Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
92
outstanding
901 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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:
901
Ratings:
4,965
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
22.46%
 
 
Wants:
320
Gots:
1,419
For Trade:
41
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 901 | Ratings: 4,965
Photo of nUgZ
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours black in color with a minimal head and some lacing.

S: Roasted malts with some espresso and a hint of dark chocolate and alcohol.

T: Tons of espresso with nice roasted malts, nuts, and some dark chocolate. Alcohol is barely noticeable.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Easy to drink for an Imperial Stout.

O: This is a very nice example of a Coffee Imperial Stout. It could use a little more body, but overall it's very good, especially for the price. I will be buying more.

 535 characters

Photo of happy4hoppybeer
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with beautiful tan head, leaving considerable lacing on the glass. This looks like an Imperial Stout all right.

Very strong aromas of coffee, alcohol, chocolate etc. Very big on the alcohol.

Roasted/toasted barley, cocoa and coffee beans hit the tongue. Very creamy, fairly big body, medium carbonation.

As far as imperial stouts go, this stands among the finest.

 378 characters

Photo of JayQue
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada is the Toyota of beers. Not always the cutting edge innovator, but consistently excellent with every offering. Narwhal pours a dense black color with a big dark tan head (on a hard pour). Good head retention, good lacing. Smell is about average for a big stout...Chocolate and rich malts. Taste is very good. A hint of alcohol while the beer was cold. As it warmed up, no harshness at all. About as smooth as an Oatmeal Stout, despite the big abv. Main flavors are rich malts and some chocolate. Expertly blended and very flavorful.

Mouthfeel is as smooth and rich as you could expect at this abv. Overall an excellent RIS. Well work a try.

 655 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and oily tar black with a brown head that laces the snifter well.

The aroma is roasted, smokey and perhaps a bit meaty. Some alcohol lofts above the darkness.

In the taste, dark chocolates, charcoal, tobacco and a firm hoppyness. Not to boozy though very strong. There's a subtle note of dark fruit. Earthy, light herb, big malt. Right about what you would expect for the style with perhaps more emphasis on his than many. Quite good.

The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall this is a nice big stout from Sierra Nevada. Totally drinkable and something I would have again.

 615 characters

Photo of augustg
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Black, this ones dark with a nice tan head on top.

S- Immediate chocolate and slight coffee. very malty.

T- Sweet and chocolate up front. Finishes with the roast malt

M- Not as thick as expected. A bit over carbonated for my taste in Imperial Stouts

D- Really surprisingly nice Imperial Stout! Pick this one up for sure.

 329 characters

Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a near solid black. Some super dark reds at the edges when held to the light. Head is dark khaki and creamy. Nice retention with a smallish cap. Creamy lacing sticks to the glass. Big bubbly creamy.

Smell: Big notes of roasted barley. Some minor citrus in the back. Burnt edges and some serious cocoa. Baker's chocolate and some leather. Roasted malt sweetness. Touches of caramel and dark fruits, mainly plum with some dark cherry thrown in for good measure. Orange zest and milk chocolate.

Taste: Rich cocoa. Bitter baker's chocolate layered with sweet milk chocolate. Loads of roasted malt. Burnt with a nice push of char. Building sweetness is tempered by the super roasted malts. Some nice caramel malt and a backing biscuity malt presence. Leather and more burnt. Minor citrus from the hops, mainly orange zest. Fudgey at times, cakey at others. As it warms the burnt malts take the forefront and push a minor smokiness along with the char.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. A lingering dryness from the sheer volume of deeply roasted malts. It's a sipper and a drinker.

Overall: Hell yeah underwater unicorn!

This isn't going to shatter a tongue or a mind, but damn if it's not one of the most drinkable RISes on the market. A bit of edge will temper the hops and really allow the malt flavors to shine. Great fresh and I can only imagine how great it will be when it's aged.

 1,402 characters

Photo of rorykanderson
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great stout. Poured from a bottle capped in late August. Pours black with a nice frothy, light brown head. The aroma doesn't stand out and has a slight plastic note. Taste of barley, grain, wood, light hops, baker's chocolate. Real nice bitter body with a creamy mouthfeel. Easy to sip without any trace of heat. Excellent beer for the money that definitely has potential to be a go-to high ABV stout.

 401 characters

Photo of BierStein711
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Narwhal stout was a very delightful brew! It has a high abv that is quite noticeable!

Appearance: jet black, four finger burnt tan head.

Smells: Oak, booze, roasted malt, hop, more booze at the finish with the bite

Taste: Wood, booze, roasted malt, coffee, baking chocolate and something else, but I would have to say this is a close cousin of Old Rasputin!

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth!

Overall, this is an outstanding beer, but I'm all for old raspy!

 458 characters

Photo of Trifecta1
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance is jet black, brown head. Smell is strong malt, sweet, chocolate, slight roasted vanilla. Taste is heavy and full, licorice, anise, chocolate, medium sweet malt, slight alcohol, coffee. Warming. Bitter finish. Mouthfeel is viscous, full, coating, oily. Medium carbonation. Tasty.

 290 characters

Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a blackish body with almost brown head that is one-finger high and leaves a little ring as it goes down. First thing that hits my nose is coffee, then a bunch of roasted (I won't say toasted or smoked) malts and some bitter chocolate (or dark). The body is heavy, and while I would not list heavy/stoutish beers as some of my faves, I really like this one b/c while heavy it still passes easy (slightly chewey as well). I get mostly a roasted, coffeeish malt experience but the addition, and then due to addition great balance, of some dark chocolate makes this a dry and sweet experience and thanks to the easy passing this beer is by no means a chore to continually sip on. This is a great stout that even not-stout fans should try.

 741 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12/30/12 notes. Big thanks to BigSexy410 for giving me a bottle of this; don't think it has hit NYC yet and I've been wanting to try it. 12 oz. bottle poured into a pint glass.

a - Pours a pitch black color with one finger of dark tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes...looks fantastic.

s - Smells of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, vanilla, sweet chocolate, and some coffee. Nice nose, like it quite a bit. Nice nose amount of chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts.

t - Tastes bitter chocolate, roasted malts, bitter coffee, espresso, vanilla, cream, toasted malts, burnt malts, some lightly sweet chocolate. Taste has more bitter chocolate and is lightly bitter overall.

m - Medium to full body more on the full side, and moderate carbonation. Body is pretty thick. No real heat to it.

o - Overall a really nice RIS; I love that it comes in 12 oz. bottles and would definitely buy a 4 pack of this if I saw it on the shelf. Loads of roasted notes and some bitter chocolate dominating the taste, it's quite nice and something I'd like to have again.

 1,095 characters

Photo of TH28
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. 2015 vintage. Appearance: Black and opaque with a khaki brown foam cap that lingers a bit. Aroma: Light roasted coffee with some raisin and cherry notes. Somewhat subdued. Taste: Deep, rich malt sweetness with a strong roasted edge. Some dark fruit and sherry notes intertwine, with noticeable bitterness accentuated by slightly astringent roast. Mouthfeel: Medium with some viscosity and a light to moderate carbonation. Touch of alcohol warmth. Finish: Slightly slick on the tongue, with a touch of dark fruit and a strong lingering roast. Overall: You can tell this is a fresh version, with a strong roast component dominating the overall profile of this beer. Aroma is maybe a little subdued to some other imperial stouts, but overall very good. Over time I’m sure this will improve as the roasted edge softens into some fruitier flavors.

 857 characters

Photo of Shaw
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black, black, black with a short tan head. Looked like oil going into my glass.

Aroma of chocolate, coffee and alcohol.

Big roasted flavors mix with a bit of alcohol. Chocolate and molasses come to mind.

Great body, but then what imperial stout is thin and watery?

A good imperial stout. World class? No, but worth trying.

 329 characters

Photo of Spiff
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

From Tap at Ale House KC - Nice taste - dark - but not deeply so. Suprising 2 finger head. Smell was full - taste was well rounded but lacking distinction. No dominant sweetness but no bitterness either. Would drink again - but lots of other beers to cover before I re-order.

 277 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle dated 9/11/15, in a tulip.

Opaque jet black color with a 1F dark tan colored head that fades quickly to an oil sick. Minimal lacing.

Smell of coffee, dry chocolate, lots of roasted malt. Some alcohol as it warms.

Healthy dose of roasted malt flavors. Strong coffee and a touch of unsweetened chocolate. Black cherry.

Full creamy body with tingle. Smooth and balanced. Just a touch of alcohol on the end, but no burn. Underlying oiliness.

It packs flavor and big beer punch. A sipper, very good.

 511 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a deep black color with a large frothy tan head. The head dissipates into a thin film that is quickly revived with a swirl of the glass. Aroma is great, comprising of coffee, dark chocolate, and roasted malt. Flavor follows suit and adds a sweetness and bitterness into the mix. Thick texture and chewy. Full bodied yet incredibly smooth and drinkable for the high ABV. Great imperial stout that I probably would not go out of my way to seek out but would enjoy anytime.

 497 characters

Photo of PolarBear3
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a dark black colour with frothy two-fingered tanned head that laces really well

S - Cocoa, roasted coffee and some sweet malts are present on the nose, with some slight dark fruit but a little boozy and slightly metallic

T - Similiar in taste with sweet malts, roasted coffee and smooth dark chocolate but the booziness well hidden, some molasses and slight smoky but very sweet finish

M - Incredibly smooth with low to medium carbonation but medium to full bodied

O - A very good imperial stout that is smooth and full of flavour. More like a dessert though with its very sweet finish. Definitely one to try and enjoy after dinner on a cold winters night

 670 characters

Photo of OldRickSputin
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pleasantly surprised by this RIS! I know it's popular and has a good rating score, but I was skeptical.

It's extremely tasty and the carbonation and mouthfeel are just right.

If I had to pick something negative, it would be the dry, bitter/lingering after taste. But that's nitpicking.

Overall- outstanding offering, especially from Sierra Nevada, which doesn't have many offerings that appeal to me.

 403 characters

Photo of AdamBear
4.04/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-comes out thick and black with a nice tan head

S-faint scent of dark roasted grains and cocoa beans. I wish it were a bit stronger.

T-comes in with a wonderful taste of crisp dark roasted grains. It really is so smooth and hits the spot. There's a slight bit of bitterness before the long matching after-taste. It's a great beer. Good hints of mocha.

M-medium dry carbonation with a semi dry finish

O-the flavors aren't unique. They're not strong, but they are flawless. It's really just an easy drinking strong stout that remains true to it routes. The ingredients taste very real and genuine.i love this. It's one I could get by the case.

 648 characters

Photo of CloudStrife
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled November 2nd 2012.

A: Pours a real dark black with a 1 very dense finger khaki head. Dissipates over a minute or two leaving a thin film. No real lacing. Light barely gets through the edges.

S: Real nice dark chocolaty malt along with a sweet dark fruitiness. Can get some booze.

T: Real nice blend of chocolate malts, vanilla and a great roastiness. Little bit of bite from the alcohol but works. Raisin and fig from the malts also a coffeeish taste.

M: Smooth and velvety with a nice full body. Appropriate carbonation for the style. Could enjoy sipping on these all night.

Overall great bold stout from Sierra Nevada. Glad they are offering another stout as I've always enjoyed their other one. Hopefully I can manage to save one of these for a year.

 805 characters

Photo of GilGarp
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle served at cellar temp into a pint glass.

Narwhal is basically black in color and starts with a good inch of off white head. It settles somewhat quickly but leaves a little lacing behind.

Aroma is roasty and robust with some hop character.

Flavor is surprisingly strong with big bitterness from both hops and malts. There's a little sweetness but it's really dominated by dark roasted malts and big hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is full bodied and a little bit overly carbonated.

Overall a good imperial stout but it doesn't have the silky mouthfeel of my other favorites like Yeti and TenFidy.

 607 characters

Photo of KTCamm
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

Pours jet black with some tan foam. Eventually dissapates. Nose is dark chocolate, coffee. Pleasing. Taste is full boozy roasted malt with an opening bitter that fades out. Some lingers. Loads of chocolate with backing dark fruits. Dark puckering.

As with everything at SN, really good.

 338 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a goblet, there was a brief crest of mocha tinged dark tan foam that receded after a few minutes down to a creamy collar at the edge of the glass.

Deep roastiness in the aroma, slight ashy char, mild dry bakers chocolate, coffee.
Flavors follow suit, huge roasted malt, blackened and ashy. Bitter dark chocolate and mild coffee notes dominate. Long lasting flavors of roast and chocolate that linger into the aftertaste. As it warms, some hop greenery comes into the picture. Reminds me of new green shoots extending skyward post-forest fire. For being 10% it's fairly approachable for the style, though still a slow sipper. Very tasty and palate coating.

As with most Imperial Stouts, allow to warm up as much as possible to get the full range out of it.

Review #2700

 787 characters

Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a thin dark tan head that died down but consistently left a thin layer of bubbles around the edge if the glass and bits of lacing down the sides.
S: Moderate aromas of licorice are present in the nose along with hints of roasted malts.
T: The taste starts off like the smell with flavors of licorice after which strong flavors of roasted malts and a moderate amount of bitterness kicks in. The bitterness and roasted malts linger through the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is quite roasty and bitter. Little if any alcohol is perceptible in the smell so it is quite drinkable considering its strength.

Note: 2013 vintage

 756 characters

Photo of ThickNStout
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 10.49/ 4 pack. Bottled 10/5/12. Served in a Sweetwater.

Pours black with a frothy two and a half fingers of tan head. A good bit of dark lace.

Sharp anise hits the nose first. Followed by smokey cocoa, earth and booze.

Unique flavor profile. Bitter molasses, anise, licorice, cocoa, dark roast coffee, a powerful boost of alcohol and a bit of tangy stone fruit.

Medium full feel with moderate to low carbonation. Lingering bitter aftertaste.

This is a very different stout. It's quite good now, particularly as it warms, but my guess is that in 12-18 months this will be incredible.

 648 characters

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,965 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!

    Subscribe