Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.16/5
Exceptional
5,197 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:
#1,448
Reviews:
978
Ratings:
5,197
pDev:
9.38%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
342
Gots:
1,497
Trade:
35
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,197 |  Reviews: 978
Photo of JohnnyMc
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another release in the High Altitude Series that houses big names like Hoptimum and Bigfoot!!

Pours out pitch black with a thick, mocha/tan head that lingers for a long time given the ABV.

The aroma has huge notes of semi-sweet chocolate, coffee and dark roasted malt.

The taste is also primarily chocolate and coffee, but there are the dark roasted notes and a surprising amount of hops that makes the beer somewhat bitter and dry. This is very balanced between the sweetness from the coffee and chocolate and the bitterness of the hops and coffee. The ABV is well masked with only a slight warming effect.

The mouthfeel is big, rich, creamy, silky and smooth.

A very nice effort from Sierra Nevada! Not the greatest Imperial Stout and I would have liked a little more complexity, but an extremely solid example of the style.

 834 characters

Photo of metalgdog
4/5  rDev -3.8%

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.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I think my friends at Narwhal Brewing have some sort of lawsuit against this beer so I'm not sure if that makes me a traitor. I'll live.

Thick, viscous, dark brown pour spews forth a thick, sticky head. Room temp despite being in the fridge for two days do lack of power and hurricane Sandy. Ok retention leaves a few foamy polka dots. Polka dots, polka dots, polka dots afro.

Dark roasted malt and bread crust jumps out of the bottle before I even pour Narwhal. Lots of chocolate too. Mocha would be an appropriate descriptor.

Bottle label says I should expect dark roast coffee and bakers cocoa. I'm not disappointed. Big beer mouthfeel but still kinda soft and supple. Again, mocha goodness.

Like most Sierra Nevada it's not surprising or different, it's just really good. I was drinking this and my wife was drinking Founder's Breakfast stout and I liked my beer better if that says anything.

 901 characters

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

Pours a solid black color with a huge fluffy tan head that slowly recedes to a cap on top. Smells of coffee and dark chocolate with a hint of caramel. Earthy citrusy hop aromas meld nicely with light aromas of dark dried fruits. The flavor is sweet with caramel and chocolate with a nice shot of espresso. A bit of earthy citrus hop flavor but mostly a roasty bitterness in the flavor. Light dark fruit flavors with a hint of alcohol round out the flavor quite well. Medium to thick body with a light to moderate level of carbonation and a sweet creamy velvety mouthfeel. Very nice Imperial Stout I really enjoyed this one and I guess I need to get back to the store to buy a few more to lay down.

 697 characters

Photo of GehenHerzog
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of ZethOfTheNorth
4.16/5  rDev 0%

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

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a pitch black, with a medium light tan head, some solid spotty lace.

S: Roasted malt, hint of dark fruit, charcoal, licorice, dark chocolate.

T: Dark chocolate and a lot of licorice. Light residual sugar, with a hint of hops in the finish.

M: Medium to full-bodied, soft carbonation, creamy, long aftertaste for the style.

O: A solid RIS, it reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin with a bit more licorice in there. The price is great, well made, well worth a try.

 487 characters

Photo of elgiacomo
3.91/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottled October 6, 2012. Served at around 55F.

Pours black with a three finger light brown head that leaves impressive lacing and recedes to a small cap.

Aroma is coffee, dark roasted malts, some chocolate and dark fruits, a bit of herbal hops, some alcohol. Good, but not great strength.

Flavor starts with chocolate, coffee, dark fruits such as figs, plums and raisins, dark roasted malts, fairly sweet, minimal bitterness, some alcohol on the finish but not too bad.

Mouthfeel is nearly full bodied, sticky, good carbonation.

Very tasty and rich Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada. Drinking very good in its fresh state, will put some back to age as well.

 667 characters

Photo of omniscientcause
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter, this is very dark, thick, leaving great lacing on my snifter.

The smell is potent, I poured it walked away to start cooking dinner and I could smell it from 15 feet away.

Roasted malt with bits of graham cracker, dark chocolate, alcohol, and piney hops (the best kind of hops). Starts off fairly sweet with some hints of dark chocolate and molasses and a rather smooth finish.

As others have said the alcohol is masked very well, and thus is very drinkable.

I will be picking up as much of this as I can at 9.99 a 4pk this is a great buy.

 567 characters

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

Kinda stumbled upon this - wasn't looking for it, barely knew it existed, and there it was.
Poured into SA glass - black as coal with a rather big head for style, but it too is very dark. There is no light shining through anywhere.
Real nice coffee aroma. Pleasant and not over-powering. HInts of dark fruit.
Wow, nicely complex. Again with apparent coffee flavors. Sweet dark fruit up front. Then that passes through to more darker malt, but not necessarily roast, before hitting the roast/coffee flavors. New and fresh so it still has some sharpness. This combined with the carbonation brings it on even more. Alcohol in some warming effect, but really limited otherwise. Coffee flavor linger and assists in the adequate somewhat drying finish.
Smooth, even with the fresher carbonation. Moderately heavy, but really not much bigger than that.
Well done RIS. Especially with making it drinkable and not overwhelming for a beer of this size. I tend to like a little age on these, and I will give some bottles that opportunity. But having said that, this works well this fresh

 1,077 characters

Photo of ralphw56
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of webmanspidey
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter, this is very dark, thick, and viscous. The smell is powerful with some traces of roasted grain, graham cracker, dark chocolate, alcohol, and piney hops. Initial taste is very sweet with some dark chocolate and molasses. More graham cracker and roasted malts round it out with a slight bitterness is left at the end. The alcohol is masked very well, keeping this very drinkable. I'm pretty happy with this one, it's definitely a very solid RIS.

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Photo of brewtechnik
4.11/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Narwhal finally made it to NH on Halloween! What better beer to be drinking while handing out candy :)

12oz bottle slightly chilled into snifter...

Looks amazing...very viscous and produced a great dark tan one finger head that quickly dissipated into just a tan ring after a minute. Super black...no light coming through this!

Slight licorice/fruit scent combined with smoke, char, roast, coffee and ethanol. Pretty inviting, actually. Hop presence is there as well, but not strong.

The first flavors that come through are the roasty/coffee and HOPS! This guy is pretty bitter, and has lots of hop flavor. In that respect it kind of reminds me of Storm King, but not quite that intense...better balance IMO, but still very hoppy. I personally find that the ethanol is well hidden...it doesn't seem to be a problem this fresh. There's some dark chocolate flavor that's very nice and melds well with the rest of the gang. Not much licorice in the taste, which I prefer. I hate anise and black licorice!

I mentioned viscous in the appearance, but doesn't feel very thick in the mouth feel. Don't get me wrong, its a big stout, but not bcbs thick...more like Founders Imp Stout. It's actually quit nice and lasting...slick almost. Hop/roast up front with a chocolate and slight ethanol finish. Carbonation is spot on.

I would say this is in the same ball park as Founders Imperial Stout, but has more hop presence...I'm really liking the level of roast in this beer with the chocolate finish. I'm buying this beer again and would recommend you do as well, but will certainly put some in the cellar for a year or so to lessen the hop bite.

 1,641 characters

Photo of PatGreer
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of JoshuaGoins
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of jboyer
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -3.8%

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 Kopfschuss
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of ms11781
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of BillHilly
4/5  rDev -3.8%

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

On tap at max's the other day, during Baltimore Beer Week.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is likewise attraactive, showcasing considerable coffee, licorice and vanilla. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely, but is clearly dominated by the licorice and vanilla (which I'm not entirely liking, but it's OK). There's also a hint of hoppy bitterness in the finish which further helps to buoy the modest sweetness in this beer. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, with a finish that is dominated by licorice and has a hint of alcoholic bite. Alcohol is well integrated into the flavor profile, but there's just too much licorice in the flavor profile for me to fall in love with this beer.

A solid beer, and possibly one that will benefit from some age. For now however, not among my favorite impy stouts.

 872 characters

Photo of stoppertb18
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of 2dogbrew
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,197 ratings