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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

773 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 773
Hads: 4,469
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 258
Gots: 1,135 | 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: 773 | Hads: 4,469
Photo of templar316
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I knew this would improve with time !! So much better now then when it first came out in nov(?). Pours thick and dark, no light, soft edgy lacing. Smell is slight in my Duval Tulip but the flavor burst's. There's vanilla here, sweet dark malt, and everything I want in a beer. Roasty coffee bitterness, cascade (and maybe willamette) hops. The rest of these will sit in basement till next winter. Perfect for 15 degrees. (420 characters)

Photo of BriantheBeerGeek
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 (Brewed on the 214th day ) poured into DFH tulip glass.

A- Motor oil black like a Russian imperial stout should be.

S- WOW, getting a lot more tropical hoppy notes than I would expect from a RIS. Malt is present though with coffee , bakers cocoa, ripe banana, cherry, tobacco, slight espresso, molasses and leather.

T-Again, WOW. Definitely a SN take on an imperial stout. Everything I look for in a RIS but with lots of hop presence. I imagine that the malt will come out more with age. Definitely one to set back a 4-pack or two for a few years. Coffee, chocolate, fig, tropical fruits, licorice, lots of roasty malts, slight alcohol, very nice.

M-Huge, as it should be.

O-I wish SN would do more malt forward beers like this, one of their best. If you love imperial stouts this is a must have. (806 characters)

Photo of BeerDawgs
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Pitch black, with little head or lace. No other way to describe it!

S - Chocolate, hops, cocoa, sweet, dark grains

T - Wow..an amazing DStout. Sweet, but not too much, just right. Hidden ABV

M - Full bodied, well balanced.

O - One of the better stouts I have had. Well done Sierra Nevada! (296 characters)

Photo of rodlavers
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a pint glass, Narwhal pours about as black as you can get, with a thick and foamy mocha head, and lots of lacing.

Roasted malt and coffee aromas are dominant, but there is some chocolate in there as well.

Really roasted malt is the winner here, very prominent and present, with roasted coffee beans in there as well, just not too strong, which is a good thing, leaving out some bitterness. Taste is really nice.

Feel is the best part, super smooth and easy to drink, with amazing roast aftertaste.

Overall I am glad I finally had a chance to do a proper review; last time, I gave it a 4/5, but that was based on a 2-3oz pour after hours of drinking IPA's and other stouts, which was an injustice. Narwhal is a good and hearty stout. Cheers.

A few add-on comments. Slightly altering my review based on a my current view of Narwhal, which I justify by my evolving pallet -- no beer ever tastes EXACTLY the same each time (936 characters)

Photo of heygeebee
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Briefly, looks on the money for an RIS, and rich and smooth on nose and taste. Velvety, mellow, luscious. Roasts, coffee, and dark choc to the fore, and less hoppy than we might expect from SN. Dry finish and less alcohol burn than you would think.

Overall, really solid and to style. (285 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

poured a thick black syrupy liquid into a tulip. two fingers of tan head and some nice lacing left behind. excellent retention. looks very nicely carbonated for a RIS.
smells of chocolate, dark roasted grains, dirt, coffee.
the taste is definitely different than most RIS i've had. nicely hopped up front. lots of very dark, rich notes. coffee, dark chocolate, tobacco, dirt.
a rich and creamy full body, slight alcohol warmth, mild carbonation. as the beer warms up, it develops more and more. i love drinks like this because they can last you a good amount of a night, tasting different every 5 minutes. you can barely taste or smell the alcohol. really bitter for a stout, which makes this one right up my alley. (715 characters)

Photo of SebD
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: It has a beautiful jet black color to it. It has a nice thick dark tan head that stays around for ever and leaves lovely lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of sweet roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet roasted malts, bitter coffee, dark chocolate, some dark fruit and an earthy hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas. (548 characters)

Photo of jjchristiano
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Maybe the darkest beer I've ever poured. Held it up to a bulb in my desk lamp and the light did not shine through the beer.
S: chocolate, malt.
T: chocolate, malt, sweetness, low in IBU as I don't get any bitter hop. Little dark roasted coffee on the back side.
M: Smooth, lingering, soft carbonation.
O: A nice Imperial Stout in the Sierra Nevada lineup. I would buy again if I see it. (389 characters)

Photo of LambicPentameter
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Reviewing from notes as I continue to catch up on past experiences. I drank this one on 2/22/14. Enjoyed out of a stubby 12 oz brown bottle with the vintage--2013--marked clearly on the neck label. Poured into a large snifter.

Appearance - Pours and inky black hole of color on the body, with no light able to penetrate whatsoever. A head of maybe a finger--probably a little less--of dark ecru colored foam that recedes quickly, leaving a generous film across the surface with slightly more thickness around the edges of the glass. Sparse, almost nonexistent lacing dots the glass intermittently as I drink it down.

Smell - Bittersweet baker's chocolate and roasted char from the malt profile are at the forefront, with a rich sweetness. There is also a slightly different element, with notes of anise, licorice and even black plum providing some complementary characteristics to the chocolate and roast elements.

Taste - The balance of the profiles in the smell have been reversed on the taste, with the fruit--plum, black currant, and prunes--and licorice elements being more overt and lingering on the palate long after I've swallowed. Some heat from the alcohol is faintly present, and the semisweet chocolate and roasted malt is there as well, but seems to provide more of a foundation than come through as the primary flavors.

Mouthfeel - Very full bodied and moderate-to-low carbonation, with a finish that lingers on the palate long after the beer is gone.

Overall, this is a very good imperial stout, and while I'm usually remiss to compare specific beers directly, I can't help myself. The body, look and feel remind me so much of my favorite RIS, Founders' version, that I think it's fair to note that they are cousins from the same family of oppressive (in a good way?) full-bodied stouts, but take different paths when it comes to aroma and taste. Where Founders is a bit drier, with a focus on cocoa, roast and coffee notes, this one leans more towards fruit and anise. My personal preference is towards the former, but this is surely top of the list when it comes to stouts that incorporate those dark fruits. (2,130 characters)

Photo of ESPNman
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a The Glenrothes scotch snifter.

A - Pours a deep inky black, producing two fingers of thick mocha head. The head dissipates somewhat quickly, but leaves behind solid lacing. This looks like a thick and chewy Imperial Stout.

S - Lots of coffee and deeply roasted malt. Surprisingly little alcohol on the nose, although there is a hint of brandied fruit present. A bit of oak, leather, and chocolate round out the nose.

T - Much like the nose, but with more malt and chocolate. Not a lot of coffee present in the mouthfeel. It starts out extremely roasty, hits some of the chocolate with a hint of hop in the middle, and then finishes very sweet with a hint of alcohol. This one should age very nicely.

M - Thick, syrupy, chewy, and everything I look for in the style. This one really coats the mouth, and lingers for a while once you've swallowed. It's one of the sweeter stouts I've had recently, and leaves a sticky sugar finish on the palate.

O - This is another solid entry into SN's line of higher-alcohol 4-pack brews. It's a big Imperial Stout that's pretty similar to the 30th Anniversary Stout (I believe it was Ken & Fritz's). Chewy, high-alcohol, sweet, big, sticky... all of those characteristics that make a good Imperial Stout. (1,256 characters)

Photo of BigBarley
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Live review! First ever Narwhal and I'm pretty anxious to give it a try.
A - Very dark, not quite as thick as a lot of RIS I've had lately, but still looks formidable. Head was atoundingly big, coming at about 2.5 fingers, and retaining 1.5 worth for quite awhile. (I pour hard, high, straight into the middle of the goblet so these things happen...) Head is deep khaki with good lacing.

S - Well... the first thing I smell is the Sierra Nevada Pineforest Hop Heavy Aroma (I think that's the official name at this point) with a definite roasty undertone. Smells much more like I'd expect a black IPA to smell like, but the black malt character is definitely there. Smells good, just not as RIS as maybe one would expect.

T - Not bad. Different. Exciting. Definitely not bad. You get hops throughout the whole mouth, I'll say that. But underneath is rich dark chocolate, deep bitter coffee and a very mild vanilla wrapping it all up. Sweet and exciting, while maintaining a unique balance between the aggressive hop profile and the black strong flavors of the stout body.

M - Creamy, velvety, thick. Not much carbonation, but works out in this beers favor. Smooth and delicious.

O - I was not let down, and I was definitely given a unique experience. I will drink this beer again! (1,283 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle. Served at cellar temp.

Dark, well-used oil. Viscous. Finger and a half of thick, frothy, peanut shell brown head. Nice lacing. Rich nose of roasted malt, coffee, molasses, chocolate-y dark fruit, vanilla, and licorice. Also some herbal, piny, Scotch tape hops.

Roasted malt and coffee bitterness up front. Dark chocolate and figgy fruit sweetness fills in. Becomes more earthy, peaty, and bitter. Herbal, piny, numbing hop bitterness lasts through the finish. Vanilla and licorice around the edges. Warming. Full-bodied with a smooth, satiny feel. Very nicely done. (583 characters)

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours like engine oil into a snifter; jet black with a thin brown head that fades into a loose topping of foam after a few seconds.
Smells of dark roasted metallic malt; coffee and chocolate, both dark and sweet. Simple but foreboding smell, unassuming but unapologetic.
Taste is very big, and much more complex than the smell suggests. Dark coffee and chocolate blends with sweet chocolate and dark fruit, as well as a thick booziness that warms as you drink.
Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, awesome.
Overall, this is a solid RIS. Definitely one of the more extreme examples, but a great one for those who love huge stouts. (627 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
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. (1,362 characters)

Photo of ONUMello
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 edition poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass
A: Pitch black color with a one-finger mocha colored head
S: Rich with coffee, cocoa, roasted malt and hops rounding it out
T: Also very rich with flavors that perfectly match the nose
M: Wow. Full-bodied, incredibly smooth but with a bit of a bite from the hops
O: This is a very well-made RIS that's incredibly enjoyable to drink (388 characters)

Photo of chugalug06
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Kick ass three-finger foamy tan head. Brew is medium viscosity and burnt black color. Decent lacing, not great, but still nice.

Light, creamy, milk chocolate, coca, stiff.

Wet flavors for a RIS. Earthy mild dryness. Well put together and exposed. Great creamy milk chocolate flavors. Light and highly drinkable. Carbonation is medium and way smooth. Sweetness is tamed and even; well balanced. Bitterness is also balanced and well done.

Another fantastic brew from SN. Complex and very well put together. Highly recommended. (528 characters)

Photo of Extrajoker00
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed: 8/10/14

previous quick rating of 4.0 on 12/31/2013

Narwhal by Sierra Nevada
poured from a 12 oz.bottle into my Sam Smith Snifter

P-Classy black, white and gold with a horned Narwhal 4.5

A- Deep Black small brownish tan head. Some decent lacing 4.25

S- Coffee malt dark fruit and alcohol 4.0

T-Dark Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and hops 4.5

M- Full Bodied and bright, rich and complex flavor explodes and fades slow mellowed by a slightly hoppy finish 4.0

D- very flavorful, but a little much for more than a sipper 3.5

O- very, very good, loving this style and this brew 4.25

Re-Visited this Beer and found it more to my liking second time around. if you get a chance, give this one a try ---- J (718 characters)

Photo of nickapalooza86
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a half finger of a dark cream head, looks like a Impy Stout to me!

Smell is bakers chocolate, roast, toffee, espresso

Taste is bitter bakers chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, a bit of booze, latte

Mouthfeel is full with low to medium carbonation, finishes a little hotter then I usually like.

A nice Impy stout here, would I grab it over Expidition, FIS or old raspy? Probably not, will I buy atleast a 4 pack every year when it comes out.... For sure! (473 characters)

Photo of Fcolle2
4.27/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours solid dark black in color with a thick body like molasses. Head is about one and a half fingers and tan in color. Head retains nicely and leaves some good sticky lacing all over the glass.

Smell is great. Rich roasted dark chocolate malt is forward along with a very clean scent and a faint strawberry like fruity ester. There is a big note able alcohol present one the back end, this does not bother me whatsoever though.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. There is a rich dark chocolate flavor forward followed by roasted malt and a very light crisp ripe fruity tartness. More chocolate malt and booze come in on the back end.

Mouthfeel is good. Thick but not quite as thick as expected and carbonation is moderate. This keeps it highly drinkable at such a high abv.

Overall this was an awesome imperial stout I see why it rated so highly. Very boozy but it has some great flavors and aromas. I feel like this would be perfect to age, definitely putting some away. (980 characters)

Photo of flexabull
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep and dark black color with a very fine light brown colored head. This looks just like an imperial stout should.

Aromas are of burnt sugars, espresso, dark chocolate, and notes of cream.

Taste is very full flavored. Burnt brown sugars, dark bitter chocolate, heavily roasted coffee, light cream, and a really bitter and dry finish.

Mouthfeel is full, with nice carbonation, but I wish the body was a bit stronger. Still good though.

Overall, a very well made Imperial Stout. For mass produced RIS, this is going to be hard to beat, another winner from the fine folks in Chico. (591 characters)

Photo of magpieken
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 Fl. Oz. bottle. Pkgd 20/10/14. Jet black colour with a dense, creamy tan head which lasted well before settling to a ring and left some very nice lace lines. Roasted malt aroma of espresso, dark chocolate, molasses, prunes, tar and port. Light to medium sweetness and medium bitterness. Very roasty. Medium to full body. Slick texture, soft carbonation, noticeable alcohol (reminiscent of vodka but without the burn) and a long roasted, bittersweet finish. Very nice and also very drinkable. (494 characters)

Photo of MaineBrewing
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- poured into snifter a pitch black with three finger massive fine bubbled tan head. Completely opaque, not even a twinge of light gets through when held to the light.

S- nose is a deep and dark roasted malt and candy sweetness, with notes of raisin, molasses, chocolate, smothered in alcohol.

T- taste is a a deep dark amalgam of sweet malt and roasted smokiness... lots of molasses and bakers chocolate followed by some must and wet tarp, ends in a very hoppy bitter, I love a hoppy RIS.

M- nice and thick, syrupy with ample carbonation, as expected for the style.

O- overall one of my go to faves in the style, would never pass one up. This review is on a 2013, had a few fresh and saved this for a bit. It seems to have taken on a musty dampness to it, not terrible but makes me not feel bad for drinking them fresh.. (830 characters)

Photo of RoamingGnome
4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasting Notes from 11/2/12. Poured from 12oz bottle into CBS snifter. This was served at cellar temperature.

A) Pitch black as expected. Nice thick 2 finger mocha head, which settled to a dusting relatively quickly. Decent lacing+ some legs.

S) I found the aroma pleasant, but not as pronounced as I expected. Dark roast, light coffee, malt sweetness that came off like brown sugar+ vanilla, kind of like a cookie dough. There was a whiff of booze.

T) Wonderful... Heavy roast+ some coffee flavor. Plenty of chocolate, and pleasing sweetness. Then some nice earthy hops for a little bitterness. The alcohol gives a little warmth, but is well hidden.

M) Rich, quite supple... This has a full body, with light carbonation. Feels rather thick, but goes down nice and smooth. Good aftertaste...

O) Excellent RIS right here. I enjoy a little extra hops in the flavor, and kind of expected that from SN. I love their regular stout. This one is a fantastic sipper for the cold months ahead. Glad to recommend this beer... (1,020 characters)

Photo of hagbergl
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a brown stubby 12 ounce bottle into my Beer Geek Nation tulip glass.

Appearance (4.25/5): Black with a two finger tan head. Not hugely heady. Evident alcohol legs appear on the sides of the glass.

Smell (4.25/5): Powdered cocoa, rich, dark chocolate, underlying molasses, roasted malt.

Taste (4.25/5): Strong initial flavors of dark chocolate and coffee, chewy, sticky molasses. At mid-mouth, more overtly chocolatey flavors and nice semi-sweet, rich, dark maltiness. This semi-sweetness subsides and gives way to a dry, mildly bitter roastiness. An imperial stout that–thankfully–aims at nailing classic stout flavors without doing anything insane. Complexity can come from good craftsmanship just as much as it can come from barrel-aging and/or employing wild yeast strains.

Mouthfeel (4.25/5): Nice and full-bodied; a nice resinous feel in the front and middle is contrasted with a dry and roasty finish. Very, very nice. Smooth and creamy.

Overall (4.25/5): A great Russian Imperial Stout that fires on all cylinders. It's not brewed with any additives–no coffee. No oats. No cacao nibs or chocolate added. No bourbon barrel aging. Sierra Nevada proves with Narwhal that complexity can be gained through great craftsmanship just as it can be gotten through adding complementary ingredients. (1,322 characters)

Photo of Samp01
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from mike67. Pours a deep slightly viscous black with a small brown head. Aroma and Taste of dark roasted caramel malt, some mild liquorice notes, dark fruit with some notes of dark cacao and mild espresso flavors with a dark toasted malt bitterness on the end for balance. A full bodied, creamy body on the palate with moderate carbonation and sticky mouth feel. A good full flavored brew, rich and creamy. Overall this is very good, delicious and flavorful brew. (471 characters)

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 773 ratings.