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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
93
outstanding

3,802 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,802
Reviews: 691
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 194
Gots: 714 | FT: 38
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: 3,802 | Reviews: 691 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of buschbeer
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter
2012

A - This beer is pitch black. It is topped with a couple inches of mocha head. The is some lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - The aroma consists of anise, dark chocolate, a little alcohol, and some dark fruit.

T - Anise seems to be the main driver in the taste. I pick up a little dark chocolate and black coffee. It has a slightly bitter finish with alcohol in the aftertaste.

M - This beer is about as thick as there is.

O - I love the mouthfeel of this beer. The anise flavor isn't my favorite, but it isn't overpowering. It seemed to have a pronounced hop presence on tap which is not present in this bottle.

buschbeer, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of Chugs13
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Chugs13, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of Tucquan
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-11-17 in Columbia, PA

A - Opaque black with a brown 1-finger head and mild lacing.

S - Floral, brown bread, chocolate. Moderate level of aroma but very inviting.

T - Dark roasted malt, soy sauce/umami, significant char, smidge of dark chocolate, not too sweet, alcohol, pepper. Kind of brash. Finishes roasty and spicy. Good stuff.

M - Medium-heavy body and light-medium carbonation. Somewhat creamy yet dries pretty well.

O - Very enjoyable. Big flavors. Had this side-by-side with a 9-month old Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and the Narwhal holds up quite well in comparison considering it doesn't have the bourbon influence. The KBS is smoother with more coffee, has a heavier mouthfeel and isn't as brash as the Narwhal - in other words, the KBS is better. I'm going to age some of the Narwhal to see if the brashness mellows out.

Note: Had an aged one from 2012 on 2013-10-19 and the brashness has mellowed significantly. I like it better with a year on it. Had a 2013 vintage on 2014-11-15 and am finding it's equally delicious this time after aging a year.

Tucquan, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of Herky21
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Herky21, Sep 29, 2013
Photo of 2beerdogs
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

2beerdogs, Mar 30, 2013
Photo of baybum
4/5  rDev -3.6%

baybum, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of 22Blue
4/5  rDev -3.6%

22Blue, Wednesday at 08:01 PM
Photo of micromaniac129
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my yeti sniffer (because I could) a deep standard brown black color. A handsome looking beer with it's dense mocha head and what looks to be desent carbonation.
Aroma I thought was the weak point in that I could barely detect any aroma. I could barely smell some roasted malts and espresso.
Taste was fine. Had a roasted malt flair with coffee espresso cocoa and some ash.
Drinks really smooth and hides that alcohol quite well.
A good well made beer but, it's a safe beer being that to me, it's not very aggressive.
Taking a que from Charlie Manuel, but then again on the other hand this would be my first case of Imp stout I would buy.

micromaniac129, Dec 01, 2012
Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.11/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Really looking forward to this one.

A: Pours a very dark red color. It's so, so close to being pitch black, but not quite. The head is a two finger khaki shade. Retention is decent if not spectacular, and a nice layer of lacing is left behind.

S: This pops with chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, some leafy hops...and a LOT of alcohol. This smells really boozy even for 10.2%, and it's not a particularly refined alcohol presence. Even worse, it seems to detract from the rest of the brew. But of course, given the chance to warm up, all its alcohol calms down - slightly.

T: There's no two ways around it - this mutha is harsh. Roasted malts open this one up, sandwiching a cream-laden coffee middle with its boozy, fruity finish. Some hoppiness appears in the aftertaste. I would have hoped that the alcohol would at least create some nuance and depth, alas no; it's not dead simple, but it should be more complex considering. Giving it the chance to warm/open up doesn't improve it much either. Maybe it makes it *slightly* less harsh.

M: It's creamy and lush feeling, like an imperial stout should be. I'm also kind of glad it isn't particularly dry finishing, because all it would really do is expose the alcohol even further. Carbonation isn't really a factor.

O: This could be my biggest letdown of 2013. It had many things going for it to be topnotch - SN's reputation, well received on BA, inexpensive - but in the end was nearly ruined by the generic harshness. My other bottles are going in the cellar; there's a very good RIS underneath this all, and aging it may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

ThisWangsChung, Sep 17, 2013
Photo of Jame515
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Jame515, Dec 27, 2013
Photo of oglmcdgl
4/5  rDev -3.6%

oglmcdgl, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of bigfnjoe
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

bigfnjoe, Oct 02, 2013
Photo of peensteen
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on cask at Cask Days 2014 in Toronto

Jet black colour, ring of tan head with a bit of lace. Smell is roasty, lots of chocolate and coffee, well hopped with some earthy notes, light dark fruit in the periphery. Taste starts out with some dark fruit, light roast with some bitter hop mid palate, chocolate and coffee flavours linger into the finish. Light carbonation, medium-full body, good feel. A solid imperial stout, nothing groundbreaking but a nice and flavourful stout that is a pleasure to drink.

peensteen, Nov 04, 2014
Photo of CoryR
4/5  rDev -3.6%

CoryR, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of mdagnew
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle bought from Drinkstore, Dublin

Poured pitch black with no hint of colour even when held up to the light. Dirty nut brown head poured big thick and foamy then faded slowly to decent covering... some decent lines of lacing...

Aroma - Rich roasted and charred dark chocolate maltiness, sweet coffee, some brown sugar sweetness, some sooty like smokiness, some dark fruits (blackcurrents, dates), pine and citric hop notes, toasted (maybe charred ?) fruit loaf, some earthiness, milky notes...

Taste - Dark chocolate, lots of roasted / charred bready malts, barely any alcohol noticeable, treacle sweetness, dark spicy fruits (raisins, date,some figs, red grape), piney and grassy hop bitterness, citrus hints, traces of piney resin, light liquorice, light sourness...

Feel - Fairly smooth and creamy with a little sharpness coming through... fairly full bodied... for a 10% brew this is dangerously drinkable..

Overall - A world class Impy stout - highly recommended...

mdagnew, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of WanderingFool
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Narwhal pours black into the glass with a big, tan head on top. The foam disappears quickly leaving only a few spots of lace on the glass.

The aroma has notes of pine, roasted malt, chocolate and toffee. The aroma improves as the beer warms.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is creamy, slightly chewy with moderate carbonation. The rich flavor is nice and malty with a bitter finish. It begins with roast malt and chocolate. Some dark fruit and nuts come through in the middle. It finishes with some bitter pine flavors. Once gone the chocolate and piney bitterness lingers on the palate.

For 10% abv this is a quite drinkable beer. Well balanced with full flavors as the beer warms.

WanderingFool, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of philbe311
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
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...

philbe311, Feb 01, 2013
Photo of CuriousMonk
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico's in VA. Pours jet black with a nice and dense tan head. Nose of sweet charcoal, coffee and chocolate. Flavors of a mocha forward stout with a fair bit of roast, dark nuts, and chocolate. Nice finish of bitter roasted coffee and hop bitterness which helps give it some length. This is a nice and complex stout from Sierra Nevada. A six pack of this is very reasonably priced as well. Welcome, Narwhal.

CuriousMonk, Dec 26, 2012
Photo of mpayne5
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

mpayne5, Sep 08, 2013
Photo of macrosmatic
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. Poured from 12 oz. bottle into an Upland pint glass.

A: Very dark brown to black, nearly opaque. A one and a half finger's worth of espresso-colored head forms over a low amount of visible carbonation.

S: Overall a low amount of aroma. Some roasted malt, coffee, and just a bit of citrus hops.

T: Sweet malts, coffee and cacao, some citrus and bitter hoppiness. Sweet with a touch of bitter in the hang.

M: A relatively thick mouthfeel, moderate alcohol, low carbonation sensation.

O: I had a taste of this on tap a few weeks back, and I was really impressed. Out of the bottle, not so much. Not a bad beer still, but there are many better RIS options out there.

macrosmatic, Jan 07, 2013
Photo of Durandal_777
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Durandal_777, May 22, 2014
Photo of Burt
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

Burt, Mar 09, 2013
Photo of Hellpop65
3.5/5  rDev -15.7%

Hellpop65, Dec 07, 2012
Photo of jak
4/5  rDev -3.6%

jak, Oct 30, 2012
Photo of MattyG85
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass. 2012 bottle

Appearance: Pours a dark oily black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of creamy tan head that fade into a thin layer. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A roasty and fairly sweet aroma. Dark roasted malts with hints of cocoa, dark bread, coffee, and cookie dough along with some caramel and toffee. A fair amount of molasses. Some subtle smoke. Hop presence is very subtle but there is a light earthy and piney scent. Also some subtle dark fruits with hints of cherry, raisin, and plum. Pretty decent smell.

Taste: Like the aroma hints, a dark, roasty, and sweet stout taste. Dark roasted malts with a taste of cocoa, toasted bread, coffee, and dough. Some burnt caramel and toffee along with some molasses sweetness. Subtle anise and some smoke that lingers through the finish. Undertones of dark fruits including cherry, prune, and raisin. Light earthy hops and resin round it out. A pretty good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and somewhat syrupy. Alcohol is hidden well.

Overall: A very good take on the Russian Imperial Stout. Big, roasty, and sweet while avoiding becoming cloying. Very solid.

MattyG85, Nov 09, 2012
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,802 ratings.