1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

3,751 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,751
Reviews: 685
rAvg: 4.15
pDev: 9.88%
Wants: 191
Gots: 697 | FT: 40
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 3,751 | Reviews: 685 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Beaver13
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours inky black with a big creamy brown head that retains well and laces the glass.

The aroma is sweet roasted grains, chocolate, and some black licorice.

The flavor is some sweet lactic chocolate quickly followed by a big roast bitterness, some black licorice and a little dark fruit and coffee. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, a solid imperial stout.

Beaver13, Feb 12, 2013
Photo of KTCamm
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours jet black with some tan foam. Eventually dissapates. Nose is dark chocolate, coffee. Pleasing. Taste is full boozy roasted malt with an opening bitter that fades out. Some lingers. Loads of chocolate with backing dark fruits. Dark puckering.

As with everything at SN, really good.

KTCamm, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of JohnBender
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

JohnBender, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of Zach136
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

32oz counter pressure filled growler from Barrel and Barley in Woodstock, GA.

A - Pitch black, light caramel head that disapates quickly. Ok lacing.

S - Caramel and toffee notes, bit of roast coffee and cocoa as well. No hop profile to speak of.

T - Deep roasted malts, earthy coffee, noticeable hop profile that gives the brew a hint of that motor oil profile fresh RISs tend to have.

M - Slightly over carbed for my tastes - giving it an almost chalky mouthfeel.

O - Great RIS. Excited to set up a verticle.

Zach136, Sep 06, 2013
Photo of RonaldTheriot
4.93/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout has a thick, creamy, tan head, lots of thick lacing left on the glass, and a very dark brown appearance. The aroma is of dark-roasted malt, and the taste is of black bread, chocolate, coffee, licorice, toffee, charcoal, bitterness, and black cherries. The mouthfeel is thick and velvety, and Narwhal Imperial Stout finishes semi-dry, heavy, warming, and smooth. Overall, this is an outstanding beer, and I recommend it in the strongest way!

RJT

RonaldTheriot, Jan 06, 2013
Photo of OtherShoe2
4.28/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown, almost black. Nice tan head that dissipates. I have some remnants of sticky lace in the pint glass, but not much.

Coffee and licorice in the nose. Some bitter charred notes.

Deep flavors with terrific balance of dark richness and bitter. Sweet malt of dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, charred burnt bits. Bitterness leans in with some alcohol, but it seems less boozy than it really is. Nice bitter finish with a coffee aftertaste.

This one even pours thick. Dense full body. A little acid.

Great RIS. Loved this and glad I tried it.

OtherShoe2, Nov 04, 2012
Photo of JayQue
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada is the Toyota of beers. Not always the cutting edge innovator, but consistently excellent with every offering. Narwhal pours a dense black color with a big dark tan head (on a hard pour). Good head retention, good lacing. Smell is about average for a big stout...Chocolate and rich malts. Taste is very good. A hint of alcohol while the beer was cold. As it warmed up, no harshness at all. About as smooth as an Oatmeal Stout, despite the big abv. Main flavors are rich malts and some chocolate. Expertly blended and very flavorful.

Mouthfeel is as smooth and rich as you could expect at this abv. Overall an excellent RIS. Well work a try.

JayQue, Mar 03, 2013
Photo of jzlyo
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

jzlyo, Sep 18, 2013
Photo of buschbeer
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter
2012

A - This beer is pitch black. It is topped with a couple inches of mocha head. The is some lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - The aroma consists of anise, dark chocolate, a little alcohol, and some dark fruit.

T - Anise seems to be the main driver in the taste. I pick up a little dark chocolate and black coffee. It has a slightly bitter finish with alcohol in the aftertaste.

M - This beer is about as thick as there is.

O - I love the mouthfeel of this beer. The anise flavor isn't my favorite, but it isn't overpowering. It seemed to have a pronounced hop presence on tap which is not present in this bottle.

buschbeer, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of Chugs13
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Chugs13, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of Tucquan
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-11-17 in Columbia, PA

A - Opaque black with a brown 1-finger head and mild lacing.

S - Floral, brown bread, chocolate. Moderate level of aroma but very inviting.

T - Dark roasted malt, soy sauce/umami, significant char, smidge of dark chocolate, not too sweet, alcohol, pepper. Kind of brash. Finishes roasty and spicy. Good stuff.

M - Medium-heavy body and light-medium carbonation. Somewhat creamy yet dries pretty well.

O - Very enjoyable. Big flavors. Had this side-by-side with a 9-month old Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and the Narwhal holds up quite well in comparison considering it doesn't have the bourbon influence. The KBS is smoother with more coffee, has a heavier mouthfeel and isn't as brash as the Narwhal - in other words, the KBS is better. I'm going to age some of the Narwhal to see if the brashness mellows out.

Note: Had an aged one from 2012 on 2013-10-19 and the brashness has mellowed significantly. I like it better with a year on it. Had a 2013 vintage on 2014-11-15 and am finding it's equally delicious this time after aging a year.

Tucquan, Nov 17, 2012
Photo of baybum
4/5  rDev -3.6%

baybum, Dec 20, 2012
Photo of 2beerdogs
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

2beerdogs, Mar 30, 2013
Photo of Herky21
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Herky21, Sep 29, 2013
Photo of Jame515
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Jame515, Dec 27, 2013
Photo of micromaniac129
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my yeti sniffer (because I could) a deep standard brown black color. A handsome looking beer with it's dense mocha head and what looks to be desent carbonation.
Aroma I thought was the weak point in that I could barely detect any aroma. I could barely smell some roasted malts and espresso.
Taste was fine. Had a roasted malt flair with coffee espresso cocoa and some ash.
Drinks really smooth and hides that alcohol quite well.
A good well made beer but, it's a safe beer being that to me, it's not very aggressive.
Taking a que from Charlie Manuel, but then again on the other hand this would be my first case of Imp stout I would buy.

micromaniac129, Dec 01, 2012
Photo of oglmcdgl
4/5  rDev -3.6%

oglmcdgl, Feb 26, 2013
Photo of bigfnjoe
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%

bigfnjoe, Oct 02, 2013
Photo of CoryR
4/5  rDev -3.6%

CoryR, Oct 22, 2012
Photo of peensteen
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served on cask at Cask Days 2014 in Toronto

Jet black colour, ring of tan head with a bit of lace. Smell is roasty, lots of chocolate and coffee, well hopped with some earthy notes, light dark fruit in the periphery. Taste starts out with some dark fruit, light roast with some bitter hop mid palate, chocolate and coffee flavours linger into the finish. Light carbonation, medium-full body, good feel. A solid imperial stout, nothing groundbreaking but a nice and flavourful stout that is a pleasure to drink.

peensteen, Nov 04, 2014
Photo of mdagnew
4.44/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle bought from Drinkstore, Dublin

Poured pitch black with no hint of colour even when held up to the light. Dirty nut brown head poured big thick and foamy then faded slowly to decent covering... some decent lines of lacing...

Aroma - Rich roasted and charred dark chocolate maltiness, sweet coffee, some brown sugar sweetness, some sooty like smokiness, some dark fruits (blackcurrents, dates), pine and citric hop notes, toasted (maybe charred ?) fruit loaf, some earthiness, milky notes...

Taste - Dark chocolate, lots of roasted / charred bready malts, barely any alcohol noticeable, treacle sweetness, dark spicy fruits (raisins, date,some figs, red grape), piney and grassy hop bitterness, citrus hints, traces of piney resin, light liquorice, light sourness...

Feel - Fairly smooth and creamy with a little sharpness coming through... fairly full bodied... for a 10% brew this is dangerously drinkable..

Overall - A world class Impy stout - highly recommended...

mdagnew, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.11/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Really looking forward to this one.

A: Pours a very dark red color. It's so, so close to being pitch black, but not quite. The head is a two finger khaki shade. Retention is decent if not spectacular, and a nice layer of lacing is left behind.

S: This pops with chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, some leafy hops...and a LOT of alcohol. This smells really boozy even for 10.2%, and it's not a particularly refined alcohol presence. Even worse, it seems to detract from the rest of the brew. But of course, given the chance to warm up, all its alcohol calms down - slightly.

T: There's no two ways around it - this mutha is harsh. Roasted malts open this one up, sandwiching a cream-laden coffee middle with its boozy, fruity finish. Some hoppiness appears in the aftertaste. I would have hoped that the alcohol would at least create some nuance and depth, alas no; it's not dead simple, but it should be more complex considering. Giving it the chance to warm/open up doesn't improve it much either. Maybe it makes it *slightly* less harsh.

M: It's creamy and lush feeling, like an imperial stout should be. I'm also kind of glad it isn't particularly dry finishing, because all it would really do is expose the alcohol even further. Carbonation isn't really a factor.

O: This could be my biggest letdown of 2013. It had many things going for it to be topnotch - SN's reputation, well received on BA, inexpensive - but in the end was nearly ruined by the generic harshness. My other bottles are going in the cellar; there's a very good RIS underneath this all, and aging it may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

ThisWangsChung, Sep 17, 2013
Photo of WanderingFool
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Narwhal pours black into the glass with a big, tan head on top. The foam disappears quickly leaving only a few spots of lace on the glass.

The aroma has notes of pine, roasted malt, chocolate and toffee. The aroma improves as the beer warms.

Each sip of this medium to full bodied beer is creamy, slightly chewy with moderate carbonation. The rich flavor is nice and malty with a bitter finish. It begins with roast malt and chocolate. Some dark fruit and nuts come through in the middle. It finishes with some bitter pine flavors. Once gone the chocolate and piney bitterness lingers on the palate.

For 10% abv this is a quite drinkable beer. Well balanced with full flavors as the beer warms.

WanderingFool, Dec 08, 2012
Photo of philbe311
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - One finger's worth of slightly active crisp two toned (part khaki / part medium brown) swirled head... Modest at best retention yields a splotchy veil of lacing in the center of the glass surrounded by a moderate to thick collar... The color isn't quite black, but rather a deep dark sweet caramel that lets the slightest bit of light leak in around the edges... A few small streaks of carbonation can be seen towards the top of the glass... A good bit of lacing clings to the sides of the glass...

S - Sweet to start... Caramel... Milk chocolate... Toffee... Brown sugar... Dark molasses... A slight hint of dark fruits... A bit of nuttiness as well...

T - A bit of the sweetness fades on the palate and is replaced by a brisk roasted malt component.... The sweet and roasty place nice together throughout... Good balance... Nice complexity with each sip... A slight bit of coffee emerges on the finish...

M - Full bodied, but not harsh... Smooth and sleek... Very limited carbonation... Goes down very easily sip after sip...

D - This is a very nice yet unremarkable Russian Imperial Stout... Tasty but a bit understated for the power and umph I typically expect for the style which isn't necessarily a bad thing... Goes down easily and is surprisingly drinkable given the 10+% ABV... I would gladly drink again...

philbe311, Feb 01, 2013
Photo of CuriousMonk
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Rustico's in VA. Pours jet black with a nice and dense tan head. Nose of sweet charcoal, coffee and chocolate. Flavors of a mocha forward stout with a fair bit of roast, dark nuts, and chocolate. Nice finish of bitter roasted coffee and hop bitterness which helps give it some length. This is a nice and complex stout from Sierra Nevada. A six pack of this is very reasonably priced as well. Welcome, Narwhal.

CuriousMonk, Dec 26, 2012
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 3,751 ratings.