Drink Magazine

Tasting Notes: Fantome: India Red Ale

By Alcoholandaphorisms

Fantome India Red Ale

Fantome: India Red Ale (Belgium: Saison: 8% ABV)

Visual: Deep cloudy bruised apricot. Massive off white, lace leaving loose bubbled head.

Nose: Coriander. Lemon. Carrot. Lightly minty menthol. Peppermint and crushed mint leaves. Paprika. Light strawberry. Orange crème.

Body: Strawberry sweetness. Custard. Orange crème. Light hop character. Smooth. Prickle in the middle. Toffee. Earthy notes. Dried orange fruit sugars.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Toffee. Custard. Custard hop character. Some greenery. Solid hop bitterness and character. Sour dough. Earthy notes. Resin.

Conclusion: Apparently, at least best I can tell, this beer does not use spice in the ingredients. Instead all the spice seeming flavours must be coming from the hops, yep, as you may have guessed already, this is spicy as heck. Odd, no?

On top of that it is a fair mixed up beer. For all it is called an India Red Ale it actually has a hell of a lot of saison influence – from the soft custard hop styling of Saison Dupont, to the lime notes of Fantome’s own spring Saison, to the traditional earthy rustic saison styled base. A lot going on there. From the red side of India Red Ale we get an amber ale set of calls mid body which develop into some strawberry sweetness and chocolate toffee malt notes near the end.

As for the India part of the name? Well, it leans close to Belgium IPA in the smoothness, but the hop bitterness is only really a thing in the earthy bitter finish. Then again, India gets appended to pretty much any high hop ale these days, even some lagers, so having the high bitterness is not automatically needed I guess. That however is a rant for another day.

Early on the beer is a bit rough and greenery led, with an odd menthol character, but as the late end sweetness rises it manages to balance itself out, more or less. At that point in this, high abv, bottle it seems closer to the spicy, Belgian IPA character that its name calls to. Still a bit greenery and resin led, but far more recognisable.

Overall a bit rough around the edges Amber Ale IPA Saison mash up – not the best, but there is hardly a dull moment.

Background: A hard one to pick a beer style for this one is. It is listed as an India Red Ale, which would make me think an IPA variant, so list under IPA, ratebeer calls it the ever helpful “Belgian Strong Ale”. For me, it seems closest to a Saison, so lacking any other definitive call, and knowing Fantome’s reputation with Saisons, I’m going with Saision. Seriously, Fantome does awesome saisons. Incidentally some places has this thing’s name abbreviated as IRA, which for seem reason they don’t seem to call it that in the UK. I wonder why… Anyway, drunk while listening to many Meets Metal tracks, with Flashdance Meets Metal being the standout one. This beer was grabbed from Brewdog’s Guest Beer selection. Warning, this is a frothy beer – The beer was rushing out and I desperately shoved the cork back in while I shoved the bottle neck into the glass to pour.


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