Collaborations are nothing new and collaborations in the craft beer world are especially ubiquitous. However, two breweries joining forces and combining elements from one of their respective beers is quite a bit less common.
Of course, even with that said, just such a thing has been done multiple times before: Westbrook Brewing Co. and Evil Twin Brewing did it for Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break while Prairie Artisan Ales and Evil Twin combined their Bomb! spices with the Even More Jesus imperial stouts respectively to produce Bible Belt.
One of the newer examples of this type of collaboration is Rare Noa, an imperial stout brewed with coffee, cinnamon and pecans and aged in bourbon barrels that combined St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Cycle Brewing Co.’s base stout and barrel-aging techniques with Sweden-based Omnipollo’s adjuncts that are used in that brewery’s Noa Pecan Mud Cake imperial stout. The resulting creation was released on Aug. 17, 2017 packaged in 22-ounce bottles ($30) and quickly rose to the top of the heap when it comes to Cycle releases.
Out of the bottle, Rare Noa pours thick and black, with some significant carbonation evident and no light getting through at all. There are about two inches of medium tan head that sticks around for quite a while, leaving a thick lacing behind after a few minutes. The aroma from the glass is a combination of sweet vanilla, bourbon, oak, coconut, milk chocolate and strong pecans.
There is no doubt about it, this is a sweet stout from the first sip, with a dominant combination of coffee on the palate and pecans on the finish, each of which set the other off nicely. However, while I expected the pecan note to be an obvious candied version in the profile, it actually turned out to be more of a roasted pecan note that in turn helped cut the sweetness that was inherent in the base beer. In addition, there is a bit of both oak and cinnamon that come and go and are most evident immediately after you take a drink, right on the tip of my tongue before they quickly dissipate until the next time I take a sip.
The amount of carbonation, although fairly low overall, is pretty standard for a Cycle stout, while the mouthfeel is thick and viscous without going overboard. The sweetness in the beer is extremely obvious both when cold and after it warms up, but the combination of roasted pecans, bitter espresso and slight cinnamon really help rein it in, leading to an extremely balanced profile.