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

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Reviews: 929 | Ratings: 5,033
Photo of HotDogBikeRide
4.73/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Yeahhh! Got my hands on a pretty cheap, 5 month old 4-pack of Narwhal by the beloved Sierra Nevada. Just recently had a wonderful Divine Reserve 17 by St. Arnold, and lo and behold my favorite Texas brewery just happened to be doing a collaboration with one of my favorite U.S. breweries of all time.

That isn't this beer of course, but I've been waiting for the chance to grab a big beer (especially a good stout) and also a Sierra Nevada beer, this absolutely blew me away, just like the latest Divine Reserve. Killing two birds with one stone.

Midnight black color with a creamy brown head. Luscious lacing fills the walls around the glass. Pinky head maintained for 10 minutes. Roasted malt smell, a little less smelly then I'd have thought it would be but very clean just like SN is known for.

Nice refreshing, wet mouth full of awesome beer. Straight up malty cocoa and a bit of coffee give this strong beer most of its legs. No alcohol present at all which is pretty crazy considering it has as much as some wines do. A little bit of hops, earthy perhaps? Maybe it's just the roasted biscuit from the malt. Really fresh tasting even 5 months after being brewed

Great pair with pizza and tater tots haha. (What doesn't go good with pizza and tater tots?) I don't mind paying for just a four pack when the alcohol is this high. Plenty of bang for your buck and the beer is on top of its game with the best of the style. Will definitely drink this one again. Love it.

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Photo of KevCan
4.92/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled 10/7/2016 18:45.

Look: Pours a deep black with a large medium-brown head.

Smell: Roasted malt, pumpernickel.

Taste: SMOOTH. Perfectly balanced and absolutely full of flavor. Incredibly drinkable. Just enough hint of coffee bitterness in the aftertaste.

Feel: Thick, highly carbonated. Almost creamy. Just enough stickiness and astringency.

Overall: The pinnacle of the style. Neck-and-neck with Ten Fidy.

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Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle 11/06/14 into a Big Eddy snifter, black with a minimal brown head with spotty lacing.
Aroma is coffee, roasted malt, chocolate and molasses.
Taste follows with a hint of raisin and dates.
Smooth, creamy mouthful, alcohol is well hidden.
A terrific beer from Sierra Nevada that IMHO improves as it ages. I had a 2016 bottle last night that was a bit "raw". I felt this was more well rounded.

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Photo of delta490
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an impenetrable black with a thin creamy light tan head with good retention. It leaves small, tight, slick lacing that slide down the glass for the most part. The aroma is bitter chocolate, roasted malts, and a little earthiness. The taste is much the same although the roasted malts dominate in the taste where the chocolate was more prominent in the aroma. The body is lighter, slick, and mostly smooth with both a little alcohol and carbonation tingle.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$ 60.00/case ($ 0.208/oz) at Frankin Beer, Franklin, PA
Bottle packaged 08/23/16, served at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter; allowed to warm to 50 degrees.
How can I have not reviewed Narwhal since it’s pretty much a stable in my reefer? Well, I guess, because I’m too busy enjoying it to analyze it. Here goes nothing!
Aroma – roasted malt and coffee
Head – large (Maximum 5.3 cm, aggressive pour), light brown, dense and creamy with a few rocks, slooowly diminishing to a two to three mm ring and thin layer with a slightly thicker island.
Lacing - none
Body dark brown/black, opaque
Flavor – moderately sweet roasted malt and dark fruity taste similar to a quad. Some nuttiness is present. No trace of hops in either aroma or flavor. The 10.2 % ABV is totally hidden making this dangerously sessionable. No diacetyl is detected.
Palate full, creamy, soft carbonation.

This is just an excellent beer if you like beers with flavor. If you like watery AALs, thank you! That means more Narwhal for me!

Appearance 4.5, Aroma 4.25, Flavor 5, Palate 4.25, Overall 4.5

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Photo of MMOSNN
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look - pretty much pitch black, a small mocha head with good retention and long legs at first but settles down to nothing.
Smell - I'm a big of the aroma on this; roasted malts, molasses, chocolate, alcohol, and I'm getting a nice note of raisins.
Taste - pretty much follows the nose with roasted malts, molasses, chocolate, and the alcohol is strong throughout.
Feel - medium body, good carbonation, but quite slick.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.16/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Narwhal pours pitch black with a thin fizzy caramel-colored head rising and falling rapidly. The pour was aggressive, turning the glass straight up after pouring about 1/3 of the bottle, yet the head yield was extremely low. Lacing forms in a dot here and there, but nothing extravagant. Aroma is delightful. It's dark, with notes of roasted, biscuit, and bread malts, caramel, and toffee all adding to a sugary, but flavorful aroma. Flavor profile is dark and rich as well. Notes of roasted, toasted, and biscuit malts give the beer a resounding darkness, with caramel, and toffee giving the beer some sugary complexity. Mouth feel is smooth, with some creaminess. Thickness overall is medium, with some particulate and graininess bolstering the feel. Overall, a great example of a imperial stout. Well rounded, with the only category really lacking being the look. It was a poor start to an otherwise exemplary imperial stout.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

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Photo of GrumpyGas
4.29/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass boasts a dark cherry brown body floating a mocha colored head.
There is a sweet chocolatey aroma, which I think is the baker's cocoa, and a hint of booze. Coffee joins in the flavor to add a subtle bitterness. Booze is nicely hidden in the taste, with some caramel, vanilla, and roasted malt. Deeply complex as it warms.
Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with just a touch of lingering grit. I blame the baker's chocolate, again.
A well done brew by a well run brewery.

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Photo of jjamadorphd
4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I have seen this beer on-line and I have read other's reviews on it. I believe the hype...

The name of the beer itself is a bit of a turn-off for me - "Narwhal - a disgustingly weird looking sea creature out of a Jules Verne nightmare (if you ask me.) Anyway, this is anything but a dream of a beer, worthy of all the praise laid at its feet (or flippers). Though it has little head or lacing, it does have that gorgeous dark coloring indicative to stouts and with a scent hinting to its booziness and chocolaty taste. The mouthfeel is a perfect balance of carbonation, silky smoothness and a sweet aftertaste that surprised me and even held firm as the beer got warmer. The taste was all boozy, roasty, chocolaty and sweet (but in a good kinda way.) Though the name of this beer frightens me, I am one who will continue to see out this ocean beast for the delicious flavor it can provide from top to bottom. Great job Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of AustinWadkins
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark chocolate brown/black with a mocha head

Smells include chocolate, roasted coffee, roasted malts, hint of booze

Taste includes chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, dark fruits, sweet caramel, with a hint of vanilla

Overall I love this beer! Great balance with this one! Fantastic mouthfeel, and that abv is a sure win. I will deffinetly get another!

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Photo of EMH73
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a half inch tan head that left little lacing, Smells of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate and a hint of vanilla, Tastes of dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts with some nuttiness, dark fruits, some caramel sweetness and vanilla. Medium to heavy bodied, creamy mouth feel, lightly carbonated, and a bit on the dry side.

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Photo of leaddog
4.21/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 edition at 10.2%.

Appearance - Pours a chocolate brown/black with two fingers of bubbly mocha head.

Smell - Roasted malts, cocoa, coffee bean, earthy and leafy hops, hint of vanilla bean.

Taste - Flavourful roasted notes from the malts, coffee bean and cocoa flavours, along with a touch of the hops. Slightest bit of alcohol, but quite low.

Mouthfeel - Medium-to-full bodied with low-to-moderate carbonation. Warmth from the alcohol. Very smooth.

Overall - Sierra Nevada delivers a very flavourful imperial stout with easy drinkability (so dangerous!). The roasted malt profile is well executed, along with the coffee bean and cocoa flavours. Could easily make it into my winter rotation.

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Photo of ChipChaight
4.04/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Noble Grains NYC on the UES
Pours almost fully opaque black with no head, smells like boozy molasses with hints of roasted coffee, chocolate syrup, and cocoa, taste like sweet creamy dark roasted malts, hints of caffe latte, mild booze, finishes with mellow bitter chocolate that lingers, feel is creamy medium bodied. A solid imperial stout!

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Photo of Dinglehacker
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter. Thin head ring, a faint swirl of lace. Dark cola, almost opaque.

Roasty nose.

Dark chocolate bitterness, a little boozy, roasted nuts, coffee, dark fruit notes.

Mouth is dry and a tad warm, though not too warm on the finish.

A good, standard RIS. Imperial strength and darkness, and subtle depth of character. Nicely done, Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of jrsqc7
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful deep deep brown with a medium brown (not khaki!!!) head.

Smell is boozy and overripe fruit. The malt bomb blooms upon sipping; rye and winter wheat? There is a quiet hop undertone providing pine and citrus flavors.


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Photo of danasofia
4.68/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance - opaque brown/black, slight amber brown around the edges when held up to light.

Aroma - Bitter cocoa, coffee, sweet caramel, faint nutty aromas

Taste - Deep bitter cocoa, coffee in the background, less caramel than the aroma, slight dark fruit and berries, little bit of vanilla.

Feel - Viscous and syrupy, very smooth and appealing.

Overall - Very sweet, but not offensively so as it is also pleasurably bitter at the same time. Smooth for the alcohol content. Absolutely delicious, one of my favorite stouts hands down.

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Photo of HipCzech
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Serving: 12 oz bottle (08/05/16) poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter.

Appearance: Opaque, inky dark brown with a cap of lush, tan foam; spotty lace.

Smell: Rich aroma of roasted, smoky malt, coffee, molasses and tobacco.

Taste: Smooth roasted malt, sweet dark fruit (dates), chocolate and coffee. Closes with a brisk, earth herbal bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full, velvety smooth body with light carbonation.

Overall: Solid, full bodied imperial stout with great roasty aroma.

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Photo of JonCorbett
4.18/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drank this baby on the heels of EvilTwin’s Soft Dookie… surprisingly they were almost the same. But I did find this one edged out the former by a hair.

Appearance: Pitch black, kinda thick looking, and poured with a bit of aggression to get a finger of medium dark brown sugar coloured foam - very chunky and but disappeared with a leisurely waddle. Little to no lacing left-overs but the carbonation was pretty good looking.

Aromatics: Very rich dark charred oak mixed with dark cacao and over-roasted plums. The coffee bitterness smell is in there as well.

Taste: A more coffee forward flavour, bold powdery rich cacao but hints of biscuit-like and caramel malt keep the burnt flavours from standing up to proudly. It also has the mildly fruit molasses flavour with charred wood and licorice linger that is tempered with a delightful bitter-sweet balance.

Palate: In relation to its flavour, it is actually quite a bit more creamy than it leads you to believe. Mild carbonation and a decent hoppy bitterness that presents it self but excuses itself just as readily when the finish comes through fairly clean and dry - just a touch of sweet left behind.

Overall: A bit more complex that some other Imperials I’ve had recently (as in today), and oh my delicious. I never noticed the 10% and the flavour was much more enjoyable that ET’s (not this was a comparison, but it did help me with where to rank it).

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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.

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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.

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Photo of car2052
4.6/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 12 oz. bottle to snifter. Aged over 1 year.

A: Pitch black. Small 1/2 in. medium brown head.
S: Hazelnut coffee, vanilla, caramel, bourbon, teriyaki beef, licorice.
T: Sweet up front, toasty malts and espresso in the heart of the palate. Dark chocolate and a slight alcohol bite also in the mix. Ends with a smoky finish.
M: Heavy. Finishes lighter.
O: Very complex beer. Great flavors come in on the nose and in the palate. Would love to have a vertical tasting.

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Photo of GreatHammerhead
4.48/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 2016 12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Look: Black as night with a one finger dark tan head that collapses fairly quickly.

Smell: Dark fruit followed by a spice I don't recognize.

Taste: Smoked malts up front, rich chocolate and coffee middle, then more smoked malts and all tied together with a warming undertow of alcohol.

Feel: Nice thick body, light carbonation and warming alcohol on the swallow. Just about perfect for this flavor profile.

Overall: You would be hard pressed to find a more flavorful stout.

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Photo of ShoeIn-BrewWin
3.86/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very heavy on flavors. Narwhal is extremely pruney; not for the faint of heart. I like it but it could be toned down just a bit; not accessible for most beer drinkers.

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Photo of Rcaros
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured brown out the bottle with a pinky finger of khaki creamy head. Black in the glass with a good amount of carbonation

Roasty malts up front with a bitter espresso coffee towards the end. Mild sweetness

Big coffee.bitterness up front, nice roastiness, finished pleasantly sweet.

Creamy feel with nice coating. Medium plus to full minus body

Very good overall

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.23/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with pillow of mocha foam. Aromas of cocoa, vanilla, and roast. Flavor is similar with semisweet vanilla leading the sip and slightly bitter roast catching up to balance out before the finish. Very tasty and slightly sweet which I enjoy.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,033 ratings.
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