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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

796 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 796
Hads: 4,537
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 23.24%
Wants: 264
Gots: 1,166 | 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
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Reviews: 796 | Hads: 4,537
Photo of dfillius
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint. Enjoyed with polenta and bean salad
A: 1/3 finger of dark brown head with good retention. Nearly opaque dark brown/black liquid. A tad more head please - it faded to nothing.
S: Milk chocolate, toasted fennel seed, black pepper. Only a very slight amount of booze when warmer, thankfully. Not harsh.
T: Some breathy esters open, coffee and chocolate dominate. Very dark chocolate. Quite hoppy middle. Bright citrus and pine. Hops stand up well to the malt. I'd prefer the estery breath to not be there.
M: Smooth open, bitter hoppy middle, roasty bitter dry finish. Robust and not hot. Some chest warmth, but not on the palate.
O: Enjoyable, solid RIS. I wouldn't expect less from Sierra Nevada. I would buy again. 1 is enough for a night. I'm interested to try it aged to see if the slight booze calms down.

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Photo of jrenihan
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is black with a small tan head. Head fades quickly, leaving a bit of lace.

Aroma contains vanilla. roasted malt and coffee. Nice although nothing out of the ordinary for the style.

Lots of coffee and roasted malt in the taste. Some vanilla as well. Nice and full but standard.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Thick.

Overall, good and enjoyable but nothing surprising.

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Photo of uvachief
4/5  rDev -3.1%

Draft. Deep brown, almost black with about a 1/2 finger of head that dissipated quickly. Smells of chocolate, bread and roasted grains. Little coffee. Surprisingly light in the mouth. Not as creamy as you would expect. Tastes of dark chocolate, roasted malts and light coffee. Not espresso. Not thick. Not what I was expecting. It is light and good. Drinkable. Doesn't feel like a high ABV but it is. Good imperial stout but lighter than I wanted. I like mine thick and creamy.

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a one-finger, light brown head of bubbly foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dark chocolate and roasted malt. There was a touch of pine.

T - Great blend of dark chocolate, burnt molasses, toffee and roasted malt. A slight piney bitterness added balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really nice Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of schoolboy
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow. This is an imperial, alright. This tastes like it must have hundreds and hundreds of calories.

It's a bottle of motor oil. - black and opaque. There is a light and persistent head. The aroma is of the cocoa and coffee tastes that are under the hood of this monster. The taste is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely roasty, chocolate and coffee with a nice aftertaste of mostly coffee.

Over all this is a great effort and yields a nice thick stout.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've been looking forward to trying this beer since I first heard about it. 12oz. bottle served in a tulip. Pours an inky black with a fizzy and effervescing two inch, mocha-colored head that sizzles and pops as it gradually collapses into a sudsy slick with a thin, bubbly band around the edges. Nose expresses dark, roasted malts, chocolate and brewers licorice - there's also a slight artificial sweetener character that reveals itself towards the back. Taste follows nose; however, there's also some smokiness in the flavor profile as well as molasses. Mouthfeel is medium-light (but closer to medium), with slightly oily texture, as well as a mild, even carbonation. Overall, a very solid RIS from a very solid brewery. Alcohol is extremely well-hidden, and balance is great. The only detracting qualities for me are the slight, artificial sweetener presence in the nose and in the flavor. Also, while the carbonation is not overly assertive, I would like to see it dissipate a little more. All and all, this beer is well worth your time if you enjoy the style.

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Photo of Wishdiak
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet black and opaque, with minimal reddish-brown head and minimal lacing.
S: Malty with chocolate and coffee scents.
T: Chocolate and coffee dominate. Not boozy. Slightly bitter finish.
M: Good full body, low carbonation.
O: A solid RIS, but not great.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a dfh snifter

A: pours black with two finger of tan chocolaty mocha head after a rather aggressive pour.... Nice head retention and lacing... Good lookin brew.

S: some roasty malts and chocolate with a light touch of smoke.
The coffee aromas really come out as this brew warms. A good smelling beer.

T: much like the smell, roasty malts, chocolate and coffee notes along with a touch of smoke, some light pine hop notes mingle with the smoke and roast to add a nice bitterness, well rounded and tasty.

M: nice heavy medium body, dry and slightly bitter on the finish low to moderate creamy carbonation.

O: a pretty good imperial stout, nothing earth shattering but a very solid representation of the style.... Good fresh, interested to see how this one ages, I could see it getting pretty good with a bit of time.

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Photo of PacNWDad
4/5  rDev -3.1%

On draft at Chuck's 85th St. Thin, meager head, with some lace as you drink. Very dark, inky, opaque. Aroma is coffee, smoked malt, raisins, fig, molasses, some herbal notes from the hops. Sips bitter, a bit green, then sweet malt into the finish. Some hot alcohol flash, drinks thick, finishes medium. Overall very good, could be exceptional with some more aging on it.

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Photo of drabmuh
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is black with a tan head, thin, small bubbles, some lacing, moderate to low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet, a little boozy, a little roasty / malty. Smells nice.

Beer is medium in body, sweet, pretty nice for an off the shelf RIS. I'd have it again for sure. There is a mild sweetness, mild alcohol, nice bitterness, overall a nice beer. Yum.

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Photo of andrewjraab
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased a solo bottle from Sicialiano's market

A - Deep motor oil black, thick and syrupy, 1 finger thick of khacki head with not much lacing or retention to speak of.

S - Dark Chocolate, roasted coffee, charred wood, and a whisper of smoke.

T - Silky smooth bittersweet chocolate, coffee, vanilla bean, booze, slightly bitter and drying finish, but not overpowering. Overall, velvety soft mouthfeel.

O - One of the smoothest and drinkable Russian Imperial Stout I have had. A definite must try.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a jet black, some carbonation, one finger brown head, some lacing

S: Roasted malt, slight chocolate, coffee. Good but standard.

T: Big hearty backbone with dark chocolate, coffee, some burnt notes. Mild Bitterness in the finish.I laso deteced some black liquorice.

M: Heavy bodied, some carbonation, smooth.

O: Good. This should age very well as most SN offerings do.

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Photo of CTbrew32
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- 2013 bottle cap. Pitch black with a slightly mocha head. One finger head poured with no angle.

Aroma- Big notes of sweet milk chocolate and some dark fruit and roasted aromas as well.

Taste- Not far off from the nose with big roast malts at the front followed by milk chocolate and slight bit of dark fruit. A little hoppy and dry as well.

Feel- As noted before this is a little dry, but pleasant and very drinkable. A slight warming is noticeable at the back end.

Overall- Great imperial stout with nice roasted malts and sweet chocolate balancing each other out. Only downfall to me is the roast/coffee malts linger at the end which I could do without. Definitely worth picking up again. (90/100)

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Photo of jjanega08
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Edition
Bottle Stamped
2279207 : 47

A= Pours a deep black color with a nice half finger of dep brown head on it that holds great retention and lacing on the side of the glass.

S= Smells of liqorice and dark roasted malt. Tons of liqorice. A little hoppy aroma comes through as well.

T= The taste is a nice mix of imperial stout styles. It starts as a nice liqorice taste before being swallowed by a nice bitterness. Dark chocolate and a bit of a hop bittereness. Nice roast and coffee character.

M= Nice mouthfeel

O= This is a solid imperial stout. Not the most amazing thing in the world but worth trying and

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Photo of Halcyondays
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a pitch black, with a medium light tan head, some solid spotty lace.

S: Roasted malt, hint of dark fruit, charcoal, licorice, dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate and a lot of licorice. Light residual sugar, with a hint of hops in the finish.

M: Medium to full-bodied, soft carbonation, creamy, long aftertaste for the style.

O: A solid RIS, it reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin with a bit more licorice in there. The price is great, well made, well worth a try.

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Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black bodied with just a ring of brown foam coating the edge of the tulip glass. Got some thick sediment out of the last 1/5th of the pour.

Heavy roast, fresh cream, light coffee bean, hint of dark chocolate.

Big boozy and toasted grain taste. Plenty of warmth felt also. Notes of deep dark chocolate, heavy cream and coffee bean. The roastiness lasts throughout and well into the aftertaste. Bitter chocolate and coffee bean. Finishes with a hoppiness on the tongue.

Feels much lighter than a 10% beer. Not thin, but just not as thick as many for the style. Smooth for sure and lacks the slick feel associated with imperial stouts.

A very well done imperial stout all around. Very well rounded, but nothing stands out a ton to me to make it elite. Doesn't matter, this is a satisfying imperial stout that will fit the bill for the upcoming winter months.

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Photo of JohnnyMc
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another release in the High Altitude Series that houses big names like Hoptimum and Bigfoot!!

Pours out pitch black with a thick, mocha/tan head that lingers for a long time given the ABV.

The aroma has huge notes of semi-sweet chocolate, coffee and dark roasted malt.

The taste is also primarily chocolate and coffee, but there are the dark roasted notes and a surprising amount of hops that makes the beer somewhat bitter and dry. This is very balanced between the sweetness from the coffee and chocolate and the bitterness of the hops and coffee. The ABV is well masked with only a slight warming effect.

The mouthfeel is big, rich, creamy, silky and smooth.

A very nice effort from Sierra Nevada! Not the greatest Imperial Stout and I would have liked a little more complexity, but an extremely solid example of the style.

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Photo of cjgiant
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pkg 11/06/14:
Pours black as night, if seemingly a little thin. I didn't do a vigorous pour, so head was light, receding to edges in a thin tan rim. Smell is deep roasted malts, coffee, woody, dark chocolate, maybe a light smoke.

Taste (initial, still a tad cold) was a bit bitter, with less black coffee taste than I expected, it was almost a woody flat cola or root beer. Even though it wasn't sweet, the malts came through after the initial bitterness, almost in reverse of malt sweetness backed by bitterness. Carbonation that was not obvious in the pour played on the tongue more than expected going into the end taste. Body is pretty full, feel mildly oily. The end tastes were a bit more chocolatey (also the beer was warming).

After warming (which was key), the flavors unsurprisingly mellowed, carbonation bite faded, chocolate came out a bit more, and my overall impression improved.

Expectations might have caught me slightly. I thought this was a solid beer, but not as exceptional as I've heard people state (hopefully not confusing with BA plaudits). Definitely will grab this again when available but a four pack is enough for me.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black and dark brown pour out the bottle, impressive depth and thickness to it. Solid 1+" head on it, tan in color, great density, retention and lacing to it. This is professional grade appearance.

Aroma was full of roasted and chocolate malt. They definitely didn't skimp. Already wondering how the pricing on this can be so affordable (4/$9.99). Plenty of coffee like aromas, the dark, sludgy variety that sits on the pot all day at Denny's.

The taste is substantial bitterness that falls off the tongue as the large body absorbs and washes it away. As usual, Sierra Nevada doesn't short you on the hops. Very dry in the end. Not going to be mistaken for a milk stout, that's for sure. Alcohol in check.

A beer like this should make you re-evaluate why you spend $10 on a bomber of imperial stout that probably isn't as good as this.

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Photo of BrownAleBollocks
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a deep black with a two finger fluffy mocha color head. Aroma is dark roasted malt and alcohol. Taste is dark roasted malts, booze, some smokiness throughout, and licorice, with a somewhat hoppy finish that compliments the other aspects. Mouthfeel is medium, a bit thin for an imperial stout. Overall a very good IS and one I'm happy I tried. Another feather in the cap of SN.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%

Kind of like shamu doing the backstroke, I'd put this just a tick below "outstanding," status, but just barely. It's sumo status, but it's more like a featherweight sumo. A bit too light, a bit too lackluster... It has all those nice chocolate, toffee, rich notes that any player would like in a stout, but it's a bit thin and insipid.

Close, but, well, half of the cigar, I guess.

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Photo of brewtus
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into snifter

Drank on 11/22/12

A- pours black with a dark tan head
S- a bit metallic, roasts, malty, a bit of chocolate
T- starts with a nice bitterness, hints of dark fruit and chocolate. There's a nice dark chocolate dry finish. I get a little smokiness. The alcohol is well hidden
M- for the abv, it's quite drinkable but has a bit less thickness than your bigger RISs, certainly has great texture
O- I usually like most Sierra Nevada beers, but I'm not usually overly impressed by most of the ones the brew. This one was really great. It was a lot thicker than I figured it would be and had a smoothness throughout. It's an easy drinking stout and I'm glad I grabbed a bottle.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz Bottle from Total Wine Tampa FL for $3

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a large size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, vanilla, coffee

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and vanilla. There is also quite a bit of a charred coffee type flavour and a light hoppiness.

Overall - Wow, a great mix of smooth flavours with a lingering bitter finish. A really satisfying beer that is a great sipper. Once again Sierra Nevada impresses.

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Photo of JackMcAwesome
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a mug.

Completely black. Even the pour was black. Not much head, it went away quickly. I wasn't that aggressive with the pouring though, so maybe that's why.

Like most others to be honest. A bit of chocolate, a bit of coffee. Maybe even steak sauce. haha. Interesting. And it lingers, which is always nice.

Nothing distinguishable here. It's good, I just can't pick up anything with my rookie taste buds. Cocoa, maybe even some licorice.

Heavy, with moderate carbonation. Great really. Everything I'd expect from a stout.

This one is near the top of my list as I get more and more into stouts. The abv being where it's at is almost indistinguishable. This is one I'll revisit when I go for more stouts, just as a constant when I try others.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Reviewed live. 2012 vintage.

A- Very small mocha head with little retention. I attribute that to the high ABV. Very thin spotty lacing. Deep black color, slight mahogany around the edges. Scary looking beer.

S- Dark roast smells that shy away from burnt. Coffee grounds, dark chocolate. Almonds and vanilla make an appearance as well.

T- So roasty and warm. Very deep and bitter, like biting into a handful of coffee beans. Not delicate, but good.

M- Thick and syrupy.

O- Very nice beer. I really enjoyed this. Taste wasn't superb though. Might like to get another bottle and age it.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 796 ratings.