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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: 269
Gots: 1,239 | 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 TDotScott
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a wine glass. Cellared for 6 months.

L- Dark brown, with an off-white head that quickly dissipates.

S- Dark chocolate, plum, a note of espresso.

T- Dry chocolate up front, with a drawn out, lasting bitterness

F- prickly carbonation, a little heat. Medium-full body.

O- Very balanced, and quite typical of style

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Photo of gman1602
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours inky black with a decent tan head that recedes quickly leaving little lacing.
S: Deep roasted malt and a little dark cocoa.
T: Heavy on the bitter roast flavor with a little chocolate mocha coffee in the background.
F: Carbonation is perfect but the beer feels a tad thin - however in RIS world that just means more alcohol which this one has. Feel is right for the style.
O: A very nice Imperial Stout that I would/will have again. Aging would be interesting as well.

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Photo of Glanzman
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Russian Imperial Stouts... my favorite beer style!

12 ounce bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a jet black color with a gorgeous tan, 1 fingered head.

Smells of dark roasted malts... coffee and chocolate.

Taste of rich malts, chocolate and coffee with a little bite from the hops. Very well balanced.

A slight bit of aftertaste tho... not sure what it is... kind of metallic or alcohol or something. Not as prevalent as it warms to room temp.

Definitely worth buying a 4 pack tho!

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Photo of djaeon
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Expected coffee & dark chocolate flavors are every evident. Velvety smooth mouthfeel, some stickyness in the finish. A hint of bitter aftertaste, not unlike what you would get from black coffee (with booze in it).

All in all, a great imperial stout.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle, 2012 batch with a stamp of 2279210:52. Sampled on December 29, 2012.

The pour is very dark brown to black but under the light there is this kind of maroon tint. The moderate tan head is silky and soft and settles down after a few moments. There is a lot of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of dark malts with coffee esters and a vague hop bitterness hanging around in the background.

The body is bold and smooth.

The taste begins with dark malts and yeast with a resounding bitterness balancing it off at the end. The bitterness lingers and burns slightly but the alcohol is well-integrated. This is a highly recommended stout.

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Photo of JDrake31
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful pitch black with a tan, one-finger head. Looks amazing!

S: A hint of alcohol and dark fruit. Lots of toasted malts and roast coffee with just a bit of sweetness.

T: Espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts with a pinch of hop bitterness. Delicious!

M: A mid-heavy thickness. Creamy and slightly chewy. Moderate carbonation.

O: What a great beer for the cold months! Would definitely recommend.

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Photo of Act25
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Massive. Up there with all the best. Right now my favorite, and you could not know which 2x stout is best until you taste test.

Appearance: Pours an energetic black, with a tan head they mounds and then lasts and leaves rills and contours as it falls, leaving also behind spidery rings of lace. Best looking.

Smell: Dark pit fruit soaked in coffee and liquore, skewered on top of charcoal fire.

Taste: Follows the smell, so that the roast and plum/cherry flavors emerge after a chocolate coating. Much complexity and ancient church like flavors, incense, old wool, old wood, wet wool. Lovely bitterness paints the tongue keeping it an unsugared coffee like experience, along with some licorice and alcohol - but like an ancient after dinner drink. Chartreuse like.

Mouthfeel: Warm, full, bitter, great bitter roasty finish, leaves you in a kissy place. Warming.

Overall: My current favorite 2x stout. A must try. Accessible. Sierra scores.

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Photo of Spikester
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First time for the big bold stout. According to the stamped date it is about six weeks from bottling. Quite fresh.
The look is great with three fingers of foamy brown head that stays about ten minutes. Lacing is clumps and splotches so far. Smell is mostly sweet molasses some chocolate and coffee.
The taste is sweet molasses coffee a bit of dark chocolate from the bitterness of the hops. There is a whiff of booze but mostly when exhaling.
Mouthfeel is full and well carbonated. Finish is mostly sweet but long term finish is lightly dry and bitter.
Overall a bit sweeter than I like but it is an Imperial Stout. You can reform a head with just a few swirls of the liquid in the glass.

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Photo of BigCheese
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. About 2.5 months old. Served a bit below room temp.

A: Pours straight black, a thin but thick light brown head forms and sticks around for a few minutes. No real laving.

S: MMM. Dark Coco, espresso, raisins, maybe some vanilla. Pretty aromatic out of the bottle, enticing.

T: Not as viscous as I would have thought. A mix of dark coco nibs and espesso, some vanilla oak and maybe even coconut. Some caramel maltiness linges on palate. There seems to be some substantial hops trying to fight through, cascade perhaps, something with a very slight hint of pine. Primarily chocolate, with some cherries and honey too. A little bit of heat, but not much.

M: Super thick mouthfeel. Real chewy, very heavy, very creamy. One of the richest bodied beers I've ever had. Low carbonation.

O: A really smooth velvety brew, definitely well executed, I'd love to see how this ages. A great sipper to have on a cold winter night. Probably the best value RIS I've had to date. I will have to buy this again to drink and cellar. Try it if you can, a real winner from SN.

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Photo of beerandcycling88
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From notes
Poured from a cool looking 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A Pours a nice black with a mocha head that has great retention and leaves some nice lacing.

S Lots of coffee and milk chocolate and not too much else.

T By far the best part of this one. Lots of milk and dark chocolate backed up by lots of coffee and some pine like hops in the background.

M A bit thin but still good.

Overall this is an excellent non barrel aged imperial stout by Sierra Nevada that is well worth seeking out. I just wish I had more.

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Photo of AndrewGoria
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer but make sure you age it for at least a year. Pulled out one I had aged for three years recently and it was well worth the wait. Smooth, chocolaty and rich.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Named after the horned cetacean - that's a whale for you Bud drinkers - this is a well made Imperial Stout that combines great taste with a smooth body. It opens in a swift rush of thick beige foam that subsides into a foreboding body of tar colored liquid. There is a pleasant nose of coffee ground that wonderfully supplements the semi-sweet dollop of baker's chocolate and burnt toast. Include a moderately dry smoothness to tingle upon the palate and you've good one velvet elixir.

While it may not be the greatest imperial stout out there, it is still a damn good one and one that must be tried.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Jet black with a creamy, express colored head that has a good long retention period.

S: A solid roast with some licorice, moderate coffee and light citrus hop aroma. There is a low caramel malt sweetness and a light alcohol sweetness as well.

T: A huge malty flavor with rich dark flavors of roast, coffee and caramel along with a moderate sweetness. There are some underling burnt sugar and slight charcoal in there as well. The citrus hops flavors and bitterness are at a medium level. The balance is about equal between the bitterness and sweetness and almost out to a medium finish. The hops bitterness lingers a bit an edges out the dark roast flavors.

M: A full bodied beer with a moderately-strong level of carbonation.

O: Rich and full with equally strong malt and hops character; simply an excellent beer. I'm hoping this will be easy to find than Night Stalker where I live because Narwhal is running neck and neck with it as my favorite Imperial Stout. There will have to be a side by side tasting to for me to call a winner though.

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Photo of deebo
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 version that has been sitting in my fridge since November. Poured into a snifter this brew comes out of the bottle looking like motor oil topped with a dark tan thick head 1 finger wide with good lacing. Aromas of chocolate and roasted malt. Fairly simple but delicious. Taste is also chocolately with some nice roasted slightly bitter malt. A rather thick yet smooth mouthfeel. Really clean for a 10%+ beer. This is a fantastic RIS. Favorite beer from Sierra Nevada

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours an inky jet black body with a dark coco tan head of cream that last as a thick foam and sticks to the glass with each sip. There is a few random bubbles that can be spotted in that abyss.

S- The inky but mellow deep charcoal aroma blends with black roasted malt and some brewer’s licorice note blend in the finish. It is a full aroma even during the pour.

T- The green wood taste gives way to a much larger black roasted malt flavor that is full and creamy. There is a slightly dry finish with a nice balance of black malt bitterness and perhaps some minty woody hops bitterness as part of that. The rich mellow but deep dark malt flavors linger in the dry finish along with the softer bitterness. As the beer opens up there are some dark graham malt flavors and brewer’s licorice flavors that come through aswell.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a nice creamy texture and an alcohol warmth that compliments the big beer.

O- This beer has a big complex rich flavor but it is very well blended. The alcohol offers a nice support to the big flavors and texture. It taste great now and I can’t think of a reason it would need any age. Delicious.

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Photo of Jjski
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened a 2013 this evening.
RIS perfection in the non-barreled category. deep, rich chocolate malts. Smoky hints, velvet mouth feel. Black as my leather pants.

Last week, after horseshoes, The Czar said to me: "F@ck all that happy horse crap, hops, flavors, chiles, etc.... Get me a Narwhal"

It was a beautiful moment with the Czar. I'm all tingly thinking about it.

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Photo of xboxhueg
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Roasty, chocalately, coffee notes all to be expected. Strong dark fruit sweetish taste. Alcohol warmth. Suberb lacing. Medium to heavy mouthfeel. Rather on the sweet side. AWESOME!

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

A: perfect black beer with a dense mocha fluff; lengths of lace left behind

S: rich dark malt aromas full of cocoa and espresso suggestions; sweeter hints of molasses

T: bittersweet chocolates and espresso with cane sugar; flashes of vanilla; lighter tones suggestive of anise and oak

M: creamy smooth and soft; slips across the palate with the barest brush; a full-bodied beer that's light-as-a feather?

O: an epic Russian Imperial - runs a little sweeter and less bitter than say, an Old Rasputin; had a slimmer, less sticky character than say, Stone's IRS; an elegant entry in the style. Don't pass it up.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: poured into a sifter black as night with a slightly frothy deep tan head with excellent retention. it pours like a whale of a beer
S: smells of dark roast malt, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, and anise. smells incredible
T: flavors of charred wood, dark chocolate, a bit of coffee, burnt sugars, dark roasted malt, slight oily hop presence. swallow brings more huge flavors of roast malt, a bit of anise and an espresso finish
M: thick and nearly chewy with a soft carbonation that struggles against the viscosity of the beer
O: It's enornous, it's velvety smooth and it doesn't punch you in the mouth but it can probably put you down after a few. alcohol is very well hidden. This beer is absolutely phenomenal and a steal at the price point it sells for. Buy it and then buy some more to keep in the back of the fridge for a few years. I want this beer in a bourbon barrel!

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Photo of CHickman
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

2013 Bottle: Pours pitch black color with a thick creamy 2 finger tan head that was full of bubbles and faded very slowly, leaving very good spotty lacing and a layer on top.

Smells of oats, vanilla, cocoa powder, molasses, burnt grains, coffee, floral hops, licorice and a lot of smoky charred notes, like the malt went on fire and was then added to the mash. Nose has some sweet fruity notes, but it’s all things burnt overall with the burnt coffee or espresso leading the fade with chocolate and caramel accents that is nice to take in.

Flavor comes out with burnt malt leading the way and then turns in a mix of roasted sweetness with the cocoa powder, molasses, vanilla, coffee grinds, caramel, dry leafy floral hops, grapefruit, burnt wood, oats, licorice, smoky charred grains and anything else that seems like it was over a campfire; the chocolate notes come on stronger as it warms, with dark chocolate, vanilla, espresso and a sweetness that resembles the taste of a marshmallow that fell into the campfire coals, which is a really nice surprise. The alcohol is masterfully hidden, and the hops add mild spices and a citrus hop twang that add bitterness and a tiny bit of balance. Any fan of rich, roasted grains will love this brew and it’s complexities, which approaches the line for too bitter and too acrid but does not cross over into the land of negative flavor.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, this feels on the slick side even with the viscosity and has about average carbonation for such a bold beer. It’s bitter, it’s smoky, but it’s damn tasty and a really good RIS that went down easier than it should have. I really liked this beer when I bought this 4 pack last December and feel it got better with age. A high recommendation.

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Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Bottled on 07/31/14:

Pours black with a creamy brown head that has nice retention for the style/abv. Spotted lacing sticks.

The smell is of rich chocolate, toffee, espresso beans and molasses.

The taste follows the nose. The sweet chocolate and toffee/caramel is balanced by a light-to-medium coffee roast. Alcohol is very well-integrated. It has a robust finish.

It is rich and full-bodied, but not too thick.

This is a wonderful, dangerously drinkable Imperial Stout! Very well-made and enjoyable!

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Photo of Jetlag767
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

They have blended the vanilla, chocolate and espresso so smoothly with a luxurious taste that it makes you crave for more. And I learned from my 12 year old what a Narwhal is. But this may be the priciest beer I have ever bought at $21. While a great beer, I can't say its worth that.

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Photo of EdwardAbbey
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite Sierra Nevada beer, and easily better, to my mind, than the barrel-aged version (which mutes so much of what I love about it). The baker's cocoa is definitely the predominant note, followed by the dark roasted coffee. Some palates may find this harsh, but I think the flavor and feel of this one is unique and delicious. Just as important, it's a great value.

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Photo of omniscientcause
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter, this is very dark, thick, leaving great lacing on my snifter.

The smell is potent, I poured it walked away to start cooking dinner and I could smell it from 15 feet away.

Roasted malt with bits of graham cracker, dark chocolate, alcohol, and piney hops (the best kind of hops). Starts off fairly sweet with some hints of dark chocolate and molasses and a rather smooth finish.

As others have said the alcohol is masked very well, and thus is very drinkable.

I will be picking up as much of this as I can at 9.99 a 4pk this is a great buy.

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