Terra Incognita is a collaboration brew between Sierra Nevada and Boulevard Brewing Company. Described as “[made] with Sierra Nevada’s estate-grown pale malt, and combined with amber malt, wheat, and malted wheat, it is then assertively hopped with Bravo and Styrian Goldings, dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings, and finally barrel aged with Brettanomyces in Missouri oak.” Originally this brew was made for the 2012 SAVOR event in New York City, and was just recently re-released to the public. So naturally we had to give it a go.
This strong ale rings in at 8.5 percent ABV, and pours a deep, opaque black-brown color with a thick, tan head. Needless to say, the carbonation is pretty high on this one, and it dissipates slowly. The aroma is where that added Brett is first noticeable: a whiff cherries and raisins is underneath a distinctly funky, tart scent.
The first sip yields a dry, unmistakeable wood character. It’s less straight-up whiskey and more like actually licking the inside of a whiskey barrel. It’s not overpowering, though, and a distinctly bitter character reminiscent of an ESB also turns up right away. The Brett tang and funk come out at the end, along with a super clean, dry finish. Medium-bodied with a thin, light mouthfeel, “earthy,” a word used on the label, is the perfect description. This is one complex brew.
Not surprisingly, the subtle tang/sour quality increases as the beer warms up, as do the sweet, malty qualities. In thinking of what we’d want to pair this beer with, pub food instantly came to mind. Fish and chips, a hearty steak, shepherd’s pie, or as our cheesemonger suggested, a Charmoix cheese, a funky, Belgian, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese.
Have you tried this yet? If so, tell us what you think. We have bottles on the shelf for $13.50.