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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

820 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 820
Hads: 4,652
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 269
Gots: 1,229 | FT: 43
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:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 820 | Hads: 4,652
Photo of CIBoy10
4.92/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look - Poured from 12 oz bottle into an oversized wine glass. Blacker than the blackest black. Totally opaque. Thin traces of carbonation, but hardly any head. Nice lacing.

Smell - Coffee, chocolate, malt, cherries, faint yeast/booze, Irish car bomb (mixed together), yogurt raisins? (but seriously). Pretty complex. I wish this was a cologne.

Taste - Great coffee, cherries, dark chocolate (think chocolate covered cherry), maduro cigar. Roasted malt up front, chocolate really comes on in the middle, you can barely feel the booze on the finish with contains more bitterness, coffee, and maduro. Finish only lingers pleasantly, doesn't annoy. Wow. Gets more malty and bitter as it warms up.

Feel - Certainly doesn't feel dry or thin, and I'm glad (don't like really dry, thin, over-carbonated stouts). LIke swallowing creamy silk. Booze is not overpowering at all. You don't feel the 10.2% whatsoever.

Overall - It is sweeter (not too much) than other stouts but I actually like that. This is a big boy though and it is thick and rich. One of the best RIPs I have ever had. Fantastic beer that exceeded my expectations. And at 10.2%, worst case scenario is you feel great afterwards. In other words, try one.

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Photo of Ipaupaweallpa
4.85/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So I have been seeking this out for a while, did try the SN Porter and the SN coffee stout. Never had the regular stout, never see it around although I'm sure it is similar to coffee stout. saw this last night and got very excited . Much anticipation. Tried to not get my hopes too high as stouts always have that "filling" Maltiness to me and I drink iPas mostly. Wow. This beer is incredible. Very smooth. DEFINATLY not able to detect the 10.2% abv until it leaves your mouth with a chocolatey Bite. Not nearly as carbonated and "airy" as the Porter and stout. Perfection. Like a silky chocolate smoothness. Not sure if I could have more than one because of the sweetness. But, still, after the first sip I was already wondering how I'm gonna secure another 4 pack.

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Photo of tedvr
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours really dark with a thick creamy head. Faint smell of chocolate. Taste of dark chocolate and mild coffee. Medium creamy mouthful with mild carbonation. Has a nice balanced taste with a nice finish.

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Photo of Gabriel_Vaughn
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

pours incredibly well, dark as the night, caramel lace head sticks edge of glass well

smells sweet

taste faint licorice not my cup of tea

mouthfeel is great, very easy

Not my favorite imperial stout but a wonderful beer!

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Photo of BWED
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A- Black. Dark brown head. Lingers at a quarter inch. Great lacing.

S- Big bittersweet roast. Chocolate and coffee. Alcoholic sting in the nose.

T- Relatively sweet. Chocolate is up there, but there is still a mild earthy hop bitterness. I was expecting that from SN.

M- Nice and thick. Bitterness comes out with a bit of astringency, but the sweetness is the the main component.

O- Really great. I was expecting a fair contribution of hops, but the sweetness, dark chocolate character was a good surprise. And stronger than one would think.

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Photo of datalager
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I know I've reviewed this before, yet another review that was lost somewhere in the BA changeover some time ago. But I'll do it again for kicks and giggles. Here's the abridged stuff you need to know. It's an imperial stout. It has all the characteristics of an imperial stout. Noteworthy here is the well hidden ABV. Awesome beer. Get some.

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Photo of hopflyer
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 7/31/14
Pours deep black with light tan head. Has almost an orange tint.

Nothing prominent in the nose. Maybe some faint chocolate and coffee. A little alcohol detected.

Taste is some bitterness mixed with semi sweet chocolate. A little bit of roasted coffee and maybe a touch of some burnt wood. A bit of hop bitterness on the finish.

Feel initially is a bit thin. Carb is low to medium. Maybe a little stickiness but it doesn't feel all that viscous.

Its a good stout but nothing over the top. Flavors are there but don't pop or hit very hard and the aroma was nearly non-existent compared to what you'd expect in a big RIS.

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Photo of taters21
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this is exceptional.
Appearance-Black with a finger and a half reddish brown head with good rention to one finger.
Smell-Raisin, Dark Chocolate, Roasted malt
Taste-This is where this stout knocked my socks off, delightfully chocolate sweetness that fades to coffee then to a roasted light bitterness, just splendid.
Feel-Creamy, velvety, coats the mouth well, very good for this style.
All in all, I had high hopes and this beer was even better than I thought it could be.

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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 51mmz0rz
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking this 1 year aged (2013) at Owl farm. Ages really well, though a little boozy. A roastiness still aparant in the finish. 12 oz pour might be a little much for this one...

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Photo of genesisgrunge
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful black. No light shines through. No head (although I worry it may have been my specific bottle).
S: Chocolate and molasses with a strong roasted (but not coffee) scent. It has a wood scent to cap it off. Must be those bourbon barrels used to age it.
T: Dark chocolate and earthy with an alcohol hit that comes with a 10.20 abv, but it's still smooth.
M: I imagine the mouthfeel must be much better than I experienced since the head was very thin to nonexistent on my pour. Yet it is still smooth and velvety. Reminds me of a Rasputin, but slightly more harsh due to the more pronounced alcohol taste.
O: Excellent beer. I will need to try this again with a proper pour from a good tap or bottle. This beer is a truly dark monster of complexity and challenge, but in all good ways. For those who like Rasputin for its sweeter malts, this is not the beer for you, but if you like Rasputin Imperial for everything else, then Narwhal is a must have.

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Photo of Michael_R_Gurdineer
3.56/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

As always, I find barrel aged to be TOO much flavor in the wrong direction. As this special brew breathed the barrel aged flavor became too overpowering. Not my cup of tea!

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Photo of macaronnie68
3.33/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Just wasn't what I was looking for. I had been drinking some ales beforehand so maybe that affected my taste buds. But this just had too syrupy a taste for me.

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Photo of KarmicSkrambl8
4.76/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

neck and neck with Old Rasputin

viscosity heavy in feel...love the chocolate as it rolls across...smoother than Ol Raspy...and, on some days....better

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Photo of Lard_City
4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Molasses and chocolate. Alcohol seems a little more forward in this than in the BA Narwhal. Sweet and mildly bitter. Good to drink anytime but great in the winter.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black color with motor oil consistency. Decent sized thick brown head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a thin, crisp line of lacing around the edge of the glass, with a thin "island" of head left in the center.

Heavily roasted chocolate and coffee malts, and a good deal of booze. Some dark fruits are definitely there too.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts. The booziness is still there. Dark fruits are definitely noticeable, led by black licorice. Cocoa and molasses. Very dark, roasted coffee. A good amount of hop bitterness.

Heavy bodied. Not much carbonation. Very creamy and rich, with a relatively noticeable bite from the alcohol. Definitely a sipper.

Overall, another solid entry from SN. This is a very good example of a "good" RIS; doesn't execute any aspect perfectly but does them all very well. A good beer on a cold winter night. (Incidentally, my curiosity caused me to look up what a Narwhal is. Fascinating creature).

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Photo of CraigP83
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown almost black, this head has a chocolate color. Roasted barley or malt odor, not much else "pops". Burnt coffee taste gives way to nice roasted malts you also get some bitterness like you would from dark chocolate.

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Photo of LouZ
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle 2014 vintage, aged one year; pours black with minimal head. Roasty, malty scent. Taste is mildly sweet at start, but finishes with coffee and bitter hops. The bitterness is more pronounced than any sweetness. It's a smooth drink, creamy, with nice carbonation despite the lack of head.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just slightly to much bitter threw it a little out of whack. But the bitter was probably a strong component to how well the ABV is hidden. Extremely tasty with loads of malty deliciousness, seems like a bit of coffee within the bitter finish. Very smooth and creamy, overall an outstanding beer that I would gladly have again.

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Photo of mrmaps
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: Dark

Smell: Low on volatiles

T: Light malt with some initial sweetness in the front that is covered by coffee with hints of vanilla. Finishes with a significant hop presence.

O: Flavor profile is dominated by hops at the end. Good product for those who don't like too much sweetness and more hops in their imperial stouts. Easy to drink with the alcohol well disguised. Not a huge imperial stout.

Value: Reasonable price for a quality beer.

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Photo of brandonati
3.61/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Good at all that it is supposed to be. Not as complex as many new stouts on the scene but very drinkable. Smooth. And I love the way it changes as it Warms.

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Photo of hreb
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014 edition. 12oz bottle, dated 08/13/14, served in pint glass. Beer pours pitch black and slick like oil, with nearly zero head. Dark aromas suggest molasses. Flavors are immediate and complex: layers of toasted barley, burnt toast, treacle, and of course ethanol, but there's also an assertive hop flavor. I find the combination spicy, very appropriate for winter, and decided American (a high gravity, high IBU stout? why not!). Mouthfeel is great, low carbonation, which is perfect for the style.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a snifter.
Pours squid ink black with a small smidgen of deep dark caramel head.
Smells a bit light, but certainly elements of roasted malt and coffee.
Taste is glorious. Deep roast, deep coffee bitterness.
A nice mouthfeel not too thin which I appreciated since there was no barrel aging.
Overall, this beer is delicious. Now on to BA Narwhal!!!

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Photo of beersnobraven
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Deep, black, beautiful. Awesome bottle art, too.
Smell: Smells a little like bittersweet coffee. Primary scents are malt and chocolate.
Taste: Holy crap! It's like drinking a liquid chocolate cake! Seriously, so much chocolate! If you did a blind taste test, I would have a thought that this was a stout brewed with chocolate. A great beer for a chocolate lover like me! Other flavors I'm picking up are malt, coffee, with a little-to-medium hops present.
Feel: Really thick and delicious. Very dense; definitely a sipper.
Overall: Probably my all-time favorite Imperial Stout, and I'd go far to say favorite beer of all time. It's great taste and mouthfeel are definitely its best attributes, while it's 10.2 % ABV is also a plus. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had.

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Photo of TheDoctor
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled: 2013

Pours a murky black (opaque) with ruby edges in the light, skiff of brown head evaporates to nothing but an anemic ring. Little retention; minimal arcs of lacing. (3.5)

Chocolate and molasses. Baker's chocolate, coffee, molasses, figs, woodsy leather, subtle alcohol. (4.25)

Chocolate and coffee. Bitter chocolate on top of cocoa, with some baker's chocolate for good measure, dried dark fruits, coffee, roasty malt husks. (4)

Medium-full bodied, with well-hidden alcohol, low carbonation, a little less sludgy than some. Fairly clean finish (4)

Very good RIS.
Tons of bitter chocolate with some oak and leathery characteristics pretty evely distributed as well.
Pours about like a boozy beer does (not all of them, though, hence my lowered score) with a bittersweet nose. The port-black liquid isn't super thick but tastes about like the aroma, but with a creamy sweetness in the finish and a pretty drinkable presence on the ol' palate. Big, but not needlessly so.
Would have again; well-worth a try. (4.25)

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 820 ratings.