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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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

3,462 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,462
Reviews: 655
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 172
Gots: 577 | 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
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Ratings: 3,462 | Reviews: 655 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of spry
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%

spry, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of Hoptoudrop
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%

Hoptoudrop, Aug 07, 2013
Photo of davet100
2.5/5  rDev -39.6%

davet100, Aug 28, 2013
Photo of Thickfreakness
2.7/5  rDev -34.8%
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!

Thickfreakness, Jan 02, 2013
Photo of ao125
2.7/5  rDev -34.8%
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.

ao125, Dec 03, 2012
Photo of grissom51
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

grissom51, Aug 24, 2013
Photo of Danegerous123
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

Danegerous123, May 04, 2013
Photo of MonkeyBread
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

MonkeyBread, May 11, 2014
Photo of Wlsr14
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

Wlsr14, Aug 08, 2014
Photo of thedifferencemaker
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

thedifferencemaker, Dec 15, 2013
Photo of Dirty25
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

Dirty25, Jan 17, 2013
Photo of mquartuccio87
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

mquartuccio87, Mar 02, 2014
Photo of heytomcat
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

heytomcat, Aug 28, 2013
Photo of od_sf
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

od_sf, Nov 10, 2013
Photo of MonkeyStain
2.75/5  rDev -33.6%

MonkeyStain, May 13, 2014
Photo of scar
2.91/5  rDev -29.7%
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.

scar, Sep 15, 2013
Photo of DRyan
2.93/5  rDev -29.2%
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.

DRyan, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of zeledonia
2.95/5  rDev -28.7%
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.

zeledonia, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of jbertsch
2.96/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

6 months old.

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance is jet black. Head was fizzy and off-white, almost tan. Head unfortunately fizzled away fast.

Aroma gives off a mixed sense of char, bonfire, salty brine, booze, and some general roastiness.

Its flavor is not big on chocolate or coffee as one might look for. It's a bit nondescript. Some earthiness and a little wood is noticeable. Salty brine again is noticeable. Some alcohol soaked bittersweet chocolate makes a quick appearance on the finish. The flavor is a little syrupy.

Mouthfeel is oily and slick... it's a little detracting from the overall enjoyment.

Overall, I wouldn't buy this again. It's exemplary of the mediocre rut SN's beers can sometimes fall into. They're capable of better in my eyes. In my needs for an imperial stout, there's no need for me to return to this one. However, it's not terrible and what will save it are the leagues of SN fans.

jbertsch, Mar 18, 2013
Photo of hophugger
2.98/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Nice deep chocolate brown that just doesn't want any light to peek through, nice!! Relatively light aroma, with maybe a hint of sweet chocolate malt coming through. Taste is bold with hints of bitter chocolate and a touch of sweet malts. I know that the ABV is high, but the mouthfeel is predominately alcohol, taking away I think a little from what I would imagine to be quite a spectacular flavor. Burns ever so slightly as it inches its way across the tongue and down the gullet. Overall, a pretty balanced with what I think is just a touch too much alcohol feel that slightly numbs the mouth...

hophugger, Sep 29, 2014
Photo of 57md
2.98/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance is a dark brown to black with a finger of head that quickly dissipated. The nose has distinctly cidery notes. The taste of straight-up alcohol overwhelms everything else in the flavor profile. The finish is astringent.

This is an offering that is way out of balance and a big disappointment considering I generally have a profound affection for SN beers.

57md, Aug 30, 2013
Photo of mdhobbs
2.99/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Just about everything I try from Sierra Nevada has the same ale taste and this Imperial Stout was no different. The stout pour nice and dark with a head that reminds me of chocolate but the pour seemed a little thin. The aroma is ale and the taste had the same bite to it. Maybe too much carbonation as well. I started the the beer being served cold and as it warmed, the taste seemed to improve a little but not to the extent that I try again.

mdhobbs, Dec 12, 2013
Photo of beertunes
2.99/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

This bottle's been kicking around the back of the fridge since I got it, at the release time. About time to hit it. Poured into 10oz goblet. Poured a solid black color, as expected, with less than 1/4 inch of brown head that quickly dissipated to a thin ring, that left surprisingly good lacing.

The aroma was average for the style, perhaps even a bit too roast forward. The flavors were the same mostly bitter roast and alcohol, and the beer was sharp, in a harsh way, not a crisp way. The alcohol wasn't the least bit hidden, and the finish was very harsh.

That overall harshness hurt drinkability a great deal. I had a tough time finishing my 12oz. Overall, while a decent brew, this isn't the Old Rasputin killer SN has seemed to position it as. I won't be having it again, I'll just buy a 4pack of the smooth, even, nearly flawless Raspy.

beertunes, Mar 03, 2013
Photo of SmellsofMahagony
3/5  rDev -27.5%

SmellsofMahagony, Mar 28, 2013
Photo of ohiobeer29
3/5  rDev -27.5%

ohiobeer29, Sep 24, 2013
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,462 ratings.