Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.16/5
5,093 Ratings
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
sierranevada.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
Ranking:
#1,328
Reviews:
951
Ratings:
5,093
pDev:
9.62%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
336
Gots:
1,465
Trade:
36
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 5,093 |  Reviews: 951
Photo of Libeertarian
4.66/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

September 15th, 2015 review of the 2015:

Black as night, except nearly copper where it can be "thinned". Very thick, but fine dark tan head of decent retention. Dissipates quickly at first, but leaves an impervious film and a little lace. Roast aroma the strongest. Alcohol smell present, but surprisingly weak by comparison. Develops more into coffee or cocoa as head slowly dissipates. Coffee-like up front, increasing in acidity, followed by lasting sweetness (booze, molasses quality) soon blended with a smokey tartness as it settles in mouth. Black pepper in the finish and retro-olfaction, first noticed only after halfway gone, due to alcohol saturation of the palate, although it could still be from whatever hops were used. Only gets stronger from there, almost becoming floral or soapy. A winning combination of flavor sensations. Full-bodied, viscous, mildly astringent, teeth-sticking, medium level of fine sudsy carbonation. Faint warming throughout mouth and throat.

March 14th, 2017 review of the 2015:

Reviewing this almost exactly one and a half years later than the first time in my new snifter, which instead of a taper, has a flange.

Opaque black or dark brown, with very uniform, layered, and heavy head of rich orange-brown, excellent retention, sticky but minimal lace. Smells like fresh-mixed cement. Remember that one episode of Doug where they were selling chocolate bars that had cement in them? Yeah, it’s like that. Also, just a hint of spicy broth from either alcohol or booze, if not both. Rich roasty, meaty palate at first and throughout but makes some room for dark chocolate, spirits, and cloying dark fruit. Anise or licorice and other spices, and more overt soil around the finish. Full-bodied, viscous, extremely hot, fairly astringent, with mostly velvety, abundant, and heavy suds. Slightly better when more fresh, by my reckoning, but still keeps very well.

New score for year and a half old "2015": 5, 3.75, 4.75, 4.75, with an overall of 4.5 instead of 4.75

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Photo of taters21
4.66/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this is exceptional.
Appearance-Black with a finger and a half reddish brown head with good rention to one finger.
Smell-Raisin, Dark Chocolate, Roasted malt
Taste-This is where this stout knocked my socks off, delightfully chocolate sweetness that fades to coffee then to a roasted light bitterness, just splendid.
Feel-Creamy, velvety, coats the mouth well, very good for this style.
All in all, I had high hopes and this beer was even better than I thought it could be.

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Photo of balticporter99
4.65/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just picked this up at my local Whole Foods. Pours black as my ex-girlfriend's heart with a lingering 2 fingers worth of head. Smells of burnt toast and coffee. Suprisingly smooth taste (easier drinking than old Rasputin) with coffee and chocolate notes. Noticable, warming but not boozey alcohol aftertaste. Exceptional example of a Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.65/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this RIS in my snifter at cellar temperature.

A full, bulging two fingers of light cocoa-colored foam form the head. The body is black, to put it simply.

Smells surprisingly fruity! I think I'm getting raspberries and, incredibly, freshly-picked blueberries. It's fantastic, as well as something I never imagined I'd smell in a stout. Moving on... there are also raisins, a rich semi-sweet chocolate scent, and a bit of molasses. A really awesome blend of aromas.

The berries are in the flavor a little too! It's like brownies with a strawberry or raspberry topping at first. That's what it's like early on... pretty sweet like chocolate milk, but also with a subtle, complementary fruity tartness. The back end brings a ponderous roastiness of coffee and dark chocolate that contrasts the initial sweeter flavors superbly.

The feel is thick and heavy as a narwhal (durhurhur), and the carbonation is calm like the sea at slack tide.

This isn't "just another" Russian imperial stout to me. It has some of the aroma notes and flavors of a Belgian strong dark ale, but still retains all the essential requirements for retaining stout status. And all of it's distinctive qualities mesh together beautifully. Not to mention it kind of has the consistency and taste of a chocolate milkshake, to my delight. Just as a Narwhal is a unique whale, but still a whale, this is a unique stout, but still very much a stout... and a very nice one.

 1,448 characters

Photo of beersnobraven
4.65/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Deep, black, beautiful. Awesome bottle art, too.
Smell: Smells a little like bittersweet coffee. Primary scents are malt and chocolate.
Taste: Holy crap! It's like drinking a liquid chocolate cake! Seriously, so much chocolate! If you did a blind taste test, I would have a thought that this was a stout brewed with chocolate. A great beer for a chocolate lover like me! Other flavors I'm picking up are malt, coffee, with a little-to-medium hops present.
Feel: Really thick and delicious. Very dense; definitely a sipper.
Overall: Probably my all-time favorite Imperial Stout, and I'd go far to say favorite beer of all time. It's great taste and mouthfeel are definitely its best attributes, while it's 10.2 % ABV is also a plus. Easily one of the best beers I've ever had.

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Photo of maedhros09
4.65/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black with light, slowly forming, and barely lingering head. Smells sweet, roasty, chocolatey with minor licorice.

Taste: Medium sweet roasty maltiness, boozy, finishing with a somewhat mild tingling lingering paper-like hops bitterness. Smooth mouthfeel, medium body with little carbonation in the mouth. Flavors blend and balance superbly and the finish is lingering and memorable.

Update: After storing for a few weeks the bitter finish that I remember from the first sample seems to have mellowed and doesn't stand out as much. The finish remains somewhat bitter but nicely balances the initial sweetness.

Update #2: After 4 months cellared this beer is very creamy and mellow with a mild to moderate bitterness in the finish that blends really well.

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Photo of Khaack
4.64/5  rDev +11.5%

Photo of couchsitta
4.64/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of chadhester23
4.64/5  rDev +11.5%

Photo of A-dub123
4.64/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of reitzbrewing
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

on draft from tall pilsner glass. great imperial stout

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Photo of Walleybeer
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of drmeto
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

L:
-pours the darkest of brown with no light coming through and a small to medium,creamy,beige head
S:
-coffee,dark chocolate,roasted barley,syrupy,nutty,herbal
T:
-Follows the nose + caramel,burnt toast
F:
-medium carbonation
-medium to full body
-alcohol noticeable
O:
A Grade A Imperial Stout.

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Photo of rob99er
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A great Imperial stout. Well balanced and the 10% is hidden well.

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Photo of Stezz420
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Joe_Palooka
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Narwahl is about as good of an imperial stout as you can find for the money. The one I just consumed has been aging in my cellar since last October. Pours a very black color with about half inch of head that disapates pretty rapidly. Definitely one of the best off the shelf, non barrel aged R.I.S. oyt there. Looking forward to the 2016 release.

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Photo of Briken
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of beercam
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Visually I find this beer very engaging. To me, the Narwhal Imperial Stout aesthetic is incredibly personal, pleasing, and successful, with its exciting cetacean depiction and stylish black and white font and design. The charcoal-black pallor of this beer, when poured, proudly champions its own incomprehensibly deep, immutable, inner nature of modified sugars and transported starches, borrowed flavors and inherited tannins, all warped in a working world of yeast, a classic look for the strongest stout-porters of yore. A 12 oz bottle, capped in Nov. 15, yields an oceanic inch of sluffy, even brown foam as it's swiftly poured into a weathered 16 oz Fremont can-glass. The aroma is incredible, and will be described out of order shortly. Moving to taste, there is a harmonious fruitiness in this imperial stout; something many in the imperial category contend for yet very few achieve. Yet in addition to this dark, syrupy, imperious figginess comes an extremely defined and refined hop topography; a loud statement of aromatic, piney bitterness, potentially a result of the bold addition of Challenger hops, reportedly added late in the boil. The flavor here is really far out there, and especially the smell. But it truly comes as no surprise nor small victory that Sierra Nevada can offer such a triumphant brew. I'd like to add as an aside that flavor wise, what comes to mind as a rival could very well be Old Rasputin from North Coast. I'd love to see these two compared neck and neck. These are some top beers here folks. But, anyway, to get back on track, the secret method to the Narwhal's supreme taste here, in my opinion, is its enlightened, sleepy windows into flavors of coffee and chocolate, which themselves play back into and throughout the beer remarkably and extensively, finishing with whispers of smoke. Super masterful flavors, definitely buoyed by the look and smell. If someone were to mistake this for a Russian, I would pardon them. The feel here is good. It's not absolutely amazing, It's pretty good, solid. More descriptively, the feel itself is kind of sour, in a way, and has more of a tartness than oatmeal. With that said, wow, it's sturdy from tip to tummy, it's feel only improves with time elapsed from the sip. In other words, it has an exceptional aftertaste.

This is a successfully fruity Imperial Stout.With it's high abv and sweetness, one could fairly get away with calling it Russian. This beer is not hard to drink. Good people make this beer. Try it with an open heart, and see if it's for you. I am very impressed.

Overall: Pour this one stiff, folks, and enjoy.

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Photo of Wcalhoun
4.62/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of twonder23
4.61/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of dirtyharry2489
4.61/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of Legaleagle1819
4.61/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of jucifer1818
4.61/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: poured this one into a thin flute wine glass, and even in its thin glass, this beer will not let any light penetrate its darkness

like the dark and mysterious see of its namesake, this beer is a perfect example of clear total darkness, easily ranking a 40/40 on the beer color scale

apart from its color it has a medium, maybe one finger head, that lasts far longer than one would expect for a beer of this alcohol level
This is exactly what I'm looking for in a stout, and I was going to just give this one a 4.5 on first glance, but I cant see any reason to take off that last bit
I have to give its appearance a perfect score

Smell: The smell is quite subtle to say the last. I am surprised by this, and don't know how to really rate it
on one hand, a beer this extreme, would be VERY hard to make it have such a subtle smell, but on the other hand, I was expecting (and really wanted) something really intense that I could enjoy more
I get very light milk chocolate, light fruits, alcohol boozyness (but very slight boozyness), and a little bit of pear
Its not bad, quite good, but to me feels too reserved for what it is
4/5

Taste: mhhmmmm, this is really really good. This beer tastes like liquified black chocolate. This is almost nothing else to say, with some light fruity flavors to counter its intense roasted chocoaltyness, with an intense dark chocolate bitterness mixed in with strong hoppy bitterness in the after taste

a beer that is very strong and malty, but keeps it from being cloying wit ha perfect hopping that keeps the malt first, and works well with its dark chocolaty bitterness
I can think of noting Id want to change on this beer
5/5

Mouthfeel: Slick, sweet, and very syrupy. It pours like Hersey syrup, yet is much easier to drink
drinkabilty and a heavy imperial stout are not often paired up, but the beer manages to pull it off, and has a delightfully moouthfeel
4.5/

Overall: I'm giving this one a 4.5/5
Its a near perfect beer on all accounts, and a excellent offering from Siera nevada. I can easily see this beer turning into a PERFECT, 5/5 beer, after a good 8-12 months of ageing. Ill be drinking one more bottle for new years, and saving the last two for conditioning, quite possibly for next year to see how its changed over time
Highly, Highly recommend this beer

cheers

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Photo of Such_a_b-tch
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%

Photo of wotfofftw
4.6/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,093 ratings
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