Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
872 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
BEER STATS
Reviews:
872
Ratings:
4,860
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
22.71%
 
 
Wants:
309
Gots:
1,369
For Trade:
45
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 872 | Ratings: 4,860
Photo of dtivp
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown, near black with a one finger dark tan head that fades quickly into a thin ring with very little lacing.

Aroma of dark roasted malt, dark coffee and chocolate.

Taste of dark roasted malt, nuts, dark roasted coffee with a slight sweet balance of chocolate and molasses.

Moth Feel was medium leaning full body with very little carbonation, creamy and the alcohol is very well masked, there is very little boozy warmth for a 10.2 % ABV beer.

Overall this is a very nice RIS, well balanced with a slight sweetness off setting some of the dark bitterness. This is a nice sipping beer on a relaxing evening.

 629 characters

Photo of samtrillo
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%

Black with no head and minimal lacing.

The nose is of cocoa and coffee and sweet malt.

The taste is much more pronounced. It reminds me of a dark chocolate covered coffee bean! A toasted essence to the malt. The back end of the taste profile brings to mind dark fruits, bittersweet craisin.

The mouthfeel is smooth and a little warm. Low carbonation. Very easy drinking for such a big beer in taste and ABV. Overall an excellent Russian Imperial.

 450 characters

Photo of JamesMN
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: In a long list of the most opaque black beers out there. Two finger light brown head that leaves nice lacing.

Aroma: Coffee, molasses, cream, chocolate syrup.

Taste: Heavy on the bitter black coffee flavor. Dark chocolate as well but not as prominent. Not quite as roasty as I was expecting but still quite robust. Very bitter probably more due to the malt bill than the hops utilized because there is no discernible hop presence. Still, a nice change of pace from the usual RIS (although I probably wouldn't classify it as such). Dry finish and lingering black coffee bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a good level of carbonation and pretty easy to drink but more of a sipper.

Final Thoughts: Not my favorite but a very good Imperial Stout, especially if you like coffee flavor in your stouts. Would I drink it again? Yep, got a few in the cellar to see how it does with some age on it.

 909 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 9/11/15, in a tulip.

Opaque jet black color with a 1F dark tan colored head that fades quickly to an oil sick. Minimal lacing.

Smell of coffee, dry chocolate, lots of roasted malt. Some alcohol as it warms.

Healthy dose of roasted malt flavors. Strong coffee and a touch of unsweetened chocolate. Black cherry.

Full creamy body with tingle. Smooth and balanced. Just a touch of alcohol on the end, but no burn. Underlying oiliness.

It packs flavor and big beer punch. A sipper, very good.

 511 characters

Photo of tewaris
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Deep brown with a mocha head. Good retention and lacing. Malty and roasty aroma... somewhat campfire like. Taste is more aggressive with a solid kick of bitterness derived from both, hops and roasted malt. Long burnt finish. Medium body, apt carbonation. Will drink again.

 272 characters

Photo of NWer
4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was really looking forward to this beer. I always anticipate what Sierra Nevada is doing lately to keep engaged with producing great beer in spite of their growth.
Pours dark brown into a tulip.
Minimal head. Carbonation is there, it just doesn't produce much foam.
Burnt dark chocolate nose & taste. A little edgy that should smooth out over time.
Mouthfeel, burnt edginess lingers. Not to the point of distraction however. Very enjoyable with a great price point for the style.

 481 characters

Photo of superdedooperboy
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Celebrating International Stout Day the right way. 12-ounce brown glass bottle poured into a Duvel-branded tulip glass. Served at approximately 45 degrees F.

Pours pitch black -- this thing isn't letting any light through. A small one-fingered head of mocha foam rises up and falls away just as quickly as it came. It settles to a thin cap on the surface of the brew, leaving behind a nice webbing of lace on the walls of the glass as it empties.

Roasty and chocolaty on the nose, with notes of chocolate-covered cherries and currants making their way into the mix. Rich, decadent and inviting.

Delving in, the most noticeable quality is the mouthfeel -- this stout is thick, smooth and creamy on the tongue, gliding over like silk, followed up by a light prickly carbonation that wipes it all away.

Fairly sweet in the opening, with an intense deep malt character taking hold. Chocolate, molasses, burnt toffee file in, followed in the middle by roasty espresso notes. Here, some citrusy hope notes actually find their way into the fray around the edges, but they dissolve into the rich mix just as they become perceptible. Espresso and bitter dark chocolate fall into the rear, mingling with some dark pit fruit before falling away into a bit of booziness. The alcohol warmth carries into the finish, which is rather dry and punctuated by lingering notes of dark chocolate and black cherry.

An exceptional Imperial Stout overall, with a succulent mouthfeel that is perhaps its best quality. Nothing outlandish here, just solid Imperial Stout as it should be. Why Sierra Nevada took so long to release a beer like this is beyond me, but it displays all of the attributes of quality brewing that the brewery is known for, and will undoubtedly become a quick favorite for cellaring and general wintry imbibing.

 1,816 characters

Photo of jopezu
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours an oil slick dark brown with a medium tan head that quickly rolls down to a bubbly film. nose; i can't stop drinking it long enough to discern... milk chocolate, fudge, espresso and hops. taste; dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, bitter coffee bean, bitter leafy hops, espresso, plum, light fudge & some slight wood notes. very highly carbonated with a silky, heavy mouthfeel. the hops, malt, abv and darkness are pretty much perfectly balanced to my palate. an expertly crafted russian imperial stout that brings a wallop on the roasted profile, and still has the hop to be a big beer. sierra neveda pulled no punches on this one!

 644 characters

Photo of Lawl3ss
3.76/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Chilled 12 oz. stubby into a shaker pint glass. 2013 vintage.

Look- Pours deep ruby brown, quite opaque. Finger and a half of dense toffee-colored head that refuses to settle. Decent lacing.

Smell- Dark roast, milk chocolate, blackcurrant. A little booze in the background. Nice.

Taste- Bold albeit standard profile. A bit of molasses and raisin stand out, dominated by bittersweet chocolate, charred biscuit, and medium roast coffee. A little boozy, not really surprising considering the 10%+ ABV. Not too sweet. Finishes with a moderately assertive herbal bittering, roast lingers.

Mouthfeel- Medium-full body, some astringency from the booze keeps it from being creamy. Slick feel, carbonation crisp. Not too heavy, but, well.... I was expecting something a bit more substantial.

Overall- Accessible. SN's not going too crazy with this, and that's probably a good thing. Still definitely worthwhile, and very reasonably priced for the category. Sic this on your friends when they talk about Guinness being "oh so dark"- they'll be pleasantly surprised rather than sickened.

 1,081 characters

Photo of TheDoctor
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
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 jpro
3.98/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz single picked up from Total Wine. Poured into tulip...

A: Pours with an ink-like blackness; two-finger mocha head leaves a ring of retention and few short-lived strands of lace; looks pretty bold.

S: Deep, dark, roasted malt; dark chocolate; coffee notes; sweet.

T: Bitter, charred malt; dark chocolate / chocolate syrup; chicory on end; pretty big oily hop finish.

M: Medium-full mouthfeel; high carbonation with some zing; not quite as full or as slick I'd like in an imperial stout.

O: A very nice Russian imperial stout from Sierra Nevada; is this a new seasonal? a one off? Interesting as its kind of out of nowhere. Big and bold and somewhat reminiscent of Old Rasputin - that's what it initially reminded me of, at least. A good beer, even with the slightly off mouthfeel. I'd have another - maybe on a cold winter night!

 838 characters

Photo of toppoop
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Aggressive pour into a snifter yielded a mighty head which shrunk down to a thin layer over the top. Slight lacing throughout.
S - Chocolate and booze dominate the nose with a touch of coffee and molasses.
T - Dark chocolate hits first with the booze to follow which clings to the palate for some time after a taste. A touch of bitterness at the end.
M - Very nice. Full and silky, clings to mouth and stays for some time. Very balanced carb as well.
O - Very good RIS. Think I'm really gonna enjoy this a lot more after some time in the cellar.

 549 characters

Photo of SteveB24
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

just tried this beer for the first time since my earliest days of craft beer drinking.
color is black as night with a finger of frothy brown head. lots of lacing on the side of the glass.
aroma is sweet and malty, with notes of molasses, coffee, dark fruit, with a mildly boozy finish.
lots of rich malt flavor, biscuit, slight maple syrupy taste, coffee in there too, with some deep woody notes. not too sweet. texture is full bodied, slightly oily, surprisingly carbonated.
overall this is an excellent representative of the style. delicious. perfect for cold nights.
the ten percent abv is barely noticeable, drinks dangerously smooth.

 638 characters

Photo of keithmurray
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - dark brown color body with mocha colored head

Smell - roasted coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, black licorice,
Tobacco, smoke

Taste - dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, smoke, citrus from the hops,

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, slight sweetness from the Chocolate upfront, hops and citrus in the back end along with a smoky feel. I'm finding the flavors to be a bit unbalanced on this beer.

Overall - slightly disappointing beverage as I feel like this beer borders on Black IPA territory. Flavors are a bit unbalanced versus other examples of the style. Perhaps age would help this one out.

Price Point - $1.99/12 ounce single

 671 characters

Photo of Hopswagger
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

P: Super black body with a glisten of mahogany at the bottom of the glass. A dollop of creamy espresso froth that dwindles to a bubbly crown. Retention is nice and leaves thick micro bubble lacing that sloshes around the edge. The melted Dutch chocolate ice cream like head never seems to leave.

S: Rich roasty malts, bakers chocolate, burnt molasses, dark coffee beans, sawdust, sweet whisky mash, smoked grain and salted cashews.

T/M: Sweet burnt molasses, milk and bitter chocolate, charred grains, dirty wood, spicy booze with earthy and pine resin hops in the background. Coffee, black pepper, and sweet figs round out the multitude of malty layers. Full creamy but oily body with spicy carbonation.

O: A mystical adventure for your mouth. Super complex and ever changing this brew delivers amazing results. This is a beer of myth and legend that lives up to its magical name. Cheers!

 895 characters

Photo of horshack7
4.59/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: It's down right black as the night sky. The head is light brown and is about one finger thick.

Aroma: Vanilla bean, light alcohol notes, charred wood, subtle yeasty bits. Traces of dark fruits, citrus and black licorice.

Taste: Dark roasted hops and chocolate malts, milk and dark chocolate notes. Espresso, vanilla bean, charred wood. Quite the silky smooth mouthfeel.

Notes: Rather a hefty beer very good for a cold night. Cheers.

 447 characters

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.99/5  rDev -3.6%

Kind of like shamu doing the backstroke, I'd put this just a tick below "outstanding," status, but just barely. It's sumo status, but it's more like a featherweight sumo. A bit too light, a bit too lackluster... It has all those nice chocolate, toffee, rich notes that any player would like in a stout, but it's a bit thin and insipid.

Close, but, well, half of the cigar, I guess.

 383 characters

Photo of glass_house
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque black like an imperial stout should. One finger of creamy off-white head. Aroma is heavy on roasted dark malts with a little burnt coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts with subtle fig and dark plum in the aftertaste. There are hints of coffee and chocolate, but much less so than many beers of this style. The roasted malt takes center stage. It's a bit of a one trick pony, but when that trick is really really good, that's not a bad thing. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and just slightly creamy. Coats the palate well. Virtually no noticeable alcohol. One of the smoothest 10%+ beers I've ever had.

There are more exciting and complex stouts out there, but this is super solid and never lets me down.

 752 characters

Photo of MarioM
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle poured into Delirium tremens snifter.

A: Dark tan creamy head with medium lacing when swirled. Head mostly dissipated to a thin film in about a minute or two. Dark but clear and medium carbonation.

S: Dark brown sugar, dark roasted malt, chocolate and some dark fruits like raisins and figs as well.

T: Wow, I had to double check the abv because this is so smooth... Very drinkable. Light roastyness, not as sweet as the aroma, fruitiness is not very present as well. Good dark roasted character with some well balanced dark chocolate bitterness that lingers with just a tad bit of alcohol presence at the end. Great beer with just enough sweetness to balance it out but not a syrupy mess at all. Does not feel like its as big as it is.

M: Medium bodied and drinkable. Slight roasty sweetness at the beginning with a nice bitterness in the middle and finishes with a great alcohol dark chocolate mix.

O: Can't believe its a 10.2 % beer, first sip seemed like I was drinking a nice smooth roasty chocolaty oatmeal stout. Will be buying this again, especially for its price. Definitely a hard choice between this and Old Raspy... Need to do a side by side but highly recommend this beer. Prime example of why Sierra Nevada is as great as they are.

 1,266 characters

Photo of greyghost86
4.94/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As close to a perfect imperial stout that I have had. Beautiful dark coffee appearance. Dark tastes of chocolate, coffee, and hints of smoke. This is a brew you can chew. Love it!

 179 characters

Photo of ddedhed
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful black, with a thick dark tan head, which leaves nice lacing. Smell is chocolate sweet with a whiff of hops. Taste is chocolate, smooth roast, slight licorice, some dark fruit, and roasted, bitter finish. Defintiely some booze noticable. Mouthfeel is thick, yet soft and smooth. Overall, I really like this a lot. Very nice sipper.

 340 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black body, creamy light tan head, some sticky lines of lace. Nose is rich and complex; baker's chocolate, licorice, some coffee, bread crust, heavily roasted malt. Flavor is even more widespread and deep; dark chocolate, roasted malt, somewhat sweet smokey toffee, faint chocolate, undertones of bitter hops, star anise, dry biscuit, faint alcohol and milk sugar-likeness here and there. Supremely dark yet reasonably bitter, even with a mild sweetness. Full, heavy, chewy body with lip-smacking stickiness.
What a great beer. Perfectly enters RIS territory without clashing the hop flavor with the roasted malt, which *rarely* works for me. Huge range of dark flavors to mull over, nicely dry and bitter while still offering a faint oasis sweetness. Please, Narwhal, impale me again ;)

 788 characters

Photo of Beric
4.13/5  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.

 1,039 characters

Photo of Futbolmanby
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: dark brown with a thin khaki head
Smell: roasted malts with a hint of vanilla
Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate with a small amount of vanilla
Feel: smooth finish, light carbonation.

 195 characters

Photo of StoutItOutLoud
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. 12-oz poured to tulip. Consumed 2-20-2014.

Thick and viscous. Opaque black; large, frothy, 3-finger mocha head. Decent alcohol legs coating the glass. There's a cap holding out.

dark roast coffee; grassy hops; baker's chocolate. wish there was more dark fruit here

one dimensional - dark chocolate-hops roastiness. alcohol less noticeable than ten fidy

well-carbonated. medium mouthfeel.

 405 characters

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 872 ratings.