Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.16/5
Exceptional
5,184 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:
#1,398
Reviews:
976
Ratings:
5,184
pDev:
9.38%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
342
Gots:
1,492
Trade:
35
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,184 |  Reviews: 976
Photo of EmperorBevis
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big black body with 8/10 tan head but thick set

Pear drops on the aroma with chocolate

Takewise Smooth coffee with a cocoa smoothness and finishing with quite a complex bitterness avoids the over sweet aspect of a stout so strong

A great MF pitch perfect carbonation

this is really up there

 297 characters

Photo of ccrida
3.33/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance is thick black with a small, dark tan/light brown head, quickly dissipating, no lace.

Smell is soft, sweet malt sugars. Robust alcoholic character.

Taste is robust and rich. Sugary, caramel, sweet alcohol. A little raisiny. Not a lot of depth here, the 10.2 is pretty bruising.

Mouthfeel is dry and thick.

Drinkability is ok, this is a big, brash, old school RIS. I like the fact that it's all malt and not hoppy, but it's too hot.

 450 characters

Photo of Kevinpitts
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%

Photo of WOLFGANG
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of jaxon53
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of cherche
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L: jet black, mocha head, decent retention and lacing
S: tobacco, leather, coffee, cocoa in that order
T: in line w nose, heavier on leather, then tobacco
M: sticky and thick, nice but less of the thick milkshake feel I like with imperial stouts and more of the thickness you get with syrup
O: decent beer but after having founders imperial stout, bells expedition stout, old raspy, and Fremont darkstar many many times an imperial stout like this is pretty much meh.

 467 characters

Photo of jeff1973
3.94/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Stone IRS tulip. 2012 version, bottled 10/1/12, so a year old now. Bought 4pk for $9.99 at Hi-Times in Costa Mesa CA.

A - Pitch black w/ a motor oil slick look. Light mocha head with decent retention.

S - Bitter baker's chocolate, anise, maybe a little roast coffee.

T - Lots of semi-sweet chocolate, some roasty coffee, a bit of licorice. The chocolate is creamy. No alcohol at all for 10.2%

M - Thick and creamy (like a good imp stout should be). Carbonation is low to fit the creamy mouthfeel.

O - Very solid RIS. Bittersweet, creamy chocolate is abundant. I remember it being a lot more roasty and boozy fresh. Definitely something to age.

 681 characters

Photo of BdM
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of morimech
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black and slightly viscous. Just over one finger of head forms and hangs around for some time before settling to a thick cap. Heavy lacing and rings are left down the glass.

Pleasing malty aroma with hints of roast, mocha, and a slight touch of smoke. Alcohol is detectable but nothing out of the ordinary for an Imprial Stout.

Alcohol and smoke plays a much larger role in the flavor. Still plenty of roasted and chocolate malt as well. Finishes with the flavor of ethanol. Plenty warm at the end.

Thick and creamy feel. It is full bodied. As always, Sierra Nevada does not disappoint in the mouthfeel whatever the style they brew.

I thought maybe they would of went safe with a RIS. But this is a big, bold stout that is not afraid to flex its muscles. Approachable flavors that just about anyone could appreciate.

 826 characters

Photo of THECPJ
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of scottfrie
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into snifter. 2012 four pack.

A: Pours black with a finger of milk chocolate head that quickly faded into a dense film.
S: Big chocolate, big hops (pine), with a well-integrated background roast. Vanilla and fudge are noticeable, with coffee being lightly detectable.
T: Follows the nose with rich and creamy notes of chocolate fudge, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, pine hops, hop resin, and vanilla. The finish is full of roasted malt and maybe a hint of coffee, and the aftertaste is bitter but smooth. There is a slightly boozy quality to the finish as well, but it’s not distracting.
M: Full body but not motor oil, with a very smooth and drinkable mouthfeel. Carbonation is fuzzy, soft and airy.
O: In a couple months to a year this beer will be drinking great. I love it now, but for those who want the bitter hops and the slight alcohol presence to fade away, sit on a few bottles. Thank you SN for release this as a four pack.

 953 characters

Photo of dirtylou
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz single

A funny thing happened last night while I was consuming Narwhal - I came to the sad realization that I really have no place in my cellar for a RIS not aged in some sort of barrel. Narwhal brings the heavy roast, chocolate, very dry, roasted and charred malts. It's just been done, and it's boring to me now. This would have been a great addition to the lineup in 2005, but it does nothing for me now.

 413 characters

Photo of jrenihan
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer is black with a small tan head. Head fades quickly, leaving a bit of lace.

Aroma contains vanilla. roasted malt and coffee. Nice although nothing out of the ordinary for the style.

Lots of coffee and roasted malt in the taste. Some vanilla as well. Nice and full but standard.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Thick.

Overall, good and enjoyable but nothing surprising.

 379 characters

Photo of Bunuelian
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
10.2% ABV, number code on shoulder.

A - Almost midnight black, Narwhal quietly fills the snifter, even with a tall pour. The result is a low mocha head which briefly tops the black before sinking into it's depths leaving a ring of foam and a few splashes of lace.

S - Quite simple and closed off at first, Narwhal rises from the depths to a cold but soft nose of rich maltiness that expands from cocoa to dark chocolate developing with raisin and prune, subtle dusty earthiness, and a faint hint of warming alcohol on the finish.

T - Narwhal's flavor starts just like the aroma; simple and somewhat closed off. Rich roasted malt develops into subtle undertones of dark, bitter chocolate and espresso notes with a dry cocoa finish.

M - Like a good imperial stout, Narwhal is thick and rich with a milk chocolate smooth, velvety feel that slowly turns dry and bitter and rough around the edges from the heavily roasted malts. Warming alcohol emerges as this creamy beer coats the throat as it warms up for one pleasing winter stout!

O - Sierra Nevada Narwhal employs dark, roasted malts to create a deep depth of flavor throughout this imperial stout changing as it warms. A welcome addition to Sierra Nevada's seasonal line up, Narwhal is a wonderful sipping beer that encourages reflection on the malts' presence and use.

 1,362 characters

Photo of KTCamm
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
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 2dogbrew
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of bumchilly25
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%

Photo of Lukass
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pitch black pour with a thick, dense medium brown head. Fades very slowly, leaving a nice pattern of lacing behind. Good head retention to boot.

S: Nice roasted malt character. Creamy chocolate, roasted coffee bean and just a touch of char. Emphasis on the creamy, it smells like a borderline milk stout. Touch of smoke in there to boot. Oddly enough, I get almost a pretzel-like aroma sometimes (kinda toasty). Doesn't detract, probably just mistaking something else for it.

T: Thick, creamy roasted malt. Up front it is sweet molasses and vanilla with a bunch of char and smoke. Turns a little more bitter with some roasted coffee bean in the middle and some dark chocolate. Get a little more of that toasty pretzel too, heh. Finishes with lots of anise and some fading bitter, bitter dark chocolate that lingers between sips. Touch of grain alcohol in the finish - just a little bit hot, this one.

M: Thick, full, rich and creamy. Excellent mouthfeel.

O: A really nice RIS. Very thick and full, I loved that part. Excellent complexity, has some of pretty much every roasted malt characteristic that I've had in any stout. Balance is decent though it's a little too smoky and maybe a little too much anise but it's also very fresh (and a little hot, as noted). Overall, quite excellent. Looking forward to storing some away.

 1,334 characters

Photo of Griffith
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Brenden
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pouring motor oil-thick and a mean-looking black, Narwhal's got the look of a big imperial stout. A thick, tight brown head sits at one finger in height on this brew. It recedes after time, leaving a pretty heavy ring of lacing at the top with some legs to follow.
The aroma takes some time to pull out completely, but this beer's full of big, malty goodness with heavy notes of roast, lots of espresso, and unsweetened chocolate. As it warms, a gentle sting of alcohol comes out from underneath.
In the flavor, it's clear the brewers chose to go against the cloying sweetness of some other big stouts; in fact, this one nearly foregoes the sweetness altogether for a different profile entirely. The espresso and very-much-unsweetened baker's chocolate are the flavor highlights, but a touch of something like molasses along with a bit of charcoal make for a stronger, more bitter taste (in a good way). A bit of (very) dark fruits linger underneath if you know where to search.
The feel is thick, rich and robust. Somehow very heavy isn't too heavy for this beer, as it doesn't just sit on the palate or weigh it down. Instead, it moves very nicely, with a downright velvety creaminess on the tongue through every sip. There's a crisp nip that doesn't get too much in the way.

 1,277 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours pitch black with a small creamy dark tan head and a bit of lace, pours a bit like thin syrup, very thick.

S- dark chocolate with a touch of coffee, notes of dark fruit, slightly smoky malt

T- dark and deep roasted malts with heavy notes of cocoa and a bit of roasted coffee aftertaste. Finishes bittersweet, like raw dark chocolate with just enough of a piney hops kick to balance it out, warming finish.

M- heavy body, low carbonation, syrupy but pretty good considering the high ABV, goes down velvety and smooth.

O- everything that I was expecting, body and heavy, intense chocolate with notes of coffee, and just enough piney hops to balance out this massive beer. Certainly drinkable for the ABV, a slow sipper and a great beer for a cold night.

 764 characters

Photo of hophugger
3.26/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

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 hollywood_15063
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,184 ratings