Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

767 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 767
Hads: 4,455
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 8.96%
Wants: 255
Gots: 1,126 | 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: 767 | Hads: 4,455
Photo of MadScientist
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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. (1,050 characters)

Photo of deebo
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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 (471 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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. (1,200 characters)

Photo of Jjski
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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. (371 characters)

Photo of xboxhueg
4.5/5  rDev +9%

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! (181 characters)

Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +9%

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. (612 characters)

Photo of SHODriver
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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! (881 characters)

Photo of CHickman
4.5/5  rDev +9%

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. (1,764 characters)

Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +9%

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! (508 characters)

Photo of Jetlag767
4.5/5  rDev +9%

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. (284 characters)

Photo of omniscientcause
4.5/5  rDev +9%
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. (567 characters)

Photo of MadCat
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours black with a good dark brown head, leaves good lacing

Smell: Nice roasted malts, coffee, and a little dark chocolate

Taste: Starts off with that great stout taste of roasted malts. Next you get some coffee and dark chocolate. Then a little bit of hop bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full body, medium carbonation

Overall: Fantastic brew. Will have to pick up this every year and age some. (400 characters)

Photo of skinny_mcginley
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Pours a midnight black with coffee colored head that lingers for awhile. This was very drinkable and not too boozy. Smelled of chocolate and roasted malts with a hint of coffee and vanilla. Tasted the same. A very nice beer! (224 characters)

Photo of Brackh
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Pours super black with little to no head. Smells dark and fruity. Raisins maybe? Tasted chocolate and roasted. Changed the longer I sipped. You can taste the alcohol for sure. Not a bad thing though. Not the same as some other Imperial Stouts that I have had. Delicious though. (277 characters)

Photo of yarnbomb
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Yum! A great version of one of my very favorite beer styles. The last one I had on draft was SO GOOD that I didn't actually share it as intended, oops. (151 characters)

Photo of MjBrewhouse
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle, inch and a half head with pretty aggressive pour.
Head sticks around for a while.I bought 4 four packs and have six beers left.
When I first bought this beer it was a bit boozy and hot, I've had it in my cellar for a few months and my how it has changed in a few months, at first it was hot with tons of booze and not as balanced as it is now.
Narwhal is pitch black in color, tan head. looks regal and lush.
Smell is of licorice,malt, chocolate, espresso.
Taste is smooth and velvety, not too rich and not too thin, just right for me.
Overall this beer is fantastic, when i first bought it i thought it was good but I'm so surprised at a few months in the cellar has this beer drinking really well now. Went back to the store today and they were out..I better savor the last few bottles until next year. (829 characters)

Photo of sniper061
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: poured into a snifter. This beer is black, like a moonless night, kinda black
S: smells of dark roast malt, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, you can also smell leather. which paired nicely with a dark cigar
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 and an espresso finish
M: thick beer with a nice mouthfeel. It coats your tongue like a warm friendly blanket.
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.

Serving type: bottle (742 characters)

Photo of Hauckstadtjr00
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Taste test 2013 vs 2014
Both pour nicely black with a thick tan head that sticks around for a little bit. Eventually fades into nothing on top.
Smell:
2014- Doesnt have too strong aroma compared to the 2013. Slightly piney with cacao and bakers chocolate notes. Deep malty aroma shines through a bit.
2013- WOW!!! Boozy and delicious! This shit kicks you in the face with super pleasant and deep complex alcohol notes with deep deep cacao and roasted malt flavour. This stuff smells incredible.
Taste:
2014-Wow the piney flavour is very prominent especially in comparison. Very hoppy for an imperial stout but still has a lot of the nice cacao and roasted notes. Very balanced and pretty drinkable for something of this percentage.
2013- BAMM!! Same thing as the smell just flows across your tongue like the godly beverage beer is supposed to. Strong, boozy and roasted cacao and coffee flavours all blend together to make a damn good experience.
Overall I liked the year old one more. Though I had not realized the piney character being so strong last year also given the factor of how much my palate has changed which I know it has a lot. The fresh one is very good and a nice imperial stout to have and reasonably priced too. But if you have the means I strongly recommend giving that a try because its well worth it. (1,323 characters)

Photo of sliprk314
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Color is black with a slight brown head.

Can't pick up a smell probably due to a cold.

Taste- Chocolatey malts are the dominating flavor upfront. Followed by a coffee flavor. I do pick up some of the fruity flavors but they are not pronounced.

Overall I would certainly recommend this to anyone. I really enjoyed it and now look forward to trying the BA version. (410 characters)

Photo of GPHarris
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - poured a one finger thick creamy coffee-colored head into a snifter that left great lacing throughout. the body was dark black.
s - chocolate, coffee with a hint of piney hops.
t - roasted coffee, burnt chocolate, piney hops.
m - thick and viscous.
o - another terrific west coast take on the RIS. really loved this beer. (325 characters)

Photo of jkshield
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: what a deep black color. when held up to the light it makes it look almost like a black marble because of its depth. There was also a decent size head of about a cm, which I like for my stouts

S: A blend of a sweet Carmely taste followed by a strong scent of roast coffee or espresso. It is hard to smell the hops but they are just lightly present with a piney scent.

T: first i taste a well rounded flavor of deep roasted malts and coffee. The intensity of the nose is then followed by a softer carmel and toffee notes concluded by a slight piney hop aroma. I was quite impressed how good it tasted out of a bottle, since stouts usually have a distinct alcoholic after taste when not off tap. This beer only had a slight alcoholic afterwards, which is amazing for the fact that it is 10.2 %

M: I love the way this beer goes down the throat. I can see that some people might find it a little carbonated for a stout, but i like the carbonation becuase it helps move along the taste from the bitter beginnings to that of a soft tone, by which time the carbonation is gone and all that is left is the sweet carmel and toffee flavor

O: I love imperial Stouts and the narwhal is probably one of my favorite. might even be better than old rasputin, but as all intelligent beer drinkers know they only way to tell how good a stout really is, is by having it on tap. Until that time i'm surprised how well it tastes out of the bottle. Definitely will have to buy it again if i can find it (1,487 characters)

Photo of Jerone
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark, viscous used motor oil, milk chocolate colored finger and a half head that fades but still leaves a bit of foam, leaves some lacing behind.

S - Yum, dark chocolate, coffee, and dark roasted malt with a touch of alcohol in a good way.

T - Bam, lots of flavor and what I love about stouts. Dark chocolate and some coffee flavor with slight hints of dark fruits as it gets closer to room temp (65). Has some sweetness but not too much, very lovely stout.

M - Great mouthfeel, low carbonation, heavy body, slightly viscous.

O - Great beer overall and highly recommended. SN keeps on making high quality beers and this one actually has little to no hop flavor :D (680 characters)

Photo of ISmith87
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle.

A - Beer is a dark dark brown/black with a half finger of dark tan head at first that disappears pretty quickly to leave a nice thin film of dark tan bubbles.

S - Smells like milk chocolate/caramel. Some creamy vanilla hints in there too. Coffee/Espresso.

T - Big chocolate and coffee at first. Nice roasted flavor to it throughout. Leaves a roasted/almost smoky after taste.

M - Medium-heavy beer. Alcohol pretty much completely hidden @ 10.2%. Roasted/smoky aftertaste.

O - Great beer. Definitely up there with Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Not as good as Stone Espresso Russian Imperial Stout or Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. For the price (8-9 dollars a four pack) this could be a great winter beer if I still lived back in Michigan, but I'll drink it in the Arizona heat too. I'll have to try Old Rasputin again to compare, but for the price from what I remember this could very well be a permanent replacement for it. (954 characters)

Photo of DenverHopHead
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance - black as motor oil; creamy, tan head; ring upon ring of lacing!
Smell - cocoa and dark chocolate; hint of espresso.
Taste - complex flavors! Starts off creamy, but a surprise rush of hops mixed with a hint of alcohol, follows with malts and coffee flavors.
Feel - a very complex RIS! I was taken back by the very noticeable hop presence, it almost comes off as a hardcore Black IPA! More medium body, not too heavy and very drinkable at 10.2% ABV!
Overall - terrific offering from Sierra Nevada! To me this is a cross between an RIS and a Black IPA! The price point gives this one the nod over many other stouts! I'm anxious to try this alongside a few of my favorite Black IPA's, like Wookey Jack, Sublimely, and Mountain Standard. (785 characters)

Photo of fauxpunker
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours black with quickly dissipating dark tan/brown head. Appears heavy but not thick or syrupy.
S: All malt here. Chocolate most prominent with a touch of vanilla. Nothing over powering but definitely enjoyable.
T: The chocolate taste is there as well as some vanilla. Really nice roastiness and bitterness in there, not acrid or over powering at all. Slight taste of alcohol on the finish, but not really biting. Very nice balance.
M: Nice and full. Not as thick or chewy as I was expecting. Low carbonation and clean.
O: Truly enjoyed drinking this.Great to sit back and sip. And for the price, a really nice buy. Would definitely get this again. (654 characters)

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 767 ratings.