I was suspicious of this beer when I first picked it up. Not because of who the brewery was but because it was packaged in a green bottle. I, for the life of me, can’t understand why breweries still use green bottles. They’re horrible for beers, yet their presence in the market persists. At least it’s a Christmas-y color.
On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Fantome de Noel, Brasserie Fantome, 10% ABV
Fantome de Noel pours out a cloudy, reddish-brown/caramel-ish color with a beige colored head. The aroma has a sour quality that seems to be a combination of lactic and acetic notes. There’s also a fruity quality to the aroma, along with a slight musty character, almost like blue cheese. The beer has a fruity flavor but also has an assertive tartness that renders my teeth squeaky while the malt flavor has a slight caramel quality. Hop bitterness is low, hop flavor is earthy, perhaps musty, and cheese-like. This beer is medium bodied and has an effervescent carbonation.
There’s a lot going on in this beer, a lot, and my description above is woefully inadequate. I’m finding this beer to be equal parts fruity, tart, and musty. It reminds me of a Flanders Red style but not as savory or as sour. In some ways, it also reminds me of biere de gardes as it seems to have an aged quality to it. The label on the back says there’s a “spicy” quality to the beer as well as implying the use of “winter spruce”. I’m not picking up either.
The one thing that does surprise me though is how easy drinking the beer is. This is a 10% ABV beer and it doesn’t have any of the boozy character some of the other “Noel” beers I’ve already reviewed. In some ways, it drinks like a soda.
This is an example of how you can’t judge a book by its cover. Just because the bottle says, “Noel” on the label doesn’t necessarily mean it will be close to, or even in the same ballpark, as other “Noel” beers. That said, it’s a very interesting beer that I’m glad I was able to try this season.