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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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 889 | Ratings: 4,928
Photo of FanofHefe
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 12 oz. bottle that pours a deep, black body with a two-finger dark tan head. The head settles into a nice cap and leaves streaky lacing on the glass.

The aroma is typical of a RIS, but a bit on the light side. Some roasted malt, a bit of chocolate, some dark fruit. Nice, but not complex.

The flavor steps it up a notch. Very nice blend of flavors: roasted malt, dark fruit - especially raisin, chocoalte, light coffee, and licorice. Excellent flavor balance.

Very smooth mouthfeel, medium to thick in texture. Nearly no notice of the alcohol. This is a top-notch RIS. Highly recommend.

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Photo of Naters333
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into my tulip.

A-Has a deep black color with great tan head. Retains a nice lacing

S-Columbia roasted coffee.

T- Has a pure chocolate taste. Pure chocolate has an extreme bitter taste that is awful, but this is kind of nice and not as strong. I can tell this is a higher alcohol beer. Kind of hot, but not too bad. Then again I like kind of a strong presence of alcohol.

M- What a great mouthful. Can really get the full effect of the bitterness of this beer. Bitter being an ok thing with this beer. The mouthful brings me back to that Columbia or strong coffee taste and smell.

O- A really nice beer. Fantastic to sip on. Very smooth and easy to drink even though you can taste the alcohol. Looking forward to seeing how this ages.

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Photo of bobstockwell
4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

very good. Pours black w/creamy head. Chocolate,coffee,plums?........very smooth for alcohol content. Sierra nevada alway has very good beers for a reasonable price and their "better" seasonal beers are no exception.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 12/24/12

Appearance: Jet black, with some deep, dark brown clarity around the edges - pours with a nicely sized, light brown head - fades to a little island of a cap and a nice ring - leaves some nice spots and streaks - looks both beastly and highly approachable at the same time

Smell: Super roasted and burnt - dry, highly roasted grains - very burnt, not not into char territory - appropriately, it reminds me of both Sierra Nevada Porter (the roast) and Stout (the burnt) - dark and baker's chocolate, with some cocoa - hints of dark coffee - citrusy hops for balance, with some grapefruit zest - a touch of leather and booze in the background - some sweetness and dark fruits as it warms

Taste: Hyper roasty and burnt nicely balanced by a chocolatey, malty sweetness - roasty, dark coffee - burnt bread, moderately charred - dark chocolate and cocoa, with a minimal amount of sweetness - light, malty sweetness with a touch of molasses - some dark fruits as well - some grapefruit - black licorice - moderate burnt bitterness, and just a touch of alcohol

Mouthfeel: On the light side of full-bodied - smooth, creamy, a bit slick and oily - dry aftertaste - a lovely sipper

Overall: Delicious mythical beast juice

Wow. Sierra Nevada is consistently great, and this actually exceeded my expectations. This is genuinely better than some pricey, hard-to-get Russian imperials. And the scary thing is that this will only get better with age. It tastes like... potential. I want to swim with the Narwhals and learn their secrets.

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Photo of CraigP83
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown almost black, this head has a chocolate color. Roasted barley or malt odor, not much else "pops". Burnt coffee taste gives way to nice roasted malts you also get some bitterness like you would from dark chocolate.

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Photo of Zaktcc
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours as black as the depths of the Arctic just like the bottle states. Beautiful jet black coloring with 2 fingers of a coffee colored head. Great head retention and a lot of lacing present.

S - A perfect blend of everything my nose has come to expect with a high quality stout. Dominated with the aromas of roasted malts and brown sugar proceeded by notes of coffee bean and dark chocolate.

T - The taste follows on par with the nose. Of course, dominated by roasted/burnt malts up front, quickly followed up with flavorings of chocolate and sugar. The initial burst of flavor slowly lingers away leaving a pleasant aftertaste of coffee notes and sugar.

M - Wow! An incredibly full beer. The consistency is like that of motor oil with very subtle hints of carbonation. Vague hints of alcohol are noted, however, very well masked, especially considering the beer's ABV.

O - Beer after beer, S.N. is slowly becoming my go-to favorite brewery. And once again has lived up to and exceeded my expectations for them! Overall an amazing beer that is perfect for the winter time -- boozy enough to keep you warm and encompassing of winter flavorings (chocolate, coffee, etc...). Glad I picked up more than one!

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Photo of beeragent
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from a 2012 bottle. Poured into a glass.

A - Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights. Appears black as motor oil once in the glass. Thin mocha head with no lace.

S - Strong roasted malts, chocolate, and espresso.

T - Roasted malt and bitter chocolate coat the palate. A slight hop bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M - Heavy bodied, thick and very smooth. Low carbonation.

O - Just like most of what Sierra Nevada does, they have set a standard for the style. When I think of an RIS, this is exactly what I expect it to look, smell, and taste like. Just a perfect example of the style.

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Photo of Premo88
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into "stout glass" (tulip)
Oct. 17, 2013 born-on date

L: motor oil black that percolates like nothing I've seen short of a nitro -- the beer looks like it's not going to form a head, then from almost nowhere, the layer just under the surface starts to spin and cycle and pop and explode into a full inch of the thickest head of tan foam, and it sticks in classic Sierra Nevada fashion. wow! the brew might actually be 100% clear -- the very bottom appears so and shows dark, dark red -- but good luck passing light through this thing. black black with just a hint of dark brown around the edges and a constant tan collar ringing the surface.

S: huge everything -- BOOZE, chocolate, coffee, wine/grapes ... fully-roasted barley ... maybe a bit of oak -- and this thing is still almost ice cold. you can't mistake it for a pale ale, that's for sure. the boozy smell here is mostly like vodka, almost even gin more than whiskey, but it's not off-putting or medicinal.

T: oh, my ... similar notes as in the nose but in a different order: the alcohol doesn't show up until the afterburn, whereas the booziness seems to hit first on the nose. big dark malt extravaganza -- chocolate, coffee again with some definite oak-wood thrown in. very interesting and both classic and different; the notes seem to hit just a bit different tune from other big stouts I've tried, especially with the oak and the fact that so far nothing here tastes burnt. starting to detect a massive hop presence ... yes ... there's a bitter hop bite trying to chew threw all of this malt. and it's having some luck. wow! hard for me to tell what these hops taste like other than bitter, but they are really balancing out the quaff.

F: full. enough carbonation to make it drinkable, but silky and full.

O: it's a lot, and it's good. everything you could ask for from a Russian Imperial Stout, ABV included. i'm not the biggest fan of high ABV brews, but this brew is so full of the sweeter dark malts I love that it's perfect for sipping.

and I can tell aging it is going to be fun. in fact, I'll be off to the store soon to get at least another four-pack for *next* winter.

aging this brew is going to be fun.

three months of aging in the bottle has just barely tamed this beast. it's still relatively boozy, but it doesn't seem to be as big a bother as other boozy stouts.

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Photo of Onenote81
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Grabbed a 4-pack of this when it first came out. Saved the final bottle for a review. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a jet black. No light penetrates this one. Small tan head. Nose is rich with booze, chocolate, roasted coffee, grape, vanilla. Hints of woodsy aromas on the finish.

Body is decadent and full. Rich velvety feel with a touch of carbonation on the back end. A nice malty backbone, with vanilla, chocolate syrup, a little booze, black licorice, dark fruits.

This one was rich and tasty. The alcohol snuck up on me at the tail end, but this one was one I enjoyed through and through. I hope to see this around often, as I would like to have stock of this one at all times.

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Photo of TTAmod
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

311 13 bottle code on my 12 oz. stubby bottle. Makes this brewed sometime in early November. This beer just started being distributed in my area, so it's as fresh as it comes. Poured into pint glass.

A: Pours pitch black...even when held up to the light, nothing comes through. Thick brown head forms after an aggressive pour. It slowly creeps down to about one finger and stays there, leaving lots of lacing behind.

S: Nice, roasty smell. Lots of coffee, charred malts, ash, and a bit of hops. There's maybe a touch of dark chocolate.

T: Tame roasted malt up front. Bit of black molasses, coffee, leather, and ash. All of a sudden, a rush of familiar SN hops make their presence known. A bit of pine and a bit more roast malt. Ends slightly nutty and roasty. Never gets very bitter at all.

M: Smooth. Medium body. Pretty low carbonation, but enough to give it a good amount of depth. Zero alcohol burn. Goes down quite easy for 10.2%.

O: Definitely one of the best RIS's I've ever had. I like the nice hop presence that many other RIS seem to be lacking. It's cheap ($8 for a 4 pack), available, and really damn good. Will probably be a future mainstay in the fridge.

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Photo of bhyndthebottle
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

New 2015 vintage. Pours thick as molasses, with a thick pillowy head that lasts! Smell and taste is smooth and rich chocolate and roasted malts. Nicely integrated hops for a surprisingly dry finish. Very nicely done!!

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Photo of Billolick
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012, 12 ounce bottle, allowed to warm quite a bit.

Pours near black, dark tan mini head, tiny bubble film, slight collar and nice fine low sheeting with strands of lacing.

Nose is loaded with dark chocolate, and mild coffee.

Very tasty, ejoyable and smooth RIS. Waves of chocolate, just ground fresh coffee, as well as some vanilla sweetness. Velvety smooth on the tongue and coating the mouth. Put it all together and this is truly great stuff.

Went prefectly with a chocolate Xmass desert bon bon kinda thing

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Photo of Treyliff
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours pitch black with a small creamy dark tan head and a bit of lace, pours a bit like thin syrup, very thick.

S- dark chocolate with a touch of coffee, notes of dark fruit, slightly smoky malt

T- dark and deep roasted malts with heavy notes of cocoa and a bit of roasted coffee aftertaste. Finishes bittersweet, like raw dark chocolate with just enough of a piney hops kick to balance it out, warming finish.

M- heavy body, low carbonation, syrupy but pretty good considering the high ABV, goes down velvety and smooth.

O- everything that I was expecting, body and heavy, intense chocolate with notes of coffee, and just enough piney hops to balance out this massive beer. Certainly drinkable for the ABV, a slow sipper and a great beer for a cold night.

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Photo of gtermi
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Narwhal pours a dark black body with a thick tan head that slowly fades away and leaves a little bit of lacing on the glass.

S: There is a little bit of chocolate malt, a lot of burning booze, some roasted malt and even a tiny bit of sweetness.

T: Wow this reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin. It is so tasty with the chocolate and roasted malt flavors hitting my palate with a punch. There is a tiny bit of booze, but the sweetness really covers it.

M: Very thick and creamy body, that isnt too thick. It goes down with ease and really doesnt have much crispness.

O: This is just another damn good beer from Sierra Nevada, but what else should I have expected?? I mean everything they make is delicious and they knocked this beer out of the park.

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Photo of ddedhed
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful black, with a thick dark tan head, which leaves nice lacing. Smell is chocolate sweet with a whiff of hops. Taste is chocolate, smooth roast, slight licorice, some dark fruit, and roasted, bitter finish. Defintiely some booze noticable. Mouthfeel is thick, yet soft and smooth. Overall, I really like this a lot. Very nice sipper.

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Photo of BeerDocT
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and judging by the subject matter and colors of this beer's label, they seem to be attempting to look like a famous and very popular beer from the Great Northwest named after a mad Russian holy man. What about the contents of the bottle? How do they measure up?

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out an inky black that almost looked thick. It looked like it was actually going to stain the sides of my glass! No head to speak of and a big glop of something dropped in at the end of the pour. Look out!

-Smell 4.0: In spite of its inky blackness, this brew has a subdued bouquet. I smell hops and toasted malt, but nothing really jumps out at me.

-Taste 4.5: Whoah! Front is mildly sweet and bitter. Middle is a huge, rushing wave of smoky grains, alkaline hops, dark chocolate and yummy malty goodness. Finish is huge too and is very hoppy and malty, but very well balanced. Aftertaste is long, smoky, chocolaty and delicious. Wonderful.

-Mouthfeel 4.5: So smooth and perfectly balanced with the taste of the beer. Really outstanding.

-Overall 4.5: I don't remember what I gave Ol' Rasputin, but this baby is a close second. Wonderful, huge beer that does not seem to be as big (in ABV and other areas!) as it really is. Deliciously smooth and robust, but at the same time very complex and nuanced. A chip off the old block. Recommended.

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Photo of beerdedking
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%

Vintage 2013. From the snifter emits one of strongest black licorice scents in an RIS I've encountered.
Oohh, I'm gonna like this already. Comingled with the initial licorice are light scents of dark cherry and prune.
After the quickly dissipating head vanished, I started the swilling. The licorice continues with dark fruit and a touch of fine coffee
which all play nicely on the tongue long after a pull. My favorite attribute is the lack of char. Strangely this is bit thin for the style, but slightly. This minor lack of density does
give way to a bit greater drinkability. You can slug this baby down, then have another, then nite nite. Overall, this is quite worthy for the style, it's Sierra Nevada, and the
price is great as you'd expect. SN doing awesome things as usual.....

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Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a viscous black. Thick head of dense brown bubbles. Moderately sticky lace.

Smells of milk chocolate, baking coco, cherry cordials, and roasted malt.

Big flavors of dark chocolate, dark fruits, raisins, figs, brandied cherries, and dark roasted coffee. Lactic sweetness, and smokey roasted malts. Bitter hop twang on the back end, with a slightly boozy finish.

Thick chewy mouthfeel. Leaves an oily feel on my tongue.

Overall and excellent Impy stout. Some nice complex flavors, especially as it warms.

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Photo of Neorebel
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pleasantly surprised that one of my local haunts had Narwhal on tap. She pours an inky jet black with a thick looking tan head to boot. Very nice, almost perfect for what I want in a stout, in fact. The aroma is quite roasty, with a fairly large presence of bittersweet chocolate as well. After a highly anticipated sip, that baker's chocolate satisfied my taste buds fully, along with very pleasant fruit esters (predominantly plum and dark fruits). What I like is how wonderfully bitter the overall package is. There is perhaps some hops detectable in the flavor here. Very full on the mouth feel. Overall, a very solid Imperial Stout.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick black with a thin mocha head. Shows the thickness when swirled in the glass, leaving big trails of lace.

S: Roasted malt, burnt toast, anise, dark chocolate, molasses, mexican chocolate and some charred malt. Pretty complex.

T: A big charred malt hit right off the bat. Molasses, burnt coffee grounds, baking chocolate and charred grain. Maybe a hint of smoke and earthy hop resin on the finish. A really great RIS. Mouthfeel is big and chewy without giving away the ABV. Solid stuff.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Sierra Nevada tulip style glass.

Narwhal poured out thick, a stout is a stout, this one has a very dark black color and a sturdy inch of dense dark tan bubbles like chocolate milk. It fades away into a small cap up top leaving minor splotches on the glass. Smell is pretty balls deep, scents include bakers chocolate, earthy hop tones, licorice, roasted malt, smores, and some minor dark fruit. It smells great. Taste is superb, just a big RIS, no bells or whistles. With so many RIS out there they kind of run in circles with one another. Narwhal does the same. Taste includes most of the scents up above, but the two characteristics that stand out to me in this specific RIS is licorice and dark fruit. Body is full and carbonation keeps the beer going after some warming, while this indeed does warm up to me. A one and done beer in a sitting with the body and alcohol. This is another RIS that I will be keeping in touch with during the cold months and possibly building a vertical down the line, which seems like the right thing to do.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served on-tap at the Dive Bar in West Haven, Conn.

A: Pours jet black with a two-finger head of espresso-colored foam which retains nicely and leaves some chunky lacing around the glass.

S: Very nice, robust, dark and roasty malt aroma with hints of anisette, charred wood and bittersweet cocoa. Some subtle fruitiness and herbal hops rise from the brew as well.

T: Rich, sweet and well-rounded malt flavor, giving off the taste of dried tobacco leaves, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. There's a slight vanilla sweetness around mid-palate which cascades into a spicy, herbal hop resin that lasts until the bittersweet and smooth, roasty finish.

M: Full-bodied, very drinkable stout with a creamy malt mouthfeel and rounded bitterness to stave off cloying sweetness while offering a smooth, robust finish.

O: SN Narwahl RIS is a very complex and enjoyable, sweet, strong stout. It packs a ton of flavor into that 10.2% ABV while not slowing you down with too hot of a hop or alcohol burn. Perfect beer to serve as dessert or to accompany a raspberry chocolate torte. I'd love to try it again, or one of it's aged varietals.

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Photo of Kenye
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 Ounce bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Pours pitch black with a small persistent tan head that slowly fades down into quite a pretty collar around the edge of the glass. Nice but pretty average lacing. 4/5

Smell - Like a typical Imperial Stout, the smell is wonderful, especially as it warms. Lots of roasted malts and you can smell the 10.2 ABV. The more you let it warm up the sweeter it smells. 4/5

Taste - There are a lot of hops in this beer. They hit you first and hard. They quickly fade into the lovely roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate middle. The swallow gives you that high ABV burn you expect, and makes me do that little "alcohol twitch" I have. Like you would expect from a fresh Imperial Stout. Curious to see what age will do to this. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel - Wonderful silky mouthfeel. It coats the tongue perfectly, and just the right carbonation to keep it from lingering for too long. 4.5/5

Overall - Very solid Imperial Stout at a very good price. It tastes like a Sierra Nevada beer. The hops are trademark. If you see it, pick it up. I'll be grabbing up more of these, and aging them a couple months. I imagine age will make this an even better beer. 4.5/5 (Taste and Mouthfeel a little more important than Appearance and Smell for me personally.)

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Photo of Ego
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$20 for a growl fill on this ? mad props to Copper Mine Pub in N Arlington NJ

devilishly black, totally opaque, lacing ? legs? yeah... got that, the head retreats pretty quickly but easily comes back with a quick swirl-o-rama, the head itself is a nice dark cocoa tone, this looks impy...

burnt wood left outside, the spicy note of licorice, bitter chocolate, hints of smoke and molasses,
hints of mint like toothpaste

taste etc...
initially pretty smooth but man this sucker is heavy, like drinking a cannon ball, woah this thing is thick and weighty, this is big boy territory right here... the first blast is sort of the sweet end of things with the malts parading the molasses across the mouth, then the after bomb drops... we're taking a trip to flavortown folks (can I say that without comping Guy Fierri ?).. anyhoo, the aftertaste slapped me so hard (insert one liner here but it probably involves my mom), you get some deep dark euro chocolate that teeters on barelywine-ish flavors but never loses the RIP style, the booze is there but really lends itself to the mix here.

luckily I have my bro and his current girl to help me out with this growldog, cause otherwise I am taking a trip to passoutville. damn, this is one deep dark sucker, maybe not my fave RIS but it is bold, any RIS fan needs to check this out, it might be the spanish fly to your.. well..

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Photo of daledeee
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Some more of this showed up. Got a 4 pack for a reasonable price.

Pours black with a medium brown head and great lacing.

Smell is charcoal, malt.

Wow, this one hits you in the face. This is the bitterest stout I have had. Loads of malt bitterness. Charcoal, oak, chocolate and sweetness as well.

The mouth feel is very creamy and I don't notice too much alcohol warmth. Overall this is a great example and unique as well.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,928 ratings.
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