The last time Tim and I got together to review a Fantôme beer, the results were worse than what we’d hoped. Upon opening their flagship Saison (reviewed here), we couldn’t help but call the beer “vomity.” After having the Printemps, however, we are both convinced that the bottle we opened before was infected (in a bad way). This beer poured the exact color you would expect from a Saison, bright and warm yellow with a touch of cloudiness and a soft pale white head. Strong aromas of lemon, grass, and Belgian funk started to appear as we lowered our noses to the glass. THIS is how a Belgian Saison should smell. As we sipped, the lemon took center stage, with a very astringent and bitter lemon peel behind it. The grassiness and spiciness from the hops wasn’t far behind. The mouthfeel was pretty light for an 8% beer and we both felt that this was quite refreshing and drinkable at that ABV, too. Now I’m ready to track down more Fantôme beers since this was much better than our last experience!!!
So here we are with the final session of Saison Week. I had a lot of fun recording this week’s beer reviews and got to experience an amazing variety of the Saison style. Hopefully you liked them too because I’ll be having Mr. Pratt on the show more (time permitting) going forward. Now, on to the review… Let me preface this by saying that the beer really does have a vomit-like characteristic. I know I’m going to have to defend this because a lot of people are going to say, “How can you rate a beer an 86 if it tastes like vomit?” Here’s my answer: the sour, funk, and acidity combined in this beer produces an aroma that I couldn’t deny as being what I called “vomit-y.” I just don’t know how else to say it. If a beer smells like cat piss, I’ve said it (Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA), if a beer smells like leather, I’ve said it (HOTD Adam), and the Fantôme Saison smells like vomit. End of story. Now, there are a lot of redeeming qualities, too. The tartness level balanced with the sweetness is very nice. There is the definite Saison character in there as well. But the obvious aromas is the main problem for me. Ultimately this was my least favorite of the three. While the other two had some spicy and brett qualities that were true to the style, Fantôme leans a little too close to Gueuze territory for my taste. While I like a good Gueuze, this beer just didn’t seem to be on the same level as the other two. At the end of the day, I found myself most appreciative of the Saint Somewhere Saison Athene for its soft funk and intriguing spice component. In retrospect, this is interesting knowing that its two competitors are two of the most celebrated beers in the style. This is proof again that you should like what you like and not be afraid to stand behind your own opinion. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Up next: Mikkeller It’s Alive.