Bush Pilot Pengo Pally

Reviewed by on December 28, 2015 in Winter Guide

The Details

  • Brewery: Bush Pilot Brewing Company

  • Origin: Ontario, Canada

  • Rated On: December 28, 2015

  • Best Before: October, 2016

  • ABV: 6.5%

  • Ideal Temperature: cool to cellar temperature

  • Style: Saison

  • Rating: GOOD !

The Review

Bush Pilot Brewing is a contract operation who get their suds made at various southern Ontario co-ops, i.e. commercial breweries with the excess capacity and the will.  Pengo Pally is their ‘Arctic Saison’, made at Nickel Brook in suburban Toronto.  Lots of Canadian lore depicted on the label, i.e. the first bush pilot of Inuk heritage and his ride (with the eponymous native text front and center). Made with Crowberry and Labrador tea, two hand-picked Arctic herbs, apparently.

This sturdy 750ml bottle pours a rather hazy, pale golden yellow colour, with a teeming tower of puffy, loosely foamy, and fizzy bone-white head, which leaves a bit of sudsy arched rock formation lace around the glass as it slowly but surely abates.

It smells of grainy and crackery pale and wheat malt, aged lemon, overripe peach, and bruised banana fruity esters, a strange bit of mint-adjacent herbaceous character, ground white pepper, and some plain earthy, leafy, and floral bitterness. The taste is weirdly green and floral straight off, like something you’re not supposed to step on (but do) when hiking in the mountains (almost soapy, but more perfumed, I suppose), with some semi-sweet grainy pale malt, a twinge of spicy wheat, um ‘flakes’, more mixed stale fruit juice, subtle yeast, generic white and black pepper dust, and some further leafy and herbal bittering that could be either hop or Arctic flora in nature. The bubbles are quite invasive and incisive on my waiting palate, what with their sassy frothiness, the body a decent medium weight, and more or less smooth, depending on how you approach your expectations for the base style. It finishes off-dry, the malt reminding everyone gently how they keep this household running, yadda, yadda, yadda, but it is still those wacky tundra herbs that continue to inform one’s impression here.

There’s a pleasantly rendered saison simmering quietly here, as implied, but yeah, the spiced and winter herbal thing is what’s really worth talking about. Overall, it’s not over the top, but just different enough to make my Western, urban, and educated ass wonder a bit more about the real ‘northern’ part of the Great White North – y’know, in that Canadian Heritage Minutes TV spot sense, and I mean that in a good way.

Brady White

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