31 Beers of December – Day 9: Fantome de Noel
To celebrate the Holiday Season, we have teamed up with beer bloggers and craft beer enthusiasts around the country to host the fourth annual beer bloggers advent calendar. This is the season of sharing and we intend to share our love of beer with you.
During the 31 days of December, we will be sharing our favorite regional/winter seasonals/holiday beers with the help from our fellow beer bloggers. We hope that you tune in every day, to hear our stories and share our holiday cheer.
My Beer Fantome de Noel
Blogger: Daniel “Dan On Tap” Fisher
Blog Name: Life On Tap, http://www.lifeontap.com/
About Dan: Craft beer advocate. Fine wines, spirits, & dining enthusiast. Business/Marketing Strategist. Proud husband and father. Anime/manga/sci-fi otaku.
Beer: Fantôme de Noël
Brewery: Brasserie Fantôme, Soy-Erezée, Belgium
-Style: Christmas Ale/Winter Warmer
(From the label) With Fantôme de Noël, Brewer Dany Prignon has created a very dark and entirely unique holiday seasonal beer. A rich, dark-flavored brew with a hint of sourness at the core. It is very spicy, with some winter price flavor in the bargain. “Beautifully warming with an amazing, almost overwhelming depth of character. Well-balanced, bittersweet, fruity ale which must surely be the ultimate winter warmer.” – The Beers of Wallonia
Why I selected Fantôme de Noël:
Those of you who know me may have heard that I am a “Chew”, or a Chilean Jew. That being said, I fully understand (and have studied) aspects of all religions, but craft beer and its enjoyment (amongst friends, family, loved ones) should be everyone’s first commandment. I have a particular emotional attachment to this beer as well. Unfortunately I did not attend the last two Beer Bloggers Conferences, the last one due to financial constraints. The Boston one (which I lived vicariously through everyone’s posts and social media updates), would have been epic for me not only because Massachusetts was my old college stomping ground, but moreso that @2beerguys and other area bloggers are so passionate about their locals.
Anyway, my reason for missing Boston was that my son (first child) was born just weeks before and I clearly had my hands full. Fantôme Hiver and Fantôme de Noel were the first two beers I opened with my whole family in my apartment when we brought home future craft beer advocate, Mikey. I will always remember the feeling of tasting this beer amongst my family and its newest addition. I know he’s not Jesus, but he’ll hopefully one day turn water into beer. The brotherhood philosophy of Fantôme (see below) echoes not only how we feel at Life On Tap, but some of the loftier concepts of “Holiday Cheer”.
The Beverage Itself
For those of you who already receive updates from Shelton Brothers or who actively seek out Fantôme, I may already be preaching to choir about not only the quality but the eccentricity behind their beers. Like their other products, Fantôme de Noël comes in a 750ml bottle with a cork and cap and the adorable Fantôme phantom looking over Santa and company on the label. The cork came out of the bottle very fast and very loud, and there was notable carbonation bubbles right on top. Poured out with the same level of carbonation with a nice mahogany-like color, a mix of amber and light brown. The nose is truly a unique combination of that oud bruin-like sourness meeting some brown and burnt sugar, dried fruit (dates mostly), and some of the classic winter warmer spices, though I got a bunch of allspice.
The taste takes you on a journey for sure (not unlike parenthood) – smooth and balanced on the front, trailing into some malt and fruit sweetness, a hint of warmth from the alcohol, and the finish with a slight sour tang mixed with the prior flavors. The mouthfeel is velvety and persistent, clinging to your tongue and mouth for minutes. You might not feel compelled to pound this like a dry pale or IPA, but your mind and tastebuds want to dissect it more and more. The complexity of the brew increased a little for me once it came to a warmer temperature (please note, I had this in the refrigerator and removed it for approximately 20 minutes prior to tasting). The warmth this brew gives (and the memory I recall as well) truly put me in a nice state of tranquility.
About Life on Tap
Inspired by the podcasting friends and new media junkies, my wife Sheryl an I decided to tread into The Podosphere on 7/3/2006. “Life On Tap” is just that: our lives through the eyes (or rather all senses) and the appreciation of some of our favorite interests: craft beer, food, and occasionally some fine wine and liquor. If there’s one thing I want readers/listeners/viewers to take away, it’s that craft beer is communal and best shared as often as possible with those you love. Remember our mantra: “Life’s a tap…drink up ’til it’s dry.”
About Brasserie Fantôme
(Translated from French): ‘The Fantôme Brasserie” was created in 1988 by Dany Prignon and his father. Having worked for several years in tourism organizations, Dany hoped to do good by reviving his village, town, and region by becoming a local attraction, hence the interest in ancient recipes and table beers. “In the past, each village had its own place to drink, just as common as a bakery or a small retail business. Better yet, it was mostly a place for meetings, introductions, various discussions, and especially friendship …. ” – Dany P. This fraternal aspect is well-reflected through the ideology of “Brotherhood of the Phantom”, which is responsible for promoting the region through our product. Looking for a local name for the base product, we chose “Fantôme” because it is reminiscent of La Roche and its famous Bertha Princess summer tourist attraction. Moreover, there are various legends about this in our countries, and the name is meant as a reflection of all this. Today, this small brewery is run exclusively by the family, and combines the quality and diversity of its products. “Not TOO commercial” (or at least, Dany wants above all to revive his area, and not be idle). “Good mood, outings, music, passions (Old timers, friendship, etc …) must accompany, or even form the core of the Brewery!” It seeks to be very different from the others by organizing various events, not related only to “direct trade” selling products, but focused on the village revival.