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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

2,860 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2860
Reviews: 605
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: 2,860 | Reviews: 605 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of whoahwhat
whoahwhat

Indiana

4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap, 10 ounces. One word: delicious. Have since had it from the bottle and it's just not the same. On tap, it was syrupy, complex, wonderful. beautiful espresso head. I'm really sad that I didn't get another glass of it, but, ya know, driving... Strong coffee flavors, plum, chocolate, just rich and tasty.

Serving type: on-tap

02-28-2014 00:45:31 | More by whoahwhat
Photo of Stinkypuss
Stinkypuss

Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and oily tar black with a brown head that laces the snifter well.

The aroma is roasted, smokey and perhaps a bit meaty. Some alcohol lofts above the darkness.

In the taste, dark chocolates, charcoal, tobacco and a firm hoppyness. Not to boozy though very strong. There's a subtle note of dark fruit. Earthy, light herb, big malt. Right about what you would expect for the style with perhaps more emphasis on his than many. Quite good.

The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall this is a nice big stout from Sierra Nevada. Totally drinkable and something I would have again.

Serving type: on-tap

01-12-2014 04:53:38 | More by Stinkypuss
Photo of PorterLambic
PorterLambic

Florida

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Arrives as black as molasses with a creamy, slowly fading, dark tan head. Phenomenal lace, great retention. Zero light penetration.
Smell is toasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, cardboard, smoke. Well balanced.
Taste is heavily roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, whiskey, light smoke, a wee whiff of hops, a note of grapes? . Great balance, very complex. The various flavors swirl around one another is a delicious dance.
Full bodied, chewy, and barely carbonated. Drying finish, smooth, but with a cloying aspect that is annoying. No warming to speak of strangely.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2013 23:11:14 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

4.14/5  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

Serving type: on-tap

11-26-2013 17:34:31 | More by brentk56
Photo of IAmAPenguin
IAmAPenguin

California

4.74/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Aroma: thick, rich chocolate malts, black grains, subtle smoke, coffee bean oil and resin. Appearance: pitch black with fantastic lacing. Taste: smooth, velvety thick roasted chocolate, burnt caramel, continuous coffee, toasted bread, plums and red grapes. Overall, amazing alcohol finish smooth full bodied and rich

Serving type: on-tap

11-16-2013 07:27:13 | More by IAmAPenguin
Photo of mynie
mynie

Indiana

4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Pint in West Lafayette, IN. Ordered it because why not, what the hell.

Smells fairly tame, even as it warms. Big nodes of roasted barley combined with some light wisps of espresso and alcohol fire.

Tastes quite good, much stronger than its relatively tame ABV led me to anticipate. Very nice balance between sweet and roasty nodes, coming across both lively vinous and bitterly dark. Back end is a wee bit thin which blots out some of the complexities.

Nothing to write home about, really; just a nice, aggressive double stout.

Serving type: on-tap

10-24-2013 19:59:46 | More by mynie
Photo of Mongrel
Mongrel

Maryland

3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had on tap in a little 9 oz snifter. I swear there was no smell whatsoever coming off this beer. Maybe it was served too cold.

Drinks more like a porter than a stout - supremely roasty with coffee and hop bitterness and a little roasty tang. Creamy center and mouthfeel that's really the star of the show. Like any good stout/porter, it grows in complexity as it warms, bringing out a little vanilla, caramel, anise and chocolate syrup. Despite the sweet flavors, this beer still finishes extremely dry.

Don't get me wrong, this is a very solid stout/porter, but not quite up to the level of luxury and complexity of something like an Expedition Stout.

Serving type: on-tap

10-13-2013 13:20:31 | More by Mongrel
Photo of taylor714914
taylor714914

Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Another solid beer from Sierra Nevada.

Pours a chocolatey black with a tan cap of foam.

Smells of roasted malts, chocolate, and a bit of smoke.

Tastes of roasted malts, chocolate, a hint of blackberry, and some lingering residual malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel is slightly thin, but still decent.

Overall a good offering from Sierra Nevada.

Serving type: on-tap

10-05-2013 13:41:19 | More by taylor714914
Photo of 57md
57md

Pennsylvania

2.98/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Appearance is a dark brown to black with a finger of head that quickly dissipated. The nose has distinctly cidery notes. The taste of straight-up alcohol overwhelms everything else in the flavor profile. The finish is astringent.

This is an offering that is way out of balance and a big disappointment considering I generally have a profound affection for SN beers.

Serving type: on-tap

08-30-2013 04:12:48 | More by 57md
Photo of elNopalero
elNopalero

Texas

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

05-14-2013 07:28:42 | More by elNopalero
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 feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Russian Imperial Stout. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California. At last, after 30 years, an imperial stout from Sierra Nevada. Is it any good? Is there any doubt? Let's find out.

On tap. My second keg of the stuff, finally taking a moment to sit down and take notes on it.

Black as sin, under a lush, creamy brown head, leaving lace. Beautiful.

Aroma: plenty of cocoa, espresso, molasses, anise. Deep stuff.

Taste: Floods the mouth with thick, viscous, lush dark malt. Anise sparks up and leads the pack of the flavors found in the aroma, chocolate second, smoke and char are in their, too, amid espresso and the like. There's a fierce tug of war going on between bitter and sweet in this (plenty of hops below the massive malt.) Layers upon layers, wave after wave, intriguing and delicious. Vast, complex, richly rewarding.

Full-bodied, long, lush malty finish. With dark delight after dark delight. A sure hit for the stout fanatic. If you don't dig this, my friend, there's something wrong with you.

Although one thing I'm not entirely keen on is this: I can't think of the name of this beer without thinking of "Rock Lobster" by the B-52's.

Serving type: on-tap

02-07-2013 01:07:44 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of Phelps
Phelps

Arizona

4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap into a goblet at Whole Foods Chandler. Was told this was based on the 30th anniversary stout I love so much.

Syrupy dark brown edging on black. About a finger of silky khaki head.

Beautiful nose. In this order: burnt toast, dark chocolate, oats, licorice.

Very smooth blend of roasted coffee bean, bitter dark chocolate, oats, licorice and smoke in the flavor. Alcohol emerges as it warms and is hard to avoid.

Syrupy. Thick, creamy medium body. Light, tickly carbonation. More than a little alcohol warmth.

Super duper. Very drinkable for its size and strength.

Serving type: on-tap

02-02-2013 20:48:41 | More by Phelps
Photo of KickbacksSteve
KickbacksSteve

Florida

4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Lovely beige head, good retention, on a black body, soapy and sticky lacing. Aroma includes roasted malt, coffee, vanilla, toffee, licorice, some alcohol and chocolate. Mouthfeel is lush with high viscosity. Taste includes notes from all of the aforementioned aromas. A ton of flavor packed in the liquid, slightly warming but also quite fresh. Purely delicious...what else could you expect from the crew in Chico?

Serving type: on-tap

01-21-2013 06:45:48 | More by KickbacksSteve
Photo of Gambrinus1184
Gambrinus1184

Connecticut

4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served on-tap at the Dive Bar in West Haven, Conn.

A: Pours jet black with a two-finger head of espresso-colored foam which retains nicely and leaves some chunky lacing around the glass.

S: Very nice, robust, dark and roasty malt aroma with hints of anisette, charred wood and bittersweet cocoa. Some subtle fruitiness and herbal hops rise from the brew as well.

T: Rich, sweet and well-rounded malt flavor, giving off the taste of dried tobacco leaves, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. There's a slight vanilla sweetness around mid-palate which cascades into a spicy, herbal hop resin that lasts until the bittersweet and smooth, roasty finish.

M: Full-bodied, very drinkable stout with a creamy malt mouthfeel and rounded bitterness to stave off cloying sweetness while offering a smooth, robust finish.

O: SN Narwahl RIS is a very complex and enjoyable, sweet, strong stout. It packs a ton of flavor into that 10.2% ABV while not slowing you down with too hot of a hop or alcohol burn. Perfect beer to serve as dessert or to accompany a raspberry chocolate torte. I'd love to try it again, or one of it's aged varietals.

Serving type: on-tap

01-20-2013 20:43:06 | More by Gambrinus1184
Photo of mdwalsh
mdwalsh

Iowa

3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Among the darkest beers I've ever poured, even the head has a black hue to it, making it almost gray.

The aroma is rich, full of dark fruit, roasted grain, but almost a meaty roast, not a coffee roast.

The taste, however doesn't seem as full. There is a little astringency that comes through, though that may be the chill, it needs to warm up. Still though, not amazing. Just a slightly better than average RIS here.

Mouthfeel is also fairly thin, but has appropriate carbonation.

Overall, not really something I will seek out, but not something I will pass up if offered either. I have just never been blown away by SN stouts.

Serving type: on-tap

01-03-2013 02:05:43 | More by mdwalsh
Photo of jrenihan
jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is black with a small tan head. Head fades quickly, leaving a bit of lace.

Aroma contains vanilla. roasted malt and coffee. Nice although nothing out of the ordinary for the style.

Lots of coffee and roasted malt in the taste. Some vanilla as well. Nice and full but standard.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Thick.

Overall, good and enjoyable but nothing surprising.

Serving type: on-tap

01-02-2013 00:06:07 | More by jrenihan
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin

Colorado

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

best russian imperial stout ive had in as long as i can remember. on tap at j. ryans in syracuse, ny. poured into a pint glass jet black, inky and thick, with very little head at all. the nose is moderately sweet like a milk stout, with all the familiar roasty coffee and unsweetened chocolate malt flavors i am used to in a big heavy stout. somehow the alcohol is also absurdly well hidden from the smell and taste, would never have put this at over 10%. coffee is the first flavor note, but its bitter and short lived. sweeter malt and chocolate flavors come in next, followed by a mellow carolina fres tobacco vibe that sets the whole thing off. maybe not the most complex stout ive ever tasted, but certainly one of the most elegantly put together big stouts out there right now. maybe just shy on the carbonation, but the feel remains light despite that and despite the full body because of a light silky texture to the liquid that just makes this way way way to drinkable for me. what can i say? another hit from sierra nevada.

Serving type: on-tap

12-31-2012 21:39:43 | More by StonedTrippin
Photo of inlimbo77
inlimbo77

Delaware

4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8oz taster pour
Mini pint glass
Two Stones Pub, Newark, DE

A: This pours out a completely dark black color. No light getting through. Thin layer of tan head that hangs around for a while. Some lacing bits. Getting some alcohol feet, but harder to see on this little pint glass.

S: Sweet and Dark chocolate on the nose. Some nice roasted malts and coffee. Very pleasant stout character.

T: Big roast character. Dark chocolate. Creamy flavors.

M: Full bodied. Nice and creamy/oily mouthfeel. Easy to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

12-27-2012 14:20:59 | More by inlimbo77
Photo of CuriousMonk
CuriousMonk

Virginia

4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico's in VA. Pours jet black with a nice and dense tan head. Nose of sweet charcoal, coffee and chocolate. Flavors of a mocha forward stout with a fair bit of roast, dark nuts, and chocolate. Nice finish of bitter roasted coffee and hop bitterness which helps give it some length. This is a nice and complex stout from Sierra Nevada. A six pack of this is very reasonably priced as well. Welcome, Narwhal.

Serving type: on-tap

12-26-2012 19:24:20 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of Fatehunter
Fatehunter

Oregon

4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Off the tap, pitch black with minimal head.
Smell is a strong roasted and caramel malt. Rich and nice.
Taste is bold, chocolate and coffee. Balanced though.
Thick texture with low carbonation and heavy body.
Really hits the spot for an imperial stout.

Serving type: on-tap

12-25-2012 01:22:10 | More by Fatehunter
Photo of tigg924
tigg924

Massachusetts

3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at New World Tavern, Plymouth--served into a pint glass.

Appearance: black in color, 1/4 inch head, opaque, minimal carbonation

Smell: roasted malt and cocoa

Taste: big time espresso, roasted malt, chocolate, and light traces of nut

Mouthfeel: medium-heavy bodied, low carbonation, sweet with roasty bitterness

Overall: An above average roasty RIS. If you like your RIS to have big coffee flavors, this is the beer for you. I would like to see a bit more creaminess with this. This is not a bad beer, but with so many great RIS, this is just above average for the style.

Serving type: on-tap

12-15-2012 16:46:40 | More by tigg924
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at either Pinocchio's or TJ's

Dark pour, seemingly pitch black, capped with a small tan head; good retention and lacing. Roasty aroma, dark malts, cocoa. Roasty malts and coffee on the palate, somewhat charred, toasted grains, cocoa, notes of licorice/anise and fig-like dark fruits. Smooth mouthfeel, heavy-medium body, softer carbonation, making for a good drinker overall.

Serving type: on-tap

12-13-2012 05:12:54 | More by Rifugium
Photo of Sammy
Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's Restaurant. Dark brown with no head. A rich aged beer aroma. A good carbonation and full mouthfeel. Chocolate is important, coffee-like roasting is incredible. Fruity, a little syrup. Very good drinkability, no obviously booziness, other than its slight resemblance to the new Manhattans.

Serving type: on-tap

12-09-2012 17:29:49 | More by Sammy
Photo of BEERchitect
BEERchitect

Kentucky

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

With incredible power and the balance of flavor to boot, Sierra Nevada continues to advance beyond the stalwart taste of their flagship prominence and into the sadistic darker, mysterious, and imperial realms.

Narwhal pours with a creamy viscous character and inky nearest black coloration that's imaginable. The stratification of foam pulls from the beer underneath and tops the beer with a whipped topping-like blanket of foam that retains in lumbered fashion and with intermittent pockets of lace.

Bold roasted notes rise from the snifter and floods the nose with the memories of espresso, cocoa, campfire smoke, dark fruit, and slightly scorched molasses. Complex alcohols give a tinge of spice and ethanol and foreshadows the power of the taste and textures to come.

Again, "powerful" becomes the operative descriptor in taste as the most supple of sips explode on the tongue with robust sweetness of molasses laden roast. Espresso, cocoa, heavy toast, and burnt embers converge at mid palate of sweetness and char. Shortly after, the sweetness breaks apart and allows for the fruity taste of black licorice, cherry, and currant.

Calling this stout "full bodied" seems to undersell it entirely. this is a massively creamy and heavy handed ale that envelops the mouth with heavy coats of malt, roast, and seeping alcohols. Its larger than life "charred" persona extends well beyond middle palate and only recedes as the roast-derived bitterness and heated alcohols supplant it. A lingering finish of roast and fruit extend well into the next luscious sip.

Narwal is a decedent ale that's sure to be a staple all winter long in the cabinet of all lovers of stout. With its taste that should be reserved for those special occasions, there's the price of the ale that makes it somewhat "everyday". It's simply a low-guilt, guilty pleasure.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2012 05:56:27 | More by BEERchitect
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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,860 ratings.