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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

3,116 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,116
Reviews: 620
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 131
Gots: 458 | FT: 31
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: 3,116 | Reviews: 620 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SocalKicks
SocalKicks

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-11-2012 06:11:48 | More by SocalKicks
Photo of RblWthACoz
RblWthACoz

Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +1%

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.

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

Rhode Island

3.78/5  rDev -8.7%

2012 release poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark black color, with a large dark brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and a touch hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty roasted malt character that is quickly followed by a strong hops presence for the style. Then some sweet flavors of coffee and chocolate come in. There’s a decent balance, but the order in which the flavors appear is what makes this beer more distinctive from other stouts to me. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a good beer but there are others in the style that I would choose first.

04-23-2013 04:11:24 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of WVbeergeek
WVbeergeek

West Virginia

4.69/5  rDev +13.3%

The elusive Narwhal, this is 2012 brewed according to the coding system they use it's bottled on 2285210:23 that's 2012 285th day on the 2nd bottling line at 10:23 am. I couldn't pass this up even though they had fresh Hoptimum I sided with the Narwhal since I hadn't yet tried this imperial stout. Pours with a black velvet smooth texture, pitch black body fills up my Stone Imperial Russian Stout glass nicely. Big smooth creamy texture mocha tan head follows the body with fine speckled lacing, this beer has some legs as I swirl it around in the chalice. Aromatics are killer dark ripened vinous fruit notes with dark chocolate and roasted coffee, it's an excellent combination brewed in this glass. Even some brown sugar/molasses like malt character kicking in with subdued earthy hops well hidden by the roasted qualities of black patent malts. The perceived sweetness comes off as dark partially fermented cherries or plump juicy raisins or a combination of those two fruits, but there is a fruity sharp sherry character going on here. Flavor rides a wave of those dark malts but has a surprisingly sharp sweet slightly salty breathe of ocean quality, maybe a bit of soy sauce that I get from some imperial stouts...it's not overkill but a nice dose of something to offset the dark malts acrid roasted malt character. Definitely sweet cherry hidden in there with well blended alcohol, caramelized brown sugar, earthy herbal hops in the backend with some added bitterness bitter dark chocolate and hints of espresso bean reach the palate as well. Like I said initially this is a killer complex ale, full bodied even smooth carbonation it's a joy to have on the palate with each sip cleansing any lingering harshness away it's drinkability is downright dangerous one of the biggest easiest drinking imperial stouts I've ever come across.

05-14-2013 21:26:11 | More by WVbeergeek
Photo of russpowell
russpowell

Oklahoma

3.98/5  rDev -3.9%

Pours jet-black with 4 fingers of caramel colored head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Roastyness & cocoa, some boozeyness, faint figgyness

T: Follows the nose, dark fruit as well, some charred grain & some booze rake across your tongue up front. Some coffee as this warms, a bit of carob & booze, plus some faint raisin, then a smattering of charred grain & roastyness, plus woody & herbal hops. Finishes dry, fruitty, with carob, roasty grains & the specter of ainise

MF: Fairly chewy with light carbonation, fairly warming. Carbonation perks up as this warms

A nice take on the style, I need to do a side by side with old Raspy, I don't this quite beats that , but kudos to Sierra Nevada for spreading its wings. Would buy again to be sure, a little less boozeyness would help the cause. Will age great I'm sure

11-28-2012 03:19:39 | More by russpowell
Photo of Kegatron
Kegatron

Pennsylvania

4.15/5  rDev +0.2%

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours black/very dark brown, topped with a couple fingers of rich mocha head. This retains with a smooth ½ finger, leaving back a robust and sudsy looking cascade of patchy lacing. The aroma smells of chocolate fudge, coffee, dark cherries, a touch of licorice and some spicy sweetness from the alcohol. This smells delicious.

The taste is pretty aggressive with flavor. Bitter citric hops spread out, mingling with sweet notes of cocoa and caramel, before things segue into ripe dark fruit across the back. Roasted coffee character is scattered throughout, leaving zippy espresso on the finish and then finally a deep lingering charred feel. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a firm prickliness that is overlaid on top of a slick chewiness underneath. You get just the right amount of beefy warmth from that 10% ABV here, which hangs just a touch of lingering fusel spice and sweetness on the tongue after each sip.

For an off-the-shelf and reasonably priced RIS from a major brewery, this was pretty damn solid! There is lots of flavor and complexity here and this just feels like it’s going to age marvelously over the years. I need to grab some more of this for the cellar before it’s gone.

12-27-2012 15:35:01 | More by Kegatron
Photo of feloniousmonk
feloniousmonk

Minnesota

4.4/5  rDev +6.3%

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.

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

Maryland

4/5  rDev -3.4%

Beer is black with a tan head, thin, small bubbles, some lacing, moderate to low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet, a little boozy, a little roasty / malty. Smells nice.

Beer is medium in body, sweet, pretty nice for an off the shelf RIS. I'd have it again for sure. There is a mild sweetness, mild alcohol, nice bitterness, overall a nice beer. Yum.

12-04-2012 14:02:53 | More by drabmuh
Photo of Slatetank
Slatetank

Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

02-19-2013 15:06:00 | More by Slatetank
Photo of jlindros
jlindros

Massachusetts

3.98/5  rDev -3.9%

Pours a darker caramel mocha colored creamy almost 1 finger head that fades slowly with nice lacing, over pretty much pitch black beer, and decent legs to go with the lacing.

Nose has plenty of dark malts, black malt, some roast, hint of charred almost acrid roast, a little espresso from the roast not from actual coffee, light fluffy nougat but no chocolate. a bit of earthy hops, some caramel and booze round off the nose.

Taste starts with burnt char, really charred roasted malts, and black malts that seem like they will get acrid but don't, at first. Dark malts is the key, tons of roasted malts that start to get a little soy sauce like as acrid flavors do start to come through, so much black malt and roast, with a bit of espresso from the roasted malts again. A bit of caramel and nougat again, as well as the complete lack of chocolate. Also some light earthy hops add to the bitterness that comes initially from the roasted malts. Some warming booze in the middle. Finish brings a decent amount of bitterness, some earthy spicy hops really come through on the finish, as well as bitterness from the char, a semi sticky sweetness, little syrupy, and some booze warmth on the back end, as well as plenty more black malts and roast.

Mouth is fuller bodied, slightly creamy but a bit syrupy, some booze warmth, fluffy nice carb.

Overall mixed, it has some good points, the hops come in nicely, the fluffiness, booze is hidden fairly well, and it will surely age well. However, too much roast and black malt flavors for now, a bit acrid, little soy sauce, etc. However, I think this will be a great beer in 2-3 years so I'll probably bunker a few down in the cellar.

01-04-2013 02:17:28 | More by jlindros
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin

Colorado

4.08/5  rDev -1.4%

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.

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

Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -5.8%

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.

12-13-2012 05:12:54 | More by Rifugium
Photo of Mora2000
Mora2000

Texas

3.78/5  rDev -8.7%

The beer pours a black color with a large tan head. The aroma has some roasted malt as well as some dark fruit. The flavor is very similar. There is a good bit of smoke and heavily roasted malt. I also get some sweet chocolate and cherry notes, as well as a good dose of alcohol. I also get a bit of tobacco in the flavor. As the beer warms I get a huge amount of black licorice flavor, which I am not a huge fan of. Thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

10-28-2012 03:19:24 | More by Mora2000
Photo of oline73
oline73

Maryland

3.58/5  rDev -13.5%

I had this on-tap at Max's during Baltimore Beer Week. Served in a sample glass.

Appearance: The beer is black with a layer of tan head. The head fades to a ring around the glass.

Smell: I'm getting a dark fruit sweetness along with some mild roasted malt. There is some dark chocolate in there as well. There is a slightly off note that reminds me of sweaty socks, but not enough to ruin the whole smell.

Taste: Sweet up front along with the roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors. I'm getting some dark fruit sweetness behind the roasty flavor. The finish is quite smooth, but there is some roast to counter that. The off smell doesn't show up in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: The body is just on the syrupy side of medium with lots of carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: The finish had enough bitterness but the rest of the sip could have used more. The smell was a bit off but the rest of the beer was pretty good. Not sure I need more.

11-09-2012 03:24:22 | More by oline73
Photo of mactrail
mactrail

Washington

4.2/5  rDev +1.4%

More nearly black than a lot of beers claimed to be black. An unexceptional head but the sudsy mouthfeel is very pleasant.

Sweet in a rich and forgiving way with a distinct smack of licorice. The hops slowly come on the dominate the aftertaste, but it's never overly bitter. Becomes more tart after some sipping and has some pie cherry-like flavors. Grainy but refined, reminds me of really heavy black German bread with some yeasty intrigue. More licorice in the nose. Hints of bitter chocolate and dark nutty roasted flavors. Smooth and creamy without being unctuous.

The first time I tried this I thought it was exceptional. Certainly one of my top favorites in the RIS style. The neck label says "2012" so I hope it will be an annual delight. From the 12 oz four-pack bought at Ibis Market in San Diego.

12-30-2012 06:19:36 | More by mactrail
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79

New York

4.03/5  rDev -2.7%

From 12/30/12 notes. Big thanks to BigSexy410 for giving me a bottle of this; don't think it has hit NYC yet and I've been wanting to try it. 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one finger of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes...looks fantastic.

s - Smells of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, vanilla, sweet chocolate, and some coffee. Nice nose, like it quite a bit. Nice nose amount of chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes bitter chocolate, roasted malts, bitter coffee, espresso, vanilla, cream, toasted malts, burnt malts, some lightly sweet chocolate. Taste has more bitter chocolate and is lightly bitter overall.

m - Medium to full body more on the full side, and moderate carbonation. Body is pretty thick. No real heat to it.

o - Overall a really nice RIS; I love that it comes in 12 oz. bottles and would definitely buy a 4 pack of this if I saw it on the shelf. Loads of roasted notes and some bitter chocolate dominating the taste, it's quite nice and something I'd like to have again.

01-03-2013 20:49:43 | More by mdfb79
Photo of mendvicdog
mendvicdog

Maryland

4/5  rDev -3.4%

11-08-2012 20:46:03 | More by mendvicdog
Photo of Rochefort10nh
Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

12-22-2012 03:25:06 | More by Rochefort10nh
Photo of XmnwildX12
XmnwildX12

Minnesota

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-13-2013 02:16:36 | More by XmnwildX12
Photo of Halcyondays
Halcyondays

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a pitch black, with a medium light tan head, some solid spotty lace.

S: Roasted malt, hint of dark fruit, charcoal, licorice, dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate and a lot of licorice. Light residual sugar, with a hint of hops in the finish.

M: Medium to full-bodied, soft carbonation, creamy, long aftertaste for the style.

O: A solid RIS, it reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin with a bit more licorice in there. The price is great, well made, well worth a try.

11-01-2012 04:52:32 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of DrunkinYogi
DrunkinYogi

Connecticut

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

03-11-2013 14:31:50 | More by DrunkinYogi
Photo of MarkyMOD
MarkyMOD

Colorado

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-15-2012 07:44:05 | More by MarkyMOD
Photo of kojevergas
kojevergas

Texas

3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

Heard the hype so I picked this one up. I'm not a big Sierra Nevada fan but I'm hoping this will change my mind. 10.20% ABV confirmed. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle (2012 vintage) with standard pressure cap and an appealing sleek label acquired at Cap N Cork Junior Market earlier today and served into a New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Cost for a four pack was $10.99; it seemed a bit steep seeing as Old Rasputin was on the shelf below it for $8.99 per four pack.

Served slightly chilled; I'm trying to be better about serving my imperial stouts at a warmer temperature. Allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Opened without issue; no upsurging or other problems.

A: Pours a one finger attractive tan-gold colour head of nice thickness and cream. Retention is fairly good (~one and half minutes) for the ABV and style. Body colour is a nontransparent solid dark black; yet it's weak. This is not the jet black of Speedway Stout, it's a bit grey actually. Hrm. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Carbonation appears fine based on the appearance. Pretty predictable for the style; there's nothing unique or special here that jumps out at me.

Sm: A bit of roast but not enough to suggest a strong roasty backbone. Hints of coffee and chocolate. Dark malts. Minimal hopping. Caramel, cream. It's a bit musty. Not at all assertive or bold like I'd expect from a beer in this style. Comes off quite tame, actually; I get more complex aromas from other imperial stouts even at much colder serving temperatures. No yeast or alcohol comes through. The coffee note is refined and milky; it reminds me of Founder's Breakfast Stout in that regard - which is always a good thing. An average to moderate strength aroma. I'm excited to try it.

T: Okay. Dark malts form the foundation, with emergent sleek coffee nearer the climax. Some roast in the late second act, but as predicted there's not enough. Minimal hopping if any. No yeast comes through. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden - a highlight of this beer. Caramel, pleasant cream. The coffee is particularly well handled and blends in with the other flavours subtly. I do get some soy sauce character, but it's minimal. Some coffee grains lend it a pleasant near earthiness that pairs well with the sweeter malt characteristics. It lacks bold complexity or refined subtlety, but it's a nice little imperial stout in terms of flavour.

Mf: Unfortunately, the mouthfeel is strange. Entirely too slick and smooth and wet, which is nice for the smooth subtle coffee in the second act but is terrible for the style. Amping up the roast would lend it needed coarseness and dryness. It's also quite heavy on the palate without much reason to be. Too thick and even overbearing. Luckily, carbonation is adequate - which is to say it's bit less than you'd expect of most middle of the road more pedestrian styles. It's a bit chewy, but all around pleasant. Though it's a bit scratchy right on the finish (coffee grains, maybe?); I don't know what's going on there. Suits the flavours alright, but certainly doesn't feel custom tailored to them.

Dr: Hides its ABV pretty well, but it's still far from highly drinkable. More of a sipper that lacks enough flavour to justify its low drinkability. At this price point, I'm not disappointed with it. That said, I wouldn't buy it again. I'd much sooner reach for Old Rasputin or Ten Fidy if I'm looking for a budget imperial stout. This is one that fans of the style should try, and it's a good beer in the style for getting drunk. I'd try it on nitro, but otherwise it's rather forgettable. Sorry, Sierra Nevada, it'll take more than this to make me a fan.

High C+

12-02-2012 06:25:37 | More by kojevergas
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%

07-08-2014 05:25:52 | More by GClarkage
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Pours viscous, pitch black and completely opaque with a two finger mocha head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Decent retention with streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Roasted malt aroma with a stronger hop presence than I expected. Floral and earthy with resinous, grassy pine character countering the burnt malt, coffee bean and oatmeal notes. I shouldn't be too surprised coming from SN but the hops are a bit too prominent for this style, in my opinion, taking away from the robust malt profile a bit too much. Even after warming up considerably, the nose is still pretty tame on this beer.

Medium bodied with a deeply roasted dark malt flavor that's complimented by a bitter, earthy hop presence that lingers into a slightly boozy finish. The hops aren't as strong as the nose hints at but there's still prominent in the flavor with sticky pine needle bitterness and subtle citrus. The dryness of the hops compliment the bitterness of the roasted malts. Hints of burnt toast, oatmeal, bitter dark chocolate and espressoo/coffee bean followed by lighter chocolate and alcohol sweetness. The high is relatively well masked but there's definitely some warmth lingering in the finish. Overall, this is a pretty good stout but the strong hop character hinders the malt flavors a bit too much for my preference. Decent but nothing out of the ordinary. Great value for the price of the four pack though.

11-18-2012 09:43:33 | More by corby112
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,116 ratings.