Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dreg Series: Fantome Speciale De Noel Dark Saison

One of reasons I started to enjoy Saisons is because of Fantome. They have a loose grip on the "style", but you know when you taste the beer that it has been made in a Farmhouse in Belgium. The impression I get from the lineup of beers is that the brewer, Dany Prignon, tries to brew beers that may have been brewed like the original Saisons. And what I mean by that, from interviews I've read Dany uses a secret mix of spices and even different fruit juices to add complexity to his beers. None of the beers I've tried necessarily taste like any particular spice or juice but are there to up the impression of other flavors (similar to garlic in cooking). I feel like this is a method that brewers would have used on the old farms by just adding some produce that they had in excess on their farm.

It was a pure joy to harvest the yeast for this beer. This beer seems to have so much going on, but the flavor does not taste muddled. This is a skill that I am constantly trying to figure out. I think it has to do with providing certain flavors that are typically tasted with different parts of the mouth. I experienced this recently with a spiced cider where from the aroma you got cloves and banana. Then the initial taste was sweet apples and then finished with a dry cinnamon flavor. This is the experience I want to have in these types of beers. Send me on a flavor roller coaster.

For this batch I did not create a starter for the dregs, but should have in hindsight. I did not get any activity for 2 days so I decided to also add the dregs from Fantôme La Dalmatienne which I had saved in a White Labs vial from a previous drinking session. You could actually see a decent amount of yeast that settled in the vial. After adding this vial the fermentation took off within 12 hours.

08.16.11 Update
Gravity - 1.007
Smell is pretty clean with a touch of acetic acid and sweet wort. The taste follows with a sharp acetic acid bite and a sweet malt background. The acetobacter must have been working over the 2 day lag period I had with these dregs. (From this point on, I have been making starters for all the dregs. I only need about 6 oz and I pour the boiled 1.040 wort right into the flamed bottle.) I will give this beer some more time before I consider this a failure. I have had batches in the past that started out with an acetic bite, but I have mellowed out with time. I'm not an organic chemist but what I believe is happening is that as the beer mellows there is an equilibrium reaction happening with esters, acids and ethanol.

Ex. Acetic acid + ethanol -> ethyl acetate

"Ethyl acetate is synthesized industrially mainly via the classic Fischer esterification reaction of ethanol and acetic acid. This mixture converts to the ester in about 65% yield at room temperature:


Thanks wiki - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethyl_acetate
Next for this batch I am going to add some non traditional wood - I think cedar (like Spanish Cedar from cigars would go well with this beer)


  1. Surprisingly I've never tried Fantome even with my obsession with the style. Do they age in barrels and sour their Saison's?

  2. I haven't had one that didn't like. And every bottle I have had has been a little bit different.

    I'm not sure what he ferments in, but looks like stainless steel according to the pictures here: http://www.homebrewchef.com/fantome.html


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