / 100
Purchased at K & L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Australia to share with Sam & Rich as part of our FantÃ´me tasting day.
Pours an incredibly dense and cloudy deep golden colour, with a fine bubbled and reasonably frothy head of pure white. Minimal lacing, and carbonation. Looks decent enough. I like the colour and the haze.
Acidic, vinous and oaky on the nose, with dusty organic characters and a slight herbal uplift. Some appleskin characters and a sharp point of phenolic spice. Lots of interest, and a good amount of stylistic Saison aroma.
Taste is oddly balanced between a number of conflicting and slightly unusual flavour vectors. Lots of coppery metallic bite on the front, with the initial flavour of acidity, although not the onrush of tartness on the back. A bready, savoury character comes through as well, and the finish is high on phenols, giving a light astringency. It's sharp in places, smooth in places and acidic in places, but all the characters never seem to blend, they stay separate, merely activating different parts of the palate. Weird.
It's a decent brew, but a weird skew for a Saison. I'm not sure they'll ever top their regular FantÃ´me Saison in my mind, which is so stylistically perfect it has become the epitome of the style for me, but this is a decent crack at doing something a little different with it.
71 / 100
Bottle purchased from K&L Win Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Shared with Rich and Sam in Sydney during our FantÃ´me Tasting Day.
Pours a very deep coppery orange colour, with surprisingly good clarity. Head is foamy like uncooked meringue, and a similar mildly creamy colour. Lace forms in great swathes down the glass. Body is very light, but the carbonation seems quite static when the glass is tilted. It looks good, I'm tempted to say very good.
Nose is quite sweet, and with some sweet spices to match it, but it is brushed with the Saison palette as well, leaving some nice green funk underneath, and a touch of tart acidity. Spices become more prominent as it warms: some cinammon, perhaps cardamom and something vaguely zingy and citric. It's very pleasant stuff.
Taste is not unexpectedly rather light (it being only 4% ABV), with a very mild phenolic bitterness through the centre. Dried apricot characters come through towards the back. Lingering acidity and a faint spritz of carbonation keep it alive for longer than it has a right to be. It's quite refreshing, but it doesn't have much in the way of structure or depth to the palate.
It's very drinkable, however, and rather pleasant, if falling short of some of the other FantÃ´me beers. Then again, if you raised this one up to the level of the others, you might end up with a very similar beer--I can see how this one fits into the range.
81 / 100
Pours a very, very cloudy opaque brown with dayglo orange around the edge. Slight floaties suspended around the glass. Head is off-white, quite dense but not very thick, just a crown remaining. Some small trails of lace, but sparsely distributed. Looks alright, if a little odd.
Smell is very tart indeed. Lots of sharp - but not intense - acid coming off with citrus notes and some mustiness with slight caramel malt underlying. Some barnyard funk and maybe some tart berries as well. Pretty nice.
Taste is an odd one. Never reaches highs of funk or acidity, but as a result, strikes a nice balance. Some mild grain notes on front that evolve into caramel sweetness that underlies the rest of the palate, but layered on top early-mid is this citrus-tinged tartness, while also gatherine peach and baked apple flavours together. It then becomes slightly funky and damp on the finish, as the tartness trails off, and the sweetness remains as well. Nice, complex palate that nevertheless has a very restrained, even subdued profile.
Fairly foamy, and quite thick. Lots of texture that almost makes it feel layered in the mouth, like there's a base, and a texture above it that isn't quite connected; a bit odd.
An eminently drinkable saison with a great balance to it.
71 / 100
Pale? I think not. Pours a dark, hazed brown, with flashes of amber lighter colours. Head is full and robust, a slightly creamy off-white crown. Lacing is present, but a bit transient. I do like the colour, the haze, the creaminess of the head. Looks a good beer.
Nose is pleasantly flavoured, with notes of oak and spice, mixed with a heady aroma of cherry carnival candy. Slight aromas that suggest sourness, with a sweetness to ground it. It's really quite a lovely aroma. I could smell it all night, but I must push forward.
Taste is also good, but slightly less full-flavoured than I expected. On the front, there are pleasant notes of light acidity and a woody oak character, but the back drops off a lot, leaving a milky white chocolate aftertaste mingled with a touch of organics. Feel is light, with a slight crispness, which is pleasant enough, but strike me as slightly odd with the darker flavours on the palate.
Nice brew. Very light on the palate for 8%, and there's very little hint of this. Flavours are pleasant and reasonably well integrated. I feel like there should be a touch more of them, but it's still a very nicely crafted beer from Fantome, who genuinely have a habit of making beers I enjoy.
75 / 100
Thanks to BA lacqueredmouse for sharing this bottle. Having drunk it before he suspects this bottle may have been off - but since I still enjoyed it I'm posting this review anyway. In the future you will not see this review because I will have re-reviewed with a fresh bottle.
Pours a sickly orange colour, translucent and day-glo in the body - a huge haze with some sediment chunks floating around in there. Head is small, leaves a ring of bubbles around the top, plus trails of off-white sticky lace. Looks like an interesting glob of unfiltered heaven.
Nose is hugely tart with a big lemon juice aroma and a big whiff of hay, a hint of leather, and some pineapple aroma as well. In fact smells a bit like slightly off pineapple, when it's begun to ferment. Very sweet overall, a lot of complexity lurking behind it though, excellent saison nose.
Tastes very fruity for the most part, with a lot of pineapple, guava and mango (!!) on the front. Turns slightly funky towards the mid with a decent barnyard kind of flavour, hints of camel and off fruit. Sour for the most part, but with an earthy soil edge, and not puckering. Finish though is tragically lacking - the palate really just sort of drops off, or fizzles out, with a slight lemon squash flavour lingering. A bit of grassiness at the back but it really finishes weakly, which is such a shame because it starts promisingly indeed.
Quick slick on the feel, but fairly full, goes down a bit slowly and with effort. Interesting, definitely, there's always something happening in the mouth.
Absolutely and utterly inoffensive beer. Pleasant, even.
I can't wait to re-try this with a fresher bottle :)
93 / 100
Pours a very pleasant cloudy gold colour, with hints of orange at the deepest parts of the glass. An initially frothy head of white foam dissipates to a film, but leaves some remarkably good lacing. Very fine looking Saison.
Deliciously funky nose, lots of citric acidity, and an undeniable cheese note reminding us of the rustic nature of this beer. Quite sour and funky, but with quite a weight behind it. Deliciously unrefined.
Oh wow, what an incredible palate. A delicate line is drawn between acidity, funk and bitterness. Lightly sour entry, with a lingering melon character, that is nicely paired with a light raw bitterness, finessed with a conclusion of light fruits and dry copper. Finish is dry and crisp, but with a final reminder of those wonderful fruity characters, and a tingling hint of sea salt. So much that is unique and wonderful is going on in this brew. To get it all so perfectly balanced is an astounding miracle.
Hell yes! This is an absolutely stunning saison - the best I've yet had. You can see the raw, funky and dirty genesis of the style, but this one weaves all those characters into something greater. I need not mention that the perfect clarity on the palate makes this amazingly refreshing and drinkable. Ambrosia!