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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

773 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 773
Hads: 4,468
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 258
Gots: 1,134 | 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: 773 | Hads: 4,468
Photo of ajm5108
3.82/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

You get a lot of medium toasted malt flavor, with some outside hints of roasted coffee. You can sense some hops in there as well, and some residual alchohol peaks through. Mouthfeel is smooth. Aroma is lacking, mostly just the toasted malt. Overall a good stout but not exceptional. (286 characters)

Photo of CJRx
4.86/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

First word in my mind is Velvet.
Dark, smooth, chocolatey. To me, a hint of dark red fruit - maybe plum also.
Incredibly drinkable for pushing 13%.
Drank the first half very cold and let the other half warm. Strong on the malts in the smell. Lightly carbonated, but almost...refreshing.
Very, very good & highly recommend. A high standard for stouts. (353 characters)

Photo of FFreak
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into tall tulip glass. Oily black with about 1/2 inch of brown head that slowly dissipates leaving nice lacing. A bit sweet and roasty in the smell with molasses, brown sugar and dark roast. Taste is somewhat different from the smell and hard to describe - dark brown sugar mixed with dark brown bread?? Mouth feel is delightful, probably the best aspect of the beer. Overall, I'd have to say I really like this one. Can't wait to try the barrel aged version. (485 characters)

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.93/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle, poured into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color with practically no head what-so-ever, except for an extremely thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Strong, rich, earthy aromas of roasted malt, freshly baked dark bread, dark chocolate, dark molasses, licorice, vanilla and some boozy alcohol.

Taste: Wow! Extremely strong flavors of roasted malt, dark chocolate, dark molasses, coffee, licorice, brown sugar and some nicely balanced hops.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and pretty smooth, as there is very little carbonation. With an ABV of 10.2%, there is quite a bit of alcohol on the palate, imparting a pleasant warmth in the mouth while being drunk.

Overall: This is another excellent stout! Massive flavors of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, dark molasses, coffee, licorice, brown sugar and some nicely balanced hops, awesomely blended together in a chewy, smooth quaff. Fantastic! (973 characters)

Photo of mothmanscott
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours midnight black but I do not have my high intensity flashlight to inspect for clarity, however if it is like many of these very dark brews when inspected closely will likely be a very dark brown with a ruby tint. More when I find out. The pour produces a 2+ finger, moderately lasting, tightly bubbled, mocha head that leaves almost no lace. Aroma is dark malt, Hershey's Chocolate Syrup & undertones of unsweetened bakers cocoa, coffee, figs, prunes, burley tobacco & thin floral hop tones. Taste is sweet Hershey's Chocolate Syrup followed by semi-sweet dark chocolate, toffee, roasted (burnt) malt, dates, figs, fruit cake & coffee. Finishes much like the rest of the sip but rapidly develops more intense coffee & burnt notes, with hints of chocolate covered cherry cordials, more intense alcohol warmth & developing an alcohol/hop bitterness & peppery spice. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied with medium carbonation, thick, creamy & wet with a tiny spice prickle in the finish. A heavy, rich, complex & very desert type brew. (1,028 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.46/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout
12 oz. brown glass bottle, "072414C120:16"

Appearance: Typical black/dark tan. Excellent head retention. Very good lacing.
Aroma: Golden caramel, light toffee, licorice, subtle fruit (black cherry), some piney/grassiness, chocolate, cold black coffee.
Flavor: As the aroma suggests, with additional espresso that's rich and creamy; and a subtle touch of orange-like citrus. It's a little spicy (hops? alcohol? both?), and a light touch of pine helps to balance it alongside a median bitterness. As you progress the black cherry note seems to step forward a bit. Dry, gently roasty and chocolatey lingering finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a very fine-bubbled moderate carbonation that at first gently bristles and then softens to become smoother.
Overall: Quite unique in its fruity component; and toned-down a bit in its chocolate and roast as compared to many examples of the style. It has finesse! Balanced, rounded, and satisfying. Without question, one of the best Imperial Stouts out there. (1,041 characters)

Photo of WunderLlama
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a glass

Black liquid capped by brown bubbly lid

Aroma of sweet coffee malt

Taste off roast coffee, bittersweet on the tip and sides of the tongue

Smooth, roast coffee aftertaste

Nice beer (214 characters)

Photo of JamesBondGA
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured pitch black in color, tan head. Zero lacing on glass. Smell is of malt, chocolate, espresso. Taste is very velvety, with the espresso coming thru.Overall this is excellent. One of my top 10 favorites. (207 characters)

Photo of chinchill
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz 2012 bottle.

Unlike most people, I've had the barrel aged version of this prior to trying the regular version which I've cellared for a good while. Well, I'm happy to find that this regular RIS is exceptional if not quite as tasty as the barrel aged version. It certainly looks great: opaque black with a durable light brown head and lovely lacing. The high ABV is evident in the nose but otherwise fairly well hidden. Plenty of dark roasted grain flavor with minimal char and very light smoke -- just right IMO. Excellent bitter-sweet balance and mix. Some licorice. Pleasing and lasting aftertaste.

Feel: Full but not thick body. Near medium, soft carbonation.

O: Excellent and delicious. I haven't tried a fresh sample yet but I'd bet waiting until this is about 2 years old is a wise move. (High rating confirmed in June 2015 with a now older bottle0. (875 characters)

Photo of maedhros09
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black with light, slowly forming, and barely lingering head. Smells sweet, roasty, chocolatey with minor licorice.

Taste: Medium sweet roasty maltiness, boozy, finishing with a somewhat mild tingling lingering paper-like hops bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, medium body with little carbonation in the mouth. Flavors blend and balance superbly and the finish is lingering and memorable.

Update: After storing for a few weeks the bitter finish that I remember from the first sample seems to have mellowed and doesn't stand out as much. The finish remains somewhat bitter but nicely balances the initial sweetness.

Update #2: After 4 months cellared this beer is very creamy and mellow with a mild to moderate bitterness in the finish that blends really well. (758 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 serspecv
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an oversized pilsner glass from a 12oz bottle. Pours almost pitch black, not too thick as far as consistency. Head is minimal, a redwood color that leaves just a bit of lacing as you sip. Smells amazing, you'll know that this is going to be a delicious brew as soon as you catch a whiff. Velvety smooth, alcohol warmth present, but does not feel like you're drinking a 10%er. Has a chocolate richness to it. Very impressed with this beer. Definitely buying a six pack next time. (490 characters)

Photo of ZBowden
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black with a small tan head, smells of roasted malts chocolate caramel slight hops, tastes boozy malty chocolatey caramel slight piney hops, thick chewy mouthfeel. (175 characters)

Photo of CIBoy10
4.92/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look - Poured from 12 oz bottle into an oversized wine glass. Blacker than the blackest black. Totally opaque. Thin traces of carbonation, but hardly any head. Nice lacing.

Smell - Coffee, chocolate, malt, cherries, faint yeast/booze, Irish car bomb (mixed together), yogurt raisins? (but seriously). Pretty complex. I wish this was a cologne.

Taste - Great coffee, cherries, dark chocolate (think chocolate covered cherry), maduro cigar. Roasted malt up front, chocolate really comes on in the middle, you can barely feel the booze on the finish with contains more bitterness, coffee, and maduro. Finish only lingers pleasantly, doesn't annoy. Wow. Gets more malty and bitter as it warms up.

Feel - Certainly doesn't feel dry or thin, and I'm glad (don't like really dry, thin, over-carbonated stouts). LIke swallowing creamy silk. Booze is not overpowering at all. You don't feel the 10.2% whatsoever.

Overall - It is sweeter (not too much) than other stouts but I actually like that. This is a big boy though and it is thick and rich. One of the best RIPs I have ever had. Fantastic beer that exceeded my expectations. And at 10.2%, worst case scenario is you feel great afterwards. In other words, try one. (1,215 characters)

Photo of Ipaupaweallpa
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So I have been seeking this out for a while, did try the SN Porter and the SN coffee stout. Never had the regular stout, never see it around although I'm sure it is similar to coffee stout. saw this last night and got very excited . Much anticipation. Tried to not get my hopes too high as stouts always have that "filling" Maltiness to me and I drink iPas mostly. Wow. This beer is incredible. Very smooth. DEFINATLY not able to detect the 10.2% abv until it leaves your mouth with a chocolatey Bite. Not nearly as carbonated and "airy" as the Porter and stout. Perfection. Like a silky chocolate smoothness. Not sure if I could have more than one because of the sweetness. But, still, after the first sip I was already wondering how I'm gonna secure another 4 pack. (768 characters)

Photo of tedvr
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours really dark with a thick creamy head. Faint smell of chocolate. Taste of dark chocolate and mild coffee. Medium creamy mouthful with mild carbonation. Has a nice balanced taste with a nice finish. (202 characters)

Photo of Gabriel_Vaughn
3.81/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

pours incredibly well, dark as the night, caramel lace head sticks edge of glass well

smells sweet

taste faint licorice not my cup of tea

mouthfeel is great, very easy

Not my favorite imperial stout but a wonderful beer! (224 characters)

Photo of BWED
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip.

A- Black. Dark brown head. Lingers at a quarter inch. Great lacing.

S- Big bittersweet roast. Chocolate and coffee. Alcoholic sting in the nose.

T- Relatively sweet. Chocolate is up there, but there is still a mild earthy hop bitterness. I was expecting that from SN.

M- Nice and thick. Bitterness comes out with a bit of astringency, but the sweetness is the the main component.

O- Really great. I was expecting a fair contribution of hops, but the sweetness, dark chocolate character was a good surprise. And stronger than one would think. (584 characters)

Photo of datalager
4.73/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I know I've reviewed this before, yet another review that was lost somewhere in the BA changeover some time ago. But I'll do it again for kicks and giggles. Here's the abridged stuff you need to know. It's an imperial stout. It has all the characteristics of an imperial stout. Noteworthy here is the well hidden ABV. Awesome beer. Get some. (341 characters)

Photo of hopflyer
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 7/31/14
Pours deep black with light tan head. Has almost an orange tint.

Nothing prominent in the nose. Maybe some faint chocolate and coffee. A little alcohol detected.

Taste is some bitterness mixed with semi sweet chocolate. A little bit of roasted coffee and maybe a touch of some burnt wood. A bit of hop bitterness on the finish.

Feel initially is a bit thin. Carb is low to medium. Maybe a little stickiness but it doesn't feel all that viscous.

Its a good stout but nothing over the top. Flavors are there but don't pop or hit very hard and the aroma was nearly non-existent compared to what you'd expect in a big RIS. (646 characters)

Photo of taters21
4.66/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this is exceptional.
Appearance-Black with a finger and a half reddish brown head with good rention to one finger.
Smell-Raisin, Dark Chocolate, Roasted malt
Taste-This is where this stout knocked my socks off, delightfully chocolate sweetness that fades to coffee then to a roasted light bitterness, just splendid.
Feel-Creamy, velvety, coats the mouth well, very good for this style.
All in all, I had high hopes and this beer was even better than I thought it could be. (477 characters)

Photo of seedyone
4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From bottle at home. 2014 on bottle. Now this is what I call a stout. Look, smell, taste & feel are all very rich & full. This stuff makes no apologies, it just stands up straight & says "take it or leave it." I thought I caught the slightest hint of licorice/anise under my nose but it dissipated like a wisp, then came back again in the finish.

Alcohol taste but little of the burn. The chocolateness is of the bittersweet kind.

Every taste keeps saying to me "no kidding around". A real swashbuckler & I'm really enjoying it. (531 characters)

Photo of 51mmz0rz
4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking this 1 year aged (2013) at Owl farm. Ages really well, though a little boozy. A roastiness still aparant in the finish. 12 oz pour might be a little much for this one... (180 characters)

Photo of genesisgrunge
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful black. No light shines through. No head (although I worry it may have been my specific bottle).
S: Chocolate and molasses with a strong roasted (but not coffee) scent. It has a wood scent to cap it off. Must be those bourbon barrels used to age it.
T: Dark chocolate and earthy with an alcohol hit that comes with a 10.20 abv, but it's still smooth.
M: I imagine the mouthfeel must be much better than I experienced since the head was very thin to nonexistent on my pour. Yet it is still smooth and velvety. Reminds me of a Rasputin, but slightly more harsh due to the more pronounced alcohol taste.
O: Excellent beer. I will need to try this again with a proper pour from a good tap or bottle. This beer is a truly dark monster of complexity and challenge, but in all good ways. For those who like Rasputin for its sweeter malts, this is not the beer for you, but if you like Rasputin Imperial for everything else, then Narwhal is a must have. (960 characters)

Photo of Michael_R_Gurdineer
3.56/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

As always, I find barrel aged to be TOO much flavor in the wrong direction. As this special brew breathed the barrel aged flavor became too overpowering. Not my cup of tea! (172 characters)

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 773 ratings.