I couldn't wait any longer. I'm currently sipping on a Fantôme de Noël, from one of the most elusive breweries in the world. Fantôme is a Belgian brewery that crafts unique farmhouse ales, most notably the Fantôme Saison. Dany Prignon started the brewery in 1988, and in the past few years they have developed a cult following for those who love funky Belgian ales brewed with a plethora of local herbs and spices. Not unlike Jolly Pumpkin that I featured in a post a few months ago, Fantôme brews their beers with an open fermentation and oak aging that allows wild yeast and bacteria to 'infect' their beers with a funky aroma and a tart flavor. The Noël showcases this type of brewing beautifully. It pours a nice deep mahogany color, and has notes of candy sugar, chocolate, spice, and that ever present dark fruit tartness. Every sip bursts with flavor.
Now onto the bad news. Why isn't this beer featured as a 'Beer of the Moment'? Because you can't get it in Asheville. I picked up my bottle at Sam's Blue Light in Durham when I was there for the World Beer Festival. The only time I have seen a Fantôme in Asheville was at Greenlife, and it was tucked away in a corner, limited in number. Alanis Morrisette wouldn't argue with the irony that this brewery is the french name for ghost. These beers are hard to get anywhere, but I hope that a local distributor can step up and procure some bottles so we can enjoy this beer here at home.