Narwhal
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

NarwhalNarwhal
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
From:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Style:
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #232
ABV:
10.2%
Score:
93
Ranked #3,965
Avg:
4.16 | pDev: 9.62%
Reviews:
1,110
Ratings:
4,391
Status:
Active
Rated:
Thursday at 11:09 PM
Added:
Oct 14, 2012
Wants:
  371
Gots:
  1,562
SCORE
93
Outstanding
NarwhalNarwhal
Notes: A malt-forward monster, highlighting the depths of malt flavor.

Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
 
Rated: 4.3 by Beergod420 from Texas

Thursday at 11:09 PM
Photo of BigWheelz
Reviewed by BigWheelz from New York

4.59/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
This stuff looks as black as old used motor oil. It's completely delicious and bombards your taste buds chocolaty, malty, coffee booze. I would imagine the bourbon barrel aged version of this would be close to founders KBS. This is my new winter favorite.
Jan 27, 2023
Photo of Christianriveraaa
Reviewed by Christianriveraaa

4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
L: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a sniffer - Jet black pour with no ounce of light hinting. Big head on the foam - about 1-1 and a half fingers length risen.
S: Getting aromas of chocolate, coffee, slight toffee, malts.
T: Taste is as smell follows - chocolate first, heavy malts, cocoa.
F: Heavy bodied, thick, oily, rich, a good sipper.
O: Not bad! I liked this one a lot - am curious how this would taste if barrel aged.
Jan 08, 2023
 
Rated: 3.62 by KC_beerman from Missouri

Jan 01, 2023
Photo of NikL
Rated by NikL from California

5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
I absolutely love this stuff.
It is less sweet than some other stouts I've had but just enough to be perfect.
The balance in incredible.
Dec 30, 2022
Photo of jm2902
Reviewed by jm2902 from New York

3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5
L: Poured into a goblet from a 12 oz. L bottle; very little head, very dark -- 40+ SRM

S: Booze, cocoa, and chocolate malts; smoked notes are intertwined with notes of dried fruit (fig, raison, and prune, I believe)

T: This a decadent beer that tastes heavier on cocoa than the aroma would suggest; the malt forward chocolate flavors are delicious, but I would prefer more balancing bitterness and the sweetness became a bit bracing towards the end of the glass; there is a slight smokiness lingering somewhere if you work to find it, but those complex dried fruit flavors escape me

F: As suggested by taste, the sweetness became cloying and distracted from an otherwise elegantly velvety, full mouthfeel and suggested surprisingly little attenuation for a beer this big (to my taste)

O: This may be an objectively nice beer, but it is surprisingly out of my wheelhouse as it is too unbalanced in favor of malt for the size of the beer
Dec 24, 2022
 
Rated: 3.79 by not2quick from Missouri

Dec 20, 2022
 
Rated: 3.92 by Beecham from California

Dec 12, 2022
Photo of nizzle8287
Reviewed by nizzle8287 from Texas

4.61/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
12oz bottle poured into a snifter at 50F. Body is pretty much pitch black with a khaki head that dissipates to a ring and swirly patches of self-renewing bubbles.
Smell is caramel and cocoa with a hint of floral, pine, and booze. Very slight coffee notes on the back end.
Taste follows the smell, but quite more intense on booze and the cocoa. Bitterness of the combined flavors does linger on the palette for quite a while. Nicely blended, but would be EXCELLENT in about a year's time. I will definitely put some of this in my cellar for next year.
Feels a bit on the high side for carbonation, but still appropriate to mask the high ABV, which is noticeable, but not too overbearing considering the style. All the more reason to bottle age this one.
Overall quite nice, but so fresh that it might be too a little too fresh. Can't wait to try this one at the end of Winter in 2023, and then again in Fall 2023. Well done, Sierra Nevada!
Dec 11, 2022
Photo of talon757
Reviewed by talon757 from Montana

4.88/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
What a brilliant imperial Stout this is! Here in Northwest Montana it's unusual to see beers of this quality but it did show up in our local grocery store. Narwhal pours black as the darkest night. There is a persistent dark brown head as well. The first thing that hits your nose is coffee, followed by chocolate and then the hops. Taste is much the same in order. The one thing that doesn't make an overt appearance at all is the 10.2% ABV. Narwhal from Sierra Nevada is a home run without question. If you have never had the pleasure of tasting this brew, do yourself a favor and seek it out. It will be worth it.
Dec 09, 2022
 
Rated: 4 by rfreed from Washington

Nov 30, 2022
Photo of MadMadMike
Reviewed by MadMadMike from Florida

4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Chilled can into a snifter. Gentle pour yields brown head resting on deep black liquid.
Smell is roasty malt, cacao nib.
Taste brings the dark malt profile, there’s a present hop to keep it interesting, touch of coffee, cocoa, little char. No alcohol burn.
Feel is medium to thick, but not oily.
Overall, a fine everyday Stout.
Nov 26, 2022
Photo of BeerAndGasMasks
Reviewed by BeerAndGasMasks from Virginia

4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
From the 2020 dated bottle, it pours a stygian dark black color with a modest brown head, soon diminishing to nothing. The nose gets roasted malts. The mouth gets the same - deep roasted malts that grab you by the cheeks, overall it ages well and is easy to drink.
Nov 23, 2022
Photo of MackT
Reviewed by MackT from Florida

4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
From a 12 oz. bottle, 2 months old.
Black as black. Smell is faint to this nose, some dark fruit , chocolate, coffee, none overly prominent. Taste is rich, heavy, high alcohol content is well concealed, notes of the aforementioned attributes. Feel leaves the mouth somewhat drying. Coats the glass (snifter) with evidence of a higher ABV. Very respectable Russian Imperial, close but not above Old Rasputin, my personal favorite.
Nov 02, 2022
 
Rated: 4.07 by SierraFlight from Virginia

Oct 30, 2022
Photo of Braunmeister_1943
Reviewed by Braunmeister_1943 from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Bottle purchased on 10/15/22. Bottle date 9/2/22.

L- Absolutely pitch black!

S- Deep roasted malt.

T- Nice bitter dark chocolate flavor.

F- Very nice velvet mouthfeel with just
enough carbonation.

O- A wonderful Imperial Stout!
Oct 29, 2022
 
Rated: 3.99 by MICAMD from Maryland

Oct 15, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by Aeroscorp from Tennessee

Oct 15, 2022
 
Rated: 4.18 by CoasterGuy from Pennsylvania

Oct 06, 2022
Photo of JesseJames81
Reviewed by JesseJames81 from California

4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Appearance: pours a jet black color with a 2 finger tan foam head.

Aroma: a sweet toasted malt aroma.

Taste: Oak barrel and chocolate malt, and a little bit of earthiness. A smoky flavored backbone.

Overall: another solid beer from Sierra nevada.
Oct 02, 2022
Photo of redresonatedragon
Reviewed by redresonatedragon from Washington

4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
For the price, this is a fantastic Imperial stout! Very smooth and thick ( without being syrupy) , I get strong elements of dark coffee and cocoa powder. There is a bitterness on the finish, but the texture is so smooth that there is very little alcohol bite or resinous linger. It really is worthy of grabbing anytime this one is released, BA version are especially good too!
Sep 23, 2022
 
Rated: 4.34 by Danzifer from Ohio

Jul 25, 2022
 
Rated: 4 by Resistance88 from California

Jul 06, 2022
 
Rated: 4.19 by BeerMe8 from Florida

Jun 09, 2022
 
Rated: 4.46 by dionito from Washington

Jun 04, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by cold_beer

May 20, 2022
 
Rated: 4 by tankg from Pennsylvania

Mar 19, 2022
 
Rated: 4.1 by j0hnc2468 from New York

Mar 10, 2022
Photo of chum_husk
Reviewed by chum_husk from Minnesota

2.45/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75
12 oz can, 2020 vers.

Black, some foam. Smells like roast and grass and chocolate and maple and pine. Coffee, pine hops, chocolate, spice, very slight soy sauce... a sickening amount of hops to the point of being disgusting. I'd have loved this in the past, now it's definitively not my thing

It's okay but I probably won't buy again. I'd like to try the BA version
Feb 17, 2022
 
Rated: 4.56 by Avitra from California

Feb 09, 2022
 
Rated: 4.48 by beerrat from Virginia

Feb 09, 2022
 
Rated: 4.04 by MGibbons from Maryland

Feb 06, 2022
Photo of Peach63
Reviewed by Peach63 from New York

4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Ebony with a 1/4" tan head, which slowly fades. Moderate lacing.

Aroma of coffee, chocolate, roast malt.

Taste is rich chocolate, coffee, roast malt. Astringent.

Full body, light carbonation. Dry, astringent finish.

Excellent cocoa flavor. This is a very good Stout.
Jan 31, 2022
Photo of defunksta
Reviewed by defunksta from North Dakota

4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Appearance: Pours a jet black color with a thick body and large and rich somewhat dark tan head. SRM of 24. (4.25)

Aroma: Strong aromas of chocolate, espresso bean roast, and earthy molasses. Vanilla notes are there. Earthy and black malt notes follow before a chocolate finish. (4.00)

Flavor: Intense flavors of rich chocolate, coffee, toasted black malt, and some vanilla and rich chocolate mixed with intense earthy pine flavors and smooth espresso roast notes. (4.00)

Feel: A large body. Rich and smooth without being too cloying or thick. Appropriately and surprisingly clean and dry for 10.2%. (4.25)

Compared to North Coast Old Rasputin 1/16/22: Pours a similar color with a darker and larger head. Stronger aromas. More chocolate and espresso bean roast. Less black malt, earthy notes, and root beer.

Overall: Tons of Sierra Nevada quality to this beer with the pine. Intense chocolate, espresso roast, but a ton of pine bitterness too. Goes down smooth and clean enough to make you long for another sip. Definitely a sipper and hides the alcohol extremely well at 10.2%. Probably settles down a little with age. (Final Rating: 4.09)
Jan 16, 2022
Photo of burnstar
Reviewed by burnstar from Pennsylvania

4.66/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
Pours black with a medium persistent rich tan head. Smell is roasted malt, some coffee notes, maybe even a little dark fruit. Taste has a big sweet backbone but it's overwhelmed by the bitter roasted malt. Great malt profile that's hard to place. Dark chocolate and coffee notes, but that's a bit of a cop out to describe what's a more complicated malt taste. Spicy warming boozy finish. The most noteworthy thing here is how surprisingly balanced and drinkable this is. Heavy for sure, but it goes down dangerously easy. Nicely carbonated. Really great imperial stout and a great beer for a cold January evening.
Jan 14, 2022
 
Photo of bobwm
Rated by bobwm from Delaware

4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
A great Imperial Stout for the money. Delicious.
Dec 22, 2021
Photo of ZenAgnostic
Reviewed by ZenAgnostic from Texas

4.11/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
12oz bottle poured into Teku glass. Picked up from liquor store for $2.79. 8/13/21 printed on the top of the back label, so this is about 4 months old.

Appearance - Opaque black body. Medium brown 2-finger head with good retention, lacing and stick. 4.75

Smell - Dark roasted character primarily. Then some caramel and chocolate and vanilla, and alcohol. It really doesn't hide the alcohol very well. 4.25

Taste - Dark roasted coffee. I just now read the description on the back label and it literally says word for word "dark roasted coffee". So yeah, it sure lives up to that. Baker's cocoa noticeable too, as it notes. It's not bad by any means. But this style has very stiff competition, and I rate within style. 4

Mouthfeel - A little harsh. Boozy. Full bodied. But a relatively clean finish for the style, which isn't saying too much. 4

Overall - Pretty solid beer. Pretty middle of the road for the style. No major flaws. Easy recommendation, especially for the price. Good value. 4
Dec 22, 2021
Narwhal from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 5501 ratings