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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

821 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 821
Hads: 4,665
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 23.19%
Wants: 269
Gots: 1,238 | 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: 821 | Hads: 4,665
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 Spikester
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First time for the big bold stout. According to the stamped date it is about six weeks from bottling. Quite fresh.
The look is great with three fingers of foamy brown head that stays about ten minutes. Lacing is clumps and splotches so far. Smell is mostly sweet molasses some chocolate and coffee.
The taste is sweet molasses coffee a bit of dark chocolate from the bitterness of the hops. There is a whiff of booze but mostly when exhaling.
Mouthfeel is full and well carbonated. Finish is mostly sweet but long term finish is lightly dry and bitter.
Overall a bit sweeter than I like but it is an Imperial Stout. You can reform a head with just a few swirls of the liquid in the glass.

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Photo of OldManMetal
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This stout is a well-nigh-impenetrable black with no highlights, capped by a brief-lived medium pebbly brown head that leaves nice rafts and splotches of lacing. The nose is moderate in intensity, predominately sweet molasses and cocoa with lesser alcohol overtones. The palate is more assertive than the nose: a very nice sweetish, complex, seamless blend of milk chocolate, molasses and chocolate ice cream with boozy overtones. The finish is quite boozy chocolate, followed by a moderately bitter coffee flavor that lingers for a few minutes, balancing the experience by countering the sweetish palate. The mouthfeel is commensurate with the full body, and warming from the alcohol; the texture is creamy, nicely sticky and a bit peppery for the style from some overenthusiastic carbonation. Narwhal is a rotating stout that is worth looking forward to. (12 oz bottle, 94 days after pkg)

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Photo of Tilly
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P: Nice deep dark black/brown pour, light brown frothy 1" head. Leaving very nice and typical of an IS
A: Dark roasted coffee, sweet bitter chocolate, roasted malt
T: Rich dark chocolate, roasted malt and coffee, berries, sligh hop.
M: A lot going on here. Well balanced, medium to bold, slight high alcohol, dry finish.
O: This is a very good IS from Sierra. Looking forward to the next one.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter glass. The color is jet black with a rather thin, light tan head and minimal lacing. The smell features dark chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. The taste includes abundant dark fruit with burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel. It's like a rich dessert. This stout has a rich, creamy mouthfeel and is very easy drinking notwithstanding its 10.2% ABV. Overall, it's a very good imperial stout. I particularly like the prevalent raisin and dark fruit. I'm a big fan of the barrel-aged version of Narwhal but the base stout does not disappoint. I don't think it's quite as good as Founders Imperial Stout, but it's excellent

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Photo of bobstockwell
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

very good. Pours black w/creamy head. Chocolate,coffee,plums?........very smooth for alcohol content. Sierra nevada alway has very good beers for a reasonable price and their "better" seasonal beers are no exception.

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Photo of Bluerabbitbell
3.43/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at Bocktown in Robinson with Leah. I guess this style isn't for us. Tasted like cough medicine; high alcohol, bitter flavor etc. By other's reviews there are those that like this one. Can't say that I'm one of them.

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Photo of 81tillinfinity
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep roasted malt almost to the burnt category, that leads to flavors prunes, black coffee, and dark chocolate. The hops and nice bitterness that balances the dry finish. This is a great beer even in a very young bottle.

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Photo of chicksdiggit
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage, aged in a cold basement away from light for a little under a year.
L: Dark thick brown with a finger and a half of dark mocha colored head. Plenty of carbonation slowly rises around the edge of the glass. Thick retention and thin but sticky lacing.

S: Rich fig and raisin up front. Dark cocoa and anise notes behind it.

T: Fig, chocolate malt, dates, sweet dark chocolate. Black coffee, espresso. A lot going on, not muddled, and I love it.

F: Rich luxurious French silk mouthfeel and boozy. A touch creamy. Absolutely awesome and easy to drink.

O: I like this fresh as well, but the sweet malt base really seems to shine through more so than I remembered, and the complexity on this is amazing. Love it.

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Photo of geodonnokepyo
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

pours black with a creamy tan head that lingers around for a while. decent lacing.
aroma is not very pronounced but i can pick up dark chocolate and coffee.
Taste is like dark chocolate with a little roasted coffee.
The hop bitterness is the perfect amount to tickle the taste buds.
not extremely viscous like some beers of this style get.smooth and a tiny bit chalky at the end. the mouthfeel is really good.
overall this is a very nice imperial stout

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Photo of lastmango
3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured pitch black with a 3 finger tan creamy head. Lots of lacing. Nose was very mild coffee and raisin. Taste was the same with a smokiness followed by the piney hops. Not as complex as I thought it was going to be. Perhaps I am having an off day. Medium carbonation and feel.

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Photo of glass_house
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque black like an imperial stout should. One finger of creamy off-white head. Aroma is heavy on roasted dark malts with a little burnt coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts with subtle fig and dark plum in the aftertaste. There are hints of coffee and chocolate, but much less so than many beers of this style. The roasted malt takes center stage. It's a bit of a one trick pony, but when that trick is really really good, that's not a bad thing. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and just slightly creamy. Coats the palate well. Virtually no noticeable alcohol. One of the smoothest 10%+ beers I've ever had.

There are more exciting and complex stouts out there, but this is super solid and never lets me down.

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Photo of puck1225
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tall snifter. Dark brown, almost black . Th in brown head but nice curtain lacing. Dark chocolate taste with coffee and toasted almonds, with a noticeable hop taste. One of my favorite stouts! I look forward to it each year.

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Photo of mlockman
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am disappointed that neither my rating nor review for this brew were saved online. As such, I recall retrospectively that despite its high rating I was not impressed by this beer. While hop-flavor was present it was subdued given the hop-forward flavor profile of many of Sierra Nevada's other beers. Malt flavors were certainly present, but I found them to be one-note and and far from complex. This is a very good basic Russian Imperial Stout, but the flavor was not nuanced, and thus it was no more than that to me: basic. Perhaps with some barrel-aging or cellaring it takes on other characteristics?

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black with one finger of off white head. Smells sweet cola-like. Taste is very unusual for the style, a definite cola sweetness. Dark juicy fruit flavored, with a lot of carbonation. I like the juiciness, and no trace of alcohol.

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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 m0ntels
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark, bold, and strong. Really enjoyed this one and would go to a place specifically if they had this on tap again. Another winner from Sierra Nevada!

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Photo of Bone53
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Thick pour with a light brown colored head

Smell: Subtle chocolate and coffee, toffee, grains, smoky undertone

Taste: Balanced chocolate and coffee upfront, toffee midpalate, with a smoky finish along with piney hops

Mouthfeel: Heavy medium to light heavy body. Its sorta harsh and bitter and also pick up some of the alcohol

Overall: Im a bit disappointed with this one. It has some complexity to it, but overall the aromas and flavors are subtle and not in your face like the best in the style. It is also quite bitter for a RIS rather than smooth, and i definitely detect the 10.2% abv. Im going to cellar the other three to see if the flavors blend together and if the bitterness and alcohol presence mellows out

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Photo of Extol
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - dark as hell. Smell - very dark. Taste - dark chocolate and coffee. About all I get, but delicious and balanced. Overall - had on tap. Can't drink a lot but would get again.

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Photo of Bugcatcher
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Incredible. This has to be my new favorite stout. Great mouth feel just the right amount of alcohol comes through. Just a great brew thick creamy awesome flavor this one's a winner

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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 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 Sound_Explorer
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I based these on 2015 version while having a 3yr vertical of 13, 14, & 15. It warms up to be rather smooth and a classic RIS. Happy to see a non-bba RIS for once. Based on the 13, could benefit from aging but still tasty this early. Definitely let it warm up of course.

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Photo of Libeertarian
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black as night, except nearly copper where it can be "thinned". Very thick, but fine dark tan head of decent retention. Dissipates quickly at first, but leaves an impervious film and a little lace. Roast aroma the strongest. Alcohol smell present, but surprisingly weak by comparison. Develops more into coffee or cocoa as head slowly dissipates. Coffee-like up front, increasing in acidity, followed by lasting sweetness (booze, molasses quality) soon blended with a smokey tartness as it settles in mouth. Black pepper in the finish and retro-olfaction, first noticed only after halfway gone, due to alcohol saturation of the palate, although it could still be from whatever hops were used. Only gets stronger from there, almost becoming floral or soapy. A winning combination of flavor sensations. Full-bodied, viscous, mildly astringent, teeth-sticking, medium level of fine sudsy carbonation. Faint warming throughout mouth and throat.

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Photo of CWO
4.91/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

this was the first imperial stout I have sampled and so far no other surpasses in terms of taste, aroma, and feel. I'm sure there are plenty of challengers out there but hat's off to Sierra Nevada for introducing this excellent stout.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 821 ratings.