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

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

4,033 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,033
Reviews: 728
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 220
Gots: 844 | FT: 34
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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,033 | Reviews: 728 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JRod1969
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Kopfschuss
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Kendo
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

Photo of MikeCactusGordon
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of jaymo18
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of brotherloco
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of buzzy
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of justintcoons
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Photo of thufflife
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Hopmodium
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of campfirebrew
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Rollzroyce21
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%

Poured a 2012 vintage into a stemless wine glass on 22-Sep-14 (aged about 2 years).

Much smoother than fresh and the roasty chocolate flavors are holding up real well.

Photo of bostonryan
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of n2185
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Photo of inlimbo77
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Photo of thinwhiteduke
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of KYGunner
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Narwhal pours with a deep, black beautiful body that was topped with a dense, creamy froth.

Gorgeous scents of cocoa, light coffee, marshmallow creamy sweetness and hints of malty Graham cracker all waft gently to the nose.

The flavor really showcases the strong malt base with a steep charred grain profile. The char brings out the coffee and cocoa qualities. These malts also bring out a strong Graham cracker dryness. It is better served warmer as the booziness comes out in the cold.

The feel is moderately thick upon first sip but swallows with a touch of abrasive carbonation. There's an easy warmth from the strong alcohol character but it is tempered as it warms.

Narwhal proves itself as a quality stout with a begging for barrel aging.

Photo of charlzm
3.93/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed January 6th, 2012 from a Ladyface Ale Companie tulip.

Pouring somewhat vigorously, this beer gives up a one finger dark tan head that disappears almost immediately. 99% opaque black with a tiny hint of brown.

Aroma is graham crackers and vanilla.

Flavor is deeply roasted dark malts providing chocolate and woody notes. Some alcohol presence. Moderate bitterness on finish. Not terribly complex.

Mouthfeel is silky smoove and a little thick.

This is a quality RIS. Sierra Nevada seems to have staked out Old Rasputin's territory and made a credible play for it.

Photo of Phelps
4.15/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of ystazi
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
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.

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

Photo of PorterLambic
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

Photo of jsprain1
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 4,033 ratings.