By naming their collaboration brew Terra Incognita, the folks at Sierra Nevada and Boulevard Brewing seem intent on defying any attempts to describe it.
Technically, it’s classified as an American Wild Ale, but it’s much more than that. Each sip brought something new.
First, the sweetness of the Brettanomyces in the dank-brown, almost black brew announced itself. Brettanomyces is a wild yeast strain native to Belgium, which gives Belgian-style ales the funky sweetness that I’m still really trying to appreciate.
Then, a caramel note crept in, possibly from the whiskey barrels in which it was aged. Actually, Terra Incognita is a blend of three different brews, two of which were aged in barrels.
Later, a hoppy bitterness was more pronounced, most likely from the freshly brewed, dry-hopped portion of the blend.
The majority of the blend was taken from beer aged in a 2000-gallon foudre (known in technical terms as a big-ass oak vat). Could that have contributed the earthy, coffee-like notes that emerged still even later?
In any event, these two titans of the craft-brewing industry have concocted one enigma of a beer. I read a lot of reviews that said while the beer was good, it was too muddled and confusing to be great.
I disagree. This ever-changing, constantly evolving brew is challenging, intriguing, and endlessly fascinating. Few things in life can say the same This terra is indeed incognita. Very, very well done.
Gary Korisko says
Wow, Dean. Your description of this one has me curious. I’d love to try it. Normally, I like most Boulevard concoctions, so I’m sure this one would be no different.
Which beer(s) that I might know would you compare it with?
Thanks, Gary. Well, that’s the thing. This is one of the most unique beers I’ve ever tried. I just hopped (as it were) on to Lucky Bucket’s site, and I see they have a brew called Certified Evil. It sounds like a similar concept — a blend of beers aged in barrels, with honey and sugars added for sweetness. You might want to give that a spin.
Funny you mentioned Lucky Bucket earlier. When we were in Nebraska a few months back, I brought a six-pack of their IPA to my wife’s High School reunion. Very enjoyable.
Bobbi Emel says
Okay, Dean. This beer sounds too mysterious for me to try. (Disclaimer: I’m a beer wimp.) “Funky sweetness” and “hoppy bitterness” are a little out of my beer-tasting league. However, I’m really glad you’re out there tasting so I’ll know what’s in my league and what’s out! Great job!
Thanks, Bobbi! Yes, this one’s one of the most complex I’ve ever tried. Tasting these beers so you don’t have to is a service I’m happy to provide!
You’re in the Bay Area, right? If you want a great, clean, crisp beer, especially for Summer, you can’t go wrong with a Trumer Pils. It’s been brewed in Austria for over 400 years, and they opened a second brewery in Berkeley about a decade ago. Should be easy to find in most of your finer markets (Whole Foods, Andronico’s, etc).
Bobbi Emel says
Excellent! Thanks for the recommendation, Dean. I shall try it post-haste!