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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

3,053 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,053
Reviews: 616
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 114
Gots: 444 | FT: 29
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: 3,053 | Reviews: 616 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wedge
wedge

North Carolina

3.59/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2012

Deep, dark black color with a lean tan head that drops to a luscious, creamy covering. Smells dark and malty...spicy fruit, licorice, molasses, and a slight oxidized/aged aroma in back. Somewhat rich, but definitely big and roasty malt flavor. Char, cocoa, espresso, and dark fruity esters. Again, a particular spiciness permeates the flavor along with a heavy bitterness in the finish. Booze is thankfully low, though there is an expected warming deep down in the throat. Big bodied and creamy, but dry. I liked this a bit more during the first half, but the bitterness is becoming a little distracting. A solid RIS that I think is worthy of aging a couple more bottles for longer to see what happens.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2013 23:31:50 | More by wedge
Photo of chocosushi
chocosushi

Oklahoma

3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle->CHOC Flute

A ~ Pours black with a mahogany hue toward the bottom of the glass. Light lace clings. Cocoa head.

S ~ Baking Chocolate, Brown Sugar, & Caramel Syrup.

T ~ Chocolate following through with earthy hops (grass/bark) with lots
of caramelized sugar & biscuit. Very full flavored. Imperial for sure.

M ~ Sticky with not too heavy of a feel, but with a great deal of booze. Roasty, but quite sweet, akin to espresso with sugar in it.

D ~ Drinkable & solid, but I probably wouldn't purchase again. Check it out
if you see it, what a deal. Great alternative to Old Raspy if that's yer bag.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 22:17:36 | More by chocosushi
Photo of DocJitsu
DocJitsu

California

3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque, nearly black with a short, quickly fading head. The color of the head is caramel with shades of mocha. A very nice looking beer. A shame the head dissipates so quickly. Usual dark roast malt and coffee aromas. Nothing remarkable or unique. Mouthfeel is viscous and creamy, helping the whole experience of the beer venture a little north of mediocrity. Flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, caramelized sugar, and plastic.

Addendum: as the beer warms it improves. Boldness emerges and becomes much more like a Russian Imperial Stout. A bit of a sour character that seems to accentuate the experience, but I wouldn't miss it if it weren't there. I feel the alcohol, so it must be there. I certainly don't taste it.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2012 02:36:54 | More by DocJitsu
Photo of founder26
founder26

Michigan

3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2012 bottle poured into snifter, pretty cold right off of fridge.

Apperance: black with a dark khaki 2 finger head. disapates fairly quickly. Nice lacing!

Aroma: didn't care so much for the smell, too much anise, couldn't get a chocolate/roast smell till it warmed up. once warm I could really smell the abv.

Taste: when cold it had a slight hoppy/bitterness to it. got some coffee/chocolate flavor as well which really stood out once warmed up. also notice alot more of the burn once warm.

Mouthfeel: pretty cream, nice carbonation. got a little thin once warmed but not too bad.

Overall: if you are a fan of overly bitter/hoppy stouts this will be for you. I think with some age this beer has potential.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2012 19:30:36 | More by founder26
Photo of HarrySTruman
HarrySTruman

Michigan

3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle severed near room temprature.

Black like the depths of the ocean (just like the name implies). Brown bubbles create a finger high head.

Smells like coffee beer. A good smell, but not very bold or broad. Roasted or brewed coffee.

Tastes are slightly more bold, roasted malts, chocholate and coffee. I felt like I was tasting a small amount of licorice or licroice flavored gum. Breathing out, or the after taste was more like a bitter baking chocolate.

Mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Easy to drink, but still a nice warmer for a winters night. Cosy up next to the fire with one of these.

Great beer, good price for the ABV, easy to drink, easy to find. No complaints about this one. Not as big and bold as some other RIS, but still a high quality drink.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 00:16:48 | More by HarrySTruman
Photo of gillagorilla
gillagorilla

Maryland

3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Burley Oak snifter.

A: Pours a thick 3 finger head with nice lacing. Quite dark, but I wouldn't say pitch black.

S: Roasted malts. There is a bit of sweetness in there once you swirl it real nice.

T: Lots of roasty flavors with a bunch of malt in there for good measure. Not too sweet. Eh.

M: Quite carbonated. Prickly. Much smoother once it warms up.

O: Not a big fan of the mouthfeel on this one. I don't know what to say about this one. It's not really appealing to me. Not a big fan of the flavors here. Nothing compared to the BA version. Good.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2013 01:44:52 | More by gillagorilla
Photo of haschauer
haschauer

Wisconsin

3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Very dark, pitch black body. Light caramel head.

S - Chocolate, toffee, coffee. Good smelling beer.

T - Chocolate and coffee up front. Some prevalent alcohol flavor. This is my third bottle from the 2013 varietal and the alcohol is already dying down but still there.

M - Good mouthfeel. Not too heavy, good level of carbonation.

O - I wanted to let this age a little more but I suppose I got a little excited with the weather cooling down so much at night these days. I will definitely let the last bottle I have lay down for a some months. Good stout but not as great as I was expecting.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2013 03:42:06 | More by haschauer
Photo of Qbdoo
Qbdoo

Illinois

3.63/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Black as night, no light gets through. Smell is a slight mix of coffee, chocolate, and toffee, slightly burnt. Taste is similar and the mouth feel is lighter than expected for an imperial stout and more carbonated. In this style, I prefer a flatter beer. I really like it though, a definite A-, but I don't think it quite lives up to the other world-class beers in this style. But hey, it's a cheaper and a great runner-up if you want to save a couple of bucks.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 04:24:46 | More by Qbdoo
Photo of screamking
screamking

Ohio

3.64/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into snifter. 2012 edition.

Appearance-pours black with a small dark brown head. Lacing is surprisingly absent. 3.75

Aroma-lots of dark chocolate, roasted coffee, some hints of vanilla, plum and dark grapes. All of your typical RIS notes are present. 4

Taste-Bitter chocolate is right up front, then some of that bitter coffee sneaks in. Little bit of sweetness in the after taste but mainly just bitter. It's not bad, but for the style I think there are far greater options available. 3.5

Feel-nice feel, could be thicker. Carbonation is very noticeable as is the abv. 3.75

Overall-I must say this one disappoints me, run of the mill RIS. I don't think I would buy this again, unless there was a hell of a deal. I'm just looking for stronger notes and this isn't the beer for them. 3.5

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2013 03:08:19 | More by screamking
Photo of jmerloni
jmerloni

Massachusetts

3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Solid black. There's no light getting through this one. Pours thick and oily with a big chewy looking brown head that keeps a nice film and laces pretty evenly down the glass.

S - Boozy chocolate, roasted java, with a heady vanilla overtone. Nice.

T - Booze really comes through first, followed by flurry of dark cocoa and heavily roasted/bold java. Booziness is a little overpowering on the palate and lingers after each sip.

M - A thicker beer than you might originally realize. The carbonation is pretty heavy here, and it makes the beer seem lighter than it is. This is a full, heavy, chewy beer - and it would be good that way. But the carbonation clouds it.

D - A decent beer with room for improvement. Sierra Nevada should dum down the carbonation and let this beer speak for itself. This would be better between 8.0-9.0% abv and would benefit from a dark chocolate flavor profile rather than the dark/unsweetened cocoa profile that is pronounced here.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2012 00:20:03 | More by jmerloni
Photo of bens0n
bens0n

Texas

3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 batch

This beer pours an opaque dark brown, almost black but not quite. Not too much head or lacing going on.

Smell wise, I pick up on a little bit of booziness, not very rich at all like you would expect.

Flavor wise, its got a good amount of booziness with a slight bit of toasted/burnt coffee, not too much of an aftertaste or anything that stands out other than the ABV. Its not very well masked, the aftertaste is not really something that makes me want to drink more or savor it.

Its got a nice, low level of carbonation, pretty slick and oily, not too thick or creamy though.

Overall, a decent imperial stout, nothing special though.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2013 01:15:12 | More by bens0n
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Stamped 2279209:05.

A: Dark brown mocha head fluffy and promising. The body utterly opaque and darkest brown.

S: Dry malts, faint chocolate, distant roast. Low intensity. Rather disappointing.

T: Defined by the same dry, lightly toasted malts initially smelt. On the aftertaste (which comes too early) there is noticeable cocoa. The general impression is very nice, but comes in such brief bursts that it is hard to appreciate any of it without gulping, which is not what I want to do with my imperial stouts.

M: The mouthfeel take a back seat -- it is pretty much immemorable...which puts it above average.

O: Despite my inclinations, this beer gives itself over to easy-drinking. This is neither a criticism nor a compliment...This is one of the most supremely drinkable RIS I've ever encountered.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 04:24:16 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of Jonada
Jonada

New Jersey

3.65/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage served in a snifter

Appearance: Pours black with less than a finger of a dark tan head. Body is opaque.

Smell: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, black licorice, booze, fudge.

Taste: More of the same. Roasted malt, coffee, bitter dark chocolate, hint of dark fruit.

Mouthfeel: Lighter end of full bodied with medium prickly carbonation. Not super boozy, but the alcohol isn't exactly hidden well either.

Overall: A bit boozy, which holds this back from being great. I've had higher ABV beers that have hidden their ABV much better. Still decent, but with all of the other great imperial stouts out there, I probably won't get this again.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2013 05:54:18 | More by Jonada
Photo of MikeWard
MikeWard

Pennsylvania

3.66/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. 2013 batch.

Poured a thick oily black. No light comes through the body. Head was about a finger, tan colored. The head dissipated quckly to a full covering, before completely disappearing about halfway through the drink. No lacing to speak of.

Wasn't getting too much from the nose, pretty subtle, some alcohol, coffee, a little toasted malt.

Taste was also very subtle, with the above flavors coming through, but no strength to any of them. None of them lingered on the tongue very long.

Mouth was around medium, a little dry at the end.

I've only had this beer once before, last fall. Remember enjoying it a lot more then than now. This seemed a bit uninspired. Nothing offensive about it, just a bit bland really. A bit disappointing. Does go down easy for a 10.2abv.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2013 13:06:46 | More by MikeWard
Photo of alphagnome
alphagnome

Iowa

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

Appearance:
Pitch black body wears a finger-thick medium-brown head. Respectable retention and a fair amount of carbonation.

Aroma:
Potent vanilla and oak aroma. Heavy, roasted dark malt and cocoa notes. Hints of coffee and cherry shine through.

Taste:
Considerable amount of hoppiness for the style, but I like it. Heavy roasted coffee and a bit too much vanilla. Quite boozy.

Mouthfeel:
Thick - a slow sipper. Moderate carbonation for the style. Semi-sweet finish.

Overall:
Not a bad Imperial Stout by any stretch of the imagination, but there are better, more enjoyable options available. Worth picking up though. Try Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer if you want to know just how good an Imperial can be.

Serving type: bottle

07-13-2014 22:50:45 | More by alphagnome
Photo of Brewsephus
Brewsephus

Massachusetts

3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel Tulip.

A-Black, completely opaque, viscous pour. Head is dark caramel color, about quarter inch of head, retains for approx 1 min. Thumb-tack sized bubbles appear on surface, small pinpoint carbonation bubbles collect around rim of glass.
S-Chocolate is the first smell I get, followed by some slight fruity esters, raspberry, plum.
T-Big robust dark chocolate flavor, which gives way quickly to the intense warmth from the 10.2% abv. On the finish a little roast malt lingers. There is a slight cherry flavor on the middle of the tongue, until the alcohol warm kicks it away, only to be dominated by the dark chocolate barrage.
M-This is actually a lot more carbonated than I thought it would taste. The carbonation is enough to tingle your tongue, but wouldn't be described as effervescent. It is actually quite refreshing. The beer has a great amount of body to it, and I think without the carbonation it could come across as very motor-oil-esque to some.
O-This is a very OK version of an Imperial Stout. I feel that Sierra opted to side more with the Chocolate Malt than with the Roast Malt, which is fine, but just not my preference. Still, this beer has a ton of character and only intensifies as it warms. There are zero flaws in this beer. I was hoping for a little more excitement in the flavor. If you name a beer 'Narwhal', to unicorn of the ocean, it should have a little more pizzazz. I would have liked to seen a more estery yeast, maybe a little less baker's chocolate or chocolate malt, and a touch more roast malt. After your first or second sip the flavors don't change, which is something I look for in a beer capable of being so nuanced and complex.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2012 21:04:36 | More by Brewsephus
Photo of teromous
teromous

Virginia

3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black body with a tan head. It takes a bit of agitation to get the head up, but it stays up surprisingly well. Mild lacing on the glass.

S: Alcohol comes through immediately, followed by a spicy note...a bit woody. It has a slight scent of coffee but mostly the alcohol comes through.

T: Oh holy alcohol. This thing is strong. There's a bold, very robust roasted bitterness. It's followed by what I can only describe as a coffee sweetness. Most people would sweeten coffee with sugar, but this beer is so robust that coffee makes it sweet. That alcohol adds a bit of sweetness as well. It finishes with a bit of cocoa and coffee on the tongue. The finish is probably what really makes this beer.

M: I feel that the mouthfeel on this beer is perfect. It's full feeling without being syrupy, the roasted bitterness wakes up the mouth and the alcohol seems to coat it momentarily. It has just enough carbonation for a stout this size without making it too flat or too "poppy." It's very enjoyable to drink. It finishes quite nicely.

O: I think that the alcohol comes through strongly, so if you either don't like the flavor of alcohol or can't get past it, you'll have a hard time enjoying the beer. It has a lot to offer and what I really appreciate is how it has a roasted flavor without being overly bitter. It has a nice balance of flavors without pushing anything over the top. Unfortunately this balance could be considered a downfall if looking for something outside of the box. While it is a great example of a RIS, it doesn't feel as unique as its namesake suggests.

Serving type: bottle

04-14-2014 18:01:12 | More by teromous
Photo of thegodfather2701
thegodfather2701

North Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pitch black, with one of the thickest and creamiest looking heads I have ever laid eyes on. The head looks like a mocha milkshake. The head dissipates slowly and leaves on minimal lacing.

S-Smells of dark chocolate, strong black coffee, booze, and roasted malt.

T-Dark chocolate, espresso, booze, roasted malts, slightly smoky. It is somewhat hot and the alcohol is much more pronounced than I expected it to be. It has a lingering burnt aftertaste.

M-Slick and creamy, not as thick as I expected. Not a lot of carbonation, which is nice.

D-I really believe the alcohol negatively impacts the drinkability of this beer. It also is a little more on the espresso side of imperial stouts, where as I prefer a more dark fruit forward imperial stout. However, one could easily drink a couple in a sitting.

Overall, this is a nice imperial stout but I think it needs to sit a while. Its somewhat boozy and abrasive. With some time I think it will mellow out and become much smoother and easier to drink. I will say this, I thought it would be a more hop forward imperial stout given Sierra Nevada's history of producing excellent IPAs, but it is very malty which is nice. I don't want my review to sound to negative, this is a good beer and I would recommend it, I just think it needs to age a little.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 22:53:59 | More by thegodfather2701
Photo of seand
seand

California

3.69/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours an opaque black with a fair amount of tan head. Most of it dissipates except for a little surface film and a ring around the edge of the glass, which is enough to leave a few bubbles of lacing.

S: Bitter sweet coffee and malt.

T: Bitter sweet malt, and a bit boozy. Aftertaste is coffee-like and a little astringent.

M: Full body, medium carbonation.

Overall, a pretty good beer, but definitely on the less sweet side of imperial stouts. It's still quite drinkable if that's what you like.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2013 01:32:47 | More by seand
Photo of minterro
minterro

Colorado

3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bought from Little's wine and liquor

A&S: Pours about a finger of milk chocolate colored head, which dies very quickly to nothing more than a small ring. Solid black colored beer that poured. Sweet dark fruits present complemented by some black coffee. alcohol is pretty hot when it warms.

T&M: Dark roasty coffee is pretty much all I'm getting in the taste. Even as it warms, not much as far a chocolate or other classic imperial stout characteristics. Surprisingly pleasant bitter finish. Not super creamy, but smooth.

Overall: About what I expected, nothing special, but nothing bad. Won't buy again, just really wanted to check it off my list.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2013 00:40:54 | More by minterro
Photo of Bosoxfan20
Bosoxfan20

Missouri

3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- 12 oz bottle pours pitch black. Caramel head of 1.5 fingers. Quickly dissipates . Decent lacing, but not up to par with what i usually see from Sierra Nevada.

S- Wow. What a fantastic highlight of this beer. Supreme notes of chocolate and coffee. Powerful.

T- Coffee flavor is the most prevalent with a touch of coco and caramel. I would have loved it if the flavor would have followed the nose much closer. I felt like some of the chocolate notes were lost in the overpowering phenolic flavors of the alcohol. A touch of hops. Warm, dry finish.

M- Full bodied, good carbonation. A little dry, but still fairly smooth. Alcohol quite present.

O- Maybe the best smelling beer i have ever had. I really had high hopes for it based on the aroma. Unfortunately, the beer took a step back in the flavor. Maybe my expectations were that this would be on the same level with other imperial stouts as Old Rasputin from North Coast, but it is a step or two below that in my opinion. I can expect some alcohol presence with an abv of 10%, but it was a little too boozy for my taste. None the less, still a good beer, but just a little underachieving in my mind.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 22:11:34 | More by Bosoxfan20
Photo of Mojo
Mojo

Alabama

3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle -> tulip glass

This beer poured up a deep obsidian black with a lucious black appearance, one to one and a half finger foamy head, and lots of spotty lacing left behind. Smell is coffee, roasted nuts, and a bit of alcohol. Taste is pretty much the same as the smell. There is a sweet maltiness that is pretty well balanced by the taste of coffee, roasted nuts, a smoky flavor, and alcohol. The finish is a little too hot for my taste. This is not bad as you'd expect from a Sierra Nevada product, but it is nowhere near as good as Ten Fidy or Ol' Raspy.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2013 05:33:32 | More by Mojo
Photo of Sludgeman
Sludgeman

District of Columbia

3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on Sept 22, 2012. A 12 ox bottle poured into a chalice.

A - Black opaque with a one-finger reddish brown head, which quickly disipates.

S - Coffee, whiskey and molasses.

T - Dark coffee, roasted malt, alcohol - too much, whiskey, some slightly smokiness, good bintterness - not excessive.

MF - Starts smooth but finishes a bit hot with lots of alcohol.

O - Balanced. Half a beer would be good for me. The true test is a full pour. Do you like the beer as much at the end as you did at the beginning? This beer did not pass that test.

Serving type: bottle

04-12-2013 01:50:50 | More by Sludgeman
Photo of CrazyDavros
CrazyDavros

Australia

3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours black as the night with a large, dark tan head.
Nose shows chocolate, heavy roast, soft coffee. Also some light booze and a hint of wood smoke.
Heavy roasted flavours too, some chocolate and a fair bit of booze.
Nice creamy carbonation.
Would be even better if the booze wasn't so full-on.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2013 11:44:19 | More by CrazyDavros
Photo of Zorro
Zorro

California

3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick black pour. Black colored beer with a thin brown colored head.

Smells sweet with lots of coffee molasses and candied holiday fruit.

Starts out dry and bitter with a strong charred malt bite. Gets a little sweeter as you drink it but not by much. Chocolate and coffee flavors with a little bit of ash taste.

Thick and oily mouthfeel.

Overall an OK beer, but they didn't balance out the Patent malt enough so it ends up a little unbalanced.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 02:37:09 | More by Zorro
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,053 ratings.