As part of the SAVOR beer and food pairing event in Washington DC earlier this year, a bottle of Terra Incognita was the parting gift for each of the events attendees. This beer is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Boulevard brewed exclusively for the 2012 SAVOR. The brewers got pretty deep on this one. First off, Terra Incognita is Latin for Unknown Land and they made the beer as a tribute to the explorers who traveled the California Trail which originated in Kansas City. The beer started the brewing process in Sierra Nevada’s Chico, CA brewery with estate grown malts and wheat. They also added some Styrian Goldings and Bravo hops during the boil and dry hopped with East Kent Goldings. The beer then travelled to Kansas City (reverse California Trail I guess) to the Boulevard brewery to finish up with a treatment of Brettanomyces yeast and finally aged in Missouri oak barrels. Of course the next step was the shipment out to Washington DC which I don’t believe has any symbolism, but it made me happy.
Just as when the wife and I buy/receive a nice bottle of wine, I decided I wanted to keep this Terra Incognita for a “special occasion”. As we all know pretty well, these special occasions actually rarely occur. A couple of weeks back my wife and I invited ourselves to dinner at a good friends place who happen to be smoking ribs. Sounds special to me, plus the chef in question is from Kansas City so it makes sense that this was my bottles time. We did a bit of a group tasting of this beer and a couple of others, but I specifically wanted to take notes on this one time beer.
The beer style is listed as a Dark Ale in some locations and I see that Beer Advocate classifies it as a Wild Ale due to the use of Brettanomyces which is considered a wild yeast. Although I would ask which yeast is not wild? This beer pours as a dark brown color with a tan head, there is a heavy lacing as the head slowly recedes. The aromas are sweet, malty, and floral. I believe the floral is related to the yeast, but with numerous hops used I am sure they are also contributing. Plenty to taste in this one to include chocolate, smoke (maybe the oak barrel), malty, tart, and finally the distinct floral taste of the “Brett” yeast. I would say the finish is somewhat bitter and my notes list it as stinging the tongue (maybe dry). Definitely a complex beer with many layers that I am sure everyone will have their own opinions in what is going on. Mouth feel is chewy with very tiny bubbles of carbonation. Overall I would not say this was an amazing tasting beer, but it was interesting to taste so many ingredients coming together with great balance. Nothing was overwhelming and I enjoyed every sip. I am going to give this one 3.75 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale. Luckily for me my wife also attended SAVOR, so I have another bottle for another “special occasion”.
The information regarding the beers brewing process was obtained from the SAVOR website which you can see here: http://www.savorcraftbeer.com/. I am sure you have all heard of both Sierra Nevada and Boulevard, but here are their websites if you Google button doesn’t work: www.sierranevada.com/ and www.boulevard.com/. Cheers!