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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

2,868 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2868
Reviews: 606
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.69%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,868 | Reviews: 606 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of eschultz
eschultz

Maryland

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 Narwhal 12oz Bottle into a snifter glass:

Appearance -
Light brown head which lasted a few seconds
Dark rich black color with light carbonation

Smell -
Chocolate with a hint of coffee and vanilla

Taste & Mouth -
Sweet front with a bit of cocoa and banana
A lingering backend of dark roast coffee

Overall -
Very nice imperial stout with well balanced flavors, great appearance and mouth feel

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 22:50:09 | More by eschultz
Photo of clayrock81
clayrock81

Virginia

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a blackish body with almost brown head that is one-finger high and leaves a little ring as it goes down. First thing that hits my nose is coffee, then a bunch of roasted (I won't say toasted or smoked) malts and some bitter chocolate (or dark). The body is heavy, and while I would not list heavy/stoutish beers as some of my faves, I really like this one b/c while heavy it still passes easy (slightly chewey as well). I get mostly a roasted, coffeeish malt experience but the addition, and then due to addition great balance, of some dark chocolate makes this a dry and sweet experience and thanks to the easy passing this beer is by no means a chore to continually sip on. This is a great stout that even not-stout fans should try.

Serving type: bottle

12-07-2013 15:28:07 | More by clayrock81
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and oily tar black with a brown head that laces the snifter well.

The aroma is roasted, smokey and perhaps a bit meaty. Some alcohol lofts above the darkness.

In the taste, dark chocolates, charcoal, tobacco and a firm hoppyness. Not to boozy though very strong. There's a subtle note of dark fruit. Earthy, light herb, big malt. Right about what you would expect for the style with perhaps more emphasis on his than many. Quite good.

The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall this is a nice big stout from Sierra Nevada. Totally drinkable and something I would have again.

Serving type: on-tap

01-12-2014 04:53:38 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of StoutItOutLoud
StoutItOutLoud

Illinois

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. 12-oz poured to tulip. Consumed 2-20-2014.

Thick and viscous. Opaque black; large, frothy, 3-finger mocha head. Decent alcohol legs coating the glass. There's a cap holding out.

dark roast coffee; grassy hops; baker's chocolate. wish there was more dark fruit here

one dimensional - dark chocolate-hops roastiness. alcohol less noticeable than ten fidy

well-carbonated. medium mouthfeel.

Serving type: bottle

02-21-2014 02:31:56 | More by StoutItOutLoud
Photo of rjp217
rjp217

Massachusetts

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

2013 edition bottle poured...

A - Solid black with a 1 finger brown head that dissipates rather quickly. Nice sticky lace retention

S - Milk chocolate, nuts, campfire

T - All kinds of chocolate, some smoke, oak, hops, caramel, boozy

M - Exceptionally soft and pillowy, medium body, low carbonation

O - An excellent, fairly easy to find RIS. It's big and boozy with a lot of complexity. I really like this one though it's just a step below that next level.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2014 23:52:26 | More by rjp217
Photo of happy4hoppybeer
happy4hoppybeer

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with beautiful tan head, leaving considerable lacing on the glass. This looks like an Imperial Stout all right.

Very strong aromas of coffee, alcohol, chocolate etc. Very big on the alcohol.

Roasted/toasted barley, cocoa and coffee beans hit the tongue. Very creamy, fairly big body, medium carbonation.

As far as imperial stouts go, this stands among the finest.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2014 23:11:21 | More by happy4hoppybeer
Photo of adam42381
adam42381

Florida

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Bottled on October 6, 2012 per Julian dating code printed on bottle.

Appearance: Pours a motor oil black with a 1 finger creamy medium brown head which dissipates to a chocolate milk-like bubbly foam. Solid lacing for such a big beer.

Smell: Sweet milk chocolate, dark roasted malt, a touch of molasses, a hint of hops and a bit of alcohol coming through in the background.

Taste: Very dark roasted malt up front with a bit of bittersweet chocolate in the middle before ending with a nice amount of hoppy bitterness and more dark roasted malt. The alcohol definitely makes an appearance, but is not terribly overpowering. Aftertaste is bitter, roasted and long-lasting.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Good drinkability. This one would be great on a cold winter's night. For me, it's still pretty damn good on a 75 degree late January afternoon in southwest Florida.

Overall: Very good beer overall. While I don't think it compares to some of the more heralded Imperial Stouts out there, I don't think Sierra Nevada set out to blow you away with complex additions. This is a straightforward take on the Russian Imperial Stout style. I would definitely recommend this one and look forward to trying it next year (assuming they bring it back).

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2013 22:52:26 | More by adam42381
Photo of EdTheEdge
EdTheEdge

California

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Easily the darkest beer I ever tried. It's almost black with a thin one finger dark tan head.

S- Dark Chocolate, Coffee with a dense coco base.

T- Robust, Big, Malty, Roasty, Coffee, Semi-Sweet Chocolaty with a welcomed bit of bitterness... almost perfect.

F - Smooth, lightly carbobated and slighty oily.

O- One of the better Sierra Nevada brews. I could drink this quite often. This is not my favorite style but I enjoyed this beer very much.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 05:05:45 | More by EdTheEdge
Photo of Somebody_Else
Somebody_Else

California

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The darkness!

I think the smell is the weakest part of this beer. It's a good smell, just not this beer's strong suit. Light on the roastiness, medium on the chocolate, strong on the sweetness. A good combination, but for my preference, I like a little more of the roasted smell. Not smoke: roast.

Love this flavor! There be layers here! The very first sip gave me mahogany! I was not expecting that! This was followed by a lot of sweet malt. I got some of that roastiness I missed in the nose. After the swallow I got residuals of delightfully bitter hops, which rather surprised me. The hops and the residual wood flavor really worked for me. The other flavor that creeps in around the edges is Cabernet, which brought in an appreciated fruit note.

This beer was slightly too sweet for me, but not cloyingly so and I can accept that.

I most certainly will drink more of this!

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2013 00:01:54 | More by Somebody_Else
Photo of nmann08
nmann08

District of Columbia

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

Pours a dark black, soft brown head, very still and calm appearance.

Huge malty nose, sweet, smells like licorice. Chocolate and coffee fight to come through, but are muted.

Tastes are dominated by dark fruits, sweet flavors. The roasted barley taste shows up and it finishes with bitterness.

Mouthfeel is good. Creamy and rich.

Overall this is good. Personally, I enjoyed it more fresh, but could also be better with more time on it as well.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2013 18:33:21 | More by nmann08
Photo of mattkoon
mattkoon

South Carolina

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

ive had this beer on tap before- this is the first time out of the bottle. the color is black- opaque when held up to light. the smell is full of dark malt and chocolate. the flavor is blackened dark chocolate malt, black coffee and alcohol, not surprising with the 10.2% abv. this is a super solid stout.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2014 00:40:31 | More by mattkoon
Photo of JohnGalt1
JohnGalt1

Idaho

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Narwhal was brought over tonight as part of the "we are not at the GABF tasting"... Not sure that this bottle makes up for it, but it helps... Thanks my amigo.

12oz bottle.. pitch black brew... the head is dark, darker brown.. nice retention...

Big roasty elements... dark malts and some background cocoa... cold brewed beans... very nice.

The flavor is rich and unrelenting... dark roast coffee... plenty of roasted malt.. dark chocolate... just enough sweetness to bring out the malty flavors... a bit of dark currant and maybe fermented out raisin..

Body is about right... carbonation is square....

Pretty damn good... seriously.

All 4's

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2012 07:03:02 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of schoolboy
schoolboy

Ohio

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. This is an imperial, alright. This tastes like it must have hundreds and hundreds of calories.

It's a bottle of motor oil. - black and opaque. There is a light and persistent head. The aroma is of the cocoa and coffee tastes that are under the hood of this monster. The taste is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely roasty, chocolate and coffee with a nice aftertaste of mostly coffee.

Over all this is a great effort and yields a nice thick stout.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2012 00:40:26 | More by schoolboy
Photo of jera1350
jera1350

Minnesota

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black bodied with just a ring of brown foam coating the edge of the tulip glass. Got some thick sediment out of the last 1/5th of the pour.

Heavy roast, fresh cream, light coffee bean, hint of dark chocolate.

Big boozy and toasted grain taste. Plenty of warmth felt also. Notes of deep dark chocolate, heavy cream and coffee bean. The roastiness lasts throughout and well into the aftertaste. Bitter chocolate and coffee bean. Finishes with a hoppiness on the tongue.

Feels much lighter than a 10% beer. Not thin, but just not as thick as many for the style. Smooth for sure and lacks the slick feel associated with imperial stouts.

A very well done imperial stout all around. Very well rounded, but nothing stands out a ton to me to make it elite. Doesn't matter, this is a satisfying imperial stout that will fit the bill for the upcoming winter months.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2012 04:12:05 | More by jera1350
Photo of jjanega08
jjanega08

Minnesota

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Edition
Bottle Stamped
2279207 : 47

A= Pours a deep black color with a nice half finger of dep brown head on it that holds great retention and lacing on the side of the glass.

S= Smells of liqorice and dark roasted malt. Tons of liqorice. A little hoppy aroma comes through as well.

T= The taste is a nice mix of imperial stout styles. It starts as a nice liqorice taste before being swallowed by a nice bitterness. Dark chocolate and a bit of a hop bittereness. Nice roast and coffee character.

M= Nice mouthfeel

O= This is a solid imperial stout. Not the most amazing thing in the world but worth trying and

Serving type: bottle

10-22-2012 23:55:27 | More by jjanega08
Photo of PeterIngemi
PeterIngemi

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a dfh snifter

A: pours black with two finger of tan chocolaty mocha head after a rather aggressive pour.... Nice head retention and lacing... Good lookin brew.

S: some roasty malts and chocolate with a light touch of smoke.
The coffee aromas really come out as this brew warms. A good smelling beer.

T: much like the smell, roasty malts, chocolate and coffee notes along with a touch of smoke, some light pine hop notes mingle with the smoke and roast to add a nice bitterness, well rounded and tasty.

M: nice heavy medium body, dry and slightly bitter on the finish low to moderate creamy carbonation.

O: a pretty good imperial stout, nothing earth shattering but a very solid representation of the style.... Good fresh, interested to see how this one ages, I could see it getting pretty good with a bit of time.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2012 04:13:41 | More by PeterIngemi
Photo of johnmichaelsen
johnmichaelsen

Oregon

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at max's the other day, during Baltimore Beer Week.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is likewise attraactive, showcasing considerable coffee, licorice and vanilla. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, but is clearly dominated by the licorice and vanilla (which I'm not entirely liking, but it's OK). There's also a hint of hoppy bitterness in the finish which further helps to buoy the modest sweetness in this beer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a finish that is dominated by licorice and has a hint of alcoholic bite. Alcohol is well integrated into the flavor profile, but there's just too much licorice in the flavor profile for me to fall in love with this beer.

A solid beer, and possibly one that will benefit from some age. For now however, not among my favorite impy stouts.

Serving type: on-tap

10-30-2012 22:52:47 | More by johnmichaelsen
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a pitch black, with a medium light tan head, some solid spotty lace.

S: Roasted malt, hint of dark fruit, charcoal, licorice, dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate and a lot of licorice. Light residual sugar, with a hint of hops in the finish.

M: Medium to full-bodied, soft carbonation, creamy, long aftertaste for the style.

O: A solid RIS, it reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin with a bit more licorice in there. The price is great, well made, well worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

11-01-2012 04:52:32 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of JohnnyMc
JohnnyMc

Ohio

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another release in the High Altitude Series that houses big names like Hoptimum and Bigfoot!!

Pours out pitch black with a thick, mocha/tan head that lingers for a long time given the ABV.

The aroma has huge notes of semi-sweet chocolate, coffee and dark roasted malt.

The taste is also primarily chocolate and coffee, but there are the dark roasted notes and a surprising amount of hops that makes the beer somewhat bitter and dry. This is very balanced between the sweetness from the coffee and chocolate and the bitterness of the hops and coffee. The ABV is well masked with only a slight warming effect.

The mouthfeel is big, rich, creamy, silky and smooth.

A very nice effort from Sierra Nevada! Not the greatest Imperial Stout and I would have liked a little more complexity, but an extremely solid example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2012 03:35:49 | More by JohnnyMc
Photo of endincolorado
endincolorado

Ohio

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Color is opaque black with a beautifully thick, syrupy look and about a finger of foamy head that looks like coffee with a lot of cream. Lacing is abundant as well.

S-Some noticeable alcohol in the aroma, with dark-roasted coffee and bittersweet cocoa.

T- Flavors are tasty, and are primarily of bitter cocoa, and black coffee. Some sweetness lingers on the palate after each sip.

M-Fairly full body with a good amount of carbonation.

Narwhal is good, it's not particularly exciting or original, but affordable and worth a try.
Would be worth aging, in order to mellow out some of the bitterness.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2012 01:23:32 | More by endincolorado
Photo of mdaschaf
mdaschaf

Washington

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very deep black with some brown highlights on top. Small khaki colored head with minimal retention and sporadic lacing.

S: Lots of roasted malt, dark chocolate, a little bit of espresso. I can also pick out just a little bit of pine at the end.

T: Roasty malt up front, more dark chocolate, a little bit of mint in the middle mixed with some pine. Some licorice as well.

M: Medium to full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation. No sign of abv.

O: Pretty good imperial stout, easyish to drink, lots of nice stout flavor.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2012 03:59:29 | More by mdaschaf
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a one-finger, light brown head of bubbly foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dark chocolate and roasted malt. There was a touch of pine.

T - Great blend of dark chocolate, burnt molasses, toffee and roasted malt. A slight piney bitterness added balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really nice Russian Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 03:59:25 | More by zeff80
Photo of JamesMN
JamesMN

Minnesota

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: In a long list of the most opaque black beers out there. Two finger light brown head that leaves nice lacing.

Aroma: Coffee, molasses, cream, chocolate syrup.

Taste: Heavy on the bitter black coffee flavor. Dark chocolate as well but not as prominent. Not quite as roasty as I was expecting but still quite robust. Very bitter probably more due to the malt bill than the hops utilized because there is no discernible hop presence. Still, a nice change of pace from the usual RIS (although I probably wouldn't classify it as such). Dry finish and lingering black coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a good level of carbonation and pretty easy to drink but more of a sipper.

Final Thoughts: Not my favorite but a very good Imperial Stout, especially if you like coffee flavor in your stouts. Would I drink it again? Yep, got a few in the cellar to see how it does with some age on it.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2012 03:54:35 | More by JamesMN
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a jet black, some carbonation, one finger brown head, some lacing

S: Roasted malt, slight chocolate, coffee. Good but standard.

T: Big hearty backbone with dark chocolate, coffee, some burnt notes. Mild Bitterness in the finish.I laso deteced some black liquorice.

M: Heavy bodied, some carbonation, smooth.

O: Good. This should age very well as most SN offerings do.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2012 21:58:15 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of Kromes
Kromes

Georgia

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip. Pitch black with a finger's width brown head and lacing down the glass.

Roasted malts, coffee, alcohol and grassy hop aromas.

A nice sweet roasted malt and cherry fruit flavor up front. The dark fruit is then overtaken by an alcohol and grassy hop flavor which continues into the finish with a lingering smoky roasted bitterness.

Full bodied and a little oily. Good carbonation to add a peppery feel.

A nice strong RIS. Quality stuff here and not for the light beer crowd. Packed with flavor and a strong alcohol presence, yet it remains smooth and drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2012 21:03:31 | More by Kromes
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,868 ratings.