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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

2,861 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2861
Reviews: 605
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.69%


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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,861 | Reviews: 605 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of emerge077
emerge077

Illinois

4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet, there was a brief crest of mocha tinged dark tan foam that receded after a few minutes down to a creamy collar at the edge of the glass.

Deep roastiness in the aroma, slight ashy char, mild dry bakers chocolate, coffee.
Flavors follow suit, huge roasted malt, blackened and ashy. Bitter dark chocolate and mild coffee notes dominate. Long lasting flavors of roast and chocolate that linger into the aftertaste. As it warms, some hop greenery comes into the picture. Reminds me of new green shoots extending skyward post-forest fire. For being 10% it's fairly approachable for the style, though still a slow sipper. Very tasty and palate coating.

As with most Imperial Stouts, allow to warm up as much as possible to get the full range out of it.

Review #2700

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2012 03:54:02 | More by emerge077
Photo of DocJitsu
DocJitsu

California

3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque, nearly black with a short, quickly fading head. The color of the head is caramel with shades of mocha. A very nice looking beer. A shame the head dissipates so quickly. Usual dark roast malt and coffee aromas. Nothing remarkable or unique. Mouthfeel is viscous and creamy, helping the whole experience of the beer venture a little north of mediocrity. Flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, caramelized sugar, and plastic.

Addendum: as the beer warms it improves. Boldness emerges and becomes much more like a Russian Imperial Stout. A bit of a sour character that seems to accentuate the experience, but I wouldn't miss it if it weren't there. I feel the alcohol, so it must be there. I certainly don't taste it.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2012 02:36:54 | More by DocJitsu
Photo of deadonhisfeet
deadonhisfeet

Kentucky

3.78/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottling. Poured from a bottle into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. There's a ton of carbonation here. I get a massive head about 3-4 fingers thick without even pouring it very harshly. Nice lacing as the head dies down. It's hard to nose this beer with all that foam, but I do get some nice roasted notes, espresso, and a touch of dark fruit.

The beer has a full body, creamy feel, and a very traditional RIS flavor profile. Big bready malt notes up front that quickly get bitter as roasty, burnt toast and fruit flavors join in. Lots of bitter coffee and chocolate in this one and very little sweetness, save for the front of the palate. The finish is quite long and satisfying and leaves a lingering roasty flavor.

Overall, I expected this beer to be average and I was pleasantly surprised. It is a well-constructed RIS, though just a little bitter for my taste.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 10:48:58 | More by deadonhisfeet
Photo of genitempo
genitempo

Texas

3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - From bottle to glass, pours chunky, inked body with a stained brown head. Melted lace.

S - Nothing overbearing, subtle caramel and malt, lightly toasted on the nose.

T - Paradoxical for a RIS. I actually enjoyed this beer at a colder temperature, in the first few sips. The taste of dark chocolate and caramel was very well-formed and crisp initially. Once the temp hit to standard drinking temps for an RIS, the haughtiness in the booze was almost overbearing, and a chalkiness hit the palate.

MF - Why describe? With this style, you can't fuck this up.

O - I'm in a bit of bind with this brew. The ABV sits between two of my favorite RIS (Ten Fidy and GD Yeti). You would think it would take some of the better qualities of both of these beers, but it fails. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the beer (It's a heavy stout, after all), but I will be aging a couple bottles just to see if maturity is what this beer needs all along.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 05:33:54 | More by genitempo
Photo of zeff80
zeff80

Missouri

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a one-finger, light brown head of bubbly foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dark chocolate and roasted malt. There was a touch of pine.

T - Great blend of dark chocolate, burnt molasses, toffee and roasted malt. A slight piney bitterness added balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really nice Russian Imperial Stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 03:59:25 | More by zeff80
Photo of n2185
n2185

North Carolina

4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours black with three fingers of brown head that fades into a frothy ring with decent lacing.

S: Roasted malts dominate with semi-sweet chocolate and slight coffee notes. There are some faint licorice notes towards the finish with a sweet charred aroma.

T: Roasted malts dominate here as well. Bitter chocolate and coffee are also present with a robust, charred finish and light alcohol burn. Delicious.

M: Thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is a bit more carbonated than most imperial stouts, but it goes well with the robust flavors.

O: A surprisingly good imperial stout. Very robust and flavorful without being too sweet or too bitter. Quite enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2012 03:37:02 | More by n2185
Photo of BeerKangaroo
BeerKangaroo

Alaska

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into a nonic:

A: dark black colored body yielded a film of a white head, some nice speckled, block-like lacing formed boxes around the sides of the pint glass, interesting.

S: dry, roasty cocoa and coffee up front with a stronger touch of hops than most RIS's in the background, and some vanilla as the beer warmed.

T: dry and roasty between the coffee and cocoa and brought back some of that bitter hops. The finish was very dry.

M: medium with nothing harsh on the tongue and fairly drinkable. For 10.20%, this certrainly doesn't feel that way.

O: this one has more hops in this one than most RIS's (or at least the ones I've had), still I liked it because the domineering qualities of a normal RIS showed up. Personally, I'm glad Sierra Nevada gave us their take on an RIS.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2012 16:12:30 | More by BeerKangaroo
Photo of bum732
bum732

Maryland

3.05/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

S: Dry, roasty cocoa and coffee. Slight vanilla.

L: Thick, viscous and black. Tan head that dissipates quickly.

T: Very dry, roasty stout. Coffee and dry cocoa like flavors dominate. Slight coffee sweetness with slight dark fruits. Finishes quite dry with residual cocoa sweetness.

M: Medium full mouthfeel, medium low carbonation. Alcohol fairly well hidden.

A very dry, roasty RIS. Reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin. A nice change to a lot of sweet RIS's, but i feel like its a little one noted. Should be interesting what a little age does to this beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2012 03:47:53 | More by bum732
Photo of Durge
Durge

Connecticut

3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This imperial stout is a nearly jet black color with a nice light brown head and good lacing. The aroma offers clean, muted malt, nothing prolific. The flavor is full of thick malt and medicinal grass bite, mineral water and charcoal blended into a unique mouthful of stout. Sharp malty goodness, and not much else to say. Full bodied I'd say with a somewhat oily feel. Very tiny bubbles for a subtle but adequate carbonation. Quality stuff though not something I would have to revisit. Classy brew none the less.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2012 03:09:49 | More by Durge
Photo of Craigory
Craigory

South Carolina

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

Had a growler filled at Green's Piney Grove in Columbia, SC. Poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours thick black, with two-fingers creamy mocha head from a vigorous pour. No light gets through here; the head sticks around for a while and leaves lots of spotty lacing as I drink the beer down. This is a pretty RIS.

S- I get lots of booze on the nose, along with a bit of piney hops and dark, bitter chocolate. Hints of roasted malt and coffee here and there.

T- A little hops bitterness on the front end, quickly followed by roasted malt, bitter chocolate, and a little coffee. The 10.2% ABV comes through as well. The Narwhal follows all the standard RIS notes; it's not terribly complex, but it is tasty.

M- Thick and creamy, a tad short of outright syrupy, with just the right amount of carbonation for the style. It has a fairly dry finish with a bit of alcohol burn in the throat.

O- Sierra Nevada has proffered a great little Russian Imperial Stout. It's not the best RIS out there, but it is a great value and I'd put it up there almost with Stone's RIS. I might try picking up a 4-pack of bottles so I can age this and see how it develops into next year.

Serving type: growler

11-13-2012 01:06:20 | More by Craigory
Photo of joeseppy
joeseppy

Illinois

4.43/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I love SN's labeling to promote this one, as it draws me into the depths of an abyss.

Getting aquainted, aromas of malt and espresso come to meet me.

Flavours of dark cocoa, malt roastiness (but not too obtrusive), coffee and traces of smoke. As this comes up to temp., these nuances become pronounced with good balance.

The mouthfeel is velourish (if thats a word). It comes on audacious then refines itself. Not too thin IMO.

SN has done a great job here. I've had the pleasure of going through a 4pk and was lucky enough to land a case. The price point is on the mark. I'm hoping this will age well in the bottle...that's if I can stay away from it.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2012 16:19:03 | More by joeseppy
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591

Illinois

4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tumbler.

Didn't see getting a taste of this tonight, but I'm sure as hell not gonna argue. It pours a straight onyx topped by over a finger of golden brown foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, dark coffee, earthy greens, and dark chocolate. The taste brings in more of the same, with some heavy bitterness being balanced by the depth and relative sweetness of the roast and the chocolate. The body is a light heavy, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly dry finish. Overall, a very nice, bold stout. It reminds me a lot of Ten Fidy, only drier, less creamy. Good times.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2012 03:51:04 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of chocosushi
chocosushi

Oklahoma

3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle->CHOC Flute

A ~ Pours black with a mahogany hue toward the bottom of the glass. Light lace clings. Cocoa head.

S ~ Baking Chocolate, Brown Sugar, & Caramel Syrup.

T ~ Chocolate following through with earthy hops (grass/bark) with lots
of caramelized sugar & biscuit. Very full flavored. Imperial for sure.

M ~ Sticky with not too heavy of a feel, but with a great deal of booze. Roasty, but quite sweet, akin to espresso with sugar in it.

D ~ Drinkable & solid, but I probably wouldn't purchase again. Check it out
if you see it, what a deal. Great alternative to Old Raspy if that's yer bag.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 22:17:36 | More by chocosushi
Photo of chanokokoro
chanokokoro

Illinois

3.2/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada branded snifter

Pours a very deep dark brown topped with a two and half finger fluffy beige head. Above average retention, considerable amount of splotchy lacing as the head slowly recedes. Bakers chocolate and phenol alcohol on the nose. Opens with dark chocolate, roasted dark chocolate malt and a with just a hint of dark fruit midpalate. Finishes dry with a touch of roasted espresso, warming alcohol, and continued notes of cocoa. The lighter sider of full bodied, moderate carbonation, slick mouthfeel. A decent Russian Imperial Stout, but not very complex. The roasted chocolate malt flavor tends to dominate and at the same time lacks depth. I'm looking forward to revisiting this brew again to see if it delivers more the second time around.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 06:18:09 | More by chanokokoro
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Stamped 2279209:05.

A: Dark brown mocha head fluffy and promising. The body utterly opaque and darkest brown.

S: Dry malts, faint chocolate, distant roast. Low intensity. Rather disappointing.

T: Defined by the same dry, lightly toasted malts initially smelt. On the aftertaste (which comes too early) there is noticeable cocoa. The general impression is very nice, but comes in such brief bursts that it is hard to appreciate any of it without gulping, which is not what I want to do with my imperial stouts.

M: The mouthfeel take a back seat -- it is pretty much immemorable...which puts it above average.

O: Despite my inclinations, this beer gives itself over to easy-drinking. This is neither a criticism nor a compliment...This is one of the most supremely drinkable RIS I've ever encountered.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 04:24:16 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of alpinebryant
alpinebryant

Connecticut

4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours pitch black with a full two finger fluffy mocha head.

S: Aroma of sweet malt, a light hint of smoke

T: Sweet with licorice up front and a nice bit of smoke in the back. Extremely smooth with a very dry finish. Very well attenuated and rounded out with minimal hop presence. The licorice flavors is very strong in here, more so than most imperial stouts.

M: Medium body with a mild carbonation level.

O: This is a well rounded stout, one that doesn't disappoint and lives up to the standards that Sierra Nevada have for great beer. Without wowing typically, this beer has stepped it up a notch from some of the other recent releases that SN has. I am sure I will have this again in the future, well done.

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2012 00:25:14 | More by alpinebryant
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74

Ohio

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

12 ounce bottle, bottled on October 12, 2012. Served in a snifter, the beer pours black with a half inch tan head that sticked around for a bit. There's also a good amount of lacing. The brew smells like roasted malt, anise, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and a little bit of piney hops. I think the taste is just like the aroma. There's a bit of sweetness, but also a lot of bitter roasty goodness. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and slick with a good amount of carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden, you wouldn't think it's 10.2% ABV when drinking it. I think this is a pretty good imperial stout, at $9.99 a 4-pack I know I'll be buying this again.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 23:26:08 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of stephens101
stephens101

Oklahoma

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A dark tan head fades quickly from two fingers with minimal residual lacing. Insert cliche of choice for the color black here. Nutty, chocolaty and vinegary to the nose. Closer inspection reveals a nice fusion of dark grapes and cocoa. Tastes silky smooth with milk chocolate notes that are quickly countered by a semi-rough woodiness. Black coffee, subtle hops and burnt sugar provide a fine follow up to the preceding notes. Fusel alcohol heat plays a big part in this burly one; demanding respect, but remaining fairly welcoming despite its 10 plus percent. Narwhal is simple one more notch in Sierra Nevada's belt of excellence and consistency. Few breweries do it better.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 23:22:59 | More by stephens101
Photo of thegodfather2701
thegodfather2701

North Carolina

3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pitch black, with one of the thickest and creamiest looking heads I have ever laid eyes on. The head looks like a mocha milkshake. The head dissipates slowly and leaves on minimal lacing.

S-Smells of dark chocolate, strong black coffee, booze, and roasted malt.

T-Dark chocolate, espresso, booze, roasted malts, slightly smoky. It is somewhat hot and the alcohol is much more pronounced than I expected it to be. It has a lingering burnt aftertaste.

M-Slick and creamy, not as thick as I expected. Not a lot of carbonation, which is nice.

D-I really believe the alcohol negatively impacts the drinkability of this beer. It also is a little more on the espresso side of imperial stouts, where as I prefer a more dark fruit forward imperial stout. However, one could easily drink a couple in a sitting.

Overall, this is a nice imperial stout but I think it needs to sit a while. Its somewhat boozy and abrasive. With some time I think it will mellow out and become much smoother and easier to drink. I will say this, I thought it would be a more hop forward imperial stout given Sierra Nevada's history of producing excellent IPAs, but it is very malty which is nice. I don't want my review to sound to negative, this is a good beer and I would recommend it, I just think it needs to age a little.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 22:53:59 | More by thegodfather2701
Photo of tdm168
tdm168

North Carolina

4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pitch black with a short, dense, brown, foamy head

S - roasted malt, anise, chocolate, alcohol, caramel

T - roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, faint anise, licorice, some faint bitterness

M - full bodied, smooth, warm, well carbonated

This is a solid, delicious stout with a great flavor profile. I feel like I could drink a lot of this even at 10%. It has a great malt character and the hops are noticeable but balancing. This is just an all around good beer.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 20:22:43 | More by tdm168
Photo of rlee1390
rlee1390

Indiana

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Black, some carbonation, one finger brown head.

S-Roasted malt, slight chocolate, some coffee as well.

T-Very malt heavy, dark chocolate, coffee, some burnt notes. Mild Bitterness in the finish.

M-Medium to heavy bodied, some carbonation, smooth.

O-Glad to see Sierra Nevada making an Imperial Stout. Now to try aging some.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 16:09:15 | More by rlee1390
Photo of beer2day
beer2day

North Carolina

4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark, inky black pour with no light coming through at all. 1 finger of darker mocha head, with light retention. Thick lace sheets all around the glass.

Lots of roast malt, sweet milk, bits of toffee and caramel, mocha, vanilla, medium roast coffee, and a touch of citrus hops. Complex and well done.

A bit more coffee forward as it hits the tongue, but not aggressive. Chocolate malt takes over, but again doesn't over assert. Citrus fights through the coffee and chocolate bitters in the finish to make its presence known. Some sweetness here, but chocolate, coffee, and citrus dominate that.

Feel is a bit thin. Wish it had more malt backbone.

Next to Celebration, my favorite SN offering.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 04:20:33 | More by beer2day
Photo of VelvetExtract
VelvetExtract

Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Ink. Pitch black. Head is of respectable stature. The best part of the head is its color. The head is brown. Legitimate brown. Sierra Nevada consistently makes the best looking beers. What a beaut. Light lacing webs…boy is the head dark.

S-Dark dutch chocolate and French-press espresso. A bit burnt and smoked. The nose does not have any unique traits, but it is very finely tuned. Not super-intense, but aromatic enough.

T-An addition of dark fruit and a lick of black licorice join the gang of dark chocolate, coffee beans and smoke. Like dumping a spoonful of cocoa powder into a dark-roast java. The bitterness stems more from the roast than the relatively modest hoppiness. Narwhal is an oily sea-monstrosity of deliciousness.

M-Full bodied. I can just picture this beer coagulating and turning into gel if left alone for too long. Plenty of carbonation. Booze is masked perhaps too well. This brew could dethrone you if you aren't wary of the ABV. Too drinkable…although it does warm up my cheeks a bit.

O/D-Like Hoptimum, this brew is a textbook Imperial Ale. Also like Hoptimum, Narwhal does not attempt to do anything that hasn't been done before. That is my only true criticism of this brew. It is a scrumptious and blameless Stout, but it offers no unique qualities. Regardless, this brew is a beast!

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 03:42:46 | More by VelvetExtract
Photo of Zorro
Zorro

California

3.73/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick black pour. Black colored beer with a thin brown colored head.

Smells sweet with lots of coffee molasses and candied holiday fruit.

Starts out dry and bitter with a strong charred malt bite. Gets a little sweeter as you drink it but not by much. Chocolate and coffee flavors with a little bit of ash taste.

Thick and oily mouthfeel.

Overall an OK beer, but they didn't balance out the Patent malt enough so it ends up a little unbalanced.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 02:37:09 | More by Zorro
Photo of Impfan
Impfan

Washington

5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Midnight black pour, thick tan head that dissipates to form a lasting ring. Gigantic, deep nose of roast coffee, cacao, prunes, dates, figs, plums, and cedar shavings. Flavor is similar with great hops in the endless finish. Massive, syrupy body that coats the mouth with all of the above. I’ve never been a fan of black IPAs, and this is reminiscent of those, but with the needed addition of the fruitiness, which transforms it into something amazing.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2012 01:54:59 | More by Impfan
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,861 ratings.