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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

3,747 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,747
Reviews: 685
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 191
Gots: 696 | FT: 40
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: 3,747 | Reviews: 685 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Ranz
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured in one of my wine glasses, it produces a slight bit of head that topped off the milky, jet-black prize. Only a slight lacing stays behind.

S: Pardon the pun, but the aroma is rather stout. Even while pouring, hints of semi-sweet chocolate slammed my nostrils, and closer inspection revealed malt biscuit with a slight tinge of alcohol.

T: There's actually a nice sweetness that balances with the roasted malt foundation. The chocolate adds a nice layer, too, and it has a dry, bitter finish. This is quite nice.

M: Thick and milky, it has a great consistency in the mouth. It's one of the better stouts for mouthfeel.

O: This is a nice surprise. I'll definitely get a six-pack next time.

Ranz, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of Popp24
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Popp24, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of BlakMajik
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

BlakMajik, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of CA_Infidel2o9
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz to a Tulip

A- jet black, 1" dark brown head

S- dark roasted coffee, dark chocolate, floral, almost fruity, earthy, alcohol

T- cocoa nibs, smokey, leather, slightly fruity, alcohol

M- oily, average carbonation

O- the first 3 of the 4 pack i drank fairly quickly after i bought it and each time it was way to boozy, so i decided to sit on this one for a while, and it seems that's all this brew needed. It was pretty good and the booze had subsided considerable and i think if i would have waiting even long it would have been even better. Still IMO it's nothing to write home about and i have had better.

CA_Infidel2o9, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of King_KongDCO93
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

King_KongDCO93, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of OddNotion
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

OddNotion, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of magictacosinus
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

SN, you are incredible. You know that I'd for sure drink something called a "narwhal imperial stout." Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

The color is expected - a impenetrable, dark slick that smoothly pours out into the glass and produces a surprisingly huge head that carries its way all the way to the top of the glass. My God are the alcohol leggings large on this one. They're literally climbing to the top in long strings of carbonation! This is extremely thick and filling in appearance. Nothing could slice through this, and the generous carbonation definitely shines here - no matter how long I let this sit, it never lost its head completely. Simply a stunning take on the RIS style. It definitely made my stomach slightly retreat in fear looking at it.

The smell is predictably boozy, but there's a lot more going on for it than that. There are big bold, baker's chocolate aromas, combined with deep coffee grounds (resembling French roasted beans), and a combination of dark fruits and grassy zest. A best way to describe it is a combo of coffee, cocoa, buckwheat, dark cherries, and tamarind. All coated with insanely strong alcohol. Definitely good, but that alcohol kinda makes me a bit dizzy after whiffing at it long enough.

The flavor is a bit different though - just like Mission Dark Seas, this is an example of a West Coast RIS where the alcohol is not as present in the flavor than in the aroma. That is NOT to say that it isn't - this is a 20.8 proof beer after all - but it only shows up way at the finish. Instead, there are strong, dark malty flavors that get to the palate, combined with more coffee that chocolate, and topped with a unique yet vicious hop zest. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. I had to go really slow with this thing. The alcohol finish was ridiculous as it warmed up, but thankfully none of the flavors were thrown off. The mouthfeel as pretty much as perfect as its appearance. Lots of surprising carbonation, but also a near syrupy, bready thickness that never let itself go.

Of these latest "extreme" offerings from SN, this is one that I preferred a hundred times over Hoptimum. There's an incredible amount of balance going on here, which is saying something as this one of the most intense takes on this style I've had since Old Rasputin. However, it is quite easy to finish, but it requires patience. That alcohol will get to your head if you're not careful, and it's dry enough to be taken slowly but never gets astringent so that it will left alone. Even though I definitely won't be having this every day, it's truly fantastic one from SN!

magictacosinus, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of mscudder
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada, RIS you say? Totally in. Served in a snifter.

A - Nice deep black hue with a big two+ finger khaki head. Leaves some nice lacing behind.

S - Nice aroma filled with sweet chocolate, roasted malts, light espresso and perhaps a touch of vanilla. Robust as I desire.

T - Dark chocolate hits the palette first, and it hits heavy. Bit of espresso behind adding some bitterness to the brew. It carries some earthy tones which I failed to detect on the nose. Roasted smoothness throughout.

M - Large medium body with fair carbonation. Chewy feel with a relatively dry finish.

O - I prefer a bit more sweetness and less bitterness for an RIS that chooses chocolate as its most prominent ingredient. That said, this is an enjoyable RIS I would not mind having again. Good job Sierra.

mscudder, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of Ozzy2004Ironman
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Ozzy2004Ironman, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of AdamHart22
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poored into a plain tulip snifter without a pretentious or trendy brewers logo on it.

A - exactly what I was looking for. I especially liked the head, which was a very dark tan and looked great.

S - the weakest attribute of this stout. Get some molasses and soy, and some alcohol. Non remarkable but pleasant.

T - excellent. Drank half the bottle from the fridge, the other half at about 55 degrees. It was better at 55 degrees. Flavors opened up nicely without exposing any bitterness. I get the molasses, a hint of soy, and all kinds of malty sweetness. Very easy to sip in front of a woodstove with a good book, which is exactly what I did.

M - what you would expect from a quality RIS. Heavy, syrupy, and thick. Would have been a 5 but its just a bit cloying. I am really nitpicking here.

O - At 10.95 a 4 pack, this is an incredible deal. I have payed that price gladly for bombers that weren't as good. Give this one a try if you see it. Great job, again, by Sierra Nevada.

AdamHart22, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of BeerMeBrah
4/5  rDev -3.6%

BeerMeBrah, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of ThaFATkid
1/5  rDev -75.9%

ThaFATkid, Dec 19, 2012
Photo of Jason311
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Jason311, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of Coax
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Coax, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of Buick222
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Buick222, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of Chrixsus
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

Chrixsus, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of aaronbess
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

aaronbess, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of doughanson78
4/5  rDev -3.6%

doughanson78, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of spoony
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

A-The brew is pretty much black in color and opaque. Maybe a bright light would get through, but you would have to work at it. The head is one (fat) finger of dark brown foam that fades slowly.

S-I smelled light whiffs of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, toasty malts, and a little bit of toffee. Not heavy or cloying. Lighter and more floral than most RIS beers.

T-Taste is similar to the smell, i.e., some chocolate (although the chocolate taste is not as bitter and cocoa forward as the smell), a little bit of roasted malts, toffee, and a surprising amount of floral flavors, too. Only mild, roasted bitterness at the end, and very little alcohol on the front or back end.

M-The feel is lighter than most RIS beers I have had. There is a little wave of carbonation that quickly fades on the palate. The carbonation may turn off some serious stout fans, but I thought it worked.

O-I would call this a highly drinkable RIS. This brew certainly isn't some barrel-aged, bourbon-wannabe monster, but it hit a sweet spot for me. The flavors are well integrated and reasonably complex and, when combined with the lighter mouthfeel, I could definitely see myself drinking this again on a chilly winter evening.

spoony, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of JazzIPA55
4/5  rDev -3.6%

JazzIPA55, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of kylemckinnis
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

kylemckinnis, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of zeledonia
2.95/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours black in the glass, light coming through coffee brown at the edges. Two fingers of mocha brown head, good retention and nice lacing. Solid.

Smell is faint for an imperial stout. Light cocoa makes up the most of it. A little milky. Not bad, but I want more potency.

Taste starts out roasty, and quickly takes a downturn. I initially thought it was chili pepper spice, but now it's coming through as an off, bitter, cardboard-paper-glue sludge. This is truly foul. I'll drink enough to finish my review, but no more. So I drank a little more, and a strange thing happened. It warmed up, that nastiness faded, and it became, well, consumable. And then it warmed up a bit more, and it became passable. Still not something I'd call good, but no longer something I'd call bad.

Mouthfeel is fine. At least, what I can perceive through the nastiness is fine. Heavy body, medium carbonation, lasting finish.

This beer is weird. Based on comparisons to other reviews, I wonder if I got a bad bottle. Or maybe my sense of taste is just that different. As it warmed up, the bad flavors faded, and it became, well, okay.

zeledonia, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of TWStandley
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

TWStandley, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of mmapes
3.55/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found 4-pack bottles labeled 2012. Poured into pint glass. Big foamy head with lots of staying power. Smoke (toasty malt? No, smoke.) and "beer" on the nose. Color is deep dark brown as it pours, and black in the glass.

Nice oily coat on the tongue, heavier than some imperial stouts. I like stouts thick (like this one). Smoke is prominent but not overbalanced -- not as strong as the scent suggests. Kind of sweet, smoky finish. Very well balanced. Maybe not so bold-tasting as heavier Russian imperial stouts like Czar or Palo Santo Marron. The flavor is all grain. I don't get notes of spices or fruit, so I'm not sure it's as complex as I might have guessed from other reviews. But it does serve as a good, grainy, pure example of an imperials stout.

Would probably buy again.

mmapes, Dec 18, 2012
Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

stereosforgeeks, Dec 18, 2012
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,747 ratings.