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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

2,858 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2858
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: 2,858 | Reviews: 605 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of spinrsx
spinrsx

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz Bottle from Total Wine Tampa FL for $3

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a large size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, vanilla, coffee

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and vanilla. There is also quite a bit of a charred coffee type flavour and a light hoppiness.

Overall - Wow, a great mix of smooth flavours with a lingering bitter finish. A really satisfying beer that is a great sipper. Once again Sierra Nevada impresses.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 02:12:26 | More by spinrsx
Photo of MoorBeerPlz
MoorBeerPlz

California

4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a snifter glass…

On the pour, viscous black liquid that built a 2 finger head of creamy tan foam, dissipating into nice sticky foam and lacing on the sides of the glass and a little foam cap on the top.

Putting my nose to the glass, the aromatics were fairly light; a little coffee and roasted grains. After a good swirl, the chocolate, some fruity notes and a little hop presence is detected. I didn’t detect the alcohol right away but as this beer warms up, it’s one more thing to add to the list. So far so good.

On the taste, my first thoughts are “rich and thick” as I start tasting the roasted grains, coffee and chocolate coming through. As you work it around, the fruitiness, malt and the booze join in followed by a bitterness that does not detract from the overall character or balance. Damn good.

Seemed medium to medium +in body with a smooth as velvet feel. Well balanced group of flavors and a nice, bitter and boozy finish with a little alcohol warmth. Nicely carbonated as well. Sticky feeling that is not dry in any way.

Overall a pretty fine example of the style and a great effort by Sierra Nevada. While not a session beer, I would guess it pairs well with some foods and certainly is a great way to wind down a busy or stressful day. I will definitely be buying more of this and look forward to putting some aside to see how the tastes develop over time.
Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 02:10:17 | More by MoorBeerPlz
Photo of craftaholic
craftaholic

New York

3.74/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Absolutely pitch black. Even with a flashlight held against it there is no light getting through that barren void. Had a layer of creamy tan head that left a little lacing and had subtle legs.

S - There's a lot of alcohol in the nose. With that there is hints of rich chocolate, hops and dark grains

T - There's a very strong coffee flavoring and after that it's a true melting pot of nuances. There is vanilla, grape, chocolate, grain, even a touch of citrus. Alcohol is present especially in the aftertaste but the malt is there to help mellow it somewhat.

M - Creamy and rich. Surprisingly more carbonated than expected.

O - It's definitely bold in both a flavor way as well as in the booze. It's a good sipper for sure.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2013 03:19:49 | More by craftaholic
Photo of tastybeer
tastybeer

North Carolina

4.11/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Deep dark black and big fluffy head. All sorts of stringy patches cover the glass once it recedes. Aroma initially brings creamy sweetness. Then digging deeper there's caramel, tobacco, coffee, toffee, and a touch of something like black raspberry. Pretty straight forward Russian imperial style. Taste is milky caramel, chocolatey, a bit smokey, and bitter only subtly through the finish. Mouthfeel is key. Very velvety smooth. Like hot cocoa in beer form and cool of course. The higher ABV is totally hidden as well. I haven't been in a stout-porter/dark beer mood for awhile however this beer might be changing that.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2013 01:52:42 | More by tastybeer
Photo of mudbug
mudbug

Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A vigorous pour into the SM pint glass results in a pitch black body of liquid topped by a thin tan head of foam, thick lacing coats the side as the first sips lower the level. yep it looks like a stout.
Aroma is bitter chocolate. roasted barley and toast with a slight astringent alcohol.
Taste follows the aroma, bitter chocolate. burnt toast, molasses a slight sour tinge. a tad dry on the end. overall very pleasant without a noticeable aftertaste
Not an overpowering Stout on the sweet side, slightly dry and bitter, more like an Irish Dry Stout on steroids
A very nice Stout that is easy to put a pint down.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 08:03:13 | More by mudbug
Photo of Roguer
Roguer

Connecticut

4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Solid, perfectly black brew, 1/2 finger light tan head, quickly fading. Thin but nice lacing.

Slightly boozy aroma, with a hint of grain, grapes, and cocoa.

Very nice bite to this stout: chocolate in abundance, some grapes, dry grain, and a very noticeable alcohol flavor. Sweet, but not quite overly so. Just a hint of burnt grain in the background.

Slight sting on the tongue, then it settles in with a wonderfully thick feel. Nice clinginess; almost powdery cocoa feel. The alcohol is definitely present, but it's in no way bad.

You know how reviews are always saying, "This beer hides a 10% ABV very well,"? Yeah, not so much here. That doesn't make it bad: it's thick, balanced, strong, and flavorful. It's got a very nice sweetness to it, but a nice bite to back it up. Excellent brew.

2013 vintage.

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2013 21:49:03 | More by Roguer
Photo of BeerDawgs
BeerDawgs

Georgia

4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Pitch black, with little head or lace. No other way to describe it!

S - Chocolate, hops, cocoa, sweet, dark grains

T - Wow..an amazing DStout. Sweet, but not too much, just right. Hidden ABV

M - Full bodied, well balanced.

O - One of the better stouts I have had. Well done Sierra Nevada!

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2013 02:57:28 | More by BeerDawgs
Photo of megahurts4
megahurts4

Louisiana

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Appearance: dark brown, medium head, and a little lacing.

Smell: coffee, chocolate, hops, and mineral water.

Taste: vanilla, coffee, some hops, and a hint of cocoa.

Mouthfeel: medium and a slight chewy sensation.

Overall:
This is quite nice. While not incredibly complex, the flavors mesh very well and are properly proportioned. The mouthfeel is great. This is very drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2013 07:12:34 | More by megahurts4
Photo of vic21234
vic21234

Illinois

3.79/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2013 Vintage.

A- Pours black with a small amount of khaki colored head which quickly fades to the sides of the glass.

S- Notes of chocolate and coffee malts come through.

T- Heavy chocolate and coffee notes on the taste, similar to the smell. The coffee is strong and almost bittering at the back of each sip.

M- Heavy and flavorful, yet not too harsh on the alcohol for a 10% ABV beer.

A nice imperial stout, but nothing too mind-blowing. I will be sitting a few down for some aging.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 01:14:12 | More by vic21234
Photo of Duane_Opfer
Duane_Opfer

Virginia

3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 10/17. Consumed on 11/18. Written from notes.

A - Brown approaching black. Less than a half finger of light brown head which dissipated quickly. No lacing.

S - Not very fragrant. Dark chocolate with a hint of lemon.

T - Dark chocolate with a hint of espresso and citrus/lemon. Very warming. Does not hide ABV well.

M - Higher than normal carbonation and also lighter bodied. Not appropriate for style.

O - Not unpleasant in any way, but left room for improvement. Felt like I was drinking a cross between a black ale and a porter.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2013 22:39:47 | More by Duane_Opfer
Photo of scotorum
scotorum

Massachusetts

3.93/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 on the label, if I'm reading the code correctly it was bottled November 4th 2012.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Adams nonick.

a: Pitch black, finger thick tan head receded quickly to even surface foam and some clingy lacing.

s: Overripe fruit, alcohol.

t: Heavy dark malt with quite a bit of hop bite, smoky finish. Significant alcohol throat burn.

m: Medium to heavy. Quite smooth with plenty enough carbonation tingle on the tongue.

o: A flavorful imperial stout with a lot of not entirely pleasant punch. Perhaps the year of aging did not serve it as well as could be hoped. Tough to do more than sip, although few imperial stouts aren't.

UPDATE 2/4/14: Had another from the same fourpack and it was very smooth with more dark chocolate and less smoky taste, Some chocolate also in the aroma. The more I do these comparisons bottle to bottle of the same aged beer, the more I am convinced that it is difficult to predict how some will react to aging, and in fact they may react differently from one bottle to another. Doesn't seem to make much sense, and perhaps it's my own senses that are varying, but I find quite a difference sometimes among bottles in the same pack. (Lagunitas Brown Shugga and Brooklyn's now discontinued Monster come most immediately to mind). In any case I'm raising my ratings based on this second bottle. a: from 4-4.25; s from 3.5-4; mouthfeel from 4-4.25. And overall from 3.75-4.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2013 06:08:47 | More by scotorum
Photo of JMScowcroft
JMScowcroft

Vermont

4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Narwhal Imperial Stout, poured into a Fiddlehead snifter.

Look - Pours a medium thickness brown-black oily with a 1" fizzy mocha head that dissipates quickly. Good lacing.

Smell - Roasted malts with baker's cocoa and some coffee notes.

Taste - Full bodied and dark chocolate with roasted malt. Quite good. Finishes roasted. Tasty.

Mouthfeel - Rests chocolate and roasted malt. Dry and slightly bitter. Not overly boozy at all. Good drinkability with low carbonation and a light-heavy body.

Overall - Super solid RIS. Another quality brew from Sierra Nevada!

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2013 15:19:44 | More by JMScowcroft
Photo of atr2605
atr2605

New York

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

A-poured black with a tan head with nice lacing
S-roasted coffee, licorice, unsweetened cocoa
T-lots of roasted coffee flavors mixed with licorice and finishes with unsweetened chocolate
M-full bodied and low carbonation
O-Not a bad brew, honestly not my favorite for the style, booze is pretty apparent. Interesting to try

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2013 00:40:53 | More by atr2605
Photo of Arithmeticus
Arithmeticus

Maryland

4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured chilled in ribbed ale glass

A: solid black; thin head; good lacing;
S: good classic stout aroma: dark malt, anise
T: amazingly more sophisticated than the straightforward aroma; very boozy, complex; cocoa; smooth and sweet; licorice; dark chocolate

Really amazing imperial stout; quite different from other stouts I've had

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2013 04:53:52 | More by Arithmeticus
Photo of metter98
metter98

New York

4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a thin dark tan head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles around the edge if the glass and bits of lacing down the sides.
S: Moderate aromas of licorice are present in the nose along with hints of roasted malts.
T: The taste starts off like the smell with flavors of licorice after which strong flavors of roasted malts and a moderate amount of bitterness kicks in. The bitterness and roasted malts linger through the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite roasty and bitter. Little if any alcohol is perceptible in the smell so it is quite drinkable considering its strength.

Note: 2013 vintage

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2013 03:43:32 | More by metter98
Photo of vette2006c5r
vette2006c5r

Minnesota

4.86/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Narwhal pours a black color with a small tan lacing head. There is a boozy aroma with hints of licorice. The taste is very bold, lots of coffee, chocolate, and some black licorice flavors, with a big boozy end. Very bold flavors great body. Overall a fantastic big bold stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2013 00:56:45 | More by vette2006c5r
Photo of HardTarget
HardTarget

Texas

4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black as night, only the thinnest of ruby edges. Holds a tan thin cover, not much lace.

Smell: Roasted malt, burnt sugar vapor is alcoholic and inviting. A rich tone with some supportive but mild hop notes.

Taste: Heavy malt has a toffee sweetness to it that is smooth and silky. Slight lactic twang of a mild stout, slippery feel of an oatmeal stout, full volume of an Imperial Stout. Somewhere down the British spectrum, definitely not an AMERICAN HOP STOUT, this is much more refined, restrained, civilized.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy milk shake. Great combination of heavy body and lively carbonation that helps keep the whole package together. Full chew, slick oil takes a while to soak in.

Overall: Wow. Serious yum. I'll be seeking more. It's a monster with a friendly face. You note alcohol, but it doesn't taste like the 10% it's swinging. A nice long evening sipper.

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2013 00:50:43 | More by HardTarget
Photo of Gmann
Gmann

New York

4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black color with a smallish dense brown head that dissipated into a slight cap leaving a wall of lacing.

The aroma is of a mild roast malt. Some subtle chocolate notes. Some anise spice. Hits the right RIS aroma notes.

The taste is of a big bitter roast. Burnt pumpernickel notes and scorched caramel. A booze soaked raisin fruit character. An herbal flavor which may come from the alcohol. Again subtle chocolate notes.

Big chewy feel, slightly tingly carbonation. Sweet but mostly bitter on the palate. Quite sticky in the finish. Boozy.

Very good RIS. Loads of flavor and complex. A bit too sticky.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2013 02:28:08 | More by Gmann
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis

North Carolina

4.09/5  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.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2013 02:24:23 | More by dbrauneis
Photo of Beer-A-Lot
Beer-A-Lot

Virginia

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An outstanding and delicious imperial stout. Superb chocolaty and coffee flavors. a smell that doesn't disappoint. Rich and smooth. Perhaps my favorite beer from SN. What can I say? I love this style, and Sierra Nevada delivers on my high standards for stouts. Will make this a regular in my rotation, along with Ten Fidy, FBS, FIS, and others. Well done.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2013 01:02:31 | More by Beer-A-Lot
Photo of jeff1973
jeff1973

California

3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Stone IRS tulip. 2012 version, bottled 10/1/12, so a year old now. Bought 4pk for $9.99 at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa CA.

A - Pitch black w/ a motor oil slick look. Light mocha head with decent retention.

S - Bitter baker's chocolate, anise, maybe a little roast coffee.

T - Lots of semi-sweet chocolate, some roasty coffee, a bit of licorice. The chocolate is creamy. No alcohol at all for 10.2%

M - Thick and creamy (like a good imp stout should be). Carbonation is low to fit the creamy mouthfeel.

O - Very solid RIS. Bittersweet, creamy chocolate is abundant. I remember it being a lot more roasty and boozy fresh. Definitely something to age.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2013 03:51:56 | More by jeff1973
Photo of Pegasus
Pegasus

Texas

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance; Utter black body, impenetrable to light, crowned by a small, dense tan head, which slowly fades to scattered patches of foam, like some archipelago on midnight seas. Thin, fine-beaded lacing coats the glass walls.

Aroma: Roasted malt, dark roasted coffee, and bitter cocoa dominate the aroma, the dark roasted malt being particularly notable. There is only a faint whiff of spicy alcohol in the aroma, remarkable considering the ABV of 10.2%

Taste: Opens with strong measures of cold coffee and bitter cocoa. Warming alcohol is soon evident, but is presented gracefully. The coffee and cocoa dominate, and are supported by a strong presence of roasted malt. Later in the taste, the is a strong hop presence, which compliments the coffee, cocoa, and roasted malt. The taste draws to a close with a late flourish of herbal hops against the roasted malt.

Mouth feel: Rich, quite smooth and full, with just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: A really excellent example of the Russian Imperial Stout style, I am thankful to have found this gem. Narwhal should be bought to cellar, as a gift to our future selves.

Presentation: Packaged in a stubby twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2013 16:49:47 | More by Pegasus
Photo of mschind
mschind

California

4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Poured like thick espresso with a thin caramel colored head that dissipated quickly. Dark and oily looking, very inviting.

S-Toasty sweet malt with some french roast coffee notes

T-Dark chocolate, coffee and caramel malt. Surprisingly sweet, almost like a milk stout. Despite the sweetness, it was not at all cloying and finished with a nice balance.

M-Smooth, full and perfectly carbonated. There is some alcohol heat which served as a reminder that this is a beer to respect.

O-Glad I picked up a four pack instead of just a single. Now I can compare it to the Old Rasputin which is another favorite RIS.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 19:13:50 | More by mschind
Photo of Shallow_Gravy
Shallow_Gravy

California

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First review. Bottle (2012 vintage) poured to Black Tuesday glencairn glass.

A - Pours opaque black with an inch of of tight mocha head. Spotty lacing lines the glass.

S - Licorice, smoke, baker's chocolate, slight coffee notes. As it warms I sense some darker fruits (plum, date, and sweet grape). Nice smelling beer.

T - Sweet plum, slight roast, coffee grounds, and vanilla. Long lasting dark chocolate on the finish. Really impressed.

M- on the thinner side of medium-bodied. A bit syrupy, which helps bring out a bit of the coffee and darker chocolates.

O - Really Impressed by this beer. Really dug the darker fruit and chocolate notes. Excited to see where this goes in a yea or 2.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 04:38:12 | More by Shallow_Gravy
Photo of Qbdoo
Qbdoo

Illinois

3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Black as night, no light gets through. Smell is a slight mix of coffee, chocolate, and toffee, slightly burnt. Taste is similar and the mouth feel is lighter than expected for an imperial stout and more carbonated. In this style, I prefer a flatter beer. I really like it though, a definite A-, but I don't think it quite lives up to the other world-class beers in this style. But hey, it's a cheaper and a great runner-up if you want to save a couple of bucks.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 04:24:46 | More by Qbdoo
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,858 ratings.