Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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795 Reviews
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Reviews: 795
Hads: 4,532
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 23.24%
Wants: 263
Gots: 1,164 | FT: 44
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: 795 | Hads: 4,532
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.

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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

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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!

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

Inky black and voluptous in the glass, with roasted coffee beans and malt notes. Sip this one and let the layers unfold. Well done, a yearly "must have" and readily available.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Photo of fank2788
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle served in a pint glass
Inky opaque black in the glass with a one finger dark khaki head of fine bubbles and good lacing. The smell is quite roasty with black patent and chocolate and brown malts coming through. A bit of smokey character, dark fruits and alcohol are all in the aroma as well. The taste is also dominated by roasted character it is actually quite overpowering at first as acrid bitter notes from the dark roasted malts bounce around. Also in there is dark chocolate, black coffee, molasses and a touch of alcohol. All of this is balanced by a dash of hops which are only in there as an attempt to balance the strong malts. Mouthfeel is pretty good as this beer is thick and chewy with low to moderate carbonation and excellent body. The finish is quite dry with puckering burnt malt bitterness and a touch of alcoholic spice. Overall this is a great beer and very surprising coming from sierra nevada a brewery that tends to specialize in hop bombs rather than malt focused beers like this. It appears as though I can now look forward to two great SN winter releases every year.

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Photo of schad
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

12oz bottle packaged 8/13/14, served in a Spiegelau stout glass.

Color is midnight black with an espresso colored head.

Aroma is rich chocolate, espresso and roasted malt.

Taste is of dark roasted grain, with a spicy alcohol burn. Barely noticeable bittering hop addition. Lots of pleasant dark fruit flavors.

Very smooth for an imperial stout, mild carbonation.

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Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An outstanding and delicious imperial stout. Superb chocolaty and coffee flavors. a smell that doesn't disappoint. Rich and smooth. Perhaps my favorite beer from SN. What can I say? I love this style, and Sierra Nevada delivers on my high standards for stouts. Will make this a regular in my rotation, along with Ten Fidy, FBS, FIS, and others. Well done.

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Photo of megahurts4
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Appearance: dark brown, medium head, and a little lacing.

Smell: coffee, chocolate, hops, and mineral water.

Taste: vanilla, coffee, some hops, and a hint of cocoa.

Mouthfeel: medium and a slight chewy sensation.

This is quite nice. While not incredibly complex, the flavors mesh very well and are properly proportioned. The mouthfeel is great. This is very drinkable.

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

Appearance; Utter black body, impenetrable to light, crowned by a small, dense tan head, which slowly fades to scattered patches of foam, like some archipelago on midnight seas. Thin, fine-beaded lacing coats the glass walls.

Aroma: Roasted malt, dark roasted coffee, and bitter cocoa dominate the aroma, the dark roasted malt being particularly notable. There is only a faint whiff of spicy alcohol in the aroma, remarkable considering the ABV of 10.2%

Taste: Opens with strong measures of cold coffee and bitter cocoa. Warming alcohol is soon evident, but is presented gracefully. The coffee and cocoa dominate, and are supported by a strong presence of roasted malt. Later in the taste, the is a strong hop presence, which compliments the coffee, cocoa, and roasted malt. The taste draws to a close with a late flourish of herbal hops against the roasted malt.

Mouth feel: Rich, quite smooth and full, with just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: A really excellent example of the Russian Imperial Stout style, I am thankful to have found this gem. Narwhal should be bought to cellar, as a gift to our future selves.

Presentation: Packaged in a stubby twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of liamt07
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle form Siciliano's, 12oz into a tulip - 2012 vintage.

Impenetrable black with a deep brown head. Creamy retention and a whole load of lace. Nose of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, carmel, dark fruit liqueur notes. Light anise and a bit of alcohol. Relatively sweet, but spot on for what I enjoy in imperial stouts. Taste has heavy dark roasted character, dark chocolate, light tar, charcoal with some back end sweetness to prevent everything from getting away. Full feel, some alcohol warmth. Medium low carbonation. This do es well as is and could be great with some time.

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Photo of RocketRaccoon88
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

The first time I tried this was because my friend said you've got to try this! It's got a narwhal on he front! A freaking narwhal! So I got it and had it and I got a six pack lol. This is an awesome brew! Nice dark and tasty down to the last drop.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 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.

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Photo of gabedivision
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a 12 ounce bottle to a a goblet glass

Pours midnight black, with a 1/2 finger mocha head, that thins to a lace around the glass, very classic Imperial Stout. Dark chocolate up front, bitter coffee bean and espresso follow, subtle hoppiness sneaks in and out. Milk chocoalte in the mouth, bitter dark chocolate follow up, big hop profile found mid sip, coffee notes, very well round each second of the sip breathes a different taste. Big and bold in body, full and lightly carbonated, smooth flow that finishes semi dry. Overall; great Imp Stout, well rounded, well balanced, complex, delicious, whats not to like about this beer?

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Photo of Flashy
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Purchased 11/12/14 at local 7-11 for $9.99 a four pack.
Appearance: Pours darker then the Mines of Moria.
Body: Ok, prefer this type of beer to be a bit thicker.
Price: Spot on, thanks again Sierra Nevada for never ripping anyone off- ever for decades now.
Taste: Bit mild, don't taste anything specific flavors because I am not a super taster and taste nothing other then a great stout.
Overall: Great, great stout at a great, great price. A go to beer for the ages.

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Photo of Ale-Be-Damned
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

This is a beautiful Imperial Stout, black with little head. I served it from the refrigerator so it was cold. As it warmed up I could pick up on more of the licorice. Nice maltiness, and the presence of hops which gave the beer a little bite, but just enough to fill out the balance and overall taste. I can see how this stout could be dangerous with over all ease of drinking and the ABV T 10.2%. Overall, I really like Narwhal and will pick it up again.

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Photo of predikit
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Poured a deep brown, nearly black. Settled black, after a vigorous pour, left a two finger brown head that receded at a moderate rate.

Smells very malty, coffee notes are very present.

Taste is rich, chocolate and coffee malts dominate, with a roasted bitterness taking the aftertaste. The alcohol is extremely well hidden, I can not tell it is there one bit.

Full bodied, very smooth, dangerously drinkable. I can imagine this could cause a lot of embarrassing evenings to less than controlled drinkers.

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Photo of Mikus
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Cold into the snifter, poured midnight black with a cocoa-tinged head w/small bubbles. Can't see the letters on the glass... nice. Aromas of roasted malts, coffee, some chocolate, and the clean SN bitter note. Deep, complex flavors. Some nice coffee on the end, and excellent balance, not afraid to have so E bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, not chewy like other big stouts. Nice and crisp. I have waited a long time for this beer, and I was definitely not disappointed. Did anyone else notice, though, that this didn't necessarily get smoother, more complex as it warmed up? My only small concern. Would recommend.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Black. Oily. Chewy brown head but the lacing slides off the glass too readily, via some obvious alcohol solvency.

Boozy aroma, w/ coffee, barely detectable chocolate. Nice, but fairly one-dimensional.

Booze first on the tongue. Then tart stone fruit, cherry, prune, or is it fig. Cocoa's next, along with burnt toast. Then more booze, which is an issue.

Thick, oily, despite the significant carbonation.

Very much like Old Rasputin, which isn't my favorite RIS. I like them sweeter than this. The simplistic aroma is the weak spot, here. But at this price point, I'll drink this regularly. Wish there were more chocolate and/or vanilla involved.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 795 ratings.