There’s a trend in all things consumable these days, and very likely in entertainment as well, for the insatiable need for more and more stimulation in the form of complexity.  A look at your average recipe-swap on the internet, and you’ll find that the ones that garner the most attention are the ones that shove as many flavors as possible.  Cranberry pomegranate green tea buttercream ganache cupcakes with coconut lemon basil frosting.  Cherry chocolate Dr. Pepper marinated pulled pork with aged, roasted, and pureed serrano, chipotle, jokola, habanero, jalapeno, shoshito, hatch, and bell peppers.  Snickerdoodle cookie dough and birthday cake batter ice cream, peanut butter and jelly ice cream, and cayenne dark chocolate truffle and Earl Grey tea ice cream neopolitan sandwich on oatmeal bacon salted caramel cookies.

Why am I proving my own point wrong by describing such seemingly delicious food?  Imagine a musical super team-up of Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Nirvana, and Yo Yo Ma.  Could be amazing, right?  Unless Freddy and Elton were playing the guitar, Jimi the drums, Nirvana was a flugelhorn section, and Yo Yo Ma was the leading vocalist.  Ok, this may be a bit of an extreme example, but the fact is that so many of these recipes are coming from people who MIGHT not be the best judge of these things.  There’s an ‘event horizon’ of complexity in all things, and putting every pepper you can name in or just loading on as many combinations is a sure fire way to make it all taste like a mush.  We learned the basics of this in kindergarten; mixing all the paints together doesn’t make rainbow paint, it makes deuce-brown.  Combined with the battle call of “More bacon!”, there’s much to dodge out there for this reason.
Thankfully, this is a trend that has hit beer minimally.  There have been certain transgressors (I’m looking at you, Maple Bacon Voodoo Doughnut!), but the serious connoisseurs have universally reviled them.  Some, however, skirt this universality and can be very polarizing.  Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale is one of these beers, and taking a look at the big-two review sites highlights this.  Beer Advocate gives it basically a C+, Rate Beer an abysmal 33.  Now, in matters of this, I try to forget that Beer Advocate owner (Todd Alstrom) is one of the biggest douches on planet earth (something about Hurricane Sandy and Storm Nemo and terrible schadenfreude).  Generally I consult both, but my own experience puts me in the Rate Beer camp (also, I have to admit I really like their App), this beer is downright disappointing.  As a brown ale it’s far too light-bodied, as a nut brown ale it’s hardly nutty, but as a maple nut brown ale…  Well, you can taste SOMETHING like maple.  It’s just cloyingly sweet, like imitation maple breakfast syrup in a just passable brown ale.  I’m not dissuaded from trying Tommyknocker’s other stuff (I hear the imperial maple nut brown ale is better, maybe), but this is one I won’t trifle with again.