Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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outstanding
927 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:
927
Ratings:
5,031
Avg:
4.15
pDev:
9.64%
 
 
Wants:
331
Gots:
1,445
For Trade:
40
User Reviews
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Reviews: 927 | Ratings: 5,031
Photo of SanFranJake
5/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On draft in a tulip at SNBC.
Pours a deep dark black with 1/8" golden head which fades slowly.
Aromas of roasted coffee and chocolate which get deeper as the stout warms and the glass level lowers.
Super smooth and easy, almost chewy mouthfeel and a chocolatey aftertaste which lingers nice and long.
A step outside of Sierra's norm but a damn good beer all around!
I loved it in the bottle and have been picking the four-packs up as I see them. Great now...only time will tell for later.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.5/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a - poured a one finger thick creamy coffee-colored head into a snifter that left great lacing throughout. the body was dark black.
s - chocolate, coffee with a hint of piney hops.
t - roasted coffee, burnt chocolate, piney hops.
m - thick and viscous.
o - another terrific west coast take on the RIS. really loved this beer.

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Photo of Powderhornphil
3.92/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours completely black with a nice head that recedes leaving a nice lacing.

The nose seems subtle coffee and chocolate.

Taste is coffee and chocolate a bit of alcohol on the end. A very nice tasting stout. I really enjoy the coffee notes on this one. Not too much roast.

Mouthfeel is nice and makes for easy drinking considering the abv.

Overall I like this stout; it's big but also subtle. I will put a couple of these away and will be interested to see how it ages.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian tulip glass. This is the 2013 edition.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a tan head. No light penetrates the beer, less than a finger head after a semi aggressive pour, tiny bubbles in the head, some lacing, looks great in the glass.

Smell: Chocolate, roasted malts, not a heavy aroma.

Taste: Chocolate roasted malts on the front, I can taste the alcohol after drinking, The alcohol is not as strong as when I first tried it around October. The beer is about 5 months old. The alcohol has significantly subsided.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, oily coat on the palate, I can feel the carbonation, tiny bubbles, moved around in my mouth.

Overall: One of my favorites imperial stouts from one of my favorite breweries. This is at least, an outstanding beer, if not world class. A lot easier to drink after cellaring it for 5 months, still have some bottles I will open at the end of 2014, or maybe in between. Cheers!

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Photo of Myotus
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottle
Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (packaged 10Aug15) into a snifter.
LOOK: Pours with a half finger's worth of khaki foam that shrivels into a line after 20 seconds. There is a subtle amount of very small rising bubbles. Black in color with an orange tint. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: A strong, smokey bitterness from the roasted malt aromas is noticeable right up front. Mild aromas of figs, raisins, prunes, molasses, and subtle aromas of sweet coffee, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, and alcohol lie beneath the heavy smokiness.
TASTE: The intial taste is composed of strong bitter, smokey flavors that almost lean towards the smoked bacon flavors that would be found in a Rauchbier or a Smoked Beer. Mild flavors of molasses, figs, prunes, raisins, and subtle bittersweet chocolate and vanilla flavors follow immediately as the smokey flavors fade to mild, but the bitterness remains. Subtle flavors of sweet coffee enter lastly, as all previous flavors maintain except for vanilla, which fade away completely.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down very smooth and creamy. Ends with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: As beer warms, the perception of alcohol in the aromas grow stronger, but is not effected in the taste. In fact, I could not taste any alcohol, which is always a plus for me. This was slightly too bitter for my taste, but thankfully the smokey flavors (which I do love) balanced out the bitterness very well. An interesting Imperial Stout. If you love heavy stouts and also Rauchbiers, I would encourage anyone to try this.

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Photo of JLaw55
2/5  rDev -51.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The booziness of this one was unpleasant. It ruined what else it had going for it, which started out nice enough with layers of cocoa, coffee, and vanilla.

Would Drink Again: No
Would Purchase Again: No

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Photo of OBeerMeGreatOne
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle into a Chimay goblet. Pours out pitch black with a nice tan head. Lovely dotted lace sticks around for a bit.

Dark chocolate and plum don't mingle with much else in the smell, just a hint of anise and booze.

Chocolate, cherry, booze, anise, earth and citrus mingle brilliantly at the front of this beer. Molasses, coffee and plum round out the middle, sweet finish. Very thick and smooth going down!

Can't believe I've never had this before. Need to grab a few for the cellar!

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Photo of seedyone
4.59/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From bottle at home. 2014 on bottle. Now this is what I call a stout. Look, smell, taste & feel are all very rich & full. This stuff makes no apologies, it just stands up straight & says "take it or leave it." I thought I caught the slightest hint of licorice/anise under my nose but it dissipated like a wisp, then came back again in the finish.

Alcohol taste but little of the burn. The chocolateness is of the bittersweet kind.

Every taste keeps saying to me "no kidding around". A real swashbuckler & I'm really enjoying it.

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Photo of SmashPants
4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: solid dark brown 355mL stubby with a funky label. A good package.

Appearance: pours incredibly dark- almost an impenetrable black. A huge tan head pops up to over two-fingers before slowly settling to a thin, creamy cap. Looks good.

Aroma: roast coffee, dark cocoa chocolate, a touch of dark fruits and anise, and a wonderful smokiness

Taste: roast coffee, dark cocoa chocolate, a touch of dark fruits and anise, and a wonderful smokiness round out this beer.

Aftertaste: hangs around for quite a while, with a slight warming alcohol feeling at the back.

Mouth feel: very full-bodied with a creamy, silky texture. Though I can't see through the beer, I am sure it must have plenty of fine sediment to make it this smooth. Very drinkable.

Overall: if any United States-based brewery was going to produce an exceptional Russian Imperial Stout, I would have put my money on Sierra Nevada. The outcome is a rousing success - rich and complex in flavour, full in body and with a fantastic drinkability. One of the best Russian Imps I have had to date.

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Photo of TheMultiYeast
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours nearly opaque black with half a finger of head

Big immediate roasted character in nose, bittersweet malted chocolate, dark coffee, smoke, some booze..woody, earthy.

Some malty sweetness then smoky roasted goodness, bitterness, coffee again, lighter chocolate notes than aroma, nice bitterness to balance malt complexities..very nice..smoky bitter aftertaste.

Feel is everything I want from an imperial stout..thick, chewy, delicious.

Dope release!

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

Poured into a tulip. Pitch black with a finger's width brown head and lacing down the glass.

Roasted malts, coffee, alcohol and grassy hop aromas.

A nice sweet roasted malt and cherry fruit flavor up front. The dark fruit is then overtaken by an alcohol and grassy hop flavor which continues into the finish with a lingering smoky roasted bitterness.

Full bodied and a little oily. Good carbonation to add a peppery feel.

A nice strong RIS. Quality stuff here and not for the light beer crowd. Packed with flavor and a strong alcohol presence, yet it remains smooth and drinkable.

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Photo of beeragent
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from a 2012 bottle. Poured into a glass.

A - Pours a deep brown with ruby highlights. Appears black as motor oil once in the glass. Thin mocha head with no lace.

S - Strong roasted malts, chocolate, and espresso.

T - Roasted malt and bitter chocolate coat the palate. A slight hop bitterness in the finish. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M - Heavy bodied, thick and very smooth. Low carbonation.

O - Just like most of what Sierra Nevada does, they have set a standard for the style. When I think of an RIS, this is exactly what I expect it to look, smell, and taste like. Just a perfect example of the style.

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Photo of TheDoctor
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

SERVICE: Bottle
Bottled: 2013

A:
Pours a murky black (opaque) with ruby edges in the light, skiff of brown head evaporates to nothing but an anemic ring. Little retention; minimal arcs of lacing. (3.5)

S:
Chocolate and molasses. Baker's chocolate, coffee, molasses, figs, woodsy leather, subtle alcohol. (4.25)

T:
Chocolate and coffee. Bitter chocolate on top of cocoa, with some baker's chocolate for good measure, dried dark fruits, coffee, roasty malt husks. (4)

M:
Medium-full bodied, with well-hidden alcohol, low carbonation, a little less sludgy than some. Fairly clean finish (4)

O:
Very good RIS.
Tons of bitter chocolate with some oak and leathery characteristics pretty evely distributed as well.
Pours about like a boozy beer does (not all of them, though, hence my lowered score) with a bittersweet nose. The port-black liquid isn't super thick but tastes about like the aroma, but with a creamy sweetness in the finish and a pretty drinkable presence on the ol' palate. Big, but not needlessly so.
Would have again; well-worth a try. (4.25)

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Photo of Gosox8787
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. stubby bottle from a four pack. Poured into a Dogfish Head tulip and served chilled.

Appearance: Dark brown to black in color. Pours a really nice, one finger medium brown head with decent retention. Recedes into a nice thin lacing.

Aroma: Roasted malt and a light smoke note. Nice bit of coffee beans and light milk chocolate. A tad more smoky than sweet.

Taste: The ABV is extremely well hidden in this beer. Light coffee bitterness with a nice smoke touch that weaves in and out. Some very light milk chocolate sweetness as well. Some leather and earthy notes as well. Really well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and smooth throughout. Carbonation is on the low end.

Overall, a really balanced and tasty off the shelf imperial stout. It does feel a little boring and one note at times. The smoke and roasted malt characters create a nice background and the booze is very well hidden. I could use a bit more sweetness to offset the smoke and earth tones. A good buy but not up there with my favorite stouts.

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Photo of EdTheEdge
4.01/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Easily the darkest beer I ever tried. It's almost black with a thin one finger dark tan head.

S- Dark Chocolate, Coffee with a dense coco base.

T- Robust, Big, Malty, Roasty, Coffee, Semi-Sweet Chocolaty with a welcomed bit of bitterness... almost perfect.

F - Smooth, lightly carbobated and slighty oily.

O- One of the better Sierra Nevada brews. I could drink this quite often. This is not my favorite style but I enjoyed this beer very much.

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Photo of fmccormi
4.4/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Straight pour from 12oz pry-off bottle to a 25cl Duvel Single tulip; bottling date of October 5, 2012 (“2279209 : 46”) printed in white ink on the shoulder of the bottle, making this beer just over six weeks old on the date of consumption.

Appearance (4.0): Body is black as night—no surprise there, but there’s just absolutely no light passing through. The head is a dense two fingers of dark tan-colored foam, which dies down at a reasonable pace. “Dark tan” doesn’t do it justice, though—there’s milk chocolate out there lighter than this shade of brown. Modest lacing and moderate head retention, but both decent for the style.

Smell (4.0): Just roasty as hell—not in a charred wood kind of way, but in a French Roast coffee kind of way, or like dark chocolate-covered espresso beans. Picking up notes of molasses, anise, bitter, dark chocolate, some alcohol vapor, some smooth oat character (seems to me, anyway). Really nice nose on this bastard.

Taste (4.5): Not as bitter or charred as the nose might indicate—but not overly sweet in any way, either. Very satisfying chocolate and coffee notes, mainly a drying bitterness that accompanies very dark chocolate along with the modestly charred, very bitter but deeply flavorful character of espresso beans. Some burnt multigrain toast fleshes out the malt body, leading into a somewhat bitter finish that hangs on and continues for a while. The hops add a surprisingly clear citrus pith-type bitterness along with a somewhat bright citrus fruit (think mixed orange and grapefruit juice) flavor under the roasty malt body. Huh. Was not expecting that, but it’s quite nice. Damn, this is really, really good.

Mouthfeel (5.0): Very full-feeling with a thick, oily body that coats and paints every surface of your mouth and throat. Has that drying, vaporous feel on the finish that comes from the high ABV, but it’s not unpleasant. This kind of forces you to sip—it makes me want to exhale and take a couple of breaths after each sip before I take another, which for this size and style of beer, I really appreciate. Carbonation fits the style very well, never prickly but full and lush with a filling, foaming character on the way down. Holy hell.

Overall (4.5): To be honest, this is quite a bit better than I was expecting, and I was already expecting that Sierra Nevada would do a pretty good job. Turns out, they did an excellent job. This is a full-bodied, full-flavored, but attractive and pleasant-drinking imperial stout with a couple of unexpected and very welcome turns here and there. I’m not into most aged beers, but I’d be willing to bet this would be a good candidate. Outstanding, and a job well done by Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a pint glass in high elevation Libby, Mont. Reviewed live. 2012 vintage.

A- Very small mocha head with little retention. I attribute that to the high ABV. Very thin spotty lacing. Deep black color, slight mahogany around the edges. Scary looking beer.

S- Dark roast smells that shy away from burnt. Coffee grounds, dark chocolate. Almonds and vanilla make an appearance as well.

T- So roasty and warm. Very deep and bitter, like biting into a handful of coffee beans. Not delicate, but good.

M- Thick and syrupy.

O- Very nice beer. I really enjoyed this. Taste wasn't superb though. Might like to get another bottle and age it.

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Photo of riversider76
4.45/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poura a dark brown with a nice tan head. Excellent retention, and laceing. Aroma is of dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. Body is thick and creamy, with a bit of carbonation. Taste is of dark semi sweet chocolate, and roasted coffee. This is an excellent version of this style. A must try.

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Photo of VashonGuy
4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12/2014 bottle into a tulip.

Dark, dark, dark. Not much of a head, nor much lacing. Aroma is milder than the flavor, which is big and bold. The flavor is classic RIS generally, with a little bit of hoppiness, and a fair bit of sweetness on the back end. The 10% ABV is pretty apparent, not in a bad way.

This is a huge beer, just what an RIS should be.

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Photo of yamar68
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic imperial stout appearance... near pitch black, an edge of copper clarity, a finger of khaki head that recedes to a dense collar.

Fresh coffee notes, burnt chocolate... quite impressive actually.

I was a bit skeptical of this beer but Sierra Nevada nailed it - it's a textbook example of the style. Smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee, slight vanilla notes, entirely delicious.

Very, very good.

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Photo of CloudStrife
4.05/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled November 2nd 2012.

A: Pours a real dark black with a 1 very dense finger khaki head. Dissipates over a minute or two leaving a thin film. No real lacing. Light barely gets through the edges.

S: Real nice dark chocolaty malt along with a sweet dark fruitiness. Can get some booze.

T: Real nice blend of chocolate malts, vanilla and a great roastiness. Little bit of bite from the alcohol but works. Raisin and fig from the malts also a coffeeish taste.

M: Smooth and velvety with a nice full body. Appropriate carbonation for the style. Could enjoy sipping on these all night.

Overall great bold stout from Sierra Nevada. Glad they are offering another stout as I've always enjoyed their other one. Hopefully I can manage to save one of these for a year.

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

Bottle pkgd 11/25/14 into pint glass. Very dark; almost black. Chocolate-colored head that vanishes quickly. Taste is dark chocolate and coffee, with a little bite to finish. Mouthfeel is on the heavy side of medium. Nice alcohol glow, but certainly not objectionable. Decent RIS, but not anything extraordinary.

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Photo of FanofHefe
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 12 oz. bottle that pours a deep, black body with a two-finger dark tan head. The head settles into a nice cap and leaves streaky lacing on the glass.

The aroma is typical of a RIS, but a bit on the light side. Some roasted malt, a bit of chocolate, some dark fruit. Nice, but not complex.

The flavor steps it up a notch. Very nice blend of flavors: roasted malt, dark fruit - especially raisin, chocoalte, light coffee, and licorice. Excellent flavor balance.

Very smooth mouthfeel, medium to thick in texture. Nearly no notice of the alcohol. This is a top-notch RIS. Highly recommend.

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Inky black and voluptous in the glass, with roasted coffee beans and malt notes. Sip this one and let the layers unfold. Well done, a yearly "must have" and readily available.

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

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout is a dark and tasty imperial stout.

A: Black colour and a 3 mm head that lasts pretty well. 4

S: Malty with some dark, burnt flavours. Some fresh hoppiness too. 4

T: Sharp burnt malt and dark fruit. Definitely a full-on start. The finish has some sweetness and ash flavour. 4.

M: Thick. Pretty low carbonation. 4

O: 4

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,031 ratings.
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