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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

2,856 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2856
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: 2,856 | Reviews: 605 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of TeamMathis
TeamMathis

West Virginia

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

2012 bottle
Appearance: Motor oil. Dark, coffee head.
Smell: Hints that this drink is going to be strong, alcoholic, and have a note or two of coffee and chocolate.
Taste: Alcoholic. Strong. Light chocolate and coffee. Maybe some grape.
Mouthfeel: Motor oil.

This is a great example of the Russian Imperial. Watching it pour into the glass is both daunting and tremendously inviting. It really does look like thick, black syrup or motor oil. The smell provides the alcoholic warning that this is going to be a strong drink, yet it doesn't smell like cheap vodka/overly alcoholic. The taste is altogether strong and very powerful. It is chocolate, coffee, and maybe some grapes drowned in delightful and tactful alcohol. I will get this again and I'm aging my other bottle.

2013 bottle
1/5/14
The smell had much more chocolate. Same great brew.

Serving type: bottle

04-04-2013 22:40:22 | More by TeamMathis
Photo of nUgZ
nUgZ

North Carolina

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

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black in color with a minimal head and some lacing.

S: Roasted malts with some espresso and a hint of dark chocolate and alcohol.

T: Tons of espresso with nice roasted malts, nuts, and some dark chocolate. Alcohol is barely noticeable.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Easy to drink for an Imperial Stout.

O: This is a very nice example of a Coffee Imperial Stout. It could use a little more body, but overall it's very good, especially for the price. I will be buying more.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2012 21:39:45 | More by nUgZ
Photo of Jerone
Jerone

Florida

4.49/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark, viscous used motor oil, milk chocolate colored finger and a half head that fades but still leaves a bit of foam, leaves some lacing behind.

S - Yum, dark chocolate, coffee, and dark roasted malt with a touch of alcohol in a good way.

T - Bam, lots of flavor and what I love about stouts. Dark chocolate and some coffee flavor with slight hints of dark fruits as it gets closer to room temp (65). Has some sweetness but not too much, very lovely stout.

M - Great mouthfeel, low carbonation, heavy body, slightly viscous.

O - Great beer overall and highly recommended. SN keeps on making high quality beers and this one actually has little to no hop flavor :D

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2013 18:25:36 | More by Jerone
Photo of caskstrength
caskstrength

Minnesota

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

Unicorn whale!!

Pours dark and stouty with carbonation as expected. No floaties or anything.

Smells are roasty. Coffee, but the good coffee, not the simple stuff. Maybe some darker fruits, but those are subtle (more with letting it warm, but still in the back.)

Tastes are roasty stout. Look up stout in the taste dictionary, and this how your tongue would define it. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate weave into the smoked roasty flavors, and some fruits hang out at the back of the tongue, but they barely hang on. Just like the smells, they are there more as it warms.

Smooth mouthfeel, nailed this part. Bitterness maybe a little much on the finish, but works with the flavors.

Solid, straightforward imperial stout for those who want the classic roasty vibe. Job well done. And the price is great.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2012 19:02:58 | More by caskstrength
Photo of hagbergl
hagbergl

Maryland

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

Poured from a brown stubby 12 ounce bottle into my Beer Geek Nation tulip glass.

Appearance (4.25/5): Black with a two finger tan head. Not hugely heady. Evident alcohol legs appear on the sides of the glass.

Smell (4.25/5): Powdered cocoa, rich, dark chocolate, underlying molasses, roasted malt.

Taste (4.25/5): Strong initial flavors of dark chocolate and coffee, chewy, sticky molasses. At mid-mouth, more overtly chocolatey flavors and nice semi-sweet, rich, dark maltiness. This semi-sweetness subsides and gives way to a dry, mildly bitter roastiness. An imperial stout that–thankfully–aims at nailing classic stout flavors without doing anything insane. Complexity can come from good craftsmanship just as much as it can come from barrel-aging and/or employing wild yeast strains.

Mouthfeel (4.25/5): Nice and full-bodied; a nice resinous feel in the front and middle is contrasted with a dry and roasty finish. Very, very nice. Smooth and creamy.

Overall (4.25/5): A great Russian Imperial Stout that fires on all cylinders. It's not brewed with any additives–no coffee. No oats. No cacao nibs or chocolate added. No bourbon barrel aging. Sierra Nevada proves with Narwhal that complexity can be gained through great craftsmanship just as it can be gotten through adding complementary ingredients.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2013 19:40:40 | More by hagbergl
Photo of mattbk
mattbk

New York

3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black, thick, lighter head than I would have imagined.
S: Light roast, some hoppy pineyness. Would have liked more roast, would have liked a bit more sweetness.
T: Mmm, more sweetness here. A good amount of black barley here, definitely a good sized bite, a nice caramel middle, alcohol at the end, but not hot or overpowering. Not a lot of dark fruit here either. Mostly slight roast, sweetness, and a bit of alcohol. I appreciate the way they hid the alcohol in this 10%+ beer.
M: Medium-full, not very very full. The alcohol might be thinning it out a bit. Definitely not super drinkable, but not very heavy either.
O: A good RIS, not the best I've ever had, but solid. I would recommend it.

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2013 02:17:59 | More by mattbk
Photo of DonDirkA
DonDirkA

Arizona

4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada finally has a (good) shelf stout. And there aren't many imperial stouts in 4 or 6 packs aside from Ten Fidy so thats cool too. Pours midnight black with a thick brown head and nice lacing. Nose is strong roasted coffee, smokey malts, char and just a hint of raw cacao. Pretty basic imperial stout but it smells fantastic. The taste is surprisingly bitter. Bitterness, chocolate, roasted coffee, charred notes, smoked malts and some definite booze in there. The smokiness and bitterness are a bit strong but I think some age will mellow that out and the roasty flavors and coffee will come forward a bit. Still an awesome stout. Full body, heavy mouthfeel and light carbonation (typical stout style). Go Sierra Nevada!

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2012 07:21:43 | More by DonDirkA
Photo of Furlinator
Furlinator

California

3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours near black with very little head and decent lacing.

Smell is alcohol and cocoa up front. A faint scent of raisins and plums with a bready
finish on the back end.

Taste is bitter coffee up front. Faint nut flavor and some dark fruit bring up the rear.

Medium bodied for a stout. Slightly creamy with medium carbonation.

As stated in previous reviews, the alcohol presence is obvious and certainly detracts from this stout's potential. A bit of a disappointment.

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2013 17:35:45 | More by Furlinator
Photo of bens0n
bens0n

Texas

3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 batch

This beer pours an opaque dark brown, almost black but not quite. Not too much head or lacing going on.

Smell wise, I pick up on a little bit of booziness, not very rich at all like you would expect.

Flavor wise, its got a good amount of booziness with a slight bit of toasted/burnt coffee, not too much of an aftertaste or anything that stands out other than the ABV. Its not very well masked, the aftertaste is not really something that makes me want to drink more or savor it.

Its got a nice, low level of carbonation, pretty slick and oily, not too thick or creamy though.

Overall, a decent imperial stout, nothing special though.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2013 01:15:12 | More by bens0n
Photo of N3rdM3t4l
N3rdM3t4l

Oregon

4.78/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brown 12oz bottle into frosty pint glass.

A: PITCH BLACK, with half a finger of bubbely mocha head. No light gets through on this one. It looks delicious!

S: Dark and roasted, A bit sweet with dark fruit notes. I get prune. Smells a little astringent from dark malt and a bit of ethanol smell comes through. GOD DAMN does this smell dark and rich.

T: Looking forward to this! yumm. Defiantly and RIS, opens with rich dark malt and a big hit of dark fruit. Again with the prune I got on the nose. Sweet up front that fades slowly into a bittersweet chocolate wave that then fades into hop bitterness. Alcohol comes in at the last and gives a bit of warming. This is good stuff!

M: Rich and chewy, not oily like i expected. It just doesn't let up, this is a full bodied beer to the max. SO GOOD!

O: Well I love it! It is very much an RIS and Sierra Nevada doesn't disappoint. I don't regret this bottle of beer by any means.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2012 07:38:13 | More by N3rdM3t4l
Photo of Beric
Beric

Indiana

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

Serving: Bottle into snifter
Served: 27 February 2014

Appearance: Pitch black, with literally no light penetrating this brew. The dark brown head quickly disappears and leaves just a ring of bubbles around the edges. Looks impressive and daunting.

Smell: Roasted malts, black, dark-roast coffee, and unsweetened cocoa.

Taste: Wow, is this one complex. An initial burst of hop bitterness is followed by a strong assertion of roasted malts, dark roast coffee, espresso, and cocoa flavors. Finishes very dry.

Mouthfeel: Think and smooth, just as one would expect.

Overall: A great beer, and I was surprised to taste as much bittering hop as I did. When I burped, you could definitely re-taste the hoppiness (gross, I know). While hops aren't the dominant profile here, they are certainly assertive in their bittering qualities. But we wouldn't expect anything less from Sierra Nevada, would we? A great brew, and one I recommend. Definitely a sipper, and definitely a once-in-a-while beer, not something I could stomach any time any day.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2014 00:48:43 | More by Beric
Photo of mschind
mschind

California

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

A-Poured like thick espresso with a thin caramel colored head that dissipated quickly. Dark and oily looking, very inviting.

S-Toasty sweet malt with some french roast coffee notes

T-Dark chocolate, coffee and caramel malt. Surprisingly sweet, almost like a milk stout. Despite the sweetness, it was not at all cloying and finished with a nice balance.

M-Smooth, full and perfectly carbonated. There is some alcohol heat which served as a reminder that this is a beer to respect.

O-Glad I picked up a four pack instead of just a single. Now I can compare it to the Old Rasputin which is another favorite RIS.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2013 19:13:50 | More by mschind
Photo of emyers
emyers

Illinois

4.04/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

Appearance: Near black with a thick 1-inch medium brown head. Decent lacing.

Smell:Cocoa powder, roasted barley, coffee, caramel malt, hints of dark fruit. Alcohol isn't really apparent. Very well done, although fairly straightforward as far as imperial stouts go.

Taste: Big roasted malt flavor up front, Coffee and dark chocolate come through again. Molasses, caramel malt, and more roasted malt on the fninsh. Definietely more alcohol heat in the flavor than in the aroma, but not in a bad way. Finish is pretty bitter with the heavy roasted malt and bittering hops.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and rich with medium-to-low carbonation.

Overall: Very solid imperial stout. I'd put this in the same class as Old Rasputin.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2013 05:20:40 | More by emyers
Photo of JCaweinstein
JCaweinstein

Ohio

4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Black with a one finger tan head. The head has some big bubbles forming and dissipates to a thin layer fairly quickly.
This smells of cocoa and coffee throughout the drinking experience and also picks up the hint of alcohol as the beer gets closer to room temperature.
This stout is all about malts and it is delicious. I'm getting dark chocolate, roasted malt and coffee. It is a rather sweet tasting stout and is perfect for the cold night I'm drinking it on.
This is a full bodied beer that is smooth up front and picks up the alcohol heat as it warms.
It's about time that that Sierra Nevada made an Imperial Stout! This is an easily available, top notch stout by one of Americas finest breweries.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2012 00:56:11 | More by JCaweinstein
Photo of neophilus
neophilus

Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Generous light brown head fills the top of the glass then quickly falls on top of a pitch black ale.

Aroma of dark roasted grain on top of a rich malty base, solid raw-grain bread scents with no hint of alcohol. Balanced hop bitterness with the first sip, pronounced american (citrus?) hop flavors quickly washed away by sharp roasted grain taste. Thick and lucious body carries the astringent roasted grain through to a dry finish.

Great balance in the finish, deftly pairing strong roasted grain with a thick and full malty body. Alcohol is well hidden behind this very solid malty RIS. This is a straight shooter that doesn't fool around with quirky flavors and nails the balance of drinkability just right.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2013 18:12:37 | More by neophilus
Photo of mudbug
mudbug

Oregon

4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A vigorous pour into the SM pint glass results in a pitch black body of liquid topped by a thin tan head of foam, thick lacing coats the side as the first sips lower the level. yep it looks like a stout.
Aroma is bitter chocolate. roasted barley and toast with a slight astringent alcohol.
Taste follows the aroma, bitter chocolate. burnt toast, molasses a slight sour tinge. a tad dry on the end. overall very pleasant without a noticeable aftertaste
Not an overpowering Stout on the sweet side, slightly dry and bitter, more like an Irish Dry Stout on steroids
A very nice Stout that is easy to put a pint down.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2013 08:03:13 | More by mudbug
Photo of sjverla
sjverla

Massachusetts

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Nose: Lots of coffee. Alcohol. Burnt sugar. Dark chocolate and a slight hint of vanilla.

Appearance: Black with mahogany highlights at the where light barely seeps in. About .5" of head that rose and fell quickly.

Taste: Enormous. Bitter coffee and semisweet chocolate. Full, viscous and smooth feel is incredibly satisfying. The finish is hot - a tad too much actually. A little age might be a good thing.

Overall: Damn good. A little too boozy young, but some age might do this some good. Also, the cut on the roof of my mouth might be causing issues.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2013 22:26:49 | More by sjverla
Photo of Ryanm1
Ryanm1

Pennsylvania

3.86/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Imperil dark stout which.i tried at the end of my night. Dark as night with a solid amont of head, brownish bubbles. Very chocolatly and malty this is. pretty descent brew dispute the fact that it's a Sierra Nevada product a good beer overall dark and 10.6 abv

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 02:05:44 | More by Ryanm1
Photo of maxcoinage
maxcoinage

Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle (2013 Vintage) into oversized snifter with a solid inch head that was mocha colored and took it's time to settle down. Color of the beer is pitch black.

The aroma consists of dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits.

Taste includes dark roasted malt, coffee, caramel, very noticeable booze, some hoppy bitterness

Mouthfeel is rather thick, but not as much as you'd think at over 10%, medium carbonation, leaves a nice coating on your mouth and throat.

Overall it's a very enjoyable RIS, as I like boozy stouts, though I could see how some might think this is too hot. Looking forward to see how this changes with some age on it.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2013 21:36:33 | More by maxcoinage
Photo of dank203
dank203

New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

tulip. this ones quite dark. about a finger of dark head, leaves a nice film on top once it settles. the nose packs an abundance of dark fruits, and a lot of booze. a bit of chocolate, very sweet, like chocolate covered raisins I suppose. Ashy and boozy are the two main adjectives I'd use

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2014 21:24:02 | More by dank203
Photo of Moose90
Moose90

Colorado

4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 11/3/12 @ 7:35AM!
Tasted 1/14/12
12oz bottle into tulip glass

A – Pours a near opaque jet black with a thin medium-dark brown head. Leaves adequate lacing. Looks good for a RIS.

S – Coffee dark roasted, bitter dark chocolate, and a ton of black licorice on this one. A little bit of fresh cream and milkiness to it. No alcohol comes through here.

T – Pretty subdued for a RIS. No charcoal briquettes in this one. Good mild dark chocolate and coffee notes. The licorice and cream come through again but they are on the back burner of this complex brew.

M – Good carbonation, not an overwhelming amount of it, it helps bring a nice dryness and compliments the big dark malt profile.

O – A great RIS, not burnt and tarnished like some others. Not sweet but has nice licorice and chocolate notes. A solid offering, just wish it wasn't so darn hard to find on shelves.

Serving type: bottle

01-15-2013 01:30:55 | More by Moose90
Photo of craftaholic
craftaholic

New York

3.74/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Absolutely pitch black. Even with a flashlight held against it there is no light getting through that barren void. Had a layer of creamy tan head that left a little lacing and had subtle legs.

S - There's a lot of alcohol in the nose. With that there is hints of rich chocolate, hops and dark grains

T - There's a very strong coffee flavoring and after that it's a true melting pot of nuances. There is vanilla, grape, chocolate, grain, even a touch of citrus. Alcohol is present especially in the aftertaste but the malt is there to help mellow it somewhat.

M - Creamy and rich. Surprisingly more carbonated than expected.

O - It's definitely bold in both a flavor way as well as in the booze. It's a good sipper for sure.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2013 03:19:49 | More by craftaholic
Photo of MikeWard
MikeWard

Pennsylvania

3.66/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. 2013 batch.

Poured a thick oily black. No light comes through the body. Head was about a finger, tan colored. The head dissipated quckly to a full covering, before completely disappearing about halfway through the drink. No lacing to speak of.

Wasn't getting too much from the nose, pretty subtle, some alcohol, coffee, a little toasted malt.

Taste was also very subtle, with the above flavors coming through, but no strength to any of them. None of them lingered on the tongue very long.

Mouth was around medium, a little dry at the end.

I've only had this beer once before, last fall. Remember enjoying it a lot more then than now. This seemed a bit uninspired. Nothing offensive about it, just a bit bland really. A bit disappointing. Does go down easy for a 10.2abv.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2013 13:06:46 | More by MikeWard
Photo of djaeon
djaeon

California

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

Pitch black. Expected coffee & dark chocolate flavors are every evident. Velvety smooth mouthfeel, some stickyness in the finish. A hint of bitter aftertaste, not unlike what you would get from black coffee (with booze in it).

All in all, a great imperial stout.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2013 01:47:53 | More by djaeon
Photo of templar316
templar316

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-27-2013 02:45:11 | More by templar316
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 2,856 ratings.