1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

4,001 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,001
Reviews: 717
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 218
Gots: 813 | FT: 35
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
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,001 | Reviews: 717 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of beerist
2.25/5  rDev -45.8%

Photo of Auracom
2.3/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

1/2 share from Dan, thanks man. 6 oz. poured into a Hunahpu's snifter on November 21st, 2012.

A - Standard visual affair - dark brown color, verging on black. Light caramel-colored head. Reduces down to a frothy ring. Marginal lacing but moderate legs.

S - Light milk chocolate, espresso, and honey malts. Very basic an unimpressive.

T - Very bitter throughout the drink, but only partially in the form of dark chocolate and coffee notes. This is a rare instance in which the hops taste like hops (fresh Expedition also comes to mind). Unfortunately, this is a big negative imo. Beyond that, unspectacular coffee beans and a light bready character.

M - Moderate body, low but appropriate carbonation, and a reasonably dry finish.

D - Mediocre. Though I'm sure the cost is reasonable, there's just no reason for me to buy this when I have stuff like Breakfast Stout available. The only thing that impresses me is that this feels and drinks like a 6% beer, not 10.2%.

Photo of Steimie
2.5/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of spry
2.5/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of Hoptoudrop
2.5/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of davet100
2.5/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of mwar
2.5/5  rDev -39.8%

Photo of jaswilson2
2.56/5  rDev -38.3%

Photo of JayNat
2.6/5  rDev -37.3%

Photo of Thickfreakness
2.7/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- An onyx black pour with a fluffy and thick deep tan head that floats near three fingers. An absolute ton of sticky lacing grabs the sides of my Bruery tulip and NEVER lets go. Decently oily legs drip and ooze down the rim.

S- Nicely charred malt, bitter German chocolate, grapefruit peel, mango, slight touches of vanilla and pine. More Black IPA than RIS in the traditional sense.

T- WOW! Lots of char and citrus bite down on the tongue. RIS/Cascadian IPA? Reminds me of Storm King or Wookey Jack. Not my favorite type of RIS. Too much citrus, no dark fruit, cocoa, coffee, vanilla or other flavors/aromas that I normally associate in a RIS. The char and citrus just kind of strip your palate.

M- Dry, burnt malt, and too much citrus for what they call a Russian Imperial Stout! RIS' should envelope you in dark fruit, cocoa and coffee IMHO, not this! I'm getting tired of breweries labeling Cascadian/Black IPA's as RIS' just to sell beer!

O- This isn't bad mind you... it's just not what I consider the style to be, and I am a stickler for rating on style. If they said this was a black ipa, it'd be at least a 4! I'd put this up against Wookey Jack, Black Watch IPA, Hop Noir or some other really good Black IPA's. A world class, or even good RIS it isn't. Sorry SN, you usually wow me. Redefine it, and I'll re-review it!

Photo of ao125
2.7/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Serving Type : 2012 bottle. Poured from a bottle into a Duvel snifter glass

Appearance: Pretty standard really for an imperial stout. Black.

Mouthfeel: Not too thin, not too thick. A little more thin than I'm used to for the style, but not undrinkably so.

Smell & Taste: I'm actually going to group these together. My main problem with this beer is the hopping. Whatever hops were used, are not good. At least not in this style of beer. I feel like Mikkeller uses the same hops in Black Hole... which I'm also not a fan of.

Overall: Overall, I'm not impressed by this beer and I think I'll leave it to the fanboys. All I know is that for me to want to drink this, I need for the hop character to be almost completely gone... and for the price point for the 4-pack, I can buy a lot of other things.

Photo of grissom51
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of Danegerous123
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of MonkeyBread
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of Wlsr14
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of thedifferencemaker
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of Dirty25
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of mquartuccio87
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of heytomcat
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of od_sf
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of MonkeyStain
2.75/5  rDev -33.7%

Photo of Bartm
2.76/5  rDev -33.5%

Photo of scar
2.91/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

What I was looking forward to was a larger version of their stout that was made with Black Malt/ no Rbarley and was bottle conditioned. Unfortunately their stout and this imperial stout are no longer bottle conditioned and they have changed the recipes.

I was confused by this beer, I really didn't know what it was trying to accomplish other than strength and drink ability. Sadly, there are many big stouts far better than this one and I expected more from the great American institution.

Because of my disappointment pls refer to my numerical ratings rather than a written breakdown of this beer. I will leave you with this thought. Sierra Nevada has gotten larger and as a result only bottle conditions the pale ale and a few seasonals. However, this conditioning in the bottle is what made their products really pop and highlighted the craftsmanship and quality. Simply put, this company's beers cease to be interesting since they have stopped bottle conditioning.

Photo of DRyan
2.93/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

2012 Narwhal poured in a Guiness pint glass

A: Looks like you average Imperial Stout, or regular stout really. Has a nice dark head that receded slowly and left some lacing on the glass, but not really as much as I would expect from a IS
S: There's something about the scent I really don't get along with. It's got the roasty heavy malty smells I expect from an IS, but there's something else there I really can't put my finger on that is really not working for me.
T: It's a bit different, maybe more aggressively hopped than your average stout. According to SN, "Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke," but all I really got was the roasted grain and maybe a bit of a hint of coffee, as well as the hop bitterness
M: A bit thin for a stout really, but not bad
D: This is not a bad beer, but not a great one either. For the price, and with the other two entries in the "High Gravity" series from SN that I really like a lot, I expected a lot more from it.

Photo of zeledonia
2.95/5  rDev -28.9%
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.

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 4,001 ratings.