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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

822 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 822
Hads: 4,667
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 270
Gots: 1,240 | FT: 43
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 822 | Hads: 4,667
Photo of paladinjoe
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

First off, I'm not a huge fan of Stouts, with that said, I AM a huge fan of IMPERIAL Stouts, and this son of a gun fits that bill, without a huge bill (price) which again is something Sierra Nevada offers with this one! Most of the time, Imperial Stouts are expensive as hell, where as this one, is barely more expensive then their regular beers.

To the beer itself, very smooth, coffee, chocolate, some licorice, and a definite alcohol presence in this one, it literally warms your innards, no joke! This beer leaves you feeling very smooth, and very relaxed at the end of the evening, a perfect beer at the end of a cold/cool night in fall, winter, or early spring.. or whenever!! Very sellarable as well, this thing can last for many years if you want to sellar it.

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Photo of gkatsoris
4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pitch black; period. A huge, thick, foamy head that lasted for a few minutes!!! Lots of bubbles, minimal lace. Gorgeous.

S: As soon as I cracked the bottle I could smell this. Dark chocolate!!! Caramel. Cocao. Slight butterscotch and vanilla. A hint of expresso.

T: Delicious. Creamy dark chocolate up front, and an enjoyable bitterness on the very end. As big as this beer is, one could drink these all night. There is a longer linger on cocao and dark chocolate in the nose.

M: Rich and creamy. Very full bodied. Almost borders foamy, but in a maltshop good way.

O: I could very well see this beconing the 'next' beer of 2013. I remember when I could get KBS off the shelf at my beer store, and now...uh no. Narwal has the potential to become the next 'highly sought after/impossible to get' delicious brew.

thanks Charity (Towamencin Bev)!!!

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Photo of KarmicSkrambl8
4.76/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

neck and neck with Old Rasputin

viscosity heavy in feel...love the chocolate as it rolls across...smoother than Ol Raspy...and, on some days....better

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap at the Bryant Lake Bowl. L: Pours brilliant deep brown under a 1/2” very soft tan foam collar that grips the side of the glass. S: Coffee, dark dried fruit, roast, alcohol. T: Espresso, alcohol, dark dried fruit, suggestion of chocolate with a light caramel sweetness in the middle. The finish is long and dry with espresso overtones. F: Very creamy O: Beer stands out for creaminess and texture.

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Photo of zhewitt98
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

This beer is very similar to Old Rasputin however the ABV gives it a slight edge that once you finish the beer, you're left feeling some warmth in your body.

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Photo of humuloner22
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Considering this is relatively easy to get and the price is reasonable I will have to say this is one of the better RIS's I have had. I like to consider everything in my numbering. Sometimes it does not only include the taste of the beer. Everything is subjective.

Appearance: Dark as night, nice lacing once head settles, which is fairly quick. Caramel lacing and head in that regard.

Aroma: Chocolate, malts, some coffee and vanilla, nice balance of aroma's.

Taste: Very pleasant, pretty close to what they describe on the bottle. I got a lot of vanilla out of this one and caramel, but the chocolate dominates more than anything else. What I did like about this one is it is not overly licorice in flavor profile. That has killed a lot of well regarded stouts for me over the years. This one is damn good and I have a BA version of this waiting on me, I just have to wait until the right moment for that one.

Overall: Where I live its easy to find, I purchased this one from a local grocery store chain for $10. It is well worth that considering everything, and that is why I have become a SN fan. Anyway, the store also had Snow pack, Celebration, and all the other 12 packs on sale for $12.99, so I may be heading back there to stock up!

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Photo of N3rdM3t4l
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

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Photo of blackcompg
4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
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.

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Photo of datalager
4.73/5  rDev +14.3%
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.

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Photo of chicksdiggit
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage, aged in a cold basement away from light for a little under a year.
L: Dark thick brown with a finger and a half of dark mocha colored head. Plenty of carbonation slowly rises around the edge of the glass. Thick retention and thin but sticky lacing.

S: Rich fig and raisin up front. Dark cocoa and anise notes behind it.

T: Fig, chocolate malt, dates, sweet dark chocolate. Black coffee, espresso. A lot going on, not muddled, and I love it.

F: Rich luxurious French silk mouthfeel and boozy. A touch creamy. Absolutely awesome and easy to drink.

O: I like this fresh as well, but the sweet malt base really seems to shine through more so than I remembered, and the complexity on this is amazing. Love it.

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Photo of Thelonious_Mahler_Crate
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Narwhal


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.

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Photo of beaverapproved
4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

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Photo of Lard_City
4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

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Photo of IAmAPenguin
4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
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

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Photo of RexBanner
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%

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.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.68/5  rDev +13%
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.

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Photo of Dan_Meyers
4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle served in a pint glass

-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

-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

-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.

-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

-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.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.68/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

pours jet black with a thick dark cream colored head. great looking beer.

smells of creamy chocolate with coffee. very creamy aroma, fantastic!

taste is equally creamy. hints of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. unique taste in combination with the smoothness. almost a nitro-beer creaminess but without being thin. the body is full and the creamy is so smooth. just amazing! goes down so smooth, this is dangerous!

instantly one of my favorite RIS' if not favorite beer over all. absolutely delicious and so creamy and smooth.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
4.68/5  rDev +13%
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.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
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?

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Photo of losdizzel
4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
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 .

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Photo of braiden
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
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

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Photo of Celtics17
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
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.


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Photo of Libeertarian
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black as night, except nearly copper where it can be "thinned". Very thick, but fine dark tan head of decent retention. Dissipates quickly at first, but leaves an impervious film and a little lace. Roast aroma the strongest. Alcohol smell present, but surprisingly weak by comparison. Develops more into coffee or cocoa as head slowly dissipates. Coffee-like up front, increasing in acidity, followed by lasting sweetness (booze, molasses quality) soon blended with a smokey tartness as it settles in mouth. Black pepper in the finish and retro-olfaction, first noticed only after halfway gone, due to alcohol saturation of the palate, although it could still be from whatever hops were used. Only gets stronger from there, almost becoming floral or soapy. A winning combination of flavor sensations. Full-bodied, viscous, mildly astringent, teeth-sticking, medium level of fine sudsy carbonation. Faint warming throughout mouth and throat.

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Photo of taters21
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 822 ratings.