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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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798 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 798
Hads: 4,543
Avg: 4.13
pDev: 23.24%
Wants: 265
Gots: 1,174 | 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: 798 | Hads: 4,543
Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Picked this up a few weeks back at Joe Canal's in Parsippany having never had this before. I love Sierra Nevada's offerings and was hoping that this would measure up to them. Thankfully, this did not taste like a dark version of their more notable Pale Ales and IPA's and considering the strength that this had, this was surprisingly easy to enjoy while being full and potent like a Russian Stout should be!

The pour to this was a dark raisin with just a hint of light seeping in around the edges, with a moderate tan head that was punctuated with bubbles coming up from the liquid. It gave this a lively appearance and the head settled into a few rings of lacing that went around the top third or so of my pint glass. The baker's chocolate was in the nose big time, along with some currant, dark fruit, and booze and all of these were present in the taste as well. Quite sweet, this had a cloying taste to it and the coffee same out more in the aftertaste once the Belgian-like notes and chocolate went down. Not a lot of hops here, the bubbles could be felt but not seen as the mouthfeel was pretty smooth with just a hint of lactose that softly came through as this warmed up.

This was strong but didn't really feel it but I noticed the warming coming over me once I made my way through this beer. Not overly spicy or boozy, this was a welcome departure from Sierra Nevada's other offerings while keeping up their level of quality that they've come to be known for. Those looking for a thinner Coffee Stout with hints of vanilla or a Russian Imperial Stout along the lines of the Old Rasputin will find that this straddled the line between the two, but quite nicely as I am looking forward to giving this another go! Certainly worthy of the Sierra Nevada moniker.

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Photo of Gorilla_Biscuits
3.26/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

It's really malty with a hint of coffee, for some reason I think it has a rubbing alcohol taste to it as well which really bums me out, otherwise it's good.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very interesting and unique appearance; on the surface, a semi viscous dark brown and nearly black color. However, when held up to the light, there is a saucer like ring of red. A thin ringlike and broken lace orbits around 3/4 of the glass, and, eventually dissipates completely.
The aroma really picks up after the drink warms. At first, a subtle whiff of dark roasted grains. This is followed by a medicinal quality. Soon enough, a really pleasant dark and sweet chocolate aroma takes over. At the end of each sniff, there is a strong alcohol component.
The taste is biter sweet. The roasted malts add a sweet chocolate and dark fruit presence, as well as bitter coffee. Similarly, the finish is both sweet on the back of the throat and very dry and bitter. In the finish, you get a modest but significant hops presence.
Full mouthfeel and robust body. Soft carbonation brings out the flavors. Well balanced. At 10.20% ABV, this one is a sipper, yet, I finished it fast because it is, after all, pretty tasty and drinkable. Better to let it sit as it gets better and better as it warms.

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Photo of Gear54
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From a bottle into a snifter.

Inkey black with 1/2 inch of kaki head and no lace on the glass.

Smell is malty and had some coco and milk chocolate aromas mixed in.

Taste followed smell well. Roasted malts and coffee flavor with dark chocolate and a surprising amount of sweetness. The sweetness is really over powering on the finish.

Drinkability suffers a bit in my eyes because of the sweet finish. If the sweetness was muted just a bit this could bey favorite ever.

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Photo of HowardTheDuck
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 bottle poured into a snifyer an cellar temo. The hops have faded significantly but not enough for my taste. Nice body with a one-finger head that dissipated quickly.

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Photo of mchegash
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - 4.25/5
Pours almost pitch-black (I can see a tiny bit of brown), with about a finger and a half of dark tan head. The head stays around for a while

Smell - 3.75/5
Smells slightly chocolatey, slightly roasty, slightly alcoholic

Taste - 4/5
A strong roasty-slightly chocolate flavor is mixed with stong hops flavor. The taste is slightly sweet

Mouthfeel - 4/5
Medium body, in between crisp and smooth, a medium amount of medium-high intensity carbonation.

Overall - 4/5
A good beer.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 10/5/2012. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1 finger dense dark tan head with great retention, that reduces to a small thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, licorice, leather, tobacco, light pine, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of huge dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, licorice, leather, char, tobacco, herbal, light pine, light smoke, and roasted earthiness. Good amount of roast/char and herbal hop bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, char, leather, tobacco, light smoke, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt and earthy hop flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome Russian imperial stout. All around great balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of kitch
3.28/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle packaged on 6 November 2014 as per the back label. Poured into a Westmalle goblet.

A: It poured pitch black with minimal head and low retention.
S: Mocha chocolate with hints of espresso at first but followed by some alcohol.
T: Bittersweet chocolate with some coffee. Later on some booze does show.
M: Smooth, creamy and velvety. Very light carbonation.
O: I thought that this was a decent stout. Taste wise its not the best of its style but it is certainly solid. I’ve also heard that it ages well so I may have to find another bottle to age a few years.

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Photo of do_ob
4.52/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 08/13/2014. Sampled and reviewed on March 8, 2015.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Sam Adams glass. Pours pitch black with a 1.5 finger head of brown, sticky foam. Good retention most of the way through. Not much lacing; it all slid back down into the beer. Smells of chocolate, roasted nuts, dark fruit, maple syrup, and molasses. I get hints of hops, too, which suprised me a bit. Heavy-bodied but slightly lighter on the finish. Very sweet taste. Chocolate, malt, molasses, syrup, and notes of raspberries. Sticky-sweet coffee aftertaste that lingers for quite a while.

This is an awesome stout. It reminded me of FBS in a lot of ways. It's sweeter, and maybe not quite as smooth, but it's damn close. I was shocked to still find a couple 4 packs of this in the store. I'll be saving the rest for a later time.

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Photo of AndrewGoria
4.51/5  rDev +9.2%
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 WoodBrew
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Love this stout....Nice job Sierra Nevada! The beer pours opaque with off white head with slight lace. The scent has slight roast and espresso. The taste is has a slight maple syrup, dark chocolate and coffee flare. The mouthfeel is full in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is great!

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Photo of JebBeerFish
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very well constructed and balanced RIS, with the coffee, chocolate and roast flavors playing equal parts. The coffee does emerge as slightly predominant as it warms. For the price point, a high quality product for a very reasonable price.

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Photo of yannimou
3.87/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

This is okay. Narwhal has a significant amount of anise or licorice flavor. I like black licorice and ouzo, but somehow I just don't like it in this beer.

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Photo of MartyMaltose
4.68/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

An Imperial without the feeling of ABV for ABV's sake. Oh my. Supremely drinkable and luscious. Someday I hope this is what humanity envisions when they hear the word "beer". Except then the world will be half-drunk all the time.

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Photo of coltonbrimhall
4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

-dark black/brown hue, with a brown riming foam
-smells like dark roasted coffee and smoke
-taste is a a smooth coffee with a mean bite at the end
-thick mouth coating beer, with a mean warming alcohol bite
-overall a great beer that is a palate experience love the coffee roasted malts and the hot alcohol warmth that follows every sip

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

Look: dark, nice head but could be thick dark coffee and coco notes with a sharp alcohol
taste: rich coffee dark smooth texture. Creamy and buttery
Feel. Thick then sharp at the end due to alcohol
Overall: complex, smooth yet full body texture. Great with a dinner

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Photo of Thedusanmandic
4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

'13 vintage. Spongy caramel head. Smells of red velvet cake and heavy molasses. A little hotter than expected with a year on it, but nice buttery feel. Very malty with slight roasted coffee tones. Excellent imperial stout.

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Photo of IPAGeorge
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip

A. A very dark brown almost black pour it a two finger khaki foamy/frothy head. Head disappears in 1 minute. Not much lacing.

S. Aromas of roasted malts and vanilla first fill the nose. Some milk chocolate.

T. Much more coffee comes through on the palate. Milk chocolate and vanilla there also. Some bitterness and grassy aftertaste which would signal to me some hoppyness. A very nice RIS. As it warms a little I get a nice upfront smokeyness.

M. A nice medium to heavy body. 7 on a 1-10 scale. Light carbonation. Finishes slightly dry. Not very boozy but you can tell it's there. Again a highlight of the beer.

O. At first glance after the pour I thought to myself " this looks nice ". Then the nose didn't present as much as it doors on the palate IMO. I'm usually not a huge fan of Sierra Nevada but this is my first stout and they got it right. I'm looking the mouthfeel and the taste alot. A good beer. Will be looking for the BA.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. No light through at all. Less than a finger head of Carmel colored head.

Aroma is of bitter coffee and hops, minor tobacco, roasted malts, no alcohol on the nose at all.

Taste is more bitter and dry than expected. Taste is primarily of roasted coffee. I get a bittering hop flavor with a little bit of citrus. I get a big oak characteristic that melds with a smokiness/ roastiness. I get a mild alcohol heat and spice at the end. The aftertaste yields some beautiful cocoa nib flavor. Decent mouthfeel: carbonation present enough to cut the thickness.

Overall a nice beer. I think it's a little too bitter for my liking. I tend to like the richer stouts in comparison to the more bitter kinds. However, this beer is actually pretty good. I could see this paired with a porterhouse steak in a mole sauce. I give it a 89/100.

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Photo of PatrickBeebe
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage into a snifter

still big huge roasted malts after 3 years in the cellar. the alcohol has definately cooled down drastically. hardly noticeable. not as choclatly as a fresh narwhal, but roastier and even more effervescent. some earthy flavors come through as well. body seems a bit light though.

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Photo of JLaw55
2.5/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The booziness of this one was unpleasant. It ruined what else it had going for it, which started out nice enough with layers of cocoa, coffee, and vanilla.

Will not seek out or purchase again.

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Photo of bman13
4.6/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Great stout. Great balance of flavors, PERSONALLY think it's a bit hoppy for a stout but every beer is different, and I respect that. Still is one of my favorite stouts nonetheless.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 798 ratings.