Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
877
Ratings:
4,882
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
9.66%
 
 
Wants:
310
Gots:
1,376
For Trade:
44
User Reviews
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Reviews: 877 | Ratings: 4,882
Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

A: perfect black beer with a dense mocha fluff; lengths of lace left behind

S: rich dark malt aromas full of cocoa and espresso suggestions; sweeter hints of molasses

T: bittersweet chocolates and espresso with cane sugar; flashes of vanilla; lighter tones suggestive of anise and oak

M: creamy smooth and soft; slips across the palate with the barest brush; a full-bodied beer that's light-as-a feather?

O: an epic Russian Imperial - runs a little sweeter and less bitter than say, an Old Rasputin; had a slimmer, less sticky character than say, Stone's IRS; an elegant entry in the style. Don't pass it up.

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

A: poured into a sifter black as night with a slightly frothy deep tan head with excellent retention. it pours like a whale of a beer
S: smells of dark roast malt, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, and anise. smells incredible
T: flavors of charred wood, dark chocolate, a bit of coffee, burnt sugars, dark roasted malt, slight oily hop presence. swallow brings more huge flavors of roast malt, a bit of anise and an espresso finish
M: thick and nearly chewy with a soft carbonation that struggles against the viscosity of the beer
O: It's enornous, it's velvety smooth and it doesn't punch you in the mouth but it can probably put you down after a few. alcohol is very well hidden. This beer is absolutely phenomenal and a steal at the price point it sells for. Buy it and then buy some more to keep in the back of the fridge for a few years. I want this beer in a bourbon barrel!

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Photo of CHickman
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

2013 Bottle: Pours pitch black color with a thick creamy 2 finger tan head that was full of bubbles and faded very slowly, leaving very good spotty lacing and a layer on top.

Smells of oats, vanilla, cocoa powder, molasses, burnt grains, coffee, floral hops, licorice and a lot of smoky charred notes, like the malt went on fire and was then added to the mash. Nose has some sweet fruity notes, but it’s all things burnt overall with the burnt coffee or espresso leading the fade with chocolate and caramel accents that is nice to take in.

Flavor comes out with burnt malt leading the way and then turns in a mix of roasted sweetness with the cocoa powder, molasses, vanilla, coffee grinds, caramel, dry leafy floral hops, grapefruit, burnt wood, oats, licorice, smoky charred grains and anything else that seems like it was over a campfire; the chocolate notes come on stronger as it warms, with dark chocolate, vanilla, espresso and a sweetness that resembles the taste of a marshmallow that fell into the campfire coals, which is a really nice surprise. The alcohol is masterfully hidden, and the hops add mild spices and a citrus hop twang that add bitterness and a tiny bit of balance. Any fan of rich, roasted grains will love this brew and it’s complexities, which approaches the line for too bitter and too acrid but does not cross over into the land of negative flavor.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, this feels on the slick side even with the viscosity and has about average carbonation for such a bold beer. It’s bitter, it’s smoky, but it’s damn tasty and a really good RIS that went down easier than it should have. I really liked this beer when I bought this 4 pack last December and feel it got better with age. A high recommendation.

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Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Bottled on 07/31/14:

Pours black with a creamy brown head that has nice retention for the style/abv. Spotted lacing sticks.

The smell is of rich chocolate, toffee, espresso beans and molasses.

The taste follows the nose. The sweet chocolate and toffee/caramel is balanced by a light-to-medium coffee roast. Alcohol is very well-integrated. It has a robust finish.

It is rich and full-bodied, but not too thick.

This is a wonderful, dangerously drinkable Imperial Stout! Very well-made and enjoyable!

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Photo of crob3888
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with a small coffee colored head. Aromas and flavors are a complex mosaic of bitter chocolates, roast coffee, molasses, and a hint of alcohol. For the style, this is spot on. And it ages wonderfully.

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Photo of Jetlag767
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

They have blended the vanilla, chocolate and espresso so smoothly with a luxurious taste that it makes you crave for more. And I learned from my 12 year old what a Narwhal is. But this may be the priciest beer I have ever bought at $21. While a great beer, I can't say its worth that.

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

My favorite Sierra Nevada beer, and easily better, to my mind, than the barrel-aged version (which mutes so much of what I love about it). The baker's cocoa is definitely the predominant note, followed by the dark roasted coffee. Some palates may find this harsh, but I think the flavor and feel of this one is unique and delicious. Just as important, it's a great value.

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

Poured into a snifter, this is very dark, thick, leaving great lacing on my snifter.

The smell is potent, I poured it walked away to start cooking dinner and I could smell it from 15 feet away.

Roasted malt with bits of graham cracker, dark chocolate, alcohol, and piney hops (the best kind of hops). Starts off fairly sweet with some hints of dark chocolate and molasses and a rather smooth finish.

As others have said the alcohol is masked very well, and thus is very drinkable.

I will be picking up as much of this as I can at 9.99 a 4pk this is a great buy.

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

Appearance: Pours black with a good dark brown head, leaves good lacing

Smell: Nice roasted malts, coffee, and a little dark chocolate

Taste: Starts off with that great stout taste of roasted malts. Next you get some coffee and dark chocolate. Then a little bit of hop bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full body, medium carbonation

Overall: Fantastic brew. Will have to pick up this every year and age some.

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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 skinny_mcginley
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Pours a midnight black with coffee colored head that lingers for awhile. This was very drinkable and not too boozy. Smelled of chocolate and roasted malts with a hint of coffee and vanilla. Tasted the same. A very nice beer!

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Photo of Brackh
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Pours super black with little to no head. Smells dark and fruity. Raisins maybe? Tasted chocolate and roasted. Changed the longer I sipped. You can taste the alcohol for sure. Not a bad thing though. Not the same as some other Imperial Stouts that I have had. Delicious though.

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Photo of yarnbomb
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Yum! A great version of one of my very favorite beer styles. The last one I had on draft was SO GOOD that I didn't actually share it as intended, oops.

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Photo of 81tillinfinity
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep roasted malt almost to the burnt category, that leads to flavors prunes, black coffee, and dark chocolate. The hops and nice bitterness that balances the dry finish. This is a great beer even in a very young bottle.

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

Poured from 12oz bottle, inch and a half head with pretty aggressive pour.
Head sticks around for a while.I bought 4 four packs and have six beers left.
When I first bought this beer it was a bit boozy and hot, I've had it in my cellar for a few months and my how it has changed in a few months, at first it was hot with tons of booze and not as balanced as it is now.
Narwhal is pitch black in color, tan head. looks regal and lush.
Smell is of licorice,malt, chocolate, espresso.
Taste is smooth and velvety, not too rich and not too thin, just right for me.
Overall this beer is fantastic, when i first bought it i thought it was good but I'm so surprised at a few months in the cellar has this beer drinking really well now. Went back to the store today and they were out..I better savor the last few bottles until next year.

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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 sniper061
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: poured into a snifter. This beer is black, like a moonless night, kinda black
S: smells of dark roast malt, coffee, dark chocolate, molasses, you can also smell leather. which paired nicely with a dark cigar
T: flavors of charred wood, dark chocolate, a bit of coffee, burnt sugars, dark roasted malt, slight oily hop presence. swallow brings more huge flavors of roast malt and an espresso finish
M: thick beer with a nice mouthfeel. It coats your tongue like a warm friendly blanket.
O: It's enornous, it's velvety smooth and it doesn't punch you in the mouth but it can probably put you down after a few. alcohol is very well hidden. This beer is absolutely phenomenal and a steal at the price point it sells for.

Serving type: bottle

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

Wow, this is good!

Pours very dark with thin tracing of tan foam that sticks and sticks, it's full bodied, smooth, creamy....and the flavor hits you like a ton of bricks.... Well, it is imperial, so it packs a punch, but it's everything promised on the classic label "notes of baker's cocoa and dark roasted coffee" with a slight raisiny, molasses chewy edge too, without being citrus or sweet. Everything a dark beer should be, in my book.

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Photo of Hauckstadtjr00
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Taste test 2013 vs 2014
Both pour nicely black with a thick tan head that sticks around for a little bit. Eventually fades into nothing on top.
Smell:
2014- Doesnt have too strong aroma compared to the 2013. Slightly piney with cacao and bakers chocolate notes. Deep malty aroma shines through a bit.
2013- WOW!!! Boozy and delicious! This shit kicks you in the face with super pleasant and deep complex alcohol notes with deep deep cacao and roasted malt flavour. This stuff smells incredible.
Taste:
2014-Wow the piney flavour is very prominent especially in comparison. Very hoppy for an imperial stout but still has a lot of the nice cacao and roasted notes. Very balanced and pretty drinkable for something of this percentage.
2013- BAMM!! Same thing as the smell just flows across your tongue like the godly beverage beer is supposed to. Strong, boozy and roasted cacao and coffee flavours all blend together to make a damn good experience.
Overall I liked the year old one more. Though I had not realized the piney character being so strong last year also given the factor of how much my palate has changed which I know it has a lot. The fresh one is very good and a nice imperial stout to have and reasonably priced too. But if you have the means I strongly recommend giving that a try because its well worth it.

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Photo of sliprk314
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip.

Color is black with a slight brown head.

Can't pick up a smell probably due to a cold.

Taste- Chocolatey malts are the dominating flavor upfront. Followed by a coffee flavor. I do pick up some of the fruity flavors but they are not pronounced.

Overall I would certainly recommend this to anyone. I really enjoyed it and now look forward to trying the BA version.

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

a - poured a one finger thick creamy coffee-colored head into a snifter that left great lacing throughout. the body was dark black.
s - chocolate, coffee with a hint of piney hops.
t - roasted coffee, burnt chocolate, piney hops.
m - thick and viscous.
o - another terrific west coast take on the RIS. really loved this beer.

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Photo of jkshield
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: what a deep black color. when held up to the light it makes it look almost like a black marble because of its depth. There was also a decent size head of about a cm, which I like for my stouts

S: A blend of a sweet Carmely taste followed by a strong scent of roast coffee or espresso. It is hard to smell the hops but they are just lightly present with a piney scent.

T: first i taste a well rounded flavor of deep roasted malts and coffee. The intensity of the nose is then followed by a softer carmel and toffee notes concluded by a slight piney hop aroma. I was quite impressed how good it tasted out of a bottle, since stouts usually have a distinct alcoholic after taste when not off tap. This beer only had a slight alcoholic afterwards, which is amazing for the fact that it is 10.2 %

M: I love the way this beer goes down the throat. I can see that some people might find it a little carbonated for a stout, but i like the carbonation becuase it helps move along the taste from the bitter beginnings to that of a soft tone, by which time the carbonation is gone and all that is left is the sweet carmel and toffee flavor

O: I love imperial Stouts and the narwhal is probably one of my favorite. might even be better than old rasputin, but as all intelligent beer drinkers know they only way to tell how good a stout really is, is by having it on tap. Until that time i'm surprised how well it tastes out of the bottle. Definitely will have to buy it again if i can find it

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Photo of Jerone
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark, viscous used motor oil, milk chocolate colored finger and a half head that fades but still leaves a bit of foam, leaves some lacing behind.

S - Yum, dark chocolate, coffee, and dark roasted malt with a touch of alcohol in a good way.

T - Bam, lots of flavor and what I love about stouts. Dark chocolate and some coffee flavor with slight hints of dark fruits as it gets closer to room temp (65). Has some sweetness but not too much, very lovely stout.

M - Great mouthfeel, low carbonation, heavy body, slightly viscous.

O - Great beer overall and highly recommended. SN keeps on making high quality beers and this one actually has little to no hop flavor :D

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Photo of ISmith87
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle.

A - Beer is a dark dark brown/black with a half finger of dark tan head at first that disappears pretty quickly to leave a nice thin film of dark tan bubbles.

S - Smells like milk chocolate/caramel. Some creamy vanilla hints in there too. Coffee/Espresso.

T - Big chocolate and coffee at first. Nice roasted flavor to it throughout. Leaves a roasted/almost smoky after taste.

M - Medium-heavy beer. Alcohol pretty much completely hidden @ 10.2%. Roasted/smoky aftertaste.

O - Great beer. Definitely up there with Stone Imperial Russian Stout. Not as good as Stone Espresso Russian Imperial Stout or Oskar Blues Ten Fidy. For the price (8-9 dollars a four pack) this could be a great winter beer if I still lived back in Michigan, but I'll drink it in the Arizona heat too. I'll have to try Old Rasputin again to compare, but for the price from what I remember this could very well be a permanent replacement for it.

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Photo of WoostaBia
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 Batch. Excellent beer. May taste better with age, has harsh edges that may get better with age. For a 10% beer the alcohol is well hidden. The hops and burnt malt flavors dominate.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 877 ratings.
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