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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

851 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 851
Hads: 4,789
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 288
Gots: 1,320 | FT: 45
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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
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Reviews: 851 | Hads: 4,789
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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Photo of Parmesan
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours a pitch black color with a small brown tan head and a few fingers of lacing on the glass.

S: Cherry and other dark fruits, chocolate, roast malt and a little bit of coffee. Smells very inviting.

T: Chocolate, a little vanilla, some cherry and stone fruits, some nice roasted malt and a nice slight bitterness. Very good tasting beer.

F: Creamy smooth, low carbonation and a very full body, a little alcohol burn but not too much.

O: One of my favorite imperial stouts.

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Photo of Hyllus
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Somebody will have to explain to me the ratings for this beer (92?). This imperial stout is spot on in style, taste, and full-bodied feel. It pours black, thick and rich. Surprisingly (for a 10.2% abv), the alcohol is not at the forefront. Instead, the chocolate, coffee and dark fruits prevail and confirmed in the taste. Overall, Narwhal is a world class beer.

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Photo of BSiegs
4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Deep black pour with two fingers of light brown head. Head retention and lacing are good. The nose is roast, chocolate, coffee, malt. The taste follows exactly, a lot of roasted malt, chocolate, coffee. The body is full with low-moderate carbonation. The finish is dry and bitter. Overall, a really well done, classic RIS.

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Photo of rorykanderson
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great stout. Poured from a bottle capped in late August. Pours black with a nice frothy, light brown head. The aroma doesn't stand out and has a slight plastic note. Taste of barley, grain, wood, light hops, baker's chocolate. Real nice bitter body with a creamy mouthfeel. Easy to sip without any trace of heat. Excellent beer for the money that definitely has potential to be a go-to high ABV stout.

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Photo of Hoppy_Time
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: Black as night with a quickly dissipating brown head.
Smell: Surprisingly little aroma, was expecting a little more upfront, though the chocolate malt does get stronger as the head dissipates.
Taste: Rich sweet chocolate at first giving way to the roasted coffee and malts, then a lingering almost peat like bitterness.
Feel: Smooth but not without a tingle from the carbonation and the alcohol, good viscosity, not thin but also not syrupy.
A stout worthy of its recommendation, it is obviously good but doesn't seem fully rounded out.

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Photo of dacrza1
4.16/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

DATE TASTED: January 8, 2016... GLASSWARE: Mad Elf tulip... OCCASION... enjoying another Friday night of Shark Tank... APPEARANCE: midnight black body that is as dark as its label... brown, creamy head rings well and holds steady despite the 10+% ABV strength ... AROMA: mocha, cappuccino, peat, sugary sweets, and chocolate... roasted malts mix with some woody scents and leafy accents... PALATE: smooth, smoky and full-bodied... the weight is palpable but incredibly light on the tongue... the aftertaste is slightly alcoholic, but also malty and weighty... TASTE: chocolate and peat are rapt in holy Arctic wedlock here, with coffee, toasted malts and some hidden citric elements make for a beer worth sipping... big, bold and flavorful.... OVERALL: another Sierra Nevada winner? Indeed...the strength and life of this imperial stout challenges other 12 oz. and some cork and cagers too....maltier than the usual imperial, and a dessert in itself...

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Photo of AleYes
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just got a 4-pack in Maui with a label stating pkgd 9/29/14. It was dusty, but I was desperate; not many big beers available. I was going to bring some good beers with us on the trip, but we brought a few bottles of Champagne and wine, instead. :( We live on the East coast, so a 13 hour + layover trip to Maui is a special occasion. Thankfully, my wife likes beer, too.

It is a nice, easy to drink, too easy to drink at 10.2%, beer with a nice smooth taste, not sweet, not bitter, nice roastiness, slight char, chocolate and coffee notes, mild lingering licorice, slightly malty, toffee finish. A pleasant, easy to drink beer; alcohol well-hidden. Nice, small bubble carbonation, and not heavily carbonated. I don't know if that is due to the aging or if it starts that way, but I like low carbonation beers. Head went from a creamy head to almost non-existent within a couple of minutes; that isn't an issue for me. Apparently it ages well, even on a supermarket shelf for almost a year and a half. Now starting my second beer - too easy to drink... :) I still prefer Old Rasputin, my fav, the elixir of life on nitro tap.

Edit: After reading some of the reviews of this beer, it seems that the better reviews, such as mine, involve this beer having been aged for at least a year or more. So I guess it ages well, and improves with age. Lucky me, then. And thankfully for me, Maui residents and most visitors do not have an affinity for good beer.

Now back to some Maui Brewing beers tomorrow. Going to the brewery in Kihei.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black pour with cinnamon tan head; thick cap and fairly thick lace; no clarity under cap. Roast malt and coffee bean nose. Flavors of bittersweet dark chocolate, roast malt and roast coffee. Medium plus mouthfeel; semi creamy tongue coating; moderate carbonation. Excellent roast malt linger; alcohol well hidden.

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

Wow, this is good!

Pours very dark with thin tracing of tan foam that sticks and sticks, it's full bodied, smooth, creamy....and the flavor hits you like a ton of bricks.... Well, it is imperial, so it packs a punch, but it's everything promised on the classic label "notes of baker's cocoa and dark roasted coffee" with a slight raisiny, molasses chewy edge too, without being citrus or sweet. Everything a dark beer should be, in my book.

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Photo of DanJan
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I let this one warm up a bit out of the fridge and the characteristics really stand out. Looks like the definition of a Russian Imperial Stout; deep and dark without a hint of light and a tan head with a little bit of lacing. In other words, it looks delicious. Roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate on the nose. But really the taste is what we're all here for. It is spot on. Exactly what you'd expect. Waves of chocolate and roasted dark malt. Not overly bitter but just enough. A really solid mouthfeel that lingers long enough to want more. Sugars last the longest leaving the finish slightly sweet. An excellent staple of the style.

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Photo of Zaktcc
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours as black as the depths of the Arctic just like the bottle states. Beautiful jet black coloring with 2 fingers of a coffee colored head. Great head retention and a lot of lacing present.

S - A perfect blend of everything my nose has come to expect with a high quality stout. Dominated with the aromas of roasted malts and brown sugar proceeded by notes of coffee bean and dark chocolate.

T - The taste follows on par with the nose. Of course, dominated by roasted/burnt malts up front, quickly followed up with flavorings of chocolate and sugar. The initial burst of flavor slowly lingers away leaving a pleasant aftertaste of coffee notes and sugar.

M - Wow! An incredibly full beer. The consistency is like that of motor oil with very subtle hints of carbonation. Vague hints of alcohol are noted, however, very well masked, especially considering the beer's ABV.

O - Beer after beer, S.N. is slowly becoming my go-to favorite brewery. And once again has lived up to and exceeded my expectations for them! Overall an amazing beer that is perfect for the winter time -- boozy enough to keep you warm and encompassing of winter flavorings (chocolate, coffee, etc...). Glad I picked up more than one!

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super dark, perfect black pour with over an inch of head in the off white approaching tan color realm. Aroma was full of roasted chocolate malt and oats. Coffee comes off the malt aroma wise even though there is no coffee in here.

Taste is big ibu bitterness that quickly gets absorbed. Like no sweetness to this one. Substantial beer, at a great price. Can pretty much always see grabbing a 4 pack of this every year.

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Photo of Umdrunner
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rich black pour with thick dark tan head that had good retention and lacing. Little disappointed on scent. Following aggressive pour I noted coffee and dark chocolate, but once the beer settled, minimal scent remained. Flavor was dark, heavily roasted malts, coffee, and slight chocolate. I'd like to see something slightly sweet to balance the dark roast and coffee.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an obsidian, liquid black death of 0% transparency. Forms a head of 2 fingers, almond color, and lace stays stuck to the head while it recedes.

Aroma of melted chocolate, cocoa powder, licorice, roast malts, coffee, and finally, leather. A complex, although quiet, bouquet.

Tastes of bitter chocolate, coffee grounds, charred malts, molasses, and a little brown sugar. As it warms some fig comes out, too. A touch of ash. The profile overall is robust and roasted. Coffee bitterness is moderate, but not overwhelming. At least, not more than any other Russian Imperial Stout. It increases as the beer warms.

Feel comes alive right away in a Coca-Cola like carbonation, tapering off to a crisp nip, and then an alcohol dryness.

Overall Narwhal is a winning stout. A solid representation. I'd rate it just under Old Raspy, maybe about on par with FBS...perhaps even more enjoyable due to the muted coffee notes (FBS is very coffee-forward).

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Photo of Redrover
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottled poured into a pint glass, the beer is an opaque black with a clingy brown head.

The nose is of dark roasted malts, brown sugar and dark fruit.

It has nicely roasted malts. They add a slight char to the mix of dark fruit, a bit of molasses, a hint of coffee. This a big beer but is easily approachable. There is a hint of warming heat from the alcohol.

The mouth is silky with low carbonation.

Part of a long line of very solid beers from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - 4 - nice dark black/brown espresso colored beer with a nice mocha head that dissipates but still leaves nice lacing.
S - 4 - big roasty notes, dark chocolate, cocoa, char, black malt
T - 4 - roasty, creamy/umami character, dark chocolate, cocoa, bitter
M - 4.25 - big thick impy stout. alc covered. aftertaste is burnt marshmallow, roasty malts
O - 4 - definitely a more roasty imperial stout. At 10.2% it feels a little lighter than some of the beers I'd compare it to - Founders IS, Bells Expy. That said it's still a legit imperial stout.

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Photo of keithmurray
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - dark brown color body with mocha colored head

Smell - roasted coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, black licorice,
Tobacco, smoke

Taste - dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, smoke, citrus from the hops,

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, slight sweetness from the Chocolate upfront, hops and citrus in the back end along with a smoky feel. I'm finding the flavors to be a bit unbalanced on this beer.

Overall - slightly disappointing beverage as I feel like this beer borders on Black IPA territory. Flavors are a bit unbalanced versus other examples of the style. Perhaps age would help this one out.

Price Point - $1.99/12 ounce single

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with about a 2 finger tan head that lasted about a minute good lacing. Bitter hoppy smell but not overpowering. Smokey hoppy taste little bitter. smooth feel going down little boozy feel on the tongue. Overall a good beer can't wait to try this aged a little.

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Photo of Myotus
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottle
Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (packaged 10Aug15) into a snifter.
LOOK: Pours with a half finger's worth of khaki foam that shrivels into a line after 20 seconds. There is a subtle amount of very small rising bubbles. Black in color with an orange tint. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: A strong, smokey bitterness from the roasted malt aromas is noticeable right up front. Mild aromas of figs, raisins, prunes, molasses, and subtle aromas of sweet coffee, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, and alcohol lie beneath the heavy smokiness.
TASTE: The intial taste is composed of strong bitter, smokey flavors that almost lean towards the smoked bacon flavors that would be found in a Rauchbier or a Smoked Beer. Mild flavors of molasses, figs, prunes, raisins, and subtle bittersweet chocolate and vanilla flavors follow immediately as the smokey flavors fade to mild, but the bitterness remains. Subtle flavors of sweet coffee enter lastly, as all previous flavors maintain except for vanilla, which fade away completely.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down very smooth and creamy. Ends with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: As beer warms, the perception of alcohol in the aromas grow stronger, but is not effected in the taste. In fact, I could not taste any alcohol, which is always a plus for me. This was slightly too bitter for my taste, but thankfully the smokey flavors (which I do love) balanced out the bitterness very well. An interesting Imperial Stout. If you love heavy stouts and also Rauchbiers, I would encourage anyone to try this.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 851 ratings.