Beoir stalwart, beer collector and homebrew obsessive extraordinaire Adam is leaving Dublin to return to the US. Before the packers came to estimate the shipping costs of all his wordly goods there was some stash clearance to be done and he was kind enough to invite me over to help out.
Among the Belgians were these two intriguing concoctions, both from Brasserie Fantôme. Fantôme is pretty much part of the scenery whenever I'm in Belgium. They've always just been there, yet I've no memory or notes of trying any of their beers. So here goes.
We opened Blanche de Fantôme first, a 4% ABV wheat-based summer quencher. It's a moderately hazy bright yellow, but the first thing striking about it isn't the colour, it's the smell. This stuff reeks of a sharp, very nearly vomit-like, pungency. And it seems inescapable on tasting too, with only a trace of tropical fruit behind it. Yet it's amazing how quickly the human palate adjusts. After just a few mouthfuls the lemon citrus flavours come out -- refreshing in a Hoegaarden kind of way. It leaves me wondering if this is actually closer to the way Belgian witbier used to taste, when Hoegaarden was a wild, spontaneously fermented rustic beer style.
I surprised myself by concluding that this is a marvellously neckable warm day quaffer. It's probably best if you hold your nose starting out, though.
And from the odd to the downright weird: presenting Magic Ghost, a saison flavoured and coloured with woodruff: a herbal flavouring better known in the beer world for taking the edge off a different sour style: Berliner Weisse. So it's green, OK, we'll move along from that. It's hazy too, as saisons normally are. Unfortunately there's not much else going on. It's slightly sour, a little spicy and there's something of an artificial candy-sweet tang. Perfectly drinkable but not very distinctive in itself.
Two beers that are anything but run-of-the-mill. Fantôme are back on my shopping list.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
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