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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

824 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 824
Hads: 4,671
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 269
Gots: 1,243 | 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: 824 | Hads: 4,671
Photo of CloudStrife
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled November 2nd 2012.

A: Pours a real dark black with a 1 very dense finger khaki head. Dissipates over a minute or two leaving a thin film. No real lacing. Light barely gets through the edges.

S: Real nice dark chocolaty malt along with a sweet dark fruitiness. Can get some booze.

T: Real nice blend of chocolate malts, vanilla and a great roastiness. Little bit of bite from the alcohol but works. Raisin and fig from the malts also a coffeeish taste.

M: Smooth and velvety with a nice full body. Appropriate carbonation for the style. Could enjoy sipping on these all night.

Overall great bold stout from Sierra Nevada. Glad they are offering another stout as I've always enjoyed their other one. Hopefully I can manage to save one of these for a year.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served at cellar temp into a pint glass.

Narwhal is basically black in color and starts with a good inch of off white head. It settles somewhat quickly but leaves a little lacing behind.

Aroma is roasty and robust with some hop character.

Flavor is surprisingly strong with big bitterness from both hops and malts. There's a little sweetness but it's really dominated by dark roasted malts and big hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and a little bit overly carbonated.

Overall a good imperial stout but it doesn't have the silky mouthfeel of my other favorites like Yeti and TenFidy.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours jet black with some tan foam. Eventually dissapates. Nose is dark chocolate, coffee. Pleasing. Taste is full boozy roasted malt with an opening bitter that fades out. Some lingers. Loads of chocolate with backing dark fruits. Dark puckering.

As with everything at SN, really good.

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Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet, there was a brief crest of mocha tinged dark tan foam that receded after a few minutes down to a creamy collar at the edge of the glass.

Deep roastiness in the aroma, slight ashy char, mild dry bakers chocolate, coffee.
Flavors follow suit, huge roasted malt, blackened and ashy. Bitter dark chocolate and mild coffee notes dominate. Long lasting flavors of roast and chocolate that linger into the aftertaste. As it warms, some hop greenery comes into the picture. Reminds me of new green shoots extending skyward post-forest fire. For being 10% it's fairly approachable for the style, though still a slow sipper. Very tasty and palate coating.

As with most Imperial Stouts, allow to warm up as much as possible to get the full range out of it.

Review #2700

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, dated 8/17/15 (one month old). Pours a deep jet black, with a nice amount of nut-brown head that sustained itself for well over a minute. Aroma is clearly fresh, and yet different when cold vs warm: there were some strange smells going on when it began to warm, but I don't get them now, at room temperature. I also get the aroma of chocolate, backed by a definite booziness. The mouth-feel is very creamy and smooth. The taste is of dark malts, chocolate, and again, alcohol, and it seems well balanced.

I have enjoyed every Russian imperial stout I have ever tried and consider them to be my favorite style of beer; and as I like a number of beers from Sierra Nevada I have been really looking forward to trying this dark beauty. Yet, fresh, this beer is a bit of a disappointment to me, as I can't find much about it that separates it from the pack. Perhaps I was expecting too much. Still, it is clearly a solid RIS, and not bad for the price point ($10/4-pack). I look forward to seeing how this ages.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a thin dark tan head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles around the edge if the glass and bits of lacing down the sides.
S: Moderate aromas of licorice are present in the nose along with hints of roasted malts.
T: The taste starts off like the smell with flavors of licorice after which strong flavors of roasted malts and a moderate amount of bitterness kicks in. The bitterness and roasted malts linger through the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite roasty and bitter. Little if any alcohol is perceptible in the smell so it is quite drinkable considering its strength.

Note: 2013 vintage

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 10.49/ 4 pack. Bottled 10/5/12. Served in a Sweetwater.

Pours black with a frothy two and a half fingers of tan head. A good bit of dark lace.

Sharp anise hits the nose first. Followed by smokey cocoa, earth and booze.

Unique flavor profile. Bitter molasses, anise, licorice, cocoa, dark roast coffee, a powerful boost of alcohol and a bit of tangy stone fruit.

Medium full feel with moderate to low carbonation. Lingering bitter aftertaste.

This is a very different stout. It's quite good now, particularly as it warms, but my guess is that in 12-18 months this will be incredible.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very nice imperial from Sierra Nevada, well worth the wait. A quality effort that’s affordable and easily accessible to boot. Pours deep black with a smallish cream colored head; decent retention and a bit of patchy lace. Not the best looking example of the style but that’s nitpicking I suppose. Aroma of roasted, nearly charred malt, espresso, black licorice, baker’s chocolate. The flavor mirrors the nose closely; the roastiness is the prevalent note here, again black licorice or anise is present, but integrates well and isn’t overbearing; booze is well-hidden, sweetness is average for the style, some piney hops tidy things up in a fairly subtle way underneath. Far from cloying; in fact I would have enjoyed a bit more caramel, brown sugar and chocolate here. But it’s a well-meshed flavor, not too big, hits all the right notes while taking a bit of a middle of the road approach. Very drinkable and very appealing.

The body is moderately full and carbonation is medium; the feel has just a touch of creamy smoothness. Again, it’s not particularly massive, but it drinks like a charm. Overall a real winner. Not going to make anyone forget the heavy hitters but you could do a lot worse than grab a four pack of this for your stout fix.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, unsweetened cocoa, alcohol, and slight coffee aromas. Taste is much the same with a medium roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and full bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with some solid aromas and flavors but I think the mouthfeel is the best part of the drinking experience with this one.

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Photo of Holland
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: dark and thick with a one finger, tan head that gives way to a very thin sheet of foam on top.

S: big roasted smells like coffee and slight smoke. Sweet malt, too.

T: good bitterness and roasted flavor mix, with little of the sweetness I thought would be there from the smell.

M: thick body with medium carbonation that isn't too aggressive makes for a smooth stout.

O: very nice beer for $9 per 4-pack. Delicious stuff, would buy again, and I'm excited to age some of these.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a black body with a finger of brown mocha head.
Coffee and chocolate notes. The sweetness and the bitter coffee roastiness mixes so well with the chocolate making milk and darker bakers chocolate aromas. Some earthy hop and a kiss of booze.
Lots of sweet and bitter chocolate in here as well as coffee. Even with as hoppy as it is it doesn't get too bitter. Like in the nose a little alcohol is here but it doesn't hamper easy drink ability this stout has.
The body and mouthfeel is great on this. Subtle carbonation. It is pretty creamy like an oatmeal stout.
This is a pretty darn good stout. I was hoping it was going to be good enough to compliment that awesome label and it did. No extreme to it to separate it from the pack, but it goes on the list of super solid imperial stouts.

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Photo of Bierman9
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a 4-pack of this yesterday at Ayottes ($9.49). Time for a little half-time libation...

Poured into a small DT tulip... It's a dense, opaque, deep brown colored bier. Head is a mocha hue, and is smooth and creamy but thins quickly. Lacing was on the light side. Aroma was mild, with some choco and a touch of coffee present. Loved the mouthfeel, as it was quite smooth and almost full-bodied, bordering on being chewy.

Flavor is lightly sweet, with some dark choco, mocha, roastiness and cocoa present. The latter reminds me a bit of a dry, powdery, teaspoon-full of Nestles cocoa mix. It's a bit bitter, but in a good manner, like semi-sweet dark-choco baking nibs. There's decent hopping in the finish, with floral action lingering in the dry finish. Pretty good, all in all...


4.05/5 rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4


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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8oz taster pour
Mini pint glass
Two Stones Pub, Newark, DE

A: This pours out a completely dark black color. No light getting through. Thin layer of tan head that hangs around for a while. Some lacing bits. Getting some alcohol feet, but harder to see on this little pint glass.

S: Sweet and Dark chocolate on the nose. Some nice roasted malts and coffee. Very pleasant stout character.

T: Big roast character. Dark chocolate. Creamy flavors.

M: Full bodied. Nice and creamy/oily mouthfeel. Easy to drink.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look - Jet black, completely opaque, tan head
Smell - Chocolate, coffee, some toffee like sweetness, dark fruits
Taste - dark coffee/espresso, lots of chocolate, roasted malts
Feel - Thick, creamy, velvety....very nice!!

Overall - Impressed but Ten Fidy still reigns supreme.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- 2014. pkgd. 11.06.14. consumed 04.01.15.

A: Pitch jet black exit from the bottle with a tan rawhide colored, creamy topping. Moderate retention.

S: Nose of scotchy licorice, burnt chocolate, earthy bitterness, moderate awareness. No alcohol with a touch of dry vanilla bean.

T: Flavor was deep roasted chocolate malt with an earthy bitterness. Dry vanilla bean, roasty espresso notes, flashes of burnt toffee sweetness with licorice. Smooth scotchy alcohol, hints of banana bread yeastiness underneath, creamer with smoky pine hops.

M: Full bodied, creamy, earthy bitterness, burnt warmth, dry alcohol fade.

O: Drinks like a B.A. stout, burnt roasted flavor, soothing scotchy pine alcohol. Nice flavor.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter

A - This beer is pitch black. It is topped with a couple inches of mocha head. The is some lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - The aroma consists of anise, dark chocolate, a little alcohol, and some dark fruit.

T - Anise seems to be the main driver in the taste. I pick up a little dark chocolate and black coffee. It has a slightly bitter finish with alcohol in the aftertaste.

M - This beer is about as thick as there is.

O - I love the mouthfeel of this beer. The anise flavor isn't my favorite, but it isn't overpowering. It seemed to have a pronounced hop presence on tap which is not present in this bottle.

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Photo of acelin
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

Pours a pitch black with a lite mocha head that quickly disappears. Leaves no lacing.

Smells of roasted coffee, chewy molasses candy, and bitter hops.

The taste is certainly huge, and is very bitter in a great way. Very chewy, with giant mouthfeel - almost like slightly warm molasses. It also has great sweet, malty molasses flavor. It's almost like someone took a biscuit with molasses and turned it into a brew.

Mouthfeel is good, could be creamier, but this is a RIS.

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Photo of fscottkey
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: [4.00] Pours a jet black. Aggressive pour forms a 1/4 finger tan head. The head recedes quickly leaving only wisps of foam on the surface. The bottle lists the ABV (10.2%) and the born on date (8/13/14). The born on date is white print on the black label (+1 guys!)

S: [3.00] On the nose I get mostly dark fruits. There are hints of the 10% alcohol too.

T: [4.50] I am hit with nicely charred malts. The taste is mellow all the way across. There is no hint of any alcohol. The front is smooth and sweet and it finishes with the bitter chocolate taste. The dark fruits from the nose are also there.

M: [4.50] I was struck by how smooth the first sip was. Mice creamy body with light carbonation.

O: [4.25] This beer has a lot going on in the taste. Coffee, chocolate, malty sweetness - some bitterness. It is a great melding of flavors. The nose wasn't that pronounced - which surprised me. However, the taste and the smooth body made up for it.

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Photo of artoolemomo
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- Pours up a reasonable amount of head which looks as if it will have excellent retention. The head is a dark beige/mocha color while the body is an opaque, dark chocolate black. A bit of sheeting forms above the surface of the beer.

Nose- A bit subdued and the only thing that has real presence is the slight bubblegum that I smelled while pouring. There is some caramel, some roasted notes, and hint of cocoa but I'm a little concerned about the dominant bubblegum. The bottle shows the same thing. This, however, begins to dissolve and is taken over by cocoa. Swirling shows the bubblegum as banana.

Taste- Definite cocoa on the front with a hint of raisins lying around the edges as this moves into more and more cocoa with noticeable heat appearing on my tongue and in my cheeks. Dark chocolate and coffee notes rise with a some burnt caramel and toast bringing up the rear of the finish. Slight cardboard but it's hardly noticeable. Some hint of cherry as well with notes of oak and vanilla. A little bit messy and a little bit boozy. Very complex malt bill that echoes oatmeal as well. Probably would benefit from a little bit of age as it is a little too sweet and a little hot. Some nuttiness. I like almost every aspect of the flavor profile but the integration seems to be lacking. A little bit of banana as the finish and linger fade? Still, a pretty solid beer. Reminds me a little of Founder's Imperial Stout.

Mouthfeel- Between medium and heavy bodied with a good amount of carbonation that gives it a chewy, chalky, gritty feel. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Drinkability- After the heat subsides a bit, this becomes a pretty easy drinking beer. Great price for a four pack of such a boozy and heavy style. Less than 10 bucks for a 4 pack is a bargain. It's not in the same league as the best imperials I've had but at the price, it's hard to say no to.

Overall- Very good, solid beer. Definitely should give it a try. It looks as if will be my highest rating for a Sierra Nevada beer, knocking off SNPA. I will definitely be buying this again. And also aging a bottle.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter

A: Dark chocolate brown with ruby highlights. Not much head; a few bubbles. Great lacing.

S: Chocolate and licorice

T: Pile driving, hard core chocolate. malty, smooth. Robust as hell. A coffee aftertaste. Fantastic.

M: Heavy with medium carbonation. Thick, chewy.

O: Glad to have caught this big fish. A great imperial stout. Another winner from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Finally found a bottle at Carnivores in Verona. Mixed and matched it for $2.50

A - I love the full inch of deep mocha head it almost always guarantee's a thick viscous pour. Color is as black as night and the head has both excellent lacing and stays around for a while.

S - A nice blend of citrus hops, charcoal, coffee roasts, bakers chocolate, and some alcohol. Seems very balanced and ABV smells well hidden.

T - Quite bitter and ashy as expected for such a high ABV stout. Those who do not like a sweet stout this is the beer for you the bitterness really clings to the palate. Under this I do get some espresso and coffee grounds and just a mild twang of bakers chocolate. I find it amazing I couldn't smell how much hops/roast is packed into this. Not bad.

M - Medium to thick in body, somewhat creamy and chewy. Man this is an imperial stout.

Overall its not as bad as say fresh Old Rasputin but it's still very strong with the ashy roast and hop aspect. If I was able to find older bottles of this or age them myself for a year this beer would be quite exceptional. Glad I don't love it since I passed on a second bottle.

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Photo of EmperorBevis
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big black body with 8/10 tan head but thick set

Pear drops on the aroma with chocolate

Takewise Smooth coffee with a cocoa smoothness and finishing with quite a complex bitterness avoids the over sweet aspect of a stout so strong

A great MF pitch perfect carbonation

this is really up there

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Photo of chickenflea
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thick black pour with small tan head, aroma brings notes of nice cocoa powder, coffee, roast, alcohol and maraschino cherry. Taste is very sweet with prune juice overtones. Very soon the coffee and dark chocolate tastes kick in followed by some alcohol burn and some floral bitterness. The taste is very promising but rough. I have two bottles left from the four-pack and these are definitely going to be stored for a couple years. The palate is perfect with medium carbonation and chewy texture. Full body. Overall it is good, but as I mentioned, it should get smoother with some age. I very nice beer in light of the price. Once again, SN gets props for staying true to their micro-brew heritage.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thanks to devi0us for hooking up this beer which surprisingly has never showed up in NY (i believe there is some sort of lawsuit over the name???). enjoyed from my sierra nevada snifter.

a - pours a velvety black with a great shine and about 1/2 inch of head that touched the tip of the glass. the head slowly fizzled away leaving some nice lacing in the small amount of glass real estate left behind by the 12ozes of brew. really attractive.

s - good subtle roast with great coffee scent. some nice bakers chocolate. just lots of greatness and great balance. really really nice, my mouth begins to water.

t - the roast comes through big with lots of chocolate bitterness and a surprising hop like wallop with the bitter finish.

m - finish is surprisingly bitter, nice carbonation...a bit of a porter like char.

o - overall, went into this with no expectations other than that it is a beer from sierra nevada. not surprised that they were able to tackle a big batch RIS with class, flavor and quality. not the greatest RIS, but certainly one that i would pick up if it manages to show up in NY.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 824 ratings.