Trip In The Woods: Narwhal (Bourbon Barrel-Aged With Red & Black Currants)
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Trip In The Woods: Narwhal (Bourbon Barrel-Aged With Red & Black Currants)Trip In The Woods: Narwhal (Bourbon Barrel-Aged With Red & Black Currants)
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #2,251
Ranked #19,344
3.88 | pDev: 11.86%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Very Good
Trip In The Woods: Narwhal (Bourbon Barrel-Aged With Red & Black Currants)Trip In The Woods: Narwhal (Bourbon Barrel-Aged With Red & Black Currants)
Reviews: 69 | Ratings: 194 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of drdiesel9483
drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look - black and thick looking with a nice tan head and fantastic lacing
Smell - sweet dark fruit roasty malt and woody
Taste - black cherry, tart and sweet with a slight woody
Feel - medium full body with a slight cream carb
Overall - interesting take on a BBA stout with the current

Apr 25, 2021
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle. Corked and caged. No dating found.
Black colored body. Good one finger light tan head upon pouring but this readily recedes to a partial cap. Leaves some short ringlets of lacing.
Aroma is woody bourbon barrel, sweet berry fruit, chocolate and dark roasted malt.
Taste has a certain tanginess from the currants. Big on chocolate and little on coconut. Oak and bourbon from the barrel.
Medium mouth feel. Low carbonation.
This reminds me of a weird red win concoction with cocoa mixed in. Easy enough to drink but not what is expected from a barrel aged stout. Has a dry finish.

Dec 07, 2020
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sjrider from California

4.18/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle -dark as night with short khaki head leaving a small ring of bubbly lacing. Nose is roasty and slightly tart with hints of barrel. Taste follows with more tartness ,reminds me a bit of Flanders style ales. Quite tasty but probably not what I expected for a BBA stout.

Dec 03, 2020
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Treyliff from West Virginia

3.9/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml cork and cage bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep brown color with a one-finger creamy khaki colored head that has decent retention before settling into a ring around the glass

S- jammy and berry-like aroma on up front with the currants certainly popping through. Undertones of chocolate and char, as well as grape juice, stewed cherries and a hint of vanilla. Having trouble picking up the barrel note

T- slightly tart up front, with the currants popping through and adding a sugary preserves flavor. Mid-palate brings out some chocolate notes, along with charred malt. The finish continues with the tartness of the currant, adding a vinous-like quality. Lingers of more currant, chocolate and vanilla. Again, having trouble finding the barrel

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a slightly tart finish

O- the currant addition make this a totally different beer. I wasn't expecting the tartness, but it make for a different but enjoyable beer

Nov 29, 2018
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ryan1788a5 from Massachusetts

3.59/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Black in color with a tight beige head that retains at a quarter inch. Delicate, broken rings of lacing.

S: Deep vein of bakers chocolate. Thoroughly roasty. Vinous tart currant and raisin. Bourbon ball candy. Ribbon of caramel. Sweet and stiff bourbon and oak.

T: Deep chocolate and roast. Bakers and bitter dark chocolates. Deep roastiness. Currants hit the palate in a big way, bringing a lot of red berry fruit and a some smacking tartness. To the uninitiated, it may even seem like an infection. Currant flavors develop further, evoking raisin and darker fruit flavors and growing more vinous. Barrel flavors rule things from the mid palate on, with a surge of bourbon, sweet caramel, and toasty oak. These barrel flavors are the last remaining taste sensations on the finish.

M: Thick in feel, weighty. Chewy but creamy-smooth. Decadent like a melted chocolate. Fine and gentle carbonation supports with a soothing scrub. Unfortunately a big astringency too, thanks to the fruit.

O: This beer lives and dies by the currant addition. There is some welcome vinous complexity, but the tartness of the fruit also distracts. In the end, it did distract enough to take away from the overall enjoyment.

Sep 02, 2018
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Ego from New Jersey

4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

super black massive hole, no light is even bothering to attempt to pass through, one full blanket layer of cocoa tinged thick foam, superb lacing, retention in the bubble sector, damn this is a foxy lady

boozy oak is the first note boat to sail into my nose, a mix of vanilla and the currants lies underneath, to me the bourbon tones are easily the big boys on the block here

taste etc...
wow, the currants really take over here, you get a smooth up front feel and then just a mad dash of fruit juice flavor finished with a strong oak finish - lingering, almost like a nice kriek, man, this seems way less dense than the narwhal I remember (and those I don't...heh), this takes a little getting used to... hard to describe the total experience, I suppose it reminds me of chocolate covered cherries or some candy akin to that, the after glow is delightful in how your mouth is bathed in the dark stout flavors with the subtle oak/booze/vanilla hints, this gets better sip by sip

hard to believe this was the same stout, love the narwhal as it was but this.. just a totally different trip (see, referencing the beer series name, boy am I clever...), more than worth checking out, this would be a crazy killer after dinner drink to serve the uninitiated. great stuff. now I have to find some more to tuck away into my cellar.

May 18, 2018
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Sabtos from Ohio

3.07/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Shiny black with red edges and a very large tan foam that slowly settles, leaving layer after layer of coral lace that forms stalagmites closer to the thin blanket that's left behind.

I smell a little mocha and old woody bourbon oak with some dark roast, bitter cocoa and zippy red fruit.

Taste is surprisingly tart for a Stout, yet not exactly like a true sour. The added fruit character is very expressive and dominating any Stout or barrel presence, far more than the nose would lead you to believe it will. There still is some nutty roast, and a discernible peppery bourbon, but it's far in the background.

Feel is thin and slippery with minimal carbonation and a sandpaper dry finish. The tartness builds to a level that leads one to believe it's infected. It's confusing, at a minimum.

Apr 20, 2018
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This one pours a creamy, chocolatey dark brown color with a fat finger of soupy, khaki-colored head that leaves thin, but lasting sheets of lacing.

There are definitely currants in the nose -- whether red and/or black I really couldn't say. The aroma also has clear wood, with hints of bourbon, vanilla and milk chocolate ganache.

Light currant tartness and juiciness stands out in the taste. Woody flavors couple with milk chocolate and light coffee malts and just the slightest hint of vanilla-forward bourbon. It has a light, tart, fruity aftertaste with just enough chocolate to prevent it from being too sweet.

There's a certain heft to the feel, but I'd put it on the light side for BBA stouts these days. A touch of carbonation prevents it from feeling flat.

There's a great tartness to the beer, but I'd prefer a darker chocolate and tobacco malt character to balance it out as opposed to milk chocolate. The barrel here is also so slight that I'm not sure it adds much to the taste -- though the wood definitely comes through. All-in-all, it's still plenty fun overall.

Mar 05, 2018
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larryi86 from Delaware

4.01/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rated more towards enjoyment than style since the addition of the fruit made it move away from the base style

750 ml bottle poured into a teku

A- Black with a two dinner mocha head.

S- Charred oak, sweet and tart currant jam, nutty, some burnt coffee, touch of bourbon, hint of dark chocolate.

T- Tons of currants, sweet and slightly tart, reminds me of jam, dark chocolate, burnt coffee, charred oak, hints of bourbon.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- Very different than every other Narwhal I’ve tried. I like the idea of adding currants, but it seems like they added too many and over powered the base beer.

Dec 30, 2017
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep black beer topped by a dense two finger light tan head which retains well and fades slowly to a cvollar around the edge of the glass leaving some lacing
S: Smells like straight currants. Reminds me of ocean spray cranberry juice cocktail on the nose
T: Taste is a lot of currants but some dark chocolate and light coffee along with some oak and a little caramel. The currants make this one seem slightly tart. Swallow is more currants, some vanilla, chocolate, oak and light coffee with some lingering roasted malts.
M: This beer is full in body wiht a slightly silky mouthfeel. Carbonation is soft and adequate for the style while the beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this is a really interesting beer. The flavors are nice and complex but I can see how this one could be a little divisive and polarizing. Definitely an interesting take and worth a try if you don't mind beers that color outside of the lines a little.

Dec 28, 2017
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CJNAPS from California

3.99/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Was surprised by this one might be one of my favorites from the trip in woods line.
nice full mouth full and I got a lot of chocolate on this one. Would revisit

Nov 19, 2017
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bshefftz from California

4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An unusual beer, this one - semi-sweet, semi-sour, with red wine-like characteristics. Certainly not a sweet, boozy malt bomb as you might expect from some BA stouts, and definitely an evolution away from the base beer. Not essential but enjoyable.

Sep 06, 2017
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Faint light khaki head, slightly creamy out of the bottle with a nice 3mm collar. Body color is more of a very dark brown to black walnut, and very opaque. Might be an edge of red as well.

Real nice aroma. Hints of light oak, but a good thick roast and hints of coconut sweetness. Faint currant and berry like quality, giving to just a touch of raisin. Some dark chocolate and a bit of fruit like tartness rounds things out very nicely.

Palate makes for a bit more simpler and taken aback presence. Light bodied but still with some nice chocolate tones. Much more tartness that takes away more of the sweetness qualities hinted on the nose. Light flavors of cherry and raspberry red fruit like quality, with a touch of mild pucker. Slight faint bitter dark chocolate, but mostly hinted by the fruity beers quality.

A pretty solid brew, but tart qualities take away much of the chocolate and coconut richness that seemed so exciting and prevalent on the nose.

Sep 04, 2017
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch from Colorado

4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Poured into a goblet a pretty nice dark brown color, pretty nice carbonation, with a pretty nice thick/creamy small light tan head, which leaves a pretty nice medium size island, and some oil slicks, and sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some chocolate/toffee, bourbon/oak, red/black currants, tart. The taste is pretty nice, malty, with some chocolate/toffee, red/black currants, some bourbon/oak, nice little tartness, some sweetness. Medium body, ABV hidden pretty nicely, a nice little complex brew, with a nice little dry/bitter finish. Overall, a pretty tasty brew.

Aug 27, 2017
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FBGordon from Florida

2.77/5  rDev -28.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Poured from a bomber into a room temperature snifter.

A: Pours a deep chocolate brown with a thick khaki head that settles into a thick line and laces nicely throughout.

S: Not much in the nose. The faintest notes of chocolate and roast try to get out, but don't get much traction. I nearly snorted beer head trying to get that much out of it.

T: Tannins up front, selfishly squelching any notes of bourbon or roast, leaving only a little chocolate to carry the flavor of all those currants. The tannic nature of the currants is unbalanced, and rather than coming off as a wine barrel aged stout, it comes off as tart flavors in a stout. Not desirable.

M: There is a crisp barrage of tight carbonation initially, but the unfortunate puckering of the mouth from the currant flavors lends a thinned-out body to the stout.

O: I don't know what they were thinking with this one. Of all the flavors that I love with a stout, sour is one I find offensive. It isn't showing the characteristics of an infected beer, so I'm going to chalk this one up to Sierra Nevada taking a great thing (Barrel-Aged Narwhal) and fixing it until it's broken. This was an expensive disappointment, so I most likely won't be bothering with their other Trip in the Woods experiments.

May 31, 2017
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mothman from Minnesota

3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Fairly large tan head. Black color.

This one has a lot of berries and tannins. Reminds me of a dark red wine. Oak with minimal bourbon. Roasted malts and chocolate.

Kind of thin for the style. A fair amount of carbonation.

This one is alright, but too much tannin flavor for me. Almost has a sour tartness to it.

May 20, 2017
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

$29.44 (Including shipping)/750 mL bottle ($ 1.159/oz) from Blackwell’s, San Francisco, CA.
Undated bottle stored at 42 degrees. Served at 57 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Aroma – weak bourbon, fades to nearly nothing.
Head – large (Maximum 4.2 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, medium density froth, average duration diminishing to an irregular three to seven mm ring fed by effervescence and a partially rocky complete layer.
Lacing – excellent. Wide rings of tiny to medium bubbles forming curtains.
Body – dark brown/black, opaque, effervescent.
Flavor – starts sweet and cloying. Allowing it to warm on the tongue releases a very berry taste which I think might be currants. This is not unpleasant. However, contrary to regular BBA Narwhal, bourbon, barrel, and malt are conspicuous by their absence. No hops, no diacetyl.
Palate – full, not quite creamy, fizzy.

In my opinion, from worst to best, Trip to the Woods BBA Narwhal with red and black currants, BBA Narwhal, and great old regular Narwhal. To me, this version wasted Narwhal that could have been put to better use.

Appearance 4.5, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 3.5, Palate 3.5, Overall 3.5.

May 06, 2017
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MonkeyBread from Nevada

3.09/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

This is truly a waste of a solid base beer. Another bizarre bad idea from Sierra Nevada. The black currants add an overpowering dark fruit chalky bitterness and astringency. Takes away the barrel and the general quality of the base beer. This brewery continues to ride on coat tails of being a first mover decades ago. They have no clue what they are doing in the modern age but people continue to give them the benefit of the doubt. Myself included. Let's all stop. This is bad beer and call it what it is. I'm sad I paid $7 for a 8oz of this.

Apr 28, 2017
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yesterdayfaraway from Missouri

4.46/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: pours dark with 3 fingers iof mocha head. Looks black in the glass the glass
S: oak with slight bourbon, chocolate, and slight red wine
T: slight bourbon at first then huge red wine and some chocolate notes. I really like this.
F: creamy, smooth, a bit of a dry red wine finish.
O: this is a really good beer. Surprised by the low ratings. This is as advertised. Bourbon Ba stout with red wine. Yum!

Apr 25, 2017
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socon67 from New York

4.14/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very complex stout. Sweet smell from the fruit addition. Very thick, syrupy feel. Tastes rich and with a residual sugary feel. Easily a welcome addition to the base beer.

Apr 07, 2017
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strohme2 from Michigan

4.15/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml poured into a tulip. Mostly black body with some (imagined?) red streaks. Tan 1 finger head. Smell is dark cocoa, berries, bourbon. Taste is bourbon and wood first, some chocolate and tart cherry rhubarb. Sweet, then lightly tart. Really nice, unique stout.

Apr 07, 2017
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

3.84/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Pours black with a one finger tan head.

S - Aroma is tart dark fruits, vanilla and light bourbon notes.

T - The taste is heavy red and black currants with light flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, oak and bourbon. The finish has a light bitterness.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Chewy mouthfeel with a crisp dry finish.

O - This is definetly an interesting take on Barrel Aged Narwhal. The currants add a nice tartness. Recommended for fans of sour/tart stouts. The price is the only real turnoff.

Mar 11, 2017
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tigg924 from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap. Pours opaque, black in color with 1/4 inch head. Taste is blackberries, red currants, bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, and alcohol. Sweet, roasty, and low carbonation. A big beer in every definition of big beer. Like the addition of currants and this still retains a lot of the base beer taste. A sipper that I would get on ta again.

Mar 01, 2017
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NickSMpls from Washington

3.34/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

OK, this one pushes the envelope. Champagne cork, no less. Pour is inky black and thick. Even an aggresive pour makes a modest head. Aroma is fruit sweetness and no hint of much else. We get a few bourbon notes, and that's all. Taste is again dominated by the raisin-like currants and a dollop of ABV. Finish is sour and while sour beers have their place, it's not in the stouts in our view. Overall, we had higher expectations, with the fancy bottle label and all Not our cup of tea. Or bowl of fruit.

Feb 26, 2017
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Greywulfken from New York

4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Whew! Thankful that I like this... Lizard of Koz did a number on me - really turned me off to stouts with berry or tartness, and that was something I kinda enjoyed. This is nice though.

As was the case with their Trip in the Woods Ginger Bigfoot, I'm getting very little of the base beer here. It's just a good tart stout. The pour and resulting body are on the thin side, and I'm not picking up much from the bourbon. The tartness from the currants is pretty much the predominant vibe as of now, with just a lick of chocolate on the finish. If this were a much cheaper bottle, I'd be delighted with it, but I was hoping for more body, more bourbon, and more of that big-bodied Narwhal action.

All that said, let me get back to the fact that I do like it and I'm really enjoying the bright, berry-like elements - reminds me a lot of blackberry edged with cranberry, with the stout moderating the tanginess somewhat. Actually rather refreshing and light, despite the 9.8% abv (which is completely hidden).

It's a beer I'd recommend for fans of tart stouts, but because of the price, you may want to take a pass - I've had similar experiences, but this is probably the brightest, lightest, and zestiest of the lot, so that's something to consider.

Feb 22, 2017
Trip In The Woods: Narwhal (Bourbon Barrel-Aged With Red & Black Currants) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 194 ratings