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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
875 Reviews
THE BROS
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
875
Ratings:
4,871
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
9.66%
 
 
Wants:
309
Gots:
1,376
For Trade:
45
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

User Reviews
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Reviews: 875 | Ratings: 4,871
Photo of doktorhops
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Now that I’m back in BNE, QLD (Brisbane, Queensland for my non-Australian readers) I paid a visit to The Archive cellars and had a squiz at their finest American brews, and there are indeed ample new and delightful things that I have yet to try so here is one: Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout. At 10.2% [DON’T FORGET THE .2!!!] ABV, I would consider anything over 10% to be a decent bold beer and SN are champs when it comes to slapping the tongue (with flavour!), so I will tread lightly here my friends, there is a label-conjured sea monster awaiting me.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: I’ve become bored of describing Imperial Stouts as they all look the same if done well (opaque black, caramel brown head, 9/10) so instead I decided to do it in Haiku:

Blackest beer boldness
Nothing can penetrate it
A happy man died here.

S: BIG vanilla scent pervades the entire cacao nib chocolate aroma of this brew - I dig it man! Aside from that we have a nice (cakey) biscuit base, coffee hints and brown sugar. The TL;DR here is: vanilla & chocolate, NOM-NOM-NOM. 9/10.

T: Flavour comes on all the more sinister than the aroma with some oily smoke notes, roasted espresso and a hard wooded character. Although the above vanilla and chocolate notes are there they do end up taking a backseat to the big-talking bold flavours. Granted at 10.don’tforgetthe2% ABV this is a brew not to be trifled with, unless you’re making a trifle with it, in which case: trifle away! Aftertaste has a weirdly (for a Stout at least) sneaky bitterness that creeps up and surprises you jump scare style. 9/10.

M: Not that I’ve drunk engine oil before (at least not intentionally) but this fine brew has the viscosity of a decent 10W-40, one of the most viscous multi-grade oils. Carbonation in this case is negligible as with a brew this heavy it’s hard to tell. 9/10.

D: So where does it land on the olde “stout-o-meter”? For better or worse it is right up there with Old Raspy, though Old Rasputin was had at a time when I was entranced by the bolder of Imperial Stouts, I wonder if I would rate it so highly today? A question for another time - all you need to know is if Narwhal is worth your time, a big “yes” and a hearty “cheers!” is my answer. 9/10.

Food match: Cubans... the people... nah, the cigars.

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

Poured into a tulip. Pitch black with a finger's width brown head and lacing down the glass.

Roasted malts, coffee, alcohol and grassy hop aromas.

A nice sweet roasted malt and cherry fruit flavor up front. The dark fruit is then overtaken by an alcohol and grassy hop flavor which continues into the finish with a lingering smoky roasted bitterness.

Full bodied and a little oily. Good carbonation to add a peppery feel.

A nice strong RIS. Quality stuff here and not for the light beer crowd. Packed with flavor and a strong alcohol presence, yet it remains smooth and drinkable.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours solid dark black in color with a thick body like molasses. Head is about one and a half fingers and tan in color. Head retains nicely and leaves some good sticky lacing all over the glass.

Smell is great. Rich roasted dark chocolate malt is forward along with a very clean scent and a faint strawberry like fruity ester. There is a big note able alcohol present one the back end, this does not bother me whatsoever though.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. There is a rich dark chocolate flavor forward followed by roasted malt and a very light crisp ripe fruity tartness. More chocolate malt and booze come in on the back end.

Mouthfeel is good. Thick but not quite as thick as expected and carbonation is moderate. This keeps it highly drinkable at such a high abv.

Overall this was an awesome imperial stout I see why it rated so highly. Very boozy but it has some great flavors and aromas. I feel like this would be perfect to age, definitely putting some away.

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Photo of Jacobob10
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a deep black color with a large frothy tan head. The head dissipates into a thin film that is quickly revived with a swirl of the glass. Aroma is great, comprising of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt. Flavor follows suit and adds a sweetness and bitterness into the mix. Thick texture and chewy. Full bodied yet incredibly smooth and drinkable for the high ABV. Great imperial stout that I probably would not go out of my way to seek out but would enjoy anytime.

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Photo of JRed
3.56/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark black in body with creamy tan head that floats on top for the duration of the drink. Aroma of roast, dark chocolate, dirt, and cocoa powdered mint leaves. Flavors aren't as aggressive as I thought they'd be: fluffy chocolate mousse, roasted malt leads to dirt, some tobacco towards the end. Milky body with light carbonation. A smooth stout that masks the big booze well behind layers of cocoa and crushed autumn leaves. Dangerously easy to keep picking up over and over again.

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Photo of Gosox8787
3.83/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. stubby bottle from a four pack. Poured into a Dogfish Head tulip and served chilled.

Appearance: Dark brown to black in color. Pours a really nice, one finger medium brown head with decent retention. Recedes into a nice thin lacing.

Aroma: Roasted malt and a light smoke note. Nice bit of coffee beans and light milk chocolate. A tad more smoky than sweet.

Taste: The ABV is extremely well hidden in this beer. Light coffee bitterness with a nice smoke touch that weaves in and out. Some very light milk chocolate sweetness as well. Some leather and earthy notes as well. Really well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and smooth throughout. Carbonation is on the low end.

Overall, a really balanced and tasty off the shelf imperial stout. It does feel a little boring and one note at times. The smoke and roasted malt characters create a nice background and the booze is very well hidden. I could use a bit more sweetness to offset the smoke and earth tones. A good buy but not up there with my favorite stouts.

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

12oz Brown bottle with pry-off cap and bottled on "07/31/14". Poured into a snifter

Appearance: Pours black with 1/2 finger of tan head

Smell: Roasted malts, chocolate, and cocoa

Taste: Similar to the aroma with mostly roasted malts and licorice and cocoa, with slight alcohol warmth

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied

Overall: A great representation of the imperial stout style. All the roasted flavors are present and has great balance. Theres little bit of alcohol but not overpowering.

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Photo of nodder
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Black with a one finger light tan head. Fades quickly leaving slight lacing and alcohol legs on glass.

S- Dark roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, slight dark fruity notes. Slightly boozy smell also.

T- Standard RIS flavors. Coffee, dark chocolate, an earthy/fruitiness there also. A bit more alcohol taste than expected but this is still very good.

M- Medium mouth with slightly more carbonation than expected. Finish is bitter but nice. There is a definite alcohol burn on this one but not overpowering.

O- A bit boozy but still good. Gonna throw a bottle in the cellar for a year and see if it mellows.

12 oz. bottle

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Photo of Wer34truh
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A rather small head which dissipates quickly. Large dark body with minimal activity. Looks like the depths of the ocean.

As far as the smell goes, it's mostly chocolate, with some coffee on the side. A subtle booze scent is also emanating from this. Otherwise a rather subtle smell.

Quite complex flavor. With coffee beans, chocolate,cola and a smokey sort of taste towards the end. Also noted some licorice. The taste is phenomenal, with a rather hefty body as well.

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Photo of teromous
3.68/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black body with a tan head. It takes a bit of agitation to get the head up, but it stays up surprisingly well. Mild lacing on the glass.

S: Alcohol comes through immediately, followed by a spicy note...a bit woody. It has a slight scent of coffee but mostly the alcohol comes through.

T: Oh holy alcohol. This thing is strong. There's a bold, very robust roasted bitterness. It's followed by what I can only describe as a coffee sweetness. Most people would sweeten coffee with sugar, but this beer is so robust that coffee makes it sweet. That alcohol adds a bit of sweetness as well. It finishes with a bit of cocoa and coffee on the tongue. The finish is probably what really makes this beer.

M: I feel that the mouthfeel on this beer is perfect. It's full feeling without being syrupy, the roasted bitterness wakes up the mouth and the alcohol seems to coat it momentarily. It has just enough carbonation for a stout this size without making it too flat or too "poppy." It's very enjoyable to drink. It finishes quite nicely.

O: I think that the alcohol comes through strongly, so if you either don't like the flavor of alcohol or can't get past it, you'll have a hard time enjoying the beer. It has a lot to offer and what I really appreciate is how it has a roasted flavor without being overly bitter. It has a nice balance of flavors without pushing anything over the top. Unfortunately this balance could be considered a downfall if looking for something outside of the box. While it is a great example of a RIS, it doesn't feel as unique as its namesake suggests.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Reviewed live. 2012 vintage.

A- Very small mocha head with little retention. I attribute that to the high ABV. Very thin spotty lacing. Deep black color, slight mahogany around the edges. Scary looking beer.

S- Dark roast smells that shy away from burnt. Coffee grounds, dark chocolate. Almonds and vanilla make an appearance as well.

T- So roasty and warm. Very deep and bitter, like biting into a handful of coffee beans. Not delicate, but good.

M- Thick and syrupy.

O- Very nice beer. I really enjoyed this. Taste wasn't superb though. Might like to get another bottle and age it.

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Photo of AirBob
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

A- Thin layer of khaki colored head which quickly dissipated. Deep black body. Sparkling off-white lacing.

S - Coffee grounds and chocolate syrup.

T - Sweetened, burnt coffee and unsweetened chocolate. Some earthiness in the middle. Finishes with numbing boozy heat. Very bitter dark chocolate and burnt coffee.

M - Low carb. Full bodied. Bitter finish helps to cut through any stickiness.

O - Bitter. Reminds me of sweetened Starbucks house blend with some booze. Could be better balanced, but the bitterness cuts down on the stickiness which made this more drinkable than other beers in the style.

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Photo of riversider76
4.45/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poura a dark brown with a nice tan head. Excellent retention, and laceing. Aroma is of dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. Body is thick and creamy, with a bit of carbonation. Taste is of dark semi sweet chocolate, and roasted coffee. This is an excellent version of this style. A must try.

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Photo of yamar68
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic imperial stout appearance... near pitch black, an edge of copper clarity, a finger of khaki head that recedes to a dense collar.

Fresh coffee notes, burnt chocolate... quite impressive actually.

I was a bit skeptical of this beer but Sierra Nevada nailed it - it's a textbook example of the style. Smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee, slight vanilla notes, entirely delicious.

Very, very good.

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Photo of Powderhornphil
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours completely black with a nice head that recedes leaving a nice lacing.

The nose seems subtle coffee and chocolate.

Taste is coffee and chocolate a bit of alcohol on the end. A very nice tasting stout. I really enjoy the coffee notes on this one. Not too much roast.

Mouthfeel is nice and makes for easy drinking considering the abv.

Overall I like this stout; it's big but also subtle. I will put a couple of these away and will be interested to see how it ages.

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

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled November 2nd 2012.

A: Pours a real dark black with a 1 very dense finger khaki head. Dissipates over a minute or two leaving a thin film. No real lacing. Light barely gets through the edges.

S: Real nice dark chocolaty malt along with a sweet dark fruitiness. Can get some booze.

T: Real nice blend of chocolate malts, vanilla and a great roastiness. Little bit of bite from the alcohol but works. Raisin and fig from the malts also a coffeeish taste.

M: Smooth and velvety with a nice full body. Appropriate carbonation for the style. Could enjoy sipping on these all night.

Overall great bold stout from Sierra Nevada. Glad they are offering another stout as I've always enjoyed their other one. Hopefully I can manage to save one of these for a year.

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Photo of rypkr
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

L - poured into a 12oz snifter. Aggressive pour net virtually no head. Looks like used motor oil, thin on the swirl but extremely viscous on the lacing. The lacing also has a peculiar fizzy ness to it where the carbonation is sticking to the side of the glass, I may have over chilled this and that may explain the phenomenon.

S - smoky, malty, fruity. Nothing overpowering really. The predominant smell here is smokiness.

T - mmm. Very bitter and potent. Light smokiness, faint fruitiness, very chalky and heavy on the hops for the style.

M - perfect here. Incredibly filling and creamy full feel to it. I was having a hard time giving a taste rating because everything I could focus on was related the great feel. Nothing docked here, 5/5.

O - solid. I love stouts and I lve BA stouts. Regular RIS's however I often have a hard time appreciating. While I'm sure the BA version of this is much better, this one in its own is still quite good.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Purchased in Providence, RI.

Pours a deep brown nearly black body with a small off white head that leaves no lacing and a little retention.

Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, toffee, caramel come through on the aroma. Tongue matches the nose with an added roasty note, coffee and dark chocolate, finishes lightly bitter and charred. Medium body with medium low carbonation.

Solid for a stout thats always available. Love the roastyness on the aftertaste.

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

2012 12 oz. bottle that pours a deep, black body with a two-finger dark tan head. The head settles into a nice cap and leaves streaky lacing on the glass.

The aroma is typical of a RIS, but a bit on the light side. Some roasted malt, a bit of chocolate, some dark fruit. Nice, but not complex.

The flavor steps it up a notch. Very nice blend of flavors: roasted malt, dark fruit - especially raisin, chocoalte, light coffee, and licorice. Excellent flavor balance.

Very smooth mouthfeel, medium to thick in texture. Nearly no notice of the alcohol. This is a top-notch RIS. Highly recommend.

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

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout is a dark and tasty imperial stout.

A: Black colour and a 3 mm head that lasts pretty well. 4

S: Malty with some dark, burnt flavours. Some fresh hoppiness too. 4

T: Sharp burnt malt and dark fruit. Definitely a full-on start. The finish has some sweetness and ash flavour. 4.

M: Thick. Pretty low carbonation. 4

O: 4

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Photo of beeragent
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from a 2012 bottle. Poured into a glass.

A - Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights. Appears black as motor oil once in the glass. Thin mocha head with no lace.

S - Strong roasted malts, chocolate, and espresso.

T - Roasted malt and bitter chocolate coat the palate. A slight hop bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M - Heavy bodied, thick and very smooth. Low carbonation.

O - Just like most of what Sierra Nevada does, they have set a standard for the style. When I think of an RIS, this is exactly what I expect it to look, smell, and taste like. Just a perfect example of the style.

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Photo of Jonada
3.67/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 vintage served in a snifter

Appearance: Pours black with less than a finger of a dark tan head. Body is opaque.

Smell: Dark chocolate, roasted malt, black licorice, booze, fudge.

Taste: More of the same. Roasted malt, coffee, bitter dark chocolate, hint of dark fruit.

Mouthfeel: Lighter end of full bodied with medium prickly carbonation. Not super boozy, but the alcohol isn't exactly hidden well either.

Overall: A bit boozy, which holds this back from being great. I've had higher ABV beers that have hidden their ABV much better. Still decent, but with all of the other great imperial stouts out there, I probably won't get this again.

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Photo of seedyone
4.59/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From bottle at home. 2014 on bottle. Now this is what I call a stout. Look, smell, taste & feel are all very rich & full. This stuff makes no apologies, it just stands up straight & says "take it or leave it." I thought I caught the slightest hint of licorice/anise under my nose but it dissipated like a wisp, then came back again in the finish.

Alcohol taste but little of the burn. The chocolateness is of the bittersweet kind.

Every taste keeps saying to me "no kidding around". A real swashbuckler & I'm really enjoying it.

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Photo of themind
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

This is a very well crafted Imperial Stout. The beers pours a near perfect head with its rich dark color. The aroma is roasty with slight coffee coming thru. The taste was excellent! cocoa and roasted coffee make up this potion of love from SN. The mouth feel was awesome and the 10% ABV was hidden well. Overall this was a great beer that I would purchase again for sure.

Bottom Line: if its on the shelf....grab it!

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Photo of EdTheEdge
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Easily the darkest beer I ever tried. It's almost black with a thin one finger dark tan head.

S- Dark Chocolate, Coffee with a dense coco base.

T- Robust, Big, Malty, Roasty, Coffee, Semi-Sweet Chocolaty with a welcomed bit of bitterness... almost perfect.

F - Smooth, lightly carbobated and slighty oily.

O- One of the better Sierra Nevada brews. I could drink this quite often. This is not my favorite style but I enjoyed this beer very much.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 875 ratings.