Fantome Hiver

Fantome: Hiver (Belgium: Saison: 8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy reddened orange, with a large yellowed head.

Nose: Dry. Carrot and coriander. Mild ginger bread. Bready and wheaty. Ripe banana and stewed banana. Yeastie.

Body: Funky yeast. Carrot and coriander. Brown sugar. Wheat and bitterness. Banana sweets. Bready. Toffee malt drinks. Greenery and mint. peppermint. Kiwi. Sour dough touch.

Finish: Lemon. wheat. light bitterness. Coriander. Bready. Peppermint and pepper.

Conclusion: Fantome! Saison! Let the party begin! Another very different version of the saison style from Fantome here. Rougher and heavier spice than before, there is a mix of grounded coriander and an odd peppermint that comes in almost as a sour twist. It creates contrast, half way between a earthy grounded saison and their zesty fresh Printemps Saison.

As it is a Fantome Saison I am not surprised at all that it is high quality. It is very grounded, with lots of wheat and bread characteristics, and yet has this understated brown sugar sweetness that, after the sour peppermint, creates a second unexpected twist. Of the three Fantome saisons I’ve tried so far this is probably the weakest – the quality is no less high, but the expression leans more towards the fascinating that the more easily enjoyed others. It is just in how the elements interact, there are so many odd elements that they almost shouldn’t work but do.

The beer does grow in sweetens as it goes, the banana elements and toffee malt drinks rise to creating a more soothing backdrop for the harsher elements, and here it is at it best. For the most part however it still isn’t one for easy going drinking – it is all about the examination, this doesn’t work so well as a casual chatting drink – the rough elements are the first impressions, and the fun comes from taking time to get to know it.

Different, like a hard to get to know possible friend with hidden depths. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but well worth the effort. A high quality saison.

Background: Fantome. After never finding any for years, they seem to slowly be getting easier to find in the UK. This one was picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer selection. Again, eagle eyed viewers may notice something odd with the photo – I’m still getting used to the new light source. This was shared with friends, at 8% and 750ml it would not be wise to do otherwise. Had a bit of Erock’s Meet Metal on in the background, always fun.

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