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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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

2,868 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2868
Reviews: 606
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.69%


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: 2,868 | Reviews: 606 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
JoeyBeerBelly

New York

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - black with a tan head that thinned to a ring.

S - roasted coffee beans and black licorice.

T - as with the smell, lots of roasted coffee and black licorice in the taste with a gentle warming on the finish.

F - medium/full bodied with a silky smooth feel.

O - a very good example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2013 03:14:25 | More by JoeyBeerBelly
Photo of StJamesGate
StJamesGate

New York

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Motor oil in both color and consistency, with a cappuccino-colored head.
Blackberry, roast, charcoal, and caramel sauce on the nose.
Sweet licorice, 70% chocolate, ash, black currant, followed by solid branchy hops.
Cherry cola finish and gently bitter linger.
Full, creamy, round, smooth, no burn.

Big, sweet and velvety. More chocolaty than coffee, overall. No harsh roast, heat or big hops. Easy to like.

An RIS for rookies.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2013 11:14:59 | More by StJamesGate
Photo of bnes09
bnes09

Illinois

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ink black and completely opaque. Shallow tan head with descent retention and blotches of lacing.

Aroma of coffee, chocolate, peet and nuts.

Dense biscuity malt backbone. Aggressive roasted coffee, smooth dark chocolate, smoked meats and roasted almonds. Prune sweetness. Assertive herbal, earthy hop character. Very well balanced.

Full bodied with a rich texture. Solid carbonation for the strength.

Great imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

03-13-2013 04:10:51 | More by bnes09
Photo of PaleZombie
PaleZombie

Arizona

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a stout glass.

A - Deep brown almost black. Cloudy, very little head. When held to the light I could not see through it but there were some sediment chunks of junk floating on the side of the glass.(Im not a fan of sediment)

S - Somewhat mild sent. Deep roasted malts, some coffee, small amount of chocolate, a mild floral hop note.

T - The taste is what is the best on this one. Up front you get smacked with rich somewhat bitter chocolate, some coffee, with a strong coffee bitterness, maybe some raisins, and a little bit of hop finish. Very bold but pleasant.

M - Smooth, creamy, somewhat syrupy, little carbonation.

O - This is pretty good, the smell and sediment was the only downfall.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2013 18:14:12 | More by PaleZombie
Photo of gr0g
gr0g

New Jersey

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque, black appearance, capped with a finger's worth of dark tan foam. Head retention is good, while lacing is minimal. Has the rich, imposing look that an imperial stout should have. Char, molasses, and dark chocolate feature prominently on the nose. Some fusel presence on the back-end of the aroma, though not much (and not uncommon for an unaged imperial stout). Base aroma is very nice, just needs more "pop" to merit a higher score.

Narwhal has a very nicely balanced flavor profile. Upfront sweetness is tamed by bitterness on the mid-palate through to the finish. I wouldn't mind a little less bitterness to let the rich, chocolatey flavors to stand out more. Flavors of cacao nibs and black coffee astringency. Mouthfeel has a nice weightiness to it, while there's an appropriate level of carbonation. Alcohol heat is present but doesn't jump out and become distracting.

Narwhal is destined to become a top value imperial stout, widely available and of high quality. Compares very favorably with Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout in that regard. Another great beer by Sierra Nevada.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2013 00:27:17 | More by gr0g
Photo of bsp77
bsp77

Minnesota

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with thick espresso head and light lacing.

Smell: Cocoa, espresso, some dark fruitiness, and alcohol. Not as much molasses as many Imperial Stouts.

Taste: Cocoa and coffee lead the way on the taste buds as well. More dark fruit than burnt molasses, making this have a titch of what I like about Belgian Imperial Stouts. Finish is char, smoke, roast and hops.

Feel: Very smooth and creamy. Warming. Finish could be a tiny bit drier - the only thing stopping a perfect score here.

Overall: Can't believe it took Sierra Nevada so long to make an Imperial Stout (not counting the one-offs). Worth the wait. Will be fun to see how this ages alongside other affordable 12oz Imperial Stouts (Bell's Expedition, Founders, Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Victory Storm King, Old Rasputin).

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2012 22:32:16 | More by bsp77
Photo of Dope
Dope

Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pitch black pour with a thick, dense medium brown head. Fades very slowly, leaving a nice pattern of lacing behind. Good head retention to boot.

S: Nice roasted malt character. Creamy chocolate, roasted coffee bean and just a touch of char. Emphasis on the creamy, it smells like a borderline milk stout. Touch of smoke in there to boot. Oddly enough, I get almost a pretzel-like aroma sometimes (kinda toasty). Doesn't detract, probably just mistaking something else for it.

T: Thick, creamy roasted malt. Up front it is sweet molasses and vanilla with a bunch of char and smoke. Turns a little more bitter with some roasted coffee bean in the middle and some dark chocolate. Get a little more of that toasty pretzel too, heh. Finishes with lots of anise and some fading bitter, bitter dark chocolate that lingers between sips. Touch of grain alcohol in the finish - just a little bit hot, this one.

M: Thick, full, rich and creamy. Excellent mouthfeel.

O: A really nice RIS. Very thick and full, I loved that part. Excellent complexity, has some of pretty much every roasted malt characteristic that I've had in any stout. Balance is decent though it's a little too smoky and maybe a little too much anise but it's also very fresh (and a little hot, as noted). Overall, quite excellent. Looking forward to storing some away.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2012 04:10:45 | More by Dope
Photo of ZAP
ZAP

Minnesota

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Black with ruby hues..

S-Shaved chips of quality dark chocolate....dark fruits (prunes, raisins, dried black cherries, plums)....some light coffee

T-Rich and malty...hop load is dialed back which I can enjoy....roasty malts lend a decadent expensive chocolate flavor....light coffee...dark fruits still there but lighter than on the nose...a bitter splash of alcohol on the late finish....

M-Big....Rich....Full Bodied...Fits the Bill....right about where it should be....

O-An impressive IMPY...would seem to be on par with most of the heavy hitters...great price too....

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2012 07:22:48 | More by ZAP
Photo of VelvetExtract
VelvetExtract

Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Ink. Pitch black. Head is of respectable stature. The best part of the head is its color. The head is brown. Legitimate brown. Sierra Nevada consistently makes the best looking beers. What a beaut. Light lacing webs…boy is the head dark.

S-Dark dutch chocolate and French-press espresso. A bit burnt and smoked. The nose does not have any unique traits, but it is very finely tuned. Not super-intense, but aromatic enough.

T-An addition of dark fruit and a lick of black licorice join the gang of dark chocolate, coffee beans and smoke. Like dumping a spoonful of cocoa powder into a dark-roast java. The bitterness stems more from the roast than the relatively modest hoppiness. Narwhal is an oily sea-monstrosity of deliciousness.

M-Full bodied. I can just picture this beer coagulating and turning into gel if left alone for too long. Plenty of carbonation. Booze is masked perhaps too well. This brew could dethrone you if you aren't wary of the ABV. Too drinkable…although it does warm up my cheeks a bit.

O/D-Like Hoptimum, this brew is a textbook Imperial Ale. Also like Hoptimum, Narwhal does not attempt to do anything that hasn't been done before. That is my only true criticism of this brew. It is a scrumptious and blameless Stout, but it offers no unique qualities. Regardless, this brew is a beast!

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 03:42:46 | More by VelvetExtract
Photo of stephens101
stephens101

Oklahoma

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A dark tan head fades quickly from two fingers with minimal residual lacing. Insert cliche of choice for the color black here. Nutty, chocolaty and vinegary to the nose. Closer inspection reveals a nice fusion of dark grapes and cocoa. Tastes silky smooth with milk chocolate notes that are quickly countered by a semi-rough woodiness. Black coffee, subtle hops and burnt sugar provide a fine follow up to the preceding notes. Fusel alcohol heat plays a big part in this burly one; demanding respect, but remaining fairly welcoming despite its 10 plus percent. Narwhal is simple one more notch in Sierra Nevada's belt of excellence and consistency. Few breweries do it better.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 23:22:59 | More by stephens101
Photo of popery
popery

California

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's a really pretty stout. The head is a thick blanket of brown foam. Fine bubbles stick to the walls of the glass with each sip. The body is jet black. It's hard to see any color even at the edges of my glass. The aroma is full of chocolate and coffee. There's some caramel and roast beneath those initial notes. It smells rich and sweet. A touch of hops blends into the background. The taste is also quite good. Heavier on the roast and coffee than chocolate. Starts with lots of caramel and chocolate sweetness before the more bitter flavors take over. Mouthfeel is soft and full. Excellent. This is a great example of the style. I wish it was a bit more chocolatey and even less bitter, but I could see my score going up even higher upon subsequent tastings.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2012 05:35:41 | More by popery
Photo of TheRealBigC
TheRealBigC

Nevada

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally! An imperial stout from the wonderful Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. What should be a recurring rotational release, Narwhal is a textbook imperial stout, only better. It is deep black, huge roasted malt smell and taste. The hops come into play in the complex palate, just enough to bring a pleasantly strong bitterness - if you let the sip sit in your mouth a bit, you will be able to pick it apart. The mouthfeel is ridiculously creamy even out of the bottle. I'm glad to see this one come to life. Sierra Nevada is an excellent brewery and it only makes sense that they would make a great RIS.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2012 05:26:39 | More by TheRealBigC
Photo of writerLJBerg
writerLJBerg

Oregon

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, split.

A: Pure black. Mocha head fades to thin lacing. Sticks to the glass.

N: Chocolate, malt, coffee. Some tobacco and leather. Has a rye type pepperiness. Deep and rich. Molasses. Black licorice.

T: Licorice, chocolate, tobacco, pepper and earth. This is very ’spicy’ and sprucey. Has quite a bit of hop character to match the malty sweetness. Excellently put together if perhaps a bit green.

M: Perfect. Heavy without becoming cloying. Alcohol never distracts.

O: Sierra Nevada waited too long to release an RIS. This should be considered a standard. I’ll be buying more to age.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2012 23:54:44 | More by writerLJBerg
Photo of NWer
NWer

Washington

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was really looking forward to this beer. I always anticipate what Sierra Nevada is doing lately to keep engaged with producing great beer in spite of their growth.
Pours dark brown into a tulip.
Minimal head. Carbonation is there, it just doesn't produce much foam.
Burnt dark chocolate nose & taste. A little edgy that should smooth out over time.
Mouthfeel, burnt edginess lingers. Not to the point of distraction however. Very enjoyable with a great price point for the style.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2012 21:15:55 | More by NWer
Photo of Siriusfisherman
Siriusfisherman

Montana

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pitchblack with a thick, creamy brown head. Excellent lacing. The aroma contains noticable alcohol and some esters, but is predominantly roasted coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit. A spicy/herbal hop character is detectable as well. The taste starts with a big bitterness and then sweet, roasted malt, very similar profile to the aroma. There is also a noticable alcohol taste that cleans out your mouth and allows the roasted flavors to linger. Slightly smoky on the tail end. The mouthfeel is full, but somewhat drying, carbonation and alcohol really cut the sweetness. It is briefly there but then suddenly your mouth starts to pucker and then the clean roasted notes are left.

Overall, this is a tasty brew. This is one of my favorite styles and Sierra Nevada does it justice. I would get this again, no hesitation.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 22:18:42 | More by Siriusfisherman
Photo of BEERMILER12
BEERMILER12

Maine

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a pitch black color with 2 fingers worth of brown head

S: Get some nice baker's chocolate, dark roasted malts, hints of coffee and alcohol

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with some bitter-sweet dark chocolate and coffee along with the dark roasted malts. Alcohol pokes its head out slightly, but very well hidden for the most part. Hops kick in towards the end and add some more bitterness

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy

O: This one is right up there with Stone IRS and Old Raspy as far as RIS's go. Serves as a good night cap or fireside sipper. And as with all SN brews, a great price-point

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2012 07:16:54 | More by BEERMILER12
Photo of Kendo
Kendo

New York

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from the bottle into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body looks thick; it's black with a half-finger light-brown head that settles quickly. Some splotches of lace cling to the side of the glass after each sip.

S: Very roasty - roasted barley malt and dark chocolate. As it warms up a bit, the roastiness takes a back seat to the chocolate.

T: Big RIS-type flavors up front: roasted barley malt, roasted coffee beans, charcoal and chocolate - both cocoa/milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Finishes with chocolatey flavors followed by a bitter taste of char/charcoal. Alcohol heat is noted, though more in the feel, as heat going down the chute, than in the taste. Lingering minerally taste of burnt charcoal provides bitter balance to offset the malty flavors up front. As it warms and the palate adjusts to that bitterness, the chocolate becomes more pronounced at the finish, which I like.

M: Definitely full-bodied. Carbonation is modest.

O: Good stuff, as per usual from SN. More roasty than I prefer in my stouts, especially when cold - it's almost Imperial Porter-like in that regard - but not off-putting in any way. Sure, I've had better stouts, but for the price ($10.49 for a 4-pack), I'm not unhappy with this new release.

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2013 02:27:25 | More by Kendo
Photo of RblWthACoz
RblWthACoz

Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Off my first sip, I can tell that this is a beer that would benefit from some aging. Bright berry tones seem to show quite large with a lot of malty sweetness. Mild roasted thing going on too. Extremely smooth feel. Excellent level of carbonation. Way too easy to drink for a 10.2% beer. Definitely a good brew. I'd get a case and let them rest for 1-2 years, if I was going to invest the coin.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 04:19:23 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of homebrew311
homebrew311

Illinois

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served on tap at the Falling Rock. Appearance is opaque black with generous finger of head and heavy lacing that leaves layers behind. Smell is dry and roasty with dark fruits, chocolate, coffee, and grain. Taste is deep and roasty with light sweetness, heavy cocoa and coffee character at the end. Nice well rounded stout. Mouthfeel is heavy with medium carbonation. Overall, a very solid offering from Sierra Nevada.

Serving type: on-tap

03-10-2013 21:46:08 | More by homebrew311
Photo of Teleweizen2
Teleweizen2

New Jersey

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - pours an ominous squid ink black. A pinky fingers worth of deep tan foam rises above the dark liquid and lingers.

S - nose is a bit muted but still very chocolatey with a slight touch of roast. Notes of cocoa powder and dark chocolate sauce. Light hints of grindy city roast coffee. Hints of cherries in the center.

T - doughy and chocolate flavors up front. Almost like a dark chocolate version of Nutella spread on italian bread. A hint of alcohol come through with a touch of coffee. Blackstrap molasses notes collide with earthy hops with hints of tree bark and pine. Finish is dry almost tannic and woody but with a note of dusty chocolate to smooth it out.

M - thick and rich. Full bodied with high carbonation.

O - great stout. Sierra Nevada just knows how to make exceptional beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2013 03:39:49 | More by Teleweizen2
Photo of kdahnke123
kdahnke123

Indiana

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter at room temperature. 2013 Vintage.
A - Poured a nice dark color with a medium brown, quickly dissipating 1/4" head.
S - Chocolate and coffee upfront with a balanced hop and malt finish.
T - A little bite from the hops at first, followed by medium roast coffee/chocolate with a bite of the alcohol at the end. The malt is somewhat subdued with the rest of the flavors going on.
M - Very smooth, medium viscosity mouthfeel. Very little carbonation.
O - A very good example of an imperial stout. The incorporation of 10% alcohol and 60 IBU into a beer with this kind of balance is well done. Everything is in good proportion to one another.

Serving type: bottle

02-26-2014 22:43:35 | More by kdahnke123
Photo of MartzMimic
MartzMimic

Oklahoma

4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark black with a bubbly dark brown head that leaves quickly. Aroma of coffee, malt and plum. Big dark chocolate and coffee taste, along with touches of malt and alcohol. Mouth is thick, but incredibly smooth. This is a very nice stout.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2014 02:56:33 | More by MartzMimic
Photo of NoLeafClover44
NoLeafClover44

Delaware

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a DFH signature glass. Bottled October 6 and put on the shelf two days ago at my local store.

A - Pours black with a dense finger of wood brown head. Sticky tiered lacing.

S - Toasted malts dominate along with almond, vanilla, cedar, and some mellow pine hops. Sweet and roasty with balancing earthiness.

T - Starts with an iced mocha coffee sweetness. Some burnt pine follows along with vanilla notes. The finish is more bitter than anticipated with earthy tree sap hops. Warming alcohol comes in late and becomes less noticeable with each sip. Sweetens as it warms and caramel, vanilla, and marshmallow step up to the char.

M - Definitely has enough body for the big flavors. Smooth carbonation. The alcohol isn't in your face, but isn't forgotten.

O - I have been waiting for this to land in my area for a few weeks. Balanced flavor that improves as it warms. The more drink it, the more I like it. A very good RIS that is right up there with Old Raspy in the RIS 12oz. 4pk under $10 category. Sierra Nevada rarely disappoints. Hopefully this becomes a shelf staple so I can grab it whenever I choose.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2012 02:06:03 | More by NoLeafClover44
Photo of stephenjmoore
stephenjmoore

Maryland

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours pitch black with an enormous thick mocha colored head.

S- Roasted malt, chocolate malt, cocoa powder, bitter dark chocolate.

T- Very malty with roasty flavors coming through the most with chocolate malt. The middle to end has notes of bitter dark chocolate that lingers as an aftertaste. There is a noticeable hop bitterness in there as well, along with a slight coffee flavor.

M- Full bodied, heavy, but drinkable, medium carbonation, smooth and frothy.

O- I am actually surprised with how different this beer tastes than other RISs. Very complex combination of flavors that border on cluttered, but make it a unique offering.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2012 03:44:27 | More by stephenjmoore
Photo of mattcrill
mattcrill

Ohio

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

<< Review #700 >>

Aroma: Coffee, dry cocoa, and roasty malt characteristics up front. No fruity esters that tend to be more common in English versions. I get a bit of pleasant graininess that reminds me of oatmeal and maris otter malt.

Appearance: Inky black pour with a large tan batter-like head.

Flavor: Follows the aroma but there is more of a dark fruity flavor that reminds me of fig and raisins to match the coffee and cocoa character. Slight earthy bitterness that helps offset some of the malty character and just a touch of chocolate sweetness. Finish is pleasant and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slight dark grain roasted astringency which is pleasant and appropriate for the style. No alcohol heat which is surprising given the ABV.

Overall impression: Immensely drinkable given the style and size of this beer. A perfect 700th review. One of my favorite styles and one of my favorite breweries so this was appropriate. I hope they make more of this.

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 20:56:26 | More by mattcrill
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,868 ratings.