Seeing how far the rabbit hole goes
A Review of Fantôme Strange Ghost by Fantôme Brasserie
Posted on 8/17/2011 by Chops
Strange would be an understatement. This beer is a downright mystery. Every once in a while you will come across a beer that doesn't seem to fit into any category. This isn't that beer. Fantôme's Strange Ghost goes even deeper to defy all brew logic. This beer is one of the weirdest concoctions I have had in years. So please be patient while I try to put this review into words.

The Fantôme Brewery is based in Belgium and their specialty is Saison ales. There's nothing about that sentence that I didn't like, so I was going into this beer with high expectations. This beer's descent into madness starts early with a standard beer cap on a wine type bottle. Once you pop the cap, you still have a wine cork to get through. Not that it has any affect on anything, I just found it weird. Once in the glass, this beer has a gorgeous coloration... for a quad. Imagine my surprise to find a rich brown hue coupled with a burnt red-orange coloration when you hold it up to the light. About the only Saison-like trait in the appearance is the big white fluffy head. There is a large amount of carbonation, which is pretty standard for the style. There is also a large amount of chunky sediment, which is definitely atypical for the style. This beer is very pretty, but I would have scratched my head if anyone told me it was a Saison. Confusion, thy name is Strange Ghost.

Then on to the aroma, i.e. when your rope breaks during descent. This beer smells, and let this sink in for a moment, like a Flanders Red sour ale. It was a WTF moment that I couldn't get away from. I spent a lot of time with this smell. There are very heavy tart fruit notes, namely cherry, plum, lemon, grapes and starfruit. There are many more, all really tart and really sour, but those are the ones I could find. There are so many in fact that the smell transforms into a fruit punch as the beer warms. There is also a peppering of spices that I can't properly identify. They aren't warming spices, but have more of a zesty quality.

I honestly had no idea what to expect going into that first taste. I took that first sip and my eyebrows scrunched up. I took a second sip and my nostrils flared. I sat it down and pondered what my brain had just told me. That can't possibly be right, so I went in for a third sip. At that point I had to concede to my brain. This beer tastes like fruit loops. Yes, the overly processed sugary kid cereal. That is the first take away taste note of this beer and it really weirded me out. Once the beer warmed about halfway through, the taste started to resemble more of a mild fruit lambic or some other muted sour ale. I had to keep reminding myself that this brew was supposed to be a Saison. To be honest, I really struggled to identify any of the primary stylistic flavor traits.

Considering Strange Ghost's odd appearance, I didn't expect a paper thin mouthfeel. It drinks like a lambic more than anything else. It has that fruit punch feel interlaced with some alcohol. You cannot taste the 8% ABV at all. This beer drinks way too easy for a Belgian. Granted, maybe it's just due to the fact that the taste was so distracting. I really couldn't devote much attention to the mouthfeel. But at the same time, it never properly asserted itself to begin with.

Overall, Fantôme's Strange Ghost is so incredibly odd that I can't come up with a viable conclusion. The beer's traits are all over the map and I can barely pick out styles simply for resemblance. I have no idea who to recommend this beer to. On the other hand, I can recommend this beer to everyone just for the unique experience. It's a tasty brew and I would like to see more opinions on it. It's not unpalatable, nor is it drain fodder. I finished the entire bottle and I was happy with the experience. Sip after sip took me further down the rabbit hole than I have ever been before. That part was enjoyable. The rest of it was the beer equivalent of waking up in the Matrix.

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Fantme Strange Ghost by Fantme Brasserie
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