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

Not Rated.
Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel AgedNarwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

436 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 436
Reviews: 50
rAvg: 4.37
pDev: 9.61%
Wants: 132
Gots: 289 | FT: 41
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:
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 added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-11-2013)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 436 | Reviews: 50 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ThickNStout
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

Corked and caged 750mL bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 22.99. Bottled 10/14/14. Served in a Barrel and Barley teku.

Pours midnight black with a two and a half finger cap of dense, pale tan head. The froth slowly settles to a thin ring that leaves some nice patches of lace.

Sweet, rich, inviting smells of bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, burnt oak, coffee and caramel with a hint of the fairly formidable alcohol in the background. Quite nice.

Flavors are bold, rich and ocassionally bordering on hot. Dark chocolate fudge, bourbon, charred oak, vanilla, heavily roasted malts, burnt caramel, espresso, faint coconut, marshmallow, vague dark fruits and a nice blanket of booze over it all. Despite the name, this seems like a different stout than the base beer. Significantly sweeter with almost none of the anise that I recall being so prevalent. An outstanding blend of imperial stout and barrel character that goes down with an ease that belies it's near-13% abv.

Sludgy, heavy, creamy feel with an interesting, lethargic seeming carbonation. That may not read as a compliment but the mouthfeel is almost perfect for an imperial stout. Bittersweet dark fudge, bourbon and sweet barrel linger in the finish.

I remember thinking Narwhal had some real potential when I first tried it two years ago and that potential is fully realized in this barrel aged version. The barrel smooths out the flavors, adds a wonderfully sweet complexity and seems to have thickened it beautifully. This beer came out of left field and surpassed my expectations, which is a rare occurrence these days. Yes this is a tad pricey but Barrel Aged Narwhal is a benchmark example of what a barrel aged imperial stout can be and possibly the best beer I've had from the craft veterans at Sierra Nevada. Seriously- try this if you can!

ThickNStout, Nov 18, 2014
Photo of cosmicevan
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

enjoyed side by side with a 2014 narwhal from sierra nevada 30th anni globe snifter.

a - brew pours a rich shiny silky black. great shine nice frothy offwhite head. great lace, esp for a BA brew. looks like the base, but the BA has bigger lace.

s - nose is exactly ad advertised...a big woody bourbon glazing over the nice roasted chocolate notes of the base.

t/m/o - really well balanced BA stout. has all the robust chocolate roast and chewy body of the original with a really nice glaze of woody bourbon. the barrel takes some of the extremeness of the roast of the base and sits it in the back seat. an improvement to an already tasty beer. the barrel aging really takes it to another level. very good, easy drinking and worth checking out.

cosmicevan, Nov 08, 2014
Photo of MattyG85
4.53/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a corked 750 ml bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours midnight black with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight finger of tan head that quickly fades away.

Smell: A rich, roasty, and sweet dark malt forward aroma with big hints of bourbon, chocolate, and coffee. Big barrel presence with boozy hints of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malt with hints of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee beans, biscuit, burnt toast, grains, smoke, and yeast. Sweet hints of molasses. Subtle dark fruit hints of cherry and raisin. Hops are pretty light. A very good rich aroma.

Taste: Like the smell indicates, a rich, roasty, and sweet dark malt and barrel driven taste with good notes of bourbon, chocolate, and coffee. Good upfront barrel presence with notes of bourbon whiskey, sweet vanilla, oak, and wood. Dark roasted barley malt with rich notes of dark chocolate, bakers cocoa, coffee, burnt toast, biscuit, grains, smoke, and yeast. Sweet notes of burnt molasses. Dark fruit undertones with notes of cherry, raisin, and prune. A really good taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Rich, creamy, and slightly syrupy. Some booze is felt as expected but it’s not really hot.

Overall: A really good barrel aged version of an already good Stout. Good bourbon presence that adds some nice vanilla flavors without overwhelming the dark roast notes.

MattyG85, 39 minutes ago
Photo of mctizzz
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

mctizzz, Today at 06:06 AM
Photo of Bwagner1122
4.34/5  rDev -0.7%

Bwagner1122, Today at 05:28 AM
Photo of Fordknox
4.6/5  rDev +5.3%

Fordknox, Today at 03:50 AM
Photo of dwagner003
4.39/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

dwagner003, Today at 02:55 AM
Photo of kbuzz
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%

kbuzz, Today at 02:31 AM
Photo of ThrewRedButter
4.55/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

ThrewRedButter, Today at 02:19 AM
Photo of Smidge
4.4/5  rDev +0.7%

Smidge, Today at 02:17 AM
Photo of ms11781
4/5  rDev -8.5%

ms11781, Yesterday at 11:37 PM
Photo of OnryAndMean
4.25/5  rDev -2.7%

OnryAndMean, Yesterday at 11:12 PM
Photo of bobhits
4.23/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Narwall is a big bold and rich stout. It is a great beer. The idea of a barrel aged one however sounded amazing given how rich and deep this beer is.

The actual beer however is a bit iffy.

The look and feel and nose are all what you'd expect.

Where I take issue is on the flavor. A level of sweetness be it from hops or cheap barrel flavor are hard to comment on but they're a part of this beer. The flavor has a bit of a sour wood element not needed. Sure the beer is still amazing, it's aged in bourbon! It is a a great stout, but you won't compare this one to bourbon county stout or other epic examples. Add in the body is a bit light. The nose is too much bourbon not enough stout. Well, it's still great beer but for those looking for the BEST bourbon barrel beers (to me a style but not here) this one is a B. As stouts go well bourbon is always a plus so yes an A maybe A-.

bobhits, Yesterday at 06:31 PM
Photo of cwreay90
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

cwreay90, Yesterday at 06:14 PM
Photo of smanrob
4.75/5  rDev +8.7%

smanrob, Yesterday at 05:52 AM
Photo of PicoPapa
4.38/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle. Pours a viscous black color with brown head. Lots of lacing. The aroma is bourbon, wood, chocolate syrup, espresso, vanilla, and earth. The taste is lots of chocolate syrup and bourbon at first followed by the espresso. Really chocolatey but not overly sweet. Lots of wood and warming alcohol. Some earth and charcoal. Maybe a hint of coconut. Finishes with espresso, chocolate syrup and bourbon. Heavy mouthfeel and lightly carbonated. Probably one of the most drinkable BA Stouts I have had, which is surprising considering it is 12.9%. Overall, amazing.

PicoPapa, Yesterday at 01:28 AM
Photo of geryeb624
4.8/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Was lucky enough to come across a bottle of this and split it today after Thanksgiving dinner with some family. Corked and caged, served in a tulip.

A- Pours a jet black with a finger of brown head. Actually looks pretty fizzy for a stout pushing 13% ABV. Overall very attractive in the glass.

S- All the things they say on the bottle come through in the nose: chocolate, vanilla, coconut, coffee. A little caramel and maybe some maple notes, and a definite hit of alcohol. Very nice.

T- This may actually be the tastiest stout I've ever had. Tastes nothing of the alcohol it contains, and the roastiness and bitterness of ordinary Narwhal are mellowed into a beautiful sweetness and notes of chocolate, caramel, coconut. Actually has a nice hoppiness too, in case you forgot it's a California beer. For me, almost the Platonic ideal of what a barrel aged stout should taste like.

F- Not too heavy or syrupy, this beer actually has a nice consistency and some good carbonation. I don't care for beers that overdo the body and run too thick, so this was very welcome.

Overall, this is a magnificent achievement by Sierra Nevada. Narwhal was a great beer, and this is up there with the best I've ever had. Going to be seeking out some more bottles to lay down, and maybe will try another next Thanksgiving. Cheers!

geryeb624, Yesterday at 01:05 AM
Photo of Lard_City
4.65/5  rDev +6.4%

Fruit, hops, molasses, malt, vanilla, raisins, boozy. There are a lot of tastes going on here and they all scroll by you in a spectrum. Just a delight but will hammer you pretty quick. Kind of like drinking port wine after dinner, just a little goes a long way.

Lard_City, Yesterday at 12:43 AM
Photo of Bung
4.45/5  rDev +1.8%

Bung, Thursday at 10:35 PM
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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
97 out of 100 based on 436 ratings.