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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

3,227 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,227
Reviews: 629
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 9.66%
Wants: 151
Gots: 502 | 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
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Ratings: 3,227 | Reviews: 629 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of JamesMN
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: In a long list of the most opaque black beers out there. Two finger light brown head that leaves nice lacing.

Aroma: Coffee, molasses, cream, chocolate syrup.

Taste: Heavy on the bitter black coffee flavor. Dark chocolate as well but not as prominent. Not quite as roasty as I was expecting but still quite robust. Very bitter probably more due to the malt bill than the hops utilized because there is no discernible hop presence. Still, a nice change of pace from the usual RIS (although I probably wouldn't classify it as such). Dry finish and lingering black coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a good level of carbonation and pretty easy to drink but more of a sipper.

Final Thoughts: Not my favorite but a very good Imperial Stout, especially if you like coffee flavor in your stouts. Would I drink it again? Yep, got a few in the cellar to see how it does with some age on it.

JamesMN, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of lupercmda
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

lupercmda, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of TwelveOunces
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- Pours syrupy and as black as night. Almost no head to speak of but the head was a deep brown color. Impressive alcohol lacing.

S- A boatload of roasted malts, a slight dark chocolate. A big hop bitterness. A touch of alcohol.

T- A big crisp bitterness up front. Followed up by an absolutely massive amount of roasted flavors. Really lingers on the tongue to the point of being smokey. The beer definitely has a big chocolate flavor and feel which mellows it out and adds a whole new level of complexity. This is a hoppy stout, there are strong underlying notes of citrus and a lot of pine. Very dry and roasted aftertaste.

M- Big and thick, definitely a sipping beer. Almost no alcohol presence, it is hidden extremely well. Dry aftertaste. Really sticky.

O- This is an incredible imperial stout. One of the best non-barrel/aged stouts I have had in a good while. It is also priced incredibly well and is available everywhere. Definitely get some and make sure to keep some aside for the years to come.

TwelveOunces, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of will1256
4/5  rDev -3.4%

will1256, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of AdamBear
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-comes out thick and black with a nice tan head

S-faint scent of dark roasted grains and cocoa beans. I wish it were a bit stronger.

T-comes in with a wonderful taste of crisp dark roasted grains. It really is so smooth and hits the spot. There's a slight bit of bitterness before the long matching after-taste. It's a great beer. Good hints of mocha.

M-medium dry carbonation with a semi dry finish

O-the flavors aren't unique. They're not strong, but they are flawless. It's really just an easy drinking strong stout that remains true to it routes. The ingredients taste very real and genuine.i love this. It's one I could get by the case.

AdamBear, Nov 19, 2012
Photo of Sarlacc83
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, split.

A: Pure black. Mocha head fades to thin lacing. Sticks to the glass.

N: Chocolate, malt, coffee. Some tobacco and leather. Has a rye type pepperiness. Deep and rich. Molasses. Black licorice.

T: Licorice, chocolate, tobacco, pepper and earth. This is very ’spicy’ and sprucey. Has quite a bit of hop character to match the malty sweetness. Excellently put together if perhaps a bit green.

M: Perfect. Heavy without becoming cloying. Alcohol never distracts.

O: Sierra Nevada waited too long to release an RIS. This should be considered a standard. I’ll be buying more to age.

Sarlacc83, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of tcsather
4/5  rDev -3.4%

tcsather, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of c_patton
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

c_patton, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of woosterbill
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, 2012 vintage (obviously), into a Duvel tulip.

A: A straight pour yields a solid, dense light-brown head above a black body that glints crimson when held up to light. The head settles slowly and leaves some nice lacing. Lovely.

S: Spicy, with dark chocolate, spruce, and light booziness. The hops are huge, overwhelming everything else - but I expected no less from SN. Really nice, albeit in an almost Black IPA kind of way.

T: Follows the nose, but with a bit more malt richness - lovely brownie batter sweetness leads in to the highly bitter, spicy finish. Really intense, quite tasty, but a trifle harsh on the back end.

M: Creamy, substantial but not sticky. Excellent.

O: Really nice stout - reminds me a bit of '09 Imperial Stout Trooper, the year it was super hoppy. Good stuff.

Cheers!

woosterbill, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of rbrefbeerman
4/5  rDev -3.4%

rbrefbeerman, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of JEdmund
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Inky black, quarter inch tan head that settles down quickly.

Rich aroma of chocolate, like cocoa powder. Not an especially big aroma, but that might be because it’s not so huge on hops. Still, good and inviting.

Big roast flavor and strong dark chocolate flavor in the finish—not to mention a fairly big wave of alcohol heat on this 10% whale of a beer. Just big flavor in general, all coming together nicely in the finish. Body is also robust, with a smooth texture and enough carbonation to also tickle the tongue. Hops are fairly neutral, providing for a clean cut in the finish. It doesn’t blow me away, but I also have no complaints. I think I’d need to try it against others to see how it really compares.

Sierra Nevada has done a nice job on this style, not surprisingly. I’m going to enjoy savoring the other three, and I’ll see how one evolves with a year’s worth of age.

JEdmund, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of corby112
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours viscous, pitch black and completely opaque with a two finger mocha head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Decent retention with streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Roasted malt aroma with a stronger hop presence than I expected. Floral and earthy with resinous, grassy pine character countering the burnt malt, coffee bean and oatmeal notes. I shouldn't be too surprised coming from SN but the hops are a bit too prominent for this style, in my opinion, taking away from the robust malt profile a bit too much. Even after warming up considerably, the nose is still pretty tame on this beer.

Medium bodied with a deeply roasted dark malt flavor that's complimented by a bitter, earthy hop presence that lingers into a slightly boozy finish. The hops aren't as strong as the nose hints at but there's still prominent in the flavor with sticky pine needle bitterness and subtle citrus. The dryness of the hops compliment the bitterness of the roasted malts. Hints of burnt toast, oatmeal, bitter dark chocolate and espressoo/coffee bean followed by lighter chocolate and alcohol sweetness. The high is relatively well masked but there's definitely some warmth lingering in the finish. Overall, this is a pretty good stout but the strong hop character hinders the malt flavors a bit too much for my preference. Decent but nothing out of the ordinary. Great value for the price of the four pack though.

corby112, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of craigreno
4/5  rDev -3.4%

craigreno, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of fmccormi
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight pour from 12oz pry-off bottle to a 25cl Duvel Single tulip; bottling date of October 5, 2012 (“2279209 : 46”) printed in white ink on the shoulder of the bottle, making this beer just over six weeks old on the date of consumption.

Appearance (4.0): Body is black as night—no surprise there, but there’s just absolutely no light passing through. The head is a dense two fingers of dark tan-colored foam, which dies down at a reasonable pace. “Dark tan” doesn’t do it justice, though—there’s milk chocolate out there lighter than this shade of brown. Modest lacing and moderate head retention, but both decent for the style.

Smell (4.0): Just roasty as hell—not in a charred wood kind of way, but in a French Roast coffee kind of way, or like dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. Picking up notes of molasses, anise, bitter, dark chocolate, some alcohol vapor, some smooth oat character (seems to me, anyway). Really nice nose on this bastard.

Taste (4.5): Not as bitter or charred as the nose might indicate—but not overly sweet in any way, either. Very satisfying chocolate and coffee notes, mainly a drying bitterness that accompanies very dark chocolate along with the modestly charred, very bitter but deeply flavorful character of espresso beans. Some burnt multigrain toast fleshes out the malt body, leading into a somewhat bitter finish that hangs on and continues for a while. The hops add a surprisingly clear citrus pith-type bitterness along with a somewhat bright citrus fruit (think mixed orange and grapefruit juice) flavor under the roasty malt body. Huh. Was not expecting that, but it’s quite nice. Damn, this is really, really good.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Very full-feeling with a thick, oily body that coats and paints every surface of your mouth and throat. Has that drying, vaporous feel on the finish that comes from the high ABV, but it’s not unpleasant. This kind of forces you to sip—it makes me want to exhale and take a couple of breaths after each sip before I take another, which for this size and style of beer, I really appreciate. Carbonation fits the style very well, never prickly but full and lush with a filling, foaming character on the way down. Holy hell.

Overall (4.5): To be honest, this is quite a bit better than I was expecting, and I was already expecting that Sierra Nevada would do a pretty good job. Turns out, they did an excellent job. This is a full-bodied, full-flavored, but attractive and pleasant-drinking imperial stout with a couple of unexpected and very welcome turns here and there. I’m not into most aged beers, but I’d be willing to bet this would be a good candidate. Outstanding, and a job well done by Sierra Nevada.

fmccormi, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of Burns9812
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Burns9812, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of Gagnonsux
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Gagnonsux, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of larryi86
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Black with a three finger mocha head.

S- Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some earthy hops.

T- Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, some caramel malts, earthy hops in the finish, some dark fruits, some milk chocolate.

M- Smooth, full body, a good amount of carbonation.

O- A great imperial stout. I enjoyed the 30th anniversary stout more, but I am very happy see Sierra Nevada brewing an imperial stout.

larryi86, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of muletrane
4/5  rDev -3.4%

muletrane, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of mweso2000
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

mweso2000, Nov 18, 2012
Photo of cruzmissile72
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

cruzmissile72, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of Mdog
3.48/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pitch black with a huge head. Looks great.

Smell: Not much. Mild chocolate shows up eventually.

Taste: Dark chocolate builds in intensity through the glass. Dark fruits hang in the background. Gives a mild dark chocolate bitterness throughout.

Overall: Started out looking like a dream, but didn't deliver excellence in the aroma or taste. Some might be my personal preference in that I like imperial stouts to be a little sweeter than this, but it still didn't give a particularly memorable experience. Kind of middle of the road, not too sweet, not too hoppy.

Mdog, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
10.2% ABV, number code on shoulder.

A - Almost midnight black, Narwhal quietly fills the snifter, even with a tall pour. The result is a low mocha head which briefly tops the black before sinking into it's depths leaving a ring of foam and a few splashes of lace.

S - Quite simple and closed off at first, Narwhal rises from the depths to a cold but soft nose of rich maltiness that expands from cocoa to dark chocolate developing with raisin and prune, subtle dusty earthiness, and a faint hint of warming alcohol on the finish.

T - Narwhal's flavor starts just like the aroma; simple and somewhat closed off. Rich roasted malt develops into subtle undertones of dark, bitter chocolate and espresso notes with a dry cocoa finish.

M - Like a good imperial stout, Narwhal is thick and rich with a milk chocolate smooth, velvety feel that slowly turns dry and bitter and rough around the edges from the heavily roasted malts. Warming alcohol emerges as this creamy beer coats the throat as it warms up for one pleasing winter stout!

O - Sierra Nevada Narwhal employs dark, roasted malts to create a deep depth of flavor throughout this imperial stout changing as it warms. A welcome addition to Sierra Nevada's seasonal line up, Narwhal is a wonderful sipping beer that encourages reflection on the malts' presence and use.

BeerFMAndy, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of Tucquan
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-11-17 in Columbia, PA

A - Opaque black with a brown 1-finger head and mild lacing.

S - Floral, brown bread, chocolate. Moderate level of aroma but very inviting.

T - Dark roasted malt, soy sauce/umami, significant char, smidge of dark chocolate, not too sweet, alcohol, pepper. Kind of brash. Finishes roasty and spicy. Good stuff.

M - Medium-heavy body and light-medium carbonation. Somewhat creamy yet dries pretty well.

O - Very enjoyable. Big flavors. Had this side-by-side with a 9-month old Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and the Narwhal holds up quite well in comparison considering it doesn't have the bourbon influence. The KBS is smoother with more coffee, has a heavier mouthfeel and isn't as brash as the Narwhal - in other words, the KBS is better. I'm going to age some of the Narwhal to see if the brashness mellows out.

Note: Had an aged one from 2012 on 2013-10-19 and the brashness has mellowed significantly. I like it better with a year on it.

Tucquan, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of jpro
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz single picked up from Total Wine. Poured into tulip...

A: Pours with an ink-like blackness; two-finger mocha head leaves a ring of retention and few short-lived strands of lace; looks pretty bold.

S: Deep, dark, roasted malt; dark chocolate; coffee notes; sweet.

T: Bitter, charred malt; dark chocolate / chocolate syrup; chicory on end; pretty big oily hop finish.

M: Medium-full mouthfeel; high carbonation with some zing; not quite as full or as slick I'd like in an imperial stout.

O: A very nice Russian imperial stout from Sierra Nevada; is this a new seasonal? a one off? Interesting as its kind of out of nowhere. Big and bold and somewhat reminiscent of Old Rasputin - that's what it initially reminded me of, at least. A good beer, even with the slightly off mouthfeel. I'd have another - maybe on a cold winter night!

jpro, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of rdilauro
3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tis the stout season and I've been trying them all. Another nice beer from Sierra Nevada.
The pour was black, not quite jet black, but the first thing I noticed as I poured was a lot of carbonation.

The taste was more chocolate than coffee to me, perhaps a little blueberry in there. I was surprised by the amount of carbonation. That was the one thing that sort of left me a bit while tasting this one.

Because of the carbonation, I really had a hard time feeling the complete mouthful and then the final after taste.

rdilauro, Nov 17, 2012
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,227 ratings.