Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 3,137 | Reviews: 621 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BrownNut:
4.45/5 rDev +7.5%
Updated 10/29/13 after aging one of this same 2012 versions for 11 months. Served a little cooler than room temp from a tulip. The original scores for the fresh version are the ones I'll leave in place as the official scores. Here's the current review of the aged 2012 release then the original review of the fresh 2012 release below that:
A - 4.25 - Black with a nice darker khaki head that settles fairly quickly
S - 4.25 - Unmistakeable black malt char aroma alongside something almost perfumey that I've smelled elsewhere in the beer world, like maybe in a weizenbock or somewhere. A kind of clean smell. Unexpected and unremembered from last time.
T - 4.25 - The char from the nose translates directly onto the palate. As does whatever that perfumey note is. Different here, but you can tell they're related. Over time, the char seems to give way to the semisweet dark chocolate. Late in the glass it's more mellow and balanced in terms of char vs. choc. The aftertaste starts off as a nice char and you think that's all it will be but, but it quickly reveals notes of dark chocolate sweetness peeking out.
M - 4.5 - Nice heavier mouthfeel, yet not exactly viscous. It seems heavy at first when you pull it in, but then it settles somewhere south of there. Kind of neat.
O - 4.25 - That nice black malt char taste is basically what I want out of an imperial stout. This one delivers in spades. And it has a tasteful and classy undertone of dark chocolate. I don't know what that perfumey element is but it works as something to give this its own identity. There are three elements I was able to identify, but I think it is less complex than some imperials. As I look at my original review and scores from when I had it fresh, I don't think aging it 1 year really did anything worth waiting for. It changed, in some cases for minor improvement and in some for minor degradation and in others just different. Overall I say it's better fresh.
ORIGINAL REVIEW 11-27-12
A - 4.5 - Pours dark brown with some light around the edges but goes opaque black in the glass. Lovely thick textured tan head that endures for quite a while.
S - 4.0 - Mostly chocolate on the nose with a hint of char underneath. Possibly a leather note in there.
T - 4.5 - On the palate, the char and the chocolate switch places, with the char coming more forward, though overall it's fairly balanced. It just barely approaches chocolate sweetness. That appears more on your hard palate and lips after you swallow than in the main taste. A bitter char/bitter chocolate aftertaste lingers.
M - 5.0 - Wow. This is a top 5 mouthfeel, maybe top 3. I just googled the words luxurious and luxuriant and apparently neither is what I'm going for, but you get the intent. Wonderful. It's not pudding-like, as are some big imperials, which is something I like. It's closer to medium bodied than pudding bodied. Call it north of medium. But it's just so well done. I've never thought about mouthfeel being balanced, but that's what this is - balance between the silkiness of a thick pudding-like mouthfeel and the drinkability of a medium bodied beer.
O - 4.5 - Fantastic. Sierra Nevada just doesn't disappoint. I bet you could go through the gallery of beers that didn't make it out their door because they didn't measure up to their standards and find a bunch of great beers. Because the ones that make it out the door are just flat professional. These guys are master craftsmen. Their way is not the flashy way - it's the balanced, understated way, which delivers top quality humbly. Their touch is so deft and delicate.
10-29-2013 20:36:15 | More by BrownNut
More User Reviews:
4.28/5 rDev +3.4%
Pours jet black with a thinner deep mocha colored head atop,no light got thru even when held to the light.Deep roast,char, and smoke dominate the nose with underlying bitter chocolate,it smells a bit raw and in your face.Wow alot of different stuff going on on the palate,dark roast coffee,deep char and smoke, with a molasses,licorice, and alcohol induced sweetness that really hits home,I was right this is in your face.This is a big brash imperial stout,it's a little rough around the edges...in a good way.
11-06-2012 23:54:21 | More by oberon
4.21/5 rDev +1.7%
Pours an inky black color, thick as can be - honestly, one of the thickest looking beers I've ever seen. Tan head, decent retention. Aroma hits with a handful of roasted malts, as expected; the bottom comes up with some bittersweet chocolates and deep, warming alcohol notes in the background. A light leathery and mild tobacco aroma as it warms, too. The taste comes through with a canvas of roasted malts upon which a painting of mild charring, smoke, deep cocoa, light black licorice, faint dark fruit sweetness, and bitterness almost resembling espresso is displayed. The sweetness comes in hardest in the form of licorice, but is met diligently with a bitterness that is present from nearly start to finish; slightly ashy and mildly floral and spicy - I'm assuming this bitterness is from the hop character, although some of it tastes like that old bitter espresso bean flavor, too. Burnt, smoked wood in the aftertaste with some ashy and leafy bitter notes. Slightly sweet, but bitterness rules the aftertaste when all is said and done. Silky as hell, super creamy and thick.
I was shocked at how delicious this was, but at the same time, I should have expected it. Sierra Nevada puts out a damn good product, no matter what it is, and Narwhal is no exception. For this price, this is a steal. Great flavors, huge body, amazing mouthfeel - if you like RISs, give this one a shot.
12-21-2012 05:25:16 | More by tectactoe
4.5/5 rDev +8.7%
A: Jet black with a creamy, express colored head that has a good long retention period.
S: A solid roast with some licorice, moderate coffee and light citrus hop aroma. There is a low caramel malt sweetness and a light alcohol sweetness as well.
T: A huge malty flavor with rich dark flavors of roast, coffee and caramel along with a moderate sweetness. There are some underling burnt sugar and slight charcoal in there as well. The citrus hops flavors and bitterness are at a medium level. The balance is about equal between the bitterness and sweetness and almost out to a medium finish. The hops bitterness lingers a bit an edges out the dark roast flavors.
M: A full bodied beer with a moderately-strong level of carbonation.
O: Rich and full with equally strong malt and hops character; simply an excellent beer. I'm hoping this will be easy to find than Night Stalker where I live because Narwhal is running neck and neck with it as my favorite Imperial Stout. There will have to be a side by side tasting to for me to call a winner though.
05-23-2013 00:58:29 | More by MadScientist
5/5 rDev +20.8%
On draft in a tulip at SNBC.
Pours a deep dark black with 1/8" golden head which fades slowly.
Aromas of roasted coffee and chocolate which get deeper as the stout warms and the glass level lowers.
Super smooth and easy, almost chewy mouthfeel and a chocolatey aftertaste which lingers nice and long.
A step outside of Sierra's norm but a damn good beer all around!
I loved it in the bottle and have been picking the four-packs up as I see them. Great now...only time will tell for later.
11-26-2012 01:16:21 | More by SanFranJake
4.2/5 rDev +1.4%
I found a lonely four pack of this when I went to Gary's to pick up 2013 Bigfoot, and brought it home with me. Glad I did.
In a snifter this beer was black, really black, with just a rim of tan head.
Strong roasted malt aroma. Coffee. Charcoal.
The taste was mostly strong coffee, even a little bit on the burned side. There was a little bit of chocolate.
A dry, burned feeling in the mouth. Astringent.
03-13-2013 21:29:56 | More by lordofthewiens
4.18/5 rDev +1%
I was really looking forward to this beer. I always anticipate what Sierra Nevada is doing lately to keep engaged with producing great beer in spite of their growth.
Pours dark brown into a tulip.
Minimal head. Carbonation is there, it just doesn't produce much foam.
Burnt dark chocolate nose & taste. A little edgy that should smooth out over time.
Mouthfeel, burnt edginess lingers. Not to the point of distraction however. Very enjoyable with a great price point for the style.
11-20-2012 21:15:55 | More by NWer
4.03/5 rDev -2.7%
12 oz bottle. Pours inky black with a big creamy brown head that retains well and laces the glass.
The aroma is sweet roasted grains, chocolate, and some black licorice.
The flavor is some sweet lactic chocolate quickly followed by a big roast bitterness, some black licorice and a little dark fruit and coffee. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation.
Overall, a solid imperial stout.
02-12-2013 15:02:59 | More by Beaver13
4.2/5 rDev +1.4%
Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. The label lists the abv at 10.2% and the year it was brewed. (2013) There is a short description of the beer as well.
Appearance: It has a very dark black body which is completely opaque. From the slow pour I got a tall tan colored head that settles down fairly quick but makes tons of cool lacing on the glass.
Smell: The aroma has a mild character with some modest sweet and roasted maltiness.
Taste / Palate: The mild aroma gives way to a big bold full bodied malty sweetness on the tongue. There are notes of caramel, toffee, molasses, and raisins. It’s 10.2% abv is noticeable but mellow and adds to its overall character. The palate feels smooth with light carbonation in this big heavy offering from Sierra Nevada. It finishes slowly with just a touch of earthy hops.
05-23-2014 07:47:53 | More by generallee
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,137 ratings.