Dismiss Notice
Extreme Beer Fest:Los Angeles

Join us December 9th in Los Angeles for the ultimate throwdown of craft beer creativity!

Learn more...
Dismiss Notice
Introducing: Project Extreme Brewing (a Dogfish Head + BeerAdvocate project)

Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.16/5
Exceptional
5,132 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:
A malt-forward monster, highlighting the depths of malt flavor.

Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,351
Reviews:
961
Ratings:
5,132
pDev:
9.62%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
336
Gots:
1,483
Trade:
36
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 5,132 |  Reviews: 961
Photo of Rimbimhoot
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Very roasty, black licorice, dark chocolate, dark cherry, bitter

64 characters

Photo of Jwburns75
3.54/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

My first time having a Narwhal, and I don't think this beer hangs with the upper beers of the style. The smell is faint, maybe some roastyness coming thru but not a lot to speak of. The taste seems one dimensional to me for a style that often has so much depth. There isn't a lot of sweetness in the mix which would go a long way. It's drinkable for sure and feels hearty, but it's lacking certain characteristics that I prefer in my imperial stouts.

 454 characters

Photo of mmapes
3.54/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Found 4-pack bottles labeled 2012. Poured into pint glass. Big foamy head with lots of staying power. Smoke (toasty malt? No, smoke.) and "beer" on the nose. Color is deep dark brown as it pours, and black in the glass.

Nice oily coat on the tongue, heavier than some imperial stouts. I like stouts thick (like this one). Smoke is prominent but not overbalanced -- not as strong as the scent suggests. Kind of sweet, smoky finish. Very well balanced. Maybe not so bold-tasting as heavier Russian imperial stouts like Czar or Palo Santo Marron. The flavor is all grain. I don't get notes of spices or fruit, so I'm not sure it's as complex as I might have guessed from other reviews. But it does serve as a good, grainy, pure example of an imperials stout.

Would probably buy again.

 783 characters

Photo of tedho21
3.54/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Photo of stumac
3.55/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours up black. Great lacing. Dark tan/light brown lacing. Whatevs. Smell booze, shattered dreams, my upper lip, toasted malts. Taste toffee, coffee, and bears. Oh my! Slightly boozy. Thick burnt malts. Big ol body. Smooth carbo. A tastey treat. I dig it

 254 characters

Photo of JuanG117
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%

Photo of chocosushi
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle->CHOC Flute

A ~ Pours black with a mahogany hue toward the bottom of the glass. Light lace clings. Cocoa head.

S ~ Baking Chocolate, Brown Sugar, & Caramel Syrup.

T ~ Chocolate following through with earthy hops (grass/bark) with lots
of caramelized sugar & biscuit. Very full flavored. Imperial for sure.

M ~ Sticky with not too heavy of a feel, but with a great deal of booze. Roasty, but quite sweet, akin to espresso with sugar in it.

D ~ Drinkable & solid, but I probably wouldn't purchase again. Check it out
if you see it, what a deal. Great alternative to Old Raspy if that's yer bag.

 614 characters

Photo of Michael_R_Gurdineer
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

As always, I find barrel aged to be TOO much flavor in the wrong direction. As this special brew breathed the barrel aged flavor became too overpowering. Not my cup of tea!

 172 characters

Photo of JRed
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Dark black in body with creamy tan head that floats on top for the duration of the drink. Aroma of roast, dark chocolate, dirt, and cocoa powdered mint leaves. Flavors aren't as aggressive as I thought they'd be: fluffy chocolate mousse, roasted malt leads to dirt, some tobacco towards the end. Milky body with light carbonation. A smooth stout that masks the big booze well behind layers of cocoa and crushed autumn leaves. Dangerously easy to keep picking up over and over again.

 482 characters

Photo of Furlinator
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours near black with very little head and decent lacing.

Smell is alcohol and cocoa up front. A faint scent of raisins and plums with a bready
finish on the back end.

Taste is bitter coffee up front. Faint nut flavor and some dark fruit bring up the rear.

Medium bodied for a stout. Slightly creamy with medium carbonation.

As stated in previous reviews, the alcohol presence is obvious and certainly detracts from this stout's potential. A bit of a disappointment.

 471 characters

Photo of zac16125
3.57/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a tulip
vintage 2013

A: Pours an opaque jet black with 1.5 fingers width of light mocha colored head. Decent retention, and leaves a good amount of lacing.

S: Tons of roasted malt, stale black coffee, bakers chocolate, an almost bourbon-ish booziness, some herbaceous notes.

T: Heavy on the roasted malt flavors, which are accompanied by floral hop notes and a hoppy bitterness. Wasnt expecting that. I also get anise, stale coffee, and an almost sour dark fruit character.

M/D: Full bodied, carbonation non the heavier side for the style, ABV very well masked. Drinkability is average.

O: I dont love this one, kind of a weird flavor profile. I expect it to get much better with age and will revisit this in a few months.

 748 characters

Photo of oline73
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I had this on-tap at Max's during Baltimore Beer Week. Served in a sample glass.

Appearance: The beer is black with a layer of tan head. The head fades to a ring around the glass.

Smell: I'm getting a dark fruit sweetness along with some mild roasted malt. There is some dark chocolate in there as well. There is a slightly off note that reminds me of sweaty socks, but not enough to ruin the whole smell.

Taste: Sweet up front along with the roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors. I'm getting some dark fruit sweetness behind the roasty flavor. The finish is quite smooth, but there is some roast to counter that. The off smell doesn't show up in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: The body is just on the syrupy side of medium with lots of carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: The finish had enough bitterness but the rest of the sip could have used more. The smell was a bit off but the rest of the beer was pretty good. Not sure I need more.

 942 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was a half inch of tan-colored, foamy, long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Definitely an underplayed aroma of coffee, chocolate and malt. Decent.

T: Tasted of light coffee notes, some dark chocolate, roasted malt, and maybe some dark fruit. There's also a very pronounced burnt quality as well. Not a bad flavor, but it could have used a bit more punch.

M: A very well-carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This isn't too bad of a beer, but it doesn't necessarily reside among the top tier Russian Imperial Stouts. Still, worth a look.

 649 characters

Photo of psdonnelly
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Ericsepesy
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Good stout

10 characters

Photo of ArrogantB
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Ok, this review is for the 2013 batch as I forgot to review the 2012 which I actually thought was better. Dark black, brown healthy head. Aroma is alcohol, roast malt, not bad at all. Flavor is alcohol, dark malts, fruit, mild notes of chocolate. Overall pretty good but a little astringent for my liking,

 305 characters

Photo of DocJitsu
3.59/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque, nearly black with a short, quickly fading head. The color of the head is caramel with shades of mocha. A very nice looking beer. A shame the head dissipates so quickly. Usual dark roast malt and coffee aromas. Nothing remarkable or unique. Mouthfeel is viscous and creamy, helping the whole experience of the beer venture a little north of mediocrity. Flavors of coffee, dark chocolate, caramelized sugar, and plastic.

Addendum: as the beer warms it improves. Boldness emerges and becomes much more like a Russian Imperial Stout. A bit of a sour character that seems to accentuate the experience, but I wouldn't miss it if it weren't there. I feel the alcohol, so it must be there. I certainly don't taste it.

 727 characters

Photo of HarrySTruman
3.59/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle severed near room temprature.

Black like the depths of the ocean (just like the name implies). Brown bubbles create a finger high head.

Smells like coffee beer. A good smell, but not very bold or broad. Roasted or brewed coffee.

Tastes are slightly more bold, roasted malts, chocholate and coffee. I felt like I was tasting a small amount of licorice or licroice flavored gum. Breathing out, or the after taste was more like a bitter baking chocolate.

Mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Easy to drink, but still a nice warmer for a winters night. Cosy up next to the fire with one of these.

Great beer, good price for the ABV, easy to drink, easy to find. No complaints about this one. Not as big and bold as some other RIS, but still a high quality drink.

 765 characters

Photo of Torey
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%

Photo of wedge
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2012

Deep, dark black color with a lean tan head that drops to a luscious, creamy covering. Smells dark and malty...spicy fruit, licorice, molasses, and a slight oxidized/aged aroma in back. Somewhat rich, but definitely big and roasty malt flavor. Char, cocoa, espresso, and dark fruity esters. Again, a particular spiciness permeates the flavor along with a heavy bitterness in the finish. Booze is thankfully low, though there is an expected warming deep down in the throat. Big bodied and creamy, but dry. I liked this a bit more during the first half, but the bitterness is becoming a little distracting. A solid RIS that I think is worthy of aging a couple more bottles for longer to see what happens.

 708 characters

Photo of wagnere13
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%

Photo of A_Hajduk
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Strong. Warm feeling. Good, strong stout

40 characters

Photo of Gryphon69
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of lastmango
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured pitch black with a 3 finger tan creamy head. Lots of lacing. Nose was very mild coffee and raisin. Taste was the same with a smokiness followed by the piney hops. Not as complex as I thought it was going to be. Perhaps I am having an off day. Medium carbonation and feel.

 284 characters

Photo of torwart94
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,132 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.