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.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

3,023 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,023
Reviews: 615
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 111
Gots: 438 | 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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,023 | Reviews: 615 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Dools9
Dools9

Massachusetts

4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle poured into a Founders Snifter.

A: Black, black, straight up black. Two fingers of light brown head recede to a modest half finger and leaves big legs and lacing. Looks like a beast.

S: Upfront getting a big, bittersweet bakers chocolate component, sweet brownie batter, heavy roasted barley malt, some light espresso and caramel nuttiness.

T: Huge surge of smoky, mocha, cocoa nib, black bittersweet chocolate, black coffee, slightest citrusy/earthy hop presence, finishes dry and leaves a nice roasty aftertase. Not getting any booze on the taste whatsoever. Maybe a bit in the belly.

M: Medium to full, silky smooth, probably the best attribute of this beer, soft, velvety, and lush.

O: Very impressed, this was very enjoyable. It's basically everything I look for in a rock solid RIS and its super affordable. Glad I bought a 4 pack and will age a few to see how they develop if I can sit on them that long, we'll see. Well done SN.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 04:16:33 | More by Dools9
Photo of jzeilinger
jzeilinger

Pennsylvania

4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black and the head quickly dies down to leave a very thin lacing ring and a heavy cascade of bubbles when the snifter is swirled.

S - Roasted cocoa nibs, bittersweet chocolate, light charcoal & coffee beans, dark fruit is subdued and buried.

T - Dark roasted chocolate, dark fruit, coffee/expresso, charred oak, and chocolate bitterness that lingers on the palate.

M - Velvety smooth, soft carbonation, thick body and texture.

O - Sierra Nevada is coming on strong with some excellent big beers, this is yet another one worth seeking out for the stout lovers.

Serving type: bottle

12-01-2012 03:41:25 | More by jzeilinger
Photo of ejimhof
ejimhof

Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

12-01-2012 03:37:30 | More by ejimhof
Photo of dubmax
dubmax

Kansas

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

12-01-2012 03:33:38 | More by dubmax
Photo of TicoCali
TicoCali

California

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

12-01-2012 03:04:50 | More by TicoCali
Photo of CheekyBroad
CheekyBroad

Massachusetts

4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

11-30-2012 20:48:33 | More by CheekyBroad
Photo of dccombs
dccombs

North Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

11-30-2012 17:44:08 | More by dccombs
Photo of throwback
throwback

Ohio

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

11-30-2012 16:09:02 | More by throwback
Photo of FosterJM
FosterJM

California

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

1632nd Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
12oz

2012 Release
Purchased a single 12 from Total Wine, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

App- Poured a very dark brown and then bordered onto a black color. A great amount of density in the center and a little bit of lighter browns on the edges. A nice 1/2 inch head was there and fairly compact and then moved into a nice bit of lace and cling.

Smell- It was a nice RIS. Had a good amount of malt behind it with some roasty notes and bit of the bottle conditioned hop bitterness. A bit of bakers chocolate came into play as well.

Taste- I enjoyed this RIS. It had a great balance behind it. A good hop bitter with a solid milk chocolate and roast offering. The beginning is a bit thin and takes a few sips to warm and release a bit more of the flavors. More grainy that I thought, but still very flavorful.

Mouth- A very solid medium body with a medium grainy carbonation. A good amount of chocolate and malts balanced by a nice amount of bitter.

Drink- I liked it. Couldve been just an off day for me to rate a little low. Might have to grab a 4 pk to sit on.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 15:24:25 | More by FosterJM
Photo of harrymel
harrymel

Washington

3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Second time with this beast. First time it was good, but I was drunky.
Bottled day 227 of 2012

Pours a dark, deep black with a central dome and accompanying rim of tan foam confluenced by etching about the remainder of the surface. Smells of sweet malts, hints of graham, some bits of cocoa, a good nougat character and a bit of milky character. I like the nose,but it is lacking in the hops I usually associate with a fresh RIS. Taste is more bitter than I recall, and rightfully so, it has a good earthy, spicy authoritative hops charm and then some toasted malts, bits of bitter chocolate, coffee and a hint of graham still. Full bodied with small, sharp and fleeting carb. A thick, wet finish. Nice beer, should be a year round beer, rather than a seasonal - it's nothing special and I like my seasonals to taste and be special.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 07:50:37 | More by harrymel
Photo of sludgy
sludgy

Maryland

3.75/5  rDev -9.4%

11-30-2012 07:50:09 | More by sludgy
Photo of Antnyd82
Antnyd82

Illinois

4/5  rDev -3.4%

11-30-2012 04:47:32 | More by Antnyd82
Photo of jmich24
jmich24

Michigan

4/5  rDev -3.4%

11-30-2012 04:37:38 | More by jmich24
Photo of cjac
cjac

Maryland

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

11-30-2012 04:30:24 | More by cjac
Photo of jonbeer89
jonbeer89

Nebraska

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

11-30-2012 04:25:33 | More by jonbeer89
Photo of BeerDocT
BeerDocT

Georgia

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

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and judging by the subject matter and colors of this beer's label, they seem to be attempting to look like a famous and very popular beer from the Great Northwest named after a mad Russian holy man. What about the contents of the bottle? How do they measure up?

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out an inky black that almost looked thick. It looked like it was actually going to stain the sides of my glass! No head to speak of and a big glop of something dropped in at the end of the pour. Look out!

-Smell 4.0: In spite of its inky blackness, this brew has a subdued bouquet. I smell hops and toasted malt, but nothing really jumps out at me.

-Taste 4.5: Whoah! Front is mildly sweet and bitter. Middle is a huge, rushing wave of smoky grains, alkaline hops, dark chocolate and yummy malty goodness. Finish is huge too and is very hoppy and malty, but very well balanced. Aftertaste is long, smoky, chocolaty and delicious. Wonderful.

-Mouthfeel 4.5: So smooth and perfectly balanced with the taste of the beer. Really outstanding.

-Overall 4.5: I don't remember what I gave Ol' Rasputin, but this baby is a close second. Wonderful, huge beer that does not seem to be as big (in ABV and other areas!) as it really is. Deliciously smooth and robust, but at the same time very complex and nuanced. A chip off the old block. Recommended.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 03:25:28 | More by BeerDocT
Photo of HarrySTruman
HarrySTruman

Michigan

3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle severed near room temprature.

Black like the depths of the ocean (just like the name implies). Brown bubbles create a finger high head.

Smells like coffee beer. A good smell, but not very bold or broad. Roasted or brewed coffee.

Tastes are slightly more bold, roasted malts, chocholate and coffee. I felt like I was tasting a small amount of licorice or licroice flavored gum. Breathing out, or the after taste was more like a bitter baking chocolate.

Mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Easy to drink, but still a nice warmer for a winters night. Cosy up next to the fire with one of these.

Great beer, good price for the ABV, easy to drink, easy to find. No complaints about this one. Not as big and bold as some other RIS, but still a high quality drink.

Serving type: bottle

11-30-2012 00:16:48 | More by HarrySTruman
Photo of tuckerlikesbeer
tuckerlikesbeer

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

11-29-2012 07:12:53 | More by tuckerlikesbeer
Photo of ESPNman
ESPNman

California

4.3/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a The Glenrothes scotch snifter.

A - Pours a deep inky black, producing two fingers of thick mocha head. The head dissipates somewhat quickly, but leaves behind solid lacing. This looks like a thick and chewy Imperial Stout.

S - Lots of coffee and deeply roasted malt. Surprisingly little alcohol on the nose, although there is a hint of brandied fruit present. A bit of oak, leather, and chocolate round out the nose.

T - Much like the nose, but with more malt and chocolate. Not a lot of coffee present in the mouthfeel. It starts out extremely roasty, hits some of the chocolate with a hint of hop in the middle, and then finishes very sweet with a hint of alcohol. This one should age very nicely.

M - Thick, syrupy, chewy, and everything I look for in the style. This one really coats the mouth, and lingers for a while once you've swallowed. It's one of the sweeter stouts I've had recently, and leaves a sticky sugar finish on the palate.

O - This is another solid entry into SN's line of higher-alcohol 4-pack brews. It's a big Imperial Stout that's pretty similar to the 30th Anniversary Stout (I believe it was Ken & Fritz's). Chewy, high-alcohol, sweet, big, sticky... all of those characteristics that make a good Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 06:34:34 | More by ESPNman
Photo of phishphorce
phishphorce

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -3.4%

11-29-2012 04:05:59 | More by phishphorce
Photo of StoutHunter
StoutHunter

Michigan

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I picked up a four pack of Sierra Nevada's Narwhal Imperial Stout a couple weeks ago for $10.99 at The Lager Mill. Russian Imperial Stouts are one of my favorite styles and Sierra Nevada is one solid brewery so I couldn't pass up the chance to give this beer a try, so lets see how it goes. This is the first time this beer has been bottled, 2012 vintage. Poured from a shorter brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- I like the name and the artwork for this beer, it's nicely done and it's pretty unique much like the animal it's named after. It poured a nice and dark motor oil black color that didn't let any light come through and it had two and a half fingers worth of fluffy light mocha colored head that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and left some nice and sticky patches of lacing. This is a very good looking beer with a nice dark color and more head then usual for this style, there's not a damn thing wrong with it.

S- The aroma starts off with loads of dark roasted malts that have a higher amount of sweetness to them and imparted some roasted, charred, chocolate, molasses, cocoa powder, coffee, black licorice, and a slight bit of tobacco towards the end. I don't pick up any hops in the aroma but I do get a sweet boozy aroma. The aroma is nice and it's very true to style, the booze shows up a little too much, but it doesn't hurt this beer that much.

T- The taste seems to be pretty damn similar to the aroma and it starts off the same with lots of roasted malts that have a higher amount of medium sweetness and impart some highly roasted flavors along with some chocolate, coffee, and a slight tobacco and black licorice flavor. After that comes a sweet molasses flavor followed by a good amount of dark fruits that add some complexity to the flavor. On the finish I get some warming alcohol that makes the flavor a little boozy and the aftertaste is full of sweet roasted and charred malts. This beer tastes good and is very true to style, it has nice complexity, but the boozyness hurts it a little.

M- Not that smooth, somewhat creamy, a little sticky, very rich, full bodied, and it had a pretty good amount of medium carbonation. The mouthfeel was ok, but it would be nice if this was a little smoother.

Overall I thought this was a good beer and a good example of the style, it had just about all the aspects that I look for in the style with some good complexity, but it didn't seem to be as balanced as some of the better RIS's. This beer had ok drinkability, it's a sipper and the flavors did a good job at holding my attention, but I think one would be enough for me, it might start to be to boozy after that. What I liked the most about this beer was it's complexity and it's appearance, they were both pretty good. What I liked the least about this beer was the mouthfeel and the drinkability, it was a little rough around the edges and it would be nice if this beer was smoothed out a little. I would buy this beer again, it's pretty solid and affordable for the style, I might keep a couple bottles for the cellar to see how they change overtime and I would get a four pack if it's released again. All in all I thought this was a pretty solid Russian Imperial Stout, but it lacked the balance and refinement that some of the better ones have, it's good but It can't hang with the world class RIS's like Founders RIS or Bell's Expedition Stout. Sierra Nevada makes some solid beers and this one's no exception, they seem to be one of the most constant breweries and I respect that. 2013 Edit, I had a year old bottle recently and it smoothed a little with some great chocolate flavors, ages well so far.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 03:59:40 | More by StoutHunter
Photo of MN_Beerticker
MN_Beerticker

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

11-29-2012 03:56:04 | More by MN_Beerticker
Photo of notchucknorris
notchucknorris

California

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

A: Pours a thick black with a thin mocha head. Shows the thickness when swirled in the glass, leaving big trails of lace.

S: Roasted malt, burnt toast, anise, dark chocolate, molasses, mexican chocolate and some charred malt. Pretty complex.

T: A big charred malt hit right off the bat. Molasses, burnt coffee grounds, baking chocolate and charred grain. Maybe a hint of smoke and earthy hop resin on the finish. A really great RIS. Mouthfeel is big and chewy without giving away the ABV. Solid stuff.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 03:30:04 | More by notchucknorris
Photo of yeastinfection
yeastinfection

California

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

11-29-2012 02:48:39 | More by yeastinfection
Photo of Jimmys
Jimmys

Pennsylvania

3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottle into SAVOR tulip.

A: pretty dark body, just a shade under black. head is coffee hued and forthy. residual head is average as is the lacing.

S: chocolate, tobacco, and coffee. the sugary sweetness has a roundness to it.

T: some black licorice is in there. a little bit of vanilla. finish is a blend of coco and coffee. lingering sweetness is pretty close to a dry chocolate.

M: the carbonation is a bit lively. more-so than i expected. full bodied.

D: a good stout for sure, unfortunately for myself i expected a little more. maybe an additional dimension of flavor that i couldnt find. however i do appreciate the lack of alcohol heat on such a recent, high abv stout. good, definitely worth grabbing for a solid stout experience.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2012 02:35:17 | More by Jimmys
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,023 ratings.