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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

3,458 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,458
Reviews: 655
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.9%
Wants: 173
Gots: 575 | FT: 35
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: 3,458 | Reviews: 655 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of baybum
4/5  rDev -3.4%

baybum, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of micromaniac129
4/5  rDev -3.4%
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 Durandal_777
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Durandal_777, May 22, 2014
Photo of Adamostella
3.25/5  rDev -21.5%

Adamostella, Oct 25, 2013
Photo of Jame515
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Jame515, Dec 27, 2013
Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.11/5  rDev -24.9%
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 Burt
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Burt, Mar 09, 2013
Photo of WanderingFool
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
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 Bierguy5
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, 10.2% abv. Pitch black in color, with a good looking tan head. Head retention is pretty nice. A thin collar eventually remains, along with a few spots of lace.

Roasted malts are big up front. Dark roast coffee, near espresso roast. Bitter dark chocolate in the mix as well. Maybe a bit of earthy hop aroma.

Bittersweet dark chocolate comes to mind at first. Roasted malt, but with a rounded feel instead of sharp. Cocoa powder is the next flavor. A bit sweeter and more caramel in the middle. Some coffee flavors as well.

Medium body, with soft carbonation and a bit of a creamy feel. A bit of warmth, but not very much for the strength of this beer. I love the roasted, bittersweet feel of this beer. Very well done.

Bierguy5, Jan 25, 2013
Photo of Herky21
4/5  rDev -3.4%

Herky21, Sep 29, 2013
Photo of jak
4/5  rDev -3.4%

jak, Oct 30, 2012
Photo of elNopalero
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

UPDATE: May, 2013

This pours a dark black brew with a cocoa colored foam topping. There’s an aroma of sautéed mushrooms which dominates. It’s earthy and mellow with a dialed back roast profile. I get mushrooms & soy sauce as I nose and sip. The flavor has a mellow roast with soy sauce & mushrooms dominating. It warms well and remains a smooth sipper. Six months out on this and I found it much more enjoyable than fresh.

Original:

I have slain the Narwhal!

This beast pours a pitch black with a thin layer of foam. Aromas of dark roast coffee, dark chocolate and a sharp espresso dominate. The flavor has a hop forward bitterness as well as the coffee and espresso characteristics. An earthy mushroom taste develops as it opens as well as some soy sauce characteristics. The body is sharp but somewhat off balance. I get a dark chocolate flavor and sharpness, when what I want is more velvety smoothness to ease such a rich brew along. While it holds up to warming it is still hot with a noticeable alcohol presence. It strikes me as having some rough edges that could be softened with a little more time to rest.

elNopalero, May 14, 2013
Photo of macrosmatic
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
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 HardTarget
4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black as night, only the thinnest of ruby edges. Holds a tan thin cover, not much lace.

Smell: Roasted malt, burnt sugar vapor is alcoholic and inviting. A rich tone with some supportive but mild hop notes.

Taste: Heavy malt has a toffee sweetness to it that is smooth and silky. Slight lactic twang of a mild stout, slippery feel of an oatmeal stout, full volume of an Imperial Stout. Somewhere down the British spectrum, definitely not an AMERICAN HOP STOUT, this is much more refined, restrained, civilized.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy milk shake. Great combination of heavy body and lively carbonation that helps keep the whole package together. Full chew, slick oil takes a while to soak in.

Overall: Wow. Serious yum. I'll be seeking more. It's a monster with a friendly face. You note alcohol, but it doesn't taste like the 10% it's swinging. A nice long evening sipper.

HardTarget, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of Kopfschuss
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Kopfschuss, Oct 31, 2012
Photo of thufflife
4/5  rDev -3.4%

thufflife, Aug 06, 2014
Photo of MattyG85
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.

MattyG85, Nov 09, 2012
Photo of ElGallo
4/5  rDev -3.4%

ElGallo, Dec 30, 2012
Photo of inlimbo77
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

8oz taster pour
Mini pint glass
Two Stones Pub, Newark, DE

A: This pours out a completely dark black color. No light getting through. Thin layer of tan head that hangs around for a while. Some lacing bits. Getting some alcohol feet, but harder to see on this little pint glass.

S: Sweet and Dark chocolate on the nose. Some nice roasted malts and coffee. Very pleasant stout character.

T: Big roast character. Dark chocolate. Creamy flavors.

M: Full bodied. Nice and creamy/oily mouthfeel. Easy to drink.

inlimbo77, Dec 27, 2012
Photo of Kendo
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from the bottle into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body looks thick; it's black with a half-finger light-brown head that settles quickly. Some splotches of lace cling to the side of the glass after each sip.

S: Very roasty - roasted barley malt and dark chocolate. As it warms up a bit, the roastiness takes a back seat to the chocolate.

T: Big RIS-type flavors up front: roasted barley malt, roasted coffee beans, charcoal and chocolate - both cocoa/milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Finishes with chocolatey flavors followed by a bitter taste of char/charcoal. Alcohol heat is noted, though more in the feel, as heat going down the chute, than in the taste. Lingering minerally taste of burnt charcoal provides bitter balance to offset the malty flavors up front. As it warms and the palate adjusts to that bitterness, the chocolate becomes more pronounced at the finish, which I like.

M: Definitely full-bodied. Carbonation is modest.

O: Good stuff, as per usual from SN. More roasty than I prefer in my stouts, especially when cold - it's almost Imperial Porter-like in that regard - but not off-putting in any way. Sure, I've had better stouts, but for the price ($10.49 for a 4-pack), I'm not unhappy with this new release.

Kendo, Jan 11, 2013
Photo of waiting4lunch
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

waiting4lunch, Feb 05, 2013
Photo of Lukass
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Lukass, Jan 06, 2013
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.

Phelps, Feb 02, 2013
Photo of JRod1969
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

JRod1969, Dec 04, 2013
Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served on-tap at the Dive Bar in West Haven, Conn.

A: Pours jet black with a two-finger head of espresso-colored foam which retains nicely and leaves some chunky lacing around the glass.

S: Very nice, robust, dark and roasty malt aroma with hints of anisette, charred wood and bittersweet cocoa. Some subtle fruitiness and herbal hops rise from the brew as well.

T: Rich, sweet and well-rounded malt flavor, giving off the taste of dried tobacco leaves, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. There's a slight vanilla sweetness around mid-palate which cascades into a spicy, herbal hop resin that lasts until the bittersweet and smooth, roasty finish.

M: Full-bodied, very drinkable stout with a creamy malt mouthfeel and rounded bitterness to stave off cloying sweetness while offering a smooth, robust finish.

O: SN Narwahl RIS is a very complex and enjoyable, sweet, strong stout. It packs a ton of flavor into that 10.2% ABV while not slowing you down with too hot of a hop or alcohol burn. Perfect beer to serve as dessert or to accompany a raspberry chocolate torte. I'd love to try it again, or one of it's aged varietals.

Gambrinus1184, Jan 20, 2013
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,458 ratings.