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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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796 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 796
Hads: 4,537
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 23.24%
Wants: 264
Gots: 1,166 | FT: 43
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: 796 | Hads: 4,537
Photo of GetMeAnIPA
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12 oz bottle into my dogfish signature glass.

A - midnight black. 1/2 inch of brown small buubled head that fades quickly, but appears again with a few swirls of the glass. No bubbles that I could see, but the beer is so black if there where I couldn't even see them.

S - licorice, coffee, roasted malts with a some sweetness and alcohol that pierces the nose.

T - I get an array of flavors. Roasted malts, coffee, slight coco. A little sweetness comes through in the middle with some bitterness on the back end. The bitterness fades 1/4 through the beer as the coffee and roasted malts take over.

M - very little carbonation. A little syrupy and viscous. I get a slight tingling on the tongue.

O - very solid. I like how there isn't too coffee or coco flavor and its balanced nicely between not being too sweet or bitter. The abv is well hidden. I get a perfect amount of warming but no alcohol burn. Sierra Nevada says this will
Age for years and I plan on aging a few. Interested how it will change.

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Photo of ExaltedNecrosis
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into snifter.

A - Pitch black with one finger of creamy dark mocha / chocolate head. Leaves a good amount of lacing on the glass.

S - A somewhat subdued aroma of roasted coffee and chocolate.

T - Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and a slight hint of vanilla. There is a also a bit of booziness, though not very pronounced for a 10.2%

M - Super smooth and creamy. Thick bodied and somewhat syrupy with low carbonation; this goes down easy.

O - A fantastic stout from SN with the standard roasted coffee and chocolate flavors, with a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Nice bit of alcohol warmth as well despite it being quite drinkable.

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass, almost black with a nice dark tan head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, dark roasted grain

T: coffee, bitter coco, espresso, tobacco, dark roasted malty grains

M: heavy, oily, low carbonation, alcohol noticeable

O: great imperial stout, rich flavors

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Photo of zinklesmesh
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Delicious. Thick and strong. Sort of tastes like tootsie rolls with coffee mixed in. Big flavors in good balance. I don't normally like stouts, but this is an excellent brew.

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Photo of kemoarps
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Well finally something good comes up today.
The beer pours a sexy onyx black with a satiny brown head. Decent retention and lacing. I'm quite excited.

This excitement is mildly tempered as the nose is not as rich as I was hoping. There is some creamy dark chocolate, a touch of char and some candi sweetness lurking in the background.

Luckily once it hits my lips, all concerns aroused by the aroma are put to rest. Beyond the silky smoothe mouthfeel contrasted by tiny pinpricks of carbonation, there is a an inital sweet dark cocoa note that fades into more of the char and roasty malts before finishing bitter as bakers chocolate. Excellently blended, and immenently smoothe on the palate. This is another extremely well done beer from a reliable brewery, and one that I am excited to see how it transforms as it ages. Go and buy it if it's available in your area, it is WELL worth seeking out.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours pitch black with a full two finger fluffy mocha head.

S: Aroma of sweet malt, a light hint of smoke

T: Sweet with licorice up front and a nice bit of smoke in the back. Extremely smooth with a very dry finish. Very well attenuated and rounded out with minimal hop presence. The licorice flavors is very strong in here, more so than most imperial stouts.

M: Medium body with a mild carbonation level.

O: This is a well rounded stout, one that doesn't disappoint and lives up to the standards that Sierra Nevada have for great beer. Without wowing typically, this beer has stepped it up a notch from some of the other recent releases that SN has. I am sure I will have this again in the future, well done.

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Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Tasted Blind against Old Rasputin. This was my preferred beer.

A - Light-swallowing black, accented by a bracelet of mocha coloured foam. Very thin head but what a gorgeous colour!

S - Not quite as forceful as implied by the colour but tantalising due to its subtlety nonetheless. Dundee cake (it's like Christmas cake) and treacle were the main characteristics I picked up. A murmur of coca cola once it warms up a little followed by a sweet, rich rum booziness.

T - Surprisingly sweet. Leads with treacle and follows with a booziness reminscent of a good single malt. By this I mean that it had that sort of smokiness or peatiness in its bite. To me it tastes like dark dried fruits soaked in whisky.

M - Creamy, thick like treacle or molasses. Chewy and pliable.

O - What a cracking beer for the price. Took Old Rasputin to the cleaners. Did a good job of civilising its 10% Abv which always wins brownie points with me. I was concerned I might be overpowered by this beer a I was recently by Rochefort 10 but this was not the case. Underrated.

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Photo of hosehead83
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a "stubby" 12oz. bottle into a wine goblet.
Pitch-black, almost purple hue, with a moderate head of cafe mocha.
Aroma-Dark roast coffee, dark chocolate
Taste-Baker's chocolate, dark roasted coffee. A big, rich, flavorfull stout, full of character and complexity. Good stuff!

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pure black body, topped by a fist worth of dark tan micro-bubble foam.

Big roast coffee aroma, chocolate undercurrent, hints of dark fruit.

Taste starts off with a wave of Hershey syrup. Follows with a big cup of black coffee. Nips of dark fruits.

Big thick slick oily chewy. It's a good one.

A superior Imperial Stout I hope to enjoy again for years to come.

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Photo of whoahwhat
4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap, 10 ounces. One word: delicious. Have since had it from the bottle and it's just not the same. On tap, it was syrupy, complex, wonderful. beautiful espresso head. I'm really sad that I didn't get another glass of it, but, ya know, driving... Strong coffee flavors, plum, chocolate, just rich and tasty.

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Photo of IronLover
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Velvety black in color. Poured with a short dark tan foam that quickly reduced to a soapy cap. Dark roasted malt and powdery dark chocolate aromas with ripe dark fruit and delicate hop notes. Thick, rich, viscous feel with subdued carbonation through the middle. Dark roasted malt flavors first followed by dark chocolate. Sweetness malt and chocolate is quickly overcome by bitter dark roasted coffee and pine hop bitterness. Finishes with a tangy, bitter, pine hip aftertaste with u.derlying dark roasted malt. Beautiful color, delicate aromas, and a rollercoaster of sweet and bitter flavors. 

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Photo of REGreenBTRB
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%

Bottled on 07/31/14. Poured into a snifter.

A: 5 - Pitch black with a very thin head, tan/cinnamon head. It seriously looks like this glass just got colored with sharpie.

S: 3.8 - I get some of the roasted malt, dark chocolate, really not a whole lot of coffee. Mainly just the malt and coffee. It doesn't smell quite as strong as I was expecting.

T: 4.25 - It tastes wonderful! You definitely get a lot of the malt up front, and the dark chocolate is very present. There's just a hint of coffee. This is mostly roasted malts and dark chocolate, though I can definitely pick up on a little bit of the alcohol.

M: 4.25 - There is a slight alcohol burn, medium carbonation. Creamy finish.

O: 4.32 - Overall a very good beer. It's hard to go wrong with a dark chocolate/malty imperial stout. Definitely something worth trying! Woo Pig.

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Photo of HardTarget
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black as night, only the thinnest of ruby edges. Holds a tan thin cover, not much lace.

Smell: Roasted malt, burnt sugar vapor is alcoholic and inviting. A rich tone with some supportive but mild hop notes.

Taste: Heavy malt has a toffee sweetness to it that is smooth and silky. Slight lactic twang of a mild stout, slippery feel of an oatmeal stout, full volume of an Imperial Stout. Somewhere down the British spectrum, definitely not an AMERICAN HOP STOUT, this is much more refined, restrained, civilized.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy milk shake. Great combination of heavy body and lively carbonation that helps keep the whole package together. Full chew, slick oil takes a while to soak in.

Overall: Wow. Serious yum. I'll be seeking more. It's a monster with a friendly face. You note alcohol, but it doesn't taste like the 10% it's swinging. A nice long evening sipper.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown-black color with a finger of frothy chocolate-khaki colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted dark chocolate malts, coffee, vanilla, black licorice, a bit of earthy, and a touch of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of roasted dark chocolate malts, vanilla, and a bit of black licorice. Through the middle, some coffee comes through with some earthy hops and touch of molasses. The finish is a mix of dark chocolate, coffee, earthy hops, a touch of dark fruit, and bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate-minus carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Incredibly smooth for how big it is with great overall balance.

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Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Review taken from notes - late October (2012)

12 oz brown SN style stubby bottle poured into an imperial stout pint glass(tulip pint). Label is great like usual from the folks at SN featuring a massive whale unicorn? Idk but
I like it. Mythic creature for a mythic brew? Awesome Look.

A - pours a jet black with the edges painted dark brown if held to the light. Pretty opaque color. Mocha brown head is pretty dark as well. I actually had a pretty massive head with this stout. Settles nicely to a thick ring of lace leaving some solid stick throughout the glass.

S - a mellow aroma at first, but massive Cocoa and dark chocolate with some roasted Malts rise up the depths of this black ocean of liquid. Hints of Dark fruit with some medium coffee expresso whiffs. A semi smokey character throughout the nose with the faintest alcohol whiff settle softly in the back.

T - rich and roasted dark malts with Bitter dark chocolate and expresso flavors. Hints of the darkest of fruit and thick molasses balance the bitterness. Pure cocoa In a dry finish. This is a class flavor for an RIS. Well done.

M - thick and luscious mouthfeel. Nice and sturdy in size. Smooth and creamy while doing an excellent job at coating the mouth. This is a stout man's mouthfeel. Smooth, thick and like velvet going down. Very drinkable considering the 10.2% it packs.

O - at last! We get a great imperial stout from SN. Sure they have the beer camp stuff, but with a brewery that does about everything right.. Including making a solid stout and porter that's easily to locate. this is massive and thick winter stout and lets hope it's a new tradition at SN. Like all good big stouts it's capable of Having the pop topped from day one or can sit in your cellar for as long as you'd like. This RIS has the quality, complexity, and depth to rival anything in it's category. An instant classic for me and one of the best I've had. It may not be better than some, but it's great enough to be in the conversation. Sierra Nevada is world class.

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Photo of WSGosset
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Deep black. The head is very modest and the lacing is fairly light. It is possible that I served it just a little bit too cold.

S: The smell is fantastic. A little bit subtle, but overall a nice balance between roasted malt and coffee, along with a pleasant hint of alcohol (just enough to know you are drinking an RIS without being overwhelming).

T: It tastes very much like it smells: delicious! In addition to a roasty coffee taste, I'm also getting a touch of caramel, especially as the beer begins to warm a bit. There is a noticeably bitter aftertaste.

M: Very creamy.

O: I've always loved SNPA so I may be a bit biased towards SN products in general, but this is an excellent beer. While I have yet to taste some of the harder-to-find stouts talked about on BA, I imagine that this beer measures up quite well, especially given its availability.

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Photo of ncketchum
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Excited to see this finally hit WI!
Served in a Duvel tulip, cellar temp

A - pours midnight black, large amount of dark chocolate head, which soon dissipates to leave a ring of lacing

S - impressive nose, roasted chocolate malt followed by a good amount of nuttiness, a hint of coffee, and the slightest bit of booze

T - Very complex taste - first, there is a big sweet cafe mocha presence, followed by the roasted malt, then a big bitter, piny hop note to end off the palate

M - minimal carbonation, nice and viscous, great imperial stout with a fairly big hop presence that I have come to expect from SN.

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Photo of IPAGeorge
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip

A. A very dark brown almost black pour it a two finger khaki foamy/frothy head. Head disappears in 1 minute. Not much lacing.

S. Aromas of roasted malts and vanilla first fill the nose. Some milk chocolate.

T. Much more coffee comes through on the palate. Milk chocolate and vanilla there also. Some bitterness and grassy aftertaste which would signal to me some hoppyness. A very nice RIS. As it warms a little I get a nice upfront smokeyness.

M. A nice medium to heavy body. 7 on a 1-10 scale. Light carbonation. Finishes slightly dry. Not very boozy but you can tell it's there. Again a highlight of the beer.

O. At first glance after the pour I thought to myself " this looks nice ". Then the nose didn't present as much as it doors on the palate IMO. I'm usually not a huge fan of Sierra Nevada but this is my first stout and they got it right. I'm looking the mouthfeel and the taste alot. A good beer. Will be looking for the BA.

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Photo of ponbon63
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: It pours jet black with a minimal head and basically no lacing. Excactly what you'd expect.

S: When RIS is done correctly it will always have an amazing smell. I was only slightly disappointed in the smell, but not because it was bad, because I am more of a fan of intense smelling RIS. as the smell of this beer is not as abrasive as some RIS's can be this may be a good beer for first-time drinkers of RIS. You can smell the coffee and dark chocolate and a hint of alcohol if you take a good whiff.

T: It's not nearly as intense as some I've tasted, however it has the signatures of a RIS. Coffee, bitter chocolate. The alcohol smell does not translate to tasting alcohol in the beer, which is good. Not overpowering by any means if you know what to expect.

M: Fairly carbonated for a RIS. Of course thicker than your average beer.

O: This is one of those beers that I love because of the style and the classic flavors that it brings. However, it's not as memorable as certain other versions of this variety. It's imperfect, but it is definitely a great addition.

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Photo of ash111
4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this from a bottle into a tulip glass. Good beer, great example of the style. It pours black, no light coming through. There is no head (but a more vigorous pour might produce one). Taste is lovely, everything you would want from an RIS. There is a noticeable, but not overwhelming, smell of alcohol that comes at the end of each sip. I personally don't mind this, but the alcohol is more aggressive than some other beers of the same style. I'm interested in how it ages (if any of mine can survive that long.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass. 2012 bottle

Appearance: Pours a dark oily black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of creamy tan head that fade into a thin layer. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A roasty and fairly sweet aroma. Dark roasted malts with hints of cocoa, dark bread, coffee, and cookie dough along with some caramel and toffee. A fair amount of molasses. Some subtle smoke. Hop presence is very subtle but there is a light earthy and piney scent. Also some subtle dark fruits with hints of cherry, raisin, and plum. Pretty decent smell.

Taste: Like the aroma hints, a dark, roasty, and sweet stout taste. Dark roasted malts with a taste of cocoa, toasted bread, coffee, and dough. Some burnt caramel and toffee along with some molasses sweetness. Subtle anise and some smoke that lingers through the finish. Undertones of dark fruits including cherry, prune, and raisin. Light earthy hops and resin round it out. A pretty good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and somewhat syrupy. Alcohol is hidden well.

Overall: A very good take on the Russian Imperial Stout. Big, roasty, and sweet while avoiding becoming cloying. Very solid.

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Photo of ocelot2500
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a jet black color with a tight, light brown head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of deep roasted notes with some dark fruits.

Tastes of the full roasted notes with a touch of bitterness on the backend. Leads off with coffee and semi-sweet chocolate. A bit of roasted bitterness comes through in the middle. Licorice also comes through near the end and is complemented by some dark fruit notes. Finishes with a slight molasses note.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a very good stout that is definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: black bodied beer with a huge mocha brown head. The head has got some nice staying power. Spotty lacing once the head drops down to a thin cap.

Smell: Nice milk chocolate note and mild yet crisp roast note. Got a hint of fruitiness. It also smells like its got an oatmeal note going on as well. The nose is really great on this beer probably my favorite part the beer as a whole.

Taste: Moderately roasted coffee kick that mixes with a hint of black licorice. The beer finishes with a mildly sweet and bitter flavors that are best described as lingering bakers cocoa, tobacco, and molasses notes. Maybe even a hint of charcoal in there too. Bold and complex without being abrasive.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The beer is a little bit creamy while also being slick. Really smooth not a hint of booze in this beer that is just over 10%. Carbonation is really well done adding a touch of finesse because it has a soft feel to it as well.

Overall: This is probably the second best beer I have had drank that is brewed by Seirra Nevada; only trumped by the Black Barleywine they put in the large format bottle a few years ago. This is a well made Russian Imperial Stout. It got an hier about it; to me its an approachable beer for people new to the style and its good enough to satify some people with those "hard to please" palates. Bold flavors and smooth drinking. Sierra Nevada would be wise to make this a seasonal beer no doubt in my mind! This one blows away old raspy by north coast.

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Photo of Seanniek91
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served from a 12oz Bottle into a Smutty pint.

Appearance- Pitch black with super thin mocha head. Very nice lacing on this one.

Smell- Coffee, chocolate roasted malts, some dark stone fruit, booze.

Taste- Chocolate, tons of coffee, vanilla oakiness, bittering hops, mild booze. Coffee finishes this one.

Mouthfeel- Smooth, thick, nice carbonation. Full mouthfeel, but not too viscous.

Overall- I really enjoy this RIS. Really nice flavor and body.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 796 ratings.