Brasserie Fantôme - Hiver
- Alcohol by Volume: 8%
- Serving Temperature: 52–59° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Chalice, or Pinot Glass
“The recipes change every year, but don’t ask what makes them so tasty. The Fantôme never gives up its secrets.” –Hiver label
Fantôme’s brewer Dany Prignon takes a particular approach to the brewing process, and his beers are renowned for varying from season to season. It was exciting for us to get to sample some early bottles of this latest batch, and we’d expected it was going to be an experience. In sampling last year’s aged batch for some first notes, we were struck by just how much Hiver from last season had developed in the bottle—adding on layers of herbaceous, funky depth.
We found plenty of yeast in our bottles, so pour carefully if you’re not inclined to get all that turbidity going on. Regardless, this is a yeasty, bready, fresh-herb melange that proved hugely aromatic: mixing pine, floral notes and dried fruit, everything surrounded by a peppery edge.
The characteristic Fantôme funk, while certainly evident after a year, wasn’t super strong for us at the point we were tasting this fresh batch. That should build with time—and we dug all that this was doing on its own terms: kicking out rich notes of dried cherry, mint, and chewy candied orange. That herbaceousness is pretty much omnipresent for Hiver, and could easily point to some subtle ingredient additions, of which, as the label says, the Fantôme will not speak.
One could argue that, on some level, that’s part of the enjoyment of these beers. We found basil, hints of spearmint, some soft caramelized oxidation, plenty of piney bitterness kind of sprinkled throughout... The overall feel’s alive: piney and peppery bitter; huge depths within. We never ended up reaching final consensus as to what we imagined the special additions were, and that was totally fine by us. (Some sort of mint, though? Probably some sort of mint.)
You should feel more than comfortable setting down some bottles of Hiver for six months or well beyond. We were, as mentioned, digging year-old Hiver when we crossed paths with it recently, and this batch seems headed to do some neat things in the bottle. Keep an eye on anything you’re cellaring, especially in quantity, but bottles should be good to go for a while.
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