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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 AdamHart22
AdamHart22

Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poored into a plain tulip snifter without a pretentious or trendy brewers logo on it.

A - exactly what I was looking for. I especially liked the head, which was a very dark tan and looked great.

S - the weakest attribute of this stout. Get some molasses and soy, and some alcohol. Non remarkable but pleasant.

T - excellent. Drank half the bottle from the fridge, the other half at about 55 degrees. It was better at 55 degrees. Flavors opened up nicely without exposing any bitterness. I get the molasses, a hint of soy, and all kinds of malty sweetness. Very easy to sip in front of a woodstove with a good book, which is exactly what I did.

M - what you would expect from a quality RIS. Heavy, syrupy, and thick. Would have been a 5 but its just a bit cloying. I am really nitpicking here.

O - At 10.95 a 4 pack, this is an incredible deal. I have payed that price gladly for bombers that weren't as good. Give this one a try if you see it. Great job, again, by Sierra Nevada.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2012 02:27:45 | More by AdamHart22
Photo of spoony
spoony

Colorado

4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2012 04:25:54 | More by spoony
Photo of zeledonia
zeledonia

Minnesota

2.95/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours black in the glass, light coming through coffee brown at the edges. Two fingers of mocha brown head, good retention and nice lacing. Solid.

Smell is faint for an imperial stout. Light cocoa makes up the most of it. A little milky. Not bad, but I want more potency.

Taste starts out roasty, and quickly takes a downturn. I initially thought it was chili pepper spice, but now it's coming through as an off, bitter, cardboard-paper-glue sludge. This is truly foul. I'll drink enough to finish my review, but no more. So I drank a little more, and a strange thing happened. It warmed up, that nastiness faded, and it became, well, consumable. And then it warmed up a bit more, and it became passable. Still not something I'd call good, but no longer something I'd call bad.

Mouthfeel is fine. At least, what I can perceive through the nastiness is fine. Heavy body, medium carbonation, lasting finish.

This beer is weird. Based on comparisons to other reviews, I wonder if I got a bad bottle. Or maybe my sense of taste is just that different. As it warmed up, the bad flavors faded, and it became, well, okay.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2012 03:37:33 | More by zeledonia
Photo of mmapes
mmapes

Colorado

3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found 4-pack bottles labeled 2012. Poured into pint glass. Big foamy head with lots of staying power. Smoke (toasty malt? No, smoke.) and "beer" on the nose. Color is deep dark brown as it pours, and black in the glass.

Nice oily coat on the tongue, heavier than some imperial stouts. I like stouts thick (like this one). Smoke is prominent but not overbalanced -- not as strong as the scent suggests. Kind of sweet, smoky finish. Very well balanced. Maybe not so bold-tasting as heavier Russian imperial stouts like Czar or Palo Santo Marron. The flavor is all grain. I don't get notes of spices or fruit, so I'm not sure it's as complex as I might have guessed from other reviews. But it does serve as a good, grainy, pure example of an imperials stout.

Would probably buy again.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2012 03:23:13 | More by mmapes
Photo of Gatch
Gatch

Massachusetts

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep black with a dark brown head that's thick and creamy leaving decent lace and retention.

S: Great, sweet, roasted malt aromas with hints of molasses, dark fruit, currants, and some booze.

T: Big roasted malt paired with bittersweet chocolate and super dark coffee. A bit of earth, dark fruit, molasses, brown sugar, and warming, sweet booze.

M: Crazy smooth, massive flavor, and the right body and feel. Stellar at room temperature.

O: Everything is spot-on. A very well-crafted RIS. A fun and tasty sipper.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2012 03:50:32 | More by Gatch
Photo of kagent777
kagent777

Utah

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was purchased begrudgingly from the Utah system on December 15th, even though this bottle has been bottled since Oct 12, 2012 according to the date code. I poured it into a CCB snifter after about thirty minutes of being out of the fridge

Appearance: Black with some legs as I swirl it around the snifter. Not much of a head, but that is not expected. Appears to be well carbonated.

Smell: Unsweet chocolate, coffee, roast and charcoal. A bit of boozyness also.

Taste: All of the flavors carry over from the smell, I also pick up on some dried dark fruit (figs, raisins, and dates) and licorice. I cannot tell if the bittering on the finish is from the hops or the roast. It all works really well together.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is a little strong for my taste, while the body is smooth and rich. The finish is very long and bittering from the level of roast.

Overall: I like this beer quite well, but I am not sure it is worth more than double the price of Old Rasputin. I need to taste them side by side to be able to do a better comparison. Utah really screwed the pooch on pricing on these (4/bottle retail). I am glad to have had one, but unless Utah lowers the price, I cannot purchase any more. I imagine this would age really nicely, too.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2012 03:38:42 | More by kagent777
Photo of dfillius
dfillius

Michigan

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

Poured into a pint. Enjoyed with polenta and bean salad
A: 1/3 finger of dark brown head with good retention. Nearly opaque dark brown/black liquid. A tad more head please - it faded to nothing.
S: Milk chocolate, toasted fennel seed, black pepper. Only a very slight amount of booze when warmer, thankfully. Not harsh.
T: Some breathy esters open, coffee and chocolate dominate. Very dark chocolate. Quite hoppy middle. Bright citrus and pine. Hops stand up well to the malt. I'd prefer the estery breath to not be there.
M: Smooth open, bitter hoppy middle, roasty bitter dry finish. Robust and not hot. Some chest warmth, but not on the palate.
O: Enjoyable, solid RIS. I wouldn't expect less from Sierra Nevada. I would buy again. 1 is enough for a night. I'm interested to try it aged to see if the slight booze calms down.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2012 01:12:35 | More by dfillius
Photo of benclimbs
benclimbs

California

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice, highly drinkable imperial from Sierra

Pours black and viscous with a slight brown head

Smell is dry and dark - coffee and burnt malts and hints of spice...nice but not outstanding

Taste is very nicely balanced, bitter espresso, cocoa and licorice and a spicy finish.

Overall a success, would definitely buy this again - a great deal too @$10 or per 4/pk for such a big beer - one to enjoy around the christmas tree!

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2012 00:05:32 | More by benclimbs
Photo of draheim
draheim

Washington

4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz into a tulip. Pours a jet black w/ a 1-finger tan head.

Aroma is bitter, roasty: coffee, chocolate, dark fruit. All that's missing is the bourbon.

Taste follows nose. Rich bitter chocolate, deep roasted malt, coffee.

Mouthfeel is just right. Medium-bodied, balanced; crosses the palate effortlessly. Nice bitter finish.

Overall a rock-solid imperial stout. Well done Sierra Nevada. Once again a no-nonsense, straightforward, excellent beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2012 07:18:12 | More by draheim
Photo of LilBilly666
LilBilly666

Georgia

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..

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2012 05:17:53 | More by LilBilly666
Photo of dahlen22
dahlen22

New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black with a decent head.

Aroma: Chocolate and coffee notes.

Taste: Same as the nose. Cocoa, coffee, with a nuttyness and smooth and velvety on the palate.

Overall: Good beer for the colder winter months (forget this in the warmer months). Was well balanced, smooth, and the alcohol is well hidden considering the abv. For you casual stout (guinness) drinkers, this one might be too big, but if you love real stouts, this is a keeper. Cheers!!

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2012 23:42:38 | More by dahlen22
Photo of nUgZ
nUgZ

North Carolina

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black in color with a minimal head and some lacing.

S: Roasted malts with some espresso and a hint of dark chocolate and alcohol.

T: Tons of espresso with nice roasted malts, nuts, and some dark chocolate. Alcohol is barely noticeable.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Easy to drink for an Imperial Stout.

O: This is a very nice example of a Coffee Imperial Stout. It could use a little more body, but overall it's very good, especially for the price. I will be buying more.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2012 21:39:45 | More by nUgZ
Photo of tigg924
tigg924

Massachusetts

3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at New World Tavern, Plymouth--served into a pint glass.

Appearance: black in color, 1/4 inch head, opaque, minimal carbonation

Smell: roasted malt and cocoa

Taste: big time espresso, roasted malt, chocolate, and light traces of nut

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy bodied, low carbonation, sweet with roasty bitterness

Overall: An above average roasty RIS. If you like your RIS to have big coffee flavors, this is the beer for you. I would like to see a bit more creaminess with this. This is not a bad beer, but with so many great RIS, this is just above average for the style.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2012 16:46:40 | More by tigg924
Photo of CheeseheadNation
CheeseheadNation

Indiana

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - I love how dark this pours. Two fingers of light brown head leaving spotted lacing. A very heavy looking RIS.

S - Bold roasted notes of coffee, cocoa and molasses.

T - Smoky with cocoa nibs and black coffee upfront. Slight earthyness, malt and dark fruit on the finish. Alcohol is hidden decently.

M - Med to Full with low carbonation. Not as full as I would want a RIS but still quite lush.

One of the best bang for the buck RIS on the market. Very impressed with the quality. Would love to try it on tap at some point. I'll have to cellar a few to try this time next year.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2012 04:42:09 | More by CheeseheadNation
Photo of mikeg67
mikeg67

New Jersey

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle. Pours black with a thin, short-lived, creamy, light brown head and nice lacing. Aroma is of bready, toasted malt, espresso, dark fruit and citrusy hops. Body is full and creamy. Taste is burnt toast, brown sugar, cappuccino, chocolate dark fruit and a lot of citrusy hops. Finish is long and very bitter. This brew should improve with age.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2012 02:43:38 | More by mikeg67
Photo of TheBigLebrewski
TheBigLebrewski

Michigan

4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- The ol' 1/4" dark brown head on a blackout brew. Yup.

S- Pretty clean. Not too roasted at all, and not much else happening. Smells good though.

T- There are so many great imperial stouts out there. And this is one of them. It's very simple - maybe even more clean than you'd like. But there's just nothing to complain about. A gentle molasses is really the only lingering flavor; otherwise neat, trim, and proper - an imperial stout.

M- Again, pretty damn standard, but in the enjoyable respect. Admittedly thin, thus the lowest point score for this one.

O- Shit, pretty cheap and easy to get. If your in the midwest, grab some Blackout Stout by Great Lakes to stay local; If you're more west, this is a must-have in the fridge for the winter months. I'm not writing grandma about it, but I'm sharing it with my friends. Indeed, it surpassed my expectations; SN usually has the good macro option when you can't get a micro. This one is better, relatively, than their usual offerings. So easy to drink... I guess I'd have to say a kinda laid-back imperial, but an awesome stout none-the-less. And most importantly, a great beer, regardless of the words on the label.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 09:05:47 | More by TheBigLebrewski
Photo of Moorfog
Moorfog


3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Interesting imperial stout....

This is without a doubt the blackest stout i've encountered, very dark. Head is an interesting shade of almost grey, two finger with a aggressive pour. Nice lacing.

The nose on this is off kilter. Obviously of what you would expect in a stout, but not a bold nose. Has a certain sour quality to the nose that is distracting, and not in a nice way, along with the chocolate and coffee.

Taste, it's much bolder than the nose. Espresso, bakers chocolate is front and center, maybe a little prune, and a decent hop bite for what it is, complimenting the bitterness of the other elements. It's malt is of a bitter quality as opposed to a obnoxious sweetness, so it works. It is a malt bomb being what it is of course. And yes, the alcohol warmth is noticeable, but not overboard.

Mouthfeel is a real letdown. For an imperial stout, it's too thin and over carbonated for the style, but i'm sure some would disagree with my opinion. And as another reviewer stated, it has a chalky quality after about 45 seconds, which is interesting, haven't experienced this in a beer, and kinda neat.

I'd say it's very good beer, and worth a try. There are other imperial stouts I prefer, but this is very good and certainly worth a try.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 03:41:38 | More by Moorfog
Photo of SometimesIfart
SometimesIfart

Michigan

4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pitch black with a one finger dark mocha head that sticks around. Left spotty lacing.

S - Deep roasted malts, dark fruits, slight alcohol.

T - Deep roasted malt up front, alcohol in the middle, and very very dark, I guess you could almost say roasted like a smore chocolate finish. It's almost like it melts in your mouth.

M - Thick oily body with very lightly stinging carbonation.

O - Overall, I'm completely convinced that Sierra Nevada can do no wrong. In my opinion, this stout had a one of a kind flavor. I don't know how they managed to make the flavor seem as though it melts in your mouth. I'd definitely have again and I wouldn't mind aging one.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2012 03:04:22 | More by SometimesIfart
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at either Pinocchio's or TJ's

Dark pour, seemingly pitch black, capped with a small tan head; good retention and lacing. Roasty aroma, dark malts, cocoa. Roasty malts and coffee on the palate, somewhat charred, toasted grains, cocoa, notes of licorice/anise and fig-like dark fruits. Smooth mouthfeel, heavy-medium body, softer carbonation, making for a good drinker overall.

Serving type: on-tap

12-13-2012 05:12:54 | More by Rifugium
Photo of billab914
billab914

Virginia

3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1oz bottle poured into my Devil's Backbone glass. Pitch black in color with a thick foamy head filling the top inch of the glass. Nice retention and lacing as I drank it.

Aroma has dark, roasted malts mixing with milky chocolate. It's got a noticeable hop presence to it as well. The roasted malts bring a little bit of a coffee flavor with them as well. Nice aroma overall.

The taste also shows a good amount of hoppiness to it with some herbal and citrus notes present throughout. The dark, roasted malts are bold and bring more of a darker chocolate and coffee flavor out. A little sweet, milky chocolate in the finish along with a little alcohol.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being a little above average for the style. Overall, it's a very solid beer. It's a little hoppier than prefer in the style, but it comes together very well. The roasted malts were very bold, which really liked. Very nice beer overall.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2012 00:54:23 | More by billab914
Photo of McD0uche
McD0uche

California

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass:

A: Pours a nice dark black/brown color that resembles cola. A small brown head froths up and dies down after a moment. Lacing exists! Looks like a stout for sure. Carbonation is present but not pronounced.

S: Chocolate, vanilla, wood, roasted malts, dark fruits. Nutty and inviting, smells like a chocolate bar.

*NOTE* I am a little congested at the moment. It's possible that I'm missing the full spectrum here. Same goes for taste.

T: Much like the smell, with rich chocolate at the forefront. Fruity notes play in the mix. Definite boozy flavor.

M: Carbonation is at a good level. Has a medium, oily body and finishes a little wet.

O: This was an enjoyable and worthy RIS. Unfortunately, it didn't supply anything extra that left a lasting impression on me. Overall, I'd say this is worth trying out if you can get it.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2012 23:26:00 | More by McD0uche
Photo of barnzy78
barnzy78

Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Narwhal 2012, served @ ~55F
12oz bottle, pours black with slight chestnut hues at the edges of the glass when held to a light. Light brown head is thin and leaves some lacing down the glass. Big roasty nose with dark bittersweet cocoa powder and coffee. Smells powdery if that makes any sense? Tastes are complex and bold with lingering dark rich cocoa, espresso, booze, roasted barley, slight anise and pine on the finish. Mouth-feel is smooth and nearly full bodied, nice carbonation allows for palate coverage and depth of flavors. Overall, a very nice RIS. I'd buy this again, and hope I see it again next year!

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2012 23:08:31 | More by barnzy78
Photo of ThePorterSorter
ThePorterSorter

Missouri

4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fresh on shelves in Buffalo, NY

The beer pours a deep, thick black with a dense foamy tan head that laces. No sediment or oily residue. The nose is a pungent mix of roasty, chocolatey malts, piney hops, and a touch of caramel. The roast really punches forward while tasting, followed by a cascade of fresh hoppy bitterness. There is a lingering bitterness and bite from the alcohol that palate-coats, but it's otherwise very smooth and drinkable. It's almost as hoppy as a (weak) black IPA, but I like the bitter contrast against the rich, sweet, roasty malt base. This is an exceptionally priced, widely available example of a hopped up RIS done right.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2012 23:06:28 | More by ThePorterSorter
Photo of morimech
morimech

Minnesota

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black and slightly viscous. Just over one finger of head forms and hangs around for some time before settling to a thick cap. Heavy lacing and rings are left down the glass.

Pleasing malty aroma with hints of roast, mocha, and a slight touch of smoke. Alcohol is detectable but nothing out of the ordinary for an Imprial Stout.

Alcohol and smoke plays a much larger role in the flavor. Still plenty of roasted and chocolate malt as well. Finishes with the flavor of ethanol. Plenty warm at the end.

Thick and creamy feel. It is full bodied. As always, Sierra Nevada does not disappoint in the mouthfeel whatever the style they brew.

I thought maybe they would of went safe with a RIS. But this is a big, bold stout that is not afraid to flex its muscles. Approachable flavors that just about anyone could appreciate.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2012 22:56:47 | More by morimech
Photo of grittybrews
grittybrews

Washington

4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an opaque black with a finger of mocha head. Aroma of roasty cocoa, licorice, and coffee.

Moderate carbonation and full, creamy, slightly chalky mouthfeel. Caramel and roasty chocolate up front with espresso and licorice. Quite a bit of hop bitterness and boozy warmth on the finish, with fruity esters that emerge as the beer warms.

Solid stout with sharp, big flavors.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2012 21:56:37 | More by grittybrews
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,868 ratings.