Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

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Reviews: 886 | Ratings: 4,916
Photo of bbtkd
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Sierra Nevada Narwhal, 10.2 % ABV, 60 IBU. Pours black with medium viscosity, and one finger brown head. Nose is chocolate and coffee. Flavor is chocolate, roasty malt, slight bitter coffee close. Decent mouthfeel, a bit heavy on carbonation. Overall excellent.

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Photo of J1moyer
5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite a kick to the Sierra Nevada Narwhal Russian Imperial Stout at 10.2%. I had a draft pour at Owen's Ordinary in the Pike & Rose Shopping Center in Rockville, MD. Awesome beer and nice addition to the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

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Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into tulip.

Pours nearly black with faintly glittering cola edges and half a finger of brown head that leaves cloudy blotches of lace as it recedes.

Smells of chocolate covered coffee beans and raisins, fireplace ash, toasted caramel malt and earthy herbal hops.

Tastes of more black chocolate and fresh coffee, sugared raisins, muddled dried dark fruit, more ashy smokiness and singed caramel, and more mild green hops. Alcohol is pleasantly detectable.

Feels big and amazingly smooth. Full bodied with buttery carbonation. Finishes off-dry.

Verdict: Vigorously recommended. Legendary for a reason.

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Photo of bob_roberts
3.35/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Too hoppy for my liking. Not bad, but aftertaste leaves me thinking of SN pale ale. Quality beer, just doesn't work with my palate. Would like to try this barrel-aged.

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Photo of citizencane
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours solid black. Held my iPhone flashlight at point blank range and no translucence at all. Modest head. Smells ok, typical stout smell but with more booze. Taste is where this unloads-chocolate mousse, roasted malts, dark coffee, balanced bitterness. Not quite the nuance of Rasputin; this goes dark and roasted and stays there with only slight subtlety. Have had before and will have again.

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Photo of crisis1290
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal is about as good of an imperial stout as you can find. This is probably one the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have tasted in a very long time. Even better, you are getting an amazingly high quality product that doesn't break your bank. Super black color on the pour. Roasted malts, vanilla, chocolate, coffee and other flavors stand out immediately. This bad boy is smooth. Not very boozy , like some Russian Imperials. A very nice thick and chewy mouth feel with an amazing taste to boot ! I can not find one thing wrong with this beer. I bought a case and put 1/2 of the case in the cellar for next year ! I highly recommend this gem . For those who have not crossed over to the dark side...take a chance ..give this one a shot and make your way to the dark side ! You wont regret it.

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Photo of mmmbeer89
3.85/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I think i like the aftertaste this beer leaves on your lips rather than the actual flavor while drinking it. Smooth as fook for a beer that has 10.2 ABV.

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Photo of Joe_Palooka
4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Narwahl is about as good of an imperial stout as you can find for the money. The one I just consumed has been aging in my cellar since last October. Pours a very black color with about half inch of head that disapates pretty rapidly. Definitely one of the best off the shelf, non barrel aged R.I.S. oyt there. Looking forward to the 2016 release.

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Photo of colts9016
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This beer is almost a year old. A one finger head that is a creamy tan with good retention. The color of the beer is black as night. Some carbonation bubbles are visible on the side of the glass.

A nice coffee, roasted malt, biscuit, toffee, caramel, earthy, floral, and some dark chocolate.

A nice robust dark coffee note, with roasted malt, biscuit, caramel, earth, floral, milk chocolate.

A rich creamy mouthfeel, with some carbonation.

Overall this a very good beer I like my RIS with bit more punch. Yes it had really good flavors I just would have like them to be more pronounced.

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Photo of stevoj
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Growler Station @ Albertson’s. Dark and heady, smooth despite the elevated ABV. Initial high, fluffy beige head. Sweet dark roast malts, hints of dark chocolate, a little alcohol on the nose, and definite warmth at the finish. Velvety and slick. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of FBarber
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black. Oily with a one finger khaki head that dissipates leaving a ring of foam around the outside.

Smell has aromas of roasted malts, prunes, raisins, slight boozy character. Slight undertones of milk chocolate.

Taste follows the nose with a savory array of prunes, raisins, roasted malts and chocolate. Slight spice to the beer with a bitter finish. The beer is sweet, but not overly so. There is a slight boozy aftertaste that is reminiscent of a barrel aged beer. Very nice.

Very smooth feel on this one, almost buttery. Bit of carbonation provides an initial tingle on the mouth. Slight boozy tingle at the end. Wee bit thin in the feel, but not distractingly so.

Overall a top notch imperial stout. Love the more savory flavor of this one.

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Photo of trygelski1
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into tulip glass:

Look: Pours an amazing dark black with about an inch of dark tan head and very minimal lacing. No retention on the lacing as well.

Smell: Chocolate, raisins, roasted malts.

Taste: Tons of roasted malts, some chocolate, and raisins. Wish I could get a hint of coffee but I am not with this brew.

Feel: Medium to heavy body.

Overall: Really enjoying this beer. Very solid Russian imperial stout. Its a step below the Great Lakes Blackout Stout in my opinion. I am very glad that I picked up a 4 pack of this to try. I will likely revisit this beer next year when it reappears.

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Photo of RobertDBrase
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with a thick creamy/soapy brown head. Just a beautiful look for an imperial stout!

Chocolate, raisins, roasted sweet malts...... Oh my good Lord this is exploding with beautiful complex favorites!

Dark malts up front with the the sweet taste of raisins up front. Almost like a dark roasted malt bomb. There is a hop presence, however faint, it is in there.

Mouth feel is thick with a chewy finish.

OMG! Sorry to use that beer advocate bro's. I really find this to be a most wonderful and tasty brew that is so thick and chewy as to be so tasteful. If you like a dark beer go for it! For those not quite initiated into the dark side I would advise caution as this would scare you away from the dark side. For others, come to the DARK side and enjoy!!

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Photo of RozzieBoy
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L - Poured black with a dark tan head. Nice lacing throughout.
S - Chocolate with a not overpowering stout smell.
F - Thick feel to it with a semi-dry finish.
T - Roast coffee and dark chocolate.
O - Really good beer. Just a nice balance between the smell and taste.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Purchased in Providence, RI.

Pours a deep brown nearly black body with a small off white head that leaves no lacing and a little retention.

Chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, toffee, caramel come through on the aroma. Tongue matches the nose with an added roasty note, coffee and dark chocolate, finishes lightly bitter and charred. Medium body with medium low carbonation.

Solid for a stout thats always available. Love the roastyness on the aftertaste.

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Photo of Bubshab
4.78/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours jet-black, very little head. Smells of cocoa, espresso, smoky-ness, dark fruits, very nice. Tastes just like the smell, booze is a little present, very full mouth-feel, covers the tongue and mouth thoroughly. Boozy in the finish, a little hoppy perhaps? A very, very nice beer overall.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black body, creamy light tan head, some sticky lines of lace. Nose is rich and complex; baker's chocolate, licorice, some coffee, bread crust, heavily roasted malt. Flavor is even more widespread and deep; dark chocolate, roasted malt, somewhat sweet smokey toffee, faint chocolate, undertones of bitter hops, star anise, dry biscuit, faint alcohol and milk sugar-likeness here and there. Supremely dark yet reasonably bitter, even with a mild sweetness. Full, heavy, chewy body with lip-smacking stickiness.
What a great beer. Perfectly enters RIS territory without clashing the hop flavor with the roasted malt, which *rarely* works for me. Huge range of dark flavors to mull over, nicely dry and bitter while still offering a faint oasis sweetness. Please, Narwhal, impale me again ;)

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Photo of johnnyd10vt
3.39/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Nice American high gravity stout. Lesser than the gold standard, in my opinion, Old Rasputin. Black in color with a nice tan head that hangs around. The smell is sweet dried fruits: prunes. The taste is strong ABV and again dried fruits, with the malt and hops playing lesser roles on the overall profile. Undoubtedly a very complex beer, buy not entirely my cup-of-tea

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle.

Pours black with a tan head. Decent retention and small lacing. Char, chocolate, roast, and vanilla in the nose. Full bodied with a velvety mouthfeel. Bakers chocolate, coffee grounds, and Oreo shells on the palate. Finishes with lingering roast and chocolate.

Great RIS.

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Photo of Futbolmanby
4.09/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look: dark brown with a thin khaki head
Smell: roasted malts with a hint of vanilla
Taste: roasted malts, bitter chocolate with a small amount of vanilla
Feel: smooth finish, light carbonation.

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Photo of davidperez
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter, it pours black as a starless night, with a one-finger dark brown head, foamy, with low retention. Nice lacing.

The bouquet is amazing. Dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, brown sugar, dark fruits and a little bit of hops and booze.

The taste begins with a sweet introduction. Some sweet malts, brown sugar and vanilla is perceived. A slight hint of molasses appears as well, and quickly Massive chocolate and coffee enter to increase the complexity and with them, the bitterness prevails, which you can tell lots of it comes from the roasted malt character. That bitterness lingers.
There is a boozy note subdued right upfront that starts to intensify while the flavors develop, and it finishes prominently giving a hint of dark fruits.
Amazing length, very long finish, smooth and chewy.

This is a superb beer.

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Photo of artiefufkin
4.46/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9/10 Imperial Stout. Bold vanilla, dark malts, bitter chocolate. Viscous attack, great length and finish. Flavors evolve as the beer lingers for minutes. Not the best Imperial Stout I've had, but it's pretty darn close. Well done.

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Photo of doktorhops
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Now that I’m back in BNE, QLD (Brisbane, Queensland for my non-Australian readers) I paid a visit to The Archive cellars and had a squiz at their finest American brews, and there are indeed ample new and delightful things that I have yet to try so here is one: Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout. At 10.2% [DON’T FORGET THE .2!!!] ABV, I would consider anything over 10% to be a decent bold beer and SN are champs when it comes to slapping the tongue (with flavour!), so I will tread lightly here my friends, there is a label-conjured sea monster awaiting me.

Poured from a 355ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: I’ve become bored of describing Imperial Stouts as they all look the same if done well (opaque black, caramel brown head, 9/10) so instead I decided to do it in Haiku:

Blackest beer boldness
Nothing can penetrate it
A happy man died here.

S: BIG vanilla scent pervades the entire cacao nib chocolate aroma of this brew - I dig it man! Aside from that we have a nice (cakey) biscuit base, coffee hints and brown sugar. The TL;DR here is: vanilla & chocolate, NOM-NOM-NOM. 9/10.

T: Flavour comes on all the more sinister than the aroma with some oily smoke notes, roasted espresso and a hard wooded character. Although the above vanilla and chocolate notes are there they do end up taking a backseat to the big-talking bold flavours. Granted at 10.don’tforgetthe2% ABV this is a brew not to be trifled with, unless you’re making a trifle with it, in which case: trifle away! Aftertaste has a weirdly (for a Stout at least) sneaky bitterness that creeps up and surprises you jump scare style. 9/10.

M: Not that I’ve drunk engine oil before (at least not intentionally) but this fine brew has the viscosity of a decent 10W-40, one of the most viscous multi-grade oils. Carbonation in this case is negligible as with a brew this heavy it’s hard to tell. 9/10.

D: So where does it land on the olde “stout-o-meter”? For better or worse it is right up there with Old Raspy, though Old Rasputin was had at a time when I was entranced by the bolder of Imperial Stouts, I wonder if I would rate it so highly today? A question for another time - all you need to know is if Narwhal is worth your time, a big “yes” and a hearty “cheers!” is my answer. 9/10.

Food match: Cubans... the people... nah, the cigars.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.28/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage.

This one pours a pretty deep and dark black, with a small head, and a bit of lacing.

Smells like deep earthy roasted malt, a bit of booze, coffee grounds, and still a good amount of hops even for this age.

This is an imperial stout that packs a serious punch and doesn't let up. It's still a good level of piney hoppiness, even for a 2013 vintage, with lots of bitter dark chocolate, tons of roasted malt, a coffee flavor that kind of reminds me of used grounds. It's slightly abrasive, but in a good way.

This is pretty thick and chewy, with a normal level of carbonation.

One of the best easy to get Imperial stouts out there, and one that ages extremtly well taboot.

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Photo of cherche
3.53/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: jet black, mocha head, decent retention and lacing
S: tobacco, leather, coffee, cocoa in that order
T: in line w nose, heavier on leather, then tobacco
M: sticky and thick, nice but less of the thick milkshake feel I like with imperial stouts and more of the thickness you get with syrup
O: decent beer but after having founders imperial stout, bells expedition stout, old raspy, and Fremont darkstar many many times an imperial stout like this is pretty much meh.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,916 ratings.
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