I’d heard people mention Fantôme in hushed whispers and so when I found out that The Offie in Leicester had got hold of a handful of bottles I just had to get one.
And when I saw the beer its black and white label made me want it even more, reminding me as it did of all the handmade sleeves of the ridiculously obscure records I bought and treasured (and still do) through the 1990’s from labels like Fusetron, Menlo Park and Catsup Plate, bands like Wham-O, Coffee, Crank Sturgeon.
“Biére Artisanale Sur Lie” says the label.
Sounds cool too.
The 750ml bottle opened with a subtle hiss and the beer poured a yummy gold with a fluffy head.
So far so good.
The aroma is clean and metallic with an apple juice punch on the side.
I took a mouthful and initially was presented with sweet caramel, grape skins and bouquet garni.
But then an enormous wave of bitterness, sour and winey jumped out and shouted, “BOO!” in a loud and rather frightening voice.
I wasn’t expecting that.
I wasn’t expecting that at all.
As you know I don’t read a lot about beer as I’d rather find out for myself, and in this case I’m extremely pleased as if I’d read that this was a sour beer I would probably not have tried it.
I don’t like sour beer.
Or at least I didn’t until now.
As it goes this isn’t as simple to describe as a sour or Lambic beer for me.
I generally describe them with the single all encompassing word, “Yuck.”
There’s a really nice rich blue cheese fug going on in this beer that starts to come across in the aroma too as the beer warms to room temperature.
And whizzing around all over the place like an angry bee is that dry stainless steel Belgian yeast thing I love so much.
Like Delirium on speed.
I want to say that I don’t like this beer and that I’ve wasted £12.00 but…
and it’s a big BUT…
I do like it.
I like it a lot.
I like how this can almost be split into two beers.
First you get classic Belgian Golden Ale with orchard fruits, yeast and sparkly crisp hops, and then a super bitter, super sour and cheesy Lambic-Lite to curl your lips back and take the enamel off your teeth.
I couldn’t drink this often but I will drink it again, and if you happen to see a bottle I urge you to give it a try.
The whisperers are right.
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