Recently in Fantôme Category

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey

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The label sez: "We continue on, forward, like phantom people, towards subtle dawn." I don't know what that means, and the ghost infamously never shares its secrets, so we'll just have to let that be, I guess.

The beer itself was originally brewed in Belgium at Fantôme, with Dany and Jester King brewer Garrett Crowell collaborating on the recipe. Speaking of which, unlike most Tômes, we know a little more about the recipe here. It's made with dark candi syrup, truffle honey, coriander, and black peppercorns. After the initial batch in Belgium, Jester King made a batch back at their own brewery and subjected it to extended fermentation and partial barrel aging (and using their distinctive well water and a melange of native, mixed-culture yeast and bacterial beasties.) The name Fantôme Del Rey roughly translates to Ghost of the King, which is actually pretty evocative. But how's the beer?

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey

Jester King and Fantôme Del Rey (Texas Version) - Pours a striking clear golden orange color with a solid finger of dense white head that has great retention and leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells very funky, lots of dusty, musty Belgian funk going on, a little earthy, some unidentifiable spices, and an underlying fruitiness peeking through. Taste is candy sweet up front, a little sticky fruit, hints of spice and earthy funk, finishing with a whisper of tartness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a little low on the carbonation (but there's plenty there), some stickiness, and only a hint of acidity. A little more carbonation would have done this well. Overall, this is a very nice beer, atypical for Fantôme, which I guess makes sense since this is the Texas version. Well worth checking out. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 4/8/18. Blend #1 - 03.22.16.

Always down for another Tôme, and Jester King is certainly a brewery I should seek out more often. Many thanks to fellow BeerNERD Gary for procuring this bottle for me in his many travels.

Fantôme Boo

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A travelling friend recently procured a bottle of this Fantôme pumpkin saison for me, so I saved it for Halloween. Near as I can tell, this was a one-off brew from the 2012-2013 timeframe (just before the Smoketôme era), which indicates that there are some areas in this country that get lots of Fantôme that just sits on shelves. What is wrong with you people?

Anyways, these bottles had a reputation as being gushers such that, if you turned them upside down whilst opening, they could propel you into low earth orbit. Um, anyway, this sort of thing usually makes for a poor experience (and perhaps explains their current availability five years later) and I can confirm that when this happened with a different bottle a little while ago, it was pretty much a lost cause. Fortunately, my bottle of Boo did not have this problem (and unfortunately, I still haven't visited space). This could be the extra few years talking, but it could also be Fantôme's infamous lack of consistency manifesting. Whatever the case, it was a nice, spooky choice for Halloween night:

Fantôme Boo

Fantôme Boo - Pours a murky, moderately dark orange color with half a finger of white head. Smells sweet, a little spice, and that trademark Tôme funk. Taste has some saison spice to it, lots of earth and funk, all somewhat muted by age. As it warmed up, the spice began to feel more peppery, even a hint of spicy hotness (as opposed to spicy clove or cinnamon or something, which is not here). Mouthfeel is sharply carbonated, medium bodied, and it's got some spicy heat. Overall, this is a minor ghost, a little long in the tooth, but an interesting spin. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/31/17.

In fairness, I was coming down with a bit of a cold at the time, so perhaps I wasn't in the best condition for a true evaluation. Also, my deprivation chamber was on the fritz, so I was just sitting on my couch watching horror movies (Halloween and Trick r Treat, in accordance with tradition), which also matters. I'm the worst. Anyway, Fantôme is always an interesting drink and I'm sure it won't be long before we tackle another offering...

Fantôme Duo

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There are many varieties of Fantôme, but it's always rough trying to figure out what makes each one different. Sometimes the addition is obvious or well known, but most of the time you're just left with the label's cryptic "Belgian Ale brewed with spices" (and occasionally additional "herbs"). The ghost never reveals its secrets! But sometimes you can get an inkling.

First up is this collaboration with Beancurdturtle Brewing's Daniel Fernandez, a beer consultant who collaborates with breweries and helps design and brew beers. Based in California, he seems to spend a lot of time working with European brewers like Fantôme. Ghost Turtle (this feels like a reference to something) is a typical Belgian ale brewed with spices and herbs, but when one fateful knower speculated Anise, he was shot down and told that the beer used: "No anise. Three flowers, a few herbs, and wildflower honey." Still a little nebulous, but better than nothing:

Fantome Ghost Turtle

Fantôme Ghost Turtle - Pours a golden yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head that has good retention and leaves a bit of lacing as I drink. Smells great, lots of sweet, candied fruit, and that trademark tôme funk. Taste hits the saison spice notes harder than the fruity esters, with earthy funk doing its thing in the middle to finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, decent carbonation, pretty easy going. Overall, it's a solid little tôme! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/9/17.

Next up is Vertignasse, which again lists unspecified spices and herbs, but a little digging reveals that the green color (which was not quite as vivid in my bottle as some pictures I've seen) at least partially derives from spinach juice (ew? Thankfully this doesn't come off as being vegetal.) Some have also specified that this is a variant of Fantôme's Blanche, a wheat beer that hasn't been made in a while, but which makes sense (this does feel very much like a Belgian Wit). Ultimately not as good as their other Green offering (Magic Ghost), but hey, it ain't easy being green:

Fantôme Vertignasse

Fantôme Vertignasse - Pours a pale, yellowish green color with a finger of white head. Smells mostly of the famed and unspecified spices, but I'll hazard a guess of coriander and cloves, some of which no doubt comes from the yeast, which only bears a hint of funk. Taste is sweet and spicy, that coriander and cloves come through here too, but there's something fruity and juicy here too. It's a good mixture of flavors. Mouthfeel is a little light on the carbonation, but in a way that works, light bodied but not something you necessarily want to chug. Overall, a nice, complex, and light saison that is unique, which is saying something from this brewery. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.5% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/16/17.

So there you have it, two new Tômes that have at least partially been explained. But one can never be truly sure what a Ghost consists of... As Dany likes to say: Secrets, secrets. Up next on the Tôme front is the new batch of Été (which, as I understand it, is drastically different than the last one I managed to procure) and a Ghost I'm going to save for Kaedrin's annual Six Weeks of Halloween marathon!

Fantôme Strange Ghost

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Explicitly calling this "Strange" may seem a bit oxymoronic. I mean, we are talking about Fantôme here, right? But even among Fantôme's eclectic fare, this beer does indeed stand out. That's a bold statement, to be sure, but one the beer lives up to. As per usual, what sets this apart is difficult to determine (the official description just sez that it's brewed with "spices and herbs") and judging from reviews, it seems like this most recent release is different from previous releases (which supposedly had a more minty, herbal component). It's labeled a saison because lol, style doesn't matter when it comes to something like this, might as well call it saison:

Fantôme Strange Ghost

Fantôme Strange Ghost - Pours a deep, rusty amber color with a finger or two of fluffy, off-white head. Smells sweet and spicy, maybe some fruit zest, hints of that characteristic Tome funk. Taste hits that spice pretty hard, not really sure what it is actually, but it's tasty. Some darker malt presence, though again, it defies precise identification. It gets a bit of tart fruit juice and funk towards the middle and finishes with a tangy, not-quite-sour bite. (Update: I saw someone mention tamarind in reference to this beer, and that feels kinda right for part of the taste, but who knows? It's not like I have tamarind all the time, so I'll just leave this as an aside written after the original tasting notes.) Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, effervescent, light acidity. Overall, it is indeed strange (even for a Tôme) and it took me a while to wrap my head around it, but it's quite pleasant. A- or B+. Take your pick. I don't even know anymore.

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/4/17. Vintage: 2016.

I love digging into new Tômes. Always a pleasure. I don't have anything new in the immediate pipeline, but I'm always on the lookout for different releases.

Fantôme Artist 2

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This is the second in a series of beers meant to highlight a young Belgian artist, Gaelle Boulanger. There are five planned bottlings, each featuring work from Gaelle. Once the bottles are gone, the art will be auctioned off for her benefit. I don't know any details about this particular piece of art, but it looks like a chart of some kind. I shall dub this piece "Stock Market". I'm sure Gaelle would be appalled, so let's move on.

The beer is, well, who the hell knows? (Serious knowers know!) Dany describes it as a "Strange beer". It's dark, it's funky, might as well just call it a saison because lol, style definitions don't matter. But hey, it's a great looking bottle, fancy foil too. Here goes nothing:

Fantôme Artist 2

Fantôme Artist 2 - Pours a very dark amber color, almost brown, with several fingers of bubbly light tan head. Not a gusher, but hugely carbonated, and I poured very carefully so as to minimize head and still ended up with a lot. Smells beautiful, sweet, fruity funk, a little musty earth, spicy, maybe even some chocolate, like chocolate covered fruit. Taste hits those sweet and fruity funk notes up front before hitting spice and earthy funk in the middle along with some mitigated dark malt notes and returning to that fruit in the finish, which adds a nice tart note. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, medium bodied, relatively dry, though the tart note keeps things sweet enough. Absolutely does not taste like a 10% ABV beer, alcohol hidden well. Overall, this is fabulous, one of the best dark saisons I've had. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 11/18/16.

As always, Fantôme is an experience. Maybe one more bottle in the pipeline. And hopefully more Artist bottles will show up soon...

Fantôme Desert Ghost

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Good news for Fantôme dorks! It appears that Dany is looking to step up operations, maybe invest in a new brewing system, and start putting out creative new offerings on the regular. Dany being Dany, his wording struck a chord, and now there's a new facebook group called Serious Knowers (of all and nothing) and memes about Master Knowers and I didn't think it possible to love Fantôme any more. As per usual, I'm always on the lookout for more Fantôme, and I've recently come into a few new bottles of stuff. Most exciting. Someday I hope to be a Master Knower.

This beer is a collaboration with Arizona Wilderness, who recently visited Belgium and brought along some ingredients foraged from the Sonoran Desert to brew with Fantôme. Of course, Dany won't tell you what these ingredients are; will probably just respond with the typical "Secrets Secrets" answer. I guess we'll just have to go and drink the sucker and see if we recognize anything:

Fantôme Desert Ghost

Fantôme Desert Ghost - Pours an orange hued gold color with half a finger of head that quickly fades to a cap, then sticks around for a while. Smells great, that pear-like earthy funk is back, some sweet floral aromas too. Taste is quite nice, sweet (perhaps some residual sugars hanging around), that fruity yeast feel, pears and the like, a little bit of earth, some spicy yeast too, with a tart bite towards the finish but not really sour. Fantôme's yeast is still distinct, but really doing well these days. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, a little low on the carbonation (could really use more), no real acidity. Overall, would like more carbonation, but otherwise fantastic. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml corked and capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/11/16.

Always an experience. I've got another interesting new Tome in the pipeline, and frankly the recent bottles of regular Fantôme and Dark White were fantastic. Really looking forward to wider availability of their stuff. You will most certainly be seeing more about Fantôme in the future of this blog...

Fantôme Forest Ghost

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So it's called Forest Ghost, but it's got palm trees and a beach on the label? Like, I'm sure ghosts enjoy traveling and vacations and all, but what's going on here? It turns out that this beer is brewed with Brazilian spices and since Brazil is known for their palm trees and forests, et voila! As per usual, I went into this with no idea what to expect and of course bustin' always makes me feel good:

Fantome Forest Ghost - Light

Fantôme Forest Ghost (Light) - Pours a mostly clear dark orange color with a couple fingers of fluffy, dense white head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, candied malt, typical earthy Brett funk, maybe hints of fruit too, banana and raisins maybe? Taste has a nice sweetness up front, followed by some of that earthy Brett, noble hops, maybe some unidentifiable spice (peppery? Maybe it is identifiable), and finishing with that raisiny banana note. Mouthfeel is fuller bodied and richer than expected, though it's not a monster by any stretch. Well carbonated, tight, and balanced. Overall, rock solid stuff here, yet another interesting spin from Dany. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/15/16.

I've got the "Dark" version of Forest Ghost in the pipeline as well, though I may end up sharing that one with some friends. Always looking for more Fantôme!

Aged Beer Jamboree

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Over the past several months, I've been dipping into my cellar to try out some aged beer. You may have noticed a few of these showing up on the blog already, but I've been keeping a running log of some of the less unique bottles I've opened as well. Some of these were aged intentionally, some were just sitting in the back of my fridge or in my basement for far too long. What can I say, sometimes my eyes are bigger than my liver. My cellar isn't as insane as many you'll see out there, but it's getting sizable, so I sometimes try to take a break from keeping up with the new releases and check out some of these old suckers.

There's something very romantic about aged booze, I think, but with beer it's a bit of a dicey proposition. It's rare that I've had a beer get better over time. It can certainly be different, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's also not usually what you expect. It's worth trying, but if you ever find yourself with a nice bottle of something that might age well, drink it fresh. If you can snag another bottle, age that. If not, just be happy you got your hands on a fresh bottle. Let's take a closer look at some of these:

2014 Abyss

2014 Deschutes Abyss - Finally got around to drinking one of these Deschutes beers after their "Best After" date (usually a year in the future when they release the beer). Pours a deep black color with a finger of light brown head, very nice. Smell brings a lot of the non-stoutlike elements to the fore, vinous fruit, caramel, anise, liquorice, vanilla, maybe even some dank hops. Taste starts with rich caramel, moves right on to more fruity notes, followed by a wallop of dry hop bitterness. As it warms, I get hints of that roasted malt character that I found much more prominent in fresh Abyss. Mouthfeel is full bodied, well carbonated, more dry than I remember it being fresh. Overall, I don't know that it's improved with age exactly, but it feels very different and it's certainly not worse, making it an interesting candidate for aging. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.1% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a teku glass on 1/31/16. Best After: 11/10/15.

Firestone Walker XV - Anniversary Ale

2011 Firestone Walker XV Anniversary Ale - My first Anniversary Ale, this one lives up to my memory. A bottle shop recently celebrated their anniversary or something by releasing a bunch of aged beer, and I managed to snag this one (so it hasn't been sitting in my cellar for quite so long, probably wouldn't have lasted!) Age has treated it well, though I don't think it's any better than it was back in the day. With time, it's got a little less zip, but the flavors have blended together more. It still feels very barleywineish, lots of dark fruit, rich caramel, some nice barrel character. Overall, this was worth aging and is doing well these days, but it was probably still a little better when it was fresh. This is probably good advice overall for the Firestone Anniversary beers - worth aging, but not at the expense of drinking it fresh. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (22 ounce bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 1/1/16.

Plead the 5th Stout

2013 Dark Horse Plead the 5th Stout - This has held up well. The intense roasty character is much faded, only really revealing itself in the finish. In its place we get caramel and an almost dark fruit note, like port wine or something. This hasn't really been my favorite stout, but it holds up well. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a snifter on 1/30/16.

Angel's Share 2011

2011 Lost Abbey Angel's Share - Bourbon Barrel Aged - The first time I had this, I thought it was a bit hot and could use some aging. Fortuitously, I came into a bottle not long after, and promptly hid it away in my basement and basically forgot about it. What was lost was found, so I figured 4 years was long enough to age the sucker. Wow, just look at that head. Yes, this was before Lost Abbey got their carbonation game on track. Fortunately, this is a tasty beer. Age is definitely showing, some oxidation apparent, but it still smells and tastes great. Great dark fruit character matches well with the bourbon barrel treatment, reminiscent of early Bruery Anniversary beers. Age definitely mellowed the booze, though perhaps not as much time is actually needed to accomplish that feat. Carbonation is an issue for me. Verdict: Uncertain! Newer vintages are better carbonated and might hold up better. I'd say 1-2 years is ideal aging time. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 12% ABV bottled (375 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/24/15.

Smoketome!

2013 Fantôme Saison - From the Smoketôme era, I was curious to see if the smokey, burnt latex funk worked itself out over time. The answer? Nope! I suppose it's probably mellowed some, but I feel like all the elements mellowed, so the smoke is still there in the same proportion as before. Like my other bottle, this isn't dominated by the smoke, and it adds a sort of complexity rather than straight burning latex and bandaids (as some of the worst Smoketomes exhibited). I really wish I had saved some of my first bottles of Fantome though, from the 2009-2010 era, as those were really special, even if I had no idea what I was drinking at the time. If you've got a smoketome, I say hold on to it. Let's see how that bitch tastes in 5-10 years, eh? C+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a wine glass on 11/30/15.

Merry Monks 2010

2010 Weyerbacher Merry Monks - Back in 2010, I bought a variety case of Weyerbacher, and promptly found myself disappointed by this beer. I gave it a few tries, but this one just sat around for, well, 5 years I guess. It was time. Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells sweet, lots of raisins, maybe a hint of spice. Taste is again very sweet, and again has tons and tons of raisins. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but almost creamy in texture, really nice, but as it warms, a boozy note hits pretty hard. Overall, this is maybe an improvement over the regular, but I'm not really a fan of either. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.3% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/11/15. Bottled 11/23/10. Best By: 11/23/12.

Founders Breakfast Stout 2010

2010 Founders Breakfast Stout - Pours a pitch black color with a gorgeous light brown head. Smells of coffee and creme and more coffee, roasty coffee, spent coffee grounds, did I mention coffee? Taste features lots of that roasty character, less intense coffee here but it's still pretty prominent. Coffee is supposed to fade over time, but this is still pretty intense, even more out of balance than when fresh. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, a little thin actually, though it feels more full as it warms. Overall, I like this and it's held up remarkably well, but it's still not a massive improvement over the base, which seems more balanced. B

Beer Nerd Details: 8.3% ABV bottled (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/11/15.

Of course, this barely puts a dent in the cellar, so after this semi-hiatus from beer, expect to see some more of these aged beer reviews. In the meantime, I've got some wine, bourbon, and Scotch coming your way. And maybe a few more beer posts peppered in...

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Fantôme category.

Exhibit A is the previous category.

Farsons is the next category.

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