Ah, Fantome! Superlative saison producer of Soy, Belgium. Haven't had one of these in too, too long, so why not get back into it with the Christmas variety. Paid $16.49 for this at Zipp's, more than I normally like to spend, but it was worth it. Had this bottle last night, after a hard evening of bartending an African Christmas Eve party. Exhausting work. Frustrating. And even though I didn't get home until 4 AM, and needed to be ready by 11 AM for the family get-together, I just really wanted a beer, and this was the one I wanted. I turned in around 5:30 and got up at 10 AM. But memories of Fantome Noel made it all worthwhile.
I first had this in September of 2004. I can't imagine a store still having a beer like this that late these days.
Here are the notes I took then:
Stolid eggplant and plummy appearance, resting under a cakey, creamy topping of beigish froth.
Nose is generously spicy, mixed with dark fruits, cherries, and berries, grapes and dates.
Taste, mmm,magificent! Active carbonation, brief acidity, but a full flood of complex fruity/ spicy flavors delivers it's payload on the palate with the first sip. Marvelous mouthfeel, paints all corners of the senses with this deliciousness, with a citric twist interjecting now and then. Yeast looms large in the flavor, as well, leaving more of a feel of a spicy raisin cake, or something similar. I never, ever would guess that this is a 10 % brew, but we're only halfway in, so we've only just begun to plunder the full effects of this bottle. Gets better and better as I deplete it...medium body, medium-length, but sweet and spicy finish, softly drifts from the palate, lingers just long enough to keep the impression of eternal delight not far from the mind.
This is really nice, if not incredibly impressive, but that's not always necessary, is it? A super saison, spicy in just right amount to remain highly pleasurable and not a chore.