Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 3,148 | Reviews: 621 | Display Reviews Only:
4.28/5 rDev +3.4%
Now here is a beer I have been anxiously awaiting since I heard it existed – finally, Sierra Nevada’s imperial stout has been released. Let’s taste the liquid hype…
Brewed a little over a month before the date of this tasting (October 5, 2012 by the code on the bottle).
A: Phenomenally thick, pouring like viscous black motor oil from the bottle. Dark brown bubbles form a ring around the top of the body, settling there for the duration as the only inkling of head. Ropy lacing strings all the way around.
S: Chocolate-covered pretzel and toffee encase this moderately-pungent nose in sweets, augmented by a spattering of burnt sugar, cappuccino, and marshmallow tones. It brightens up with a tinge of raspberry, hazelnut, and cherry cordial, as well as that classic, piney, Sierra Nevada hoppiness. But with all that, it still has a yeasty note overall, bready and earthen in every whiff – not a sugar bomb like Choklat or Dark Lord. In this nose, balance is always present.
T: One taste and it’s instant Sierra Nevada, immediately spreading those taut, piney bitters to the corners of the palate. It’s one of the brewery traits that got me into craft, so I know it and love it, but this time it definitely fits – the wave of blackened malt fits perfectly into the resinous hops. Char, oak chips, toasted bread, and peanut brittle make up the thick middle of the palate, but not without a smooth cocoa and nougat character throughout. On the ends, it’s woody and round, filling out with whiskey and molasses flavors. Finishes hot and bitter, cementing it as the most powerful Sierra Nevada beer I’ve had.
M: Goes down smooth and fiery, prickling up with resin astringency. Each sip doesn’t exactly pull the lips back with intensity, but certainly you notice its power.
O: A cheap, kick-ass RIS. This is a step from the norm for Sierra Nevada – it’s definitely the thickest and most slow-drinking beer from these guys – but it works at every turn. If this were more than limited release, I’d buy it all the time; over Old Rasputin, Storm King, and even Plead the Fifth. Put this in a barrel and this would stand up to the best of them.
11-09-2012 20:36:17 | More by BarryMFBurton
4.33/5 rDev +4.6%
Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice glass. 2012 bottle
Appearance: Pours a dark oily black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of creamy tan head that fade into a thin layer. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.
Smell: A roasty and fairly sweet aroma. Dark roasted malts with hints of cocoa, dark bread, coffee, and cookie dough along with some caramel and toffee. A fair amount of molasses. Some subtle smoke. Hop presence is very subtle but there is a light earthy and piney scent. Also some subtle dark fruits with hints of cherry, raisin, and plum. Pretty decent smell.
Taste: Like the aroma hints, a dark, roasty, and sweet stout taste. Dark roasted malts with a taste of cocoa, toasted bread, coffee, and dough. Some burnt caramel and toffee along with some molasses sweetness. Subtle anise and some smoke that lingers through the finish. Undertones of dark fruits including cherry, prune, and raisin. Light earthy hops and resin round it out. A pretty good taste.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and somewhat syrupy. Alcohol is hidden well.
Overall: A very good take on the Russian Imperial Stout. Big, roasty, and sweet while avoiding becoming cloying. Very solid.
11-09-2012 07:25:30 | More by MattyG85
4.38/5 rDev +5.8%
A: Narwhal pours a dark black body with a thick tan head that slowly fades away and leaves a little bit of lacing on the glass.
S: There is a little bit of chocolate malt, a lot of burning booze, some roasted malt and even a tiny bit of sweetness.
T: Wow this reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin. It is so tasty with the chocolate and roasted malt flavors hitting my palate with a punch. There is a tiny bit of booze, but the sweetness really covers it.
M: Very thick and creamy body, that isnt too thick. It goes down with ease and really doesnt have much crispness.
O: This is just another damn good beer from Sierra Nevada, but what else should I have expected?? I mean everything they make is delicious and they knocked this beer out of the park.
11-09-2012 06:30:44 | More by gtermi
4.48/5 rDev +8.2%
Have to say I was exited to see this baby on the shelf at my local retailer.
Pours a jet black with a very dark brown head. Absolutely can not see through this beer and the head is crazy dark.
Smells consist of obviously dark roast coffee, cocoa, and a hint of sourdough bread.
Tastes very sweet for just an instant then the cocoa and bitterness hit you hard along with the alcohol. Finishes with bitter chocolate notes. Not too sweet.
If compared to the Old Rasputin stout this one is a little thicker in feel and clings slightly more.
All over this beer is killer and I hope she is around for years to come...and you feel the ABV about 50 seconds into the drinking. B*tchin Russian Stout.
11-09-2012 05:02:29 | More by Danno48
4.03/5 rDev -2.7%
Celebrating International Stout Day the right way. 12-ounce brown glass bottle poured into a Duvel-branded tulip glass. Served at approximately 45 degrees F.
Pours pitch black -- this thing isn't letting any light through. A small one-fingered head of mocha foam rises up and falls away just as quickly as it came. It settles to a thin cap on the surface of the brew, leaving behind a nice webbing of lace on the walls of the glass as it empties.
Roasty and chocolaty on the nose, with notes of chocolate-covered cherries and currants making their way into the mix. Rich, decadent and inviting.
Delving in, the most noticeable quality is the mouthfeel -- this stout is thick, smooth and creamy on the tongue, gliding over like silk, followed up by a light prickly carbonation that wipes it all away.
Fairly sweet in the opening, with an intense deep malt character taking hold. Chocolate, molasses, burnt toffee file in, followed in the middle by roasty espresso notes. Here, some citrusy hope notes actually find their way into the fray around the edges, but they dissolve into the rich mix just as they become perceptible. Espresso and bitter dark chocolate fall into the rear, mingling with some dark pit fruit before falling away into a bit of booziness. The alcohol warmth carries into the finish, which is rather dry and punctuated by lingering notes of dark chocolate and black cherry.
An exceptional Imperial Stout overall, with a succulent mouthfeel that is perhaps its best quality. Nothing outlandish here, just solid Imperial Stout as it should be. Why Sierra Nevada took so long to release a beer like this is beyond me, but it displays all of the attributes of quality brewing that the brewery is known for, and will undoubtedly become a quick favorite for cellaring and general wintry imbibing.
11-09-2012 04:35:18 | More by superdedooperboy
4/5 rDev -3.4%
A: Pours a very deep black with some brown highlights on top. Small khaki colored head with minimal retention and sporadic lacing.
S: Lots of roasted malt, dark chocolate, a little bit of espresso. I can also pick out just a little bit of pine at the end.
T: Roasty malt up front, more dark chocolate, a little bit of mint in the middle mixed with some pine. Some licorice as well.
M: Medium to full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation. No sign of abv.
O: Pretty good imperial stout, easyish to drink, lots of nice stout flavor.
11-09-2012 03:59:29 | More by mdaschaf
3.58/5 rDev -13.5%
I had this on-tap at Max's during Baltimore Beer Week. Served in a sample glass.
Appearance: The beer is black with a layer of tan head. The head fades to a ring around the glass.
Smell: I'm getting a dark fruit sweetness along with some mild roasted malt. There is some dark chocolate in there as well. There is a slightly off note that reminds me of sweaty socks, but not enough to ruin the whole smell.
Taste: Sweet up front along with the roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors. I'm getting some dark fruit sweetness behind the roasty flavor. The finish is quite smooth, but there is some roast to counter that. The off smell doesn't show up in the flavor.
Mouthfeel: The body is just on the syrupy side of medium with lots of carbonation and a dry finish.
Overall: The finish had enough bitterness but the rest of the sip could have used more. The smell was a bit off but the rest of the beer was pretty good. Not sure I need more.
11-09-2012 03:24:22 | More by oline73
4.48/5 rDev +8.2%
12oz into a dfh glass
A. Black with a thick cocoa head that dissipates fast. No lacing.m
S heavy dark malt, coffee, cocoa, bitter dark chocolate
T surprisingly light sweet beginning, bitter chocolate and roasted coffee overwhelm the middle and end. The aftertaste is slightly boozi with a nice milk chocolate.
M a little thick, rich, smooth, fantastic.
O wonderful. A nice big one from Sierra Nevada. Very impressive.
11-09-2012 03:19:29 | More by Lare453
4.48/5 rDev +8.2%
12 oz poured into a snifter.
A - Black as the deep sea with a healthy cappuccino head that has plenty of staying power. The head forms a micro bubbled ceiling with a creamy uniform collar.
S - Deeply roasted malts, dark chocolate, underlying mint leaf, cold espresso, hard root beer candy. Smoke and perfumy alcohol come out as it warms.
T - Creamy and dense chocolate malts, espresso, toasted cocoa, cooked pine sap, bitterness seems to come from the coaco and the pine hops. Smokiness comes out as it warms. The finish is bitter, roasty, and very satisfying.
M - Creamy, silky, full bodied, low carbonation.
Sierra Nevada brings it Like a Boss. This is fresh and bursting with raw but perfect flavors for a fresh Impy. I would drink this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! For the price point, It's a no-brainer. I will be buying ALOT of this. Thanks again Ken!
11-09-2012 02:29:57 | More by StaveHooks
4.33/5 rDev +4.6%
12oz bottle into snifter. 2012 four pack.
A: Pours black with a finger of milk chocolate head that quickly faded into a dense film.
S: Big chocolate, big hops (pine), with a well-integrated background roast. Vanilla and fudge are noticeable, with coffee being lightly detectable.
T: Follows the nose with rich and creamy notes of chocolate fudge, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, pine hops, hop resin, and vanilla. The finish is full of roasted malt and maybe a hint of coffee, and the aftertaste is bitter but smooth. There is a slightly boozy quality to the finish as well, but it’s not distracting.
M: Full body but not motor oil, with a very smooth and drinkable mouthfeel. Carbonation is fuzzy, soft and airy.
O: In a couple months to a year this beer will be drinking great. I love it now, but for those who want the bitter hops and the slight alcohol presence to fade away, sit on a few bottles. Thank you SN for release this as a four pack.
11-09-2012 01:12:00 | More by scottfrie
3.65/5 rDev -11.8%
A - Solid black. There's no light getting through this one. Pours thick and oily with a big chewy looking brown head that keeps a nice film and laces pretty evenly down the glass.
S - Boozy chocolate, roasted java, with a heady vanilla overtone. Nice.
T - Booze really comes through first, followed by flurry of dark cocoa and heavily roasted/bold java. Booziness is a little overpowering on the palate and lingers after each sip.
M - A thicker beer than you might originally realize. The carbonation is pretty heavy here, and it makes the beer seem lighter than it is. This is a full, heavy, chewy beer - and it would be good that way. But the carbonation clouds it.
D - A decent beer with room for improvement. Sierra Nevada should dum down the carbonation and let this beer speak for itself. This would be better between 8.0-9.0% abv and would benefit from a dark chocolate flavor profile rather than the dark/unsweetened cocoa profile that is pronounced here.
11-09-2012 00:20:03 | More by jmerloni
3.7/5 rDev -10.6%
12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours black with some brown hues, mocha head which fades quickly and leaves decent lacing and retention. There's lots of char and smoke up front. Lots of chocolate malts as well. There's also a touch of roasted coffee beans and vanilla beans. The flavors are aggressively bitter. The hop presence isn't shy. Very roasty. The coffee really comes through in the flavors. Blast of anise. No sweetness. There's subtle heat going on with this one, slightly boozy. Mouthfeel has active carbonation, slightly syrupy, but on the lighter side of full-bodied. The alcohol is noticeable. Rough around the edges, but it works with the cold weather.
I've enjoyed my time with Narwhal. I have one more I'm going to age. I think time will do this stout very well.
11-08-2012 23:32:39 | More by BB1313
4.28/5 rDev +3.4%
Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.
Out of the bottle pours dark brown, then hits with some very dark black walnut, almost midnight. Forms a solid cocoa and coffee like head, with lots of pinhead bubbles. Settles slowly, and manages to always keep a nice collar while drinking and a decent puck. Lots of leg coating and spotted catty lacing on the glass.
Nose is a little subtle. Simple roasted malts, but a nice waffer and ovaltine chocolate sense. Whoppers candy and malt. Mild char action, but mostly kind of closed. There is this sense this is sort of airy and light. Otherwise solid, not getting any coffee sense.
Palate hits with anything but. First notes of hop lime and grapefruit in the front palate, moves to a thick but waffer like dark bitter chocolate while consuming. Large surprising body melding with notes of char and more cocoa powder. Not particularly finding coffee on this but it's a superb feel, large since it seems unexpected from the bouquet.
Overall a great balance between hop action and roasted malt, a very controlled and fun beer, with not a boozy taste either for 10, a real fantastic stout very enjoyable.
11-08-2012 20:54:31 | More by smakawhat
4.15/5 rDev +0.2%
12oz bottle. Pours a pitch black color with dark brown hues and a ring of brown head. Minimal lacing. Aromas of espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, and maybe even a bit of bubble gum. The taste is dark bitter chocolate and espresso. Smokey, roasted malts as well. Some vanilla and an overall sweetness flavor. Hints of caramel. Dark chocolate and coffee finish. Full bodied. I really liked the 30th Anniversary RIS so I was glad to hear they were releasing another Russian Imperial Stout. Overall, solid beer worth seeking out.
11-08-2012 19:37:37 | More by PicoPapa
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 3,148 ratings.