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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

3,212 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,212
Reviews: 627
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 148
Gots: 497 | FT: 34
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: 3,212 | Reviews: 627 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of StoutHunter
4/5  rDev -3.4%

I picked up a four pack of Sierra Nevada's Narwhal Imperial Stout a couple weeks ago for $10.99 at The Lager Mill. Russian Imperial Stouts are one of my favorite styles and Sierra Nevada is one solid brewery so I couldn't pass up the chance to give this beer a try, so lets see how it goes. This is the first time this beer has been bottled, 2012 vintage. Poured from a shorter brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- I like the name and the artwork for this beer, it's nicely done and it's pretty unique much like the animal it's named after. It poured a nice and dark motor oil black color that didn't let any light come through and it had two and a half fingers worth of fluffy light mocha colored head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left some nice and sticky patches of lacing. This is a very good looking beer with a nice dark color and more head then usual for this style, there's not a damn thing wrong with it.

S- The aroma starts off with loads of dark roasted malts that have a higher amount of sweetness to them and imparted some roasted, charred, chocolate, molasses, cocoa powder, coffee, black licorice, and a slight bit of tobacco towards the end. I don't pick up any hops in the aroma but I do get a sweet boozy aroma. The aroma is nice and it's very true to style, the booze shows up a little too much, but it doesn't hurt this beer that much.

T- The taste seems to be pretty damn similar to the aroma and it starts off the same with lots of roasted malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness and impart some highly roasted flavors along with some chocolate, coffee, and a slight tobacco and black licorice flavor. After that comes a sweet molasses flavor followed by a good amount of dark fruits that add some complexity to the flavor. On the finish I get some warming alcohol that makes the flavor a little boozy and the aftertaste is full of sweet roasted and charred malts. This beer tastes good and is very true to style, it has nice complexity, but the boozyness hurts it a little.

M- Not that smooth, somewhat creamy, a little sticky, very rich, full bodied, and it had a pretty good amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was ok, but it would be nice if this was a little smoother.

Overall I thought this was a good beer and a good example of the style, it had just about all the aspects that I look for in the style with some good complexity, but it didn't seem to be as balanced as some of the better RIS's. This beer had ok drinkability, it's a sipper and the flavors did a good job at holding my attention, but I think one would be enough for me, it might start to be to boozy after that. What I liked the most about this beer was it's complexity and it's appearance, they were both pretty good. What I liked the least about this beer was the mouthfeel and the drinkability, it was a little rough around the edges and it would be nice if this beer was smoothed out a little. I would buy this beer again, it's pretty solid and affordable for the style, I might keep a couple bottles for the cellar to see how they change overtime and I would get a four pack if it's released again. All in all I thought this was a pretty solid Russian Imperial Stout, but it lacked the balance and refinement that some of the better ones have, it's good but It can't hang with the world class RIS's like Founders RIS or Bell's Expedition Stout. Sierra Nevada makes some solid beers and this one's no exception, they seem to be one of the most constant breweries and I respect that. 2013 Edit, I had a year old bottle recently and it smoothed a little with some great chocolate flavors, ages well so far.

StoutHunter, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of Kurmaraja
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Kurmaraja, Mar 15, 2014
Photo of Pegasus
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

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.

Pegasus, Nov 10, 2013
Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%

Fresh on shelves in Buffalo, NY

The beer pours a deep, thick black with a dense foamy tan head that laces. No sediment or oily residue. The nose is a pungent mix of roasty, chocolatey malts, piney hops, and a touch of caramel. The roast really punches forward while tasting, followed by a cascade of fresh hoppy bitterness. There is a lingering bitterness and bite from the alcohol that palate-coats, but it's otherwise very smooth and drinkable. It's almost as hoppy as a (weak) black IPA, but I like the bitter contrast against the rich, sweet, roasty malt base. This is an exceptionally priced, widely available example of a hopped up RIS done right.

ThePorterSorter, Dec 12, 2012
Photo of DaPan
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

DaPan, Mar 11, 2013
Photo of Stinger80OH
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Stinger80OH, Mar 11, 2013
Photo of Chugs13
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Chugs13, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of notchucknorris
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%

A: Pours a thick black with a thin mocha head. Shows the thickness when swirled in the glass, leaving big trails of lace.

S: Roasted malt, burnt toast, anise, dark chocolate, molasses, mexican chocolate and some charred malt. Pretty complex.

T: A big charred malt hit right off the bat. Molasses, burnt coffee grounds, baking chocolate and charred grain. Maybe a hint of smoke and earthy hop resin on the finish. A really great RIS. Mouthfeel is big and chewy without giving away the ABV. Solid stuff.

notchucknorris, Nov 29, 2012
Photo of jsh420
4/5  rDev -3.4%

jsh420, Mar 09, 2014
Photo of barczar
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%

Pours an opaque deep brown with just a hint of garnet highlights and a solid half inch milk chocolate head that slowly dissipates, leaving sheets of lacing.

Dark cherries, plums, raisins, chocolate, and roast malt begin the aroma. Toasted nuts, licorice, and tar add complexity.

Flavor reveals deep roasted malt, dark fruit, and a long, coffee bitter finish. Chocolate is slightly muted, in favor of tart cherries.

Body is thick, viscous, and chewy, with low carbonation. There's astringency at the finish, preceding alcohol warmth.

Probably the thickest beer I've ever consumed. Dark fruit tartness was a bit overpowering. Fairly boozy, as well. Good roast malt character. I'll probably like this better with some age on it.

barczar, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of whatname
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

whatname, Feb 10, 2013
Photo of arizcards
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%

Picked up a 4 pack from Total Wine in mid November for $8.99. Bottled on day 279 (Oct 6).

Beer poured black as night with a very nice head upon initial pour.

Nose is not as good as hoped, hints of roasted malts, coffee, and cocoa.

Taste is definitely there, cocoa and coffee with the malt backbone with an ample dry hop that keeps the sweetness at bay.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth.

Overall this is a nice tasty beer. It is impressive that SNBC can continue to brew these large brews on the scale they do yet keep a very high quality.

arizcards, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of nrbw23
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

nrbw23, Apr 12, 2013
Photo of bumchilly25
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

bumchilly25, Mar 13, 2014
Photo of Beaver13
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%

12 oz bottle. Pours inky black with a big creamy brown head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet roasted grains, chocolate, and some black licorice.

The flavor is some sweet lactic chocolate quickly followed by a big roast bitterness, some black licorice and a little dark fruit and coffee. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, a solid imperial stout.

Beaver13, Feb 12, 2013
Photo of Satchboogie
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Satchboogie, Dec 15, 2012
Photo of beergorrilla
4/5  rDev -3.4%

beergorrilla, Jul 31, 2013
Photo of markgugs
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

markgugs, Apr 20, 2014
Photo of bigfnjoe
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

bigfnjoe, Oct 01, 2013
Photo of Fettpopps
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Fettpopps, Mar 16, 2014
Photo of JayQue
4.06/5  rDev -1.9%

Sierra Nevada is the Toyota of beers. Not always the cutting edge innovator, but consistently excellent with every offering. Narwhal pours a dense black color with a big dark tan head (on a hard pour). Good head retention, good lacing. Smell is about average for a big stout...Chocolate and rich malts. Taste is very good. A hint of alcohol while the beer was cold. As it warmed up, no harshness at all. About as smooth as an Oatmeal Stout, despite the big abv. Main flavors are rich malts and some chocolate. Expertly blended and very flavorful.

Mouthfeel is as smooth and rich as you could expect at this abv. Overall an excellent RIS. Well work a try.

JayQue, Mar 03, 2013
Photo of mltobin
4/5  rDev -3.4%

mltobin, Jun 27, 2014
Photo of atone315
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

atone315, Oct 29, 2012
Photo of KTCamm
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours jet black with some tan foam. Eventually dissapates. Nose is dark chocolate, coffee. Pleasing. Taste is full boozy roasted malt with an opening bitter that fades out. Some lingers. Loads of chocolate with backing dark fruits. Dark puckering.

As with everything at SN, really good.

KTCamm, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of oglmcdgl
4/5  rDev -3.4%

oglmcdgl, Feb 26, 2013
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,212 ratings.