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: 5,034
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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Photo of MVotter
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L - The Sierra Nevada Narwhal pours into a chalice a deep, dark coffee color, leaving an ample 2-inch thick tan head in its wake.

S - Cherry, maple sugar, sweet malts, burnt coffee.

T - Sweetish roasted malt notes in the front, black licorice, and a pretty robust coffee flavor to finish. In the final analysis, this imperial stout leans "malty-sweet" as opposed to "bitter coffee".

F - Thick texture, chewy, chewy, chewy...heavy.

O - Big beer. Big (albeit hidden) ABV, so be careful. This is a substantial, rich, thick imperial stout. You will find whatever i.s. flavor you're looking for in this brew. I repeat: it's a big brew with a big flavor profile range.

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Photo of matcris
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark brown to black with a half finger of tan head that dissipates quickly. Good carbonation when I rock the glass, and leaves some alcohol legs going down the glass. Aroma is dark roasted malt, slight char, touch of alcohol, coffee, and dark chocolate. The flavor is a pretty good hit of alcohol immediately followed by Dark roasted malt, brown sugar or molasses, dark chocolate, and maybe some raisin. Very nice solid level of carbonation, medium full to full body, a little sticky, dry on the finish. I like Old Raspy better, and Founders Imp. Stout is fantastic, but this is pretty good. One to age a while and see how things end up.

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Photo of bobthebrewer1208
2.87/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I guess I just don't like Imperial Stouts. This is the third I've tried and the worst of the three. Poured into a tulip glass where it was a cloudy black with a nice 2 inch head. Smell, taste and feel reminded be of cough syrup; I got a slight roastiness in the taste and an unpleasant bitterness on the aftertaste. I waited about 20 minutes to see if the original opinion was based on tasting too cold; nope....better than have the glass went down the drain.

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

Finally got to try this. 6 oz sampler on tap at the Griffon Gastropub in Niagara Falls, NY. Review from notes taken back in October.

Appearance - virtually black with long lasting dark tan foam on top.

Smell - molasses. Pure and simple. Toffee and maybe some brown sugar. Malty as all hell. Fantastic for my sniffer.

Taste - similar flavor profile. Lots of dark fruits. Aspect of creme brûlée. Bourbon soaked. A little hot an boozy.

Mouthfeel - slick, oily and while chewy, it's lighter in body than you'd think.

Overall - a damn fine stout that stacks up with the best. An absolute malt bomb.

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Photo of Leif_Eriksson
4.43/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: SRM at 40+. Dark, dark crimson when held to the light. Not much head on top. 5.

Smell: Melted chocolate, vanilla, nutty. 4.5.

Taste: Chocolaty and smooth. Sweet. Caramel, malty. Bitter coffee. 4.5.

Feel: Heavy, syrupy, but smooth. 4.

Tastes less boozy than some 5% stouts. Top-notch.

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Photo of bbtkd
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Narwhal, 10.2 % ABV, 60 IBU. Pours black with medium viscosity, and one finger brown head. Nose is chocolate and coffee. Flavor is chocolate, roasty malt, moderate bitter coffee close. Decent mouthfeel, a bit heavy on carbonation. Overall excellent.

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Photo of J1moyer
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Quite a kick to the Sierra Nevada Narwhal Russian Imperial Stout at 10.2%. I had a draft pour at Owen's Ordinary in the Pike & Rose Shopping Center in Rockville, MD. Awesome beer and nice addition to the Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

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Photo of Hat_Fulla_Beer
4.26/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into tulip.

Pours nearly black with faintly glittering cola edges and half a finger of brown head that leaves cloudy blotches of lace as it recedes.

Smells of chocolate covered coffee beans and raisins, fireplace ash, toasted caramel malt and earthy herbal hops.

Tastes of more black chocolate and fresh coffee, sugared raisins, muddled dried dark fruit, more ashy smokiness and singed caramel, and more mild green hops. Alcohol is pleasantly detectable.

Feels big and amazingly smooth. Full bodied with buttery carbonation. Finishes off-dry.

Verdict: Vigorously recommended. Legendary for a reason.

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Photo of bob_roberts
3.35/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.25

Too hoppy for my liking. Not bad, but aftertaste leaves me thinking of SN pale ale. Quality beer, just doesn't work with my palate. Would like to try this barrel-aged.

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Photo of citizencane
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours solid black. Held my iPhone flashlight at point blank range and no translucence at all. Modest head. Smells ok, typical stout smell but with more booze. Taste is where this unloads-chocolate mousse, roasted malts, dark coffee, balanced bitterness. Not quite the nuance of Rasputin; this goes dark and roasted and stays there with only slight subtlety. Have had before and will have again.

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Photo of crisis1290
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal is about as good of an imperial stout as you can find. This is probably one the best Russian Imperial Stouts I have tasted in a very long time. Even better, you are getting an amazingly high quality product that doesn't break your bank. Super black color on the pour. Roasted malts, vanilla, chocolate, coffee and other flavors stand out immediately. This bad boy is smooth. Not very boozy , like some Russian Imperials. A very nice thick and chewy mouth feel with an amazing taste to boot ! I can not find one thing wrong with this beer. I bought a case and put 1/2 of the case in the cellar for next year ! I highly recommend this gem . For those who have not crossed over to the dark side...take a chance ..give this one a shot and make your way to the dark side ! You wont regret it.

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Photo of mmmbeer89
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I think i like the aftertaste this beer leaves on your lips rather than the actual flavor while drinking it. Smooth as fook for a beer that has 10.2 ABV.

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Photo of Joe_Palooka
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
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 colts9016
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This beer is almost a year old. A one finger head that is a creamy tan with good retention. The color of the beer is black as night. Some carbonation bubbles are visible on the side of the glass.

A nice coffee, roasted malt, biscuit, toffee, caramel, earthy, floral, and some dark chocolate.

A nice robust dark coffee note, with roasted malt, biscuit, caramel, earth, floral, milk chocolate.

A rich creamy mouthfeel, with some carbonation.

Overall this a very good beer I like my RIS with bit more punch. Yes it had really good flavors I just would have like them to be more pronounced.

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Photo of stevoj
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Growler Station @ Albertson’s. Dark and heady, smooth despite the elevated ABV. Initial high, fluffy beige head. Sweet dark roast malts, hints of dark chocolate, a little alcohol on the nose, and definite warmth at the finish. Velvety and slick. Worth seeking out.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,034 ratings.
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