Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

929 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 929 | Ratings: 5,035
Photo of RProwse
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

It tastes like someone cremated a chocolate cake, then used the resulting ashes to make a mean glass of chocolate milk, imperial-style. With notes of dark coffee and a subtle (somewhat salty?) hazelnut-like finish, the creamy texture on this one makes for an all round enjoyable (though strong) sipper.

Bonus fact: Narwhals are awesome.

 338 characters

Photo of Riff
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep black color with a thin tan head. Prominent malty aroma with hints of dark fruits, molasses, and hops. Tastes of roasted malts, dark chocolate, and a hop bite at the finish. The bite isn't sharp, more pleasant than anything else. Feel is medium-heavy, about right for a stout. Finish lingers for a while after consumption, but fairly pleasant flavor. Overall a very nice stout, well worthy of it's reputation.

 422 characters

Photo of nick_perry
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Black color, thin light-brown head. Malty aroma accentuated by fruity esters. Very creamy, smooth mouthfeel. A flavor of burnt malt and burnt fruit permeates. Noticeable alcohol taste (10.2%ABV). Warming feeling. Extraordinarily brewed stout, very dark and complex, one of my favorites.

 286 characters

Photo of jwilcox767
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Awesome stout, not something i expected from Sierra Nevada only having had their ipa. This brew is very well balanced and the 10.2 abv is well hidden in the dense maltiness. Mine was only 4 months old, so it was quite crisp, probably could have aged it for a bit.

 266 characters

Photo of SaltofOH
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 11-1-16. Guinness pint.

A: pours an opaque black with two fingers dark tan rocky head. Carbonation clinging to sides of glass visible. Nice lacing

S: sweet, roasty malt. Hint of dark fruit, hops.

T: lightly roasted flavor, dark chocolate, loads of rich malt, lingering hoppiness.

M: medium full bodied with moderate carbonation (high for the style), less slickness than typical.

O: this is killer beer. Reminds me of Old Rasputin the first time I had it. Less alcohol with 10.2 than some RIS's I've had with 9. Worth a 4 pack.

 546 characters

Photo of TripleSun
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated 8/17/16 poured into a snifter

L - Black hole dark and poured with no head
S - Heavy bitter chocolate nose, accompanied by dark fruit
T - First thing noticed is the dark roast coffee taste, followed by a sort of sweetness.
F - Mild carbonation and no taste of alcohol

Very good addition to Sierra Nevada beers I do say. I'm a big bitter chocolate lover so this hits the spot.

 390 characters

Photo of akolb
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Rich coffee and chocolate aroma. Some dark fruit. Deep, wonderful tastes packed with roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. Moderate body and some creaminess.

 156 characters

Photo of Biggtriksta
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pitch black. Sludge-like. Poured pretty aggressively and was able to get about half a finger of dark, creamy head on top. Absolutely no light coming through the glass. Looks great.

S: Chocolate, coffee, dark roasted malts, molasses, maybe a little vanilla. Second time brought most of the roastiness to the forefront followed by a smooth chocolaty finish.

T: Delicious. Lots of dark roasted malts in the taste. Some dark chocolate sweetness and a little bit of coffee. Mostly I am getting the roasted characteristics. The alcohol is hidden very well for it being over 10%.

F: Thick and creamy. No heat on the way down from the alcohol. It's surprisingly smooth considering how thick and sludgy it looks.

O: This is a classic, massive stout. It's everything that I look for in a non-barrel-aged stout. It's thick, creamy, and roasty, but it finishes with nice smoothness and sweetness.

 891 characters

Photo of ccg
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Narwhal looks dense. There is a rather fizzy head that fades quickly, leaving the beer looking somewhat flat.
The smell is dark, roasted malt, of course, but I'm also smelling something salty, like brine. Also, a bit of licorice in the background.
The flavor follows pretty close. It's not quite as bitter as I expected after smelling it. Hops and malt are well balanced. There's still a sort of brine flavor in background along with some licorice.
For it feel, there's some oiliness, medium body, and very mild carbonation.
It's a well-rounded stout, and worth trying if you enjoy stouts. Personally, I prefer Yeti and Ten Fidy, but I think it comes down to preferences in flavor profile.

 689 characters

Photo of princessbay710
4.84/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Very reminess of the recent Divine Reserve 17 by St. Arnolds. Basically a rich cocoa stout with some java undertones. Pour is dark black with dark milk chocolate foam. Taste is much bolder than it's smells and shockingly covers it's 10.20% well enough to convince anyone that it's a malty - milk drink. Love it!

 311 characters

Photo of HotDogBikeRide
4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Yeahhh! Got my hands on a pretty cheap, 5 month old 4-pack of Narwhal by the beloved Sierra Nevada. Just recently had a wonderful Divine Reserve 17 by St. Arnold, and lo and behold my favorite Texas brewery just happened to be doing a collaboration with one of my favorite U.S. breweries of all time.

That isn't this beer of course, but I've been waiting for the chance to grab a big beer (especially a good stout) and also a Sierra Nevada beer, this absolutely blew me away, just like the latest Divine Reserve. Killing two birds with one stone.

Midnight black color with a creamy brown head. Luscious lacing fills the walls around the glass. Pinky head maintained for 10 minutes. Roasted malt smell, a little less smelly then I'd have thought it would be but very clean just like SN is known for.

Nice refreshing, wet mouth full of awesome beer. Straight up malty cocoa and a bit of coffee give this strong beer most of its legs. No alcohol present at all which is pretty crazy considering it has as much as some wines do. A little bit of hops, earthy perhaps? Maybe it's just the roasted biscuit from the malt. Really fresh tasting even 5 months after being brewed

Great pair with pizza and tater tots haha. (What doesn't go good with pizza and tater tots?) I don't mind paying for just a four pack when the alcohol is this high. Plenty of bang for your buck and the beer is on top of its game with the best of the style. Will definitely drink this one again. Love it.

 1,476 characters

Photo of KevCan
4.92/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled 10/7/2016 18:45.

Look: Pours a deep black with a large medium-brown head.

Smell: Roasted malt, pumpernickel.

Taste: SMOOTH. Perfectly balanced and absolutely full of flavor. Incredibly drinkable. Just enough hint of coffee bitterness in the aftertaste.

Feel: Thick, highly carbonated. Almost creamy. Just enough stickiness and astringency.

Overall: The pinnacle of the style. Neck-and-neck with Ten Fidy.

 465 characters

Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle 11/06/14 into a Big Eddy snifter, black with a minimal brown head with spotty lacing.
Aroma is coffee, roasted malt, chocolate and molasses.
Taste follows with a hint of raisin and dates.
Smooth, creamy mouthful, alcohol is well hidden.
A terrific beer from Sierra Nevada that IMHO improves as it ages. I had a 2016 bottle last night that was a bit "raw". I felt this was more well rounded.

 411 characters

Photo of delta490
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an impenetrable black with a thin creamy light tan head with good retention. It leaves small, tight, slick lacing that slide down the glass for the most part. The aroma is bitter chocolate, roasted malts, and a little earthiness. The taste is much the same although the roasted malts dominate in the taste where the chocolate was more prominent in the aroma. The body is lighter, slick, and mostly smooth with both a little alcohol and carbonation tingle.

 463 characters

Photo of Ozzylizard
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$ 60.00/case ($ 0.208/oz) at Frankin Beer, Franklin, PA
Bottle packaged 08/23/16, served at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter; allowed to warm to 50 degrees.
How can I have not reviewed Narwhal since it’s pretty much a stable in my reefer? Well, I guess, because I’m too busy enjoying it to analyze it. Here goes nothing!
Aroma – roasted malt and coffee
Head – large (Maximum 5.3 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, dense and creamy with a few rocks, slooowly diminishing to a two to three mm ring and thin layer with a slightly thicker island.
Lacing - none
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor – moderately sweet roasted malt and dark fruity taste similar to a quad. Some nuttiness is present. No trace of hops in either aroma or flavor. The 10.2 % ABV is totally hidden making this dangerously sessionable. No diacetyl is detected.
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation.

This is just an excellent beer if you like beers with flavor. If you like watery AALs, thank you! That means more Narwhal for me!

Appearance 4.5, Aroma 4.25, Flavor 5, Palate 4.25, Overall 4.5

 1,102 characters

Photo of MMOSNN
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look - pretty much pitch black, a small mocha head with good retention and long legs at first but settles down to nothing.
Smell - I'm a big of the aroma on this; roasted malts, molasses, chocolate, alcohol, and I'm getting a nice note of raisins.
Taste - pretty much follows the nose with roasted malts, molasses, chocolate, and the alcohol is strong throughout.
Feel - medium body, good carbonation, but quite slick.

 421 characters

Photo of Harrison8
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Narwhal pours pitch black with a thin fizzy caramel-colored head rising and falling rapidly. The pour was aggressive, turning the glass straight up after pouring about 1/3 of the bottle, yet the head yield was extremely low. Lacing forms in a dot here and there, but nothing extravagant. Aroma is delightful. It's dark, with notes of roasted, biscuit, and bread malts, caramel, and toffee all adding to a sugary, but flavorful aroma. Flavor profile is dark and rich as well. Notes of roasted, toasted, and biscuit malts give the beer a resounding darkness, with caramel, and toffee giving the beer some sugary complexity. Mouth feel is smooth, with some creaminess. Thickness overall is medium, with some particulate and graininess bolstering the feel. Overall, a great example of a imperial stout. Well rounded, with the only category really lacking being the look. It was a poor start to an otherwise exemplary imperial stout.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

 956 characters

Photo of GrumpyGas
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass boasts a dark cherry brown body floating a mocha colored head.
There is a sweet chocolatey aroma, which I think is the baker's cocoa, and a hint of booze. Coffee joins in the flavor to add a subtle bitterness. Booze is nicely hidden in the taste, with some caramel, vanilla, and roasted malt. Deeply complex as it warms.
Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with just a touch of lingering grit. I blame the baker's chocolate, again.
A well done brew by a well run brewery.

 503 characters

Photo of jjamadorphd
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I have seen this beer on-line and I have read other's reviews on it. I believe the hype...

The name of the beer itself is a bit of a turn-off for me - "Narwhal - a disgustingly weird looking sea creature out of a Jules Verne nightmare (if you ask me.) Anyway, this is anything but a dream of a beer, worthy of all the praise laid at its feet (or flippers). Though it has little head or lacing, it does have that gorgeous dark coloring indicative to stouts and with a scent hinting to its booziness and chocolaty taste. The mouthfeel is a perfect balance of carbonation, silky smoothness and a sweet aftertaste that surprised me and even held firm as the beer got warmer. The taste was all boozy, roasty, chocolaty and sweet (but in a good kinda way.) Though the name of this beer frightens me, I am one who will continue to see out this ocean beast for the delicious flavor it can provide from top to bottom. Great job Sierra Nevada.

 941 characters

Photo of AustinWadkins
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark chocolate brown/black with a mocha head

Smells include chocolate, roasted coffee, roasted malts, hint of booze

Taste includes chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, dark fruits, sweet caramel, with a hint of vanilla

Overall I love this beer! Great balance with this one! Fantastic mouthfeel, and that abv is a sure win. I will deffinetly get another!

 359 characters

Photo of EMH73
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a half inch tan head that left little lacing, Smells of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and a hint of vanilla, Tastes of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts with some nuttiness, dark fruits, some caramel sweetness and vanilla. Medium to heavy bodied, creamy mouth feel, lightly carbonated, and a bit on the dry side.

 339 characters

Photo of leaddog
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 edition at 10.2%.

Appearance - Pours a chocolate brown/black with two fingers of bubbly mocha head.

Smell - Roasted malts, cocoa, coffee bean, earthy and leafy hops, hint of vanilla bean.

Taste - Flavourful roasted notes from the malts, coffee bean and cocoa flavours, along with a touch of the hops. Slightest bit of alcohol, but quite low.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-full bodied with low-to-moderate carbonation. Warmth from the alcohol. Very smooth.

Overall - Sierra Nevada delivers a very flavourful imperial stout with easy drinkability (so dangerous!). The roasted malt profile is well executed, along with the coffee bean and cocoa flavours. Could easily make it into my winter rotation.

 699 characters

Photo of ChipChaight
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Noble Grains NYC on the UES
Pours almost fully opaque black with no head, smells like boozy molasses with hints of roasted coffee, chocolate syrup, and cocoa, taste like sweet creamy dark roasted malts, hints of caffe latte, mild booze, finishes with mellow bitter chocolate that lingers, feel is creamy medium bodied. A solid imperial stout!

 359 characters

Photo of Dinglehacker
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. Thin head ring, a faint swirl of lace. Dark cola, almost opaque.

Roasty nose.

Dark chocolate bitterness, a little boozy, roasted nuts, coffee, dark fruit notes.

Mouth is dry and a tad warm, though not too warm on the finish.

A good, standard RIS. Imperial strength and darkness, and subtle depth of character. Nicely done, Sierra Nevada.

 362 characters

Photo of jrsqc7
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful deep deep brown with a medium brown (not khaki!!!) head.

Smell is boozy and overripe fruit. The malt bomb blooms upon sipping; rye and winter wheat? There is a quiet hop undertone providing pine and citrus flavors.


 241 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,035 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.