Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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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 JoeAmerican77
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Single 12oz bottle purchased from Syosset Beer. Fierce narwhal art on the front doing a swan dive off the crow's nest of what I assume is whale hunting ship circa 1800's.

L - Pours pitch black with a not an ounce of light to squeeze through. Little bit of light creamy brown head.

S - Molasses and toffee.

T - Dark raisins, figs and bitter cherry up front; as it disappears, cocoa and coffee.

F - Full bodied gorl, little chewy small bubble lazy like carbonation. Can't taste the booze but will likely feel it shortly.

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Photo of StraightNoChaser
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

'14 Vintage
look: Very dark brown, nearly opaque. Thick mocha head on the pour that recedes to a respectable tan top.
smell: Semi-sweet and dark chocolate. Some coffee like roastiness.
taste: Creamy espresso and dark fruit.

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Photo of tillmac62
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

BOD 8/15/17. Pours black. Head volume is poor, but typical for an imperial stout without oats. Retention is outstanding while lacing is quite poor.

Not quite outstanding nose that is rather laid back. Nothing smacks you in the face over the subtly sweet background aroma. Light notes of chocolate emerge as does light roast (without char) and a hint of vanilla. As it warms, molasses creeps in subtly.

Full bodied with a nice rich smooth and creamy texture. Carbonation / body balance is world class with just the perfect amount of effervescence to open the flavors up and tickle the tongue, yet not disturb the creamy mouthfeel.

The flavor profile is outstanding. Intensity is moderate and complexity adequate. Where this one shines is balance and keeping the alcohol hidden. Like the nose, chocolate is quite evident and the roast subdued. Dark semi-sweet bakers chocolate is the primary chocolate influence while the sweetness is provided with a rich wave of molasses. Bitterness is mild and there is a hint of char to add complexity. From the middle on, vanilla takes center stage over the molasses base. The finish is a slow fade of vanilla and molasses with just a hint of astringency.

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Photo of huthuty
4.69/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pure black, small reddish head
Smells like coffee and burnt malt, sweet and chocolate like
Taste is extremely strong, sends tingles down my spine, had to have a few sips before actually comprehensively tasting it. Very chocolatey and very sweet, like a Hershey bar for the manliest of men.
I was afraid a SN wouldn't be a great stout, I was wrong

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Photo of Strix
4.24/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Near black, decent inital brown head that fades to nothing.

Brown sugar and vanilla in the nose

Vanilla prominent, atop dark chocolate, caramel and roastiness

Mouthfeel viscous, medium-light for a RIS.

This was quite tasty.

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Photo of DeaconWhite82
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good Imp Stout. Very dark with little head. Has a sweet licorice taste with a upfront alcohol taste. Smooth finish. Two bottles gives you that relaxed nice buzz. I will drink it again.

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours jet black with mild tan head and minor lacing that fades pretty fast. Smells of burnt molasses, chocolate, and some coffee. The taste, I expected a ABV mess but holy mother this is smooth as it gets and the flavors are out of this world. A very rich chocolate molasses hit up front with some coffee and oat tones. The finish is amazing, this beers flavors builds after your drink to end with a heavenly perfection. I am blown away on this one, I did not think I would enjoy it this much and I do, a new cellar beer for me, perfection and cheers to Sierra Nevada....

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Photo of MinerBob
4.28/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A better stout than Old Rasputin. Beer pours a motor oil color with a small tan head that dissipates quickly. The smell is typical stout coffee and chocolate but no hard aftertaste like Old Rasputin. Its smooth and tasty. Overall a great stout.

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Photo of ExtraStout
3.87/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown pour evolved into a near pitch black opaque liquid in the glass, with ruby highlights. The head was quite small in size, but it left some awesome khaki lace. The aroma of the beer showed off the roasted malts, with the smells of coffee, toffee, and chocolate. The taste was an extension of the smell, but with amped up intensity. The coffee taste was thick in this beer, with a bitter, astringent finish. If I let the sip linger in my mouth, some powder cocoa notes crept in. I usually dislike "Imperial" stouts that have a weak mouthfeel. Luckily, this was not one of those beers. Sierra Nevada has delivered another product to the mass market which is attainable for a fair price vs the quality received.

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Photo of Lingenbrau
3.78/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with a khaki head. Surprisingly low retention and lacing.

Smells sweet, chocolatey, roasted grain, a bit metallic, and some alcohol.

Flavor is very chocolatey with burnt toast.

Feel is creamy, very sweet, and has some alcoholic burn.

Overall, I thought this was better in the past and plan to revisit again because I'm really not enjoying this too much right now. Cheers.

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Photo of DragonsMilk
3.66/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Drinking a 2014 Vintage

This beer is like deja vu to me, it tastes almost exactly like New Holland's Dragon's Milk with minor differences.
It has a noticeably richer mouthfeel, aroma is similar but a little subdued, tastes exactly the same to me, has that sweet soapy oaky vanilla thing going on.

I get the roast, the chocolate the coffee but no one flavor really sticks out its a subtle blend of many.

I dont get the raisin plum flavors but I dont always get that in DM either only some bottles

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Photo of daliandragon
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It's finally getting to be stout and porter season. Yay! Not much of a head on this one, although it does leave plenty of dark tan lace. Nose is coffee and booze and some salty, herbal hops along for the ride.

This is, as the nose hints, a balanced stout, with plenty of hop bitterness to match up against the coffee and roasted and dark chocolate tones. I found nibbling a small piece of dark chocolate with this really improved the experience, as it often does. A lot is going on here, and the octane (abv) is pretty high. You get a good bit of warming from the booze in the finish. Definitely a solid impy stout, but not a huge standout in the style.

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Photo of Red5StandingBy
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz short bottle into Spiegelau Stout Glass. Bottled on August 22nd, 2017.

L: Completely opaque black, two finger beige head has very very good retention.

S: Smells of chocolate and cocoa, coffee, sherry, and smoke.

T: Lots more roasty notes here, like dark roasted malts and coffee and sherry.

F: Light body (dangerous), good carbonation, lingering roasty flavors.

O: A wonderful stout that I will return to.

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Photo of Ob512316
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into glass.
Look: black with a medium tan head.
Smell: chocolate, coffee, some smoke.
Taste: coffee, chocolate, smoke, then a hint of hops at the end.
Feel: like a normal stout, easy to drink considering the abv.
Overall: great stout, will have again.

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

355ml bottle poured into a snifter. This one is 2016 release, drank Sep 2017. Literally, one year aging in a bottle.

Black as night yet very deep brown in color with thick creamy tan head, it withstands with good retention before gradually subsiding to a lasting bubble layer atop and leaving some spotty and patchy lace on the glass-side.

Very rich and deep in the aroma, I get espresso, dark and creamy chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, caramel, burnt sugar, toasted bread, roasted barley, light smoke, dark biscuit, charred nut, and hint of fruity hop. All of these aromas are presented in very good complex shape.

The taste is still rich and delight with lots of roasted and burnt malt ranging from charred nut, light smoke, espresso, dark and creamy chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, caramel, burnt sugar, toasted bread, roasted barley, exactly just like the aroma. There is typical sourness of espresso and roasted grain plus with some bitterness that is also imparted a little bit from hop.

Rather full body but not that sticky with mild carbonation, the mouthfeel is well-rounded with a pleasantly dry finish. Great Stout in every aspect, it is so enjoyable sip and alcohol is perfectly concealed.

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Photo of sjrider
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Unmistakably SN - familiar malt and yeast profile. Nice roasty malt nose. Pours black with a tan head and significant lacing into a snifter. Taste is toasty malt ,mild coffee,chocolate,dark fruit and a bit of hoppy bitterness. Pairs well with dark and bitter chocolate treats. One of my favorites from SN.

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Photo of Benjolovesbeer
4.34/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night with a medium to heavy silky texture with flavors of dark fruit, coffee, vanilla, and chocolate. I look forward to aging the other 5 as I feel it will get even better. No alcohol bite @ 10% abv either so very smooth and drinkable for an imperial stout.

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Photo of MVanTryke
4.71/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Macro-micro Sierra Nevada delivers a dark-beer winner after a ho-hum porter. I am so glad that I chose this six-pack on this splendid, touch-of-fall, September evening. Nice notes aplenty. B sharp in A flat. Something like that.

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

2017 vintage, bottled 8/15. Poured into a snifter. Pours black with minimal beige head that settled into a barely noticeanle ring. Aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, and hazelnut. Taste follows the nose, but with a bitter hop bite on the finish. Feel is creamy at first, them a bit of a hop bite, and leaves a lingering sticky silky mouthfeel. Overall a great classic RIS on the higher ibu spectrum.

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Photo of andrewh995
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark black with a dark brown head. Smells of sweet chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. Tastes of Chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, trace alcohol, mint(?), and caramel. Medium - heavy body with medium carbonation. Overall this is an absolutely incredible RIS. Sierra Nevada has always been hit or miss with me. and in this case they not only hit, but they far exceeded my expectations. Easily one of the best affordable RIS's out there right now.

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Photo of drmeto
4.63/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

-pours the darkest of brown with no light coming through and a small to medium,creamy,beige head
-coffee,dark chocolate,roasted barley,syrupy,nutty,herbal
-Follows the nose + caramel,burnt toast
-medium carbonation
-medium to full body
-alcohol noticeable
A Grade A Imperial Stout.

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Photo of amesetz
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Date on the bottle says not even a week old. Lucky me! Let the beer warm up a tiny bit before pouring. Foam is brown and fades quickly. Really a beaut when poured into a snifter. Taste is chocolaty, roasty, toasty and burnt. like someone put a chocolate chip bagel in the toaster for 30 minutes. Really refreshing in 90 degree weather. LOL. Will be more refreshing in a few months. Good beer, even better memories (or lackthereof).

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Photo of woodychandler
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had thought that I was finished with my recent Sierra Nevada horizontal, mainly centering around the Beer Camp Around the World 12-pack when several more bottles surfaced from within the depths of The Bottle Backlog here at Chez Woody. I have a couple of these to drink & review & then I will e moving on yet again.

From the bottle: "Inspired by the mysterious creature that dwells in the deepest Arctic seas, Narwhal Imperial Stout is midnight black and bold with notes of baker's cocoa and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex and explores the darkest depths of malt flavor."; "We brew in Chico, CA and Mills River, NC, to bring you the finest quality beer."

Today is T, 20 June 2017.

2016 bottle, PKGD 08/23/16: I Pop!ped the cap & commenced a very gentle pour into the awaiting glass. I then performed an in-glass swirl, but it did not raise much more than a brief finger of soapy, foamy, deep-brown head with low retention. Color was Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration. Nose had a rich dark chocolatiness along with a light charcoal smokiness. Mmm. Mouthfeel was medium, but thin for the style. The taste had the same bugaboo that I noticed in Bigfoot - too many hops, causing an unnecessary bitterness that marred the chocolaty, smoky flavors. Sure, I could taste the baker's chocolate & the dark roasted coffee, but I felt like I was fighting my way upstream in order to do so. Finish was dry, but was it due to the ABV, the use of hops in quantity, some other source or a combination of them? It was kind of tough for me to really enjoy this one, even with nearly a year in the bottle.

2014 bottle, PKGD 07/31/14: Having Pop!ped the cap, I restrained myself & went with another light, gentle pour. This time, however, the in-glass swirl raised a finger of deep-tan/light-brown head with decent retention. The color was Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), but its depth & inkiness seemed to have increased. They call it "midnight", but I think that it is "stygian". I had a girlfriend in La Maddalena, Sardinia back in 1985 whose eyes were equally dark, just pools of inky blackness. Aha! On the nose, the hops have faded and the roasted coffee is like the smell of the Mess Decks first thing after revile. Mmmm. Mouthfeel has been buttressed by time and is now at least creamy, approaching pudding thickness. The chocolate & coffee flavors are revealed as though by a magician! This is what I expected & wanted! Howzabout a Narwhal pudding pop? The alcohol burn was also gone, making it a rich, smooth, decadent delight. Jeeezuss! This is getting dangerous in terms of how easily it is going down. Time to hit the brakes & run an errand or two. Finish was semi-dry, more chocolaty than what it would take to be outright dry.

Today is MLK Day, M, 15 Jan 2018 & I have a 2017 bottle, PKGD 08/22/17 16:20 to review!

The Pop! of the cap unleashed an unearthly sound! A narwhal? Doubtful. More like Cthulhu flexing his appendages in the dark depths! Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. More for me that way. Still, not to test the murky waters, I went with an EXTREMELY gentle pour into the awaiting glass. It was like still life with beer & glass until I gave it a swirl and suddenly I got a finger of roiling, frothy, deep-brown head with tentacles & a horn breaking the surface! There be danger in these depths, matey! Color was stygian Black/Opaque (SRM = 44), allowing ZERO light penetration of its depths. Nose was filled with anise/licorice & treacle, underlain by unsweetened baker's chcolate & a light smokiness, like the aftermath of a house fire. I was shocked out of my reverie by the suction cup of a tentacle fastening itself onto the end of my nose as a horn suddenly broke the surface, aiming for my eye! Eeek. Mouthfeel was medium, but on the thin side for the style. I let it roll around on my tongue to warm as it wormed tentacles into my throat to begin choking me from swallowing! I know this trick from Japan, so I got out the pliers & prised the mini-Cthulhu from my throat just as the narwahl reopened the piecing in my tongue with its horn. This beer is deadly! Finish was dry and slightly smoky. Had they set fire to something?!? I now have a 2016 & 2017 in abeyance for a 2018 vertical next year. See yinz then!

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

It poured a dark black and gave the same color body. Some nice speckled, block-like lacing formed boxes around the sides of the pint glass, interesting. The smell had dry, roasty cocoa and coffee up front with a slight touch of hops in the background, and some vanilla as the beer warmed. The taste was dry and roasty between the coffee and cocoa and brought back some of that bitter hops. The finish was very dry. The palate was about a medium with nothing harsh on the tongue and fairly drinkable. Overall, this is a hopped up RIS that is very good and I would come back to.

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

12oz bottled 8/23/16 poured into a 20 ounce tulip glass at fridge temp 10.2% ABV. The beer is essentially black with no highlights. The head from an aggressive pour is light brown with red tint and settles into a cap with substantial lacing. The aroma is chocolate and roast malt. The taste is dark cocoa, a bit of sweetness, a hint of booze and then big bitterness, even at 8 months old. I personally find the bitterness overwhelming on these fresh. Mouthfeel is soft, thick, adequately carbonated and just very well done. Overall, excellent. The best thing about this beer is availability and price compared to quality. The other thing I like is it's great fresh, if you prefer your RIS super bitter, or aged for a smoother, malty taste. Recommended

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