1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

3,066 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,066
Reviews: 616
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 115
Gots: 444 | FT: 29
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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,066 | Reviews: 616 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of far333
far333

Connecticut

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a low beige head that settles out quickly. Inviting aroma of cocoa and espresso, some raisin. Rich flavors upfront, dark chocolate, espresso, root beer, molasses, smoke and leather, some rough-edged roasty malt, sharp bitterness, interesting mix of flavors. Full mouthfeel, but slightly tannic and warming. Good beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2013 01:03:29 | More by far333
Photo of dar482
dar482

New York

3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is a 2013 bottle with about 9 months on it.

The beer pours black with a light brown creamy head.

The aroma has dense roasted malt, sweet chocolate, mocha coffee, a touch of dark fruit of cherries and dried plums.

The beer has a medium plus luscious mouthfeel. However, there is still an aggressive kick of alcohol, as with the beer fresh. Lots of deeply roasted coffee and malt, bitter chocolate, with a spike of alcoholic dark fruit on the finish.

The beer is certainly helped with age, but it still very alcoholic, which detracts from the palate.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2014 02:04:03 | More by dar482
Photo of ElGallo
ElGallo

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-30-2012 02:05:47 | More by ElGallo
Photo of Satchboogie
Satchboogie

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-15-2012 00:53:36 | More by Satchboogie
Photo of Herky21
Herky21

Iowa

4/5  rDev -3.4%

09-29-2013 15:16:10 | More by Herky21
Photo of RoryOMoore
RoryOMoore

New Jersey

4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

01-05-2013 03:30:48 | More by RoryOMoore
Photo of jsprain1
jsprain1

Minnesota

4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Pours deep dark black. Head is one finger thick, lasts pretty well, I suppose. Good lacing, however.
S- Very nice smell. Coffee, espresso, dark chocolate, and a good bit of dark caramel. Hits all the notes a good RIS should.
T- A bit too much sweet caramel and not enough roasted flavors. Caramel is prevalent throughout. Coffee and chocolate are there, just not as strong as I would like.
M- A bit light, but nice smooth carbonation.
O- A decent to good imperial stout. I always like SN offerings and even if this isn't one of the top examples.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2012 04:05:23 | More by jsprain1
Photo of bmwats
bmwats

Louisiana

3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint.

A: Black. Pours about a finger and a half, foamy, brown head. Disintegrates slowly. Eventually settles to a thick blanket with a foamy buildup around the sides of the glass. Sporadic lacing.

S: Earthy malt tone, dark chocolate, with a little black licorice.

T: Unsweetened dark chocolate, lots of licorice, pecan shells.

M: Thick, hearty, and syrupy. Slight bitterness lingers throughout.

D: Sip and enjoy.

Atmosphere is solid. Dark, intimidating appearance, nice head, and fair lacing. Nose is basic and characteristic dark chocolate and licorice. Tastes like is smells.... bitter chocolate and licorice. Overall, this is a pretty good quaff.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2012 03:26:31 | More by bmwats
Photo of Onenote81
Onenote81

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Grabbed a 4-pack of this when it first came out. Saved the final bottle for a review. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a jet black. No light penetrates this one. Small tan head. Nose is rich with booze, chocolate, roasted coffee, grape, vanilla. Hints of woodsy aromas on the finish.

Body is decadent and full. Rich velvety feel with a touch of carbonation on the back end. A nice malty backbone, with vanilla, chocolate syrup, a little booze, black licorice, dark fruits.

This one was rich and tasty. The alcohol snuck up on me at the tail end, but this one was one I enjoyed through and through. I hope to see this around often, as I would like to have stock of this one at all times.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2013 13:08:37 | More by Onenote81
Photo of AleWatcher
AleWatcher

Illinois

3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

01-09-2013 18:02:12 | More by AleWatcher
Photo of budgood1
budgood1

Minnesota

3.49/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 3.5

pours out an opaque onyx black colour. large, thick and frothy light brown coloured head that has a great deal of creamy staying power. about perfect. the nose on this big stout is a bit non-descript...some cocoa and nougat with some NW hopping. taste profile is a straight up combination of creamy sweetened dark chocolate and yeast infused dark roasted malts. none too complex in the malt/yeast interaction, so no real layers of flavours... just char, java and a hint of sour. this imperial stout has a beefy hop attribute to it, enough that the pine and pith flavours are able to fight their way through the dark cauldron and murky depths of black malt madness. a nice, healthy back end bitterness is also obviously detectable...and it all lingers for a blistering finish. the body on this stout is beefy and sturdy, no detractions there. mouthfeel is silky smooth, almost too smooth for an imperial stout of this magnitude. and that leads into the drinkability factor, which is way to easy for an imperial stout, making it dangerously delectable.

overall, i was a bit underwhelmed in the grand scheme of things when sampling this. perhaps a bit of age would benefit this? or maybe i'm just let down with the overall nose and flavour profile. the interaction between malt and yeast leaves me wanting despite the bitter hop blast, which i was expecting. an egnigma...nonetheless, it's a tasty treat that has potential in the cellar.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2013 23:33:39 | More by budgood1
Photo of AndrewMichael
AndrewMichael

Virginia

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

12-25-2013 21:06:21 | More by AndrewMichael
Photo of GilGarp
GilGarp

Colorado

4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served at cellar temp into a pint glass.

Narwhal is basically black in color and starts with a good inch of off white head. It settles somewhat quickly but leaves a little lacing behind.

Aroma is roasty and robust with some hop character.

Flavor is surprisingly strong with big bitterness from both hops and malts. There's a little sweetness but it's really dominated by dark roasted malts and big hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and a little bit overly carbonated.

Overall a good imperial stout but it doesn't have the silky mouthfeel of my other favorites like Yeti and TenFidy.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2012 04:35:01 | More by GilGarp
Photo of Lukass
Lukass

Ohio

4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

01-06-2013 14:19:20 | More by Lukass
Photo of Kmlund
Kmlund

Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

10-03-2013 17:50:28 | More by Kmlund
Photo of Zachtheporter
Zachtheporter

Wisconsin

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

03-13-2013 05:36:54 | More by Zachtheporter
Photo of MattyG85
MattyG85

Minnesota

4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2012 07:25:30 | More by MattyG85
Photo of JohnBender
JohnBender

Texas

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

10-22-2012 22:36:18 | More by JohnBender
Photo of AlCaponeJunior
AlCaponeJunior

Texas

3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

OK looking, about what you'd expect from an imperial stout that doesn't stand out looks-wise.

Aroma and flavor are pretty good. Standard roasty, toasty, burnt and charcoal notes present from the dark malts. Coffee and chocolate make balanced appearances. There is a touch of dark fruits, brown sugar. There's also a bit of hoppiness that you might expect from an American stout.

The body is pretty thick, good for the style. Finish is bitter dark chocolate with slight burnt notes and a slight lingering sweetness.

Overall it's enjoyable, about standard for the modern day definition of an American imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2014 02:32:28 | More by AlCaponeJunior
Photo of CoolEthan
CoolEthan

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%

10-06-2013 02:51:02 | More by CoolEthan
Photo of justintcoons
justintcoons

Pennsylvania

4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

Appearance
Pitch black, motor oil pour. No light penetration. Less than 1 finger of deep brown head that dissipates quickly.

Nose
Dark chocolate, roasted barley, espresso, fudge, vanilla and dark fruit.

Taste
Dark chocolate, roasted barley, fudge and vanilla bean. Espresso, toffee and dates. Some citrus and pine hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel
Full bodied, silky, oily, bitter and warming.

Overall
Sierra Nevada hit this one out of the park. It's got everything that an Imperial Stout needs.

Serving type: bottle

12-09-2012 00:24:42 | More by justintcoons
Photo of bum732
bum732

Lesotho

3.05/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

S: Dry, roasty cocoa and coffee. Slight vanilla.

L: Thick, viscous and black. Tan head that dissipates quickly.

T: Very dry, roasty stout. Coffee and dry cocoa like flavors dominate. Slight coffee sweetness with slight dark fruits. Finishes quite dry with residual cocoa sweetness.

M: Medium full mouthfeel, medium low carbonation. Alcohol fairly well hidden.

A very dry, roasty RIS. Reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin. A nice change to a lot of sweet RIS's, but i feel like its a little one noted. Should be interesting what a little age does to this beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2012 03:47:53 | More by bum732
Photo of brewcrew76
brewcrew76

Wisconsin

3.89/5  rDev -6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2013 00:15:03 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of djaeon
djaeon

California

4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Expected coffee & dark chocolate flavors are every evident. Velvety smooth mouthfeel, some stickyness in the finish. A hint of bitter aftertaste, not unlike what you would get from black coffee (with booze in it).

All in all, a great imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2013 01:47:53 | More by djaeon
Photo of n2185
n2185

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours black with three fingers of brown head that fades into a frothy ring with decent lacing.

S: Roasted malts dominate with semi-sweet chocolate and slight coffee notes. There are some faint licorice notes towards the finish with a sweet charred aroma.

T: Roasted malts dominate here as well. Bitter chocolate and coffee are also present with a robust, charred finish and light alcohol burn. Delicious.

M: Thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is a bit more carbonated than most imperial stouts, but it goes well with the robust flavors.

O: A surprisingly good imperial stout. Very robust and flavorful without being too sweet or too bitter. Quite enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 03:37:02 | More by n2185
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,066 ratings.