1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,220 Ratings
THE BROS
95
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,220
Reviews: 174
rAvg: 4.34
pDev: 8.76%
Wants: 210
Gots: 667 | FT: 102
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
to view more.
Ratings: 1,220 | Reviews: 174
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.

Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Smooth silkiness here influenced by the barrel, tones down the hops and malt and replaces with chocolate and espresso. Great beer!

Photo of guityler83
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Midnight black with a ring or dark brown on the top edge. A finger of tan head poured with moderate sustain, fine bubbles. mild alcohol legs and spotty lacing emerges when swirled in a snifter glass.

S: Clean and balanced with vanilla, oak, sweet milk chocolate and ashy roast. Mild caramel and toasty malt aroma - no alcohol or hop presence detected

T: Nice sweet milk chocolate, caramel and bourbon flavor balanced and distinct. Vanilla, nutty malt, toffee, oak and tobacco coming through in the middle Sweetness is kept mild with a decent neutral hop bitterness blending with the oak tannins. Clean. The finish is coconut and more vanilla

M: Nice viscous body with mild carbonation. Body is full with a slight tingling boozy sensation from the bourbon.

O: Very clean and balanced - 2 traits I come to expect from SN. With such a big bold style thats hard to pull off and keep it interesting - this did it for me

Photo of crazyjoedivola
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very good beer. Very good. Not great though. First row of the second tier. Compared to the greats not enough depth, and a thinner mouthfeel. Balance is this beer's biggest asset. Unfortunately, this is an extreme category.

Photo of SomethingClever
3.61/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz corked and caged poured into snifter

A: pitch black a little off white head 

S: Nice bourbon smell vanilla oak toffee

T: very bourbony not overly sweet has a small hint of hops 

M: medium feel nothing astonishing 

O: this is a pretty good beer it doesn't really bring anything new to the table but it's pretty solid 

Photo of jera1350
4.38/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Roasty, dark chocolate, charred wood, bourbon barrel, vanilla and coconut flavors. The nose is a bit more subdued and the body typical for the style. This is a good base beer for barrel aging and the overall product a good one. However, I would not pay $20 for another bottle.

Photo of XtraTall81
3.9/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Not as good as Brooklyn Black Ops. No party compared to the regular Sierra Nevada Norwhal. Still good but not worth the $20

Photo of arizcards
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a 750 ml bottle from Liquor Express in mid-November for $20. Bottled on 10-16-14.

Beer poured black as night with a wonderful tan head upon the initial pour.

Nose is barrel, mocha, some wood, and vanilla.

Taste initially was a blast of barrel, very warming. Once past that there were notes of bakers cocoa, wood, vanilla, and mocha.

Mouthfeel was full, thick, and smooth - near perfection.

Overall you gotta love SNBC and what they can pull off. I find it pretty incredible they have managed to get a small quantity brew out across the country. This was definitely an improvement on an a solid base beer. Thanks to Kyle at Liquor Express for posting on the AZCBL page on FB after I thought this brew was long gone!

Photo of JLaw55
2/5  rDev -53.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The alcohol issue with the regular Narwhal was even worse here. It was amplified to the next level.

Will not seek out or purchase again. Would not drink again either, even if offered.

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

This is exaclty what i thought it would be, nothing short of amazing.

Photo of TheBrewo
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

We pop the cage and cork, pouring into our oversized tasting snifters. It shines a deep and murky shade of the darkest brown, letting up cola hues at the bottom and edges. A finger’s worth of chocolate milk colored milky and soapy foam tops the beer, retaining decently before leaving spotted islands of lacing around our glasses. This head is easily reproducible with a flick of the wrist. No real haze or sediment is appreciated, and carbonation appears to be moderate. Off the top of the aroma comes a beautifully spicy and woody bourbon booziness and warmth. Settling in behind this massive, inviting sheet are notes of richly roasted chocolate and caramel malts, bittered and powdery cacao nibs, sticky salted toffee, fresh vanilla bean, espresso, burnt leather, mild natural honeycomb, heavy creamer, distant herbal hoppiness, dried apricots and black cherries, big buttery diacetyls, almond extract, mineral, and powdery ale yeastiness. The taste is as boisterous as you’ve heard it is, blending together dark cherry flesh, medicinal phenols, massively charred oak, straight Kentucky bourbon corn, buttery toffee, honey, red wine grape bite, bittering raw black coffee beans, old plums, milk chocolate sweetness, marmalade fruitiness, smoldering maltiness of black, caramel, coffee, and chocolate varietals, vanilla extract, fiery but welcomed booze, black pepper, sweetly salted butter, soy sauce, and light banana esters. The body is full and chewy, and the carbonation is moderate. Each sip gives excellent slurp, smack, cream, and froth, with surprisingly wet and crisp finishing pop to the lip. The mouth meets syrupy coating, but warming and spicy dryness break through this rather quickly. Throughout the tasting you get rumbles of warmth through your stomach and esophagus. The abv is appropriately large, and the beer drinks quickly for a sipper.

Overall, the word that keeps coming to mind here is “big”. From that first whiff of authentic Kentucky bourbon, to the rumbly warmth and robustness of flavor, to topping out the feel with such creamy, milkshake frothiness, this is an intensely satisfying beer. Even when compared to many classic, standard Russian imperial stouts, its booze and strength to each aspect are remarkable and clear. You love that the alcohol is so spicy and hot, just for the sake of how fantastic it tastes, and how well it blends to the rest of what’s going on here. It does beautiful justice to its base Narwhal, while expanding its universe. It’s like Narwhal’s favorite grandfather; mystically wise and amazing to hang out with.

to view more.
Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,220 ratings.