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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

3,025 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,025
Reviews: 615
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 111
Gots: 441 | FT: 28
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: 3,025 | Reviews: 615 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of SocalKicks
SocalKicks

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-11-2012 06:11:48 | More by SocalKicks
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79

New York

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

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2013 20:49:43 | More by mdfb79
Photo of oline73
oline73

Maryland

3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: on-tap

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

Colorado

4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Serving type: on-tap

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

Washington

4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2012 06:19:36 | More by mactrail
Photo of Rochefort10nh
Rochefort10nh

New Hampshire

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

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

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Serving type: bottle

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

Maryland

4/5  rDev -3.4%

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

California

4/5  rDev -3.4%

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

Texas

3.25/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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+

Serving type: bottle

12-02-2012 06:25:37 | More by kojevergas
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2012 09:43:33 | More by corby112
Photo of weeare138
weeare138

Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

10-19-2013 02:22:37 | More by weeare138
Photo of MarkyMOD
MarkyMOD

Colorado

4/5  rDev -3.4%

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

Australia

4.48/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.

Pours a deep black colour, with a fine, slightly inconsistent pale brown head. Carbonation is fine, but the body itself looks surprisingly light and fluid. Some patchy carbonation. Looks fine except for the body—this is the beer you can really make thick, oily and chewy, and it seems this hasn't happened here.

Nose is wonderful. Big sweet nutty characters with deep chocolate hints and a lilt of buttered popcorn. Slight hint of liquorice on the back, perhaps more like liquorice ice cream. It's all really quite sweet and fragrant, and very pleasant.

Taste is also very good: here the sweetness is tamed somewhat (perhaps due to the slightly lighter body), and the liquorice comes through a little bit more. This leaves the roasted characters to make a bit more of an entrance, with some mild coffee and toasted grain overtones. Perhaps I was unfair on the lightness in the body: it's perhaps a purposeful (and rather clever) stroke to enliven the palate and keep the sweet richness from overpowering everything.

The feel is very smooth, even despite the lightness, and matches very nicely with the rest of the beer.

Yep. Pretty exceptional stuff here, although the mastery and skill of Sierra Nevada should have stopped surprising me years ago. This beer gives the impression that it was designed exactly this way—it perhaps doesn't take the risks that could make it superlative, but you understand that this beer from the moment of its conception was going to be very good indeed.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2012 07:02:18 | More by lacqueredmouse
Photo of barleywinefiend
barleywinefiend

Washington

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

A: Poured a jet black, some carbonation, one finger brown head, some lacing

S: Roasted malt, slight chocolate, coffee. Good but standard.

T: Big hearty backbone with dark chocolate, coffee, some burnt notes. Mild Bitterness in the finish.I laso deteced some black liquorice.

M: Heavy bodied, some carbonation, smooth.

O: Good. This should age very well as most SN offerings do.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2012 21:58:15 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

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

2012, 12 ounce bottle, allowed to warm quite a bit.

Pours near black, dark tan mini head, tiny bubble film, slight collar and nice fine low sheeting with strands of lacing.

Nose is loaded with dark chocolate, and mild coffee.

Very tasty, ejoyable and smooth RIS. Waves of chocolate, just ground fresh coffee, as well as some vanilla sweetness. Velvety smooth on the tongue and coating the mouth. Put it all together and this is truly great stuff.

Went prefectly with a chocolate Xmass desert bon bon kinda thing

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2012 19:26:05 | More by Billolick
Photo of rhoadsrage
rhoadsrage

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours an inky jet black body with a dark coco tan head of cream that last as a thick foam and sticks to the glass with each sip. There is a few random bubbles that can be spotted in that abyss.

S- The inky but mellow deep charcoal aroma blends with black roasted malt and some brewer’s licorice note blend in the finish. It is a full aroma even during the pour.

T- The green wood taste gives way to a much larger black roasted malt flavor that is full and creamy. There is a slightly dry finish with a nice balance of black malt bitterness and perhaps some minty woody hops bitterness as part of that. The rich mellow but deep dark malt flavors linger in the dry finish along with the softer bitterness. As the beer opens up there are some dark graham malt flavors and brewer’s licorice flavors that come through aswell.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a nice creamy texture and an alcohol warmth that compliments the big beer.

O- This beer has a big complex rich flavor but it is very well blended. The alcohol offers a nice support to the big flavors and texture. It taste great now and I can’t think of a reason it would need any age. Delicious.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2013 21:15:07 | More by rhoadsrage
Photo of oriolesfan4
oriolesfan4

Maryland

4/5  rDev -3.4%

12-22-2012 05:44:03 | More by oriolesfan4
Photo of stakem
stakem

Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a matching Sierra Nevada snifter. Big thanks go to Kegatron for gifting me with some of this. The brew pours black with a khaki colored head that froths up with more than a finger that is silky and paints the wall of the glass with a full webby pattern of lacing effect. When held to the light, the brew shows some ruby clarity faintly around the edges.

The aroma displays plenty of roast imparting faint notes of coffee, chocolate, earth, char and hints of citrus to fruity hops. The alcohol is present with a bit of fruity ester. When swirled, a bit of cheesiness and sulfur emerges with some mineral components. Overall though, this is a fine smelling brew for more than 10%.

The taste includes the previously mentioned dry roasted graininess that imparts flavors of coffee, and roasty earth. A bit leathery with the most mild touch of dark fruity alcohol notes. Some hop character is present giving this a touch of citrus and complimenting fruity to pine notes. The aftertaste has a bit of baker's chocolate included. As the brew warms up, that 10% alcohol starts to become readily noticeable with an almost neutral solvent burn across the tongue.

This is a medium bodied offering with a modest amount of carbonation. It is relatively smooth and easy drinking for something above 10%. I think Sierra Nevada was well overdue in putting a RIS into their regular lineup. This one fills the void in their catalog quite nicely. I would and will drink this one again when it is made available to me. Thank you for sharing Heath!

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2013 02:56:18 | More by stakem
Photo of XmnwildX12
XmnwildX12

Minnesota

4/5  rDev -3.4%

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

California

3.73/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick black pour. Black colored beer with a thin brown colored head.

Smells sweet with lots of coffee molasses and candied holiday fruit.

Starts out dry and bitter with a strong charred malt bite. Gets a little sweeter as you drink it but not by much. Chocolate and coffee flavors with a little bit of ash taste.

Thick and oily mouthfeel.

Overall an OK beer, but they didn't balance out the Patent malt enough so it ends up a little unbalanced.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 02:37:09 | More by Zorro
Photo of InspectorBob
InspectorBob

New Jersey

4/5  rDev -3.4%

11-28-2012 14:19:46 | More by InspectorBob
Photo of jdhilt
jdhilt

New Hampshire

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

Pours a four finger tan head that slowly fades leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Roasted coffee nose and flavor is roasted coffee, higher ABV is hidden. $2.60 for a 12oz bottle from a Tully’s Beer & Wine Wells, ME.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2013 00:02:58 | More by jdhilt
Photo of orangesol
orangesol

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -3.4%

03-07-2013 19:54:46 | More by orangesol
Photo of dbrauneis
dbrauneis

North Carolina

4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear but opaque jet black in color with light to moderate amounts of gentle carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint crimson red + cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of roasted malts with lighter notes of cocoa, espresso, and dark fruit (raisin and plum). There is also a light aroma of anise/licorice and ash.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of roasted malts and slightly burnt malts with a light amount of ashiness. That is followed by light flavors of anise/licorice and some light notes of dark fruit sweetness (raisin and plum stand out). Finally there is a moderate flavor of freshly brewed espresso and hints of bittersweet chocolate. Overall the beer is moderately bitter with a lingering bitterness.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: This is a really nice big stout - the alcohol is well hidden but this is definitely a sipping beer (and best served on a cold autumn/winter evening by the fireplace). Nice roasty flavors but a little ashy so folks that don't enjoy that would be better off not grabbing this one.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2013 02:24:23 | More by dbrauneis
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,025 ratings.