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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
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 776
Hads: 4,471
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 258
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: 4,471
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 mjpolzin
3.77/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Split a 4 pack with my brother in law. Always excited to try a new imperial stout. This one was somewhat of a disappointment though.

The pour into the glass was very dark but not as thick as some of the better imperial stouts. As was mentioned in many of the reviews on this site, the smell was of alcohol with some roasted malts in the background. The taste was very similar to the smell and unfortunately the alcohol taste masked what could be a very good imperial stout with some chocolate, dark fruit and malts hiding behind the alcohol burn.

I have another bottle of this. Perhaps with some age on it, the alcohol taste will die down a bit leaving behind a much better beer. (682 characters)

Photo of Catracho5
4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian tulip glass. This is the 2013 edition.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a tan head. No light penetrates the beer, less than a finger head after a semi aggressive pour, tiny bubbles in the head, some lacing, looks great in the glass.

Smell: Chocolate, roasted malts, not a heavy aroma.

Taste: Chocolate roasted malts on the front, I can taste the alcohol after drinking, The alcohol is not as strong as when I first tried it around October. The beer is about 5 months old. The alcohol has significantly subsided.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, oily coat on the palate, I can feel the carbonation, tiny bubbles, moved around in my mouth.

Overall: One of my favorites imperial stouts from one of my favorite breweries. This is at least, an outstanding beer, if not world class. A lot easier to drink after cellaring it for 5 months, still have some bottles I will open at the end of 2014, or maybe in between. Cheers! (952 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)

Photo of Premo88
4.36/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into "stout glass" (tulip)
Oct. 17, 2013 born-on date

L: motor oil black that percolates like nothing I've seen short of a nitro -- the beer looks like it's not going to form a head, then from almost nowhere, the layer just under the surface starts to spin and cycle and pop and explode into a full inch of the thickest head of tan foam, and it sticks in classic Sierra Nevada fashion. wow! the brew might actually be 100% clear -- the very bottom appears so and shows dark, dark red -- but good luck passing light through this thing. black black with just a hint of dark brown around the edges and a constant tan collar ringing the surface.

S: huge everything -- BOOZE, chocolate, coffee, wine/grapes ... fully-roasted barley ... maybe a bit of oak -- and this thing is still almost ice cold. you can't mistake it for a pale ale, that's for sure. the boozy smell here is mostly like vodka, almost even gin more than whiskey, but it's not off-putting or medicinal.

T: oh, my ... similar notes as in the nose but in a different order: the alcohol doesn't show up until the afterburn, whereas the booziness seems to hit first on the nose. big dark malt extravaganza -- chocolate, coffee again with some definite oak-wood thrown in. very interesting and both classic and different; the notes seem to hit just a bit different tune from other big stouts I've tried, especially with the oak and the fact that so far nothing here tastes burnt. starting to detect a massive hop presence ... yes ... there's a bitter hop bite trying to chew threw all of this malt. and it's having some luck. wow! hard for me to tell what these hops taste like other than bitter, but they are really balancing out the quaff.

F: full. enough carbonation to make it drinkable, but silky and full.

O: it's a lot, and it's good. everything you could ask for from a Russian Imperial Stout, ABV included. i'm not the biggest fan of high ABV brews, but this brew is so full of the sweeter dark malts I love that it's perfect for sipping.

and I can tell aging it is going to be fun. in fact, I'll be off to the store soon to get at least another four-pack for *next* winter.

aging this brew is going to be fun.

three months of aging in the bottle has just barely tamed this beast. it's still relatively boozy, but it doesn't seem to be as big a bother as other boozy stouts. (2,386 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 ac22rush
4.09/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black and oily like the deep dark waters inhabited by the Narwhal. Some dark khaki foam lines the outside of the glass that gives way to some delicate lacing.

Smells like dark chocolate, raspberries, burnt caramel and cherries.

Taste, great dark and carmel malt profile up front comes nice and sweet warming the soul, then all those great magnum and challenger hops come in on the back end giving this brew wonderful balance.

Overall: This brew lives up to the high standards found in every other Sierra Nevada beer a benchmark imperial stout any craft beer brewer could aspire to. Cheers! (601 characters)

Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%

Bottle at Beer Crazy.
After a terrible 6 weeks for my family I decided it was beer treat time.
The beer is so dark that Neil deGrasse Tyson might mistake it for a black hole. The very edges of my Celebrator stout glass show a hint of ruby.
The aroma is prominent with cocoa.
The taste is somewhat confusing. I can pick up on the density of it but not the individual components. There's the heavy malt base and everything else blends together, but in an awesome way.
The body is a good level of thickness with a tiny amount of carbonation. Smooth on the finish.
This beer is very likeable, but I was a bit disappointed by the flavors all blending into one compination that I just could not decipher. I would get this again but it's meant to be enjoyed in small gulps. (767 characters)

Photo of chocosushi
3.56/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle->CHOC Flute

A ~ Pours black with a mahogany hue toward the bottom of the glass. Light lace clings. Cocoa head.

S ~ Baking Chocolate, Brown Sugar, & Caramel Syrup.

T ~ Chocolate following through with earthy hops (grass/bark) with lots
of caramelized sugar & biscuit. Very full flavored. Imperial for sure.

M ~ Sticky with not too heavy of a feel, but with a great deal of booze. Roasty, but quite sweet, akin to espresso with sugar in it.

D ~ Drinkable & solid, but I probably wouldn't purchase again. Check it out
if you see it, what a deal. Great alternative to Old Raspy if that's yer bag. (614 characters)

Photo of neurobot01
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle date 7/24/15 (exactly one year ago today) into a snifter at (warm) cellar temp.

Look: very dark chocolatey brown with a small persistent light brown head.

Smell: milk chocolate, very mild wet cardboard, vanilla.

Taste: chocolate, alcohol heat, something a bit vegetal, orange, hops.

Feel: thin to medium body, low carbonation, pretty dry finish.

Overall: I had higher hopes for this, to be honest. Will try again fresh soon, and also have a few more laid down to see if more age does anything interesting. (522 characters)

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 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 corywalston
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A. Very aggressive poor into a 36oz mug, 4 inches of tan/brown head that dissipates to 2 ½ inches. The dance of the bubbles in the black sludge looks delicious. No carbonation. Color is black with hints of brown.
S. Roasted malt, coffee, chocolate, and alcohol.
T. Sweet, metallic, coffee, chocolate, alcohol. After taste of grilled chocolate and nutty.
M. Slightly carbonated, milky, syrup, watery.
O. Slightly below average for an RIS. Alcohol is very evident and slightly over powering. But still good, give it a try. (523 characters)

Photo of NoLeafClover44
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a DFH signature glass. Bottled October 6 and put on the shelf two days ago at my local store.

A - Pours black with a dense finger of wood brown head. Sticky tiered lacing.

S - Toasted malts dominate along with almond, vanilla, cedar, and some mellow pine hops. Sweet and roasty with balancing earthiness.

T - Starts with an iced mocha coffee sweetness. Some burnt pine follows along with vanilla notes. The finish is more bitter than anticipated with earthy tree sap hops. Warming alcohol comes in late and becomes less noticeable with each sip. Sweetens as it warms and caramel, vanilla, and marshmallow step up to the char.

M - Definitely has enough body for the big flavors. Smooth carbonation. The alcohol isn't in your face, but isn't forgotten.

O - I have been waiting for this to land in my area for a few weeks. Balanced flavor that improves as it warms. The more drink it, the more I like it. A very good RIS that is right up there with Old Raspy in the RIS 12oz. 4pk under $10 category. Sierra Nevada rarely disappoints. Hopefully this becomes a shelf staple so I can grab it whenever I choose. (1,138 characters)

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

Poured a viscous black. Thick head of dense brown bubbles. Moderately sticky lace.

Smells of milk chocolate, baking coco, cherry cordials, and roasted malt.

Big flavors of dark chocolate, dark fruits, raisins, figs, brandied cherries, and dark roasted coffee. Lactic sweetness, and smokey roasted malts. Bitter hop twang on the back end, with a slightly boozy finish.

Thick chewy mouthfeel. Leaves an oily feel on my tongue.

Overall and excellent Impy stout. Some nice complex flavors, especially as it warms. (517 characters)

Photo of ranger7
3.74/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bomber into a pint glass.
Review from notes: January 28th, 2014.

A: Nice. Black and cloudy, can't see through. Tan head which sticks to the glass.

S: Chocolate and malt. More malt than chocolate, almost bitter.

T: Bitter front and end with smooth middle, can't pinpoint the bitterness.

M: Some carbonation, but smooth overall.

O: Good. This is a nice example of a Russian Imperial Stout with plenty of ABV bite. A bit too roasty for my tastes, but still good. (480 characters)

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

Narwhal Imperial Stout

A - DEEP, DARK, muddy black, one finger very tan/almost brown head and some sugar legs

S - Nutty, huge vanilla, molasses, COCA, beast of roasted toasted grains, sexy smooth, deep chocolate dipped ripe berries, OAK, Charred OAK, BOOZE, sexy sweet molasses, bourbon vanilla, cinnamon, beautiful earthy hops and wow

T - DUDE, WTF, such a huge robust beast of a stout. Much love SN. Love my RIS and High octane and sugary stouts, but this is on another spectrum. Booze note kicks ass, The deer dark ripe berries are all dipped in sugarless coca, the roastedess and toastedess grains, deepest of darkest chocolates, molasses, bourbon vanilla, oak, nutty, charred anything and AWESOMENESS

M - Full bodied, overwhelmingly awesome robustness, medium plus acidity, well balanced, awesome complexity and the best robust imperial stoutness I have had in YEARS!

D/O - Robust is the name of this stouts game. DAMN. Not DAMN I need something less robust. Just DAMN, they did the robust and less sweet/boozey style WELL! Stoked on this beast for sure. Refreshing isnt a word used in this description, but tasty is!

Final Thoughts - $12 bucks IS high for a 4 pack but at a 10.2% and the taste, why the heck not?!!??! (1,229 characters)

Photo of tut2528
4.41/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

thanks to Jaap for sending this one!
2012 Release

A: pours black as night, with high viscosity and it creates about 1/2 fingers worth of a rich mocha colored head formation. minimal lacing. alcohol legs are also apparent (was to be expected at 10.2%)

S: nice rich sweet body comprised of milk chocolate, figs, and a touch of vanilla with a big roasted malt backbone. biter dark chocolate is also detectable along with a fair amount of coffee grounds.

T: big roasted malts bitter dark chcolate are the main players here. but there is also a nice balance of dark fruits, sweet milk chocolate, and a slight smokiness. No alcohol is detected.

M: full bodied brew. thick viscosity coats the palate with a nice cocoa and coffee notes. there is some alcohol heat, but it honestly fits extremely nice here.

O: just a big, bold brew that has a terrific balance. and is a perfect fireside beer. One of the best offereings that I have had from Sierra Nevada. (954 characters)

Photo of rdilauro
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tis the stout season and I've been trying them all. Another nice beer from Sierra Nevada.
The pour was black, not quite jet black, but the first thing I noticed as I poured was a lot of carbonation.

The taste was more chocolate than coffee to me, perhaps a little blueberry in there. I was surprised by the amount of carbonation. That was the one thing that sort of left me a bit while tasting this one.

Because of the carbonation, I really had a hard time feeling the complete mouthful and then the final after taste. (520 characters)

Photo of SitkaSteve
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was poured into a nonic pint glass.
The appearance was a jet black color with a one finger off white to tan head that dissipated within less than about a minute. Light lacing glosses around the glass.
The smell starts off with a nice gentle roast subjugating light chocolate malts, delicate bitter piney hops and a light coffee to blend.
The taste was off the hook, as it blended the roast with the bitter hops and coffee to allow a gentle sweetness through the chocolate malts. Light bitter hops and chocolate in the aftertaste and lead into a dry finish.
The mouthfeel sat about a medium on the body. I'd say good carbonation, nothing overly pounding, but its there.
Overall, this was a well down RIS, but I have to admit, I'd go for Old Raspy over this just b/c there's less hops in that one. (800 characters)

Photo of muchloveforhops3
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into tulip glass

p- poured at beer fridge temp (39 degrees F); standard black w/ a 1f tan head; quick recession to small cap; 4/5

n- soft-med; I pick up some sweet licorice, plums, molasses, and chocolate; should get bolder as it warms; 3.5/5; hasn't gotten as bold as I would have liked, but definitely more chocolaty

t- primarily smooth, sweet choc malt and coffee, supplemented by dark choc and dark fruits in the finish; residual coffee sweetness/bitterness in aftertaste; a touch of metallic bitterness is detected here and there in the finish; alcohol is well-hidden; good flavor; nice balance between sweet and bitter; 4/5

mf- outstanding; full-bodied and creamy; soft-medium carb; coating fin; essentially everything that a good imperial stout's mouthfeel should have, imo; best attribute of this beer; 5/5

o- seems easy to drink (the taste continues to beg successive sips), although the full body of the beer would catch up with me after awhile I think, thus cutting down the drinkability; SN has done it again- another great beer! would definitely have again; 4/5 (1,091 characters)

Photo of CTbrew32
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- 2013 bottle cap. Pitch black with a slightly mocha head. One finger head poured with no angle.

Aroma- Big notes of sweet milk chocolate and some dark fruit and roasted aromas as well.

Taste- Not far off from the nose with big roast malts at the front followed by milk chocolate and slight bit of dark fruit. A little hoppy and dry as well.

Feel- As noted before this is a little dry, but pleasant and very drinkable. A slight warming is noticeable at the back end.

Overall- Great imperial stout with nice roasted malts and sweet chocolate balancing each other out. Only downfall to me is the roast/coffee malts linger at the end which I could do without. Definitely worth picking up again. (90/100) (714 characters)

Photo of Auracom
2.31/5  rDev -44.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

1/2 share from Dan, thanks man. 6 oz. poured into a Hunahpu's snifter on November 21st, 2012.

A - Standard visual affair - dark brown color, verging on black. Light caramel-colored head. Reduces down to a frothy ring. Marginal lacing but moderate legs.

S - Light milk chocolate, espresso, and honey malts. Very basic an unimpressive.

T - Very bitter throughout the drink, but only partially in the form of dark chocolate and coffee notes. This is a rare instance in which the hops taste like hops (fresh Expedition also comes to mind). Unfortunately, this is a big negative imo. Beyond that, unspectacular coffee beans and a light bready character.

M - Moderate body, low but appropriate carbonation, and a reasonably dry finish.

D - Mediocre. Though I'm sure the cost is reasonable, there's just no reason for me to buy this when I have stuff like Breakfast Stout available. The only thing that impresses me is that this feels and drinks like a 6% beer, not 10.2%. (971 characters)

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