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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: 4,474
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 259
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 776 | Hads: 4,474
Photo of IAmAPenguin
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Aroma: thick, rich chocolate malts, black grains, subtle smoke, coffee bean oil and resin. Appearance: pitch black with fantastic lacing. Taste: smooth, velvety thick roasted chocolate, burnt caramel, continuous coffee, toasted bread, plums and red grapes. Overall, amazing alcohol finish smooth full bodied and rich (316 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 WVbeergeek
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The elusive Narwhal, this is 2012 brewed according to the coding system they use it's bottled on 2285210:23 that's 2012 285th day on the 2nd bottling line at 10:23 am. I couldn't pass this up even though they had fresh Hoptimum I sided with the Narwhal since I hadn't yet tried this imperial stout. Pours with a black velvet smooth texture, pitch black body fills up my Stone Imperial Russian Stout glass nicely. Big smooth creamy texture mocha tan head follows the body with fine speckled lacing, this beer has some legs as I swirl it around in the chalice. Aromatics are killer dark ripened vinous fruit notes with dark chocolate and roasted coffee, it's an excellent combination brewed in this glass. Even some brown sugar/molasses like malt character kicking in with subdued earthy hops well hidden by the roasted qualities of black patent malts. The perceived sweetness comes off as dark partially fermented cherries or plump juicy raisins or a combination of those two fruits, but there is a fruity sharp sherry character going on here. Flavor rides a wave of those dark malts but has a surprisingly sharp sweet slightly salty breathe of ocean quality, maybe a bit of soy sauce that I get from some imperial stouts...it's not overkill but a nice dose of something to offset the dark malts acrid roasted malt character. Definitely sweet cherry hidden in there with well blended alcohol, caramelized brown sugar, earthy herbal hops in the backend with some added bitterness bitter dark chocolate and hints of espresso bean reach the palate as well. Like I said initially this is a killer complex ale, full bodied even smooth carbonation it's a joy to have on the palate with each sip cleansing any lingering harshness away it's drinkability is downright dangerous one of the biggest easiest drinking imperial stouts I've ever come across. (1,842 characters)

Photo of Dan_Meyers
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle served in a pint glass

Appearance
-Very dark, inky body, with a thin caramel colored head
-4.75 based on how an imperial stout should look like
-Not a perfect five because I like to see a little more head

Smell
-Mild smell. Hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee are present
-4.75 based on other imperial stouts. This is what I imagine when I think of Imperial Stouts. No surprise scents
-Not a perfect five because I like a little more of a pungent aroma. Imperial stouts aren't supposed to be the most aromatic beer genre, but a little more roasted coffee and dark chocolate smell would have made this a perfect five

Taste
-The roasted malt is the predominant taste when first sipping this beer. A strong "alcoholic" aftertaste soon follows
-4.50 based on the genre of beer. Imperial stouts are known for their black coffee/chocolaty taste and typically have a higher alcohol content than most other types of beer.
-Not a perfect five because I prefer a more pronounced malty taste in my Imperial Stouts. Also, the higher alcohol content can be easily tasted. There is a slight "bite" when you sip this. A little more malt and a little less alcoholic taste would have made this is five.

Mouthfeel
-The mouthfeel of this beer is very nice. It has the thicker characteristic that you expect from this kind of beer, but not too thick. The "alcoholic" taste that was mentioned in the taste category isn't a factor with the mouthfeel of this beer. When first tasting this, I expected a lingering alcoholic taste, like with most liquors and some higher ABV beers, but the "bite" only lasted a second. The lingering taste that seemed to stick around was the malty, roasted taste that I expected


Overall
-To me an Imperial Stout should have a strong roasted malt/black coffee/dark chocolate taste with a slight to no alcohol taste. The best of this genre have found a way to maximize the roasted taste and minimized the “bite” that comes with a higher ABV. Narwhal Imperial Stout has all the proper characteristics of the best Imperial Stout that I have ever tasted. The only downside is that the malty taste that I desire is slightly understated while the alcoholic taste is slightly overstated with this beer
-I gave this beer a 4.75 because, on the whole, it is a truly great beer. From the amazing dark color to the smell of roasted coffee to the malty taste to the very pleasant mouthfeel. This beer is one of my favorites
-I didn’t give this beer a perfect five because, as stated in the first section of my overall comments, the only thing keeping this beer back from perfection is the need for a slightly more pronounced malty taste and a little less of the alcoholic “bite.” Everything else was delightful. (2,751 characters)

Photo of MartyMaltose
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

An Imperial without the feeling of ABV for ABV's sake. Oh my. Supremely drinkable and luscious. Someday I hope this is what humanity envisions when they hear the word "beer". Except then the world will be half-drunk all the time. (229 characters)

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Lovely beige head, good retention, on a black body, soapy and sticky lacing. Aroma includes roasted malt, coffee, vanilla, toffee, licorice, some alcohol and chocolate. Mouthfeel is lush with high viscosity. Taste includes notes from all of the aforementioned aromas. A ton of flavor packed in the liquid, slightly warming but also quite fresh. Purely delicious...what else could you expect from the crew in Chico? (465 characters)

Photo of losdizzel
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great brew from Sierra Nevada brewing company .
Poured into Sam Adams glass .
Very very black and thickish head disapates quickly then lacing left behind .
smells of sharp alcohol bight and molasses .
Taste thin ,and sweet ,to pour soo thick .
stays on the back of the throat ,53 degrees
Tart tangy and well rounded plesantly warming
very nice beer .
top notched Imperial Stout one of my favorite styles . (417 characters)

Photo of braiden
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Look: dark, nice head but could be thick dark coffee and coco notes with a sharp alcohol
taste: rich coffee dark smooth texture. Creamy and buttery
Feel. Thick then sharp at the end due to alcohol
Overall: complex, smooth yet full body texture. Great with a dinner (265 characters)

Photo of Celtics17
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Just a big flavorful beer. It's like drinking a candy bar. This is one you can truly age. It's a great 4 pack. The High Altitude series is great.

Aroma- Big notes of sweet milk chocolate and roasted coffee.

Taste- Big milk/dark chocolate flavor coming through.

Overall this beer has everything you want in a stout.

2014 BOTTLE (333 characters)

Photo of taters21
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this is exceptional.
Appearance-Black with a finger and a half reddish brown head with good rention to one finger.
Smell-Raisin, Dark Chocolate, Roasted malt
Taste-This is where this stout knocked my socks off, delightfully chocolate sweetness that fades to coffee then to a roasted light bitterness, just splendid.
Feel-Creamy, velvety, coats the mouth well, very good for this style.
All in all, I had high hopes and this beer was even better than I thought it could be. (477 characters)

Photo of balticporter99
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just picked this up at my local Whole Foods. Pours black as my ex-girlfriend's heart with a lingering 2 fingers worth of head. Smells of burnt toast and coffee. Suprisingly smooth taste (easier drinking than old Rasputin) with coffee and chocolate notes. Noticable, warming but not boozey alcohol aftertaste. Exceptional example of a Russian Imperial Stout. (357 characters)

Photo of Kuaff
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this RIS in my snifter at cellar temperature.

A full, bulging two fingers of light cocoa-colored foam form the head. The body is black, to put it simply.

Smells surprisingly fruity! I think I'm getting raspberries and, incredibly, freshly-picked blueberries. It's fantastic, as well as something I never imagined I'd smell in a stout. Moving on... there are also raisins, a rich semi-sweet chocolate scent, and a bit of molasses. A really awesome blend of aromas.

The berries are in the flavor a little too! It's like brownies with a strawberry or raspberry topping at first. That's what it's like early on... pretty sweet like chocolate milk, but also with a subtle, complementary fruity tartness. The back end brings a ponderous roastiness of coffee and dark chocolate that contrasts the initial sweeter flavors superbly.

The feel is thick and heavy as a narwhal (durhurhur), and the carbonation is calm like the sea at slack tide.

This isn't "just another" Russian imperial stout to me. It has some of the aroma notes and flavors of a Belgian strong dark ale, but still retains all the essential requirements for retaining stout status. And all of it's distinctive qualities mesh together beautifully. Not to mention it kind of has the consistency and taste of a chocolate milkshake, to my delight. Just as a Narwhal is a unique whale, but still a whale, this is a unique stout, but still very much a stout... and a very nice one. (1,448 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)

Photo of maedhros09
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black with light, slowly forming, and barely lingering head. Smells sweet, roasty, chocolatey with minor licorice.

Taste: Medium sweet roasty maltiness, boozy, finishing with a somewhat mild tingling lingering paper-like hops bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, medium body with little carbonation in the mouth. Flavors blend and balance superbly and the finish is lingering and memorable.

Update: After storing for a few weeks the bitter finish that I remember from the first sample seems to have mellowed and doesn't stand out as much. The finish remains somewhat bitter but nicely balances the initial sweetness.

Update #2: After 4 months cellared this beer is very creamy and mellow with a mild to moderate bitterness in the finish that blends really well. (758 characters)

Photo of jucifer1818
4.61/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: poured this one into a thin flute wine glass, and even in its thin glass, this beer will not let any light penetrate its darkness

like the dark and mysterious see of its namesake, this beer is a perfect example of clear total darkness, easily ranking a 40/40 on the beer color scale

apart from its color it has a medium, maybe one finger head, that lasts far longer than one would expect for a beer of this alcohol level
This is exactly what I'm looking for in a stout, and I was going to just give this one a 4.5 on first glance, but I cant see any reason to take off that last bit
I have to give its appearance a perfect score

Smell: The smell is quite subtle to say the last. I am surprised by this, and don't know how to really rate it
on one hand, a beer this extreme, would be VERY hard to make it have such a subtle smell, but on the other hand, I was expecting (and really wanted) something really intense that I could enjoy more
I get very light milk chocolate, light fruits, alcohol boozyness (but very slight boozyness), and a little bit of pear
Its not bad, quite good, but to me feels too reserved for what it is
4/5

Taste: mhhmmmm, this is really really good. This beer tastes like liquified black chocolate. This is almost nothing else to say, with some light fruity flavors to counter its intense roasted chocoaltyness, with an intense dark chocolate bitterness mixed in with strong hoppy bitterness in the after taste

a beer that is very strong and malty, but keeps it from being cloying wit ha perfect hopping that keeps the malt first, and works well with its dark chocolaty bitterness
I can think of noting Id want to change on this beer
5/5

Mouthfeel: Slick, sweet, and very syrupy. It pours like Hersey syrup, yet is much easier to drink
drinkabilty and a heavy imperial stout are not often paired up, but the beer manages to pull it off, and has a delightfully moouthfeel
4.5/

Overall: I'm giving this one a 4.5/5
Its a near perfect beer on all accounts, and a excellent offering from Siera nevada. I can easily see this beer turning into a PERFECT, 5/5 beer, after a good 8-12 months of ageing. Ill be drinking one more bottle for new years, and saving the last two for conditioning, quite possibly for next year to see how its changed over time
Highly, Highly recommend this beer

cheers (2,331 characters)

Photo of masleumas
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the best imperial stouts ive had. Sierra nevada knows how to please. very dark in color, can hardly make out any light through the other side of the glass. rich finish and texture as is expected but plenty of carbonation to balance it out. i really loved this one and am on the lookout to buy it again if i can find it. amazing, rad label too. (350 characters)

Photo of bman13
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great stout. Great balance of flavors, PERSONALLY think it's a bit hoppy for a stout but every beer is different, and I respect that. Still is one of my favorite stouts nonetheless. (181 characters)

Photo of BeerManDan
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a thick black brew, with a little dark tan foam and no lace.

The smell of deep roasted malts and dark roasted sweet coffee, with a hint of alcoholic chocolate, filled the nose with a pleasant alcoholic aroma.

The flavor was of a slightly bitter coffee and roasted malts taste, with a hint of dark chocolate on the finish. This Russian Imperial Stout has a long pleasant aftertaste. Not overly bitter and the high alcohol and flavors have a very pleasant taste.

I'm back for a case next time out to BEVMO. (516 characters)

Photo of serspecv
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an oversized pilsner glass from a 12oz bottle. Pours almost pitch black, not too thick as far as consistency. Head is minimal, a redwood color that leaves just a bit of lacing as you sip. Smells amazing, you'll know that this is going to be a delicious brew as soon as you catch a whiff. Velvety smooth, alcohol warmth present, but does not feel like you're drinking a 10%er. Has a chocolate richness to it. Very impressed with this beer. Definitely buying a six pack next time. (490 characters)

Photo of LaneMeyer
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Super thick and chewy, just how I like it. Bitter, roasted notes of coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, dark malt, and a touch of caramel. Sierra Nevada hit the nail on the head with this one. Best SN offering I've had to date. Will be going back for more. (258 characters)

Photo of horshack7
4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: It's down right black as the night sky. The head is light brown and is about one finger thick.

Aroma: Vanilla bean, light alcohol notes, charred wood, subtle yeasty bits. Traces of dark fruits, citrus and black licorice.

Taste: Dark roasted hops and chocolate malts, milk and dark chocolate notes. Espresso, vanilla bean, charred wood. Quite the silky smooth mouthfeel.

Notes: Rather a hefty beer very good for a cold night. Cheers. (447 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 LilBilly666
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding Stout! I didn't think I'd ever find a replacement for Founders Breakfast Stout, but this is damn close. This beer opens up beautifully as it warms. A great aftertaste with plenty of coffee kick. Thick tan/brown head into a Duvel "tulip" glass. I'm not sure what the official style term of that glass is. I've been holding out to try this guy, and I wish I hadn't, because Sierra is known for it's more hop forward beers. I'd love to have one of these year round or daily.. (484 characters)

Photo of fitrock2112
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured Narwhal into a Belgian Tulip.

A - The liquid pours black as midnight with a finger of mocha head. Classic looking stout here.

S - At first sniff I'm getting dark chocolates, bitter coffee, luscious roasted malts. Again, classic Imperial Stout characteristics.

T - Bakers chocolate right off the bat, more coffee, some bitter malts and hops. Wow, this is a quality beer here. This beer does have some more bitter hop flavor than some Imperial Stouts, but this is very nice. A touch of licorice.

M - Smooth Imperial Stout, heavy mouthfeel with medium leaning towards low carbonation. Ahhh so nice.

O - Quality beer by Sierra Nevada. Highly Recommended! Cheers! (673 characters)

Photo of acevenom
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Pours black like motor oil with a tall, brown head. The head retreats very slowly, leaving some lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is filled with dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. It's a good smelling stout. The taste follows the nose. The dark roasted malts, the chocolate, and the coffee are prominent without all being strong and overpowering. There are some hops on the back end just adding some back end bitterness to help balance this big brew. The body is full and thick with light carbonation. The beer just coats the mouth and allows the aftertaste to linger. You know this is a big beer when you encounter it, but it doesn't hit you over the head. It helps make this is a very drinkable stout. This is an excellent beer. (773 characters)

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