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: 256
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 templar316
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I knew this would improve with time !! So much better now then when it first came out in nov(?). Pours thick and dark, no light, soft edgy lacing. Smell is slight in my Duval Tulip but the flavor burst's. There's vanilla here, sweet dark malt, and everything I want in a beer. Roasty coffee bitterness, cascade (and maybe willamette) hops. The rest of these will sit in basement till next winter. Perfect for 15 degrees. (420 characters)

Photo of ash111
4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this from a bottle into a tulip glass. Good beer, great example of the style. It pours black, no light coming through. There is no head (but a more vigorous pour might produce one). Taste is lovely, everything you would want from an RIS. There is a noticeable, but not overwhelming, smell of alcohol that comes at the end of each sip. I personally don't mind this, but the alcohol is more aggressive than some other beers of the same style. I'm interested in how it ages (if any of mine can survive that long. (513 characters)

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

Very excited to try this one.

The appearance is near black with an oily beige head. The aroma offers dark roast, full bodied coffee, molasses. The flavor follows suit. Thick and rich. A touch of dark fruit. Big time dark chocolates and a touch of cacao bitterness. Palate coating with moderate carbonation. Zesty finish. A really nice example of the style. (358 characters)

Photo of facundoCNB
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

poured a thick black syrupy liquid into a tulip. two fingers of tan head and some nice lacing left behind. excellent retention. looks very nicely carbonated for a RIS.
smells of chocolate, dark roasted grains, dirt, coffee.
the taste is definitely different than most RIS i've had. nicely hopped up front. lots of very dark, rich notes. coffee, dark chocolate, tobacco, dirt.
a rich and creamy full body, slight alcohol warmth, mild carbonation. as the beer warms up, it develops more and more. i love drinks like this because they can last you a good amount of a night, tasting different every 5 minutes. you can barely taste or smell the alcohol. really bitter for a stout, which makes this one right up my alley. (715 characters)

Photo of Bierguy5
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, 10.2% abv. Pitch black in color, with a good looking tan head. Head retention is pretty nice. A thin collar eventually remains, along with a few spots of lace.

Roasted malts are big up front. Dark roast coffee, near espresso roast. Bitter dark chocolate in the mix as well. Maybe a bit of earthy hop aroma.

Bittersweet dark chocolate comes to mind at first. Roasted malt, but with a rounded feel instead of sharp. Cocoa powder is the next flavor. A bit sweeter and more caramel in the middle. Some coffee flavors as well.

Medium body, with soft carbonation and a bit of a creamy feel. A bit of warmth, but not very much for the strength of this beer. I love the roasted, bittersweet feel of this beer. Very well done. (734 characters)

Photo of JDrake31
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful pitch black with a tan, one-finger head. Looks amazing!

S: A hint of alcohol and dark fruit. Lots of toasted malts and roast coffee with just a bit of sweetness.

T: Espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts with a pinch of hop bitterness. Delicious!

M: A mid-heavy thickness. Creamy and slightly chewy. Moderate carbonation.

O: What a great beer for the cold months! Would definitely recommend. (418 characters)

Photo of ummswimmin
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This review was from notes. I had this beer with the last night of my trip.

I really enjoyed the three fingers of thick tan head. The coloring is extremely dark black.

The nose on this one is surprisingly minimal. The flavor contrasts as very powerful. The coffee presence is really good. You also get really good malt and a touch of light hopping. There is evern a little bit of creaminess on this one. There is also some decent venous (alcohol) quality on this beer.

I felt like this worked out as a very good sipper in the evening. I would like to get more bottles for aging. (582 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours jet black with a dark brown head. In the aroma, dry coffee and notes of chocolate. In the taste, dry coffee and a chocolate malt that rides all the way through. A small bite and a medium to bigger bodied mouthfeel, with a dry and roasty coffee in the aftertaste. Big coffee, nice chocolate notes, and hides the alcohol. (325 characters)

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

I was pleasantly surprised at how great this one is, and it currently has a great price to boot!- $10 bucks or so for a burly, awesome RIS!

A: Jet black with a tan head, some light lacing. Decent head retention. Looks like a slightly foamy cup of coffee.

S: Some roast and chocolate up front. Cappacino, chocolate milkshake aromas come out. Sugary maltiness is there too. Not much hop aromas whatsoever.

T: Tons of smooth chocolate, some light roast, and caramel sweetness. Extremely smoothe and beguiles the 10% or so. Not nearly as roasty as some of the powerhouses out there like Yeti or Ten Fidy, but I would say it is even more approachable and smoothe. Tons of chocolate kind of like Old Rasputin.

M: thick, smooth body, but not overly so. Reminds me of a chocolate milkshake. Lightly carbonated.

O: All around an excellent example of RIS. Nothing is lacking. It is bold and very flavorful, but you dont' have to struggle through a glass. Very complex with lots of varying flavors and aromas to ponder. I'd love to age a few to see wha they're like in a few years. (1,075 characters)

Photo of EdTheEdge
4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Easily the darkest beer I ever tried. It's almost black with a thin one finger dark tan head.

S- Dark Chocolate, Coffee with a dense coco base.

T- Robust, Big, Malty, Roasty, Coffee, Semi-Sweet Chocolaty with a welcomed bit of bitterness... almost perfect.

F - Smooth, lightly carbobated and slighty oily.

O- One of the better Sierra Nevada brews. I could drink this quite often. This is not my favorite style but I enjoyed this beer very much. (452 characters)

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

Pours a black body with a finger of brown mocha head.
Coffee and chocolate notes. The sweetness and the bitter coffee roastiness mixes so well with the chocolate making milk and darker bakers chocolate aromas. Some earthy hop and a kiss of booze.
Lots of sweet and bitter chocolate in here as well as coffee. Even with as hoppy as it is it doesn't get too bitter. Like in the nose a little alcohol is here but it doesn't hamper easy drink ability this stout has.
The body and mouthfeel is great on this. Subtle carbonation. It is pretty creamy like an oatmeal stout.
This is a pretty darn good stout. I was hoping it was going to be good enough to compliment that awesome label and it did. No extreme to it to separate it from the pack, but it goes on the list of super solid imperial stouts. (794 characters)

Photo of IKR
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown, looks black unless it's held up to a light. Has a generous light beige head. Good looking beer.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee/roasted malt aroma. Nice nose on this one.

Taste: Chocolate, moderate roasted malts notes and a mild hop presence. The finish is fairly dry and clean.

Mouth-feel: Medium to full-bodied with a moderate level of carbonation appropriate tor the style.

Overall: A beer that's tastes good, is priced well, and is reasonably accessible. Sierra Nevada does good tasting value packed beers as well as anyone. (557 characters)

Photo of ADZA
4.14/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a midnight black with a chocolate creamy three finger head and clingy lacing everywhere,the smell is cocoa,dark coffee,dark malts and booze,the mouthfeel is full bodied,creamy and moderately carbonated and has tastes of dark cocoa,black coffee,turkish delight,vanilla and finished with a bitter hoppy finish and overall this a massive stout and definately the night cap i was looking for will buy again cheers. (416 characters)

Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. Lovely beige head, good retention, on a black body, soapy and sticky lacing. Aroma includes roasted malt, coffee, vanilla, toffee, licorice, some alcohol and chocolate. Mouthfeel is lush with high viscosity. Taste includes notes from all of the aforementioned aromas. A ton of flavor packed in the liquid, slightly warming but also quite fresh. Purely delicious...what else could you expect from the crew in Chico? (465 characters)

Photo of BlackBelt5112203
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter at cellar temperature.

L – Black color with a 3.5 frothy, rocky, tan head. Really nice retention and some good lacing.

S – Lots of dark fruits like plums and figs plus chocolate, vanilla, molasses, and some roasted coffee.

T – It starts off a little bit hot and then the sweet flavors of chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, and vanilla shine through. Big bitter roasted coffee shines through at the finish.

F – Full-bodied with good carbonation, a slick and velvety smooth mouthfeel, and a bitter finish. Bitter roasted coffee flavors linger nicely along with a mild throat-warming sensation from the alcohol.

O – This is a nice imperial stout. The dark fruit and chocolate sweetness is nicely balanced with the bitter roasted malt. It’s also ridiculously drinkable considering the high ABV. I’m glad I got to try this one out. (879 characters)

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

750th Review. Sunday night beer fun with Sierra Nevada Narwhal. 12oz stubby bottle-dated November 2, 2012. Poured into a wide-mouthed snifter.

Pours black with some end-of-the-bottle sizzurp. The crema-colored head amounted to about a third of an inch and dissipated, eventually, to a wall-clinging ring. Decent legging. Looks good.

Black roastiness with embers of dark fruits and booze burning out in the nose. Big whiffs gather fragrances of black licorice, raisin paste, spicy alcohol, overkilned barley, cocoa, saltiness, charcoal, and a blown kiss of smoke. Lots of appealing earthy aromas throughout. A touch of floral hops make their way into the olfactory summary.

Very spicy burst at the beginning; a combination of gruff malt bitterness, roasty char, Challenger hops, and a rye presence. Cocoa solids, espresso, extreme roastiness, dark-skinned fruit, light licorice, baked earth, and bitter oats. A transient and subtle fruit flavor of peach is barely noticeable in the middle before drying out again and carrying out with char and strength in the finish. Almost contains a very mild chili heat.

Medium-thick. I like the boisterous spicy feel of the alcohol and hops. Carbonation is lower-medium and creates even more of a tickle.

An excellent beer for a windy cold night such as this. The weather's getting worse, the night's getting better. (1,358 characters)

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours black as night with a coffee colored head that hangs around and leaves some nice lacing.

Smells of plumb, coffee, chocolate, and rum. Has a mild nose.

Big roasted malt chewy mouth up front explodes across the palate with coffee notes and leaves a chocolate coating. The nose was small, but the flavor is huge. The alcohol is not noticeable until it warms your belly, but the flavors are heavy with a thick and chewy mouth. Plumb and raisin, and rum come out in the back end almost hidden. One of the best imperial stouts I've had. (539 characters)

Photo of CurtFromHershey
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - pitch black with a thick, persistent tan head. Head speckled with darker brown flecks.
S - smells a bit thin. Burnt coffee and chocolate. Licorice, dark fruit. Not overwhelmingly good.
T - wow. Rich, caramel, artisan dark chocolate and cacao nibs. Coffee flavors. Much better than the nose.
M - rich and luscious. Thick. Ominous.
O - SN knocks it out of the park on this one (as usual). The smell is a bit lackluster, but everything else top notch here. (457 characters)

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served on-tap at the Dive Bar in West Haven, Conn.

A: Pours jet black with a two-finger head of espresso-colored foam which retains nicely and leaves some chunky lacing around the glass.

S: Very nice, robust, dark and roasty malt aroma with hints of anisette, charred wood and bittersweet cocoa. Some subtle fruitiness and herbal hops rise from the brew as well.

T: Rich, sweet and well-rounded malt flavor, giving off the taste of dried tobacco leaves, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. There's a slight vanilla sweetness around mid-palate which cascades into a spicy, herbal hop resin that lasts until the bittersweet and smooth, roasty finish.

M: Full-bodied, very drinkable stout with a creamy malt mouthfeel and rounded bitterness to stave off cloying sweetness while offering a smooth, robust finish.

O: SN Narwahl RIS is a very complex and enjoyable, sweet, strong stout. It packs a ton of flavor into that 10.2% ABV while not slowing you down with too hot of a hop or alcohol burn. Perfect beer to serve as dessert or to accompany a raspberry chocolate torte. I'd love to try it again, or one of it's aged varietals. (1,130 characters)

Photo of woemad
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from a 4-pk purchased at J.B.’s in Spokane for $10.99. It was literally the last they had of it, which was fitting, as I somehow missed this when it was released. The name reminds of an utterly absurd moment in the movie Elf.

Super viscous-looking when poured into a funky Sam Adams glass. From the looks of it, I could run my car off of it. Modest tan head that dropped fairly quickly into a sudsy ring, but never quite disappeared. Spotty and streaky lace.

Fairly standard aroma for the style. I get brown sugar, coffee, and chocolate. The high abv percentage is not noticeable in the smell.

A little more bitter tasting than the nose indicated, but that helps balance things nicely. In addition to the qualities I noted above, there’s also a prune-like dark fruit flavor, and a little bit of smoke. Quite dry at the swallow. Again, there’s no sign of the high alcohol content.

Fairly full-bodied, with a sticky mouthfeel.

A very tasty addition to the Imperial Stout ranks. Not quite as complex as some, but still very good. Dangerously drinkable at 10.2% alcohol - not a session beer! Glad to see SN do this style of beer.

"Goodbye Mr. Narwhal." (1,172 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours a fairly thick pitch black color. Produced a nice cap of tan froth. Good retention and lacing left behind.

(S)- A nicely deep roasted profile. Plenty of dry baked bread and raisin characters.

(T)- Similar to the smell: A good roasted malt profile. Some dry baked bread and raisin with a little bit of cocoa and bitter citrus from the hops.

(M)- A good mellow carbonation level and balance. I like the play of roasted bitterness, rich raisin, and subtle hoppy citrus at the end.

(O)- This is one solid stout. Personally, I do prefer my stouts less in the hop level, but this one has enough deep and rich flavors to mask and balance that out, and that is how the style can traditionally be. Definitely would be curious to see what some time will do to this one. (811 characters)

Photo of cvm4
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle

A - Appearance is stunning. Rich, black body with a tan mocha head that leaves behind a highway of lacing.

S - Roasted malts, dry bakers chocolate and vanilla.

T - Bitter dark chocolate, roasted malts and a touch of molasses to start off. Bitterness all the way through with coffee on the finish along with a lingering smokeyness.

M - Medium body that is somewhat more carbonated than other RIS I've had. Doesn't feel "thick," but somewhat creamy/chewy and airy all at the same time.

O - Well done SN, well done. Continually impressed with how this beer comes alive as it warms. (597 characters)

Photo of tut2528
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks to Jaap for sending this one!
2012 Release

A: pours black as night, with high viscosity and it creates about 1/2 fingers worth of a rich mocha colored head formation. minimal lacing. alcohol legs are also apparent (was to be expected at 10.2%)

S: nice rich sweet body comprised of milk chocolate, figs, and a touch of vanilla with a big roasted malt backbone. biter dark chocolate is also detectable along with a fair amount of coffee grounds.

T: big roasted malts bitter dark chcolate are the main players here. but there is also a nice balance of dark fruits, sweet milk chocolate, and a slight smokiness. No alcohol is detected.

M: full bodied brew. thick viscosity coats the palate with a nice cocoa and coffee notes. there is some alcohol heat, but it honestly fits extremely nice here.

O: just a big, bold brew that has a terrific balance. and is a perfect fireside beer. One of the best offereings that I have had from Sierra Nevada. (954 characters)

Photo of DrDemento456
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Finally found a bottle at Carnivores in Verona. Mixed and matched it for $2.50

A - I love the full inch of deep mocha head it almost always guarantee's a thick viscous pour. Color is as black as night and the head has both excellent lacing and stays around for a while.

S - A nice blend of citrus hops, charcoal, coffee roasts, bakers chocolate, and some alcohol. Seems very balanced and ABV smells well hidden.

T - Quite bitter and ashy as expected for such a high ABV stout. Those who do not like a sweet stout this is the beer for you the bitterness really clings to the palate. Under this I do get some espresso and coffee grounds and just a mild twang of bakers chocolate. I find it amazing I couldn't smell how much hops/roast is packed into this. Not bad.

M - Medium to thick in body, somewhat creamy and chewy. Man this is an imperial stout.

Overall its not as bad as say fresh Old Rasputin but it's still very strong with the ashy roast and hop aspect. If I was able to find older bottles of this or age them myself for a year this beer would be quite exceptional. Glad I don't love it since I passed on a second bottle. (1,134 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle form Siciliano's, 12oz into a tulip - 2012 vintage.

Impenetrable black with a deep brown head. Creamy retention and a whole load of lace. Nose of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, carmel, dark fruit liqueur notes. Light anise and a bit of alcohol. Relatively sweet, but spot on for what I enjoy in imperial stouts. Taste has heavy dark roasted character, dark chocolate, light tar, charcoal with some back end sweetness to prevent everything from getting away. Full feel, some alcohol warmth. Medium low carbonation. This do es well as is and could be great with some time. (581 characters)

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