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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

824 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 824
Hads: 4,671
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 269
Gots: 1,243 | 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: 824 | Hads: 4,671
Photo of kitch
3.28/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle packaged on 6 November 2014 as per the back label. Poured into a Westmalle goblet.

A: It poured pitch black with minimal head and low retention.
S: Mocha chocolate with hints of espresso at first but followed by some alcohol.
T: Bittersweet chocolate with some coffee. Later on some booze does show.
M: Smooth, creamy and velvety. Very light carbonation.
O: I thought that this was a decent stout. Taste wise its not the best of its style but it is certainly solid. I’ve also heard that it ages well so I may have to find another bottle to age a few years.

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

Bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Very dark brown on the pour and settles pitch black in the glass. About 1/2 a finger of light brown foam initially, but bubbled down to a thick lacing pretty fast. Big, and assertive on the nose. One of those you can smell from a couple feet away. Dark chocolate, roasted malt, expresso, and tons of dark fruit - something I don't remember picking up on with last year's batch. Overall, the aroma is roasty and sweet with a small amount of alcohol. The taste is pretty well on-par with the aroma. Just an insane amount of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, coffee, and a small touch of booze on the back end. Velvety smooth feel. Still an awesome beer.

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Photo of AndrewGoria
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer but make sure you age it for at least a year. Pulled out one I had aged for three years recently and it was well worth the wait. Smooth, chocolaty and rich.

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Photo of WoodBrew
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Love this stout....Nice job Sierra Nevada! The beer pours opaque with off white head with slight lace. The scent has slight roast and espresso. The taste is has a slight maple syrup, dark chocolate and coffee flare. The mouthfeel is full in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is great!

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

Very well constructed and balanced RIS, with the coffee, chocolate and roast flavors playing equal parts. The coffee does emerge as slightly predominant as it warms. For the price point, a high quality product for a very reasonable price.

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Photo of yannimou
3.87/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is okay. Narwhal has a significant amount of anise or licorice flavor. I like black licorice and ouzo, but somehow I just don't like it in this beer.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

An Imperial without the feeling of ABV for ABV's sake. Oh my. Supremely drinkable and luscious. Someday I hope this is what humanity envisions when they hear the word "beer". Except then the world will be half-drunk all the time.

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Photo of coltonbrimhall
4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

-dark black/brown hue, with a brown riming foam
-smells like dark roasted coffee and smoke
-taste is a a smooth coffee with a mean bite at the end
-thick mouth coating beer, with a mean warming alcohol bite
-overall a great beer that is a palate experience love the coffee roasted malts and the hot alcohol warmth that follows every sip

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

Look: dark, nice head but could be thick dark coffee and coco notes with a sharp alcohol
taste: rich coffee dark smooth texture. Creamy and buttery
Feel. Thick then sharp at the end due to alcohol
Overall: complex, smooth yet full body texture. Great with a dinner

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Photo of Thedusanmandic
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

'13 vintage. Spongy caramel head. Smells of red velvet cake and heavy molasses. A little hotter than expected with a year on it, but nice buttery feel. Very malty with slight roasted coffee tones. Excellent imperial stout.

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Photo of IPAGeorge
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip

A. A very dark brown almost black pour it a two finger khaki foamy/frothy head. Head disappears in 1 minute. Not much lacing.

S. Aromas of roasted malts and vanilla first fill the nose. Some milk chocolate.

T. Much more coffee comes through on the palate. Milk chocolate and vanilla there also. Some bitterness and grassy aftertaste which would signal to me some hoppyness. A very nice RIS. As it warms a little I get a nice upfront smokeyness.

M. A nice medium to heavy body. 7 on a 1-10 scale. Light carbonation. Finishes slightly dry. Not very boozy but you can tell it's there. Again a highlight of the beer.

O. At first glance after the pour I thought to myself " this looks nice ". Then the nose didn't present as much as it doors on the palate IMO. I'm usually not a huge fan of Sierra Nevada but this is my first stout and they got it right. I'm looking the mouthfeel and the taste alot. A good beer. Will be looking for the BA.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. No light through at all. Less than a finger head of Carmel colored head.

Aroma is of bitter coffee and hops, minor tobacco, roasted malts, no alcohol on the nose at all.

Taste is more bitter and dry than expected. Taste is primarily of roasted coffee. I get a bittering hop flavor with a little bit of citrus. I get a big oak characteristic that melds with a smokiness/ roastiness. I get a mild alcohol heat and spice at the end. The aftertaste yields some beautiful cocoa nib flavor. Decent mouthfeel: carbonation present enough to cut the thickness.

Overall a nice beer. I think it's a little too bitter for my liking. I tend to like the richer stouts in comparison to the more bitter kinds. However, this beer is actually pretty good. I could see this paired with a porterhouse steak in a mole sauce. I give it a 89/100.

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Photo of PatrickBeebe
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage into a snifter

still big huge roasted malts after 3 years in the cellar. the alcohol has definately cooled down drastically. hardly noticeable. not as choclatly as a fresh narwhal, but roastier and even more effervescent. some earthy flavors come through as well. body seems a bit light though.

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Photo of JLaw55
2/5  rDev -51.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The booziness of this one was unpleasant. It ruined what else it had going for it, which started out nice enough with layers of cocoa, coffee, and vanilla.

Will not seek out or purchase again.

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Photo of bman13
4.6/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great stout. Great balance of flavors, PERSONALLY think it's a bit hoppy for a stout but every beer is different, and I respect that. Still is one of my favorite stouts nonetheless.

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Photo of ajm5108
3.82/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

You get a lot of medium toasted malt flavor, with some outside hints of roasted coffee. You can sense some hops in there as well, and some residual alchohol peaks through. Mouthfeel is smooth. Aroma is lacking, mostly just the toasted malt. Overall a good stout but not exceptional.

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Photo of CJRx
4.86/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

First word in my mind is Velvet.
Dark, smooth, chocolatey. To me, a hint of dark red fruit - maybe plum also.
Incredibly drinkable for pushing 13%.
Drank the first half very cold and let the other half warm. Strong on the malts in the smell. Lightly carbonated, but almost...refreshing.
Very, very good & highly recommend. A high standard for stouts.

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Photo of FFreak
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into tall tulip glass. Oily black with about 1/2 inch of brown head that slowly dissipates leaving nice lacing. A bit sweet and roasty in the smell with molasses, brown sugar and dark roast. Taste is somewhat different from the smell and hard to describe - dark brown sugar mixed with dark brown bread?? Mouth feel is delightful, probably the best aspect of the beer. Overall, I'd have to say I really like this one. Can't wait to try the barrel aged version.

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Photo of bhyndthebottle
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New 2015 vintage. Pours thick as molasses, with a thick pillowy head that lasts! Smell and taste is smooth and rich chocolate and roasted malts. Nicely integrated hops for a surprisingly dry finish. Very nicely done!!

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.93/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with practically no head what-so-ever, except for an extremely thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Strong, rich, earthy aromas of roasted malt, freshly baked dark bread, dark chocolate, dark molasses, licorice, vanilla and some boozy alcohol.

Taste: Wow! Extremely strong flavors of roasted malt, dark chocolate, dark molasses, coffee, licorice, brown sugar and some nicely balanced hops.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and pretty smooth, as there is very little carbonation. With an ABV of 10.2%, there is quite a bit of alcohol on the palate, imparting a pleasant warmth in the mouth while being drunk.

Overall: This is another excellent stout! Massive flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, dark molasses, coffee, licorice, brown sugar and some nicely balanced hops, awesomely blended together in a chewy, smooth quaff. Fantastic!

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

Pours midnight black but I do not have my high intensity flashlight to inspect for clarity, however if it is like many of these very dark brews when inspected closely will likely be a very dark brown with a ruby tint. More when I find out. The pour produces a 2+ finger, moderately lasting, tightly bubbled, mocha head that leaves almost no lace. Aroma is dark malt, Hershey's Chocolate Syrup & undertones of unsweetened bakers cocoa, coffee, figs, prunes, burley tobacco & thin floral hop tones. Taste is sweet Hershey's Chocolate Syrup followed by semi-sweet dark chocolate, toffee, roasted (burnt) malt, dates, figs, fruit cake & coffee. Finishes much like the rest of the sip but rapidly develops more intense coffee & burnt notes, with hints of chocolate covered cherry cordials, more intense alcohol warmth & developing an alcohol/hop bitterness & peppery spice. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied with medium carbonation, thick, creamy & wet with a tiny spice prickle in the finish. A heavy, rich, complex & very desert type brew.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout
12 oz. brown glass bottle, "072414C120:16"

Appearance: Typical black/dark tan. Excellent head retention. Very good lacing.
Aroma: Golden caramel, light toffee, licorice, subtle fruit (black cherry), some piney/grassiness, chocolate, cold black coffee.
Flavor: As the aroma suggests, with additional espresso that's rich and creamy; and a subtle touch of orange-like citrus. It's a little spicy (hops? alcohol? both?), and a light touch of pine helps to balance it alongside a median bitterness. As you progress the black cherry note seems to step forward a bit. Dry, gently roasty and chocolatey lingering finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a very fine-bubbled moderate carbonation that at first gently bristles and then softens to become smoother.
Overall: Quite unique in its fruity component; and toned-down a bit in its chocolate and roast as compared to many examples of the style. It has finesse! Balanced, rounded, and satisfying. Without question, one of the best Imperial Stouts out there.

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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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Photo of JamesBondGA
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured pitch black in color, tan head. Zero lacing on glass. Smell is of malt, chocolate, espresso. Taste is very velvety, with the espresso coming thru.Overall this is excellent. One of my top 10 favorites.

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

12 oz 2012 bottle.

Unlike most people, I've had the barrel aged version of this prior to trying the regular version which I've cellared for a good while. Well, I'm happy to find that this regular RIS is exceptional if not quite as tasty as the barrel aged version. It certainly looks great: opaque black with a durable light brown head and lovely lacing. The high ABV is evident in the nose but otherwise fairly well hidden. Plenty of dark roasted grain flavor with minimal char and very light smoke -- just right IMO. Excellent bitter-sweet balance and mix. Some licorice. Pleasing and lasting aftertaste.

Feel: Full but not thick body. Near medium, soft carbonation.

O: Excellent and delicious. I haven't tried a fresh sample yet but I'd bet waiting until this is about 2 years old is a wise move. (High rating confirmed in June 2015 with a now older bottle0.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 824 ratings.