Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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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:
925
Ratings:
5,023
Avg:
4.15
pDev:
9.64%
 
 
Wants:
332
Gots:
1,446
For Trade:
41
User Reviews
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Reviews: 925 | Ratings: 5,023
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with black chocolate notes is quite interesting. Taste is a nice mix of roasted malt with some black chocolate notes. Body is pretty full with nice creamy touch with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well brewed overall with good mix of complexity and good drinkability.

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Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
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

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a one-finger, light brown head of bubbly foam. It left thin rings of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of dark chocolate and roasted malt. There was a touch of pine.

T - Great blend of dark chocolate, burnt molasses, toffee and roasted malt. A slight piney bitterness added balance.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium to full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a really nice Russian Imperial Stout.

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Photo of oline73
3.58/5  rDev -13.7%
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.

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Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours jet black with a thinner deep mocha colored head atop,no light got thru even when held to the light.Deep roast,char, and smoke dominate the nose with underlying bitter chocolate,it smells a bit raw and in your face.Wow alot of different stuff going on on the palate,dark roast coffee,deep char and smoke, with a molasses,licorice, and alcohol induced sweetness that really hits home,I was right this is in your face.This is a big brash imperial stout,it's a little rough around the edges...in a good way.

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

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 10/5/2012. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1 finger dense dark tan head with great retention, that reduces to a small thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, licorice, leather, tobacco, light pine, light smoke/char, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of huge dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, licorice, leather, char, tobacco, herbal, light pine, light smoke, and roasted earthiness. Good amount of roast/char and herbal hop bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses, toast, dark bread, char, leather, tobacco, light smoke, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible balance and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt and earthy hop flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is an awesome Russian imperial stout. All around great balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted/bready malt and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of jlindros
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a darker caramel mocha colored creamy almost 1 finger head that fades slowly with nice lacing, over pretty much pitch black beer, and decent legs to go with the lacing.

Nose has plenty of dark malts, black malt, some roast, hint of charred almost acrid roast, a little espresso from the roast not from actual coffee, light fluffy nougat but no chocolate. a bit of earthy hops, some caramel and booze round off the nose.

Taste starts with burnt char, really charred roasted malts, and black malts that seem like they will get acrid but don't, at first. Dark malts is the key, tons of roasted malts that start to get a little soy sauce like as acrid flavors do start to come through, so much black malt and roast, with a bit of espresso from the roasted malts again. A bit of caramel and nougat again, as well as the complete lack of chocolate. Also some light earthy hops add to the bitterness that comes initially from the roasted malts. Some warming booze in the middle. Finish brings a decent amount of bitterness, some earthy spicy hops really come through on the finish, as well as bitterness from the char, a semi sticky sweetness, little syrupy, and some booze warmth on the back end, as well as plenty more black malts and roast.

Mouth is fuller bodied, slightly creamy but a bit syrupy, some booze warmth, fluffy nice carb.

Overall mixed, it has some good points, the hops come in nicely, the fluffiness, booze is hidden fairly well, and it will surely age well. However, too much roast and black malt flavors for now, a bit acrid, little soy sauce, etc. However, I think this will be a great beer in 2-3 years so I'll probably bunker a few down in the cellar.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
3.98/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012 12oz bottle.

A: Pours black with a thin 1/8th-inch mocha head which fades to the rim and thin cap leaving spotty lace.

N: Baker's chocolate, cacao truffles, roast with some coffee, damp wood, malt, vanilla and caramel.

T: Roasty dark semi-sweet chocolate nibs, malts, faint char and coffee.

M: Full body and light carbonation. Rich, creamy and thick. Some dryness and mildly bitter finish.

O: Flavor is dominated by dark chocolate. Smells much better than it tastes.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout
12 oz. brown glass bottle, "072414C120:16"

Appearance: Typical black/dark tan. Excellent head retention. Very good lacing.
Aroma: Golden caramel, light toffee, licorice, subtle fruit (black cherry), some piney/grassiness, chocolate, cold black coffee.
Flavor: As the aroma suggests, with additional espresso that's rich and creamy; and a subtle touch of orange-like citrus. It's a little spicy (hops? alcohol? both?), and a light touch of pine helps to balance it alongside a median bitterness. As you progress the black cherry note seems to step forward a bit. Dry, gently roasty and chocolatey lingering finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a very fine-bubbled moderate carbonation that at first gently bristles and then softens to become smoother.
Overall: Quite unique in its fruity component; and toned-down a bit in its chocolate and roast as compared to many examples of the style. It has finesse! Balanced, rounded, and satisfying. Without question, one of the best Imperial Stouts out there.

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Photo of chinchill
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz 2012 bottle.

Unlike most people, I've had the barrel aged version of this prior to trying the regular version which I've cellared for a good while. Well, I'm happy to find that this regular RIS is exceptional if not quite as tasty as the barrel aged version. It certainly looks great: opaque black with a durable light brown head and lovely lacing. The high ABV is evident in the nose but otherwise fairly well hidden. Plenty of dark roasted grain flavor with minimal char and very light smoke -- just right IMO. Excellent bitter-sweet balance and mix. Some licorice. Pleasing and lasting aftertaste.

Feel: Full but not thick body. Near medium, soft carbonation.

O: Excellent and delicious. I haven't tried a fresh sample yet but I'd bet waiting until this is about 2 years old is a wise move. (High rating confirmed in June 2015 with a now older bottle0.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours black/very dark brown, topped with a couple fingers of rich mocha head. This retains with a smooth ½ finger, leaving back a robust and sudsy looking cascade of patchy lacing. The aroma smells of chocolate fudge, coffee, dark cherries, a touch of licorice and some spicy sweetness from the alcohol. This smells delicious.

The taste is pretty aggressive with flavor. Bitter citric hops spread out, mingling with sweet notes of cocoa and caramel, before things segue into ripe dark fruit across the back. Roasted coffee character is scattered throughout, leaving zippy espresso on the finish and then finally a deep lingering charred feel. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a firm prickliness that is overlaid on top of a slick chewiness underneath. You get just the right amount of beefy warmth from that 10% ABV here, which hangs just a touch of lingering fusel spice and sweetness on the tongue after each sip.

For an off-the-shelf and reasonably priced RIS from a major brewery, this was pretty damn solid! There is lots of flavor and complexity here and this just feels like it’s going to age marvelously over the years. I need to grab some more of this for the cellar before it’s gone.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.78/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2012 release poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark black color, with a large dark brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, chocolate, coffee and a touch hops.

T: The taste starts out with a hearty roasted malt character that is quickly followed by a strong hops presence for the style. Then some sweet flavors of coffee and chocolate come in. There’s a decent balance, but the order in which the flavors appear is what makes this beer more distinctive from other stouts to me. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a good beer but there are others in the style that I would choose first.

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Photo of mactrail
4.17/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

More nearly black than a lot of beers claimed to be black. An unexceptional head but the sudsy mouthfeel is very pleasant.

Sweet in a rich and forgiving way with a distinct smack of licorice. The hops slowly come on the dominate the aftertaste, but it's never overly bitter. Becomes more tart after some sipping and has some pie cherry-like flavors. Grainy but refined, reminds me of really heavy black German bread with some yeasty intrigue. More licorice in the nose. Hints of bitter chocolate and dark nutty roasted flavors. Smooth and creamy without being unctuous.

The first time I tried this I thought it was exceptional. Certainly one of my top favorites in the RIS style. The neck label says "2012" so I hope it will be an annual delight. From the 12 oz four-pack bought at Ibis Market in San Diego.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at either Pinocchio's or TJ's

Dark pour, seemingly pitch black, capped with a small tan head; good retention and lacing. Roasty aroma, dark malts, cocoa. Roasty malts and coffee on the palate, somewhat charred, toasted grains, cocoa, notes of licorice/anise and fig-like dark fruits. Smooth mouthfeel, heavy-medium body, softer carbonation, making for a good drinker overall.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle - $2.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

2013 Vintage.

Appearance: Slips out a black, viscous-looking body, though with only a very, very small, tan head.

Smell: An aroma choked with rich maltiness -- molasses, chilled espresso, chocolate, along with full notes of licorice sticks, plump raisins. Minor spiciness, slim smokiness.

Taste: Boldly roasty, espresso-laden, and heaping with melted, fine dark chocolate and thick molasses. Restrained sweetness, as it's tempered by the sharpness of the roasted malts, hops, and warming alcohol. Black licorice. Dark fruits. A little additional fruitiness attributed to the hops, slightly resiny. Reasonably dry on the smooth finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Overall: Big and beefy yet relatively balanced -- I liked it.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear but opaque jet black in color with light to moderate amounts of gentle carbonation along the edges of the glass and some faint crimson red + cola brown highlights. The beer has a finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of roasted malts with lighter notes of cocoa, espresso, and dark fruit (raisin and plum). There is also a light aroma of anise/licorice and ash.

T: Upfront there is a moderate flavor of roasted malts and slightly burnt malts with a light amount of ashiness. That is followed by light flavors of anise/licorice and some light notes of dark fruit sweetness (raisin and plum stand out). Finally there is a moderate flavor of freshly brewed espresso and hints of bittersweet chocolate. Overall the beer is moderately bitter with a lingering bitterness.

M: Slightly heavier than medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: This is a really nice big stout - the alcohol is well hidden but this is definitely a sipping beer (and best served on a cold autumn/winter evening by the fireplace). Nice roasty flavors but a little ashy so folks that don't enjoy that would be better off not grabbing this one.

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

A: Pours a very deep black with some brown highlights on top. Small khaki colored head with minimal retention and sporadic lacing.

S: Lots of roasted malt, dark chocolate, a little bit of espresso. I can also pick out just a little bit of pine at the end.

T: Roasty malt up front, more dark chocolate, a little bit of mint in the middle mixed with some pine. Some licorice as well.

M: Medium to full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel, low carbonation. No sign of abv.

O: Pretty good imperial stout, easyish to drink, lots of nice stout flavor.

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Photo of russpowell
3.97/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours jet-black with 4 fingers of caramel colored head. Good lacing & average head retention

S: Roastyness & cocoa, some boozeyness, faint figgyness

T: Follows the nose, dark fruit as well, some charred grain & some booze rake across your tongue up front. Some coffee as this warms, a bit of carob & booze, plus some faint raisin, then a smattering of charred grain & roastyness, plus woody & herbal hops. Finishes dry, fruitty, with carob, roasty grains & the specter of ainise

MF: Fairly chewy with light carbonation, fairly warming. Carbonation perks up as this warms

A nice take on the style, I need to do a side by side with old Raspy, I don't this quite beats that , but kudos to Sierra Nevada for spreading its wings. Would buy again to be sure, a little less boozeyness would help the cause. Will age great I'm sure

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Photo of billab914
3.85/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1oz bottle poured into my Devil's Backbone glass. Pitch black in color with a thick foamy head filling the top inch of the glass. Nice retention and lacing as I drank it.

Aroma has dark, roasted malts mixing with milky chocolate. It's got a noticeable hop presence to it as well. The roasted malts bring a little bit of a coffee flavor with them as well. Nice aroma overall.

The taste also shows a good amount of hoppiness to it with some herbal and citrus notes present throughout. The dark, roasted malts are bold and bring more of a darker chocolate and coffee flavor out. A little sweet, milky chocolate in the finish along with a little alcohol.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being a little above average for the style. Overall, it's a very solid beer. It's a little hoppier than prefer in the style, but it comes together very well. The roasted malts were very bold, which really liked. Very nice beer overall.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a tumbler.

Didn't see getting a taste of this tonight, but I'm sure as hell not gonna argue. It pours a straight onyx topped by over a finger of golden brown foam. The nose comprises roasted malts, dark coffee, earthy greens, and dark chocolate. The taste brings in more of the same, with some heavy bitterness being balanced by the depth and relative sweetness of the roast and the chocolate. The body is a light heavy, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly dry finish. Overall, a very nice, bold stout. It reminds me a lot of Ten Fidy, only drier, less creamy. Good times.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Really dark brown color with mocha head. Aroma has dark malts, slightly roasty, really classic. Taste starts with intense roasted malt, slightly sweet at first but gets really bitter on the finish and lingers with coffee flavor on the aftertaste. Medium to full bodied with medium to low carbonation. A really classic imperial stout with intense roasted quality.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very excited to try this one.

The appearance is near black with an oily beige head. The aroma offers dark roast, full bodied coffee, molasses. The flavor follows suit. Thick and rich. A touch of dark fruit. Big time dark chocolates and a touch of cacao bitterness. Palate coating with moderate carbonation. Zesty finish. A really nice example of the style.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.9/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a De Struise snifter. 2012 bottle (duh).

Appearance - Murky in the pour. I bought it today, so maybe it was agitated, but still, shouldn't be that icky looking. A temporary brown head. Settles to the slightest of rings and not much else.

Smell - Roasty. Alcohol all over. Gives it a fruity aroma. Coffee roast most persistent, though.

Taste - Quite a bitter stout. Bitterness from start to finish. Coffee and deep roasted malts. Sweet molasses. The finish gets almost ashy in its roast. Like a tobacco flavor, I guess. That's the hip word to use. Alcohol bite in the finish with a licorice, raisin fruitiness.

Mouthfeel - Thick and chewy. It's boozy, but I like the alcohol in it. Really adds to the profile. Well carbonated.

Overall - Well, it's Sierra Nevada, so it's always going to be well-made. I might have to stock up on this the way I do Bigfoot. I could see myself getting a hankering for this in June when it's not on the shelves anymore.

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Photo of stakem
3.82/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a matching Sierra Nevada snifter. Big thanks go to Kegatron for gifting me with some of this. The brew pours black with a khaki colored head that froths up with more than a finger that is silky and paints the wall of the glass with a full webby pattern of lacing effect. When held to the light, the brew shows some ruby clarity faintly around the edges.

The aroma displays plenty of roast imparting faint notes of coffee, chocolate, earth, char and hints of citrus to fruity hops. The alcohol is present with a bit of fruity ester. When swirled, a bit of cheesiness and sulfur emerges with some mineral components. Overall though, this is a fine smelling brew for more than 10%.

The taste includes the previously mentioned dry roasted graininess that imparts flavors of coffee, and roasty earth. A bit leathery with the most mild touch of dark fruity alcohol notes. Some hop character is present giving this a touch of citrus and complimenting fruity to pine notes. The aftertaste has a bit of baker's chocolate included. As the brew warms up, that 10% alcohol starts to become readily noticeable with an almost neutral solvent burn across the tongue.

This is a medium bodied offering with a modest amount of carbonation. It is relatively smooth and easy drinking for something above 10%. I think Sierra Nevada was well overdue in putting a RIS into their regular lineup. This one fills the void in their catalog quite nicely. I would and will drink this one again when it is made available to me. Thank you for sharing Heath!

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,023 ratings.
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