I stood staring at the options before me. Which of these beers do I want to buy to enjoy this eve. I had narrowed the scope of my search to corked beers. I wanted to pop open the beer “Champagne style” to ring in the New Year at the stroke of midnight. There were plenty of corked Belgian beers and then I saw it, the Terra Incognita. I dwelled upon my decision for a few waning seconds, before I grabbed the bottle and happily purchased it.
Later that night, as the clock ticked closer and closer to midnight my plan started losing momentum. I had enjoyed a Sierra Nevada Harvest Wild Hop IPA earlier in the night and was still feeling the good effects from that brew. The idea of popping open the cork on the Terra Incognita while still entertaining, succumbed to the thought that I’d be wasting the beer if I drank it this night. I decided to leave it corked and I’d ring in the New Year with this brew on New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Day came, and with it ample opportunities to pop open and enjoy this beer. Something was holding me back though. I didn’t want to just open it and drink it, I wanted to truly and fully appreciate the beer. I realized that the beer was calling out to me, the Terra Incognita wanted to be tasted and properly reviewed.
So here I sit in front of my laptop over a week out from New Year’s to properly taste, type and document my thoughts on this beer. The beer that begins my final 10 beer stretch to 500 unique beers sampled, at least according to Untappd1.
The bourbon aroma hits me first, closely followed by an intermingled wine and bourbon nose. The wine flavor dominates the flavor of the beer. I can pick up on the bourbon flavor here and there, but nothing in comparison to the wine flavor. It make sense that the wine is the more predominate flavor as 55% of the brew was aged in wine barrels, only 32% aged in bourbon barrels and the remaining 13% being fresh ale. The beer even clings to the sides of my glass as a wine would.
The carbonation is low in the beer and has an according mouth-feel to it. I hope to taste more of the bourbon barrel aged part as I continue sipping.
This is the third installment of Terra Incongnita from Boulevard and Sierra Nevada. The collaboration of Terra Incognita started back in 2012 when they made a beer specifically for SAVOR attendees. SAVOR being a yearly craft beer and food tasting event held in Washington D.C.
A year later they decided to make a new batch available to the public at large. The 2013 version was “(roughly) 45% foudre-aged, 30% Templeton-aged, and 25% fresh dry-hopped beer.” The 2013 version was bottled in Kansas City, MO. at Boulevard’s brewery. Just prior to bottling, the wild yeast Brettanomyces was added and they aged the beer an additional three months before making it available for purchase.
The 2014 version was bottled in Chico, Ca at Sierra Nevada’s primary brewery. No wild yeast was added to this installment and as stated earlier it is 55% Wine barrel aged, 32% Bourbon barrel aged and 13% fresh ale.
Back to the tasting. This beer while it holds to it’s ale foundation really feels and tastes more like a wine. The wine barrel aged portion of the brew really took on the characteristics of wine, to the point that I feel as though I’m drinking a slightly bourbon barrel aged wine. Between the Samichlaus I tried a few days ago that tasted like a “Port Beer” and this brew, I’m having a beer wine crossover week for my taste-buds.
This beer is on the higher end of the price spectrum sitting at $14.99 for a 750ml bottle, at least in my market, but it is well worth the price. It is rare to experience a novel beer like this one. Next time you are in the mood to take a journey into “unknown territory” buy a bottle of Terra Incognita and get ready for fun a beer wine crossover experience.