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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding
903 Reviews
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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:
903
Ratings:
4,969
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
22.46%
 
 
Wants:
320
Gots:
1,420
For Trade:
41
User Reviews
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Reviews: 903 | Ratings: 4,969
Photo of H0PHead108
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Delicious aroma of chocolate with a hint of coffee. A med/full head on the pour supported by the dark chocolate brown body. Smooth and sweet with the bitterness of dark roasted coffee to finish. This doesn't hide it's 10.2%ABV Imperial kick for very long. I left this to chill on the porch for a bit [58 degrees] for about 30 min before I opened and poured. it. Delightful !

 375 characters

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

Pours a dark black, only a little foam that faded to a light film, left no lacing. The aroma was of dark chocolate, slight coffee, sweet malt, and just a hint of dark fruit. Taste was of sweet chocolate and coffee, with some bitter hoppiness and alcohol burn. Mouthfeel was medium bodied, with some alcohol, but not too much. Just right. Overall, this beer is super tasty, can't wait to see what a year of cellaring has done to it.

 435 characters

Photo of mfnmbvp
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle, with bottled on date 07/24/2014 printed on the back label. Finally getting around to trying the infamous Sierra Nevada Narwhal. Expectations are high based on this beer's good reputation.

Poured into a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter glass.

A - It pours a dark inky black; nearly opaque with some hues of brown showing around the edges. About a finger of creamy tan head. Leaves good scattered spotty lacing on the glass. Looks very nice. 4

S - The smell is kind of light, compared to what I was expecting. Very roasty and malty, with some unsweetened chocolate / cocoa notes, burnt coffee, char, notes of licorice / cola. I was expecting more roastiness, in all honesty. Somewhat lacking in aroma, in my opinion. 3.5

T - Taste is a step up from the nose - simple, yet refined. Notes of chocolate / cocoa, vanilla, fudge, roasted coffee beans. Bitter & roasty. 4

M - The feel is smooth and creamy, with good carbonation, but I could see some age doing this beer well, to perhaps tone the carb down just a tad. Again, bitter and roasty on the finish. Sticky, fudgey, & burnt, but in a pleasant way.

Overall, a nice, yet simple imperial stout from Sierra Nevada. I could definitely see bottles of this stuff aging well, and I would be interested to see what some serious time does to a bottle of this stuff.

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout -----4/5.

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Photo of yarnbomb
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Yum! A great version of one of my very favorite beer styles. The last one I had on draft was SO GOOD that I didn't actually share it as intended, oops.

 151 characters

Photo of Shandirra
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Just the way I like my Imperial Stouts; rich, smooth, full bodied, heady aroma, malty finish. Bought it as a 'pick a pack' selection from a borough distributor. Pleasant surprise. Definitely will purchase again!

 211 characters

Photo of xboxhueg
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Roasty, chocalately, coffee notes all to be expected. Strong dark fruit sweetish taste. Alcohol warmth. Suberb lacing. Medium to heavy mouthfeel. Rather on the sweet side. AWESOME!

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Photo of RexBanner
4.7/5  rDev +13.5%

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black. No light penetrated through this dark concoction. 1/2 finger head that dissipated fairly quick. Velvety smooth appearance.

Its aroma was of bready yeast, dark roast grains, alcoholic esters, bitter dark chocolate. Faint banana smell was also present.

The taste was of robust roasted grains and dark bitter 80% cacao. Very faint taste of hops was noticeable before everything was washed away by the alcoholic burn that permeated the mouth. Smooth mouth feel. Not as heavy as one might imagine for an imperial stout. As it reached room temperature it began to develop the flavor profile of a strong dark Belgian ale. Even the aftertaste was more akin to a SDB as oppose to a stout.

Overall, I would recommend this beer to others. It's definitely a sipper. I missed that characteristic smokey aftertaste common to stouts as well as the creamy, chewy mouth feel, but all in all, this is a superb beer worth trying.

 955 characters

Photo of nodder
3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Black with a one finger light tan head. Fades quickly leaving slight lacing and alcohol legs on glass.

S- Dark roasted malts, coffee, dark chocolate, slight dark fruity notes. Slightly boozy smell also.

T- Standard RIS flavors. Coffee, dark chocolate, an earthy/fruitiness there also. A bit more alcohol taste than expected but this is still very good.

M- Medium mouth with slightly more carbonation than expected. Finish is bitter but nice. There is a definite alcohol burn on this one but not overpowering.

O- A bit boozy but still good. Gonna throw a bottle in the cellar for a year and see if it mellows.

12 oz. bottle

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter glass.

Appearance: Medium bodied that looks thin but still thick in a sense , tan head which rose to maybe a notch or two below a finger's length.

Smell: Wow, a beautiful mocha scent. You feel a chocolate aroma hitting you immediately. Strong but still subtle.

Taste: A nice complexity of cocoa and coffee, very deep and smooth.

Mouth: Stick as it gets and honestly putting the glass down is the worst part about this brew.

Overall: Awesome beer, would recommend to anyone who appreciates what quality truly is. Snifter glass preferred, salud!

 572 characters

Photo of hophugger
2.98/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Nice deep chocolate brown that just doesn't want any light to peek through, nice!! Relatively light aroma, with maybe a hint of sweet chocolate malt coming through. Taste is bold with hints of bitter chocolate and a touch of sweet malts. I know that the ABV is high, but the mouthfeel is predominately alcohol, taking away I think a little from what I would imagine to be quite a spectacular flavor. Burns ever so slightly as it inches its way across the tongue and down the gullet. Overall, a pretty balanced with what I think is just a touch too much alcohol feel that slightly numbs the mouth...

 598 characters

Photo of Samp01
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from mike67. Pours a deep slightly viscous black with a small brown head. Aroma and Taste of dark roasted caramel malt, some mild liquorice notes, dark fruit with some notes of dark cacao and mild espresso flavors with a dark toasted malt bitterness on the end for balance. A full bodied, creamy body on the palate with moderate carbonation and sticky mouth feel. A good full flavored brew, rich and creamy. Overall this is very good, delicious and flavorful brew.

 471 characters

Photo of REGreenBTRB
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%

Bottled on 07/31/14. Poured into a snifter.

A: 5 - Pitch black with a very thin head, tan/cinnamon head. It seriously looks like this glass just got colored with sharpie.

S: 3.8 - I get some of the roasted malt, dark chocolate, really not a whole lot of coffee. Mainly just the malt and coffee. It doesn't smell quite as strong as I was expecting.

T: 4.25 - It tastes wonderful! You definitely get a lot of the malt up front, and the dark chocolate is very present. There's just a hint of coffee. This is mostly roasted malts and dark chocolate, though I can definitely pick up on a little bit of the alcohol.

M: 4.25 - There is a slight alcohol burn, medium carbonation. Creamy finish.

O: 4.32 - Overall a very good beer. It's hard to go wrong with a dark chocolate/malty imperial stout. Definitely something worth trying! Woo Pig.

 837 characters

Photo of DaBrewski
5/5  rDev +20.8%

Malty roasted coffee flavor with perhaps a touch of bourbon hook coming through at the end. There are hops there too.

There is some heat coming through.

However, where Goose Island's BCS would be an "11" on the amp scale Narwhal would be an 8. This is not a bad attribute.

Excellent Imperial Stout. Absolutely surprised me. Great price point for this bold stout.

 371 characters

Photo of WAbeerfiend
2/5  rDev -51.7%

Poured into a tumbler in late 2013.

A: Opaque black.

S: Roasty malt, brown sugar.

T: Lots of bitterness overwhelmed anything else for me on the first sip.

O: I tried to make it through this with small sips, but the bitterness was too much. The alcohol was very well hidden. This was a drain pour.

 301 characters

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

A - Pitch brown. Beige, reluctant head that develops into a light halo.
S - Sweet lactose. Dark chocolate + sweet coffee.
T - Smooth, sweet coffee and milk chocolate.
F - It goes well with everything else.
O - Very nice. I will have it again.

 248 characters

Photo of AirBob
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

A- Thin layer of khaki colored head which quickly dissipated. Deep black body. Sparkling off-white lacing.

S - Coffee grounds and chocolate syrup.

T - Sweetened, burnt coffee and unsweetened chocolate. Some earthiness in the middle. Finishes with numbing boozy heat. Very bitter dark chocolate and burnt coffee.

M - Low carb. Full bodied. Bitter finish helps to cut through any stickiness.

O - Bitter. Reminds me of sweetened Starbucks house blend with some booze. Could be better balanced, but the bitterness cuts down on the stickiness which made this more drinkable than other beers in the style.

 614 characters

Photo of beerdedking
4.35/5  rDev +5.1%

Vintage 2013. From the snifter emits one of strongest black licorice scents in an RIS I've encountered.
Oohh, I'm gonna like this already. Comingled with the initial licorice are light scents of dark cherry and prune.
After the quickly dissipating head vanished, I started the swilling. The licorice continues with dark fruit and a touch of fine coffee
which all play nicely on the tongue long after a pull. My favorite attribute is the lack of char. Strangely this is bit thin for the style, but slightly. This minor lack of density does
give way to a bit greater drinkability. You can slug this baby down, then have another, then nite nite. Overall, this is quite worthy for the style, it's Sierra Nevada, and the
price is great as you'd expect. SN doing awesome things as usual.....

 799 characters

Photo of samtrillo
4.29/5  rDev +3.6%

Black with no head and minimal lacing.

The nose is of cocoa and coffee and sweet malt.

The taste is much more pronounced. It reminds me of a dark chocolate covered coffee bean! A toasted essence to the malt. The back end of the taste profile brings to mind dark fruits, bittersweet craisin.

The mouthfeel is smooth and a little warm. Low carbonation. Very easy drinking for such a big beer in taste and ABV. Overall an excellent Russian Imperial.

 450 characters

Photo of WoostaBia
4.49/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 Batch. Excellent beer. May taste better with age, has harsh edges that may get better with age. For a 10% beer the alcohol is well hidden. The hops and burnt malt flavors dominate.

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Photo of Bouleboubier
4.3/5  rDev +3.9%

(2014 version, packaged 07/24/14 - poured into a balloon)

A: just about jet black... dark tan foam, with some staying power, perhaps due to high-hopping

S: huge cappucchino roastiness with hints of black chocolate and a whisper of medicinal booze... piney hops out the ass... very bold aromas and quite inviting

T: cascading layers of intense roasted flavors roll and fold over the palate, while the back end bitterness and booze slowly fans out into and through the back part of the throat, stopping there and burning like a bonfire against a concrete wall, while falling quite short of traveling down the throat with any malt viscosity or hop resins - this is all on the first sip... subsequent sampling reveal more biting bitterness, dark chocolate, and a subtle spiciness, likely derived from a blend of (mostly) fusels and a healthy dose of the Magnum (sorry, Challenger's colorful personality gets swallowed up and wasted here)... not what you'd call 'sweet' this is

M: medium-bodied but built rugged and sturdy... everything drops off midway down the palate... soft, whiskey-like parching effect, but its heat stings... supremely bone-dry

O: roast, coffee, malt, hops, booze - that's the name of this game... it'd be nice to see how this develops over time, but I'm diggin' it for what it's got right now... I can't figure out why, but this tastes like a SN product - must be something in the water

 1,410 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

A: perfect black beer with a dense mocha fluff; lengths of lace left behind

S: rich dark malt aromas full of cocoa and espresso suggestions; sweeter hints of molasses

T: bittersweet chocolates and espresso with cane sugar; flashes of vanilla; lighter tones suggestive of anise and oak

M: creamy smooth and soft; slips across the palate with the barest brush; a full-bodied beer that's light-as-a feather?

O: an epic Russian Imperial - runs a little sweeter and less bitter than say, an Old Rasputin; had a slimmer, less sticky character than say, Stone's IRS; an elegant entry in the style. Don't pass it up.

 612 characters

Photo of Celtics17
4.66/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Just a big flavorful beer. It's like drinking a candy bar. This is one you can truly age. It's a great 4 pack. The High Altitude series is great.

Aroma- Big notes of sweet milk chocolate and roasted coffee.

Taste- Big milk/dark chocolate flavor coming through.

Overall this beer has everything you want in a stout.

2014 BOTTLE

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Photo of MaineBrewing
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- poured into snifter a pitch black with three finger massive fine bubbled tan head. Completely opaque, not even a twinge of light gets through when held to the light.

S- nose is a deep and dark roasted malt and candy sweetness, with notes of raisin, molasses, chocolate, smothered in alcohol.

T- taste is a a deep dark amalgam of sweet malt and roasted smokiness... lots of molasses and bakers chocolate followed by some must and wet tarp, ends in a very hoppy bitter, I love a hoppy RIS.

M- nice and thick, syrupy with ample carbonation, as expected for the style.

O- overall one of my go to faves in the style, would never pass one up. This review is on a 2013, had a few fresh and saved this for a bit. It seems to have taken on a musty dampness to it, not terrible but makes me not feel bad for drinking them fresh..

 830 characters

Photo of CTbrew32
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance- 2013 bottle cap. Pitch black with a slightly mocha head. One finger head poured with no angle.

Aroma- Big notes of sweet milk chocolate and some dark fruit and roasted aromas as well.

Taste- Not far off from the nose with big roast malts at the front followed by milk chocolate and slight bit of dark fruit. A little hoppy and dry as well.

Feel- As noted before this is a little dry, but pleasant and very drinkable. A slight warming is noticeable at the back end.

Overall- Great imperial stout with nice roasted malts and sweet chocolate balancing each other out. Only downfall to me is the roast/coffee malts linger at the end which I could do without. Definitely worth picking up again. (90/100)

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Photo of alphagnome
3.7/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance:
Pitch black body wears a finger-thick medium-brown head. Respectable retention and a fair amount of carbonation.

Aroma:
Potent vanilla and oak aroma. Heavy, roasted dark malt and cocoa notes. Hints of coffee and cherry shine through.

Taste:
Considerable amount of hoppiness for the style, but I like it. Heavy roasted coffee and a bit too much vanilla. Quite boozy.

Mouthfeel:
Thick - a slow sipper. Moderate carbonation for the style. Semi-sweet finish.

Overall:
Not a bad Imperial Stout by any stretch of the imagination, but there are better, more enjoyable options available. Worth picking up though. Try Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer if you want to know just how good an Imperial can be.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,969 ratings.
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