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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

821 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 821
Hads: 4,660
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 270
Gots: 1,237 | 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: 821 | Hads: 4,660
Photo of spoony
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

A-The brew is pretty much black in color and opaque. Maybe a bright light would get through, but you would have to work at it. The head is one (fat) finger of dark brown foam that fades slowly.

S-I smelled light whiffs of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, toasty malts, and a little bit of toffee. Not heavy or cloying. Lighter and more floral than most RIS beers.

T-Taste is similar to the smell, i.e., some chocolate (although the chocolate taste is not as bitter and cocoa forward as the smell), a little bit of roasted malts, toffee, and a surprising amount of floral flavors, too. Only mild, roasted bitterness at the end, and very little alcohol on the front or back end.

M-The feel is lighter than most RIS beers I have had. There is a little wave of carbonation that quickly fades on the palate. The carbonation may turn off some serious stout fans, but I thought it worked.

O-I would call this a highly drinkable RIS. This brew certainly isn't some barrel-aged, bourbon-wannabe monster, but it hit a sweet spot for me. The flavors are well integrated and reasonably complex and, when combined with the lighter mouthfeel, I could definitely see myself drinking this again on a chilly winter evening.

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Photo of generallee
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of richj1970
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 32 oz growler into snifter,

A: Pours dark black with one to two finger mocha colored head that settles quickly and little to no lacing.

S: Milk chocolate, baked bread, and light coffee notes.

T: Semi-sweet chocolate morsels, and roasted coffee beans.

M: Full bodied and creamy texture. Very easy drinking.

O: This is a wonderful stout. Nice creamy mouthfeel, and chocolate notes. I could crush this all day, and looking forward to trying the barrel aged version.

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Photo of Deerslayer210
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jet black oil with a dark tan head. The smell is of a plain stout, but hides all the flavor to come. The taste is a rich cocoa coffee. Mouth feel is of light weight oil that hides the high octane it carries. This is an outstanding stout that could be called a coffee stout. Sierra Nevada has one that I will never turn down. Try this one and you will be pleased. once again thanks to the mind!

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Photo of Chcshammonde
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 edition. L: black with mocha looking head about 1 inch. S: hops, roasted malt, caramel. T: a bit of hop bite up front throws you for a loop, but thats the fun part of this beer. Caramel is strong along with bittersweet chocolate. F: medium, not all the way full , but still very nice. Rich and actually somewhat slammable. O: drink at about 55 degrees, and this will reward you. Tasty offering!

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Photo of MartzMimic
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark black with a bubbly dark brown head that leaves quickly. Aroma of coffee, malt and plum. Big dark chocolate and coffee taste, along with touches of malt and alcohol. Mouth is thick, but incredibly smooth. This is a very nice stout.

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Photo of LouZ
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle 2014 vintage, aged one year; pours black with minimal head. Roasty, malty scent. Taste is mildly sweet at start, but finishes with coffee and bitter hops. The bitterness is more pronounced than any sweetness. It's a smooth drink, creamy, with nice carbonation despite the lack of head.

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Photo of brewskis
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Has a jet black appearance with a finger length dark mocha head that dissipates slowly and leaves a thick lacing. Smells of lots of bittersweet chocolate, good amount of coffee, nice roasted element to it, some oak, molasses, maybe some dark fruit as it warms. Taste starts with the bittersweet chocolate and molasses. Then in the middle, a huge dose of roastiness comes through from the roasted barley, along with more molasses. Then the finish is more of the roasted flavors, almost like a smokiness, along with lots of bittersweet chocolate, more molasses, some coffee or expresso, a tiny bit of hop presence, get some fig as well. Definite alcohol presence on the finish as well, but does not detract from the other flavors. Pretty full body with a sticky and creamy mouthfeel. Decent amount of carbonation that livens up the body of the beer. This will age nicely. Nothing too flashy, but a solid imperial stout at an affordable price.

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Photo of BastardKing24
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a beer i seek out time and time again cause its just do wonderful

Pours almost jet black with a small tan head. Lacing is left with some strong legs on it.

Smell is sort of subdued but still great. Coffee, espresso, cocoa, roasted barley.

Taste is fantastic with chocolate, coffee, sort of smokey, vanilla, caramel, bitter hops, some alcohol heat, just great. Improves with warming.

Mouthfeel is superb , slick and oily, medium to full carb, sweetness is well balanced with the flavors.

Over all I suggest people that love imperial stouts try this, its lovely.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
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!!!

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Photo of arizcards
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Initial Review 1-12-13.
Picked up a 4 pack from Total Wine in mid November for $8.99. Bottled on day 279 (Oct 6).

Beer poured black as night with a very nice head upon initial pour-4.0.

Nose is not as good as hoped, hints of roasted malts, coffee, and cocoa-3.75.

Taste is definitely there, cocoa and coffee with the malt backbone with an ample dry hop that keeps the sweetness at bay-4.25.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth-4.0.

Overall this is a nice tasty beer. It is impressive that SNBC can continue to brew these large brews on the scale they do yet keep a very high quality-4.0.

Re-review 2012 version 9-12-15.

Bumping the score up to 4.25, 4, 4.25, 4.25, 4.25.
This brew has aged very nicely. Definitely smoother than when fresh. I need to pick up a 4 pack this season and try one each year. Cheers!

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle shared with Ruds in the Cask (Pimlico) 26/2/2013 Served in a half pint tulip. Hats off to him for buying it to split with this poor student!

Pours an opaque dark brown/black colour, velvety in texture. Little carbonation.

Smells strong and malty - chocolate, slight coffee

Tastes strong though mostly quite well hidden. Heavy dark malts - chocolate, liquorice, coffee, slight vanilla. Nicely hopped too, fairly bitter aftertaste. Thick and still.

Overall quite a lovely beer. I'd definitely have this again, wish they'd import it properly.

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Photo of tedvr
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours really dark with a thick creamy head. Faint smell of chocolate. Taste of dark chocolate and mild coffee. Medium creamy mouthful with mild carbonation. Has a nice balanced taste with a nice finish.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very excited to try this one.

The appearance is near black with an oily beige head. The aroma offers dark roast, full bodied coffee, molasses. The flavor follows suit. Thick and rich. A touch of dark fruit. Big time dark chocolates and a touch of cacao bitterness. Palate coating with moderate carbonation. Zesty finish. A really nice example of the style.

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Photo of Gear54
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a bottle into a snifter.

Inkey black with 1/2 inch of kaki head and no lace on the glass.

Smell is malty and had some coco and milk chocolate aromas mixed in.

Taste followed smell well. Roasted malts and coffee flavor with dark chocolate and a surprising amount of sweetness. The sweetness is really over powering on the finish.

Drinkability suffers a bit in my eyes because of the sweet finish. If the sweetness was muted just a bit this could bey favorite ever.

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Photo of henrichsj
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a small tulip glass.

A- Pours jet black as carbonation quickly builds up and forms a thick, syrupy inch-thick head

S- Bittersweet dark chocolate; some roasted malts; some coffee

T- The dark chocolate taste and roasted malts is strong up front; As the beer sits, the black licorice and fruits begin to stand out

M- Thick and creamy; Decent carbonation throughout; Goes down pretty easy for being nearly 10%!

O- At $9.99 a 4-pack, this is a bargain buy stout! Wouldn't expect anything less of Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of bsp77
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with thick espresso head and light lacing.

Smell: Cocoa, espresso, some dark fruitiness, and alcohol. Not as much molasses as many Imperial Stouts.

Taste: Cocoa and coffee lead the way on the taste buds as well. More dark fruit than burnt molasses, making this have a titch of what I like about Belgian Imperial Stouts. Finish is char, smoke, roast and hops.

Feel: Very smooth and creamy. Warming. Finish could be a tiny bit drier - the only thing stopping a perfect score here.

Overall: Can't believe it took Sierra Nevada so long to make an Imperial Stout (not counting the one-offs). Worth the wait. Will be fun to see how this ages alongside other affordable 12oz Imperial Stouts (Bell's Expedition, Founders, Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Victory Storm King, Old Rasputin).

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Maudite snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin medium brown head with good retention and slippery lacing. Mild aroma of toasted malt, chocolate and a hint of coffee and anise. Flavor is much more intense, very toasty and slightly charred malt, bitter chocolate, licorice and burnt coffee, especially in the finish. Nice medium to heavy, creamy body. Flavor tends more towards the charred spectrum, but the the other flavors support it. Not quite a smoked beer, but leaning in that direction. Wow, this one will be on my regular list, delicious

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Photo of drunkenmess
4.18/5  rDev +1%
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!

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Photo of JebBeerFish
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very well constructed and balanced RIS, with the coffee, chocolate and roast flavors playing equal parts. The coffee does emerge as slightly predominant as it warms. For the price point, a high quality product for a very reasonable price.

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Photo of Brad007
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than a moonless night with a nice brown head into my glass. Don't you ever get the feeling that the color of a beer isn't that interesting in the first place?

Cocoa, cream and roasted coffee notes dominate the nose. Dead-accurate. I'm excited to go further.

Dark and foreboding with all the fury of a New England winter. Coffee, cocoa and booziness abound. The latter is subdued, which is a big relief.

Mouthfeel is predictable with more of the roasted coffee than anything else. Much easier to digest when the alcohol stays in the background.

I believe this is a very good example from Sierra Nevada. I wonder if they'll do a yearly release like Bigfoot? They could certainly bump up the ABV, age it in oak, etc. As long as the base beer is done right, anything is possible.

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Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pitch black pour with a thick, dense medium brown head. Fades very slowly, leaving a nice pattern of lacing behind. Good head retention to boot.

S: Nice roasted malt character. Creamy chocolate, roasted coffee bean and just a touch of char. Emphasis on the creamy, it smells like a borderline milk stout. Touch of smoke in there to boot. Oddly enough, I get almost a pretzel-like aroma sometimes (kinda toasty). Doesn't detract, probably just mistaking something else for it.

T: Thick, creamy roasted malt. Up front it is sweet molasses and vanilla with a bunch of char and smoke. Turns a little more bitter with some roasted coffee bean in the middle and some dark chocolate. Get a little more of that toasty pretzel too, heh. Finishes with lots of anise and some fading bitter, bitter dark chocolate that lingers between sips. Touch of grain alcohol in the finish - just a little bit hot, this one.

M: Thick, full, rich and creamy. Excellent mouthfeel.

O: A really nice RIS. Very thick and full, I loved that part. Excellent complexity, has some of pretty much every roasted malt characteristic that I've had in any stout. Balance is decent though it's a little too smoky and maybe a little too much anise but it's also very fresh (and a little hot, as noted). Overall, quite excellent. Looking forward to storing some away.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a pitch black color with 2 fingers worth of brown head

S: Get some nice baker's chocolate, dark roasted malts, hints of coffee and alcohol

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with some bitter-sweet dark chocolate and coffee along with the dark roasted malts. Alcohol pokes its head out slightly, but very well hidden for the most part. Hops kick in towards the end and add some more bitterness

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy

O: This one is right up there with Stone IRS and Old Raspy as far as RIS's go. Serves as a good night cap or fireside sipper. And as with all SN brews, a great price-point

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Photo of MacMalt
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter glass. The color is jet black with a rather thin, light tan head and minimal lacing. The smell features dark chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. The taste includes abundant dark fruit with burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel. It's like a rich dessert. This stout has a rich, creamy mouthfeel and is very easy drinking notwithstanding its 10.2% ABV. Overall, it's a very good imperial stout. I particularly like the prevalent raisin and dark fruit. I'm a big fan of the barrel-aged version of Narwhal but the base stout does not disappoint. I don't think it's quite as good as Founders Imperial Stout, but it's excellent

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Ink. Pitch black. Head is of respectable stature. The best part of the head is its color. The head is brown. Legitimate brown. Sierra Nevada consistently makes the best looking beers. What a beaut. Light lacing webs…boy is the head dark.

S-Dark dutch chocolate and French-press espresso. A bit burnt and smoked. The nose does not have any unique traits, but it is very finely tuned. Not super-intense, but aromatic enough.

T-An addition of dark fruit and a lick of black licorice join the gang of dark chocolate, coffee beans and smoke. Like dumping a spoonful of cocoa powder into a dark-roast java. The bitterness stems more from the roast than the relatively modest hoppiness. Narwhal is an oily sea-monstrosity of deliciousness.

M-Full bodied. I can just picture this beer coagulating and turning into gel if left alone for too long. Plenty of carbonation. Booze is masked perhaps too well. This brew could dethrone you if you aren't wary of the ABV. Too drinkable…although it does warm up my cheeks a bit.

O/D-Like Hoptimum, this brew is a textbook Imperial Ale. Also like Hoptimum, Narwhal does not attempt to do anything that hasn't been done before. That is my only true criticism of this brew. It is a scrumptious and blameless Stout, but it offers no unique qualities. Regardless, this brew is a beast!

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 821 ratings.