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
sierra-nevada.com

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:
927
Ratings:
5,031
Avg:
4.15
pDev:
9.64%
 
 
Wants:
331
Gots:
1,445
For Trade:
40
User Reviews
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Reviews: 927 | Ratings: 5,031
Photo of Vogey77
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyed this one. Pours dark with a decent head. Smells of chocolate and fruit. Was very smooth as the amount of chocolate was just about perfect. One of the best stouts I have had to date. Very impressed with this Sierra Nevada beer. Interested in cellaring some to compare the difference.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 8/05/15

Pours black with a light tan head. Smells lightly of dark chocolate and boozy fruit. Taste is like bitter dark chocolate baker's cocoa, dark stone fruit, and bittersweet dark roast coffee, with a slightly licorice and herbal hop note. Feels pretty light, almost sticky and chewy, with very little carbonation. The alcohol is covered up well. Overall, a really nice imperial stout.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Exceptional imperial stout.jet black with thick cream on top and a great body. Ive recently tried the rasputin and the nitro and this blows them both away. A lot sweeter and smoother than both, this could be the best non barrel aged imperial stout ive tried.can not wait to try the barrel aged Narwhal that i have aging.

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Photo of webmanspidey
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter, this is very dark, thick, and viscous. The smell is powerful with some traces of roasted grain, graham cracker, dark chocolate, alcohol, and piney hops. Initial taste is very sweet with some dark chocolate and molasses. More graham cracker and roasted malts round it out with a slight bitterness is left at the end. The alcohol is masked very well, keeping this very drinkable. I'm pretty happy with this one, it's definitely a very solid RIS.

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Photo of BeerNutz324
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 bottle into an oversized wine glass, live review...

Ap- dark dark brown (basically black) with a 1/2 inch light tan colored had that has great retention. Poured about 10 minutes ago and there is still a layer on top and a great rim around the glass.

Ar- chocolate, coffee, molasses, burnt grain, dark fruit and a faint smell of alcohol

T- smoky roasted grain hits me first followed by some cocoa flavor. The coffee and alcohol hits on the very back end.

M- thick bodied, creamy, perfect carbonation for this style, and the alcohol warms on the hold.

O- another winner from SN. IMO this may be the best beer I've tried from them. At a really good price point (typical for SN) I will try to stock up on this stuff before its all gone for the season.

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Photo of larryi86
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Black with a three finger mocha head.

S- Roasted coffee, dark chocolate, some earthy hops.

T- Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, some caramel malts, earthy hops in the finish, some dark fruits, some milk chocolate.

M- Smooth, full body, a good amount of carbonation.

O- A great imperial stout. I enjoyed the 30th anniversary stout more, but I am very happy see Sierra Nevada brewing an imperial stout.

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Photo of Flightoficarus
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours an extremely deep black hue, with a thick, creamy sepia head. Lacing/retention are mild.

S - Smell is of roasted espresso beans, bakers chocolate, and vanilla.

T - Taste is of rich, velvety-smooth chocolate malts, with notes of caramel and molasses. Finishes with mildly bitter espresso notes. Incredibly well balanced overall between malty sweetness and hop bitterness.

M - Full-bodied, and velvet-smooth, with light carbonation.

O - Overall, a fantastic imperial stout, and one I wouldn't hesitate to return to in the future. Sierra Nevada did a stellar job here!

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Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz Brown bottle with pry-off cap and bottled on "07/31/14". Poured into a snifter

Appearance: Pours black with 1/2 finger of tan head

Smell: Roasted malts, chocolate, and cocoa

Taste: Similar to the aroma with mostly roasted malts and licorice and cocoa, with slight alcohol warmth

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied

Overall: A great representation of the imperial stout style. All the roasted flavors are present and has great balance. Theres little bit of alcohol but not overpowering.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$9.50 for the 4 pack, bought locally.

it pours black with a 2 finger head of tannish foam and leaves the usual excellence with the lacing.

The smell is of cocoa and roasted malt with some light notes of coffee. Err...maybe not so light notes of coffee. Good either way.

First sip in and it starts off, for me, as being very sweet soon overtaken by roasted malt and coffee that add a nice bitterness. There's plenty of the ample alcohol in the taste as well meaning a lot of warming. It finishes on the bitter side thanks to all that roasty goodness.

Full bodied, lightish carbonation, very smooth mouthfeel. On a day with the temps in the 60sF, not so drinkable but when the temps drop, the drinkability of this IS will rise. I'm bloody sure of that.

A big thumbs up to SN's bold new Imperial Stout!

Edit Nov 8, 2012:

I'm now on my 3rd bottle and my like for it grows and grows. There's really nothing I'd change with my review *other than* the scores. Onward and upward!

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Photo of jsulko
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter glass

Pours a very dark black with a chocolate head that disappears rather quickly.

Dark malty smell with a hint of coffee.

Taste is malty with dark chocolate and hints of licorice. Alcohol slightly present on the finish but not in a bad way.

A very drinkable RIS. Disappointed that this is seasonal as I would love to have it as an option year round.

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Photo of davidperez
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
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 TeamMathis
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle
Appearance: Motor oil. Dark, coffee head.
Smell: Hints that this drink is going to be strong, alcoholic, and have a note or two of coffee and chocolate.
Taste: Alcoholic. Strong. Light chocolate and coffee. Maybe some grape.
Mouthfeel: Motor oil.

This is a great example of the Russian Imperial. Watching it pour into the glass is both daunting and tremendously inviting. It really does look like thick, black syrup or motor oil. The smell provides the alcoholic warning that this is going to be a strong drink, yet it doesn't smell like cheap vodka/overly alcoholic. The taste is altogether strong and very powerful. It is chocolate, coffee, and maybe some grapes drowned in delightful and tactful alcohol. I will get this again and I'm aging my other bottle.

2013 bottle
1/5/14
The smell had much more chocolate. Same great brew.

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Photo of FanofHefe
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
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 +5.5%
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 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.

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Photo of bobstockwell
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +5.1%
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 +4.8%
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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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,031 ratings.
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