Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel AgedNarwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged

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1,269 Ratings

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Ratings: 1,269
Reviews: 184
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 8.99%
Wants: 212
Gots: 668 | FT: 106
Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  12.90% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-11-2013

This deliciously dark treat is our bold Narwhal Imperial Stout aged in oak Kentucky bourbon barrels. Black as midnight, this intense stout is incredibly complex with notes of dark chocolate, rich roasted grains, and espresso seamlessly blended with hints of vanilla and toasted coconut with a slight touch of honey from aging in the oak spirit casks. Nearly as rare as its nautical namesake, try it out while you can because, like the creature itself, it will disappear into the blackness soon and leave nary a trace behind.

Additional Info:
Narwhal was aged for 8 months in fresh bourbon barrels (a combination of Willett single barrel, Heaven Hill and various Beam brands).

ABV: 12.9
IBU’s: 62
Bittering Hops: Challenger
Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Carafa III, Roasted Barley
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,269 | Reviews: 184
Photo of superspak
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 10/16/2014. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, caramel, toffee, toast, vanilla, coconut, bourbon, oak, light dark fruit, light butterscotch, and roast/oaky earthiness. Incredible aromas with awesome complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, caramel, toffee, toast, vanilla, coconut, bourbon, oak, light dark fruit, light butterscotch, and roast/oaky earthiness. Light herbal/roast/oaky bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, caramel, toffee, toast, vanilla, coconut, bourbon, oak, and roast/oaky earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with an insane malt/barrel balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, silky, and lightly slick mouthfeel that in incredible. Alcohol is extremely well hidden with only a slight alcohol warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is a world class barrel aged imperial stout. All around insane complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A truly mind blowing offering.

Photo of erikkk
2/5  rDev -53.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

pending pending pending pending pending

Photo of Vinny510
4.13/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Some age did it right.

Photo of stevoj
4.71/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Everything its reported to be, and more. Pitch black with beige\ruby foamy head. Nice smoky aroma, wood, roast malt, burnt toast, some alcohol that singes the nose hairs. Taste is a bit mellower, lots of alcohol warmth, more roastiness, lots of wood. A sipper...

Photo of BWood
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Exceptional beer. Well done Sierra Nevada. Loved the original and the BBA is only better.

Photo of CHickman
4.06/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 Bottle: Pours pitch black color with a thick creamy 2 finger light brown head that was full of bubbles and faded slowly, leaving good foamy lacing that slides down back into the brew.

Smells very earthy and oaky with the bourbon barrel influence making an immediate impact. Nose is a mix of cocoa powder, bourbon, toasted coconut, sheet metal, wood like sticks or tree bark, nuts still in the shell, coffee grinds, bakers chocolate and light vanilla. The earthy notes keep the bourbon in check and seem to bring out herbs, dry floral hops or a potpourri essence that then lead into charred wood and a lot of roasted notes at the end. The alcohol pops through but does not show it's real strength.

Tastes very similar to the aroma with the earthy and oaky flavors of bourbon barrel showing up first and bringing out metallic, tinny flavors that resemble yeast or a dirty penny. The booze seems like Jim Beam and leads into black licorice, dark roasted malt, cocoa powder, bourbon,light vanilla, toasted coconut, coffee grinds, a touch of dark fruit, twigs, sticks, tree bark and other woody, earthy or oaky flavors on the finish. This hides the 12.9% ABV very well but has less of the malty complexities that I enjoyed in the base beer.

Mouthfeel is thin and smooth, with some chewiness but a more watery presence than expected considering this is bourbon barrel aged stout. There is a slight coffee bitterness in the finish that fades off with black licorice and lingering earthy and leafy notes. The aftertaste is metallic, which is odd and unexpected - perhaps its the yeast.

Overall it was a very nice beer, but I hoped for a richer molasses and/or dark fruit addition from the barrel aging, whereas this brought in more wood, earthy and metallic notes. I like the base Narwhal stout better, but this was a good beer.

Photo of barnzy78
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle, 2014 release
A - near black with a tall, dense tan head that holds great retention
S - chocolate, oak, bourbon, vanilla
T - bold flavors with dark cocoa, roasted barley, bourbon, oak, vanilla
M - full bodied, ample carbonation
O - excellent bourbon barrel aged imperial stout, just as expected. Bourbon is present but not overpowering providing excellent complexity to the stout. A nice treat, but I doubt I'll buy it in the future secondary to its high price point.

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wow! My 2500th review for BA; it doesn't even seem possible. It was hard to pick something great that I had never tried and it came down to this and Anchorage Deal With the Devil, both highly reviewed and sitting in the cellar. Tough call, but I went with a brewery that has never let me down and has always been in my top 5 favorites. 2014 bottle, properly cellared.

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours pitch black, opaque in the glass and a thin light brown head that is persistant and leaves nice lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, light chocolate and bourbon. Like the base beer, this has a surprisingly light aroma, but a good one. Rich flavor of dark toasted malt, choccolate, coffee, light oaky vanilla and very nice bourbon. Finishes with well balanced chocolate malt and bourbon flavors. Medium bodied, a bit lighter than expected from a barreled RIS. A beautifully balanced imperial stout with everything I expect and want. The bourbon is up front, but does not dominate the other flavors. Very smooth and integrated. I had to taste this several times trying to detect any booziness and it's not there. Warming, but ABV well covered. This seems to have less char and smokiness than the base beer, and although I liked that, it is not missed here, there's plenty of complexity to keep this interesting. This was a perfect choice for this BA milestone review. Thanks Sierra Nevada! Keep them coming.

Photo of MunsonRoyE
4.59/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had my first bottle back in November and it was boozy and tough to drink... Had another bottle last night from the cellar and it was waaaaaay better than the first time. Looking forward to trying another one in about 6 months.

Photo of rlee1390
4.1/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Mild bourbon and oak, some roasted malt and chocolate. Some dark fruits mild coffee.

Photo of Boccu
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very good stout. Nice aroma. Lacks the bourbon throughout. Not as impressive as I hoped.

Photo of maximum12
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my beautiful wife for hunting this one down at an obscure liquor store near her work after I missed out on it. Big 750ML bottle which, I suppose, I really must split with said significant other. Sampled right after the regular old version…which kicks ass. I have high hopes.

The pour is black. Real black. Black black. Black. Carbonation is even lower than in the version that never kissed a barrel. Baby Narwhal appears to have been drowned in a barrel, because the base beer has gone away. Smells of barrel, vanilla, with a faint, perhaps imagined grain of malts.

Narwhal – Barrel Aged tastes like Narwhal that’s been stuck in a barrel. There’s a lovely shot of vanilla on top of the beer, & a low-slung murmur of bourbon with a Kenny Wayne Sheppard riff. Plenty of oak listing against my tongue, lightly roasted, lightly chocolated. Silky & smoother than the pilot episode. I could drink this again. Now. Or later.

Honestly not all that different from the base beer, but interesting to have them front-to-back. The barrel is light but inviting & adds a touch of class to a beer that was in class, in a class, classless. What the fuck. I shouldn’t drink so much. Excellent brew.

Photo of InkedinRi
5/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasting a 2013 bottle in 2015.. This stout is so outstanding! If you can find a few put one aside for a few years you won't be disappointed! Really mellows out the alcohol, Big coffee, roasted malt, coffee, coconut and that sweet Bourbon barrel taste! 5/5

Photo of redsahx
4.91/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured in a snifter. Dark black but not quite as pitch black as other imperial stouts. Nice mocha colored head that settles. Nice aroma with solid but not overpowering bourbon. I think I pick up a pleasant hop aroma buried in there as well. Flavors of roasted malts, coffee, bourbon and even a hint of hop bitterness smoothed out with the bourbon and alcohol. One of the most well-balanced bourbon-barrel aged stouts I've had. I still put the Bourbon County Coffee and regular stout ahead, but this one might top the rest (including KBS) for me. Tough call there. Anyways this is truly well done.

Photo of HattedClassic
4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a nice, foamy dark tan head. The beer itself is an opaque black that has a nice solid look to it.

The beer smell has some very strong vanilla, oak, and bourbon notes. However, the strength of those notes do bury the chocolate, roasted malts or very light hop note in the smell. In fact, the notes also give off a nice honey and coconut smell.

The beer taste is similar to the smell. The taste has all the same notes, which blend very well together. However, the hop note is slightly stronger in the taste and gives the taste a more bitter aftertaste. Also, the honey note does not quite transfer as well as it should into the taste. The coconut is also present but not very much. Regardless, the taste is still pretty good and completely different from the regular Narwhal.

The mouthfeel is slightly viscous but still fairly smooth. The beer is clearly heavy bodied with biting carbonation. The beer finish is very smooth with a nice soft texture to it.

Overall, a fantastic beer and one worth getting your hands on if you can and very well suited for a winter release. Highly recommend.

Photo of pchrishatfield
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Awesome look and feel. Feels pretty special for a beer when you open it. Great bottle.

Photo of GregJ
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

You can see the viscosity as it pours like crude. Pitch black. It looses some credit with the smell, singularly dominated by the bourbon prescience, though still fantastic. Strong bourbon, dark roast malt, hint of caramel, dark chocolate, a bit boozy. Full body, velvety, medium carb. Bourbon and dark malt aftertaste.

Photo of Gr8Stouts
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Buy it! Worth the price. Top 5 Imperial Stouts

Photo of Mtbtrev
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not a huge fan of BA beers but this one is good. Hints of vanilla and spice, it is strong! Delicious

Photo of Parrotshake
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Good malt and hops. I think it is barrel aged. It tastes a bit barrel aged. The hops are good. Carbonation is good for the style. Colour is pretty black I think. Compared to some other beers you could definitely say it was black. What a beer! I have tasted 2 beers so far and this one is the best.

Photo of Treyliff
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml cork top bottle poured into a snifter glass

A- pours thick and black as night with a one-finger dark tan creamy head that reduces to a small film on top, leaving some alcohol legs behind

S- very bourbon forward aroma with lots of barrel juice, toasted oak, vanilla and some sweet caramel. Classic Narwhal base beer aromas with notes of dark chocolate, slightly smoky charred malt and coffee

T- the bourbon continues up front on the flavor with lots of bourbony barrel juice and charred oak with lots of vanilla. Dark chocolate and coffee adds lots of nice undertones with some smoky charred malt. Hints of sweet caramel/toffee kick in near the finish with more straight bourbon on the linger

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a warming finish

O- a very bourbon forward stout, which suites my tastes. I'm already a fan of Narwhal, and this is just a better version

Photo of MacMalt
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into snifter. Thick, dark, opaque with medium tan head. Nice lacing. Look is very appealing. Nice smell featuring coffee, vanilla, toffee, and dark fruit. You can also smell the bourbon but it isn't overpowering. Great mouth feel, viscous and chewy. This is a delicious stout. I'm partial to dark fruit and this didn't disappoint. You can also taste the sweetness of the vanilla. The bourbon then hits the palate. Overall, this is one of the best imperial stouts I've had. I'll definitely have it again and will serve it to guests.

Photo of Tele
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: 4.5 Looks nice and thick on the pour. Pitch black with a 1” tan head with little lacing.

S: 4.25 Roasted malt dominates up front with coffee and chocolate following just behind. Smells a lot like the standard narwhal with just a hint of new oak and bourbon. Some vanilla and spice come through as well with a touch bright fruit/berries on the finish.

T: 4.25 Similar to the nose, the beer tastes very similar to the base beer. The flavor is very chocolaty, more than the aroma would suggest. Roasted malt and coffee are also very present matching the sweetness and vanilla from the bourbon. Overall, the flavor is slightly too acidic and the barrel doesn’t come through quite enough, but it’s still rather nice.

M: 4.25 The body and carbonation are both great, but the finish is just a bit too dry for the way I like big stouts.

O: 4.25 This is a really nice, flavorful beer and the barrel complements the original narwhal quite nicely. I really like the base beer and it’s nice to see that this is different enough to be interesting while still retaining some of the core flavors and aromas from the standard version. I think the barrel could be a bit more aggressive, but that mostly comes from personal preference.

Serving type: Bottle

Photo of JonnyBoyy
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried on tap at Torpedo Room.

One of my top 5 BA beers

Photo of Jerebeer
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This a really interesting beer. Had at the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room in Berkeley, CA in their tasting snifter glass. Poured, it's appearance is dark! Even holding it up to the light, there is pretty much no light that comes through. The smell is sweet with some alcohol, as expected with a 12.4% abv. The first sip and you feel like you are having some dessert. I tasted some chocolate, vanilla, and maybe even some bacon. It is a stout, so there was definitely the malty flavor. Very interesting beer to taste and want to try it poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,269 ratings.