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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

776 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 776
Hads: 4,475
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 260
Gots: 1,134 | FT: 45
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.20% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 776 | Hads: 4,475
Reviews by ChainGangGuy:
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle - $2.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

2013 Vintage.

Appearance: Slips out a black, viscous-looking body, though with only a very, very small, tan head.

Smell: An aroma choked with rich maltiness -- molasses, chilled espresso, chocolate, along with full notes of licorice sticks, plump raisins. Minor spiciness, slim smokiness.

Taste: Boldly roasty, espresso-laden, and heaping with melted, fine dark chocolate and thick molasses. Restrained sweetness, as it's tempered by the sharpness of the roasted malts, hops, and warming alcohol. Black licorice. Dark fruits. A little additional fruitiness attributed to the hops, slightly resiny. Reasonably dry on the smooth finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Overall: Big and beefy yet relatively balanced -- I liked it. (818 characters)

More User Reviews:
Photo of Redneckwine
4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into tulip

Appearance - Pitch black and not a ray of light makes it through the abyss. One finger dark beige head sticks around as a wispy cap and leaves nice lazing.

Smell - Roasty, earthy malts, mild spicy licorice, touch of bittersweet cocoa, a whiff of alcohol is definitely pulling through

Taste - Dark roasted malts kick it off with ample vinous fruitiness and charred grain, an estery, spicy alcoholic note complements the malts and warms the throat, bittersweet cocoa, anise/licorice notes, and a bit of grassy/earthy hops round it all out. Starts fairly sweet but finishes fairly dry with a restrained bitterness and last flavor that coats the mouth. Flavor really pops as it warms and opens up.

Feel - This is pretty much a monster beer: full bodied and creamy smooth, yet doesn't feel too heavy (like you're drinking an entire meal), and I like that. Carbonation is gentle yet prevalent, carrying the big body along nicely.

Overall - Awesome stout. It has some very interesting fruity and notes that you don't see in a lot of other imperial stouts, and is really dangerously drinkable. It just doesn't feel all that heavy and "chewy", like drinking your dinner, which, while some may disapprove of, I enjoy. (1,235 characters)

Photo of tectactoe
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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. (1,386 characters)

Photo of BoljaBoy52
4.86/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This beer is outstanding. Period. (33 characters)

Photo of RexBanner
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black. No light penetrated through this dark concoction. 1/2 finger head that dissipated fairly quick. Velvety smooth appearance.

Its aroma was of bready yeast, dark roast grains, alcoholic esters, bitter dark chocolate. Faint banana smell was also present.

The taste was of robust roasted grains and dark bitter 80% cacao. Very faint taste of hops was noticeable before everything was washed away by the alcoholic burn that permeated the mouth. Smooth mouth feel. Not as heavy as one might imagine for an imperial stout. As it reached room temperature it began to develop the flavor profile of a strong dark Belgian ale. Even the aftertaste was more akin to a SDB as oppose to a stout.

Overall, I would recommend this beer to others. It's definitely a sipper. I missed that characteristic smokey aftertaste common to stouts as well as the creamy, chewy mouth feel, but all in all, this is a superb beer worth trying. (955 characters)

Photo of BrownAleBollocks
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a two finger fluffy mocha color head. Aroma is dark roasted malt and alcohol. Taste is dark roasted malts, booze, some smokiness throughout, and licorice, with a somewhat hoppy finish that compliments the other aspects. Mouthfeel is medium, a bit thin for an imperial stout. Overall a very good IS and one I'm happy I tried. Another feather in the cap of SN. (387 characters)

Photo of KarmicSkrambl8
4.76/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

neck and neck with Old Rasputin

viscosity heavy in feel...love the chocolate as it rolls across...smoother than Ol Raspy...and, on some days....better (151 characters)

Photo of Jjski
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened a 2013 this evening.
RIS perfection in the non-barreled category. deep, rich chocolate malts. Smoky hints, velvet mouth feel. Black as my leather pants.

Last week, after horseshoes, The Czar said to me: "F@ck all that happy horse crap, hops, flavors, chiles, etc.... Get me a Narwhal"

It was a beautiful moment with the Czar. I'm all tingly thinking about it. (371 characters)

Photo of beerthulhu
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- 2014. pkgd. 11.06.14. consumed 04.01.15.

A: Pitch jet black exit from the bottle with a tan rawhide colored, creamy topping. Moderate retention.

S: Nose of scotchy licorice, burnt chocolate, earthy bitterness, moderate awareness. No alcohol with a touch of dry vanilla bean.

T: Flavor was deep roasted chocolate malt with an earthy bitterness. Dry vanilla bean, roasty espresso notes, flashes of burnt toffee sweetness with licorice. Smooth scotchy alcohol, hints of banana bread yeastiness underneath, creamer with smoky pine hops.

M: Full bodied, creamy, earthy bitterness, burnt warmth, dry alcohol fade.

O: Drinks like a B.A. stout, burnt roasted flavor, soothing scotchy pine alcohol. Nice flavor. (714 characters)

Photo of drunkenmess
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark charcoal black.
Dark tan frothy head.
Spider web lacing, lasting as well.
Smell of sweetness and strong booze.
Taste is superb, hints of vanilla. Sugar. Burnt malts/toast.
Strong alcohol after taste.
Very nicely done.
Especially for a year old :)
Nailed it! (273 characters)

Photo of Lard_City
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Molasses and chocolate. Alcohol seems a little more forward in this than in the BA Narwhal. Sweet and mildly bitter. Good to drink anytime but great in the winter. (163 characters)

Photo of fscottkey
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: [4.00] Pours a jet black. Aggressive pour forms a 1/4 finger tan head. The head recedes quickly leaving only wisps of foam on the surface. The bottle lists the ABV (10.2%) and the born on date (8/13/14). The born on date is white print on the black label (+1 guys!)

S: [3.00] On the nose I get mostly dark fruits. There are hints of the 10% alcohol too.

T: [4.50] I am hit with nicely charred malts. The taste is mellow all the way across. There is no hint of any alcohol. The front is smooth and sweet and it finishes with the bitter chocolate taste. The dark fruits from the nose are also there.

M: [4.50] I was struck by how smooth the first sip was. Mice creamy body with light carbonation.

O: [4.25] This beer has a lot going on in the taste. Coffee, chocolate, malty sweetness - some bitterness. It is a great melding of flavors. The nose wasn't that pronounced - which surprised me. However, the taste and the smooth body made up for it. (970 characters)

Photo of DuffmanCanNeverDie
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the finest imperial stouts money can buy... (50 characters)

Photo of LT2
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I think you either love or hate this beer. Personally, I think it is good and the bottle art is great. If you like Sierra Nevada and stouts, dive in. (149 characters)

Photo of hopflyer
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 7/31/14
Pours deep black with light tan head. Has almost an orange tint.

Nothing prominent in the nose. Maybe some faint chocolate and coffee. A little alcohol detected.

Taste is some bitterness mixed with semi sweet chocolate. A little bit of roasted coffee and maybe a touch of some burnt wood. A bit of hop bitterness on the finish.

Feel initially is a bit thin. Carb is low to medium. Maybe a little stickiness but it doesn't feel all that viscous.

Its a good stout but nothing over the top. Flavors are there but don't pop or hit very hard and the aroma was nearly non-existent compared to what you'd expect in a big RIS. (646 characters)

Photo of seedyone
4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From bottle at home. 2014 on bottle. Now this is what I call a stout. Look, smell, taste & feel are all very rich & full. This stuff makes no apologies, it just stands up straight & says "take it or leave it." I thought I caught the slightest hint of licorice/anise under my nose but it dissipated like a wisp, then came back again in the finish.

Alcohol taste but little of the burn. The chocolateness is of the bittersweet kind.

Every taste keeps saying to me "no kidding around". A real swashbuckler & I'm really enjoying it. (531 characters)

Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a snifter.
Pours squid ink black with a small smidgen of deep dark caramel head.
Smells a bit light, but certainly elements of roasted malt and coffee.
Taste is glorious. Deep roast, deep coffee bitterness.
A nice mouthfeel not too thin which I appreciated since there was no barrel aging.
Overall, this beer is delicious. Now on to BA Narwhal!!! (380 characters)

Photo of genesisgrunge
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful black. No light shines through. No head (although I worry it may have been my specific bottle).
S: Chocolate and molasses with a strong roasted (but not coffee) scent. It has a wood scent to cap it off. Must be those bourbon barrels used to age it.
T: Dark chocolate and earthy with an alcohol hit that comes with a 10.20 abv, but it's still smooth.
M: I imagine the mouthfeel must be much better than I experienced since the head was very thin to nonexistent on my pour. Yet it is still smooth and velvety. Reminds me of a Rasputin, but slightly more harsh due to the more pronounced alcohol taste.
O: Excellent beer. I will need to try this again with a proper pour from a good tap or bottle. This beer is a truly dark monster of complexity and challenge, but in all good ways. For those who like Rasputin for its sweeter malts, this is not the beer for you, but if you like Rasputin Imperial for everything else, then Narwhal is a must have. (960 characters)

Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked this up a few weeks back at Joe Canal's in Parsippany having never had this before. I love Sierra Nevada's offerings and was hoping that this would measure up to them. Thankfully, this did not taste like a dark version of their more notable Pale Ales and IPA's and considering the strength that this had, this was surprisingly easy to enjoy while being full and potent like a Russian Stout should be!

The pour to this was a dark raisin with just a hint of light seeping in around the edges, with a moderate tan head that was punctuated with bubbles coming up from the liquid. It gave this a lively appearance and the head settled into a few rings of lacing that went around the top third or so of my pint glass. The baker's chocolate was in the nose big time, along with some currant, dark fruit, and booze and all of these were present in the taste as well. Quite sweet, this had a cloying taste to it and the coffee same out more in the aftertaste once the Belgian-like notes and chocolate went down. Not a lot of hops here, the bubbles could be felt but not seen as the mouthfeel was pretty smooth with just a hint of lactose that softly came through as this warmed up.

This was strong but didn't really feel it but I noticed the warming coming over me once I made my way through this beer. Not overly spicy or boozy, this was a welcome departure from Sierra Nevada's other offerings while keeping up their level of quality that they've come to be known for. Those looking for a thinner Coffee Stout with hints of vanilla or a Russian Imperial Stout along the lines of the Old Rasputin will find that this straddled the line between the two, but quite nicely as I am looking forward to giving this another go! Certainly worthy of the Sierra Nevada moniker. (1,769 characters)

Photo of PReust
3.66/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

FEEL THE POWER!! Imperial stouts usually tend to taste more like spirits than stout, this one = a happy medium. This was really far out, 10 and one half percent or so, it'll get you drunk.....and after having the four pack, you'll probably say to yourself, "two of those.....WAS QUITE ENOUGH", followed by a galaxy of stars. Amen. (332 characters)

Photo of StinkyFishBoys
4.56/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer deserves more credit than it gets, but that's not uncommon for this brewery. I had a 2012 bottle last night and it was a true delight. I'm not a violent man but I would fin fight my dad for another. (208 characters)

Photo of HamdenHector
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: very deep brown - virtually black; 1 finger relatively dark head that receded to a thin collar; OK lacing;

S: deeply roasted grain and bittersweet chocolate; a little boozy; a little smoky;

T: deeply roasted grain; a little nutty; a little smoky; finish has a little alcohol bite; a touch of bittersweet chocolate in the aftertaste;

M: full bodied - sticky; light to moderate carbonation; medium dry finish;

O: intense; a good way to an a session; (454 characters)

Photo of Ipaupaweallpa
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So I have been seeking this out for a while, did try the SN Porter and the SN coffee stout. Never had the regular stout, never see it around although I'm sure it is similar to coffee stout. saw this last night and got very excited . Much anticipation. Tried to not get my hopes too high as stouts always have that "filling" Maltiness to me and I drink iPas mostly. Wow. This beer is incredible. Very smooth. DEFINATLY not able to detect the 10.2% abv until it leaves your mouth with a chocolatey Bite. Not nearly as carbonated and "airy" as the Porter and stout. Perfection. Like a silky chocolate smoothness. Not sure if I could have more than one because of the sweetness. But, still, after the first sip I was already wondering how I'm gonna secure another 4 pack. (768 characters)

Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking this 1 year aged (2013) at Owl farm. Ages really well, though a little boozy. A roastiness still aparant in the finish. 12 oz pour might be a little much for this one... (180 characters)

Photo of beersnobraven
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Deep, black, beautiful. Awesome bottle art, too.
Smell: Smells a little like bittersweet coffee. Primary scents are malt and chocolate.
Taste: Holy crap! It's like drinking a liquid chocolate cake! Seriously, so much chocolate! If you did a blind taste test, I would have a thought that this was a stout brewed with chocolate. A great beer for a chocolate lover like me! Other flavors I'm picking up are malt, coffee, with a little-to-medium hops present.
Feel: Really thick and delicious. Very dense; definitely a sipper.
Overall: Probably my all-time favorite Imperial Stout, and I'd go far to say favorite beer of all time. It's great taste and mouthfeel are definitely its best attributes, while it's 10.2 % ABV is also a plus. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had. (781 characters)

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 776 ratings.