Fantome: Pissenlit (Belgium: Saison: 8% ABV)
Visual: Dark hazy apricot. Moderate white bubbled head.
Nose: Vanilla. Cut grass. Brown sugar. Wholemeal flour and bread. Fruit sugars.
Body: Apricot. Slightly sour stewed fruit. Herbal bitterness. Custard crème biscuits. Broccoli. Golden syrup. Creamy. Coriander. Creamy lime. Gunpowder tea.
Finish: Greenery and herbal bitterness. Nettles. Dry mint leaves. Charring. Rye crackers and pepper. Golden syrup. Light strawberry. Cream. Lime yogurt. Key lime pie.
Conclusion: Fantome continue to rock the saison world and then some. This time they manage to merge a lot of contrasting elements into one beer. On one hand it keeps the light, cream lime notes of their spring saison – Printemps, and it is as pleasant as that beer was; Yet at the same time it pushes the custard sweetness that is akin to the base of the awesome Saison Dupont. The mix of the two backed by the unusual elements of greenery led bitterness in the style of traditional pre-hop beers.
That last part is the difference make and the intriguing one. The bitterness is slightly acrid, like gunpowder tea mashed up with broccoli. Yes I know I have the worst way of describing good beers and that broccoli in beer sound horrid. However here it acts as that kind of rustic base a saison can have, matched against the sweet interpretation behind it.
It is genuinely good, quality wise it is up there with their Fantome: Saison ( I mean the one just called “Saison” in case there is any confusion). If I had to rate them I would say that a few minor quirks put this behind their lead saison, but that is a minor point. This has just enough of the expected, and just enough off the wall all matched with a high quality saison that puts it at a close second.
There is just so much to it, warmth brings progression to the already complex beer and brings out so much spice, stewed fruit and fresh fruit. So many subtle variations on their already established themes make this another spot on saison from Fantome. It is familiar and yet distinct, balanced perfectly on a knife edge.
Background: A beer made with dandelions, did not see that coming. Then again it is a saison and from Fantome, so that gives me enough confidence to give it a try. Fantome saisons are exceptional. Grabbed from Brewdog’s guest beer section, this was drunk while listening to a bit more of The Eels, listening to them again recently reminded me how good they are as a band. I am aware I am putting this Belgian beer review up on the day after the attack on Brussels, my best wishes are with everyone affected.