Complexity can be good or bad for a beer. Two weeks ago I reviewed a messy IPA. Aged in chardonnay barrels and with no sense of balance, Nebraska Brewing Company’s Hop God Reserve Series was a lesson in bigger not always being better. A Belgian tripel recklessly hopped and aged in chardonnay barrels doesn’t know what it wants to be.
Not all complex beers are bad, however. It is possible for a brewer from the Midwest and one from the West Coast to collaborate, to age a beer in barrels, to combine disparate ingredients, and for everything to be all right. Terra Incognita, a collaboration between Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing and California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing, renewed my faith in highly involved beers.