02 December 2016
I’ve read a bit about Phantom Carriage Brewery, but I’ll admit I didn’t really know a lot about the brewery before today. They’re located in Carson, CA, and in their own words, they are “dedicated to experimentation and to the expansion of beer beyond traditional style limitations". Phantom Carriage uses “alternate” fermentation techniques, wild yeast, bacteria and loads of barrel-aging. In other words they’re right up my alley…
Their barrel collection (500+) includes wine and spirit barrels and their yeast options include “cultures developed and fine-tuned over years of trials and research.” If that’s not enough fun, their beers are often the result of blending multiple batches to create their vision of a unique beer.
I should mention up front that their artwork, logo and just overall presence is edgy, cool and a tad bit morose (in a good way)…add in some skeletal remains, Frankenstien, and even Bela Lugosi and you have the perfect match for the cool (and wild) fermentation techniques they’re using. The brewery takes it’s name from a 1921 Swedish horror flick (know for being first to use special effects), and you’ll also see the beer names follow suit, “from the barrel to the grave.” All-in all a really cool theme and it’s executed really well.
If you’re near Carson, you probably have already found Phantom Carriage’s Belgian-style cafe/taproom; if not, the photos (and atmosphere) of the taproom (complete with barrel stacks), the live beer list (including guest taps), eatery menu and bottle list will help convince you to make the drive. If you’re further away like me, check out their Beer Shoppe.
Fortunately for me, the guys at Phantom Carriage were nice enough to share some of their bottles so off we go…
Today we’re sampling a beer called Broadacres Cranberry, and right up front the bottle design and beer “style” will grab your attention. The black on tan wood-cut scene will catch your eye in the cooler but the “Aged Wild Berliner Weisse With Seasonal Fruit” style was what really grabbed my attention (not to mention the prominent “Cranberry” tag. Broadacres pours really effervescent and champagne-like with a really pretty and semi-clear ruby-ish color. There’s a really nice lemony nose followed by some pleasant tart berry aromas. The flavors follow with more lemony tartness, subtle tart cranberry, some wild and mild funky notes and a really drinkable dry finish. I think this one leans a bit more toward a sour than just a tart beer, (this is good news) and I really enjoyed the cranberry bite at the end. Broadacres hits an infinitely drinkable 3.9%-AbV and it’s packaged in 500ml bottles (with waxed cap). All-in-all Broadacres Cranberry is a really nice Berliner Weisse-twist that I really enjoyed drinking.
We also had a chance to sample a little something on the bigger side of the AbV-fence in Phantom Carriage Lugosi (2016 Vintage Batch # 1 10/16 bottling date). If the name doesn’t draw you in, and the label doesn’t grab your attention (yes that’s Bela Lugosi and his signature!), the aromas of red wine, dark fruits and Belgian yeast will grab your nose. The red wine and Lugosi Dracula-connection wasn’t lost on us, but you simply can’t help but love the aromas of this beer. The guys at Phantom Carriage describe this beer as a strong dark sour, and I can confirm it is is all three. The beer pours a much darker reddish brown that I was expecting, you can’t miss the sour streak in the flavors and at 12.2%-AbV this beer is boozy. We found loads of dark fruit and molasses flavors complimented by the lacto-sour streak I mentioned above; and the red wine flavors, oaky texture and Belgian yeast contributions made this beer a really nicely balanced and unique blend. Lugosi finishes with some sour, some sweet cherry and some deep almost peach-like flavors…and yes at 12.2%-AbV this beer will sneak up on you, so share it with a friend (but pour more of the 750ml bottle in your own glass).
I’m very excited to see the cool and really unique beers coming out of Phantom Carriage, and all this just in their first year or so in business. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye on what they have coming next and my only regret is that I live a few thousand miles away from the taproom. Be sure to try Phantom Carriage Broadacres Cranberry Berliner Weisse and Lugosi Sour Belgian-Style Quad Aged In Red Wine Barrels With Mixed Wild Culture for yourself; and as always, when you do, be sure to let us know hat YOU think.
PS. Be SURE to watch for the launch of the Phantom Carriage new Barrel Guild!