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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

776 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 776
Hads: 4,474
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 259
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: 776 | Hads: 4,474
Photo of majorbase2
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black color with motor oil consistency. Decent sized thick brown head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a thin, crisp line of lacing around the edge of the glass, with a thin "island" of head left in the center.

Heavily roasted chocolate and coffee malts, and a good deal of booze. Some dark fruits are definitely there too.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts. The booziness is still there. Dark fruits are definitely noticeable, led by black licorice. Cocoa and molasses. Very dark, roasted coffee. A good amount of hop bitterness.

Heavy bodied. Not much carbonation. Very creamy and rich, with a relatively noticeable bite from the alcohol. Definitely a sipper.

Overall, another solid entry from SN. This is a very good example of a "good" RIS; doesn't execute any aspect perfectly but does them all very well. A good beer on a cold winter night. (Incidentally, my curiosity caused me to look up what a Narwhal is. Fascinating creature). (950 characters)

Photo of CraigP83
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown almost black, this head has a chocolate color. Roasted barley or malt odor, not much else "pops". Burnt coffee taste gives way to nice roasted malts you also get some bitterness like you would from dark chocolate. (224 characters)

Photo of LouZ
4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle; pours black with minimal head. Roasty, malty scent. Taste is mildly sweet at start, but finishes with coffee and bitter hops. The bitterness is more pronounces than any sweetness. It's a smooth drink, creamy, with nice carbonation despite the lack of head. (269 characters)

Photo of JamieDuncan
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just slightly to much bitter threw it a little out of whack. But the bitter was probably a strong component to how well the ABV is hidden. Extremely tasty with loads of malty deliciousness, seems like a bit of coffee within the bitter finish. Very smooth and creamy, overall an outstanding beer that I would gladly have again. (329 characters)

Photo of mrmaps
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Look: Dark

Smell: Low on volatiles

T: Light malt with some initial sweetness in the front that is covered by coffee with hints of vanilla. Finishes with a significant hop presence.

O: Flavor profile is dominated by hops at the end. Good product for those who don't like too much sweetness and more hops in their imperial stouts. Easy to drink with the alcohol well disguised. Not a huge imperial stout.

Value: Reasonable price for a quality beer. (461 characters)

Photo of brandonati
3.61/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Good at all that it is supposed to be. Not as complex as many new stouts on the scene but very drinkable. Smooth. And I love the way it changes as it Warms. (156 characters)

Photo of hreb
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014 edition. 12oz bottle, dated 08/13/14, served in pint glass. Beer pours pitch black and slick like oil, with nearly zero head. Dark aromas suggest molasses. Flavors are immediate and complex: layers of toasted barley, burnt toast, treacle, and of course ethanol, but there's also an assertive hop flavor. I find the combination spicy, very appropriate for winter, and decided American (a high gravity, high IBU stout? why not!). Mouthfeel is great, low carbonation, which is perfect for the style. (508 characters)

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

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into a snifter.
Pours squid ink black with a small smidgen of deep dark caramel head.
Smells a bit light, but certainly elements of roasted malt and coffee.
Taste is glorious. Deep roast, deep coffee bitterness.
A nice mouthfeel not too thin which I appreciated since there was no barrel aging.
Overall, this beer is delicious. Now on to BA Narwhal!!! (380 characters)

Photo of beersnobraven
4.65/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Deep, black, beautiful. Awesome bottle art, too.
Smell: Smells a little like bittersweet coffee. Primary scents are malt and chocolate.
Taste: Holy crap! It's like drinking a liquid chocolate cake! Seriously, so much chocolate! If you did a blind taste test, I would have a thought that this was a stout brewed with chocolate. A great beer for a chocolate lover like me! Other flavors I'm picking up are malt, coffee, with a little-to-medium hops present.
Feel: Really thick and delicious. Very dense; definitely a sipper.
Overall: Probably my all-time favorite Imperial Stout, and I'd go far to say favorite beer of all time. It's great taste and mouthfeel are definitely its best attributes, while it's 10.2 % ABV is also a plus. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had. (781 characters)

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

SERVICE: Bottle
Bottled: 2013

A:
Pours a murky black (opaque) with ruby edges in the light, skiff of brown head evaporates to nothing but an anemic ring. Little retention; minimal arcs of lacing. (3.5)

S:
Chocolate and molasses. Baker's chocolate, coffee, molasses, figs, woodsy leather, subtle alcohol. (4.25)

T:
Chocolate and coffee. Bitter chocolate on top of cocoa, with some baker's chocolate for good measure, dried dark fruits, coffee, roasty malt husks. (4)

M:
Medium-full bodied, with well-hidden alcohol, low carbonation, a little less sludgy than some. Fairly clean finish (4)

O:
Very good RIS.
Tons of bitter chocolate with some oak and leathery characteristics pretty evely distributed as well.
Pours about like a boozy beer does (not all of them, though, hence my lowered score) with a bittersweet nose. The port-black liquid isn't super thick but tastes about like the aroma, but with a creamy sweetness in the finish and a pretty drinkable presence on the ol' palate. Big, but not needlessly so.
Would have again; well-worth a try. (4.25) (1,071 characters)

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

Poured from a 12-oz bottle into a small tulip glass.

A- Pours jet black as carbonation quickly builds up and forms a thick, syrupy inch-thick head

S- Bittersweet dark chocolate; some roasted malts; some coffee

T- The dark chocolate taste and roasted malts is strong up front; As the beer sits, the black licorice and fruits begin to stand out

M- Thick and creamy; Decent carbonation throughout; Goes down pretty easy for being nearly 10%!

O- At $9.99 a 4-pack, this is a bargain buy stout! Wouldn't expect anything less of Sierra Nevada. (542 characters)

Photo of Ale-Be-Damned
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

This is a beautiful Imperial Stout, black with little head. I served it from the refrigerator so it was cold. As it warmed up I could pick up on more of the licorice. Nice maltiness, and the presence of hops which gave the beer a little bite, but just enough to fill out the balance and overall taste. I can see how this stout could be dangerous with over all ease of drinking and the ABV T 10.2%. Overall, I really like Narwhal and will pick it up again. (455 characters)

Photo of predikit
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Poured a deep brown, nearly black. Settled black, after a vigorous pour, left a two finger brown head that receded at a moderate rate.

Smells very malty, coffee notes are very present.

Taste is rich, chocolate and coffee malts dominate, with a roasted bitterness taking the aftertaste. The alcohol is extremely well hidden, I can not tell it is there one bit.

Full bodied, very smooth, dangerously drinkable. I can imagine this could cause a lot of embarrassing evenings to less than controlled drinkers. (510 characters)

Photo of sliprk314
4.5/5  rDev +9%

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Color is black with a slight brown head.

Can't pick up a smell probably due to a cold.

Taste- Chocolatey malts are the dominating flavor upfront. Followed by a coffee flavor. I do pick up some of the fruity flavors but they are not pronounced.

Overall I would certainly recommend this to anyone. I really enjoyed it and now look forward to trying the BA version. (410 characters)

Photo of schad
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

12oz bottle packaged 8/13/14, served in a Spiegelau stout glass.

Color is midnight black with an espresso colored head.

Aroma is rich chocolate, espresso and roasted malt.

Taste is of dark roasted grain, with a spicy alcohol burn. Barely noticeable bittering hop addition. Lots of pleasant dark fruit flavors.

Very smooth for an imperial stout, mild carbonation. (366 characters)

Photo of HattedClassic
4.29/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The beer pours a decent foamy and tan head that dissipates quickly. The beer leaves some rather nice lacing around the glass. The beer itself is more of a really dark brown that borders on black instead of an actual black color or at least a black color with really dark brown notes.

The beer smell has unusually strong toffee notes for an imperial stouts. The beer has the usual light, bitter hops and roasted malt with dark chocolate smell. However, the roasted malt notes are fairly light and the toffee notes from the malt are front and center, which pulls the other notes together. The smell also has a very light alcohol note and licorice notes.

The beer taste is more roasted and more chocolatey than the smell. The licorice taste is very slight while the toffee taste is still fairly prominent. There is no real alcohol taste. The hops add a very interesting flavor to the mix. The hops give the beer a nice, underlying bitterness but it also enhances the fruitiness of the taste that follows it into the aftertaste.When the beer warms up a little, the beer has a nice toffeeish with dark chooclat taste that comes out very well.

The mouthfeel is heavy bodied with a little carbonation. However, the beer itself is very smooth and goes down very easily compared to other imperial stouts.

Overall, a very good imperial stout and worth getting when it's available. The taste is more complex and certainly different from other stouts because of the greater focus on the toffee flavor as opposed to the roasty and chocolate flavors that most other stouts have. I would definitely recommend picking this up when you can. (1,627 characters)

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

Bottle pkg 11/06/14:
Pours black as night, if seemingly a little thin. I didn't do a vigorous pour, so head was light, receding to edges in a thin tan rim. Smell is deep roasted malts, coffee, woody, dark chocolate, maybe a light smoke.

Taste (initial, still a tad cold) was a bit bitter, with less black coffee taste than I expected, it was almost a woody flat cola or root beer. Even though it wasn't sweet, the malts came through after the initial bitterness, almost in reverse of malt sweetness backed by bitterness. Carbonation that was not obvious in the pour played on the tongue more than expected going into the end taste. Body is pretty full, feel mildly oily. The end tastes were a bit more chocolatey (also the beer was warming).

After warming (which was key), the flavors unsurprisingly mellowed, carbonation bite faded, chocolate came out a bit more, and my overall impression improved.

Expectations might have caught me slightly. I thought this was a solid beer, but not as exceptional as I've heard people state (hopefully not confusing with BA plaudits). Definitely will grab this again when available but a four pack is enough for me. (1,163 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz. Bottle

Pours a very nice black color, very nice carbonation, with a fizzy tan head, which leaves some sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some chocolate, toffee notes, slightly roasty. The taste is very nice malty, with lots of dark stuff, slight vanilla, some roastyness. Medium body, with a nice bitter finish, ABV hidden pretty well with this one. Overall a very tasty brew, glad to see it here in UT, would buy again. (438 characters)

Photo of ZebraCakez
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

A: This pours a deep, dark black color. No light escapes. A small, tan foamy head dissipates quickly.

S: Chocolate and alcohol with a faint fruit undertone.

T: Okay, this is a pretty good stout. I get an immediate dark chocolate taste, maybe a slight coffee touch. A licorice undertone is present, but is subtle, as is a faint alcohol presence that amplifies ever so slightly as the beer warms up a bit..

F: Thick and creamy, as any stout should be.

O: This is not a competitor to the really "Big" stouts, but it is certainly a welcome member to a market saturated with IPA's. It lacks any single defining quality that makes it stand out above the rest, but it is more then worthy of a spot on the shelf. (711 characters)

Photo of DenverHopHead
4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.
Appearance - black as motor oil; creamy, tan head; ring upon ring of lacing!
Smell - cocoa and dark chocolate; hint of espresso.
Taste - complex flavors! Starts off creamy, but a surprise rush of hops mixed with a hint of alcohol, follows with malts and coffee flavors.
Feel - a very complex RIS! I was taken back by the very noticeable hop presence, it almost comes off as a hardcore Black IPA! More medium body, not too heavy and very drinkable at 10.2% ABV!
Overall - terrific offering from Sierra Nevada! To me this is a cross between an RIS and a Black IPA! The price point gives this one the nod over many other stouts! I'm anxious to try this alongside a few of my favorite Black IPA's, like Wookey Jack, Sublimely, and Mountain Standard. (785 characters)

Photo of bushbeer75
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz brown bottle

Narwhal Imperial Stout filled my snifter with a jet black color producing a dark tan creamy and bubbly 2-finger tan head that stuck around and finally shrank to foamy lacing. The aroma is of smoky roasted malt, chocolate, and dark toffee. The taste is malt forward with notes of cocoa, strong roasted coffee and just enough hops to keep the malt from being too aggressive. The mouth feel is full, creamy smooth and rich with a heavy body.

Narwhal is a very enjoyable Stout and one that any Stout lover must try. Nice job Sierra Nevada! (561 characters)

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

Been wanting to try this. Here goes:

A: Beautiful. Pitch black with an incredibly large, black, foamy head. Even when held up to a light, the color is still pitch black.

S: Lots of dark fruit - plums, figs and raisins. Also a fair amount of charred, coffeeish malt. Detect a fair amount of alcohol as well, which is somewhat disappointing. Overall, I've had better-smelling stouts.

T: Taste follows the nose, which is both good and bad. Initial taste is one of dark fruit - lots of plum in the taste. This is backed up with a fair amount of darkly-kilned roasted malt that lingers at the back of the tongue long after consumption. However, there's a lot of booze in the taste, which somewhat dampens the flavor. I have had better imperial stoutsl

M: Good. Very fluid and easy.

O: A good beer. Not great, but good. (835 characters)

Photo of Jetlag767
4.5/5  rDev +9%

They have blended the vanilla, chocolate and espresso so smoothly with a luxurious taste that it makes you crave for more. And I learned from my 12 year old what a Narwhal is. But this may be the priciest beer I have ever bought at $21. While a great beer, I can't say its worth that. (284 characters)

Photo of Mikus
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Cold into the snifter, poured midnight black with a cocoa-tinged head w/small bubbles. Can't see the letters on the glass... nice. Aromas of roasted malts, coffee, some chocolate, and the clean SN bitter note. Deep, complex flavors. Some nice coffee on the end, and excellent balance, not afraid to have so E bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, not chewy like other big stouts. Nice and crisp. I have waited a long time for this beer, and I was definitely not disappointed. Did anyone else notice, though, that this didn't necessarily get smoother, more complex as it warmed up? My only small concern. Would recommend. (612 characters)

Photo of Motleydrunk56
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%

12 OZ Bottle.Pours a black color.Smell of Coffee and chocolate.Taste is Chocolate with the Coffee slightly up front.Slight bitterness.I liked it a lot.Nice combination of flavors with a nice 10.2 ABV.I would recommend this to anyone who likes stouts.Give it a try. (264 characters)

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 776 ratings.