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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
875 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
875
Ratings:
4,871
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
22.71%
 
 
Wants:
310
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: 4,871
Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - A thick, dark, opaque black beer which generates a dark tan head with an aggressive pour.

S - There is, not surprisingly, a strong alcohol note, with a big malty blast. Coffee and chocolate notes are secondary. The booze overwhelms here.

T - This is a big beer, delivering on the smell. Beneath a complex combination of malts, caramel, coffee and chocolate is a build of booziness that comes in big for the finish. Surprisingly, the brew is not particularly bitter, nor overwhelmingly sweet, even though every flavor here seems to be turned up to 11.

M - Heavy enough to coat, but with carbonation sufficient to keep it from getting cloying.

O - A drinkable brew that does not hide its 10%, but still manages to be quite drinkable. Suggests many of the qualities of a barrel aged imperial stout, which is a real trick since it was not. The alcohol does cloud somewhat the complexity below, so I cannot say it is the best imperial stout I've had, but it is a good one. A very good one.

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Photo of brentk56
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Arrives with an impressive khaki head perched atop the inky black liquid; sheets of lacing are left behind

Smell: Surprisingly fruity, with plum and cherry aromatics; roast and chocolate underneath

Taste: Though the roast and chocolate flavors jut out, the plum and cherry elements really build through the middle along with some licorice; after the swallow, both the fruit and licorice elements dominate the finish; alcohol is detectable as well

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: There are a lot of really nice elements in this beer; I would prefer more chocolate and a fuller mouthfeel but those are minor issues

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – Pours a deep-deep brown color with a one finger brown head. The head fades in over a bout a two minute time frame to leave a light level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is big and delicious. It is largest of a sweet caramel and chocolate aroma with nice hints of vanilla and some light pine, dark fruits and coffee smell. Also heavy in the nose is a delicious and warming aroma of a bourbon smell giving mixing with the rest to give a sweet, dark, and warming smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a strong roasted malt, dark chocolate, and coffee taste mixed with the lightest hints of caramel and vanilla. The caramel fades fast from the tongue while the light vanilla remains constant throughout the taste. Toward the middle the coffee flavors grow even stronger in nature and are accompanied by a light earthy and pine hop taste. The pine and earthy flavors grow slightly stronger more toward the end with the roasted flavors that are in the brew also growing more roasted in nature. This darkening and hopping of the brew give a moderately bitter bite on the tongue, and when combined with a nicely concealed, but still detectable, alcohol flavor it creates a bitter cocoa and coffee flavor to be left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is super thick and syrupy with a body that would be similar to taking maple syrup and diluting by half. The carbonation of the brew is on the very low side accentuating the thick feel of the brew. For a 10.2 % abv beer the body is much thicker then I would have expected (more akin to a 15 % brew). It is rather nice and appropriate for the darker characteristics of the brew, but is almost overwhelming due to the light level of sweetness to balance it out. Even so it is quite a feel and is overall rather nice.

Overall – A nice, big and roasty, stout that is on the drier ad thicker side. When in the mode for a great. not too sweet, sipping Imperial stout, then this is a great one to go to.

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Photo of sevenarts
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark black, dense and totally opaque. Tan head with some lacing.

S: Coffee, sweet chocolate, alcohol, a liitle boozey.

T/M: Rich coffee and chocolate up front, roasted malts, followed by boozey, warming alcohol on the back end. Thick and full bodied with a bit of a bite going down.

O: A very good imperial stout, dense and heavy and intense, and its ABV is really felt.

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Photo of PaleZombie
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of Beric
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving: Bottle into snifter
Served: 27 February 2014

Appearance: Pitch black, with literally no light penetrating this brew. The dark brown head quickly disappears and leaves just a ring of bubbles around the edges. Looks impressive and daunting.

Smell: Roasted malts, black, dark-roast coffee, and unsweetened cocoa.

Taste: Wow, is this one complex. An initial burst of hop bitterness is followed by a strong assertion of roasted malts, dark roast coffee, espresso, and cocoa flavors. Finishes very dry.

Mouthfeel: Think and smooth, just as one would expect.

Overall: A great beer, and I was surprised to taste as much bittering hop as I did. When I burped, you could definitely re-taste the hoppiness (gross, I know). While hops aren't the dominant profile here, they are certainly assertive in their bittering qualities. But we wouldn't expect anything less from Sierra Nevada, would we? A great brew, and one I recommend. Definitely a sipper, and definitely a once-in-a-while beer, not something I could stomach any time any day.

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Photo of SmashPants
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: solid dark brown 355mL stubby with a funky label. A good package.

Appearance: pours incredibly dark- almost an impenetrable black. A huge tan head pops up to over two-fingers before slowly settling to a thin, creamy cap. Looks good.

Aroma: roast coffee, dark cocoa chocolate, a touch of dark fruits and anise, and a wonderful smokiness

Taste: roast coffee, dark cocoa chocolate, a touch of dark fruits and anise, and a wonderful smokiness round out this beer.

Aftertaste: hangs around for quite a while, with a slight warming alcohol feeling at the back.

Mouth feel: very full-bodied with a creamy, silky texture. Though I can't see through the beer, I am sure it must have plenty of fine sediment to make it this smooth. Very drinkable.

Overall: if any United States-based brewery was going to produce an exceptional Russian Imperial Stout, I would have put my money on Sierra Nevada. The outcome is a rousing success - rich and complex in flavour, full in body and with a fantastic drinkability. One of the best Russian Imps I have had to date.

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Photo of Myotus
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottle
Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (packaged 10Aug15) into a snifter.
LOOK: Pours with a half finger's worth of khaki foam that shrivels into a line after 20 seconds. There is a subtle amount of very small rising bubbles. Black in color with an orange tint. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: A strong, smokey bitterness from the roasted malt aromas is noticeable right up front. Mild aromas of figs, raisins, prunes, molasses, and subtle aromas of sweet coffee, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, and alcohol lie beneath the heavy smokiness.
TASTE: The intial taste is composed of strong bitter, smokey flavors that almost lean towards the smoked bacon flavors that would be found in a Rauchbier or a Smoked Beer. Mild flavors of molasses, figs, prunes, raisins, and subtle bittersweet chocolate and vanilla flavors follow immediately as the smokey flavors fade to mild, but the bitterness remains. Subtle flavors of sweet coffee enter lastly, as all previous flavors maintain except for vanilla, which fade away completely.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down very smooth and creamy. Ends with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: As beer warms, the perception of alcohol in the aromas grow stronger, but is not effected in the taste. In fact, I could not taste any alcohol, which is always a plus for me. This was slightly too bitter for my taste, but thankfully the smokey flavors (which I do love) balanced out the bitterness very well. An interesting Imperial Stout. If you love heavy stouts and also Rauchbiers, I would encourage anyone to try this.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked this up a few weeks back at Joe Canal's in Parsippany having never had this before. I love Sierra Nevada's offerings and was hoping that this would measure up to them. Thankfully, this did not taste like a dark version of their more notable Pale Ales and IPA's and considering the strength that this had, this was surprisingly easy to enjoy while being full and potent like a Russian Stout should be!

The pour to this was a dark raisin with just a hint of light seeping in around the edges, with a moderate tan head that was punctuated with bubbles coming up from the liquid. It gave this a lively appearance and the head settled into a few rings of lacing that went around the top third or so of my pint glass. The baker's chocolate was in the nose big time, along with some currant, dark fruit, and booze and all of these were present in the taste as well. Quite sweet, this had a cloying taste to it and the coffee same out more in the aftertaste once the Belgian-like notes and chocolate went down. Not a lot of hops here, the bubbles could be felt but not seen as the mouthfeel was pretty smooth with just a hint of lactose that softly came through as this warmed up.

This was strong but didn't really feel it but I noticed the warming coming over me once I made my way through this beer. Not overly spicy or boozy, this was a welcome departure from Sierra Nevada's other offerings while keeping up their level of quality that they've come to be known for. Those looking for a thinner Coffee Stout with hints of vanilla or a Russian Imperial Stout along the lines of the Old Rasputin will find that this straddled the line between the two, but quite nicely as I am looking forward to giving this another go! Certainly worthy of the Sierra Nevada moniker.

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Photo of peensteen
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on cask at Cask Days 2014 in Toronto

Jet black colour, ring of tan head with a bit of lace. Smell is roasty, lots of chocolate and coffee, well hopped with some earthy notes, light dark fruit in the periphery. Taste starts out with some dark fruit, light roast with some bitter hop mid palate, chocolate and coffee flavours linger into the finish. Light carbonation, medium-full body, good feel. A solid imperial stout, nothing groundbreaking but a nice and flavourful stout that is a pleasure to drink.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

SN Imperial Stout? Yes please. 12oz bottle split three ways into snifters...

A: A very dark opaque pour yields a very dark brown head with great lacing.

S: Tons of bitter roasted coffee on the nose, and an ever-present leafy hop bitterness (hey, this is SN)...bakers chocolate and deep dark roasted malt. RIS to a 'T'.

T: Follows the nose perfectly, roasty and bitter with copious amounts of coffee notes, dark chocolate notes, hints of darker fruit and licorice, dark roasted malt, almost burnt to the point of being a touch smoky? Light lingering herbal hop notes as well.

MF: Creamy with pretty good carbonation...a touch viscous with a bit of an alcohol burn (hey, at 10.2% its really buried, which is nice).

O: Impressed. Toss this thing in some harsh rye whiskey barrels and I'd say you have an all-time great RIS. As it stands its a great drinker now, and the alcohol is well-hidden.

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Photo of VashonGuy
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12/2014 bottle into a tulip.

Dark, dark, dark. Not much of a head, nor much lacing. Aroma is milder than the flavor, which is big and bold. The flavor is classic RIS generally, with a little bit of hoppiness, and a fair bit of sweetness on the back end. The 10% ABV is pretty apparent, not in a bad way.

This is a huge beer, just what an RIS should be.

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Photo of Zach136
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

32oz counter pressure filled growler from Barrel and Barley in Woodstock, GA.

A - Pitch black, light caramel head that disapates quickly. Ok lacing.

S - Caramel and toffee notes, bit of roast coffee and cocoa as well. No hop profile to speak of.

T - Deep roasted malts, earthy coffee, noticeable hop profile that gives the brew a hint of that motor oil profile fresh RISs tend to have.

M - Slightly over carbed for my tastes - giving it an almost chalky mouthfeel.

O - Great RIS. Excited to set up a verticle.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very interesting and unique appearance; on the surface, a semi viscous dark brown and nearly black color. However, when held up to the light, there is a saucer like ring of red. A thin ringlike and broken lace orbits around 3/4 of the glass, and, eventually dissipates completely.
The aroma really picks up after the drink warms. At first, a subtle whiff of dark roasted grains. This is followed by a medicinal quality. Soon enough, a really pleasant dark and sweet chocolate aroma takes over. At the end of each sniff, there is a strong alcohol component.
The taste is biter sweet. The roasted malts add a sweet chocolate and dark fruit presence, as well as bitter coffee. Similarly, the finish is both sweet on the back of the throat and very dry and bitter. In the finish, you get a modest but significant hops presence.
Full mouthfeel and robust body. Soft carbonation brings out the flavors. Well balanced. At 10.20% ABV, this one is a sipper, yet, I finished it fast because it is, after all, pretty tasty and drinkable. Better to let it sit as it gets better and better as it warms.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.14/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of AdamHart22
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poored into a plain tulip snifter without a pretentious or trendy brewers logo on it.

A - exactly what I was looking for. I especially liked the head, which was a very dark tan and looked great.

S - the weakest attribute of this stout. Get some molasses and soy, and some alcohol. Non remarkable but pleasant.

T - excellent. Drank half the bottle from the fridge, the other half at about 55 degrees. It was better at 55 degrees. Flavors opened up nicely without exposing any bitterness. I get the molasses, a hint of soy, and all kinds of malty sweetness. Very easy to sip in front of a woodstove with a good book, which is exactly what I did.

M - what you would expect from a quality RIS. Heavy, syrupy, and thick. Would have been a 5 but its just a bit cloying. I am really nitpicking here.

O - At 10.95 a 4 pack, this is an incredible deal. I have payed that price gladly for bombers that weren't as good. Give this one a try if you see it. Great job, again, by Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of ADZA
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a midnight black with a chocolate creamy three finger head and clingy lacing everywhere,the smell is cocoa,dark coffee,dark malts and booze,the mouthfeel is full bodied,creamy and moderately carbonated and has tastes of dark cocoa,black coffee,turkish delight,vanilla and finished with a bitter hoppy finish and overall this a massive stout and definately the night cap i was looking for will buy again cheers.

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Photo of leantom
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Been wanting to try this. Here goes:

A: Beautiful. Pitch black with an incredibly large, black, foamy head. Even when held up to a light, the color is still pitch black.

S: Lots of dark fruit - plums, figs and raisins. Also a fair amount of charred, coffeeish malt. Detect a fair amount of alcohol as well, which is somewhat disappointing. Overall, I've had better-smelling stouts.

T: Taste follows the nose, which is both good and bad. Initial taste is one of dark fruit - lots of plum in the taste. This is backed up with a fair amount of darkly-kilned roasted malt that lingers at the back of the tongue long after consumption. However, there's a lot of booze in the taste, which somewhat dampens the flavor. I have had better imperial stoutsl

M: Good. Very fluid and easy.

O: A good beer. Not great, but good.

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Photo of Andrewharemza
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle, Black color with beige head. Aroma is roasted malty, chocolate and coffee, caramel, light dark fruits. Sweet and bitter taste like aroma. Medium oily body with soft carbonation.

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Photo of lordofstarside
4.14/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First bottle I've had of this, 12oz into a snifter

Pours a very dark opaque with no absolutely no transparency. A finger caramel dark foam which didn't stick around for too long, alright lacing. Smells of Strong bready malts, coffee, chocolate, cinnamon spice, a trace of hops and some alcohol. Taste of very bitter roast coffee, tart chocolate, and a touch of hops. Feel is full bodied, thick, and creamy. Nice tinge from the carbonation. Overall a solid brew from Sierra Nevada, going to enjoy the rest of my bottle with some chocolates

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Photo of NWer
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of timontheroad
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark black, only a little foam that faded to a light film, left no lacing. The aroma was of dark chocolate, slight coffee, sweet malt, and just a hint of dark fruit. Taste was of sweet chocolate and coffee, with some bitter hoppiness and alcohol burn. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, with some alcohol, but not too much. Just right. Overall, this beer is super tasty, can't wait to see what a year of cellaring has done to it.

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Photo of hreb
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014 edition. 12oz bottle, dated 08/13/14, served in pint glass. Beer pours pitch black and slick like oil, with nearly zero head. Dark aromas suggest molasses. Flavors are immediate and complex: layers of toasted barley, burnt toast, treacle, and of course ethanol, but there's also an assertive hop flavor. I find the combination spicy, very appropriate for winter, and decided American (a high gravity, high IBU stout? why not!). Mouthfeel is great, low carbonation, which is perfect for the style.

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a glass

Black liquid capped by brown bubbly lid

Aroma of sweet coffee malt

Taste off roast coffee, bittersweet on the tip and sides of the tongue

Smooth, roast coffee aftertaste

Nice beer

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