Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

765 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 765
Hads: 4,453
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 8.96%
Wants: 255
Gots: 1,125 | FT: 45
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:
Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 765 | Hads: 4,453
Photo of N3rdM3t4l
4.75/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brown 12oz bottle into frosty pint glass.

A: PITCH BLACK, with half a finger of bubbely mocha head. No light gets through on this one. It looks delicious!

S: Dark and roasted, A bit sweet with dark fruit notes. I get prune. Smells a little astringent from dark malt and a bit of ethanol smell comes through. GOD DAMN does this smell dark and rich.

T: Looking forward to this! yumm. Defiantly and RIS, opens with rich dark malt and a big hit of dark fruit. Again with the prune I got on the nose. Sweet up front that fades slowly into a bittersweet chocolate wave that then fades into hop bitterness. Alcohol comes in at the last and gives a bit of warming. This is good stuff!

M: Rich and chewy, not oily like i expected. It just doesn't let up, this is a full bodied beer to the max. SO GOOD!

O: Well I love it! It is very much an RIS and Sierra Nevada doesn't disappoint. I don't regret this bottle of beer by any means. (928 characters)

Photo of blackcompg
4.75/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This rating is on a bottle of Narwhal from 2012...

Appearance - Pours a solid finger of cinnamon colored foam, body is a completely opaque dark burnt sienna to black, and the lacing coats the entire glass, and just barely starts to break during the last few sips - gorgeous.

Smell - Rich dark chocolate, dark ripe fruits, molasses, roasted dark coffee, warm pumpernickel bread, touch of sweet black licorice and a whiff of black cherry.

Taste - Begins with a wonderful balance of dark chocolate, lightly sweetened rich french roast coffee, dark fruits and licorice, followed almost immediately by slightly astringent cherry and plumskin, then lightly burnt pumpernickel crusts with just a touch of pepperiness, with a ribbon of molasses throughout. Delicious and bold, with some very complimentary heat a little behind all of these flavors.

Mouthfeel - Smooth and rich, silky and creamy, mouthcoating in a very good way. Carb is on the lower side and provides just enough of a smooth foaming light scrub to allow some astringency and bittering roast to finish off the quaff. Latent carb provides a few tingly edges late after each sip.

Overall - Just a delicious and very satisfying RIS, a sipper for sure. Take your time with this one to fully enjoy the complex flavors here, and the wonderful transition from mouthcoating and creamy to lightly astringent and bitter, then repeat... This is a fairly easy RIS to get your hands on - do yourself a favor and get about 2 years on a few of them, well worth the wait. My favorite by far is FIS, and after 2 years this comes Really close, just a tad lighter, but not light by any means. An excellent RIS, highly recommend. (1,672 characters)

Photo of datalager
4.73/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I know I've reviewed this before, yet another review that was lost somewhere in the BA changeover some time ago. But I'll do it again for kicks and giggles. Here's the abridged stuff you need to know. It's an imperial stout. It has all the characteristics of an imperial stout. Noteworthy here is the well hidden ABV. Awesome beer. Get some. (341 characters)

Photo of Thelonious_Mahler_Crate
4.72/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Narwhal

http://i.imgur.com/MXtQ9Mg.jpg

Appearance: Black as it should be. Narwhal resembles a textbook imperial stout.

Smell: Deep, rich, malty greatness.

Taste: See 'smell.' This beer packs a flavorful punch, especially after warming a bit. Coffee, malt, maybe some nuttiness. I haven't been to beer school. I just know it's awesome.

Mouthfeel: If one aspect of his beer hits the 'perfect' mark, it's this one. Narwhal's a nice creamy, chewy number, and the alcohol content bites your mouth at the end. To me, that's pleasant, and reminds me what sort of fine genre beer I'm drinking.

Overall: Narwhal, while not particularly rare, was somewhat of a whale for me. It's been hyped quite a bit by both the internet, and a few friends of mine, and it did not disappoint. I'd really like to taste it back to back with Old Rasputin and Stone Imperial Stout. Regardless, it's a fantastic brew I'd recommend to any fan of the genre. (942 characters)

Photo of beaverapproved
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled Aug 2 2013 I found it a bit gnarley fresh and decided to age it a tad. So, I'm excited to give it another go.

A - Center poured into an english pint glass. A very deep brown that's thick opaque espresso which could easily be mistaken as black. Big foamy and sticky looking 3 finger toffee colored head.

S - I'm not very keen with my nose but I'm definitely smelling lots of chocolate and actually detecting a hint of dark fruits/licorice too.

T - Wow, It's like night and day by just letting it tone down a bit. Immediately hits my taste buds with dark bittersweet chocolate. Also, I'm definitely getting the dark fruits/licorice that I was smelling as well which kind of reminds me of red vines. Has a dry finsih with a slight roasted bitterness.

M - Very creamy and leaves a stickiness on the lips. And, medium to low carb.

O - I'm really diggin this stout. It really did match the description on the label and highly drinkable when aged. Crossing my fingers I might be able to snag one more pack before it's gone. (1,033 characters)

Photo of Lard_City
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Molasses and chocolate. Alcohol seems a little more forward in this than in the BA Narwhal. Sweet and mildly bitter. Good to drink anytime but great in the winter. (163 characters)

Photo of IAmAPenguin
4.71/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Aroma: thick, rich chocolate malts, black grains, subtle smoke, coffee bean oil and resin. Appearance: pitch black with fantastic lacing. Taste: smooth, velvety thick roasted chocolate, burnt caramel, continuous coffee, toasted bread, plums and red grapes. Overall, amazing alcohol finish smooth full bodied and rich (316 characters)

Photo of RexBanner
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black. No light penetrated through this dark concoction. 1/2 finger head that dissipated fairly quick. Velvety smooth appearance.

Its aroma was of bready yeast, dark roast grains, alcoholic esters, bitter dark chocolate. Faint banana smell was also present.

The taste was of robust roasted grains and dark bitter 80% cacao. Very faint taste of hops was noticeable before everything was washed away by the alcoholic burn that permeated the mouth. Smooth mouth feel. Not as heavy as one might imagine for an imperial stout. As it reached room temperature it began to develop the flavor profile of a strong dark Belgian ale. Even the aftertaste was more akin to a SDB as oppose to a stout.

Overall, I would recommend this beer to others. It's definitely a sipper. I missed that characteristic smokey aftertaste common to stouts as well as the creamy, chewy mouth feel, but all in all, this is a superb beer worth trying. (955 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The elusive Narwhal, this is 2012 brewed according to the coding system they use it's bottled on 2285210:23 that's 2012 285th day on the 2nd bottling line at 10:23 am. I couldn't pass this up even though they had fresh Hoptimum I sided with the Narwhal since I hadn't yet tried this imperial stout. Pours with a black velvet smooth texture, pitch black body fills up my Stone Imperial Russian Stout glass nicely. Big smooth creamy texture mocha tan head follows the body with fine speckled lacing, this beer has some legs as I swirl it around in the chalice. Aromatics are killer dark ripened vinous fruit notes with dark chocolate and roasted coffee, it's an excellent combination brewed in this glass. Even some brown sugar/molasses like malt character kicking in with subdued earthy hops well hidden by the roasted qualities of black patent malts. The perceived sweetness comes off as dark partially fermented cherries or plump juicy raisins or a combination of those two fruits, but there is a fruity sharp sherry character going on here. Flavor rides a wave of those dark malts but has a surprisingly sharp sweet slightly salty breathe of ocean quality, maybe a bit of soy sauce that I get from some imperial stouts...it's not overkill but a nice dose of something to offset the dark malts acrid roasted malt character. Definitely sweet cherry hidden in there with well blended alcohol, caramelized brown sugar, earthy herbal hops in the backend with some added bitterness bitter dark chocolate and hints of espresso bean reach the palate as well. Like I said initially this is a killer complex ale, full bodied even smooth carbonation it's a joy to have on the palate with each sip cleansing any lingering harshness away it's drinkability is downright dangerous one of the biggest easiest drinking imperial stouts I've ever come across. (1,842 characters)

Photo of Dan_Meyers
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle served in a pint glass

Appearance
-Very dark, inky body, with a thin caramel colored head
-4.75 based on how an imperial stout should look like
-Not a perfect five because I like to see a little more head

Smell
-Mild smell. Hints of dark chocolate and roasted coffee are present
-4.75 based on other imperial stouts. This is what I imagine when I think of Imperial Stouts. No surprise scents
-Not a perfect five because I like a little more of a pungent aroma. Imperial stouts aren't supposed to be the most aromatic beer genre, but a little more roasted coffee and dark chocolate smell would have made this a perfect five

Taste
-The roasted malt is the predominant taste when first sipping this beer. A strong "alcoholic" aftertaste soon follows
-4.50 based on the genre of beer. Imperial stouts are known for their black coffee/chocolaty taste and typically have a higher alcohol content than most other types of beer.
-Not a perfect five because I prefer a more pronounced malty taste in my Imperial Stouts. Also, the higher alcohol content can be easily tasted. There is a slight "bite" when you sip this. A little more malt and a little less alcoholic taste would have made this is five.

Mouthfeel
-The mouthfeel of this beer is very nice. It has the thicker characteristic that you expect from this kind of beer, but not too thick. The "alcoholic" taste that was mentioned in the taste category isn't a factor with the mouthfeel of this beer. When first tasting this, I expected a lingering alcoholic taste, like with most liquors and some higher ABV beers, but the "bite" only lasted a second. The lingering taste that seemed to stick around was the malty, roasted taste that I expected


Overall
-To me an Imperial Stout should have a strong roasted malt/black coffee/dark chocolate taste with a slight to no alcohol taste. The best of this genre have found a way to maximize the roasted taste and minimized the “bite” that comes with a higher ABV. Narwhal Imperial Stout has all the proper characteristics of the best Imperial Stout that I have ever tasted. The only downside is that the malty taste that I desire is slightly understated while the alcoholic taste is slightly overstated with this beer
-I gave this beer a 4.75 because, on the whole, it is a truly great beer. From the amazing dark color to the smell of roasted coffee to the malty taste to the very pleasant mouthfeel. This beer is one of my favorites
-I didn’t give this beer a perfect five because, as stated in the first section of my overall comments, the only thing keeping this beer back from perfection is the need for a slightly more pronounced malty taste and a little less of the alcoholic “bite.” Everything else was delightful. (2,751 characters)

Photo of MartyMaltose
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

An Imperial without the feeling of ABV for ABV's sake. Oh my. Supremely drinkable and luscious. Someday I hope this is what humanity envisions when they hear the word "beer". Except then the world will be half-drunk all the time. (229 characters)

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Exceptional imperial stout.jet black with thick cream on top and a great body. Ive recently tried the rasputin and the nitro and this blows them both away. A lot sweeter and smoother than both this could be the best non barrel aged imperial stout ive tried.can not wait to try the barrel aged Narwhal that i have aging. (319 characters)

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Lovely beige head, good retention, on a black body, soapy and sticky lacing. Aroma includes roasted malt, coffee, vanilla, toffee, licorice, some alcohol and chocolate. Mouthfeel is lush with high viscosity. Taste includes notes from all of the aforementioned aromas. A ton of flavor packed in the liquid, slightly warming but also quite fresh. Purely delicious...what else could you expect from the crew in Chico? (465 characters)

Photo of losdizzel
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is a great brew from Sierra Nevada brewing company .
Poured into Sam Adams glass .
Very very black and thickish head disapates quickly then lacing left behind .
smells of sharp alcohol bight and molasses .
Taste thin ,and sweet ,to pour soo thick .
stays on the back of the throat ,53 degrees
Tart tangy and well rounded plesantly warming
very nice beer .
top notched Imperial Stout one of my favorite styles . (417 characters)

Photo of braiden
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Look: dark, nice head but could be thick dark coffee and coco notes with a sharp alcohol
taste: rich coffee dark smooth texture. Creamy and buttery
Feel. Thick then sharp at the end due to alcohol
Overall: complex, smooth yet full body texture. Great with a dinner (265 characters)

Photo of Celtics17
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Just a big flavorful beer. It's like drinking a candy bar. This is one you can truly age. It's a great 4 pack. The High Altitude series is great.

Aroma- Big notes of sweet milk chocolate and roasted coffee.

Taste- Big milk/dark chocolate flavor coming through.

Overall this beer has everything you want in a stout.

2014 BOTTLE (333 characters)

Photo of taters21
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this is exceptional.
Appearance-Black with a finger and a half reddish brown head with good rention to one finger.
Smell-Raisin, Dark Chocolate, Roasted malt
Taste-This is where this stout knocked my socks off, delightfully chocolate sweetness that fades to coffee then to a roasted light bitterness, just splendid.
Feel-Creamy, velvety, coats the mouth well, very good for this style.
All in all, I had high hopes and this beer was even better than I thought it could be. (477 characters)

Photo of balticporter99
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just picked this up at my local Whole Foods. Pours black as my ex-girlfriend's heart with a lingering 2 fingers worth of head. Smells of burnt toast and coffee. Suprisingly smooth taste (easier drinking than old Rasputin) with coffee and chocolate notes. Noticable, warming but not boozey alcohol aftertaste. Exceptional example of a Russian Imperial Stout. (357 characters)

Photo of Kuaff
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this RIS in my snifter at cellar temperature.

A full, bulging two fingers of light cocoa-colored foam form the head. The body is black, to put it simply.

Smells surprisingly fruity! I think I'm getting raspberries and, incredibly, freshly-picked blueberries. It's fantastic, as well as something I never imagined I'd smell in a stout. Moving on... there are also raisins, a rich semi-sweet chocolate scent, and a bit of molasses. A really awesome blend of aromas.

The berries are in the flavor a little too! It's like brownies with a strawberry or raspberry topping at first. That's what it's like early on... pretty sweet like chocolate milk, but also with a subtle, complementary fruity tartness. The back end brings a ponderous roastiness of coffee and dark chocolate that contrasts the initial sweeter flavors superbly.

The feel is thick and heavy as a narwhal (durhurhur), and the carbonation is calm like the sea at slack tide.

This isn't "just another" Russian imperial stout to me. It has some of the aroma notes and flavors of a Belgian strong dark ale, but still retains all the essential requirements for retaining stout status. And all of it's distinctive qualities mesh together beautifully. Not to mention it kind of has the consistency and taste of a chocolate milkshake, to my delight. Just as a Narwhal is a unique whale, but still a whale, this is a unique stout, but still very much a stout... and a very nice one. (1,448 characters)

Photo of beersnobraven
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Deep, black, beautiful. Awesome bottle art, too.
Smell: Smells a little like bittersweet coffee. Primary scents are malt and chocolate.
Taste: Holy crap! It's like drinking a liquid chocolate cake! Seriously, so much chocolate! If you did a blind taste test, I would have a thought that this was a stout brewed with chocolate. A great beer for a chocolate lover like me! Other flavors I'm picking up are malt, coffee, with a little-to-medium hops present.
Feel: Really thick and delicious. Very dense; definitely a sipper.
Overall: Probably my all-time favorite Imperial Stout, and I'd go far to say favorite beer of all time. It's great taste and mouthfeel are definitely its best attributes, while it's 10.2 % ABV is also a plus. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had. (781 characters)

Photo of maedhros09
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black with light, slowly forming, and barely lingering head. Smells sweet, roasty, chocolatey with minor licorice.

Taste: Medium sweet roasty maltiness, boozy, finishing with a somewhat mild tingling lingering paper-like hops bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, medium body with little carbonation in the mouth. Flavors blend and balance superbly and the finish is lingering and memorable.

Update: After storing for a few weeks the bitter finish that I remember from the first sample seems to have mellowed and doesn't stand out as much. The finish remains somewhat bitter but nicely balances the initial sweetness.

Update #2: After 4 months cellared this beer is very creamy and mellow with a mild to moderate bitterness in the finish that blends really well. (758 characters)

Photo of jucifer1818
4.61/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: poured this one into a thin flute wine glass, and even in its thin glass, this beer will not let any light penetrate its darkness

like the dark and mysterious see of its namesake, this beer is a perfect example of clear total darkness, easily ranking a 40/40 on the beer color scale

apart from its color it has a medium, maybe one finger head, that lasts far longer than one would expect for a beer of this alcohol level
This is exactly what I'm looking for in a stout, and I was going to just give this one a 4.5 on first glance, but I cant see any reason to take off that last bit
I have to give its appearance a perfect score

Smell: The smell is quite subtle to say the last. I am surprised by this, and don't know how to really rate it
on one hand, a beer this extreme, would be VERY hard to make it have such a subtle smell, but on the other hand, I was expecting (and really wanted) something really intense that I could enjoy more
I get very light milk chocolate, light fruits, alcohol boozyness (but very slight boozyness), and a little bit of pear
Its not bad, quite good, but to me feels too reserved for what it is
4/5

Taste: mhhmmmm, this is really really good. This beer tastes like liquified black chocolate. This is almost nothing else to say, with some light fruity flavors to counter its intense roasted chocoaltyness, with an intense dark chocolate bitterness mixed in with strong hoppy bitterness in the after taste

a beer that is very strong and malty, but keeps it from being cloying wit ha perfect hopping that keeps the malt first, and works well with its dark chocolaty bitterness
I can think of noting Id want to change on this beer
5/5

Mouthfeel: Slick, sweet, and very syrupy. It pours like Hersey syrup, yet is much easier to drink
drinkabilty and a heavy imperial stout are not often paired up, but the beer manages to pull it off, and has a delightfully moouthfeel
4.5/

Overall: I'm giving this one a 4.5/5
Its a near perfect beer on all accounts, and a excellent offering from Siera nevada. I can easily see this beer turning into a PERFECT, 5/5 beer, after a good 8-12 months of ageing. Ill be drinking one more bottle for new years, and saving the last two for conditioning, quite possibly for next year to see how its changed over time
Highly, Highly recommend this beer

cheers (2,331 characters)

Photo of masleumas
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

One of the best imperial stouts ive had. Sierra nevada knows how to please. very dark in color, can hardly make out any light through the other side of the glass. rich finish and texture as is expected but plenty of carbonation to balance it out. i really loved this one and am on the lookout to buy it again if i can find it. amazing, rad label too. (350 characters)

Photo of bman13
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great stout. Great balance of flavors, PERSONALLY think it's a bit hoppy for a stout but every beer is different, and I respect that. Still is one of my favorite stouts nonetheless. (181 characters)

Photo of BeerManDan
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a thick black brew, with a little dark tan foam and no lace.

The smell of deep roasted malts and dark roasted sweet coffee, with a hint of alcoholic chocolate, filled the nose with a pleasant alcoholic aroma.

The flavor was of a slightly bitter coffee and roasted malts taste, with a hint of dark chocolate on the finish. This Russian Imperial Stout has a long pleasant aftertaste. Not overly bitter and the high alcohol and flavors have a very pleasant taste.

I'm back for a case next time out to BEVMO. (516 characters)

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 765 ratings.