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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

3,987 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,987
Reviews: 714
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 213
Gots: 798 | FT: 35
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
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Ratings: 3,987 | Reviews: 714 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of troegaarden
5/5  rDev +20.5%

Photo of jondeelee
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Narwhal opens to a thick, black aroma bursting with ash, coffee, tobacco, and black malt, but these supported by an equally thick layer of heavy cream and caramel. Anise and black pepper dance in the background, adding spicy notes, joined by black breads, yeasty wheat dough, and toast crust. A reveille of dark fruit esters – fig, date, prune, black cherry – joins with blackstrap molasses and cocoa to add a layer of deep sugars, and the hops bring grapefruit rind, pine, pink grapefruit, and light hints of dandelion stem to form a bitter, citrusy buzz that nicely complements the sugars. Though the beer is not barrel aged, there’s a charcoal-and-vanilla bourbon-like undertone as well, adding delicious alcoholic liquor aromas to the mix. On the whole, the aroma is fantastic, being rich, fruity, black, hoppy, ashy, and bourbon-y, offering pretty much everything one could wish for in an Imperial Stout; the only way to improve this would be to actually bourbon barrel-age it.

On the tongue, the beer starts off black, and then gets even blacker, with massive waves of ash, coffee grounds, semi-burnt cocoa, black malt, and tobacco rushing across the tastebuds. Though these dark layers never let up, they are met after a time by a good layer of vanilla-soaked heavy cream, and a nice fruity layer of figs, dates, and prunes. Burnt pecans, toast crust, and heavy black breads add further earthiness, deepening the complexity. In subsequent sips the bourbon-like vanilla-and-charcoal notes gain more ground, adding alcoholic goodness to the mix. Hops are less present here than they were in the nose, but do add pine resin and grapefruit rind, creating some bitterness. The aftertaste is a continuation of the ashy notes, with sugars hanging on for all they’re worth, and at least the ash lingers on the tongue for a very long time. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is a fantastic Imperial Stout, though it should be noted that it’s not for the faint of heart. This is mostly due to the tobacco ash and black malt notes, since at times they were so powerful that I felt like I had a mouthful of cigar smoke – especially in the aftertaste. But for fans of the style, there’s really not much else one could want in this beer, except perhaps some barrel aging. I did find the mouthfeel more watery than I would have expected, but almost everything else in here is excellent. Well worth trying.

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

Generous light brown head fills the top of the glass then quickly falls on top of a pitch black ale.

Aroma of dark roasted grain on top of a rich malty base, solid raw-grain bread scents with no hint of alcohol. Balanced hop bitterness with the first sip, pronounced american (citrus?) hop flavors quickly washed away by sharp roasted grain taste. Thick and lucious body carries the astringent roasted grain through to a dry finish.

Great balance in the finish, deftly pairing strong roasted grain with a thick and full malty body. Alcohol is well hidden behind this very solid malty RIS. This is a straight shooter that doesn't fool around with quirky flavors and nails the balance of drinkability just right.

Photo of twizzbeatz
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of avisong
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Camel242000
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of derkfromwi
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of jkn09
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of falloutsnow
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From: Binny's, Champaign, IL
Date: None on bottle, released late fall 2012
Glass: New Belgium globe glass

Pours a 2cm tall head of tan foam, with above average retention for the 10.2% ABV (lasts about 2-5 minutes). Head fades to a thin film atop the beer, leaving moderate lacing, though not extreme. Body is a very dark brown to black, opaque, with carbonation not visible.

Aroma of smooth, sweetish roasted malt, a bit of vanilla, a hint of old coffee, and mild smoke. Altogether, not very inspiring, somewhat boring.

Opens with sweet, roasty malts with a bit of vanilla and marshmallow, smooth in flavor. The mid-palate finds roasted malt, burnt toast, smoke, and ethanol, which renders the flavor slightly sharp. Back of the palate notices continued roasted malt, marshmallow, vanilla, ethanol, slight bitterness from hops, and sharpness from the ethanol. Aftertaste is of roasted malt, burnt marshmallow, and mild lingering bitterness. While for a 10.2% ABV beer, the ethanol isn't as prominent as it could be,

The beer is heavy to medium heavy in body, with carbonation of medium-low intensity, leading to a slightly foamy, creamy, and smooth mouthfeel. Only minor ethanol is felt in the nostrils and back of throat. Closes fairly dry, with modest stickiness across the palate.

Photo of tbryan5
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of Somebody_Else
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The darkness!

I think the smell is the weakest part of this beer. It's a good smell, just not this beer's strong suit. Light on the roastiness, medium on the chocolate, strong on the sweetness. A good combination, but for my preference, I like a little more of the roasted smell. Not smoke: roast.

Love this flavor! There be layers here! The very first sip gave me mahogany! I was not expecting that! This was followed by a lot of sweet malt. I got some of that roastiness I missed in the nose. After the swallow I got residuals of delightfully bitter hops, which rather surprised me. The hops and the residual wood flavor really worked for me. The other flavor that creeps in around the edges is Cabernet, which brought in an appreciated fruit note.

This beer was slightly too sweet for me, but not cloyingly so and I can accept that.

I most certainly will drink more of this!

Photo of BrewTasting
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of ThomasAWilson2
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Murrhey
3.96/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Russian Imperial Stout. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California. At last, after 30 years, an imperial stout from Sierra Nevada. Is it any good? Is there any doubt? Let's find out.

On tap. My second keg of the stuff, finally taking a moment to sit down and take notes on it.

Black as sin, under a lush, creamy brown head, leaving lace. Beautiful.

Aroma: plenty of cocoa, espresso, molasses, anise. Deep stuff.

Taste: Floods the mouth with thick, viscous, lush dark malt. Anise sparks up and leads the pack of the flavors found in the aroma, chocolate second, smoke and char are in their, too, amid espresso and the like. There's a fierce tug of war going on between bitter and sweet in this (plenty of hops below the massive malt.) Layers upon layers, wave after wave, intriguing and delicious. Vast, complex, richly rewarding.

Full-bodied, long, lush malty finish. With dark delight after dark delight. A sure hit for the stout fanatic. If you don't dig this, my friend, there's something wrong with you.

Although one thing I'm not entirely keen on is this: I can't think of the name of this beer without thinking of "Rock Lobster" by the B-52's.

Photo of miked234
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black and dark brown pour out the bottle, impressive depth and thickness to it. Solid 1+" head on it, tan in color, great density, retention and lacing to it. This is professional grade appearance.

Aroma was full of roasted and chocolate malt. They definitely didn't skimp. Already wondering how the pricing on this can be so affordable (4/$9.99). Plenty of coffee like aromas, the dark, sludgy variety that sits on the pot all day at Denny's.

The taste is substantial bitterness that falls off the tongue as the large body absorbs and washes it away. As usual, Sierra Nevada doesn't short you on the hops. Very dry in the end. Not going to be mistaken for a milk stout, that's for sure. Alcohol in check.

A beer like this should make you re-evaluate why you spend $10 on a bomber of imperial stout that probably isn't as good as this.

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- 12 oz bottle pours pitch black. Caramel head of 1.5 fingers. Quickly dissipates . Decent lacing, but not up to par with what i usually see from Sierra Nevada.

S- Wow. What a fantastic highlight of this beer. Supreme notes of chocolate and coffee. Powerful.

T- Coffee flavor is the most prevalent with a touch of coco and caramel. I would have loved it if the flavor would have followed the nose much closer. I felt like some of the chocolate notes were lost in the overpowering phenolic flavors of the alcohol. A touch of hops. Warm, dry finish.

M- Full bodied, good carbonation. A little dry, but still fairly smooth. Alcohol quite present.

O- Maybe the best smelling beer i have ever had. I really had high hopes for it based on the aroma. Unfortunately, the beer took a step back in the flavor. Maybe my expectations were that this would be on the same level with other imperial stouts as Old Rasputin from North Coast, but it is a step or two below that in my opinion. I can expect some alcohol presence with an abv of 10%, but it was a little too boozy for my taste. None the less, still a good beer, but just a little underachieving in my mind.

Photo of oxcitypauze
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of WestCoastBrew2
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of NickBeery
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of kruthy
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of zrab11
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Off my first sip, I can tell that this is a beer that would benefit from some aging. Bright berry tones seem to show quite large with a lot of malty sweetness. Mild roasted thing going on too. Extremely smooth feel. Excellent level of carbonation. Way too easy to drink for a 10.2% beer. Definitely a good brew. I'd get a case and let them rest for 1-2 years, if I was going to invest the coin.

Photo of lonewolfcry
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,987 ratings.