Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
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
Reviews: 1,017 | Ratings: 5,307
Photo of Sabtos
3.86/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Polished black marble with a creamy dark tan film and collar.

Smell has a brighter note to it than you'd expect, like pungent, sweaty peach, paired with the more expected elements of smoked almond, baker's cocoa and tobacco.

Taste is nutty licorice, cedar that nears a piney bitterness, almond paste and cocoa liqueur that's a bit warming with a slight sting on the swallow.

The round body has a crisp fizz that leads into a semi-dry, woody exhale.

 451 characters

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

Beige head, low carbonation, some sticky lacing.

Coffee, chocolate, licorice aromas.

Sweet chocolate, coffee, licorice, roasted malts.

Chewy mouthfeel, sticky, dense, full. A bit weird 'meaty' aftertaste O've also found in other Imp Stouts.

Really good one.

 262 characters

Photo of BeardedWalrus
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Been waiting all year for this one. Pours pitch black like old motor oil, smell is big burly malts, dark chocolate and coffee. Taste is similar, but the chocolate flavors are sweeter on the tongue. Feels thick and chewy, but not cloyingly so. Overall it has exceeded my expectations. Now if only I could get the barrel aged version...

 334 characters

Photo of deansellers
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Stout glass. As dark as it gets; no light shines through. 3-finger thick tan head dissipates rather quickly, lacing also slides right down. This is a heavy beer. Like drinking liquid licorice. Not for the faint at heart. I generally enjoy dark beers but this one is just too much.

 314 characters

Photo of BenHoppy
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Aged one year, served at cellar temp and poured into snifter:

L: dark, chocolatey coffee mocha with creamy bubbly head

A: roasted malts and chocolate

F: creamy and thick

T: bourbon although bourbon not present but I can taste it along with chocolate, vanilla, marshmallow, roasted malts, and slight hint of green pepper coffee.

o: wasn't much a fan of this fresh but aged 1 year this was fantastic

 408 characters

Photo of TooManyGlasses
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 version, so a couple years old. Pours deep black with thin tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma of roasted caramel malt, chocolate. Tastes of smooth sweetened coffee, chocolate, perhaps a hint of licorice. Creamy smooth mouthfeel with just a touch of boozy bitterness at the finish. Great stuff.

 304 characters

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

Pours pitch black with a tan head, Smell was roasted malts and chocolate. Taste had cocoa and hops with some musty leather a nutty finish. mouth feel had some roasted bitterness in the finish.

 192 characters

Photo of MaltyPythonsHopCircus
4.06/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Licorice, leather stand out but chocolate reveals itself as it warms. Aromas dominate the flavour slightly but the flavours roll around the mouth and develop nicely with each sip

 178 characters

Photo of Bombelsky
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black and opaque. Creamy tan head. Diminishing to a small crown. Very good lacing.
Moderate aroma of dark fruits and roasted notes. Bit of a chocolate.
High sweetness and high bitterness flavor. High roasted flavor.
Full body. Oily. Soft carbonation. Dry roasted finish. Some grittiness. Roasted and dry aftertaste. Some warm alcohol.

 350 characters

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

Surprised I never rated this one. Drinking a year and a half old bottle from August 2016. Roasty malt and chocolate notes on the nose, taste is almost bitter for a stout. Not really roasty, but definitely some chocolate and coffee notes. I see smoky in the below description, and that's a pretty good word for it. Smooth, not oily at all. Pretty good, but not as great as I've been led to believe. Maybe I should review of fresh.

 430 characters

Photo of sokol_1993
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Got one bottle from Bine and Vine, San Diego.
Dark black with a good amount of white head. Beautiful.
Quite sweet at first, dark fruit, malty. Then the sweetness gradually gave in to the bitterness from the roasted malt and hop.
A full body brew, a strong sweet aftertaste that will last for quite sometime! A bit boozy though.

Beautifully made. Will love to have it again!

 374 characters

Photo of Niceroad77
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Interesting to see how this beer ages. Packaged Nov 29 2016, tried January 20th 2018. Long past the prime hop profile I'm sure. Still very good overall. Smell and taste of red wine. Obvious prune/cherry candy taste and slight chocolate taste too. On the lookout for a fresh one.

 278 characters

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

Pours a dark and slightly thick black, 1/2 finger head. Smells like coffee, dark chocolate, some caramel and dare I say, I don't know if it's this batch I've had or the fact that I had an Old Rasputin right before this, I smell cherry cough syrup in the slightest way (and a good way?)... Weird huh? But look for it and maybe you'll see it too, maybe my senses are off right now. Tastes fantastic as always. Big and bold, rich and sweet with a small bitter bite at the end. Tasting the cocoa taste first and the coffee follows. Fairly carbonated and not too thick on the mouth despite the thickness of the pour. This is always a great beer and every year I've had it in the past four or five winters it has been faintly different than the last.

 744 characters

Photo of Apellonious
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, 2017 version, dated 8/22/17. Poured into a tulip glass, pitch black with a half finger quickly disappearing tan lace. The aroma is coffee,cocoa powder, roasted grains and chocolate. Sprinkle in some anise to that on the taste. Mainly cocoa and coffee. As it warms, chocolate takes the forefront. Fairly full feel, the carbonation is medium low. Overall, a tasty RIS.

 383 characters

Photo of Snowcrash000
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black coloration with a large, creamy head. Smells wonderfully of rich milk chocolate, with notes of caramel, coffee and a hint of dark fruits. Taste follows the nose, with an outstanding, smooth and rich milk chocolate taste and notes of roasted malt, coffee, dark fruits and just a hint of licorice. Light bitterness and and a very rich, creamy and smooth mouthfeel. I think this ages incredibly well. I had a 2016 bottle and the chocolate was so rich and smooth, while the bitterness seemed pretty light. I'd take this over Old Rasputin any day, which is more coffee-forward, sweeter and has a much worse mouthfeel, in my opinion.

 647 characters

Photo of jvgoor3786
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with a one finger head and minimal lacing.

The smell is dark malts and milk chocolate.

The taste is dark malt, burnt coffee, and bitter chocolate.

The mouthfeel is medium thick, minimal carbonation, and very smooth.

Overall this is a very nice imperial stout. It's more of a burnt malt taste than I expected.

 325 characters

Photo of augustgarage
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 8/22/2017 - poured from a 12oz bottle into my Bruery tulip.

Opaque, bistre body with a khaki cap - average retention, delicate lacing, shimmering legs.

Dense malty aromatics with coffee, chocolate, and faint anise notes.

Intensely malty palate entry, extremely rich, initially sweet, but drying in the finish - like liquid black bread. All the aromas are intensified as flavors, but the specialty malts don't overwhelm the base. Low, clean, faintly grassy bitterness offsets the sugars and complements the bitterness from the dark malts. The water profile does not seem neutral, given the forwardness of the malt, but there are no real traces of minerality or excess salts. No esters from the house yeast of course.

Medium-full bodied, well carbonated, and not boozy.

An outstanding version of the style - expertly crafted - malt-heads take note!

 861 characters

Photo of Mindcrime1000
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a single-serve into a stout glass

Pours an outstanding dark brown (almost black) and opaque color. Excellent foamy head with fabulous staying power and lacing.

The aromas are malt-forward with plenty of char, dark fruit, and herbal notes. The flavor follows, with dark fruits forward and plenty of smoky goodness. The mouthfeel is excellent, with good carbonation and plenty of late-palate bite from the bootze. Overall, a very nice RIS.

 457 characters

Photo of HorseheadsHophead
4.49/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Looks pitch black with small tan head. The retention is medium-poor, but a thin ring always remains on the outer edges. Only spotty lacing is left behind.

The aroma is deep soy sauce/smoked meats, dark chocolate, gingerbread and spice cake, espresso beans, licorice, dried black cherry, prune, and raisin.

The palate follows with some dark chocolate and cacao nib upfront, brownie, espresso roast and bitterness, licorice, and dark fruits like black cherry, fig, prune, and raisin. Plenty of the aforementioned soy sauce, more chocolate, brown sugar, gingerbread, and spice cake in the middle, leading to a pleasantly bitter finish of earth, tobacco, burnt malts, coffee, and baking cocoa. Some mild alcohol warmth going down, with a nice lingering roasted bitter finish.

The mouthfeel is medium-plus; not watery by any means, but less creamy or thick than many imperial stouts. Feels filling, but flows very smoothly with medium carbonation. Slightly sticky on the palate, with some lingering sugars and well as hop and roast bitterness.

A really good imperial stout. I'm glad I was able to buy this.

 1,114 characters

Photo of Aerocraft67
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Perfect entry level imperial stout—this is what you imagine an imperial stout to be. Lace is impressively sticky. Very smooth and easy on the palate for something this big. Flavorful with no standout note like other entries in the category. Flavor has a hint of effervescence rather than a punch of spice. Not larded up with milk or chocolate or spiked with coffee. Nice. High alcohol is amazingly well balanced.

 414 characters

Photo of Tone
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a black color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, roasted malt, slight syrup, chocolate, and a hint of licorice. Fits the style of a Russian Imperial Stout. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of alcohol, sweet malt, roasted malt, slight syrup, chocolate, and a hint of licorice. Overall, good appearance, aroma, feel, body, but the blend is too boozy.

 427 characters

Photo of craigbelly
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma is heavy roast and a faint nuttiness. In its flavor, though, it’s quite interesting and a bit unbalanced. The bitterness is fairly intense, out of proportion with sweeter flavors, A surprisingly dry and roasty imperial stout for something over the 10% ABV mark. Warmth is pleasant though.

 296 characters

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

‘15 vintage.
I’m sitting here regretting drinking the other three before now. Wow. Not sure how this beer could possibly improve from here. I’d go so far as to say that this is as good as “easy to find” imperial stout gets. Yes, that means you Mr. Rasputin. Go buy some.

 280 characters

Photo of AlexVonBier
3.66/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled - 8/31/17

Typical imperial stout with a deep black body and tan head. The head fizzled quickly. The mouthfeel at first is quite nice but almost immediately turns into a watery finish. No alcohol detected, which is impressive at 10.2% abv. Finish is very bitter, with a lasting aftertaste. Not very drinkable. I'm struggling to finish my glass, it feels like a Budweiser trying to become an imperial stout.

 414 characters

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

12oz bottled 9/27/2017. This is my second bottle of this beer and taste is same as I remember from previously. Pour black with sizable head if poured down the center of the glass, but the head dissipates quickly. The aroma is weak with sweet chocolate and roasted coffee on the nose. Out of the fridge this beer is bitter hops, but this bitterness dissipates and beer becomes creamier as it is allowed to warm. I do not notice alcohol on this beer which is an impressive feat for 10.2% ABV and should get even better with age.

 528 characters

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