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.

3,137 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,137
Reviews: 621
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 134
Gots: 471 | FT: 32
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:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,137 | Reviews: 621 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bmwats


3.85/5  rDev -7%

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.

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


4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

01-31-2013 06:48:02 | More by brotherloco
Photo of ThisWangsChung


3.11/5  rDev -24.9%

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.

09-17-2013 02:51:18 | More by ThisWangsChung
Photo of justintcoons


4.43/5  rDev +7%

Poured into a snifter.

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

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

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

Full bodied, silky, oily, bitter and warming.

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

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


4/5  rDev -3.4%

08-06-2014 14:22:09 | More by thufflife
Photo of budgood1


3.49/5  rDev -15.7%

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.

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


3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

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


4.03/5  rDev -2.7%

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.

11-25-2012 04:35:01 | More by GilGarp
Photo of n2185

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +5.1%

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.

11-14-2012 03:37:02 | More by n2185
Photo of Zachtheporter


4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

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

New Hampshire

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

01-21-2014 23:49:46 | More by mklisz
Photo of ajzy


4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

06-20-2013 16:46:55 | More by ajzy
Photo of bigbeers84


4/5  rDev -3.4%

11-14-2012 10:55:05 | More by bigbeers84
Photo of mpayne5


4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

09-08-2013 01:24:14 | More by mpayne5
Photo of PorterLambic


4.1/5  rDev -1%

Arrives as black as molasses with a creamy, slowly fading, dark tan head. Phenomenal lace, great retention. Zero light penetration.
Smell is toasted malt, dark chocolate, coffee, cardboard, smoke. Well balanced.
Taste is heavily roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, whiskey, light smoke, a wee whiff of hops, a note of grapes? . Great balance, very complex. The various flavors swirl around one another is a delicious dance.
Full bodied, chewy, and barely carbonated. Drying finish, smooth, but with a cloying aspect that is annoying. No warming to speak of strangely.

12-04-2013 23:11:14 | More by PorterLambic
Photo of bum732


3.05/5  rDev -26.3%

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.

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

New York

3.76/5  rDev -9.2%

2013 vintage. 12oz. bottle into a Cigar City snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 2 finger light coffee colored head with poor retention. Beer is pitch black but slightly thin. Lacing is stringy and spotty with good stick. Sticky thin legs. Solid.

Nose is cocoa powder, espresso beans, liquorice and dark and milk chocolate. Some creamy hop flavors too. Nice.

Opens cocoa, espresso, and mocha. Dark chocolate, roast, and liquorice in the middle with vanilla and a slight hop bitterness at the end. Finishes sticky and sweet molasses, brown sugar, and cocoa with a roasty, smoky aftertaste. Decent if a bit thin at times.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Slick and smooth in the mouth and goes down warm. Messy finish with a sticky, lingering aftertaste. Pretty good. Impressive given the ABV.

A decent beer overall, I could see this being a go-to Imperial Stout. Worth aging just a touch to see what happens.

11-06-2013 02:49:05 | More by SpeedwayJim
Photo of CoolEthan


4/5  rDev -3.4%

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


4.53/5  rDev +9.4%

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.

01-09-2013 01:47:53 | More by djaeon
Photo of brewcrew76


3.89/5  rDev -6%

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.

02-10-2013 00:15:03 | More by brewcrew76
Photo of Damian74Shensky

South Carolina

3.98/5  rDev -3.9%

Bottle poured into a tumbler.

A- Black with a quickly dissipating tan head.
S-Chocolate, Alcohol
T-Roasted Malts, slight chocolate, Alcohol
M- full body, medium carbonation, malty, syrupy and black licorice.
O- Good beer, just had a not-so-great flavor aftertaste. But was worth it, would get again.

02-10-2013 01:54:41 | More by Damian74Shensky
Photo of buzzy


4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

10-03-2013 01:18:09 | More by buzzy
Photo of bobv


4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

01-22-2013 19:29:24 | More by bobv
Photo of CelticAleMan


3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

12-16-2012 06:44:14 | More by CelticAleMan
Photo of Hopmodium


4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

10-24-2012 02:20:02 | More by Hopmodium
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,137 ratings.