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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

821 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 821
Hads: 4,660
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 270
Gots: 1,237 | FT: 43
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:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 821 | Hads: 4,660
Photo of adam42381
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Bottled on October 6, 2012 per Julian dating code printed on bottle.

Appearance: Pours a motor oil black with a 1 finger creamy medium brown head which dissipates to a chocolate milk-like bubbly foam. Solid lacing for such a big beer.

Smell: Sweet milk chocolate, dark roasted malt, a touch of molasses, a hint of hops and a bit of alcohol coming through in the background.

Taste: Very dark roasted malt up front with a bit of bittersweet chocolate in the middle before ending with a nice amount of hoppy bitterness and more dark roasted malt. The alcohol definitely makes an appearance, but is not terribly overpowering. Aftertaste is bitter, roasted and long-lasting.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Good drinkability. This one would be great on a cold winter's night. For me, it's still pretty damn good on a 75 degree late January afternoon in southwest Florida.

Overall: Very good beer overall. While I don't think it compares to some of the more heralded Imperial Stouts out there, I don't think Sierra Nevada set out to blow you away with complex additions. This is a straightforward take on the Russian Imperial Stout style. I would definitely recommend this one and look forward to trying it next year (assuming they bring it back).

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Photo of nmann08
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

Pours a dark black, soft brown head, very still and calm appearance.

Huge malty nose, sweet, smells like licorice. Chocolate and coffee fight to come through, but are muted.

Tastes are dominated by dark fruits, sweet flavors. The roasted barley taste shows up and it finishes with bitterness.

Mouthfeel is good. Creamy and rich.

Overall this is good. Personally, I enjoyed it more fresh, but could also be better with more time on it as well.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

Appearance: Near black with a thick 1-inch medium brown head. Decent lacing.

Smell:Cocoa powder, roasted barley, coffee, caramel malt, hints of dark fruit. Alcohol isn't really apparent. Very well done, although fairly straightforward as far as imperial stouts go.

Taste: Big roasted malt flavor up front, Coffee and dark chocolate come through again. Molasses, caramel malt, and more roasted malt on the fninsh. Definietely more alcohol heat in the flavor than in the aroma, but not in a bad way. Finish is pretty bitter with the heavy roasted malt and bittering hops.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and rich with medium-to-low carbonation.

Overall: Very solid imperial stout. I'd put this in the same class as Old Rasputin.

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

12oz bottle into Captain Lawrence tulip.

Appearance: Long lasting frothy tan head. Several large lacing streaks. Black.

Smell: Cascade hops with an undercurrent of roasted malt. Straightforward, good. P.S. Apologies if the beer doesn't actually have Cascades in it. [edit: checking online shows me that Challenger hops were used, which--upon reading their characteristics--is a testament to Sierra Nevada's skill at using hops. They indeed do smell and taste like a citrusy version of Willamette / Northern Brewer. Great stuff]

Taste: Cocoa and roasted malt up front, underlying fruitiness in back, roasted malt bitterness in the finish (oily hop aftertaste). Flavor takes a long time to play itself out, which along with the almost-velvety mouthfeel makes every sip a delight. Solidly above average.

High ABV very well hidden--drinks so smooth that halfway through the glass you really feel a punch from the 10+% ABV. Great Winter beer, and while it doesn't wrench out as much flavor from all that alcohol as some other, superior beers (say, Hoppin Frog's BORIS), it does its job.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied. Creamy. Not as silken as Fritz and Ken's, but closer to that godly stout-feel than, say, Old Rasputin, which is humdrum in comparison. Moderate carbonation. Nice mild dryness at the end.

Overall: Great value. Well done feel, and a ton of flavor. For me, it comes off as a bit of a journeyman beer: straightforward cascade hops and roasted malt in the nose and most of the flavor, with some really exceptional mouthfeel and subtle estery flavor here and there.

Like Hoptimum and Bigfoot, a seasonal that should make value-minded beer drinkers very happy.

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Photo of Beaver13
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours inky black with a big creamy brown head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet roasted grains, chocolate, and some black licorice.

The flavor is some sweet lactic chocolate quickly followed by a big roast bitterness, some black licorice and a little dark fruit and coffee. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, a solid imperial stout.

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Photo of StoutItOutLoud
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. 12-oz poured to tulip. Consumed 2-20-2014.

Thick and viscous. Opaque black; large, frothy, 3-finger mocha head. Decent alcohol legs coating the glass. There's a cap holding out.

dark roast coffee; grassy hops; baker's chocolate. wish there was more dark fruit here

one dimensional - dark chocolate-hops roastiness. alcohol less noticeable than ten fidy

well-carbonated. medium mouthfeel.

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Photo of IKR
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown, looks black unless it's held up to a light. Has a generous light beige head. Good looking beer.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee/roasted malt aroma. Nice nose on this one.

Taste: Chocolate, moderate roasted malts notes and a mild hop presence. The finish is fairly dry and clean.

Mouth-feel: Medium to full-bodied with a moderate level of carbonation appropriate tor the style.

Overall: A beer that's tastes good, is priced well, and is reasonably accessible. Sierra Nevada does good tasting value packed beers as well as anyone.

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Photo of nUgZ
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

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Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with beautiful tan head, leaving considerable lacing on the glass. This looks like an Imperial Stout all right.

Very strong aromas of coffee, alcohol, chocolate etc. Very big on the alcohol.

Roasted/toasted barley, cocoa and coffee beans hit the tongue. Very creamy, fairly big body, medium carbonation.

As far as imperial stouts go, this stands among the finest.

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Photo of JayQue
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada is the Toyota of beers. Not always the cutting edge innovator, but consistently excellent with every offering. Narwhal pours a dense black color with a big dark tan head (on a hard pour). Good head retention, good lacing. Smell is about average for a big stout...Chocolate and rich malts. Taste is very good. A hint of alcohol while the beer was cold. As it warmed up, no harshness at all. About as smooth as an Oatmeal Stout, despite the big abv. Main flavors are rich malts and some chocolate. Expertly blended and very flavorful.

Mouthfeel is as smooth and rich as you could expect at this abv. Overall an excellent RIS. Well work a try.

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

Pours a dark and oily tar black with a brown head that laces the snifter well.

The aroma is roasted, smokey and perhaps a bit meaty. Some alcohol lofts above the darkness.

In the taste, dark chocolates, charcoal, tobacco and a firm hoppyness. Not to boozy though very strong. There's a subtle note of dark fruit. Earthy, light herb, big malt. Right about what you would expect for the style with perhaps more emphasis on his than many. Quite good.

The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall this is a nice big stout from Sierra Nevada. Totally drinkable and something I would have again.

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Photo of augustg
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black, this ones dark with a nice tan head on top.

S- Immediate chocolate and slight coffee. very malty.

T- Sweet and chocolate up front. Finishes with the roast malt

M- Not as thick as expected. A bit over carbonated for my taste in Imperial Stouts

D- Really surprisingly nice Imperial Stout! Pick this one up for sure.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a near solid black. Some super dark reds at the edges when held to the light. Head is dark khaki and creamy. Nice retention with a smallish cap. Creamy lacing sticks to the glass. Big bubbly creamy.

Smell: Big notes of roasted barley. Some minor citrus in the back. Burnt edges and some serious cocoa. Baker's chocolate and some leather. Roasted malt sweetness. Touches of caramel and dark fruits, mainly plum with some dark cherry thrown in for good measure. Orange zest and milk chocolate.

Taste: Rich cocoa. Bitter baker's chocolate layered with sweet milk chocolate. Loads of roasted malt. Burnt with a nice push of char. Building sweetness is tempered by the super roasted malts. Some nice caramel malt and a backing biscuity malt presence. Leather and more burnt. Minor citrus from the hops, mainly orange zest. Fudgey at times, cakey at others. As it warms the burnt malts take the forefront and push a minor smokiness along with the char.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. A lingering dryness from the sheer volume of deeply roasted malts. It's a sipper and a drinker.

Overall: Hell yeah underwater unicorn!

This isn't going to shatter a tongue or a mind, but damn if it's not one of the most drinkable RISes on the market. A bit of edge will temper the hops and really allow the malt flavors to shine. Great fresh and I can only imagine how great it will be when it's aged.

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Photo of BierStein711
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Narwhal stout was a very delightful brew! It has a high abv that is quite noticeable!

Appearance: jet black, four finger burnt tan head.

Smells: Oak, booze, roasted malt, hop, more booze at the finish with the bite

Taste: Wood, booze, roasted malt, coffee, baking chocolate and something else, but I would have to say this is a close cousin of Old Rasputin!

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth!

Overall, this is an outstanding beer, but I'm all for old raspy!

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Photo of Trifecta1
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance is jet black, brown head. Smell is strong malt, sweet, chocolate, slight roasted vanilla. Taste is heavy and full, licorice, anise, chocolate, medium sweet malt, slight alcohol, coffee. Warming. Bitter finish. Mouthfeel is viscous, full, coating, oily. Medium carbonation. Tasty.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a blackish body with almost brown head that is one-finger high and leaves a little ring as it goes down. First thing that hits my nose is coffee, then a bunch of roasted (I won't say toasted or smoked) malts and some bitter chocolate (or dark). The body is heavy, and while I would not list heavy/stoutish beers as some of my faves, I really like this one b/c while heavy it still passes easy (slightly chewey as well). I get mostly a roasted, coffeeish malt experience but the addition, and then due to addition great balance, of some dark chocolate makes this a dry and sweet experience and thanks to the easy passing this beer is by no means a chore to continually sip on. This is a great stout that even not-stout fans should try.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12/30/12 notes. Big thanks to BigSexy410 for giving me a bottle of this; don't think it has hit NYC yet and I've been wanting to try it. 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one finger of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes...looks fantastic.

s - Smells of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, vanilla, sweet chocolate, and some coffee. Nice nose, like it quite a bit. Nice nose amount of chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes bitter chocolate, roasted malts, bitter coffee, espresso, vanilla, cream, toasted malts, burnt malts, some lightly sweet chocolate. Taste has more bitter chocolate and is lightly bitter overall.

m - Medium to full body more on the full side, and moderate carbonation. Body is pretty thick. No real heat to it.

o - Overall a really nice RIS; I love that it comes in 12 oz. bottles and would definitely buy a 4 pack of this if I saw it on the shelf. Loads of roasted notes and some bitter chocolate dominating the taste, it's quite nice and something I'd like to have again.

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Photo of TH28
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. 2015 vintage. Appearance: Black and opaque with a khaki brown foam cap that lingers a bit. Aroma: Light roasted coffee with some raisin and cherry notes. Somewhat subdued. Taste: Deep, rich malt sweetness with a strong roasted edge. Some dark fruit and sherry notes intertwine, with noticeable bitterness accentuated by slightly astringent roast. Mouthfeel: Medium with some viscosity and a light to moderate carbonation. Touch of alcohol warmth. Finish: Slightly slick on the tongue, with a touch of dark fruit and a strong lingering roast. Overall: You can tell this is a fresh version, with a strong roast component dominating the overall profile of this beer. Aroma is maybe a little subdued to some other imperial stouts, but overall very good. Over time I’m sure this will improve as the roasted edge softens into some fruitier flavors.

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Photo of Shaw
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black, black, black with a short tan head. Looked like oil going into my glass.

Aroma of chocolate, coffee and alcohol.

Big roasted flavors mix with a bit of alcohol. Chocolate and molasses come to mind.

Great body, but then what imperial stout is thin and watery?

A good imperial stout. World class? No, but worth trying.

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Photo of Sound_Explorer
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I based these on 2015 version while having a 3yr vertical of 13, 14, & 15. It warms up to be rather smooth and a classic RIS. Happy to see a non-bba RIS for once. Based on the 13, could benefit from aging but still tasty this early. Definitely let it warm up of course.

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Photo of Spiff
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From Tap at Ale House KC - Nice taste - dark - but not deeply so. Suprising 2 finger head. Smell was full - taste was well rounded but lacking distinction. No dominant sweetness but no bitterness either. Would drink again - but lots of other beers to cover before I re-order.

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a deep black color with a large frothy tan head. The head dissipates into a thin film that is quickly revived with a swirl of the glass. Aroma is great, comprising of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt. Flavor follows suit and adds a sweetness and bitterness into the mix. Thick texture and chewy. Full bodied yet incredibly smooth and drinkable for the high ABV. Great imperial stout that I probably would not go out of my way to seek out but would enjoy anytime.

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Photo of PolarBear3
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark black colour with frothy two-fingered tanned head that laces really well

S - Cocoa, roasted coffee and some sweet malts are present on the nose, with some slight dark fruit but a little boozy and slightly metallic

T - Similiar in taste with sweet malts, roasted coffee and smooth dark chocolate but the booziness well hidden, some molasses and slight smoky but very sweet finish

M - Incredibly smooth with low to medium carbonation but medium to full bodied

O - A very good imperial stout that is smooth and full of flavour. More like a dessert though with its very sweet finish. Definitely one to try and enjoy after dinner on a cold winters night

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Photo of OldRickSputin
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasantly surprised by this RIS! I know it's popular and has a good rating score, but I was skeptical.

It's extremely tasty and the carbonation and mouthfeel are just right.

If I had to pick something negative, it would be the dry, bitter/lingering after taste. But that's nitpicking.

Overall- outstanding offering, especially from Sierra Nevada, which doesn't have many offerings that appeal to me.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-comes out thick and black with a nice tan head

S-faint scent of dark roasted grains and cocoa beans. I wish it were a bit stronger.

T-comes in with a wonderful taste of crisp dark roasted grains. It really is so smooth and hits the spot. There's a slight bit of bitterness before the long matching after-taste. It's a great beer. Good hints of mocha.

M-medium dry carbonation with a semi dry finish

O-the flavors aren't unique. They're not strong, but they are flawless. It's really just an easy drinking strong stout that remains true to it routes. The ingredients taste very real and genuine.i love this. It's one I could get by the case.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 821 ratings.