Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
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:
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.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,017 | Ratings: 5,307
Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
1.76/5  rDev -57.7%
look: 4 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

While many love this stout. There is just something about Narwhal for me - an oddity. One time I placed this as a hint of grape cough syrup, but only that one time. Not a fan.

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Photo of BeerStine
2.58/5  rDev -38%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

11/15/17 batch poured into a snifter.

Pours a dark brown/black with a medium brown head.

Smells of dark rich malts

Taste a sweeter than expected. Charcoal aftertaste and can taste the harshness of the alcohol.

Overall decent. Nothing to write home about.

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Photo of jjanicik
4.79/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

For the price, this makes you not want to bother buying expensive imperial stouts like those from Evil Twin, Modern Times, and Prairie. A very drinkable imperial stout without any bourbon / alcohol too forward. The "right" amount of chocolate for somebody with a sweet tooth who also loves beer.

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Photo of CuddlyREDRUM
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Not the best stout out there, but at the price range it absolutely has a price worth the heavenly buzz. One problem is the unicorn on the label has no feet. Other than that, it is just an affordable, rich stout that has to be picked up when in rotation.

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Photo of Troy-Hawaii
3.69/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bought a 6-pack bottles $12.69 Tamuras
Smel of cocoa, alcohol
Dark black color
Heavy mouthfeel
Medium carbonation
Cocoa, creamy, alcohol tastes
Overall not impressed with this. I think beers with high alcohol that hides them are better made and this one I can easily taste the alcohol. Tastes are not as complex as expected. Bottle date is just 6 weeks old so I'll see if aging this will alow it to improve.
I let it age a year and the alcohol taste has gone down to make it smoother tasting. The tastes have developed to have a caramel sweetness, smokey flavor. Changing taste rating from 3.25 to 4.0.

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Photo of Wolvmar
3.28/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle dated 9/20/18. Served in a tulip glass.

Pour: dark brown. Decent head, little lacing. Some clouds.

Nose: really didn’t get much besides some sweet malt.

Taste: chocolate upfront, some coffee, dark roast malts, a little bitter on backend. Some battery acid like taste to me. Didn’t really enjoy it.

Mouthfeel: pretty thick. Moderate carbonation.

Overall: the chocolate and coffee are there but there’s a strange bitterness/acid taste that turned me off. Won’t buy again.

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Photo of Livyatan1996
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

mad that i only found one of these around, would have loved to have one to sit on for a while. dumped out a thick dark brown oil with a fizzy, bubbly tan head that slipped to nothing at all quickly. nose is burning with booze, with roasted malts and bitter chocolate, earthiness that comes in more as it warms. expected it to drink pretty hot, but this is smooth and tasty. earthy, roasted and bitter with a lot of dark chocolate, toast and a light coating of sweetness. full bodied and warming. quite comfy to drink.

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Photo of ncdevildog97
1.93/5  rDev -53.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

How did this get rated so high. It’s just booze. Bad tasting booze. I’ve had some really good stouts and this ain’t one of them. The taste is way too complex and you can’t get past the alcohol taste. Very disappointed

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Photo of muchos
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L. Thick-ish black pour, big ol' tan head of foam which recedes super slowly to bubbly patches.
S. Bready, malty, toasty, baker's chocolate, hint of coffee, earthy or grassy. Chocolate and toffee as it warms. Smells pretty stout-y.
T. Dark bread, cocoa, dark chocolate, grassy bitterness, coffee, deep dark roasted malty goodness, some toffee as it warms, more chocolaty toward the back end. Yes.
F. Full feel, smooth, warming in the way back end, sticky chalky finish.
O. You know when you're at the store and you're like "should I get this or should I get that?" Well this time it really worked out in my favor. Excellent beer. Recommended. Cheers ! ! !

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Photo of stevepat
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a perfect pitch black, like the darkest depths of the arctic sea, with a muddy cocoa ice floe of a head about a finger and a half thick that persists deep into the arctic summer.
Rich chocolate and raisin smell. Other deep dark brew notes like prune, coffee, tobacco and the abyss.
Taste is bitter sweet, dark chocolate, some coffee roastiness, sweetness that hints at plum and black cherry and blueberry. Incredibly coherent flavor, many complex beers parade tastes across your tongue, this one arrives wholly formed and settles in like an arctic winter.
Mouthfeel is quite pleasant, not as pillowy as some big stouts I've tried and a tad bit toward the syrupy, but overall this is one fine expedition of an ale.
Overall this is one of my favorite big stouts, hard to beat it in terms of value, accessibility, and downright, no nonsense, beery deliciousness. Can't wait to see how this monster ages.

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Photo of antonyliu
3.85/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a snifter glass

Color is black with no clarity, and a one finger mocha head. Not much retention or sticky lacing.

Smokey, and roasty.

Acidic and boozy. Earthy. Burnt. Nutty. Dark, bitter chocolate.

Thick and heavy, but not velvety and smooth like others of the style. It’s got light but steady carbonation.

I think the high rating is due to the high ABV and widespread availability. Try a North Coast Old Rasputin (widely available) and you will know what this style CAN be. Narwhal is in the right neighborhood of flavors and characteristics. However, it is too unbalanced for me—leaning too strong on acidity, bitterness, and booziness. Given all the available choices for a RIS, I wouldn’t get this again.

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Photo of tone77
3.61/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a brown 12 oz. bottle. Has a black color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of roasted malts, chocolate. Taste is of alcohol, chocolate, roasted malts, more bitterness than I expected, did I mention it is boozy? Feels medium/full bodied in the mouth and overall is a good beer, but I was expecting more.

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Photo of laketang
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours onyx with a nice mocha head that reduces to a ring. Smells of roast, wood and inise prominent. Flavors of licorice and roast with hints of chocolate. The mouthfeel is medium thick and creamy. Great tasting stout that needs no build-up.

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Photo of Darcola
4.26/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Tastes like a good cold night at sea. Pours from a 12oz bottle, 2018 vintage into a tulip glass. Head is dark tan but goes away quickly after the first couple of sips. Smells like coffee and brown bread, maybe some burnt chocolate.

Taste is the same after the nose, with strong alcohol and heavy malts.

Mouthfeel is smooth with good carbonation, slight burn at the back from the alcohol, which is always nice in the winter.

Overall a nice beer, reminds me of KBS, this could be aged similarly.

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Photo of MacBrewin
2.75/5  rDev -33.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Medium mouthfeel. Smell is faint. Taste is mostly on the back end, roasty chocolate. Nothing special, not worth $15 a six pack. I'll pass next year. Gives me perspective on how good founders breakfast Stout is.

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Photo of Shade1951
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Delicious! Worthy of being called an Imperial Stout. Not ruined by an overabundance of hops, as I've tasted by other breweries. Just bitter enough, with dark chocolate and coffee notes prominent. Creamy mouthfeel. Good carbonation.

A winner!

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass. Label is stamped for bottling date of '09/20/18'.
Black colored body, with very slight dark brown highlights when back lit. Half a finger of light tan head stays around as creamy cap and higher ring. Each sip leaves behind some lacing but most slide back down into the beer.
Aroma of dark roasted malts, with strong coffee and layers of chocolate smells. There is a little smoke, which presents itself stronger in the taste.
Taste is dark roasted malts, espresso coffee, and chocolate from milk to dark cacao. Hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and dark fruit.
Thick, creamy mouth feel. Alcohol gets into the nasal passages. Adequate carbonation, but more flat than bubbly. Kind of dry at the end.
This is a complex tasting stout, well balanced, and a pleasure to drink. Has a range of expressions from sweet, to dry, to smoky.

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Photo of PA-hunter
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured 12oz bottle into snifter glass. 10.2% abv

Appearance- Pours a coal black with dark tan, thin head quick to recede. Pours slowly due to it's viscous nature.

Smell- Malt, chocolate, not a whole lot of aroma.

Taste- A blast of malty grains. The roasted flavors come quickly, ahead of the chocolate notes which is a bit different that a lot of RIS' but it works. Hints of chocolate come after the coffee. The finish is quite bitter with a bit of smokiness as well.....suitable for an untamed creature of the depths.....

Mouthfeel- Heavy in body, almost syrupy. Low carbonation. Slight alcohol burn.

Overall- Aptly named, the creature that is the narwhal may be as strong as this beer. This beer is a great sipper. Many aggressive flavors as well. Suitable for the colder months

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Photo of penguinsgoboom
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a fizzy one finger head. Solidly dark dark brown, almost no light gets through.

S: Malt, chocolate, coffee, roasted grain. It's everything you'd expect from a stout

T: Big big flavors. There's a heavy bitterness from the roast and espresso, some cocoa notes. Malted grains even it out just a bit. Almost taste like it was aged in a bourbon barrel.

O: This is not a beer for all occasions. This beer will warm you up in the coldest of nights. It is a big heavy, beast of a stout. Appropriate that it's mascot is a narwhal, I can imagine sailors drinking this at sea.

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Photo of Claude-Irishman
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Spieglau stout glass. Jet black, like a black hole no light escapes. Beige creamy/foamy head with lacing. Smell is semi muted with hints of BBQ smoke, hot chocolate, toffee, vanilla ,hops,booze.(it is over 10ABV) Taste is delicious with flavors of smoke,vanilla,chocolate,raisins. Feels incredibly well balanced and smooth. Overall a great example of a not overly flavored stout. The main flavor is not coffee, or creme brulee, or some other flavor agent. but (stout flavor) Great job Sierra Nevada !!

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Photo of FrMatthewLC
4.29/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Strong beer on the extremes: coal black, strong hops, & high alcohol. Nice bread but not extreme, black color. Smell & taste were good. The only other Russian Imperial Stout I've had was Rasputin & prefer the hoppiness here over that.

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Photo of DoghouseReilly3946
3.94/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Date: Bottled on 08/23/18, shared on 10/20/18.

Appearance: Total blackout with a finger and a half of tightly compacted khaki head.

Aroma: Chocolate malts, vanilla, a touch of sugary marshmallow, fudge, wood smoke, and a very light grassy hop aroma.

Taste: Dark chocolate up front, bitter roasted malts, espresso, with a sweet sugary dessert like finish. Well made and resonably complex, but I like the more bitter roast of Even More Jesus, Old Rasputin, or Expedition Stout a bit more.

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Photo of Nass
4.31/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I am drinking the 2018 Narwhal Imperial Stout. I notice there is a bottled on date. I am tasting some hops similar to the Old Rasputin I guess this is a west coast thing because they just throw hops into everything. Man the West Coast Sucks at brewing beer that's why the east coast is kicking your tail. It looks & tastes like your typical RIS. I am getting dark baker's chocolate, slight dark fruit, roasted malts. I like the old bottle design more than the new bottle design by the way. It's really good but probably not as good as some other RIS that I have had before. Cheers! A-

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Photo of Spiceepicklez
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look is a wonderful dark chocolate color. Smell is that of a rich imperial stout, chocolate and toffee and caramel. Taste improves on all these things as well as being even more flavorful. Tons of malted chocolate and caramel and sweetness. I love this beer! Amazing value as well at 12.99 a six pack for 10.3%!!

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3.89/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2018 vintage - 12oz bottled on 8-30-18
1 1/2" dense tan head on a black stout that has the faintest brown tint at the edges. Great retention at 1/2" and thick foamy lace. Looks great.
Sweet, dark roasted malts. Coffee with cream aroma. Spicy hops are in the mix as well.
Bitter dark chocolate. Strong espresso flavor, roasted malt bitterness. Charred flavor. Piney hops are present currently.
Medium body (??) not as full/velvety as expected. By no means thin but on the RIS scale it's medium bodied in my opinion. Not medium flavored though as this packs a LONG lasting finish of bitter roasted malts and hops. Tannic, chalky mouthfeel.
Really good especially so early on. Bottled only 5 weeks ago.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,307 ratings