Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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93
outstanding
927 Reviews
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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:
1,446
For Trade:
40
User Reviews
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Reviews: 927 | Ratings: 5,031
Photo of Mikeszab
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours nice and dark as oil black
Nice lacing as poured into a snifter
Taste is nice dark roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate
Surprisingly little burn with a 10.5 abv.
Overall a great imperial stout worth trying.

 218 characters

Photo of LilBilly666
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Outstanding Stout! I didn't think I'd ever find a replacement for Founders Breakfast Stout, but this is damn close. This beer opens up beautifully as it warms. A great aftertaste with plenty of coffee kick. Thick tan/brown head into a Duvel "tulip" glass. I'm not sure what the official style term of that glass is. I've been holding out to try this guy, and I wish I hadn't, because Sierra is known for it's more hop forward beers. I'd love to have one of these year round or daily..

 484 characters

Photo of fitrock2112
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured Narwhal into a Belgian Tulip.

A - The liquid pours black as midnight with a finger of mocha head. Classic looking stout here.

S - At first sniff I'm getting dark chocolates, bitter coffee, luscious roasted malts. Again, classic Imperial Stout characteristics.

T - Bakers chocolate right off the bat, more coffee, some bitter malts and hops. Wow, this is a quality beer here. This beer does have some more bitter hop flavor than some Imperial Stouts, but this is very nice. A touch of licorice.

M - Smooth Imperial Stout, heavy mouthfeel with medium leaning towards low carbonation. Ahhh so nice.

O - Quality beer by Sierra Nevada. Highly Recommended! Cheers!

 673 characters

Photo of acevenom
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Pours black like motor oil with a tall, brown head. The head retreats very slowly, leaving some lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is filled with dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. It's a good smelling stout. The taste follows the nose. The dark roasted malts, the chocolate, and the coffee are prominent without all being strong and overpowering. There are some hops on the back end just adding some back end bitterness to help balance this big brew. The body is full and thick with light carbonation. The beer just coats the mouth and allows the aftertaste to linger. You know this is a big beer when you encounter it, but it doesn't hit you over the head. It helps make this is a very drinkable stout. This is an excellent beer.

 773 characters

Photo of snaotheus
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a large snifter

Pours black with a smallish dark tan head. Lots of fine carbonation. Smell is black licorice, roasted coffee, smoke.

Taste is awesome. Excellently balanced, not too sweet, not too bitter, not too smokey, but lots of each of these components. Cherry, chocolate, smoke, black licorice, very interesting all around.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and quite lovely. This is an excellent beer.

 432 characters

Photo of Tilley4
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great beer that I can't believe I haven't reviewed...

This beer hits all the marks for a great brew... relatively easy to find, amazing aroma and taste, and consistent every time...

One of my go to stouts, this beer is loaded with chocolate and roasted malts and has a nice kick of hops on the finish... I think the scores would be higher on this brew if it were released one day a year or had the hype surrounding it like others...

Terrific example of the style...

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Photo of beerdrifter
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch Black pour with a creamy two finger caramel-colored head with nice retention and lacing. Unique, sweet, roasty nose with hints of espresso, licorice, toffee, cocoa, and a fair amount of hops, almost like a Black IPA. The taste is quite unique as well. Rich, roasty espresso and dark chocolate fudge dominate along with hints of piney hops, licorice, toffee, cocoa, sweet caramel malts, and some subtle soy sauce. The mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat creamy with absolutely perfect balance. Overall, I am totally amazed at how good this beer is. It's absolutely right up there with any Imperial Stout. Probably has taken over Ten Fidy's spot as the best readily available Imperial Stout out there!

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Photo of johnnieoz
4.57/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle, first bottling (2012)

Tasted side-by-side with Sixpoint's 3Beans. Perhaps an attempt to compare an imperial stout to a Baltic porter.

A: Pitch black, Abyss-like, with a burnet crown.

S: Molasses dominates, but otherwise unremarkable.

T: Rich, creamy notes of toffee, molasses, dark chocolate.

M: An ale that you want swishing around your mouth, coating your palate as often as possible. Smooth.

O: Up there with the very best like Stone's RIS & FSW's Parabola, extra points for being in a 12oz bottle like Old Rasputin.

Trying it side-by-side with a Baltic porter, albeit an unique one like 3Beans, confirms that I prefer this style. While there will always be a place in time for the porters that can traverse the oceans, I can begin to imagine what the Russian Czars came to expect from the stouts sent their way.

 838 characters

Photo of DraconusDesanctus666
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz, bottle into a cigar city snifter.

Jet black with a thin tan head,that dissipates almost immediately.No light coming through the glass.Slow carbonation.

On the nose I get mostly dark fruits,and chocolate.Mixed with some spicy fragrances,and licorice.If you sniff hard enough you even get some teriyaki sauce.

On the palate I get chocolate,and coffee.Some dark fruits,mostly prunes.Im also getting some licorice on the back end.Some spices that are hard to identify,and small amounts of alcohol as well.This is a pretty complex beer.

The body is pretty thick,almost a syrup texture.I also get a fizzling sensation in the back end.Warming alcohol feeling on the back end as well.

This is a very good imperial stout.It's also a very complex imperial stout.The nose and the palate change as the beer warms.

 826 characters

Photo of JayS2629
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep black with a nice two finger, creamy head. The aroma had a perfect balance of dark chocolate and coffee notes with hints of dark fruit and licorice. The flavor followed with a balanced earthy hops against a background of mocha and notes of vanilla and dates. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Rich, deep, and balanced. Nothing super complex, but perfect balance. Excellent standard example of the style.

 419 characters

Photo of Wiffler27
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

pours jet black with a dark cream colored head.

smells of creamy chocolate with coffee. very creamy aroma.

taste is equally creamy. hints of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. unique taste in combination with the smoothness. almost a nitro-beer creaminess but without being thin. the body is full and the creamy is so smooth. just amazing! goes down so smooth, this is dangerous!

instantly one of my favorite RIS' if not favorite beer over all. great full flavored taste, not one-dimensional at all.

 499 characters

Photo of EvanJohnson
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this beer side by side with a Founders Breakfast Stout. Both were great but I have to say I enjoyed the Narwhal more. It's much different and cleaner than the FBS. At the same time you don't lose any of the complexity from the malt. Not quite as much chocolate. A great beer with a smooth finish. I'm just starting to enter the world of RIS and it's off to a great start with this one!

 391 characters

Photo of BeerNFoodDood
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer into a tulip from a bottle.

Pours a deep jet coffee black. With a nice vanilla cream head.

Smells of fresh coffee, chocolate, coconut, vanilla raisins.

At first taste the beer coats the inside of your mouth, bringing rich stone fruit, coffee and bitter cocoa forward. A nice subtle sweetness is balanced perfectly by that chocolate bitterness.

Beer laces nicely on the glass giving some noticeable legs.

Have a few fresh and a few for the cellar.

Cheers

 478 characters

Photo of TDotScott
4.55/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a wine glass. Cellared for 6 months.

L- Dark brown, with an off-white head that quickly dissipates.

S- Dark chocolate, plum, a note of espresso.

T- Dry chocolate up front, with a drawn out, lasting bitterness

F- prickly carbonation, a little heat. Medium-full body.

O- Very balanced, and quite typical of style

 346 characters

Photo of AleYes
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just got a 4-pack in Maui with a label stating pkgd 9/29/14. It was dusty, but I was desperate; not many big beers available. I was going to bring some good beers with us on the trip, but we brought a few bottles of Champagne and wine, instead. :( We live on the East coast, so a 13 hour + layover trip to Maui is a special occasion. Thankfully, my wife likes beer, too.

It is a nice, easy to drink, too easy to drink at 10.2%, beer with a nice smooth taste, not sweet, not bitter, nice roastiness, slight char, chocolate and coffee notes, mild lingering licorice, slightly malty, toffee finish. A pleasant, easy to drink beer; alcohol well-hidden. Nice, small bubble carbonation, and not heavily carbonated. I don't know if that is due to the aging or if it starts that way, but I like low carbonation beers. Head went from a creamy head to almost non-existent within a couple of minutes; that isn't an issue for me. Apparently it ages well, even on a supermarket shelf for almost a year and a half. Now starting my second beer - too easy to drink... :) I still prefer Old Rasputin, my fav, the elixir of life on nitro tap.

Edit: After reading some of the reviews of this beer, it seems that the better reviews, such as mine, involve this beer having been aged for at least a year or more. So I guess it ages well, and improves with age. Lucky me, then. And thankfully for me, Maui residents and most visitors do not have an affinity for good beer.

Now back to some Maui Brewing beers tomorrow. Going to the brewery in Kihei.

 1,546 characters

Photo of gman1602
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours inky black with a decent tan head that recedes quickly leaving little lacing.
S: Deep roasted malt and a little dark cocoa.
T: Heavy on the bitter roast flavor with a little chocolate mocha coffee in the background.
F: Carbonation is perfect but the beer feels a tad thin - however in RIS world that just means more alcohol which this one has. Feel is right for the style.
O: A very nice Imperial Stout that I would/will have again. Aging would be interesting as well.

 479 characters

Photo of Glanzman
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Russian Imperial Stouts... my favorite beer style!

12 ounce bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a jet black color with a gorgeous tan, 1 fingered head.

Smells of dark roasted malts... coffee and chocolate.

Taste of rich malts, chocolate and coffee with a little bite from the hops. Very well balanced.

A slight bit of aftertaste tho... not sure what it is... kind of metallic or alcohol or something. Not as prevalent as it warms to room temp.

Definitely worth buying a 4 pack tho!

 489 characters

Photo of NickMunford
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Expected coffee & dark chocolate flavors are every evident. Velvety smooth mouthfeel, some stickyness in the finish. A hint of bitter aftertaste, not unlike what you would get from black coffee (with booze in it).

All in all, a great imperial stout.

 263 characters

Photo of LouZ
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage - pours black with a finger of foamy head. Scent is roasted malt and chocolate. Taste hits the spot with that malt backbone is chocolate-forwward with some bitterness from hops (and coffee?) to balance. Delicious. Feel is thick and wonderful - I love it. Goes down easy. Overall, this year's version far surpasses last year's and I will be picking up another 4-pack to enjoy very soon.

12oz bottle 2014 vintage, aged one year; pours black with minimal head. Roasty, malty scent. Taste is mildly sweet at start, but finishes with coffee and bitter hops. The bitterness is more pronounced than any sweetness in this version. It's a smooth drink, creamy, with nice carbonation despite the lack of head.

 713 characters

Photo of LuckFreeZone
4.54/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I really like this beer. There is a slight aftertaste that I cannot place (initially, as it warms that aftertaste becomes a bit more of an alcohol / bourbon flavor), but that doesn't really linger, and it while it pours with a robust head it is not quite as attractive in the glass as Evil Twin's Even More Jesus. Also, if drunk too cold, it has a bit of a bite and you (or, at least, I) miss out on some of the taste. All of that said, I still like it a lot. The taste is concentrated without being intense . . . small sips will do. The taste seems to change as it warms and it seems to interact well with the taste buds in the back of my mouth (and, presumably , everyone else's mouth). The mouth feel is moderate to heavy, though more toward oily than thick. From memory, Bell's Expedition is a close comparison . . . I will dig one of those out of the fridge to review next.

 885 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle, 2012 batch with a stamp of 2279210:52. Sampled on December 29, 2012.

The pour is very dark brown to black but under the light there is this kind of maroon tint. The moderate tan head is silky and soft and settles down after a few moments. There is a lot of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of dark malts with coffee esters and a vague hop bitterness hanging around in the background.

The body is bold and smooth.

The taste begins with dark malts and yeast with a resounding bitterness balancing it off at the end. The bitterness lingers and burns slightly but the alcohol is well-integrated. This is a highly recommended stout.

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Photo of JDrake31
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful pitch black with a tan, one-finger head. Looks amazing!

S: A hint of alcohol and dark fruit. Lots of toasted malts and roast coffee with just a bit of sweetness.

T: Espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts with a pinch of hop bitterness. Delicious!

M: A mid-heavy thickness. Creamy and slightly chewy. Moderate carbonation.

O: What a great beer for the cold months! Would definitely recommend.

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Photo of Act25
4.53/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Massive. Up there with all the best. Right now my favorite, and you could not know which 2x stout is best until you taste test.

Appearance: Pours an energetic black, with a tan head they mounds and then lasts and leaves rills and contours as it falls, leaving also behind spidery rings of lace. Best looking.

Smell: Dark pit fruit soaked in coffee and liquore, skewered on top of charcoal fire.

Taste: Follows the smell, so that the roast and plum/cherry flavors emerge after a chocolate coating. Much complexity and ancient church like flavors, incense, old wool, old wood, wet wool. Lovely bitterness paints the tongue keeping it an unsugared coffee like experience, along with some licorice and alcohol - but like an ancient after dinner drink. Chartreuse like.

Mouthfeel: Warm, full, bitter, great bitter roasty finish, leaves you in a kissy place. Warming.

Overall: My current favorite 2x stout. A must try. Accessible. Sierra scores.

 948 characters

Photo of Spikester
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First time for the big bold stout. According to the stamped date it is about six weeks from bottling. Quite fresh.
The look is great with three fingers of foamy brown head that stays about ten minutes. Lacing is clumps and splotches so far. Smell is mostly sweet molasses some chocolate and coffee.
The taste is sweet molasses coffee a bit of dark chocolate from the bitterness of the hops. There is a whiff of booze but mostly when exhaling.
Mouthfeel is full and well carbonated. Finish is mostly sweet but long term finish is lightly dry and bitter.
Overall a bit sweeter than I like but it is an Imperial Stout. You can reform a head with just a few swirls of the liquid in the glass.

 691 characters

Photo of trygelski1
4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into tulip glass:

Look: Pours an amazing dark black with about an inch of dark tan head and very minimal lacing. No retention on the lacing as well.

Smell: Chocolate, raisins, roasted malts.

Taste: Tons of roasted malts, some chocolate, and raisins. Wish I could get a hint of coffee but I am not with this brew.

Feel: Medium to heavy body.

Overall: Really enjoying this beer. Very solid Russian imperial stout. Its a step below the Great Lakes Blackout Stout in my opinion. I am very glad that I picked up a 4 pack of this to try. I will likely revisit this beer next year when it reappears.

 625 characters

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,031 ratings.
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