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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

821 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 821
Hads: 4,660
Avg: 4.14
pDev: 22.95%
Wants: 269
Gots: 1,236 | 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: 821 | Hads: 4,660
Photo of StoutElk_92
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2015 version - packaged 8/05/15

Pours black, with a light tan head. Smells lightly of dark chocolate and boozy fruit. Taste is like bitter, dark chocolate baker's cocoa, dark stone fruit, and bittersweet dark roast coffee, with a slightly licorice and herbal hop note. Feels pretty light, almost sticky and chewy, with very little carbonation. The alcohol is covered up well. Overall, a really nice imperial stout.

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Photo of Chris_Huston
3.72/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2014 bottle. Dark brown-black, darkly roasted brown sugar/cinnamon colored head that piles high. Not much in the way of defining flavors -- e.g. coffee, cocoa; just a basic malt-forward adorned with general smokiness that gives the impression of a smoked porter. Pleasant, but not compelling. Same on the taste, but with even more smoke -- not too much, though; in fact, pitched better than some smoked porters I've had (e.g. Stone's regular one). Slight bit of creaminess to the feel, but also smooth without seeming watery. Nice weighted body.

Overall, this is dominated by smoke. That makes it disappointing as a stout, when compared to rivals such as Breakfast Stout, Vanilla Noir, Bomb!, etc., but if you blind tasted this without any expectations, it's a well done smoked imperial porter or stout, even if not amazing.

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Photo of TH28
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. 2015 vintage. Appearance: Black and opaque with a khaki brown foam cap that lingers a bit. Aroma: Light roasted coffee with some raisin and cherry notes. Somewhat subdued. Taste: Deep, rich malt sweetness with a strong roasted edge. Some dark fruit and sherry notes intertwine, with noticeable bitterness accentuated by slightly astringent roast. Mouthfeel: Medium with some viscosity and a light to moderate carbonation. Touch of alcohol warmth. Finish: Slightly slick on the tongue, with a touch of dark fruit and a strong lingering roast. Overall: You can tell this is a fresh version, with a strong roast component dominating the overall profile of this beer. Aroma is maybe a little subdued to some other imperial stouts, but overall very good. Over time I’m sure this will improve as the roasted edge softens into some fruitier flavors.

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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 alarmclock314
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, dated 9/10/15. Pours black with a smaller sized tan head, good lacing. Smells of roasted malt and sweet licorice. The taste follows almost exactly with roasted malt, licorice, and some cocoa. Moderate sweetness and less malt than with other RIS's. Above average body and medium carbonation. Overall, it's a well done RIS, but could use flavors other than licorice.

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Photo of Jwburns75
3.54/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

My first time having a Narwhal, and I don't think this beer hangs with the upper beers of the style. The smell is faint, maybe some roastyness coming thru but not a lot to speak of. The taste seems one dimensional to me for a style that often has so much depth. There isn't a lot of sweetness in the mix which would go a long way. It's drinkable for sure and feels hearty, but it's lacking certain characteristics that I prefer in my imperial stouts.

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Photo of Wer34truh
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A rather small head which dissipates quickly. Large dark body with minimal activity. Looks like the depths of the ocean.

As far as the smell goes, it's mostly chocolate, with some coffee on the side. A subtle booze scent is also emanating from this. Otherwise a rather subtle smell.

Quite complex flavor. With coffee beans, chocolate,cola and a smokey sort of taste towards the end. Also noted some licorice. The taste is phenomenal, with a rather hefty body as well.

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Photo of Gregaroo
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I've had this one before and lived it. Now on tap at City Taphouse in Philly. Still a knockout, but not as much as I remember it to be. Maybe because three are so many others like it. Still, oh so dark and coffee-y. Awesome IRS from these guys that I will continues to seek out. Had a couple with Keith after he bound some new biz.

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Photo of Chcshammonde
4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 edition. L: black with mocha looking head about 1 inch. S: hops, roasted malt, caramel. T: a bit of hop bite up front throws you for a loop, but thats the fun part of this beer. Caramel is strong along with bittersweet chocolate. F: medium, not all the way full , but still very nice. Rich and actually somewhat slammable. O: drink at about 55 degrees, and this will reward you. Tasty offering!

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Photo of EMV
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

L: Pours an inky black with 2 fingers of brownish head. Delicate lacing with great retention.

S: Chocolate and coffee, roasted malts, molasses.

T/F: Roasted malts with a complex coffee and chocolate flavor. Slightly sweet gives way to slightly bitter and very smooth on the palate. Even better as it goes from cellar temp to room.

O: One delicious Imperial Stout, and a great product from the venerable Sierra Nevada brewery. Can't wait to see what they've done with the bourbon aged versions (2 bottles currently relaxing in my cellar) and this beer can have a place in my fridge any time.

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Photo of dd43
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The barrel aged version of this beer is more complex, more interesting and overall my clear preference. That said, the base beer is nothing to sneeze at.

Pours inky black with a dark brown head. Big chocolate and roast notes on the aroma, as well as a rich molasses note. Flavors are the same for the most part. Alcohol is present, but actually doesn't come through quite as much as the 10% might lead you to believe. Mouthfeel is fairly creamy though this is more lively/carbonated than barrel narwhal. This beer can be warmed up to cellar temperature and it stays delicious, with the coffee character showing up more as it rises from the fridge like its namesake whale.

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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 OldManMetal
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This stout is a well-nigh-impenetrable black with no highlights, capped by a brief-lived medium pebbly brown head that leaves nice rafts and splotches of lacing. The nose is moderate in intensity, predominately sweet molasses and cocoa with lesser alcohol overtones. The palate is more assertive than the nose: a very nice sweetish, complex, seamless blend of milk chocolate, molasses and chocolate ice cream with boozy overtones. The finish is quite boozy chocolate, followed by a moderately bitter coffee flavor that lingers for a few minutes, balancing the experience by countering the sweetish palate. The mouthfeel is commensurate with the full body, and warming from the alcohol; the texture is creamy, nicely sticky and a bit peppery for the style from some overenthusiastic carbonation. Narwhal is a rotating stout that is worth looking forward to. (12 oz bottle, 94 days after pkg)

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Photo of Tilly
3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P: Nice deep dark black/brown pour, light brown frothy 1" head. Leaving very nice and typical of an IS
A: Dark roasted coffee, sweet bitter chocolate, roasted malt
T: Rich dark chocolate, roasted malt and coffee, berries, sligh hop.
M: A lot going on here. Well balanced, medium to bold, slight high alcohol, dry finish.
O: This is a very good IS from Sierra. Looking forward to the next one.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter glass. The color is jet black with a rather thin, light tan head and minimal lacing. The smell features dark chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. The taste includes abundant dark fruit with burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel. It's like a rich dessert. This stout has a rich, creamy mouthfeel and is very easy drinking notwithstanding its 10.2% ABV. Overall, it's a very good imperial stout. I particularly like the prevalent raisin and dark fruit. I'm a big fan of the barrel-aged version of Narwhal but the base stout does not disappoint. I don't think it's quite as good as Founders Imperial Stout, but it's excellent

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Photo of bobstockwell
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

very good. Pours black w/creamy head. Chocolate,coffee,plums?........very smooth for alcohol content. Sierra nevada alway has very good beers for a reasonable price and their "better" seasonal beers are no exception.

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Photo of Bluerabbitbell
3.43/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had at Bocktown in Robinson with Leah. I guess this style isn't for us. Tasted like cough medicine; high alcohol, bitter flavor etc. By other's reviews there are those that like this one. Can't say that I'm one of them.

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Photo of 81tillinfinity
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep roasted malt almost to the burnt category, that leads to flavors prunes, black coffee, and dark chocolate. The hops and nice bitterness that balances the dry finish. This is a great beer even in a very young bottle.

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Photo of chicksdiggit
4.72/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage, aged in a cold basement away from light for a little under a year.
L: Dark thick brown with a finger and a half of dark mocha colored head. Plenty of carbonation slowly rises around the edge of the glass. Thick retention and thin but sticky lacing.

S: Rich fig and raisin up front. Dark cocoa and anise notes behind it.

T: Fig, chocolate malt, dates, sweet dark chocolate. Black coffee, espresso. A lot going on, not muddled, and I love it.

F: Rich luxurious French silk mouthfeel and boozy. A touch creamy. Absolutely awesome and easy to drink.

O: I like this fresh as well, but the sweet malt base really seems to shine through more so than I remembered, and the complexity on this is amazing. Love it.

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Photo of geodonnokepyo
4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

pours black with a creamy tan head that lingers around for a while. decent lacing.
aroma is not very pronounced but i can pick up dark chocolate and coffee.
Taste is like dark chocolate with a little roasted coffee.
The hop bitterness is the perfect amount to tickle the taste buds.
not extremely viscous like some beers of this style get.smooth and a tiny bit chalky at the end. the mouthfeel is really good.
overall this is a very nice imperial stout

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Photo of lastmango
3.6/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured pitch black with a 3 finger tan creamy head. Lots of lacing. Nose was very mild coffee and raisin. Taste was the same with a smokiness followed by the piney hops. Not as complex as I thought it was going to be. Perhaps I am having an off day. Medium carbonation and feel.

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Photo of glass_house
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque black like an imperial stout should. One finger of creamy off-white head. Aroma is heavy on roasted dark malts with a little burnt coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts with subtle fig and dark plum in the aftertaste. There are hints of coffee and chocolate, but much less so than many beers of this style. The roasted malt takes center stage. It's a bit of a one trick pony, but when that trick is really really good, that's not a bad thing. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and just slightly creamy. Coats the palate well. Virtually no noticeable alcohol. One of the smoothest 10%+ beers I've ever had.

There are more exciting and complex stouts out there, but this is super solid and never lets me down.

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Photo of puck1225
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tall snifter. Dark brown, almost black . Th in brown head but nice curtain lacing. Dark chocolate taste with coffee and toasted almonds, with a noticeable hop taste. One of my favorite stouts! I look forward to it each year.

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Photo of mlockman
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I am disappointed that neither my rating nor review for this brew were saved online. As such, I recall retrospectively that despite its high rating I was not impressed by this beer. While hop-flavor was present it was subdued given the hop-forward flavor profile of many of Sierra Nevada's other beers. Malt flavors were certainly present, but I found them to be one-note and and far from complex. This is a very good basic Russian Imperial Stout, but the flavor was not nuanced, and thus it was no more than that to me: basic. Perhaps with some barrel-aging or cellaring it takes on other characteristics?

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black with one finger of off white head. Smells sweet cola-like. Taste is very unusual for the style, a definite cola sweetness. Dark juicy fruit flavored, with a lot of carbonation. I like the juiciness, and no trace of alcohol.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 821 ratings.