By William Brand
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005 at 7:54 pm in Uncategorized.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the years,trying to chase down obscure beers from Belgium here in the Bay Area. One of those was Fantome. Another was Achtel, an ale from the sixth Trappist brewery. I actually found Achtel at Ledger’s Liquors, 1399 University Avenue in Berkeley.
I learned about Fantome from a reader who asked where it could be found. I located it after a few calls at the Toronado (547 Haight St.) in San Francisco. Tried it myself and was blown away. Big (8 percent) and spicy with those enticing Belgian toffee notes. Now, there’s a new wrinkle in the Fantome story:
“Beginning November 8th, Lukas Taproom & Lounge is launching a weekly Belgian bottled beer tasting where guests will be able to sample 3 oz. tastes from our bottled beer selection. These offerings include diverse, unusual and rare beers such as Westvleteren 12, Girardin Geuze and
Fantome White Ghost.”
Yes! Proprietor Rick Mitchell, a San Francisco lawyer, who turned a long-closed hofbrau into a splendid bar and restaurant last year, is an admitted Belgian beer fan. In fact, I bought a bottle of Westvleteren from him last summer for a Trappist beer tasting. But Fantome White Ghost? Hmmmm.
Finally, I called Luka’s. The bartender said that White Coast is Fantome’s traditional Saison. I did a web search for Fantome Saison — which is its official name — and discovered it’s the brewery’s regular summer beer. It earns a 91 from Beer Advocate and ***/* from Tim Webb in the new Good Beer Guide to Belgium , 2005 edition.
Tim notes that brewer-founder Danny Prignon is one of the great characters of the Belgiuan new wave. “He’s a most unassuming man, inventive, daring and sometimes chaotic. His products divide beer lovers. His recipes change as often as the weather. These can be excellent, traditional and unsual beers of great character…”
Besides the beer at Luka’s nexst Tuesday night, there’ll be cheeses from The Cheese Works of Alameda and chartucterie, (sausages and similar cold, cooked meats) from Fatted Calf, of San Francisco. Cost is $20 and hours will be 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. For info and reservations call: 510-451-4677. Remember, Luka’s plans to make this a regular late Tuesday occasion, so if you can’t make it next week, try later.
See you there. b.
Also — if you’re really into Belgian beer, follow the link above and buy Tim Webb’s book. It’s the bible of Belgian beer for us English speakers.