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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 Phelps
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours into a snifter darker than the bottom of the sea. A finger of tan head quickly forms a ring and retains as such. Decent scent of roast, dark chocolate, some raisin and molasses, but seems a bit on the tame side.

Taste opens things up more, very nice straight up roasty stout goodness. Nice char and a roasted malt/dark chocolate punch lead the way while some dark fruits and light caramel sweetness tag along. Just a touch of hops there. Nice coffee grounds finish. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous with medium carbonation and some alcohol heat.

I love the straight-up stout feel for this one, big roasty dark malts and alcohol with low sweetness (ala Old Rasputin, Ten FIDY, etc.) Definitely worthy of a 4-pack purchase every year - drink 2, age 2.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. Pours a pitch black color with dark brown hues and a ring of brown head. Minimal lacing. Aromas of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and maybe even a bit of bubble gum. The taste is dark bitter chocolate and espresso. Smokey, roasted malts as well. Some vanilla and an overall sweetness flavor. Hints of caramel. Dark chocolate and coffee finish. Full bodied. I really liked the 30th Anniversary RIS so I was glad to hear they were releasing another Russian Imperial Stout. Overall, solid beer worth seeking out.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Black with ruby highlights and little if any tan foam.

S - Burnt malt, alcohol, dark fruit, chocolate milk and light alcohol.

T - Bittersweet chocolate, burnt malt, coffee grounds, some herbal hop bitterness, some hot alcohol, molasses, light vanilla and dark fruits as it warms.

M - Full body, appears lightly carbonated until it hits the mouth and then a touch tingly on the way down. Warming.

D - Strong on the burnt bold flavors but still complex. Nicely done.

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Photo of CwrwAmByth
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle shared with Ruds in the Cask (Pimlico) 26/2/2013 Served in a half pint tulip. Hats off to him for buying it to split with this poor student!

Pours an opaque dark brown/black colour, velvety in texture. Little carbonation.

Smells strong and malty - chocolate, slight coffee

Tastes strong though mostly quite well hidden. Heavy dark malts - chocolate, liquorice, coffee, slight vanilla. Nicely hopped too, fairly bitter aftertaste. Thick and still.

Overall quite a lovely beer. I'd definitely have this again, wish they'd import it properly.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle, bottled on October 25, 2012, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours pitch black, very thick looking, produces a couple fingers of mocha head that recede to a collar, leaves spotty lacing.

S- Lots of roasted grain, coffee, dark chocolate, booze is just barely noticeable.

T- Big roasted flavors, lots of coffee, dark chocolate and maybe a bit of spice, cocoa, and just a little bit of molasses. The booze is pretty spot on and lends some fruity warmth. The flavor has a very nice balance of roasted and sweet flavors, although it inclines a bit towards roasted and hoppy bitter flavors.

M- Full-bodied, has a smooth, rich feel, alcohol warmth is perceptible but isn't hot.

O- A really tasty RIS, very drinkable and a great addition to Sierra Nevada's seasonal beers, good stuff.

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Photo of rangerred
4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours absolutely pitch black with a smallish dark tan head that fades to a thin ring around the edge of the glass.

The aroma is full of dark chocolate along with roasted caramel and a touch of smoke. There is a healthy dose of vanilla bean and some very light wood as well.

Loads of vanilla up front on the flavor followed by some cocoa, plum, and caramel. A touch of smoke and charred wood along with burnt caramel and a little honey. Alcohol is very well restrained and just becomes noticable towards the finish. Mouthfeel is very silky with just a touch of sweet stickyness in the finish.

Overall, a very well put together and nice imperial stout. Not at all too sweet and the alcohol is barely detectable. An awesome, and affordable, imperial stout from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Beejay
3.26/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: Dark black with a massive full dark tan head.

S: Sweet dark chocolate, with toffee and notes of dried fruit. A little bit of earthiness in the finish.

T: The first taste is caramel sweet, with a touch of dried fruit. The sweet flavor is followed by dark chocolate and espresso, and the brew finishes out with a hit of bitter earthiness.

M: Fairly thick body, the carbonation is medium, the finish slightly drying and there is a lingering hop bitterness.

O: Overall I like this beer, but the finish is a little harsh for me.. The lingering bitterness doesn't quite round out the finish like I would like it to.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours jet black with absolutely no penetration where any decent amount of thickness is achieved; not when held to a light bulb or even directly into the sun. Thick, 2 finger mocha head shows good retention. A fair amount of silky, sticky lace.

Smell - Dark roasted malty aromas stick out the most, especially baker's chocolate, while notes of raisin sit beneath. There's also a touch of astringency; more so as the beer warms.

Taste - Deep, dark roast malt character: bitter chocolate and a touch of black coffee dominate up front. Notes of raisin and fig creep up in the back end, and a bit of heat comes along with it, then lingers well into the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Full-bodied with moderate carbonation. Somewhat chewy, though there's also a silky smoothness when swallowing. A bit of heat might make this a sipper for some, but not for me!

Overall - Well executed RIS. Fantastic all-around balance for the style. A bit of heat does shine through, but at 10.2% it's nothing unexpected. Looking forward to drinking this again, and comparing to the likes of the Lagunitas Imperial Stout, as well as others.

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Photo of generallee
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Presentation: It was poured from a brown 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. The label lists the abv at 10.2% and the year it was brewed. (2013) There is a short description of the beer as well.

Appearance: It has a very dark black body which is completely opaque. From the slow pour I got a tall tan colored head that settles down fairly quick but makes tons of cool lacing on the glass.

Smell: The aroma has a mild character with some modest sweet and roasted maltiness.

Taste / Palate: The mild aroma gives way to a big bold full bodied malty sweetness on the tongue. There are notes of caramel, toffee, molasses, and raisins. It’s 10.2% abv is noticeable but mellow and adds to its overall character. The palate feels smooth with light carbonation in this big heavy offering from Sierra Nevada. It finishes slowly with just a touch of earthy hops.

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Photo of WoostaBia
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 Batch. Excellent beer. May taste better with age, has harsh edges that may get better with age. For a 10% beer the alcohol is well hidden. The hops and burnt malt flavors dominate.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked this up a few weeks back at Joe Canal's in Parsippany having never had this before. I love Sierra Nevada's offerings and was hoping that this would measure up to them. Thankfully, this did not taste like a dark version of their more notable Pale Ales and IPA's and considering the strength that this had, this was surprisingly easy to enjoy while being full and potent like a Russian Stout should be!

The pour to this was a dark raisin with just a hint of light seeping in around the edges, with a moderate tan head that was punctuated with bubbles coming up from the liquid. It gave this a lively appearance and the head settled into a few rings of lacing that went around the top third or so of my pint glass. The baker's chocolate was in the nose big time, along with some currant, dark fruit, and booze and all of these were present in the taste as well. Quite sweet, this had a cloying taste to it and the coffee same out more in the aftertaste once the Belgian-like notes and chocolate went down. Not a lot of hops here, the bubbles could be felt but not seen as the mouthfeel was pretty smooth with just a hint of lactose that softly came through as this warmed up.

This was strong but didn't really feel it but I noticed the warming coming over me once I made my way through this beer. Not overly spicy or boozy, this was a welcome departure from Sierra Nevada's other offerings while keeping up their level of quality that they've come to be known for. Those looking for a thinner Coffee Stout with hints of vanilla or a Russian Imperial Stout along the lines of the Old Rasputin will find that this straddled the line between the two, but quite nicely as I am looking forward to giving this another go! Certainly worthy of the Sierra Nevada moniker.

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Photo of StaveHooks
4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz poured into a snifter.

A - Black as the deep sea with a healthy cappuccino head that has plenty of staying power. The head forms a micro bubbled ceiling with a creamy uniform collar.

S - Deeply roasted malts, dark chocolate, underlying mint leaf, cold espresso, hard root beer candy. Smoke and perfumy alcohol come out as it warms.

T - Creamy and dense chocolate malts, espresso, toasted cocoa, cooked pine sap, bitterness seems to come from the coaco and the pine hops. Smokiness comes out as it warms. The finish is bitter, roasty, and very satisfying.

M - Creamy, silky, full bodied, low carbonation.

Sierra Nevada brings it Like a Boss. This is fresh and bursting with raw but perfect flavors for a fresh Impy. I would drink this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! For the price point, It's a no-brainer. I will be buying ALOT of this. Thanks again Ken!

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

Deep dark chocolate color with a half inch if espresso colored head.

The smell is bakers chocolate, coffee liquor, and anise.

The flavors are robust. Dark roasted espresso and bitter chocolate with a light hoppy bite. The finish is licorice then a heavy char.

I'm not much for giving 5s, but I can't think of any flaws in the mouthfeel. It's super rich and creamy. The carbonation is spot on. The body is heavy yet fluffy.

I was pretty blown away by this stout and would put it up there with my favorite RISs that don't come from a barrel.

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Photo of stumac
3.55/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours up black. Great lacing. Dark tan/light brown lacing. Whatevs. Smell booze, shattered dreams, my upper lip, toasted malts. Taste toffee, coffee, and bears. Oh my! Slightly boozy. Thick burnt malts. Big ol body. Smooth carbo. A tastey treat. I dig it

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

Pours a black with no light getting through this one, with a big light chocolate foamy head from an aggressive pour. Head falls very slowly with gobs of lacing down my glass.

Aroma is nice bakers chocolate, light coffee and good dose of dark fruits floating on a roasted malt base. Nice sweet nose on this one nothing over powering just blended goodness.

Taste is roasted malts, nice chocolate up front dark fruits and roast in the middle. Finish is lingering chocolate and coffee mingled together with some hops. Good Stout blends well together nothing really dominates just IRS goodness.

Mouthfeel is full nice and smooth approaching chewy. Nice fell for this beer.

Overall another good brew from SN. Found it very enjoyable and easy drinking for a big beer.

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

12oz into a tulip. Pours a jet black w/ a 1-finger tan head.

Aroma is bitter, roasty: coffee, chocolate, dark fruit. All that's missing is the bourbon.

Taste follows nose. Rich bitter chocolate, deep roasted malt, coffee.

Mouthfeel is just right. Medium-bodied, balanced; crosses the palate effortlessly. Nice bitter finish.

Overall a rock-solid imperial stout. Well done Sierra Nevada. Once again a no-nonsense, straightforward, excellent beer.

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Photo of Auror
3.86/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle to CBS snifter on 11/03/12.

Appearance- Jet black with an iced coffee colored mocha head. Medium head on pour leads to persistent half inch ring. Excellent lacing..

Smell- Roasted malts, coffee, bitter chocolate. A bit smokier than I anticipated, not as much chocolate.

Taste- Flavor takes a back seat to mouthfeel. Sticky sweetness leads to a lingering piney bitterness. Individual flavors aren't very easy to pick out. It's mainly some sweetness, then roasted notes, followed by bitterness. Insert your favorite placeholder flavor (vanilla to smoke to hops).

Mouthfeel- Thick, viscous, coating, and slightly chewy. Carbonation levels prevent the beer from being as creamy as I like my stouts to be.

Overall- Considering this doesn't taste up my alley, I can at least appreciate the well-made aspects of it. The sweetness and bitterness balance well in the taste, although I think both are a little heavy. Alcohol is not very noticeable for a 10% plus beer. My score turned out very odd for this one.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
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.

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Photo of heygeebee
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Briefly, looks on the money for an RIS, and rich and smooth on nose and taste. Velvety, mellow, luscious. Roasts, coffee, and dark choc to the fore, and less hoppy than we might expect from SN. Dry finish and less alcohol burn than you would think.

Overall, really solid and to style.

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Photo of Mdog
3.47/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pitch black with a huge head. Looks great.

Smell: Not much. Mild chocolate shows up eventually.

Taste: Dark chocolate builds in intensity through the glass. Dark fruits hang in the background. Gives a mild dark chocolate bitterness throughout.

Overall: Started out looking like a dream, but didn't deliver excellence in the aroma or taste. Some might be my personal preference in that I like imperial stouts to be a little sweeter than this, but it still didn't give a particularly memorable experience. Kind of middle of the road, not too sweet, not too hoppy.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 10.49/ 4 pack. Bottled 10/5/12. Served in a Sweetwater.

Pours black with a frothy two and a half fingers of tan head. A good bit of dark lace.

Sharp anise hits the nose first. Followed by smokey cocoa, earth and booze.

Unique flavor profile. Bitter molasses, anise, licorice, cocoa, dark roast coffee, a powerful boost of alcohol and a bit of tangy stone fruit.

Medium full feel with moderate to low carbonation. Lingering bitter aftertaste.

This is a very different stout. It's quite good now, particularly as it warms, but my guess is that in 12-18 months this will be incredible.

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Photo of vkv822
3.84/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz : tulip

Black, with a thick, foamy brown head. Minimal lacing.

Cocoa predominantly, some dark fruit and roast in the finish.

Medium body, bubbly, average carbonation.

A well crafted RIS. While it has a very enjoyable flavor profile, I can't help but feel there is nothing particularly memorable overall in the big picture of Imperial Stous.

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

Poured an opaque black with a finger of mocha head. Aroma of roasty cocoa, licorice, and coffee.

Moderate carbonation and full, creamy, slightly chalky mouthfeel. Caramel and roasty chocolate up front with espresso and licorice. Quite a bit of hop bitterness and boozy warmth on the finish, with fruity esters that emerge as the beer warms.

Solid stout with sharp, big flavors.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a near solid black. Some super dark reds at the edges when held to the light. Head is dark khaki and creamy. Nice retention with a smallish cap. Creamy lacing sticks to the glass. Big bubbly creamy.

Smell: Big notes of roasted barley. Some minor citrus in the back. Burnt edges and some serious cocoa. Baker's chocolate and some leather. Roasted malt sweetness. Touches of caramel and dark fruits, mainly plum with some dark cherry thrown in for good measure. Orange zest and milk chocolate.

Taste: Rich cocoa. Bitter baker's chocolate layered with sweet milk chocolate. Loads of roasted malt. Burnt with a nice push of char. Building sweetness is tempered by the super roasted malts. Some nice caramel malt and a backing biscuity malt presence. Leather and more burnt. Minor citrus from the hops, mainly orange zest. Fudgey at times, cakey at others. As it warms the burnt malts take the forefront and push a minor smokiness along with the char.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. A lingering dryness from the sheer volume of deeply roasted malts. It's a sipper and a drinker.

Overall: Hell yeah underwater unicorn!

This isn't going to shatter a tongue or a mind, but damn if it's not one of the most drinkable RISes on the market. A bit of edge will temper the hops and really allow the malt flavors to shine. Great fresh and I can only imagine how great it will be when it's aged.

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