Narwhal Imperial Stout - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

766 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 766
Hads: 4,454
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 8.96%
Wants: 255
Gots: 1,125 | 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: 766 | Hads: 4,454
Photo of Zorro
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thick black pour. Black colored beer with a thin brown colored head.

Smells sweet with lots of coffee molasses and candied holiday fruit.

Starts out dry and bitter with a strong charred malt bite. Gets a little sweeter as you drink it but not by much. Chocolate and coffee flavors with a little bit of ash taste.

Thick and oily mouthfeel.

Overall an OK beer, but they didn't balance out the Patent malt enough so it ends up a little unbalanced. (449 characters)

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

A: Poured a jet black, some carbonation, one finger brown head, some lacing

S: Roasted malt, slight chocolate, coffee. Good but standard.

T: Big hearty backbone with dark chocolate, coffee, some burnt notes. Mild Bitterness in the finish.I laso deteced some black liquorice.

M: Heavy bodied, some carbonation, smooth.

O: Good. This should age very well as most SN offerings do. (382 characters)

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

On tap at max's the other day, during Baltimore Beer Week.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is likewise attraactive, showcasing considerable coffee, licorice and vanilla. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, but is clearly dominated by the licorice and vanilla (which I'm not entirely liking, but it's OK). There's also a hint of hoppy bitterness in the finish which further helps to buoy the modest sweetness in this beer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a finish that is dominated by licorice and has a hint of alcoholic bite. Alcohol is well integrated into the flavor profile, but there's just too much licorice in the flavor profile for me to fall in love with this beer.

A solid beer, and possibly one that will benefit from some age. For now however, not among my favorite impy stouts. (872 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage, this was poured from a bottle into a mug. The beer is almost completely jet-black, with some chestnut highlights. No head, but there is a touch of bubbly filmy ringing around the surface. Aromas of chocolate, roasted coffee, a touch of booze, and earthy tones. Flavors are strong and rich, with a heavy roasted coffee backbone supporting a boozey and oaky highlight. Very deep and layered. Bittersweet chocolate laces throughout the palate, as well as a touch of bourbon. The aftertaste is bittersweet and roasty, with a slight booze linger as well. The beer is rich, but very smooth in mouth, and fairly light for an RIS, which makes it extremely palatable. Smooth, bitter, and rich finish. Very easy to drink despite the increased ABV and "big" flavor profiles. (777 characters)

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

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours an inky jet black body with a dark coco tan head of cream that last as a thick foam and sticks to the glass with each sip. There is a few random bubbles that can be spotted in that abyss.

S- The inky but mellow deep charcoal aroma blends with black roasted malt and some brewer’s licorice note blend in the finish. It is a full aroma even during the pour.

T- The green wood taste gives way to a much larger black roasted malt flavor that is full and creamy. There is a slightly dry finish with a nice balance of black malt bitterness and perhaps some minty woody hops bitterness as part of that. The rich mellow but deep dark malt flavors linger in the dry finish along with the softer bitterness. As the beer opens up there are some dark graham malt flavors and brewer’s licorice flavors that come through aswell.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a nice creamy texture and an alcohol warmth that compliments the big beer.

O- This beer has a big complex rich flavor but it is very well blended. The alcohol offers a nice support to the big flavors and texture. It taste great now and I can’t think of a reason it would need any age. Delicious. (1,200 characters)

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

Pours a four finger tan head that slowly fades leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Roasted coffee nose and flavor is roasted coffee, higher ABV is hidden. $2.60 for a 12oz bottle from a Tully’s Beer & Wine Wells, ME. (275 characters)

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

12oz. Bottle

Pours a very nice black color, very nice carbonation, with a fizzy tan head, which leaves some sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some chocolate, toffee notes, slightly roasty. The taste is very nice malty, with lots of dark stuff, slight vanilla, some roastyness. Medium body, with a nice bitter finish, ABV hidden pretty well with this one. Overall a very tasty brew, glad to see it here in UT, would buy again. (438 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle form Siciliano's, 12oz into a tulip - 2012 vintage.

Impenetrable black with a deep brown head. Creamy retention and a whole load of lace. Nose of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, carmel, dark fruit liqueur notes. Light anise and a bit of alcohol. Relatively sweet, but spot on for what I enjoy in imperial stouts. Taste has heavy dark roasted character, dark chocolate, light tar, charcoal with some back end sweetness to prevent everything from getting away. Full feel, some alcohol warmth. Medium low carbonation. This do es well as is and could be great with some time. (581 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Narwhal was brought over tonight as part of the "we are not at the GABF tasting"... Not sure that this bottle makes up for it, but it helps... Thanks my amigo.

12oz bottle.. pitch black brew... the head is dark, darker brown.. nice retention...

Big roasty elements... dark malts and some background cocoa... cold brewed beans... very nice.

The flavor is rich and unrelenting... dark roast coffee... plenty of roasted malt.. dark chocolate... just enough sweetness to bring out the malty flavors... a bit of dark currant and maybe fermented out raisin..

Body is about right... carbonation is square....

Pretty damn good... seriously.

All 4's (663 characters)

Photo of WoodBrew
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Love this stout....Nice job Sierra Nevada! The beer pours opaque with off white head with slight lace. The scent has slight roast and espresso. The taste is has a slight maple syrup, dark chocolate and coffee flare. The mouthfeel is full in body with smooth carbonation. Overall this is great! (298 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.34/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage poured in to tulip glass.

A - Black with half a finger of medium brown head.

S - A huge roast aroma up front with some coffee and a hint of smoke.

T - Very bold and flavorful right away. Starts with a big roast presence with some char. A big hop presence enters mid-palate along with a warming alcohol presence and hints of cocoa and licorice. The finish is dry and bitter with a lingering pine flavour from the hopping and becomes almost sticky a few seconds after the swallow.

M - Medium to full body. Creamy. Light carbonation. Somewhat sticky at times. (576 characters)

Photo of beertunes
2.99/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

This bottle's been kicking around the back of the fridge since I got it, at the release time. About time to hit it. Poured into 10oz goblet. Poured a solid black color, as expected, with less than 1/4 inch of brown head that quickly dissipated to a thin ring, that left surprisingly good lacing.

The aroma was average for the style, perhaps even a bit too roast forward. The flavors were the same mostly bitter roast and alcohol, and the beer was sharp, in a harsh way, not a crisp way. The alcohol wasn't the least bit hidden, and the finish was very harsh.

That overall harshness hurt drinkability a great deal. I had a tough time finishing my 12oz. Overall, while a decent brew, this isn't the Old Rasputin killer SN has seemed to position it as. I won't be having it again, I'll just buy a 4pack of the smooth, even, nearly flawless Raspy. (845 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Maudite snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin medium brown head with good retention and slippery lacing. Mild aroma of toasted malt, chocolate and a hint of coffee and anise. Flavor is much more intense, very toasty and slightly charred malt, bitter chocolate, licorice and burnt coffee, especially in the finish. Nice medium to heavy, creamy body. Flavor tends more towards the charred spectrum, but the the other flavors support it. Not quite a smoked beer, but leaning in that direction. Wow, this one will be on my regular list, delicious (557 characters)

Photo of tobelerone
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very nice imperial from Sierra Nevada, well worth the wait. A quality effort that’s affordable and easily accessible to boot. Pours deep black with a smallish cream colored head; decent retention and a bit of patchy lace. Not the best looking example of the style but that’s nitpicking I suppose. Aroma of roasted, nearly charred malt, espresso, black licorice, baker’s chocolate. The flavor mirrors the nose closely; the roastiness is the prevalent note here, again black licorice or anise is present, but integrates well and isn’t overbearing; booze is well-hidden, sweetness is average for the style, some piney hops tidy things up in a fairly subtle way underneath. Far from cloying; in fact I would have enjoyed a bit more caramel, brown sugar and chocolate here. But it’s a well-meshed flavor, not too big, hits all the right notes while taking a bit of a middle of the road approach. Very drinkable and very appealing.

The body is moderately full and carbonation is medium; the feel has just a touch of creamy smoothness. Again, it’s not particularly massive, but it drinks like a charm. Overall a real winner. Not going to make anyone forget the heavy hitters but you could do a lot worse than grab a four pack of this for your stout fix. (1,259 characters)

Photo of beerthulhu
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

- 2014. pkgd. 11.06.14. consumed 04.01.15.

A: Pitch jet black exit from the bottle with a tan rawhide colored, creamy topping. Moderate retention.

S: Nose of scotchy licorice, burnt chocolate, earthy bitterness, moderate awareness. No alcohol with a touch of dry vanilla bean.

T: Flavor was deep roasted chocolate malt with an earthy bitterness. Dry vanilla bean, roasty espresso notes, flashes of burnt toffee sweetness with licorice. Smooth scotchy alcohol, hints of banana bread yeastiness underneath, creamer with smoky pine hops.

M: Full bodied, creamy, earthy bitterness, burnt warmth, dry alcohol fade.

O: Drinks like a B.A. stout, burnt roasted flavor, soothing scotchy pine alcohol. Nice flavor. (714 characters)

Photo of Bitterbill
4.38/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$9.50 for the 4 pack, bought locally.

it pours black with a 2 finger head of tannish foam and leaves the usual excellence with the lacing.

The smell is of cocoa and roasted malt with some light notes of coffee. Err...maybe not so light notes of coffee. Good either way.

First sip in and it starts off, for me, as being very sweet soon overtaken by roasted malt and coffee that add a nice bitterness. There's plenty of the ample alcohol in the taste as well meaning a lot of warming. It finishes on the bitter side thanks to all that roasty goodness.

Full bodied, lightish carbonation, very smooth mouthfeel. On a day with the temps in the 60sF, not so drinkable but when the temps drop, the drinkability of this IS will rise. I'm bloody sure of that.

A big thumbs up to SN's bold new Imperial Stout!

Edit Nov 8, 2012:

I'm now on my 3rd bottle and my like for it grows and grows. There's really nothing I'd change with my review *other than* the scores. Onward and upward! (978 characters)

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black and dark brown pour out the bottle, impressive depth and thickness to it. Solid 1+" head on it, tan in color, great density, retention and lacing to it. This is professional grade appearance.

Aroma was full of roasted and chocolate malt. They definitely didn't skimp. Already wondering how the pricing on this can be so affordable (4/$9.99). Plenty of coffee like aromas, the dark, sludgy variety that sits on the pot all day at Denny's.

The taste is substantial bitterness that falls off the tongue as the large body absorbs and washes it away. As usual, Sierra Nevada doesn't short you on the hops. Very dry in the end. Not going to be mistaken for a milk stout, that's for sure. Alcohol in check.

A beer like this should make you re-evaluate why you spend $10 on a bomber of imperial stout that probably isn't as good as this. (840 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.9/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle opened on 11.6.12.

A - Pours a dark brown with a medium brown foamy head that lingers around for a bit.

S - Very roasty and bitter. Some chocolate and coffee.

T - Bitter coffee, but smooth chocolate. Better as it warms.

D - Heavier body and good carbonation.

O - Sold stout, but I was a bit let down till I let it warm a bit more. Very solid, especially for the price. (386 characters)

Photo of dgilks
3.96/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Inky, light absorbing black with a creamy, tan head. Nice head retention and good lacing.

An interesting aroma. Not intensely roasty. Rather there is plenty of anise and sweet malt. Some earthiness. Very much herbal.

More big, sweet malt there. The anise comes through in spades along with a touch of cocoa. A little chalky. It lacks a bit of brightness with it sitting back on the palate and the anise dominates.

Medium-full body with moderately-high carbonation. Quite dry.

A really interesting beer. I do like the cocoa flavour there and the earthiness is interesting. The anise is overbearing but the whole is good and it isn't an alcohol bomb. (652 characters)

Photo of puboflyons
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle, 2012 batch with a stamp of 2279210:52. Sampled on December 29, 2012.

The pour is very dark brown to black but under the light there is this kind of maroon tint. The moderate tan head is silky and soft and settles down after a few moments. There is a lot of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of dark malts with coffee esters and a vague hop bitterness hanging around in the background.

The body is bold and smooth.

The taste begins with dark malts and yeast with a resounding bitterness balancing it off at the end. The bitterness lingers and burns slightly but the alcohol is well-integrated. This is a highly recommended stout. (660 characters)

Photo of Brad007
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than a moonless night with a nice brown head into my glass. Don't you ever get the feeling that the color of a beer isn't that interesting in the first place?

Cocoa, cream and roasted coffee notes dominate the nose. Dead-accurate. I'm excited to go further.

Dark and foreboding with all the fury of a New England winter. Coffee, cocoa and booziness abound. The latter is subdued, which is a big relief.

Mouthfeel is predictable with more of the roasted coffee than anything else. Much easier to digest when the alcohol stays in the background.

I believe this is a very good example from Sierra Nevada. I wonder if they'll do a yearly release like Bigfoot? They could certainly bump up the ABV, age it in oak, etc. As long as the base beer is done right, anything is possible. (786 characters)

Photo of bluejacket74
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, bottled on October 12, 2012. Served in a snifter, the beer pours black with a half inch tan head that sticked around for a bit. There's also a good amount of lacing. The brew smells like roasted malt, anise, bittersweet chocolate, coffee, and a little bit of piney hops. I think the taste is just like the aroma. There's a bit of sweetness, but also a lot of bitter roasty goodness. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and slick with a good amount of carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden, you wouldn't think it's 10.2% ABV when drinking it. I think this is a pretty good imperial stout, at $9.99 a 4-pack I know I'll be buying this again. (665 characters)

Photo of spinrsx
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz Bottle from Total Wine Tampa FL for $3

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a large size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, vanilla, coffee

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, chocolate, and vanilla. There is also quite a bit of a charred coffee type flavour and a light hoppiness.

Overall - Wow, a great mix of smooth flavours with a lingering bitter finish. A really satisfying beer that is a great sipper. Once again Sierra Nevada impresses. (657 characters)

Photo of DrDemento456
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Finally found a bottle at Carnivores in Verona. Mixed and matched it for $2.50

A - I love the full inch of deep mocha head it almost always guarantee's a thick viscous pour. Color is as black as night and the head has both excellent lacing and stays around for a while.

S - A nice blend of citrus hops, charcoal, coffee roasts, bakers chocolate, and some alcohol. Seems very balanced and ABV smells well hidden.

T - Quite bitter and ashy as expected for such a high ABV stout. Those who do not like a sweet stout this is the beer for you the bitterness really clings to the palate. Under this I do get some espresso and coffee grounds and just a mild twang of bakers chocolate. I find it amazing I couldn't smell how much hops/roast is packed into this. Not bad.

M - Medium to thick in body, somewhat creamy and chewy. Man this is an imperial stout.

Overall its not as bad as say fresh Old Rasputin but it's still very strong with the ashy roast and hop aspect. If I was able to find older bottles of this or age them myself for a year this beer would be quite exceptional. Glad I don't love it since I passed on a second bottle. (1,134 characters)

Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was a half inch of tan-colored, foamy, long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Definitely an underplayed aroma of coffee, chocolate and malt. Decent.

T: Tasted of light coffee notes, some dark chocolate, roasted malt, and maybe some dark fruit. There's also a very pronounced burnt quality as well. Not a bad flavor, but it could have used a bit more punch.

M: A very well-carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This isn't too bad of a beer, but it doesn't necessarily reside among the top tier Russian Imperial Stouts. Still, worth a look. (649 characters)

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 766 ratings.