On occasion we come across some beers that aren’t easy to find. Brasserie Fantome brews about a dozen varieties within the Saison family and is among some of the hardest to find beers in the world. It’s not often that you see Fantome on the shelf of your favorite beer store and when you do it’s in small numbers. Belgium is home to Fantome, a small brewery still brewing traditional, handcrafted beers as they’ve done for hundreds of years. Of the beers that I have had, each has been an absolute pleasure to partake in. With their complex aromas and flavors, these are very versatile beers that can blend into many different dishes.
On to the beer…
Fantome Saison, probably the best known of the Fantome family is a benchmark in the world of Saisons. I suppose one could compare it to Saison Dupont, the most famous of the Saison family. Even though these beers are brewed within the same style, just like our many American versions of Pale Ale’s and IPA’s, breweries produce noticeable differences in their Saison beers. Fantome Saison is very different from other Saisons that I’ve had, mostly from it’s sourness and spiciness. First, Fantome seems to pour heavier than others I’ve had and has a bit more color to the amber hue it possesses. A beautiful white head builds atop the beer that so elegantly laces the glass. The aroma is superb. A fantastic blend of floral and spice notes with a tad of hops to top it off. Flavor is so complex, many factors paly a role in making a beer with such a wonderful taste. There is a sourness that stems from several fruit flavors, the Belgian yeast that imparts spicy and earthy tones in the palate. Also, the malt in Fantome seems more prevalent than other Saisons that I’ve had. This beer is a powerhouse of complexities. Furthermore there is a medium body and lots of carbonation to help carry flavors and cleanse the palate.

Time for the food…
Saison’s do quite well with seafood, given the natural sweetness of the meat. Also, depending upon the seasonings and spices used, you can link up well to a Saison. My choice for the night was to do a light pesto with shrimp. The dish ended up being pesto shrimp and spinach over penne. I finished the dish with walnuts, grape tomotoes and gorgonzola crumbles. What a spectactualr combination it made with the beer. The pesto linked right up to the complex spice notes of the Saison, while the sweet shrimp and grape tomatoes mellowed with the moderate malt flavors. While the bitter hop flavors cut the heavy cheese and pasta on the tongue laying the flavors of spices and seafood straight onto the palate. Carbonation was quite aundant and left the mouth cleansed and the palate refreshed for the remainder of the meal. Quite a fantastic dish to pair with such a remarkable beer.

beer + food = Barleydine

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