Fantôme de Noel (2012/2011???)
Brewed and Bottled by Brasserie Fantome, in Soy, Belgium.
Speciale Release (Winter).
25.4 fl. oz. / $14.44 USD / 10% ABV
About: "FANTOME SPECIALE NOEL: brune foncée, très caramélisée, malts torréfiés, et assez forte! (10% alcool).... Une bière pour un hiver rigoureux ... et idéale à offrir!" "A very dark and entirely unique holiday seasonal beer, at a whopping 10% alc. by volume. Reportedly spiced with honey, caramel, coriander, black pepper, and other secret ingredients."
Thoughts: A bottle with a cap and a cork? What in the fuck... well that's interesting. As I hold this bottle up to the light I notice what appears to be a shitload of yeast floating around the bottom. At least, I hope that's what it is. ;) As I snap a few shots of the bottle, I think to myself 'how the fuck am I gonna do this?'...so I pop off the top and go to work with my shitty one dollar corkscrew (hey, it beats a sharp knife). I man up and twist that cork out of the tight bottle, a billow of grey smoke rises up and I take a whiff. Not bad. The cork has "Brasserie Fantôme Soy 086/477044" written on the side of it.
I tilt the glass and start to pour and this beer is nothing but head. Usually I have a half-finger head, not a half-finger of beer with a head nearly to the top of the glass. I let it die down and go for a second pour... same results. Yeah, this is going to take a while. I guess I'll talk about the cool artwork on the label. It features Santa riding on a sleigh with the Fantôme ghost looming in the air, looking down on him mischievously. Cool stuff. He also looks like a floating snowman.
Noel pours a really cloudy, muddy apricot amber like dirty-orange color with a ten finger off-white head and about a trillion carbonation bubbles rising up at the speed of light. With the vast amount of bubbles maintaining the head there's no way this is going to be dying down anytime soon.
Smells just like a Belgian farmhouse ale. There's that heavy yeast, hints of crisp apples and black pepper. Overall very pleasing to the senses. It smells a little bit fruity, slightly tangy, and lightly spiced. Not really sensing anything "Christmas-y" about it, but whatever... I'm used to that by now. It's a bit floral, there are cherries dancing in the background and it's got a toasty note to it most likely due to some rye like malt and pepper. This beer is in a green bottle as well, and has a fair amount of skunk to it.
The taste is... well, not really like anything I've ever tasted before so I guess that's new and interesting. On the first gulp I got a little bit of tartness that mellowed out quick, which followed by a little bit of a burnt rubbery sensation and after I swallowed tons of cigarette smoke and ash. That all sounds really unpleasant, but it wasn't actually that bad for a first gulp. The taste of kissing a cute girl who smokes all day long is probably the least spectacular part so far. I wonder how it'll get upon further inspection.
Hmm... is't actually not quite bad. It only tastes like cigarettes and stale bubblegum when you breathe in afterwards, but aside from that it's got a gently sweet and tart taste to it. It's got a char to it around the back like I noted, but it's not really like wood, but more like burning paper. My, doesn't that sound refreshing? It doesn't taste much like bubblegum as much as it does like sour cherries, ocean and bonfire mist, and gentle spices. It's a bit rubbery, like chewing on old 80's He-Man toy heads, but I've had FAR worse than this. In fact, if going into this you consider it a smoked beer then you'll probably be more than excited and pleased by the taste of things here.
Puckering inside my mouth to examine flavor and it gets a little bit like fresh cut grass and fruit that has fallen from a tree and is starting to get moist. While inside the mouth this beer is a treat in itself, nicely sweet with some very enjoyable Belgian yeast, a lot of cherries with some gentle tartness. It's only when air hits it afterwards is when the heavy fog sets in. I'm not even a third of the way through the bottle yet, and can only imagine what this beer will be like once I pour that yeast from the bottom of the bottle into my glass.
Alright, poured the bottom of the bottle in and now it's thick like fog! Looks kinda like brown juice from a carrot and vegetable juicer or some shit. And huh... perhaps I should have rolled this bottle before I poured it, because to me now it tastes a little more even. Still tastes pretty much the same... just a little more even. I guess the closest thing I could possibly compare this to is Mad Elf Ale. I guess these Belgian folk have some crazy as all fuck Christmas beer. Apparently I'm getting used to it. Have I evolved!? o_o Nah, perhaps these beers have damaged my brain cells.