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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

4,341 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,341
Reviews: 797
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.86%
Wants: 240
Gots: 1,071 | FT: 44
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,341 | Reviews: 797
Photo of Qbdoo
3.64/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

Photo of Bm1881
3.64/5  rDev -12.5%

Photo of Lefty_P_Hand
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of screamking
3.66/5  rDev -12%
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

Photo of AgentMunky
3.66/5  rDev -12%
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.

Photo of jfstilling
3.67/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jonada
3.67/5  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.

Photo of jmerloni
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

Photo of teromous
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

Photo of thegodfather2701
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

Photo of MikeWard
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

Photo of seand
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

Photo of Brewsephus
3.69/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

Photo of alphagnome
3.7/5  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.

Photo of craftaholic
3.7/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Absolutely pitch black. Even with a flashlight held against it there is no light getting through that barren void. Had a layer of creamy tan head that left a little lacing and had subtle legs.

S - There's a lot of alcohol in the nose. With that there is hints of rich chocolate, hops and dark grains

T - There's a very strong coffee flavoring and after that it's a true melting pot of nuances. There is vanilla, grape, chocolate, grain, even a touch of citrus. Alcohol is present especially in the aftertaste but the malt is there to help mellow it somewhat.

M - Creamy and rich. Surprisingly more carbonated than expected.

O - It's definitely bold in both a flavor way as well as in the booze. It's a good sipper for sure.

Photo of gibgink
3.71/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of minterro
3.72/5  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.

Photo of Birmz
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%

Photo of Duane_Opfer
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 10/17. Consumed on 11/18. Written from notes.

A - Brown approaching black. Less than a half finger of light brown head which dissipated quickly. No lacing.

S - Not very fragrant. Dark chocolate with a hint of lemon.

T - Dark chocolate with a hint of espresso and citrus/lemon. Very warming. Does not hide ABV well.

M - Higher than normal carbonation and also lighter bodied. Not appropriate for style.

O - Not unpleasant in any way, but left room for improvement. Felt like I was drinking a cross between a black ale and a porter.

Photo of NCStateAE
3.72/5  rDev -10.6%

Photo of Acforster2
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Mojo
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

Photo of Czequershuus
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of DaveAnderson
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Sludgeman
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
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.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 4,341 ratings.