Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding

767 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 767
Hads: 4,455
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 8.96%
Wants: 255
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 Beersnake1
3.77/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours black with a finger of light brown head. Head disappeared quickly - probably 20 seconds.

Smell: Not overwhelming. Toasted malts with some hints of dark fruit. Even a bit sweet. A bit smoky and a hint of caramel.

Taste: The taste follows the smell nicely. Fairly mellow, with a taste of toasted malts, caramel, and a bit of coffee. Not as burly as some other imperial stouts, but a nice smooth flavor. The alcohol content doesn't come through.

Overall: Nice beer from Sierra Nevada. Pleasantly smooth, but not extremely distinct from others in its class. (576 characters)

Photo of atr2605
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-poured black with a tan head with nice lacing
S-roasted coffee, licorice, unsweetened cocoa
T-lots of roasted coffee flavors mixed with licorice and finishes with unsweetened chocolate
M-full bodied and low carbonation
O-Not a bad brew, honestly not my favorite for the style, booze is pretty apparent. Interesting to try (324 characters)

Photo of Beric
4.13/5  rDev 0%
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 Thickfreakness
2.72/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- An onyx black pour with a fluffy and thick deep tan head that floats near three fingers. An absolute ton of sticky lacing grabs the sides of my Bruery tulip and NEVER lets go. Decently oily legs drip and ooze down the rim.

S- Nicely charred malt, bitter German chocolate, grapefruit peel, mango, slight touches of vanilla and pine. More Black IPA than RIS in the traditional sense.

T- WOW! Lots of char and citrus bite down on the tongue. RIS/Cascadian IPA? Reminds me of Storm King or Wookey Jack. Not my favorite type of RIS. Too much citrus, no dark fruit, cocoa, coffee, vanilla or other flavors/aromas that I normally associate in a RIS. The char and citrus just kind of strip your palate.

M- Dry, burnt malt, and too much citrus for what they call a Russian Imperial Stout! RIS' should envelope you in dark fruit, cocoa and coffee IMHO, not this! I'm getting tired of breweries labeling Cascadian/Black IPA's as RIS' just to sell beer!

O- This isn't bad mind you... it's just not what I consider the style to be, and I am a stickler for rating on style. If they said this was a black ipa, it'd be at least a 4! I'd put this up against Wookey Jack, Black Watch IPA, Hop Noir or some other really good Black IPA's. A world class, or even good RIS it isn't. Sorry SN, you usually wow me. Redefine it, and I'll re-review it! (1,335 characters)

Photo of Sarlacc83
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, split.

A: Pure black. Mocha head fades to thin lacing. Sticks to the glass.

N: Chocolate, malt, coffee. Some tobacco and leather. Has a rye type pepperiness. Deep and rich. Molasses. Black licorice.

T: Licorice, chocolate, tobacco, pepper and earth. This is very ’spicy’ and sprucey. Has quite a bit of hop character to match the malty sweetness. Excellently put together if perhaps a bit green.

M: Perfect. Heavy without becoming cloying. Alcohol never distracts.

O: Sierra Nevada waited too long to release an RIS. This should be considered a standard. I’ll be buying more to age. (611 characters)

Photo of divineaudio
4.01/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz into my deschutes snifter.

a - pours deep, dark brown, almost black. formed a finger of dense, dark brown head upon pouring that eventually calmed to a thin film, leaving behind a thick sheet of lacing bordered by small spots. a damn fine looking beer.

s - roasted malt, charcoal notes, faint dark chocolate, faint alcohol astringency.

t - notes of dark chocolate, char, and faint tobacco supported by roasted malt goodness. faint, earthy hop character, but just enough for balance. has an alcoholic bitterness that fades into a dark chocolate bittersweetness and lingers for a bit.

m - full bodied, adequate carbonation, medium co2 profile. faint alcohol warming.

o - pretty damn enjoyable, but a little hot and rough around the edges. quite drinkable for 10%, but certainly could use some time to mature. gonna pick up some more of this and sit on them for a while. definitely a welcome addition to the imperial stout category. (942 characters)

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

Purchased a solo bottle from Sicialiano's market

A - Deep motor oil black, thick and syrupy, 1 finger thick of khacki head with not much lacing or retention to speak of.

S - Dark Chocolate, roasted coffee, charred wood, and a whisper of smoke.

T - Silky smooth bittersweet chocolate, coffee, vanilla bean, booze, slightly bitter and drying finish, but not overpowering. Overall, velvety soft mouthfeel.

O - One of the smoothest and drinkable Russian Imperial Stout I have had. A definite must try. (502 characters)

Photo of Seanniek91
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served from a 12oz Bottle into a Smutty pint.

Appearance- Pitch black with super thin mocha head. Very nice lacing on this one.

Smell- Coffee, chocolate roasted malts, some dark stone fruit, booze.

Taste- Chocolate, tons of coffee, vanilla oakiness, bittering hops, mild booze. Coffee finishes this one.

Mouthfeel- Smooth, thick, nice carbonation. Full mouthfeel, but not too viscous.

Overall- I really enjoy this RIS. Really nice flavor and body. (454 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 chanokokoro
3.21/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada branded snifter

Pours a very deep dark brown topped with a two and half finger fluffy beige head. Above average retention, considerable amount of splotchy lacing as the head slowly recedes. Bakers chocolate and phenol alcohol on the nose. Opens with dark chocolate, roasted dark chocolate malt and a with just a hint of dark fruit midpalate. Finishes dry with a touch of roasted espresso, warming alcohol, and continued notes of cocoa. The lighter sider of full bodied, moderate carbonation, slick mouthfeel. A decent Russian Imperial Stout, but not very complex. The roasted chocolate malt flavor tends to dominate and at the same time lacks depth. I'm looking forward to revisiting this brew again to see if it delivers more the second time around. (793 characters)

Photo of Danno48
4.48/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Have to say I was exited to see this baby on the shelf at my local retailer.

Pours a jet black with a very dark brown head. Absolutely can not see through this beer and the head is crazy dark.

Smells consist of obviously dark roast coffee, cocoa, and a hint of sourdough bread.

Tastes very sweet for just an instant then the cocoa and bitterness hit you hard along with the alcohol. Finishes with bitter chocolate notes. Not too sweet.

If compared to the Old Rasputin stout this one is a little thicker in feel and clings slightly more.

All over this beer is killer and I hope she is around for years to come...and you feel the ABV about 50 seconds into the drinking. B*tchin Russian Stout. (695 characters)

Photo of SometimesIfart
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pitch black with a one finger dark mocha head that sticks around. Left spotty lacing.

S - Deep roasted malts, dark fruits, slight alcohol.

T - Deep roasted malt up front, alcohol in the middle, and very very dark, I guess you could almost say roasted like a smore chocolate finish. It's almost like it melts in your mouth.

M - Thick oily body with very lightly stinging carbonation.

O - Overall, I'm completely convinced that Sierra Nevada can do no wrong. In my opinion, this stout had a one of a kind flavor. I don't know how they managed to make the flavor seem as though it melts in your mouth. I'd definitely have again and I wouldn't mind aging one. (669 characters)

Photo of Neorebel
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pleasantly surprised that one of my local haunts had Narwhal on tap. She pours an inky jet black with a thick looking tan head to boot. Very nice, almost perfect for what I want in a stout, in fact. The aroma is quite roasty, with a fairly large presence of bittersweet chocolate as well. After a highly anticipated sip, that baker's chocolate satisfied my taste buds fully, along with very pleasant fruit esters (predominantly plum and dark fruits). What I like is how wonderfully bitter the overall package is. There is perhaps some hops detectable in the flavor here. Very full on the mouth feel. Overall, a very solid Imperial Stout. (637 characters)

Photo of MadCat
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours black with a good dark brown head, leaves good lacing

Smell: Nice roasted malts, coffee, and a little dark chocolate

Taste: Starts off with that great stout taste of roasted malts. Next you get some coffee and dark chocolate. Then a little bit of hop bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full body, medium carbonation

Overall: Fantastic brew. Will have to pick up this every year and age some. (400 characters)

Photo of gr0g
4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque, black appearance, capped with a finger's worth of dark tan foam. Head retention is good, while lacing is minimal. Has the rich, imposing look that an imperial stout should have. Char, molasses, and dark chocolate feature prominently on the nose. Some fusel presence on the back-end of the aroma, though not much (and not uncommon for an unaged imperial stout). Base aroma is very nice, just needs more "pop" to merit a higher score.

Narwhal has a very nicely balanced flavor profile. Upfront sweetness is tamed by bitterness on the mid-palate through to the finish. I wouldn't mind a little less bitterness to let the rich, chocolatey flavors to stand out more. Flavors of cacao nibs and black coffee astringency. Mouthfeel has a nice weightiness to it, while there's an appropriate level of carbonation. Alcohol heat is present but doesn't jump out and become distracting.

Narwhal is destined to become a top value imperial stout, widely available and of high quality. Compares very favorably with Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout in that regard. Another great beer by Sierra Nevada. (1,092 characters)

Photo of thegodfather2701
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pitch black, with one of the thickest and creamiest looking heads I have ever laid eyes on. The head looks like a mocha milkshake. The head dissipates slowly and leaves on minimal lacing.

S-Smells of dark chocolate, strong black coffee, booze, and roasted malt.

T-Dark chocolate, espresso, booze, roasted malts, slightly smoky. It is somewhat hot and the alcohol is much more pronounced than I expected it to be. It has a lingering burnt aftertaste.

M-Slick and creamy, not as thick as I expected. Not a lot of carbonation, which is nice.

D-I really believe the alcohol negatively impacts the drinkability of this beer. It also is a little more on the espresso side of imperial stouts, where as I prefer a more dark fruit forward imperial stout. However, one could easily drink a couple in a sitting.

Overall, this is a nice imperial stout but I think it needs to sit a while. Its somewhat boozy and abrasive. With some time I think it will mellow out and become much smoother and easier to drink. I will say this, I thought it would be a more hop forward imperial stout given Sierra Nevada's history of producing excellent IPAs, but it is very malty which is nice. I don't want my review to sound to negative, this is a good beer and I would recommend it, I just think it needs to age a little. (1,302 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 gabedivision
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a 12 ounce bottle to a a goblet glass

Pours midnight black, with a 1/2 finger mocha head, that thins to a lace around the glass, very classic Imperial Stout. Dark chocolate up front, bitter coffee bean and espresso follow, subtle hoppiness sneaks in and out. Milk chocoalte in the mouth, bitter dark chocolate follow up, big hop profile found mid sip, coffee notes, very well round each second of the sip breathes a different taste. Big and bold in body, full and lightly carbonated, smooth flow that finishes semi dry. Overall; great Imp Stout, well rounded, well balanced, complex, delicious, whats not to like about this beer? (642 characters)

Photo of Teleweizen2
4.13/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - pours an ominous squid ink black. A pinky fingers worth of deep tan foam rises above the dark liquid and lingers.

S - nose is a bit muted but still very chocolatey with a slight touch of roast. Notes of cocoa powder and dark chocolate sauce. Light hints of grindy city roast coffee. Hints of cherries in the center.

T - doughy and chocolate flavors up front. Almost like a dark chocolate version of Nutella spread on italian bread. A hint of alcohol come through with a touch of coffee. Blackstrap molasses notes collide with earthy hops with hints of tree bark and pine. Finish is dry almost tannic and woody but with a note of dusty chocolate to smooth it out.

M - thick and rich. Full bodied with high carbonation.

O - great stout. Sierra Nevada just knows how to make exceptional beer. (797 characters)

Photo of CFHMagnet
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I bought a four pack about 3 months ago and have finally brought it up out of the basement. It poured over half a finger of mocha colored head over a deep brown/black body. Has a thin sheet of lacing to show off.

Smells of dark fruits, a tinge of dark chocolate and coffee and ends with mild alcohol.

Starts off slightly sweet with dark fruit, then plunges you into a dark chocolate bath. Coffee, more dark fruit and light alcohol finish her off.

This beer is very carbonated, must be what keeps it from bogging down. It is medium-heavy bodied. Leaves a light coating on the tongue. (585 characters)

Photo of Maxwell
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep coffee black with a dark khaki head that fizzes away quickly. The body is opaque and dark with no carbonation bubbles present. Lacing is sticky and cloud-like, though thin. The beer smells like dark coffee and dark chocolate. Roasted malts are very present in the nose and give the beer a beautiful overarching feel of “Big Stout” which is precisely what I want from this beer, but there are also some slight notes of toffee and caramel which add complexity to the nose. The beer tastes wonderfully rich with roasted malts that suggest black creamy espresso. Chocolate is also present, equally as creamy, and very dark. The bitters are light and slightly citrusy in the background of the taste, but there are some rough charred notes in the flavor. The beer begins as black coffee, transitioning into dark chocolate with light citrus bitters from the hops. The close is bitter black coffee and slight hints of the citrus hops which come through strongly if you force yourself to belch. The alcohol is pretty hidden in this beer, with just a hint of it showing through at the open of the sip but quickly being lapped up by the roasted malts. The does return lightly in the aftertaste as a weird slight burning tingle. This flavor is very classic as far as imperial stouts go, though I’m not quite sold on the Russian imperial stout bit. The beer is a perfect example of the style but nothing above and beyond it. The mouthfeel of this beer, however, is one of the best I have ever felt. Creamy and thick, this beer sits on the tongue as an angelic liquid; it leaves the tongue coffee dry, with light wet notes on the very fringes of the mouth. Saliva is thick and chewy when it does run, and it begs for more. This is legitimately what makes this stout. The mouthfeel is incredible, even if it is a little strange for a stout. Overall, I’m pleased with this stout. I kind of wanted more in terms of flavor, especially in the hops category, but the mouthfeel makes up for most of my complaints. The taste is classically average, but the mouthfeel is above and beyond. This beer is worth a try, especially since Sierra Nevada does so few stouts. I know I’ll be cellaring at least one of the bottles for quite some time. This beer is obviously not the top of the style, but it is fantastic, drinkable, and has a mouthfeel to die for. Try this beer and you will not be displeased. (2,407 characters)

Photo of humuloner22
4.75/5  rDev +15%

Considering this is relatively easy to get and the price is reasonable I will have to say this is one of the better RIS's I have had. I like to consider everything in my numbering. Sometimes it does not only include the taste of the beer. Everything is subjective.

Appearance: Dark as night, nice lacing once head settles, which is fairly quick. Caramel lacing and head in that regard.

Aroma: Chocolate, malts, some coffee and vanilla, nice balance of aroma's.

Taste: Very pleasant, pretty close to what they describe on the bottle. I got a lot of vanilla out of this one and caramel, but the chocolate dominates more than anything else. What I did like about this one is it is not overly licorice in flavor profile. That has killed a lot of well regarded stouts for me over the years. This one is damn good and I have a BA version of this waiting on me, I just have to wait until the right moment for that one.

Overall: Where I live its easy to find, I purchased this one from a local grocery store chain for $10. It is well worth that considering everything, and that is why I have become a SN fan. Anyway, the store also had Snow pack, Celebration, and all the other 12 packs on sale for $12.99, so I may be heading back there to stock up! (1,248 characters)

Photo of NRo
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Very dark with a thin tan head.

Smell: Faint coffee, not very strong of a smell.

Taste: Much more flavorful than I expected it to be! Rich coffee and cocoa notes.

Mouthfeel: Delightfully smooth.

Overall: I look forward to drinking this regularly. (263 characters)

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a dfh snifter

A: pours black with two finger of tan chocolaty mocha head after a rather aggressive pour.... Nice head retention and lacing... Good lookin brew.

S: some roasty malts and chocolate with a light touch of smoke.
The coffee aromas really come out as this brew warms. A good smelling beer.

T: much like the smell, roasty malts, chocolate and coffee notes along with a touch of smoke, some light pine hop notes mingle with the smoke and roast to add a nice bitterness, well rounded and tasty.

M: nice heavy medium body, dry and slightly bitter on the finish low to moderate creamy carbonation.

O: a pretty good imperial stout, nothing earth shattering but a very solid representation of the style.... Good fresh, interested to see how this one ages, I could see it getting pretty good with a bit of time. (849 characters)

Photo of joeseppy
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I love SN's labeling to promote this one, as it draws me into the depths of an abyss.

Getting aquainted, aromas of malt and espresso come to meet me.

Flavours of dark cocoa, malt roastiness (but not too obtrusive), coffee and traces of smoke. As this comes up to temp., these nuances become pronounced with good balance.

The mouthfeel is velourish (if thats a word). It comes on audacious then refines itself. Not too thin IMO.

SN has done a great job here. I've had the pleasure of going through a 4pk and was lucky enough to land a case. The price point is on the mark. I'm hoping this will age well in the bottle...that's if I can stay away from it. (656 characters)

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