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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

2,868 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2868
Reviews: 606
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: 2,868 | Reviews: 606 | Show All Ratings:
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 Beerandraiderfan
Beerandraiderfan

Nevada

3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black and dark brown pour out the bottle, impressive depth and thickness to it. Solid 1+" head on it, tan in color, great density, retention and lacing to it. This is professional grade appearance.

Aroma was full of roasted and chocolate malt. They definitely didn't skimp. Already wondering how the pricing on this can be so affordable (4/$9.99). Plenty of coffee like aromas, the dark, sludgy variety that sits on the pot all day at Denny's.

The taste is substantial bitterness that falls off the tongue as the large body absorbs and washes it away. As usual, Sierra Nevada doesn't short you on the hops. Very dry in the end. Not going to be mistaken for a milk stout, that's for sure. Alcohol in check.

A beer like this should make you re-evaluate why you spend $10 on a bomber of imperial stout that probably isn't as good as this.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 22:27:21 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of Bosoxfan20
Bosoxfan20

Missouri

3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- 12 oz bottle pours pitch black. Caramel head of 1.5 fingers. Quickly dissipates . Decent lacing, but not up to par with what i usually see from Sierra Nevada.

S- Wow. What a fantastic highlight of this beer. Supreme notes of chocolate and coffee. Powerful.

T- Coffee flavor is the most prevalent with a touch of coco and caramel. I would have loved it if the flavor would have followed the nose much closer. I felt like some of the chocolate notes were lost in the overpowering phenolic flavors of the alcohol. A touch of hops. Warm, dry finish.

M- Full bodied, good carbonation. A little dry, but still fairly smooth. Alcohol quite present.

O- Maybe the best smelling beer i have ever had. I really had high hopes for it based on the aroma. Unfortunately, the beer took a step back in the flavor. Maybe my expectations were that this would be on the same level with other imperial stouts as Old Rasputin from North Coast, but it is a step or two below that in my opinion. I can expect some alcohol presence with an abv of 10%, but it was a little too boozy for my taste. None the less, still a good beer, but just a little underachieving in my mind.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 22:11:34 | More by Bosoxfan20
Photo of RblWthACoz
RblWthACoz

Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Off my first sip, I can tell that this is a beer that would benefit from some aging. Bright berry tones seem to show quite large with a lot of malty sweetness. Mild roasted thing going on too. Extremely smooth feel. Excellent level of carbonation. Way too easy to drink for a 10.2% beer. Definitely a good brew. I'd get a case and let them rest for 1-2 years, if I was going to invest the coin.

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 04:19:23 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of Stevedore
Stevedore

Wisconsin

3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Note: my personal scoring system goes in whole numbers only)

2012 vintage 12oz bottle with bottling date 279 Julian, drank in snifter today 2/5/13

Aroma- A crisp roasty sweetness remniscent of burnt sugar, with some chocolate and coffee in the nose which I have to work a bit for. Pretty average for an imperial stout. (3)

Colour- Black cola-colour pouring with a 2-3cm brown head that sticks around for a good five minutes. Lacing is persistent but spotty. (4)

Flavour- Bold chocolate and roasted black coffee. A little bit of vanilla as well as hints of smokiness. (4)

Mouthfeel- A nice thick body with ok carbonation. Nothing special. It runs a bit dry with a good amount of heat. Aftertaste is of burnt malt and black coffee but doesn't linger all that long. (4)

Overall- Above-average, good-tasting double stout that comes with fairly complex flavors. But it's running rather hot and I think some age will do it some good. I'll stash a few away for next winter. (4)

Serving type: bottle

02-06-2013 00:37:10 | More by Stevedore
Photo of Sark
Sark

Montana

4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- pouring this was like watching a dark cream liquor, it looks as though you might be able to put this stuff on pancakes! Beautiful dark beige velvet head and black as night

Smell- immediate chocolate coffee assault on the nose, toasty with hints of toffee

Taste- As if I took a bite of dark roasted chocolate with all of the complex sweetness and toasted caramel. The alcohol warmth keeps things nice on the finish

Mouthfeel- full-bodied and on the verge of chewy

Overall- A damn fine imperial stout. I'd buy one of these for the same price as the 4 pack.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2013 04:24:27 | More by Sark
Photo of tvl89
tvl89

Texas

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

This is an amazing imperial stout from sierra nevada. It is a very complex brew. This is actually my first imperial stout , and I'm in love with it. The color is amazing: pitch black, very dark. The smell is awesome, chocolate and coffee are the most predominant ingredients I can smell. The taste is amazing with a delicious chocolate after taste. It is not as strong as I was expecting. I highly recommend it!

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2013 19:27:02 | More by tvl89
Photo of ONUMello
ONUMello

Ohio

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

2012 edition poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass
A: Pitch black color with a one-finger mocha colored head
S: Rich with coffee, cocoa, roasted malt and hops rounding it out
T: Also very rich with flavors that perfectly match the nose
M: Wow. Full-bodied, incredibly smooth but with a bit of a bite from the hops
O: This is a very well-made RIS that's incredibly enjoyable to drink

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2013 03:19:03 | More by ONUMello
Photo of evanforbeer
evanforbeer

California

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured black with tan head

On the nose cocoa, anise, dark fruit (cherry) and a touch caramel

Mouthfeel is rich and robust with some hop bite. Boozieness is there but not as potent as many 10% beers.

Taste follows with lots of cocoa, anise, vanilla, touch of coffee, cherry, caramel, hop citrus finishes with dry roasted barley and bittersweet dark chocolate.

A great brew from SN, top notch imperial stout. Huge but very drinkable, lots of complexity.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2013 22:20:59 | More by evanforbeer
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 philbe311
philbe311

Pennsylvania

3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - One finger's worth of slightly active crisp two toned (part khaki / part medium brown) swirled head... Modest at best retention yields a splotchy veil of lacing in the center of the glass surrounded by a moderate to thick collar... The color isn't quite black, but rather a deep dark sweet caramel that lets the slightest bit of light leak in around the edges... A few small streaks of carbonation can be seen towards the top of the glass... A good bit of lacing clings to the sides of the glass...

S - Sweet to start... Caramel... Milk chocolate... Toffee... Brown sugar... Dark molasses... A slight hint of dark fruits... A bit of nuttiness as well...

T - A bit of the sweetness fades on the palate and is replaced by a brisk roasted malt component.... The sweet and roasty place nice together throughout... Good balance... Nice complexity with each sip... A slight bit of coffee emerges on the finish...

M - Full bodied, but not harsh... Smooth and sleek... Very limited carbonation... Goes down very easily sip after sip...

D - This is a very nice yet unremarkable Russian Imperial Stout... Tasty but a bit understated for the power and umph I typically expect for the style which isn't necessarily a bad thing... Goes down easily and is surprisingly drinkable given the 10+% ABV... I would gladly drink again...

Serving type: bottle

02-01-2013 03:57:10 | More by philbe311
Photo of vandemonian
vandemonian

Maryland

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

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout is a dark and tasty imperial stout.

A: Black colour and a 3 mm head that lasts pretty well. 4

S: Malty with some dark, burnt flavours. Some fresh hoppiness too. 4

T: Sharp burnt malt and dark fruit. Definitely a full-on start. The finish has some sweetness and ash flavour. 4.

M: Thick. Pretty low carbonation. 4

O: 4

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2013 05:04:01 | More by vandemonian
Photo of jjchristiano
jjchristiano

New Jersey

4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Maybe the darkest beer I've ever poured. Held it up to a bulb in my desk lamp and the light did not shine through the beer.
S: chocolate, malt.
T: chocolate, malt, sweetness, low in IBU as I don't get any bitter hop. Little dark roasted coffee on the back side.
M: Smooth, lingering, soft carbonation.
O: A nice Imperial Stout in the Sierra Nevada lineup. I would buy again if I see it.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2013 04:02:19 | More by jjchristiano
Photo of adam42381
adam42381

Florida

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Bottled on October 6, 2012 per Julian dating code printed on bottle.

Appearance: Pours a motor oil black with a 1 finger creamy medium brown head which dissipates to a chocolate milk-like bubbly foam. Solid lacing for such a big beer.

Smell: Sweet milk chocolate, dark roasted malt, a touch of molasses, a hint of hops and a bit of alcohol coming through in the background.

Taste: Very dark roasted malt up front with a bit of bittersweet chocolate in the middle before ending with a nice amount of hoppy bitterness and more dark roasted malt. The alcohol definitely makes an appearance, but is not terribly overpowering. Aftertaste is bitter, roasted and long-lasting.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and a good amount of carbonation.

Drinkability: Good drinkability. This one would be great on a cold winter's night. For me, it's still pretty damn good on a 75 degree late January afternoon in southwest Florida.

Overall: Very good beer overall. While I don't think it compares to some of the more heralded Imperial Stouts out there, I don't think Sierra Nevada set out to blow you away with complex additions. This is a straightforward take on the Russian Imperial Stout style. I would definitely recommend this one and look forward to trying it next year (assuming they bring it back).

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2013 22:52:26 | More by adam42381
Photo of mfavoino
mfavoino

Washington

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz bottle on 19 Jan 13 at The Beer Stein in Eugene, OR.

A: Nearly pitch black with a finger or so of espresso head that settled to the rim of the glass. Very nice looking.

S: Strong burnt roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and a subtle coffee aroma.

T: Chocolate and a touch of alcohol heat hit my palate right away, then the dark roasted flavor came through. Some coffee bitterness, more chocolate, and dark fruits as it finishes. Left a strong roasted character lingering.

M: Full-bodied and thick, lower carbonation, and a touch hot with the booze.

O: Very good offering from SN in the RIS category.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 22:10:02 | More by mfavoino
Photo of templar316
templar316

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I knew this would improve with time !! So much better now then when it first came out in nov(?). Pours thick and dark, no light, soft edgy lacing. Smell is slight in my Duval Tulip but the flavor burst's. There's vanilla here, sweet dark malt, and everything I want in a beer. Roasty coffee bitterness, cascade (and maybe willamette) hops. The rest of these will sit in basement till next winter. Perfect for 15 degrees.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 02:45:11 | More by templar316
Photo of ash111
ash111

Virginia

4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this from a bottle into a tulip glass. Good beer, great example of the style. It pours black, no light coming through. There is no head (but a more vigorous pour might produce one). Taste is lovely, everything you would want from an RIS. There is a noticeable, but not overwhelming, smell of alcohol that comes at the end of each sip. I personally don't mind this, but the alcohol is more aggressive than some other beers of the same style. I'm interested in how it ages (if any of mine can survive that long.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 00:09:50 | More by ash111
Photo of Huhzubendah
Huhzubendah

District of Columbia

4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very excited to try this one.

The appearance is near black with an oily beige head. The aroma offers dark roast, full bodied coffee, molasses. The flavor follows suit. Thick and rich. A touch of dark fruit. Big time dark chocolates and a touch of cacao bitterness. Palate coating with moderate carbonation. Zesty finish. A really nice example of the style.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2013 08:18:35 | More by Huhzubendah
Photo of facundoCNB
facundoCNB

New Jersey

4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

poured a thick black syrupy liquid into a tulip. two fingers of tan head and some nice lacing left behind. excellent retention. looks very nicely carbonated for a RIS.
smells of chocolate, dark roasted grains, dirt, coffee.
the taste is definitely different than most RIS i've had. nicely hopped up front. lots of very dark, rich notes. coffee, dark chocolate, tobacco, dirt.
a rich and creamy full body, slight alcohol warmth, mild carbonation. as the beer warms up, it develops more and more. i love drinks like this because they can last you a good amount of a night, tasting different every 5 minutes. you can barely taste or smell the alcohol. really bitter for a stout, which makes this one right up my alley.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2013 05:23:17 | More by facundoCNB
Photo of Bierguy5
Bierguy5

Ohio

4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, 10.2% abv. Pitch black in color, with a good looking tan head. Head retention is pretty nice. A thin collar eventually remains, along with a few spots of lace.

Roasted malts are big up front. Dark roast coffee, near espresso roast. Bitter dark chocolate in the mix as well. Maybe a bit of earthy hop aroma.

Bittersweet dark chocolate comes to mind at first. Roasted malt, but with a rounded feel instead of sharp. Cocoa powder is the next flavor. A bit sweeter and more caramel in the middle. Some coffee flavors as well.

Medium body, with soft carbonation and a bit of a creamy feel. A bit of warmth, but not very much for the strength of this beer. I love the roasted, bittersweet feel of this beer. Very well done.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2013 02:11:11 | More by Bierguy5
Photo of JDrake31
JDrake31


4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful pitch black with a tan, one-finger head. Looks amazing!

S: A hint of alcohol and dark fruit. Lots of toasted malts and roast coffee with just a bit of sweetness.

T: Espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts with a pinch of hop bitterness. Delicious!

M: A mid-heavy thickness. Creamy and slightly chewy. Moderate carbonation.

O: What a great beer for the cold months! Would definitely recommend.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 22:06:16 | More by JDrake31
Photo of ummswimmin
ummswimmin

New Jersey

3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This review was from notes. I had this beer with the last night of my trip.

I really enjoyed the three fingers of thick tan head. The coloring is extremely dark black.

The nose on this one is surprisingly minimal. The flavor contrasts as very powerful. The coffee presence is really good. You also get really good malt and a touch of light hopping. There is evern a little bit of creaminess on this one. There is also some decent venous (alcohol) quality on this beer.

I felt like this worked out as a very good sipper in the evening. I would like to get more bottles for aging.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 21:59:28 | More by ummswimmin
Photo of OWSLEY069
OWSLEY069

Pennsylvania

3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a dark brown head. In the aroma, dry coffee and notes of chocolate. In the taste, dry coffee and a chocolate malt that rides all the way through. A small bite and a medium to bigger bodied mouthfeel, with a dry and roasty coffee in the aftertaste. Big coffee, nice chocolate notes, and hides the alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 21:02:26 | More by OWSLEY069
Photo of Ricelikesbeer
Ricelikesbeer

Colorado

4.46/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I was pleasantly surprised at how great this one is, and it currently has a great price to boot!- $10 bucks or so for a burly, awesome RIS!

A: Jet black with a tan head, some light lacing. Decent head retention. Looks like a slightly foamy cup of coffee.

S: Some roast and chocolate up front. Cappacino, chocolate milkshake aromas come out. Sugary maltiness is there too. Not much hop aromas whatsoever.

T: Tons of smooth chocolate, some light roast, and caramel sweetness. Extremely smoothe and beguiles the 10% or so. Not nearly as roasty as some of the powerhouses out there like Yeti or Ten Fidy, but I would say it is even more approachable and smoothe. Tons of chocolate kind of like Old Rasputin.

M: thick, smooth body, but not overly so. Reminds me of a chocolate milkshake. Lightly carbonated.

O: All around an excellent example of RIS. Nothing is lacking. It is bold and very flavorful, but you dont' have to struggle through a glass. Very complex with lots of varying flavors and aromas to ponder. I'd love to age a few to see wha they're like in a few years.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 16:22:21 | More by Ricelikesbeer
Photo of EdTheEdge
EdTheEdge

California

4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Easily the darkest beer I ever tried. It's almost black with a thin one finger dark tan head.

S- Dark Chocolate, Coffee with a dense coco base.

T- Robust, Big, Malty, Roasty, Coffee, Semi-Sweet Chocolaty with a welcomed bit of bitterness... almost perfect.

F - Smooth, lightly carbobated and slighty oily.

O- One of the better Sierra Nevada brews. I could drink this quite often. This is not my favorite style but I enjoyed this beer very much.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2013 05:05:45 | More by EdTheEdge
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,868 ratings.