Doctor Duvel

I'm like a sommelier, but for beer.

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Location: Upstate New York, United States

Favorite Beers: Orval, Samuel Smith, Duvel, Hennepin, Oude Gueze, Chimay, Dogfish Head, Anchor Steam, and anything made by Trappist monks.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Death and Saison

I'm getting ready to leave for a spring break trip and this has me stressed out. Part of me, at such moments, inevitably imagines the hypothetical consequences of my untimely death--please, O higher power(s), prevent such an occurence . . .

Anyway I need a beer to settle my jangled nerves and help me pack and I was perusing my commercial selection. I'll probably have a home-brew too, but one expensive purchased beverage seemed in order. So I stared at the shelf and imagined my weeping, bereaved friends drinking my tiny stash of Westmalle, Rochefort, and Westvleteren. . . and then I grabbed a bottle of Saison Fantome, which I adore:

Beautiful crystalline gold color--head's not quite as dramatic as some of my saisons, but it's nice. Wonderful, prickly carbonation. Nose is quite earthy and spicy--I think of Styrian Goldings, a whiff of cork, green apples, and citrus (mostly lemon). The palate is beautifully prickly and lightly tart, with a peculiar mouth-coating quality. This is just a gorgeous saison--hadn't had one of these in a while. . .

The mouthfeel on this beer, the more I drank it, is just flat-out extraordinary. It literally crawls around your tongue, leaving bitterness, sourness, some sort of mineral (chalky?) thing, an almost tannic-feeling dryness. It's clingy. It leaves this sharp carbonic prickle way after you swallow. It's fuckin' awesome. As a brewer, I think I can take a pretty good swing at the Dupont models--you know, ferment hot, hop 'em right, little spicing in some cases--it's hard to go too far wrong with this style if you have instincts and the right ingredients. But the Fantome beers, when they're on, are a completely different kind of standard. I have _no_ idea what makes this beer what it is. Dany Prignon rocks.


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