Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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869 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
869
Ratings:
4,848
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
9.66%
 
 
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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 869 | Ratings: 4,848
Photo of RozzieBoy
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L - Poured black with a dark tan head. Nice lacing throughout.
S - Chocolate with a not overpowering stout smell.
F - Thick feel to it with a semi-dry finish.
T - Roast coffee and dark chocolate.
O - Really good beer. Just a nice balance between the smell and taste.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Purchased in Providence, RI.

Pours a deep brown nearly black body with a small off white head that leaves no lacing and a little retention.

Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, toffee, caramel come through on the aroma. Tongue matches the nose with an added roasty note, coffee and dark chocolate, finishes lightly bitter and charred. Medium body with medium low carbonation.

Solid for a stout thats always available. Love the roastyness on the aftertaste.

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Photo of Bubshab
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours jet-black, very little head. Smells of cocoa, espresso, smoky-ness, dark fruits, very nice. Tastes just like the smell, booze is a little present, very full mouth-feel, covers the tongue and mouth thoroughly. Boozy in the finish, a little hoppy perhaps? A very, very nice beer overall.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black body, creamy light tan head, some sticky lines of lace. Nose is rich and complex; baker's chocolate, licorice, some coffee, bread crust, heavily roasted malt. Flavor is even more widespread and deep; dark chocolate, roasted malt, somewhat sweet smokey toffee, faint chocolate, undertones of bitter hops, star anise, dry biscuit, faint alcohol and milk sugar-likeness here and there. Supremely dark yet reasonably bitter, even with a mild sweetness. Full, heavy, chewy body with lip-smacking stickiness.
What a great beer. Perfectly enters RIS territory without clashing the hop flavor with the roasted malt, which *rarely* works for me. Huge range of dark flavors to mull over, nicely dry and bitter while still offering a faint oasis sweetness. Please, Narwhal, impale me again ;)

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Photo of johnnyd10vt
3.39/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Nice American high gravity stout. Lesser than the gold standard, in my opinion, Old Rasputin. Black in color with a nice tan head that hangs around. The smell is sweet dried fruits: prunes. The taste is strong ABV and again dried fruits, with the malt and hops playing lesser roles on the overall profile. Undoubtedly a very complex beer, buy not entirely my cup-of-tea

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

12oz bottle.

Pours black with a tan head. Decent retention and small lacing. Char, chocolate, roast, and vanilla in the nose. Full bodied with a velvety mouthfeel. Bakers chocolate, coffee grounds, and Oreo shells on the palate. Finishes with lingering roast and chocolate.

Great RIS.

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Photo of Futbolmanby
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: dark brown with a thin khaki head
Smell: roasted malts with a hint of vanilla
Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate with a small amount of vanilla
Feel: smooth finish, light carbonation.

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Photo of davidperez
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter, it pours black as a starless night, with a one-finger dark brown head, foamy, with low retention. Nice lacing.

The bouquet is amazing. Dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, brown sugar, dark fruits and a little bit of hops and booze.

The taste begins with a sweet introduction. Some sweet malts, brown sugar and vanilla is perceived. A slight hint of molasses appears as well, and quickly Massive chocolate and coffee enter to increase the complexity and with them, the bitterness prevails, which you can tell lots of it comes from the roasted malt character. That bitterness lingers.
There is a boozy note subdued right upfront that starts to intensify while the flavors develop, and it finishes prominently giving a hint of dark fruits.
Amazing length, very long finish, smooth and chewy.

This is a superb beer.

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Photo of artiefufkin
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9/10 Imperial Stout. Bold vanilla, dark malts, bitter chocolate. Viscous attack, great length and finish. Flavors evolve as the beer lingers for minutes. Not the best Imperial Stout I've had, but it's pretty darn close. Well done.

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Photo of doktorhops
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Now that I’m back in BNE, QLD (Brisbane, Queensland for my non-Australian readers) I paid a visit to The Archive cellars and had a squiz at their finest American brews, and there are indeed ample new and delightful things that I have yet to try so here is one: Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout. At 10.2% [DON’T FORGET THE .2!!!] ABV, I would consider anything over 10% to be a decent bold beer and SN are champs when it comes to slapping the tongue (with flavour!), so I will tread lightly here my friends, there is a label-conjured sea monster awaiting me.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: I’ve become bored of describing Imperial Stouts as they all look the same if done well (opaque black, caramel brown head, 9/10) so instead I decided to do it in Haiku:

Blackest beer boldness
Nothing can penetrate it
A happy man died here.

S: BIG vanilla scent pervades the entire cacao nib chocolate aroma of this brew - I dig it man! Aside from that we have a nice (cakey) biscuit base, coffee hints and brown sugar. The TL;DR here is: vanilla & chocolate, NOM-NOM-NOM. 9/10.

T: Flavour comes on all the more sinister than the aroma with some oily smoke notes, roasted espresso and a hard wooded character. Although the above vanilla and chocolate notes are there they do end up taking a backseat to the big-talking bold flavours. Granted at 10.don’tforgetthe2% ABV this is a brew not to be trifled with, unless you’re making a trifle with it, in which case: trifle away! Aftertaste has a weirdly (for a Stout at least) sneaky bitterness that creeps up and surprises you jump scare style. 9/10.

M: Not that I’ve drunk engine oil before (at least not intentionally) but this fine brew has the viscosity of a decent 10W-40, one of the most viscous multi-grade oils. Carbonation in this case is negligible as with a brew this heavy it’s hard to tell. 9/10.

D: So where does it land on the olde “stout-o-meter”? For better or worse it is right up there with Old Raspy, though Old Rasputin was had at a time when I was entranced by the bolder of Imperial Stouts, I wonder if I would rate it so highly today? A question for another time - all you need to know is if Narwhal is worth your time, a big “yes” and a hearty “cheers!” is my answer. 9/10.

Food match: Cubans... the people... nah, the cigars.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage.

This one pours a pretty deep and dark black, with a small head, and a bit of lacing.

Smells like deep earthy roasted malt, a bit of booze, coffee grounds, and still a good amount of hops even for this age.

This is an imperial stout that packs a serious punch and doesn't let up. It's still a good level of piney hoppiness, even for a 2013 vintage, with lots of bitter dark chocolate, tons of roasted malt, a coffee flavor that kind of reminds me of used grounds. It's slightly abrasive, but in a good way.

This is pretty thick and chewy, with a normal level of carbonation.

One of the best easy to get Imperial stouts out there, and one that ages extremtly well taboot.

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Photo of cherche
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: jet black, mocha head, decent retention and lacing
S: tobacco, leather, coffee, cocoa in that order
T: in line w nose, heavier on leather, then tobacco
M: sticky and thick, nice but less of the thick milkshake feel I like with imperial stouts and more of the thickness you get with syrup
O: decent beer but after having founders imperial stout, bells expedition stout, old raspy, and Fremont darkstar many many times an imperial stout like this is pretty much meh.

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Photo of Mikeszab
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours nice and dark as oil black
Nice lacing as poured into a snifter
Taste is nice dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate
Surprisingly little burn with a 10.5 abv.
Overall a great imperial stout worth trying.

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Photo of jasonpeckins32
4.76/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Black as the darkest night. Thick, foamy, brown colored head sits atop of the beer. Very nice.

Smell: Rich, roasted, dark malts. Sweet. Some chocolate. Tobacco. Black licorice.

Taste: One of the better tasting russian imperial stouts I've had in recent memory (and most are usually quite tasty). A big roasted backbone is flanked with flavors of caramel, brown sugar, coffee, chocolate, cola, and black licorice.

For a stout this heavy bodied, it sure is as smooth as can be. It's an impressive beer. This will likely become my go-to stout, providing I'm able to get more of it while it's in season.

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Photo of NiceTaps
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 9/11/15, in a tulip.

Opaque jet black color with a 1F dark tan colored head that fades quickly to an oil sick. Minimal lacing.

Smell of coffee, dry chocolate, lots of roasted malt. Some alcohol as it warms.

Healthy dose of roasted malt flavors. Strong coffee and a touch of unsweetened chocolate. Black cherry.

Full creamy body with tingle. Smooth and balanced. Just a touch of alcohol on the end, but no burn. Underlying oiliness.

It packs flavor and big beer punch. A sipper, very good.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

** 09/25/15
Bottle to pint glass. Nice looking pour. Dark black , Nice tan head. Aroma is toasted malt, dark chocolate. Taste is mostly burnt toast, coffee, tobacco leather. Strong and bitter flavors, not bad, but not smooth at all.
**
11/xx/15
Lost head to head with Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin.
**

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Photo of rarigney
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle, bottled on 11/3/15. Pours very dark with very little dark tan head. Aroma of roasted malt. Tastes of roasted malt and chocolate. A hint of the alcohol content is also present. A well balanced, very drinkable RIS.

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Photo of BigGold
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Still not available in central Mississippi, finally had Narwhal at the Beerhive Pub, Salt Lake City, Utah, poured from 12-oz. bottle, stamped "PKGD 08/10/2015," into thick-walled tumbler. It was not worth the wait, but only because I hate waiting for beer.

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Photo of Czarkazm
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage. A muddy coca-cola brown color on the pour. In the glass, the body is black, nearly opaque, with just a tint of light shining through along the edges. The head disappears quickly from a creamy looking light brown to a thin tan film. A little bit of age turns this one into quite a complex stout. Getting strong licorice notes in the smell up front, along with bitter dark chocolate, molasses, burnt brown sugar, heavily roasted malts, prune juice, coffee beans, and vanilla. Full mouth feel, silky texture, well balanced. The flavor is more roasty, dark malts, charred caramel, bittersweet chocolate, espresso, wood earthiness, slight stale hop bitterness, and a touch of booze. Don't remember it being this good.

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Photo of stompilator
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours an opaque, jet black, cinnamon-colored head.

S - Baker's chocolate, olives, coffee, roast.

T - Starts with an explosion of chocolate malt notes, sweet cocoa flavors but not cloying. A slight umami "soy sauce" taste subtly swims underneath. A gentle roastiness finds its home in the mid-palate. The slightest hint of dark berries is present later in the palate, along with a light booziness. Finish is roasty, slightly bitter, and chocolatey.

M - Full-bodied, slightly less thick than many comparable stouts. No bitterness or dryness, but not syrupy or cloying.

O - Sierra Nevada are no doubt the kings of balance. Chocolatey and just sweet enough, and has every nuance of a good imperial stout somewhere.

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottle pours black with lively, deep khaki head. Leaves no lacing.

Smell is sweet malts, cocoa and bitter coffee. Taste follows, in that order, with a thick body. Nice and chewy.

Overall, this is a really smooth drinking RIS with almost perfect balance and an excellent layer of flavors. No heat, but a hint of the booze toward the close.

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Photo of kalosjakar
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ink black with a mocha head which dissipated rather quickly.

Aroma: Coffee up front, roasted malts next, bit of chocolate, toffee.

Rotating the glass the beer is sticking to the edges with the mocha color the head was.

Taste: roasted malt overtakes the coffee in terms of flavor, but its still there. A balanced sweetness/bitter sweetness in every sip.

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Photo of beercam
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Visually I find this beer very engaging. To me, the Narwhal Imperial Stout aesthetic is incredibly personal, pleasing, and successful, with its exciting cetacean depiction and stylish black and white font and design. The charcoal-black pallor of this beer, when poured, proudly champions its own incomprehensibly deep, immutable, inner nature of modified sugars and transported starches, borrowed flavors and inherited tannins, all warped in a working world of yeast, a classic look for the strongest stout-porters of yore. A 12 oz bottle, capped in Nov. 15, yields an oceanic inch of sluffy, even brown foam as it's swiftly poured into a weathered 16 oz Fremont can-glass. The aroma is incredible, and will be described out of order shortly. Moving to taste, there is a harmonious fruitiness in this imperial stout; something many in the imperial category contend for yet very few achieve. Yet in addition to this dark, syrupy, imperious figginess comes an extremely defined and refined hop topography; a loud statement of aromatic, piney bitterness, potentially a result of the bold addition of Challenger hops, reportedly added late in the boil. The flavor here is really far out there, and especially the smell. But it truly comes as no surprise nor small victory that Sierra Nevada can offer such a triumphant brew. I'd like to add as an aside that flavor wise, what comes to mind as a rival could very well be Old Rasputin from North Coast. I'd love to see these two compared neck and neck. These are some top beers here folks. But, anyway, to get back on track, the secret method to the Narwhal's supreme taste here, in my opinion, is its enlightened, sleepy windows into flavors of coffee and chocolate, which themselves play back into and throughout the beer remarkably and extensively, finishing with whispers of smoke. Super masterful flavors, definitely buoyed by the look and smell. If someone were to mistake this for a Russian, I would pardon them. The feel here is good. It's not absolutely amazing, It's pretty good, solid. More descriptively, the feel itself is kind of sour, in a way, and has more of a tartness than oatmeal. With that said, wow, it's sturdy from tip to tummy, it's feel only improves with time elapsed from the sip. In other words, it has an exceptional aftertaste.

This is a successfully fruity Imperial Stout.With it's high abv and sweetness, one could fairly get away with calling it Russian. This beer is not hard to drink. Good people make this beer. Try it with an open heart, and see if it's for you. I am very impressed.

Overall: Pour this one stiff, folks, and enjoy.

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Photo of Benjo87
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - black in the glass with a 1 finger tan coloured head.

Smell - dark fruit, coffee, light alcohol. Mainly dark fruits. It's a little bit faint.

Taste - Whoa, not what I was expecting. It has a ton of flavour. It's not dry at all. It's very strong, not in alcohol, but in flavour. Strong espresso coffee dominates for me. Has a lot of of punch. Very nice.

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Photo of zimm421
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black with a light brown head. The nose is sweet, slightly fruity and has good roast character. The taste starts out with chocolate and fruitiness, and is quickly followed by hoppiness. The finish is roasted malts and hop bitterness. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Personally, I think this is better with a bit of time on it to help round out the hops and bring the maltiness to the forefront.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 869 ratings.