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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

824 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 824
Hads: 4,671
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 269
Gots: 1,243 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 824 | Hads: 4,671
Photo of megahurts4
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Appearance: dark brown, medium head, and a little lacing.

Smell: coffee, chocolate, hops, and mineral water.

Taste: vanilla, coffee, some hops, and a hint of cocoa.

Mouthfeel: medium and a slight chewy sensation.

This is quite nice. While not incredibly complex, the flavors mesh very well and are properly proportioned. The mouthfeel is great. This is very drinkable.

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Photo of Pegasus
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance; Utter black body, impenetrable to light, crowned by a small, dense tan head, which slowly fades to scattered patches of foam, like some archipelago on midnight seas. Thin, fine-beaded lacing coats the glass walls.

Aroma: Roasted malt, dark roasted coffee, and bitter cocoa dominate the aroma, the dark roasted malt being particularly notable. There is only a faint whiff of spicy alcohol in the aroma, remarkable considering the ABV of 10.2%

Taste: Opens with strong measures of cold coffee and bitter cocoa. Warming alcohol is soon evident, but is presented gracefully. The coffee and cocoa dominate, and are supported by a strong presence of roasted malt. Later in the taste, the is a strong hop presence, which compliments the coffee, cocoa, and roasted malt. The taste draws to a close with a late flourish of herbal hops against the roasted malt.

Mouth feel: Rich, quite smooth and full, with just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: A really excellent example of the Russian Imperial Stout style, I am thankful to have found this gem. Narwhal should be bought to cellar, as a gift to our future selves.

Presentation: Packaged in a stubby twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of liamt07
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle form Siciliano's, 12oz into a tulip - 2012 vintage.

Impenetrable black with a deep brown head. Creamy retention and a whole load of lace. Nose of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, carmel, dark fruit liqueur notes. Light anise and a bit of alcohol. Relatively sweet, but spot on for what I enjoy in imperial stouts. Taste has heavy dark roasted character, dark chocolate, light tar, charcoal with some back end sweetness to prevent everything from getting away. Full feel, some alcohol warmth. Medium low carbonation. This do es well as is and could be great with some time.

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Photo of RocketRaccoon88
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

The first time I tried this was because my friend said you've got to try this! It's got a narwhal on he front! A freaking narwhal! So I got it and had it and I got a six pack lol. This is an awesome brew! Nice dark and tasty down to the last drop.

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

Now here is a beer I have been anxiously awaiting since I heard it existed – finally, Sierra Nevada’s imperial stout has been released. Let’s taste the liquid hype…

Brewed a little over a month before the date of this tasting (October 5, 2012 by the code on the bottle).

A: Phenomenally thick, pouring like viscous black motor oil from the bottle. Dark brown bubbles form a ring around the top of the body, settling there for the duration as the only inkling of head. Ropy lacing strings all the way around.

S: Chocolate-covered pretzel and toffee encase this moderately-pungent nose in sweets, augmented by a spattering of burnt sugar, cappuccino, and marshmallow tones. It brightens up with a tinge of raspberry, hazelnut, and cherry cordial, as well as that classic, piney, Sierra Nevada hoppiness. But with all that, it still has a yeasty note overall, bready and earthen in every whiff – not a sugar bomb like Choklat or Dark Lord. In this nose, balance is always present.

T: One taste and it’s instant Sierra Nevada, immediately spreading those taut, piney bitters to the corners of the palate. It’s one of the brewery traits that got me into craft, so I know it and love it, but this time it definitely fits – the wave of blackened malt fits perfectly into the resinous hops. Char, oak chips, toasted bread, and peanut brittle make up the thick middle of the palate, but not without a smooth cocoa and nougat character throughout. On the ends, it’s woody and round, filling out with whiskey and molasses flavors. Finishes hot and bitter, cementing it as the most powerful Sierra Nevada beer I’ve had.

M: Goes down smooth and fiery, prickling up with resin astringency. Each sip doesn’t exactly pull the lips back with intensity, but certainly you notice its power.

O: A cheap, kick-ass RIS. This is a step from the norm for Sierra Nevada – it’s definitely the thickest and most slow-drinking beer from these guys – but it works at every turn. If this were more than limited release, I’d buy it all the time; over Old Rasputin, Storm King, and even Plead the Fifth. Put this in a barrel and this would stand up to the best of them.

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

poured from a 12 ounce bottle to a a goblet glass

Pours midnight black, with a 1/2 finger mocha head, that thins to a lace around the glass, very classic Imperial Stout. Dark chocolate up front, bitter coffee bean and espresso follow, subtle hoppiness sneaks in and out. Milk chocoalte in the mouth, bitter dark chocolate follow up, big hop profile found mid sip, coffee notes, very well round each second of the sip breathes a different taste. Big and bold in body, full and lightly carbonated, smooth flow that finishes semi dry. Overall; great Imp Stout, well rounded, well balanced, complex, delicious, whats not to like about this beer?

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Photo of Flashy
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Purchased 11/12/14 at local 7-11 for $9.99 a four pack.
Appearance: Pours darker then the Mines of Moria.
Body: Ok, prefer this type of beer to be a bit thicker.
Price: Spot on, thanks again Sierra Nevada for never ripping anyone off- ever for decades now.
Taste: Bit mild, don't taste anything specific flavors because I am not a super taster and taste nothing other then a great stout.
Overall: Great, great stout at a great, great price. A go to beer for the ages.

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Photo of Ale-Be-Damned
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

This is a beautiful Imperial Stout, black with little head. I served it from the refrigerator so it was cold. As it warmed up I could pick up on more of the licorice. Nice maltiness, and the presence of hops which gave the beer a little bite, but just enough to fill out the balance and overall taste. I can see how this stout could be dangerous with over all ease of drinking and the ABV T 10.2%. Overall, I really like Narwhal and will pick it up again.

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Photo of predikit
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Poured a deep brown, nearly black. Settled black, after a vigorous pour, left a two finger brown head that receded at a moderate rate.

Smells very malty, coffee notes are very present.

Taste is rich, chocolate and coffee malts dominate, with a roasted bitterness taking the aftertaste. The alcohol is extremely well hidden, I can not tell it is there one bit.

Full bodied, very smooth, dangerously drinkable. I can imagine this could cause a lot of embarrassing evenings to less than controlled drinkers.

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Photo of Mikus
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Cold into the snifter, poured midnight black with a cocoa-tinged head w/small bubbles. Can't see the letters on the glass... nice. Aromas of roasted malts, coffee, some chocolate, and the clean SN bitter note. Deep, complex flavors. Some nice coffee on the end, and excellent balance, not afraid to have so E bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, not chewy like other big stouts. Nice and crisp. I have waited a long time for this beer, and I was definitely not disappointed. Did anyone else notice, though, that this didn't necessarily get smoother, more complex as it warmed up? My only small concern. Would recommend.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Black. Oily. Chewy brown head but the lacing slides off the glass too readily, via some obvious alcohol solvency.

Boozy aroma, w/ coffee, barely detectable chocolate. Nice, but fairly one-dimensional.

Booze first on the tongue. Then tart stone fruit, cherry, prune, or is it fig. Cocoa's next, along with burnt toast. Then more booze, which is an issue.

Thick, oily, despite the significant carbonation.

Very much like Old Rasputin, which isn't my favorite RIS. I like them sweeter than this. The simplistic aroma is the weak spot, here. But at this price point, I'll drink this regularly. Wish there were more chocolate and/or vanilla involved.

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

2012 vintage, this was poured from a bottle into a mug. The beer is almost completely jet-black, with some chestnut highlights. No head, but there is a touch of bubbly filmy ringing around the surface. Aromas of chocolate, roasted coffee, a touch of booze, and earthy tones. Flavors are strong and rich, with a heavy roasted coffee backbone supporting a boozey and oaky highlight. Very deep and layered. Bittersweet chocolate laces throughout the palate, as well as a touch of bourbon. The aftertaste is bittersweet and roasty, with a slight booze linger as well. The beer is rich, but very smooth in mouth, and fairly light for an RIS, which makes it extremely palatable. Smooth, bitter, and rich finish. Very easy to drink despite the increased ABV and "big" flavor profiles.

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Photo of ZebraCakez
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

A: This pours a deep, dark black color. No light escapes. A small, tan foamy head dissipates quickly.

S: Chocolate and alcohol with a faint fruit undertone.

T: Okay, this is a pretty good stout. I get an immediate dark chocolate taste, maybe a slight coffee touch. A licorice undertone is present, but is subtle, as is a faint alcohol presence that amplifies ever so slightly as the beer warms up a bit..

F: Thick and creamy, as any stout should be.

O: This is not a competitor to the really "Big" stouts, but it is certainly a welcome member to a market saturated with IPA's. It lacks any single defining quality that makes it stand out above the rest, but it is more then worthy of a spot on the shelf.

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Photo of SteveB24
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

just tried this beer for the first time since my earliest days of craft beer drinking.
color is black as night with a finger of frothy brown head. lots of lacing on the side of the glass.
aroma is sweet and malty, with notes of molasses, coffee, dark fruit, with a mildly boozy finish.
lots of rich malt flavor, biscuit, slight maple syrupy taste, coffee in there too, with some deep woody notes. not too sweet. texture is full bodied, slightly oily, surprisingly carbonated.
overall this is an excellent representative of the style. delicious. perfect for cold nights.
the ten percent abv is barely noticeable, drinks dangerously smooth.

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

Black with a one finger tan head. The head has some big bubbles forming and dissipates to a thin layer fairly quickly.
This smells of cocoa and coffee throughout the drinking experience and also picks up the hint of alcohol as the beer gets closer to room temperature.
This stout is all about malts and it is delicious. I'm getting dark chocolate, roasted malt and coffee. It is a rather sweet tasting stout and is perfect for the cold night I'm drinking it on.
This is a full bodied beer that is smooth up front and picks up the alcohol heat as it warms.
It's about time that that Sierra Nevada made an Imperial Stout! This is an easily available, top notch stout by one of Americas finest breweries.

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Photo of AirBob
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

A- Thin layer of khaki colored head which quickly dissipated. Deep black body. Sparkling off-white lacing.

S - Coffee grounds and chocolate syrup.

T - Sweetened, burnt coffee and unsweetened chocolate. Some earthiness in the middle. Finishes with numbing boozy heat. Very bitter dark chocolate and burnt coffee.

M - Low carb. Full bodied. Bitter finish helps to cut through any stickiness.

O - Bitter. Reminds me of sweetened Starbucks house blend with some booze. Could be better balanced, but the bitterness cuts down on the stickiness which made this more drinkable than other beers in the style.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black color with motor oil consistency. Decent sized thick brown head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a thin, crisp line of lacing around the edge of the glass, with a thin "island" of head left in the center.

Heavily roasted chocolate and coffee malts, and a good deal of booze. Some dark fruits are definitely there too.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts. The booziness is still there. Dark fruits are definitely noticeable, led by black licorice. Cocoa and molasses. Very dark, roasted coffee. A good amount of hop bitterness.

Heavy bodied. Not much carbonation. Very creamy and rich, with a relatively noticeable bite from the alcohol. Definitely a sipper.

Overall, another solid entry from SN. This is a very good example of a "good" RIS; doesn't execute any aspect perfectly but does them all very well. A good beer on a cold winter night. (Incidentally, my curiosity caused me to look up what a Narwhal is. Fascinating creature).

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Photo of H0PHead108
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Delicious aroma of chocolate with a hint of coffee. A med/full head on the pour supported by the dark chocolate brown body. Smooth and sweet with the bitterness of dark roasted coffee to finish. This doesn't hide it's 10.2%ABV Imperial kick for very long. I left this to chill on the porch for a bit [58 degrees] for about 30 min before I opened and poured. it. Delightful !

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown, almost black. Nice tan head that dissipates. I have some remnants of sticky lace in the pint glass, but not much.

Coffee and licorice in the nose. Some bitter charred notes.

Deep flavors with terrific balance of dark richness and bitter. Sweet malt of dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, charred burnt bits. Bitterness leans in with some alcohol, but it seems less boozy than it really is. Nice bitter finish with a coffee aftertaste.

This one even pours thick. Dense full body. A little acid.

Great RIS. Loved this and glad I tried it.

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

Poured an opaque black with a finger of mocha head. Aroma of roasty cocoa, licorice, and coffee.

Moderate carbonation and full, creamy, slightly chalky mouthfeel. Caramel and roasty chocolate up front with espresso and licorice. Quite a bit of hop bitterness and boozy warmth on the finish, with fruity esters that emerge as the beer warms.

Solid stout with sharp, big flavors.

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Photo of m0ntels
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark, bold, and strong. Really enjoyed this one and would go to a place specifically if they had this on tap again. Another winner from Sierra Nevada!

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Bottle at Beer Crazy.
After a terrible 6 weeks for my family I decided it was beer treat time.
The beer is so dark that Neil deGrasse Tyson might mistake it for a black hole. The very edges of my Celebrator stout glass show a hint of ruby.
The aroma is prominent with cocoa.
The taste is somewhat confusing. I can pick up on the density of it but not the individual components. There's the heavy malt base and everything else blends together, but in an awesome way.
The body is a good level of thickness with a tiny amount of carbonation. Smooth on the finish.
This beer is very likeable, but I was a bit disappointed by the flavors all blending into one compination that I just could not decipher. I would get this again but it's meant to be enjoyed in small gulps.

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

Generous light brown head fills the top of the glass then quickly falls on top of a pitch black ale.

Aroma of dark roasted grain on top of a rich malty base, solid raw-grain bread scents with no hint of alcohol. Balanced hop bitterness with the first sip, pronounced american (citrus?) hop flavors quickly washed away by sharp roasted grain taste. Thick and lucious body carries the astringent roasted grain through to a dry finish.

Great balance in the finish, deftly pairing strong roasted grain with a thick and full malty body. Alcohol is well hidden behind this very solid malty RIS. This is a straight shooter that doesn't fool around with quirky flavors and nails the balance of drinkability just right.

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Photo of EMV
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

L: Pours an inky black with 2 fingers of brownish head. Delicate lacing with great retention.

S: Chocolate and coffee, roasted malts, molasses.

T/F: Roasted malts with a complex coffee and chocolate flavor. Slightly sweet gives way to slightly bitter and very smooth on the palate. Even better as it goes from cellar temp to room.

O: One delicious Imperial Stout, and a great product from the venerable Sierra Nevada brewery. Can't wait to see what they've done with the bourbon aged versions (2 bottles currently relaxing in my cellar) and this beer can have a place in my fridge any time.

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Photo of South2NW
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle to snifter.

A: very dark brown, closer to black. Very thin brown head with minimal lace.

S: Roasty. Coffee, malts, and a touch of chocolate.

T: roasty malts right away, followed by some dark coffee/chocolate flavors. Brief hop finish.

M: thick, creamy. Little carbonation. Not much alcohol burn. Very easy drinker.

O: SN did a great job with this. It's a very nice, balanced imperial. Great value at $10/4pk. Makes a great sipper on cold evenings. Paired well with thanksgiving desserts.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 824 ratings.