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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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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:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

For Trade:
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Reviews: 887 | Ratings: 4,920
Photo of dank203
3.5/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

tulip. this ones quite dark. about a finger of dark head, leaves a nice film on top once it settles. the nose packs an abundance of dark fruits, and a lot of booze. a bit of chocolate, very sweet, like chocolate covered raisins I suppose. Ashy and boozy are the two main adjectives I'd use

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Photo of mattkoon
4.01/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

ive had this beer on tap before- this is the first time out of the bottle. the color is black- opaque when held up to light. the smell is full of dark malt and chocolate. the flavor is blackened dark chocolate malt, black coffee and alcohol, not surprising with the 10.2% abv. this is a super solid stout.

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Photo of NRo
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Very dark with a thin tan head.

Smell: Faint coffee, not very strong of a smell.

Taste: Much more flavorful than I expected it to be! Rich coffee and cocoa notes.

Mouthfeel: Delightfully smooth.

Overall: I look forward to drinking this regularly.

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

A blackened mass came but of my 2013 Narwhal bottle. Like most stouts no light is getting through that liquid. poured about 1/2 finger of head. The smell is quite nice espresso is what I'm getting from it but it's quite a hoppy persona to it too. Has a very sweet taste profile, milk chocolate, espresso, ground coffee beans and a touch of booze too. A semi syrupy liquid wlith medium carbonation goes down.

Overall, I quite liked this one. Would be much better with some age on it. Relieve some of that boozy quality and bring up some of the more subtle flavors in it.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pitch black. Nice thick tan head. Slow to leave. Some lacy stuff too.

S - Light musky cocoa, slight coffee.

T - Yum. Malty, cocoa, small coffee, very creamy.

M - Good carbonation, nice balance, very easy, likeable beer.

D - Not hard to drink. Could session.

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Photo of Stu_Grimson
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 edition

a- appears black with a finger of dark brown head leaving minimal lacing on the side of the glass

s- roasty malts with a hint of caramel sweetness along with some chocolate, strong alcohol smell almost giving it a barrel aged smell

t- tastes very dark roast with a bit of a hoppy floral flavor along with the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel

m- full bodied beer with a nice smooth drinkability to it

o- this was a 2012 edition so it had a year on it which I think made it even better, overall it had great taste and smell and I will defiantly be wanting more

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Photo of Premo88
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into "stout glass" (tulip)
Oct. 17, 2013 born-on date

L: motor oil black that percolates like nothing I've seen short of a nitro -- the beer looks like it's not going to form a head, then from almost nowhere, the layer just under the surface starts to spin and cycle and pop and explode into a full inch of the thickest head of tan foam, and it sticks in classic Sierra Nevada fashion. wow! the brew might actually be 100% clear -- the very bottom appears so and shows dark, dark red -- but good luck passing light through this thing. black black with just a hint of dark brown around the edges and a constant tan collar ringing the surface.

S: huge everything -- BOOZE, chocolate, coffee, wine/grapes ... fully-roasted barley ... maybe a bit of oak -- and this thing is still almost ice cold. you can't mistake it for a pale ale, that's for sure. the boozy smell here is mostly like vodka, almost even gin more than whiskey, but it's not off-putting or medicinal.

T: oh, my ... similar notes as in the nose but in a different order: the alcohol doesn't show up until the afterburn, whereas the booziness seems to hit first on the nose. big dark malt extravaganza -- chocolate, coffee again with some definite oak-wood thrown in. very interesting and both classic and different; the notes seem to hit just a bit different tune from other big stouts I've tried, especially with the oak and the fact that so far nothing here tastes burnt. starting to detect a massive hop presence ... yes ... there's a bitter hop bite trying to chew threw all of this malt. and it's having some luck. wow! hard for me to tell what these hops taste like other than bitter, but they are really balancing out the quaff.

F: full. enough carbonation to make it drinkable, but silky and full.

O: it's a lot, and it's good. everything you could ask for from a Russian Imperial Stout, ABV included. i'm not the biggest fan of high ABV brews, but this brew is so full of the sweeter dark malts I love that it's perfect for sipping.

and I can tell aging it is going to be fun. in fact, I'll be off to the store soon to get at least another four-pack for *next* winter.

aging this brew is going to be fun.

three months of aging in the bottle has just barely tamed this beast. it's still relatively boozy, but it doesn't seem to be as big a bother as other boozy stouts.

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Photo of DIM
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a: Black with a large, foamy, off-white head.

s: Rich dark chocolate with some molasses. Hints of red wine and espresso.

t: A bit on the sweeter side and it works. Lots of dark chocolate backed by vinous fruits and molasses a nice lingering ashy char.

m: Full bodied and chewy.

o: Absolutely a top notch stout, and a relatively inexpensive one at that. Sign me up for a case next year.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a dark and oily tar black with a brown head that laces the snifter well.

The aroma is roasted, smokey and perhaps a bit meaty. Some alcohol lofts above the darkness.

In the taste, dark chocolates, charcoal, tobacco and a firm hoppyness. Not to boozy though very strong. There's a subtle note of dark fruit. Earthy, light herb, big malt. Right about what you would expect for the style with perhaps more emphasis on his than many. Quite good.

The mouthfeel is full bodied, smooth and well carbonated.

Overall this is a nice big stout from Sierra Nevada. Totally drinkable and something I would have again.

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Photo of JohnParadee
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into chilled pint glass. Deep, dark, black color, with very thick tan head which dissipated to thin veil. Excellent, consistent lacing. Smell is incredibly rich aura of burnt/roasted chocolate malt and coffee/vanilla hints. Unfortunately, the palate was not quite as impressive (to me). A little too much dank hoppiness, with the result that the balance was out of kilter. Carbonation and mouthfeel was good, but I could not get past the uneven bite and apparent conflict between the hops and the flavors trying to compete. Maybe I had a bad bottle, or just need to let it sit and warm up a bit more. Willing to try again, as I love so much of what SN does.

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Photo of mntlover
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a black with no light getting through this one, with a big light chocolate foamy head from an aggressive pour. Head falls very slowly with gobs of lacing down my glass.

Aroma is nice bakers chocolate, light coffee and good dose of dark fruits floating on a roasted malt base. Nice sweet nose on this one nothing over powering just blended goodness.

Taste is roasted malts, nice chocolate up front dark fruits and roast in the middle. Finish is lingering chocolate and coffee mingled together with some hops. Good Stout blends well together nothing really dominates just IRS goodness.

Mouthfeel is full nice and smooth approaching chewy. Nice fell for this beer.

Overall another good brew from SN. Found it very enjoyable and easy drinking for a big beer.

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Photo of CookstLiquor
3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 355 ml bottle. Pours black with thin tannish head. Notes of chocolate, fruit and nuts on the bold rich nose. Huge, rich taste hits similar notes with a big, boozy finish. Tons of bitterness on the finish to balance the ample sweetness. Full-bodied. Great sipper.

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Photo of Vogey77
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyed this one. Pours dark with a decent head. Smells of chocolate and fruit. Was very smooth as the amount of chocolate was just about perfect. One of the best stouts I have had to date. Very impressed with this Sierra Nevada beer. Interested in cellaring some to compare the difference.

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Photo of watermelon
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip and finished in a snifter.

A: Pours an inky black with a thick carmel head. Excellent retention and tons of lacing. This is everything one would hope to see when drinking an RIS.

S: Chocolate and dark fruits in the nose as well as lots of toasted malt. Alcohol in the nose could have one thinking this was BA. Nose could have gotten more points if it was stronger. and more complex.

T: Lots of chocolate up front. Lots of roasted flavors some licorice. Bitter flavors on the back end, its hard to tell whether these come from hops or coffee notes. Some alcohol present as this warmed up but fairly well hidden for a 10.2 percent beer.

M: Nice and oily up front lots of chewiness as well. There is a bit astringency on the back end which I could do without. Some alcohol warmth but not much considering the ABV.

O: I really enjoyed this. I would love to see a barrel aged version of this. I think Im going to let my last bottle sit to see if aging mellows out the hop bite a bit. For the price defiantly pick this up.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.75/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

OK looking, about what you'd expect from an imperial stout that doesn't stand out looks-wise.

Aroma and flavor are pretty good. Standard roasty, toasty, burnt and charcoal notes present from the dark malts. Coffee and chocolate make balanced appearances. There is a touch of dark fruits, brown sugar. There's also a bit of hoppiness that you might expect from an American stout.

The body is pretty thick, good for the style. Finish is bitter dark chocolate with slight burnt notes and a slight lingering sweetness.

Overall it's enjoyable, about standard for the modern day definition of an American imperial stout.

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Photo of beerdrifter
4.57/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pitch Black pour with a creamy two finger caramel-colored head with nice retention and lacing. Unique, sweet, roasty nose with hints of espresso, licorice, toffee, cocoa, and a fair amount of hops, almost like a Black IPA. The taste is quite unique as well. Rich, roasty espresso and dark chocolate fudge dominate along with hints of piney hops, licorice, toffee, cocoa, sweet caramel malts, and some subtle soy sauce. The mouthfeel is smooth and somewhat creamy with absolutely perfect balance. Overall, I am totally amazed at how good this beer is. It's absolutely right up there with any Imperial Stout. Probably has taken over Ten Fidy's spot as the best readily available Imperial Stout out there!

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Photo of Extrajoker00
4.27/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed: 8/10/14

previous quick rating of 4.0 on 12/31/2013

Narwhal by Sierra Nevada
poured from a 12 oz.bottle into my Sam Smith Snifter

P-Classy black, white and gold with a horned Narwhal 4.5

A- Deep Black small brownish tan head. Some decent lacing 4.25

S- Coffee malt dark fruit and alcohol 4.0

T-Dark Chocolate, coffee, roasted malt and hops 4.5

M- Full Bodied and bright, rich and complex flavor explodes and fades slow mellowed by a slightly hoppy finish 4.0

D- very flavorful, but a little much for more than a sipper 3.5

O- very, very good, loving this style and this brew 4.25

Re-Visited this Beer and found it more to my liking second time around. if you get a chance, give this one a try ---- J

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Photo of EmperorBevis
4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
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

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Photo of beaverapproved
4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled Aug 2 2013 I found it a bit gnarley fresh and decided to age it a tad. So, I'm excited to give it another go.

A - Center poured into an english pint glass. A very deep brown that's thick opaque espresso which could easily be mistaken as black. Big foamy and sticky looking 3 finger toffee colored head.

S - I'm not very keen with my nose but I'm definitely smelling lots of chocolate and actually detecting a hint of dark fruits/licorice too.

T - Wow, It's like night and day by just letting it tone down a bit. Immediately hits my taste buds with dark bittersweet chocolate. Also, I'm definitely getting the dark fruits/licorice that I was smelling as well which kind of reminds me of red vines. Has a dry finsih with a slight roasted bitterness.

M - Very creamy and leaves a stickiness on the lips. And, medium to low carb.

O - I'm really diggin this stout. It really did match the description on the label and highly drinkable when aged. Crossing my fingers I might be able to snag one more pack before it's gone.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.43/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle bought from Drinkstore, Dublin

Poured pitch black with no hint of colour even when held up to the light. Dirty nut brown head poured big thick and foamy then faded slowly to decent covering... some decent lines of lacing...

Aroma - Rich roasted and charred dark chocolate maltiness, sweet coffee, some brown sugar sweetness, some sooty like smokiness, some dark fruits (blackcurrents, dates), pine and citric hop notes, toasted (maybe charred ?) fruit loaf, some earthiness, milky notes...

Taste - Dark chocolate, lots of roasted / charred bready malts, barely any alcohol noticeable, treacle sweetness, dark spicy fruits (raisins, date,some figs, red grape), piney and grassy hop bitterness, citrus hints, traces of piney resin, light liquorice, light sourness...

Feel - Fairly smooth and creamy with a little sharpness coming through... fairly full bodied... for a 10% brew this is dangerously drinkable..

Overall - A world class Impy stout - highly recommended...

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Photo of utfiero
3.06/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Color- black leather. Medium, full mocha head.

Aroma- strong alcohol notes, coffee, and chocolate.

Taste- Starts rough and strong, very roasted malt with strong alcohol and finishing bitter, hoppy, and roasted (reminiscent of burnt bitter coffee). Like a Narwhal piercing my palate! 60 IBUs. Reminds me a little of a jagged version of Old Rasputin.

Consumed on 11-23-2013. Poured from 355 ml bottle into a Liefmans Goudenband glass (my preferred all purpose beer tasting glass).

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I'm surprised that this beer "only" scores a 92... what in the. Poured into a shaker pint.

Appearance: Pitch black. Tan head. Poured nicely. A bit of lacing, but not much.

Smell: Chocolate. Some smoke. A lot of roast. Not much in terms of dark fruits.

Taste/feel: Well, that's some damn good stuff. Chocolate and roastiness, as you'd expect. Some smoke. Dark fruits in there a little bit (mostly as it warms), but not too much. Alcohol is hidden well as far as flavor goes, but there's a definite warmth there. A bit more "harsh" than some other RIS's, I suppose. The feel isn't quite as full bodied as some others I've had, which is a slight knock, but still excellent. Drinks a bit too easily.

Fantastic beer. Not much else to say about that. Underrated, in my opinion. Stands up well to some other, perhaps more popular, RIS's.

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

Pours a four finger tan head that slowly fades leaving a good lace. Black color, no highlights. Medium carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Roasted coffee nose and flavor is roasted coffee, higher ABV is hidden. $2.60 for a 12oz bottle from a Tully’s Beer & Wine Wells, ME.

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Photo of damndirtyape
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle (2013 bottling - 3284205:07 date stamp) poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Totally black ale - no light even coming in at the edges. 1/4" dark tan head upon pouring died back to a thin skin across the top with lots of persistent strands, sheets, and islands of lacing noted.

Smell: Mild roasted grain, hints of alcohol, chocolate liquor. With a swirl there are some hops trying to get out but I still can't make them out in regards to their aroma. Maybe a mild citrus and pine. Not as rich as I thought I would be.

Taste: Bittersweet baker's chocolate, roasted malt, hints of coffee toward the end - approaching espresso coffee bitter finish, but with some pine notes as well. Hops in the finish complement all the chocolate and other sweetness up at the front.

Mouthfeel: Very thick and creamy up front with the carbonation coming out late in the swallow. Definitely some stickiness on the teeth after the swallow.

Overall / Drinkability: Definitely a sipping and savoring beer, but also appealing enough that I could drink it faster and not mind, but I would probably pay for it later. A good imperial stout, and was good with butter/sugar cookies - probably would be great with a steak.

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Photo of dtivp
4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown, near black with a one finger dark tan head that fades quickly into a thin ring with very little lacing.

Aroma of dark roasted malt, dark coffee and chocolate.

Taste of dark roasted malt, nuts, dark roasted coffee with a slight sweet balance of chocolate and molasses.

Moth Feel was medium leaning full body with very little carbonation, creamy and the alcohol is very well masked, there is very little boozy warmth for a 10.2 % ABV beer.

Overall this is a very nice RIS, well balanced with a slight sweetness off setting some of the dark bitterness. This is a nice sipping beer on a relaxing evening.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,920 ratings.
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