Ngongo is a Belgian-style Saison collaboratively brewed by The Bruery and New Zealand brewery Garage Project. For the purposes of this craft beer review, the ale was served in a tulip glass from a bottle.
The ale pours a cloudy yellow ochre and is topped by a thick white cap of dense foam that shows excellent retention. The reduction eventually leaves patches of that trademark Belgian lace. Effervescence is apparent as fine bubbles continuously stream upward and collect beneath the soapy collar rounding the glass.
The aroma is fragrant with fruity notes of lemon, lime, peach, and pear. There’s a backdrop of musty funk that’s part barnyard, part earthy wood.
Cracker leads the palate with a bit of funk. The middle is comprised of doughy bread that bitters with earthy wood and floral hops. Bright citrus imparts tart and tangy notes of lemon and lime that linger through the finish. Underneath all that bitterness are sweet notes of melon, pear, and apple. And as the beer warms a sweet taste of wildflower honey is picked up in the base.
Its feel is effervescent with high carbonation and a medium body. Finishes prickly dry with a soured astringency.
Ngongo presents well but be careful when pouring. This brew will overflow quickly. Its aroma and palate are delightfully complex while being distinctly Belgian. But it’s that initial reaction to the taste that sells this beer. And it’s simply “wow”. Being tart, dry, and effervescent, this brew is quite easy to tilt back. Even the alcohol—on the high end for this style—isn’t noticeable. You’ll crush this one quickly.
The Bruery recommends the following food pairings with their Ngongo Saison: honey, lemon & rosemary grilled chicken, roasted root vegetables, and Barely Buzzed cheese; sweets of vanilla and honey pannacotta with boysenberries.