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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
875 Reviews
THE BROS
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
875
Ratings:
4,872
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
9.66%
 
 
Wants:
309
Gots:
1,376
For Trade:
45
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 875 | Ratings: 4,872
Photo of SawDog505
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured down the middle of a 16 oz snifter, bottled on the 279th day of the year, and close to room temperature like the brewer would suggest. Pours a slick midnight black, with a massive 3 inch brown head that coats the sides of the glass with lace. The smell is anise, coffee, chocolate, and hints of smoke, balanced very well. Taste is very aggressive with all those flavors, probably will mellow with time, I will definitely hang on to a case of these to see what time will do, not complaining. Body is medium large, plenty of life especially for its size, a little dry as you should expect, and very approachable. This is a wonderful and affordable imperial stout at $8.99. Sierra does it once again!

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Photo of hardy008
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a 1 1/2 inch foamy tan head, with nice retention and lacing. Smells like dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, and cocoa.

The flavor is nicely balanced with dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, and cocoa. Both bitter and sweet, without being overly bitter or overly sweet. Very nicely balanced.

Medium to full bodied with mild carbonation. Creamy, and the alcohol is very well hidden for having an abv of 10.20%. Very nicely made, and a must try.

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Photo of ZBowden
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black with a small tan head, smells of roasted malts chocolate caramel slight hops, tastes boozy malty chocolatey caramel slight piney hops, thick chewy mouthfeel.

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Photo of tykechandler
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- pours black, little head, but with great lacing

S- malty, maybe some chocolate

T- boozy, with roasted malts, chocolate, tobacco. this beer is hot, with the slightest bit of a hop backbone. pretty intense shit.

M- feels so nice and thick. i love it.

O- nice, but pretty over-the-top. i am really glad i have another that i am aging. i have a feeling this will be just incredible in a year or two. it's good right now, but there's no way it doesn't get miles better.

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Photo of Futbolmanby
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: dark brown with a thin khaki head
Smell: roasted malts with a hint of vanilla
Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate with a small amount of vanilla
Feel: smooth finish, light carbonation.

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Photo of dbossman
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Black with a solid but fairly quickly dissipating head; beautiful lacing

S: Big roasty coffee beans; some dark fruits; hoppy bitter up front with a sweet chocolatey malt undertone; this is a big beautiful and delicious spelling beer

T: Deliciously bitter and roasty; quite a bit of booze but the coffee and chocolate come rushing in afterwards; I wish it had more sweet balance--quite bitter in the finish (though I imagine this will improve with some age)

F: Creamy and viscous

O: A nice, thick, boozy stout; I wish it had more balance though; like I said, this will get better with age

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look - very dark brown color. Great brownish head that last for a good amount of time.
Smell - I can smell the alcohol, chocolate, and lots of coffee.
Taste - coffee taste with some alcohol. Sweet chocolate taste as well.
Feel - smooth, with great medium carbonation.
Overall - I let this beer sit for about 6-9 months and it was fantastic.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle w/ a nonic style sampler glass

A: SN Narwhal pours black with a thin coffee brown edge. Semi-thick and oily but not sludgy at all. A few fingers of mocha tan head succumb to the large air pockets rather quickly leaving behind just a collar that dots the glass with cling.

S: Smells of dark malted grains with a lightly roasted coffee redolence. I am getting waves of earthy pine and bakers chocolate. There is a hint of smoky char rounding out the nose. Aromas come together not unlike chocolate cake in the glass which is really quite nice.

T: Super dark roast malt flavors rich with a dark chocolate sweetness. Spent coffee accompanies an ample piney bitterness that peaks towards mid palate. I am getting lots of earthy charcoal throughout and some toasted herbs at the finish. Light alcohol warmth. Smooth, tasty, and delicious. A really well rounded Impy from the Chico boys.

M: Moderate to heavier in body with a nice even carbonation. Provides a smooth creamy texture with a slight crisp hoppy bite on it. Finish is sleek and wet.

D: Some crazy dark roast character here with impeccable balance as to be expected from Sierra. Generously hopped at that. Narwhal wont size up to most whales,bro but this an instant classic if there ever was one. Smooth and very approachable for the style.

As if I needed another reason to love this brewery SN delivers anyway.

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Photo of ac22rush
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black and oily like the deep dark waters inhabited by the Narwhal. Some dark khaki foam lines the outside of the glass that gives way to some delicate lacing.

Smells like dark chocolate, raspberries, burnt caramel and cherries.

Taste, great dark and carmel malt profile up front comes nice and sweet warming the soul, then all those great magnum and challenger hops come in on the back end giving this brew wonderful balance.

Overall: This brew lives up to the high standards found in every other Sierra Nevada beer a benchmark imperial stout any craft beer brewer could aspire to. Cheers!

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Photo of Hoppy_Time
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: Black as night with a quickly dissipating brown head.
Smell: Surprisingly little aroma, was expecting a little more upfront, though the chocolate malt does get stronger as the head dissipates.
Taste: Rich sweet chocolate at first giving way to the roasted coffee and malts, then a lingering almost peat like bitterness.
Feel: Smooth but not without a tingle from the carbonation and the alcohol, good viscosity, not thin but also not syrupy.
A stout worthy of its recommendation, it is obviously good but doesn't seem fully rounded out.

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Photo of woemad
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from a 4-pk purchased at J.B.’s in Spokane for $10.99. It was literally the last they had of it, which was fitting, as I somehow missed this when it was released. The name reminds of an utterly absurd moment in the movie Elf.

Super viscous-looking when poured into a funky Sam Adams glass. From the looks of it, I could run my car off of it. Modest tan head that dropped fairly quickly into a sudsy ring, but never quite disappeared. Spotty and streaky lace.

Fairly standard aroma for the style. I get brown sugar, coffee, and chocolate. The high abv percentage is not noticeable in the smell.

A little more bitter tasting than the nose indicated, but that helps balance things nicely. In addition to the qualities I noted above, there’s also a prune-like dark fruit flavor, and a little bit of smoke. Quite dry at the swallow. Again, there’s no sign of the high alcohol content.

Fairly full-bodied, with a sticky mouthfeel.

A very tasty addition to the Imperial Stout ranks. Not quite as complex as some, but still very good. Dangerously drinkable at 10.2% alcohol - not a session beer! Glad to see SN do this style of beer.

"Goodbye Mr. Narwhal."

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Photo of MarioM
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into Delirium tremens snifter.

A: Dark tan creamy head with medium lacing when swirled. Head mostly dissipated to a thin film in about a minute or two. Dark but clear and medium carbonation.

S: Dark brown sugar, dark roasted malt, chocolate and some dark fruits like raisins and figs as well.

T: Wow, I had to double check the abv because this is so smooth... Very drinkable. Light roastyness, not as sweet as the aroma, fruitiness is not very present as well. Good dark roasted character with some well balanced dark chocolate bitterness that lingers with just a tad bit of alcohol presence at the end. Great beer with just enough sweetness to balance it out but not a syrupy mess at all. Does not feel like its as big as it is.

M: Medium bodied and drinkable. Slight roasty sweetness at the beginning with a nice bitterness in the middle and finishes with a great alcohol dark chocolate mix.

O: Can't believe its a 10.2 % beer, first sip seemed like I was drinking a nice smooth roasty chocolaty oatmeal stout. Will be buying this again, especially for its price. Definitely a hard choice between this and Old Raspy... Need to do a side by side but highly recommend this beer. Prime example of why Sierra Nevada is as great as they are.

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Photo of Brenden
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pouring motor oil-thick and a mean-looking black, Narwhal's got the look of a big imperial stout. A thick, tight brown head sits at one finger in height on this brew. It recedes after time, leaving a pretty heavy ring of lacing at the top with some legs to follow.
The aroma takes some time to pull out completely, but this beer's full of big, malty goodness with heavy notes of roast, lots of espresso, and unsweetened chocolate. As it warms, a gentle sting of alcohol comes out from underneath.
In the flavor, it's clear the brewers chose to go against the cloying sweetness of some other big stouts; in fact, this one nearly foregoes the sweetness altogether for a different profile entirely. The espresso and very-much-unsweetened baker's chocolate are the flavor highlights, but a touch of something like molasses along with a bit of charcoal make for a stronger, more bitter taste (in a good way). A bit of (very) dark fruits linger underneath if you know where to search.
The feel is thick, rich and robust. Somehow very heavy isn't too heavy for this beer, as it doesn't just sit on the palate or weigh it down. Instead, it moves very nicely, with a downright velvety creaminess on the tongue through every sip. There's a crisp nip that doesn't get too much in the way.

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Photo of Bonkinishwa
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Narwhal Imperial Stout. 10.2 % ABV. 12oz bottle split between two snifters. Packaged on 8/5/15.

Look: Viscous pitch black body, with fair sized mocha colored head from aggressive pour, which settled into sticky lacing.

Smell: Strong roasted coffee, dark bitter chocolate, dark malts, and some boozy aromas. Bold but not overpowering.

Feel: Thick and chewy body, with a medium amount of carbonation; smooth.

Taste: Strong coffee, dark malts, and the dark chocolate up front. It has a little boozy flavor noticeable, but does not have a burn. Strong roasty/smoky flavors like from a Porter encompass the palate of coffee and chocolate.

Overall: This is a big, heavy, rich beer. Has a somewhat boozy taste, but without the burn, and with some nice strong roast coffee and chocolate to balance it out.

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Photo of yamar68
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic imperial stout appearance... near pitch black, an edge of copper clarity, a finger of khaki head that recedes to a dense collar.

Fresh coffee notes, burnt chocolate... quite impressive actually.

I was a bit skeptical of this beer but Sierra Nevada nailed it - it's a textbook example of the style. Smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee, slight vanilla notes, entirely delicious.

Very, very good.

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Photo of dd43
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The barrel aged version of this beer is more complex, more interesting and overall my clear preference. That said, the base beer is nothing to sneeze at.

Pours inky black with a dark brown head. Big chocolate and roast notes on the aroma, as well as a rich molasses note. Flavors are the same for the most part. Alcohol is present, but actually doesn't come through quite as much as the 10% might lead you to believe. Mouthfeel is fairly creamy though this is more lively/carbonated than barrel narwhal. This beer can be warmed up to cellar temperature and it stays delicious, with the coffee character showing up more as it rises from the fridge like its namesake whale.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Black, some carbonation, one finger brown head.

S-Roasted malt, slight chocolate, some coffee as well.

T-Very malt heavy, dark chocolate, coffee, some burnt notes. Mild Bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium to heavy bodied, some carbonation, smooth.

O-Glad to see Sierra Nevada making an Imperial Stout. Now to try aging some.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear but opaque jet black in color with light to moderate amounts of gentle carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint crimson red + cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of roasted malts with lighter notes of cocoa, espresso, and dark fruit (raisin and plum). There is also a light aroma of anise/licorice and ash.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of roasted malts and slightly burnt malts with a light amount of ashiness. That is followed by light flavors of anise/licorice and some light notes of dark fruit sweetness (raisin and plum stand out). Finally there is a moderate flavor of freshly brewed espresso and hints of bittersweet chocolate. Overall the beer is moderately bitter with a lingering bitterness.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: This is a really nice big stout - the alcohol is well hidden but this is definitely a sipping beer (and best served on a cold autumn/winter evening by the fireplace). Nice roasty flavors but a little ashy so folks that don't enjoy that would be better off not grabbing this one.

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Photo of Maxwell
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep coffee black with a dark khaki head that fizzes away quickly. The body is opaque and dark with no carbonation bubbles present. Lacing is sticky and cloud-like, though thin. The beer smells like dark coffee and dark chocolate. Roasted malts are very present in the nose and give the beer a beautiful overarching feel of “Big Stout” which is precisely what I want from this beer, but there are also some slight notes of toffee and caramel which add complexity to the nose. The beer tastes wonderfully rich with roasted malts that suggest black creamy espresso. Chocolate is also present, equally as creamy, and very dark. The bitters are light and slightly citrusy in the background of the taste, but there are some rough charred notes in the flavor. The beer begins as black coffee, transitioning into dark chocolate with light citrus bitters from the hops. The close is bitter black coffee and slight hints of the citrus hops which come through strongly if you force yourself to belch. The alcohol is pretty hidden in this beer, with just a hint of it showing through at the open of the sip but quickly being lapped up by the roasted malts. The does return lightly in the aftertaste as a weird slight burning tingle. This flavor is very classic as far as imperial stouts go, though I’m not quite sold on the Russian imperial stout bit. The beer is a perfect example of the style but nothing above and beyond it. The mouthfeel of this beer, however, is one of the best I have ever felt. Creamy and thick, this beer sits on the tongue as an angelic liquid; it leaves the tongue coffee dry, with light wet notes on the very fringes of the mouth. Saliva is thick and chewy when it does run, and it begs for more. This is legitimately what makes this stout. The mouthfeel is incredible, even if it is a little strange for a stout. Overall, I’m pleased with this stout. I kind of wanted more in terms of flavor, especially in the hops category, but the mouthfeel makes up for most of my complaints. The taste is classically average, but the mouthfeel is above and beyond. This beer is worth a try, especially since Sierra Nevada does so few stouts. I know I’ll be cellaring at least one of the bottles for quite some time. This beer is obviously not the top of the style, but it is fantastic, drinkable, and has a mouthfeel to die for. Try this beer and you will not be displeased.

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Photo of The_Snow_Bird
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has a very dark look with a perfect inch and a half dark caramel head on top. Can smell roasted malts and dark fruits. Tastes just like how it smells.

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Photo of watermelon
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip and finished in a snifter.

A: Pours an inky black with a thick carmel head. Excellent retention and tons of lacing. This is everything one would hope to see when drinking an RIS.

S: Chocolate and dark fruits in the nose as well as lots of toasted malt. Alcohol in the nose could have one thinking this was BA. Nose could have gotten more points if it was stronger. and more complex.

T: Lots of chocolate up front. Lots of roasted flavors some licorice. Bitter flavors on the back end, its hard to tell whether these come from hops or coffee notes. Some alcohol present as this warmed up but fairly well hidden for a 10.2 percent beer.

M: Nice and oily up front lots of chewiness as well. There is a bit astringency on the back end which I could do without. Some alcohol warmth but not much considering the ABV.

O: I really enjoyed this. I would love to see a barrel aged version of this. I think Im going to let my last bottle sit to see if aging mellows out the hop bite a bit. For the price defiantly pick this up.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

UPDATE: May, 2013

This pours a dark black brew with a cocoa colored foam topping. There’s an aroma of sautéed mushrooms which dominates. It’s earthy and mellow with a dialed back roast profile. I get mushrooms & soy sauce as I nose and sip. The flavor has a mellow roast with soy sauce & mushrooms dominating. It warms well and remains a smooth sipper. Six months out on this and I found it much more enjoyable than fresh.

Original:

I have slain the Narwhal!

This beast pours a pitch black with a thin layer of foam. Aromas of dark roast coffee, dark chocolate and a sharp espresso dominate. The flavor has a hop forward bitterness as well as the coffee and espresso characteristics. An earthy mushroom taste develops as it opens as well as some soy sauce characteristics. The body is sharp but somewhat off balance. I get a dark chocolate flavor and sharpness, when what I want is more velvety smoothness to ease such a rich brew along. While it holds up to warming it is still hot with a noticeable alcohol presence. It strikes me as having some rough edges that could be softened with a little more time to rest.

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pkgd 11/25/14 into pint glass. Very dark; almost black. Chocolate-colored head that vanishes quickly. Taste is dark chocolate and coffee, with a little bite to finish. Mouthfeel is on the heavy side of medium. Nice alcohol glow, but certainly not objectionable. Decent RIS, but not anything extraordinary.

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Photo of Jadjunk
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

"Inspired by the mysterious creature that dwells in the deepest Arctic seas, Narwhal Imperial Stout is midnight black and bold-with notes of baker's cocoa and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex and explores the darkest depths of malt flavor." Brewed in the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Available as an annual imperial release in 4 packs, first released in 2012. Price ranges from $8.99-$9.99 per 4 pack.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to my Sierra Nevada snifter. Served north of 54º Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a roasty cocoa brown head of a creamy medium-thick consistency over a near black body, no light getting through. Lacing is light and streaked, retention is slightly above average. A pretty solid appearance, comes off as a bit lighter than other Russian Imperial Stouts based off of the head color, consistency and retention. 4.25

(Smell) Aromas of medium roasted caramel, mildly sweetened cocoa morsels, toffee bits and a mellow lactose sweetness for a moderate viscosity and residual sweetness. A mild earthy hop lends a subtle bitterness. A touch of licorice character is notable, reminiscent of an export stout, only the body and aroma of this stout alludes to something a bit denser in composition. Very clean and accessible for a Russian Imperial Stout, some might argue it to be overly pedestrian. The balance is very nice, there's a great deal of roasted malt and cocoa character to build a flavorful body for this beer. Potency is mild/medium for the style, somewhat muted in it's delivery. 4.25

(Taste) Medium roasted malts up front, with a modest lactose, grain and cocoa thickness and a faint pinch of black malt for a mild char. Hop presence is mild with mellow herbal and earthy notes. Beer finishes dry with unsweetened cocoa powder and a touch of licorice. Flavor stays moderately accessible amongst Russian Imperial Stouts, but has it's enjoyable unique qualities that finds it best within the boundaries of the style. A notch of alcohol heat on the finish is the most unsettling caveat of the drinking experience. Overall, Narwhal has enjoyable flavor and is highly drinkable for an Imperial Stout. 4

(Mouthfeel) Texture is mildly thick with an oily slickness, a touch of thin syrup. Carbonation aides for a modest creamy mouthfeel. Bitterness is moderate, a good balance for a moderate Russian Imperial Stout body, a spicy grain and perkiness counters the rest of the residual sweetness. Body is just shy of medium for a Russian Imperial Stout, and medium/heavy overall. Alcohol presence is medium with some subtle heat that isn't overly distracting, but certainly difficult to avoid, especially with the tameness of the malt body. 4.25

(Overall) The beer is solid, very well made but isn't what I'd consider "Russian Imperial" grade in depth of flavor nor body either. It's a highly drinkable, clean drinking imperial stout with just the right notes in check to warrant another glass when this one is through. As long as you're not in the market for a world class big-bodied Russian Imperial Stout, you won't be disappointed with this beer. It's a pleasing entry in Sierra Nevada's annual catalog, and I recommend grabbing a 4 pack when it comes back around. 4

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s
Narwhal Imperial Stout
4.09/5.00

Vertical Reviews:

October 2012 (11 months aged): Head pours a shade darker, still slightly creamy with moderate retention and body coloration stands the same. Aroma is becoming rounded with an enhanced roast character up front, chocolate and toffee seem isolated and enhanced by a mellow fruity tartness that sets in. Most hop bitterness has faded. Flavors have cleaned with time, a much better balance and smoothing of roasted flavors, much of the alcohol heat has tamed as well. This beer has become ridiculously drinkable and is perceivably much lighter than the fresh batch in both flavor and texture, although it still maintains some thickness and depth, comes off as more of an American Imperial Stout grade for it's perceived balance. Residual hop bitterness and the peppery licorice essence are easily detectable at this stage, both welcome compliments to the mellowed roast and chocolate. This beer may not have the body to hold up past a second year, but it's worth a try under the right cellaring conditions.

Recommended Vertical: Fresh to 1 year (Both vintages worthy; age 1 bottle, drink 3)

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Photo of Flounder57
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle was poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger mocha head that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pitch black color with no clarity or bubbles seen coming up through the glass.

Smell: sweet chocolate, molasses, roasted coffee, a little warm alcohol, and dark fruits.

Taste: Chocolate, roasted coffee, tobacco, molasses, a little smoke, and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, warm alcohol, full bodied, medium carbonation, and delicious.

Overall: Pretty solid RIS by the boys from Stone. Might have to move up to their 22 RIS and the espresso version as well. This beer definitely got better as it warmed up too.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 875 ratings.