Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.16/5
Exceptional
5,205 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:
#1,489
Reviews:
980
Ratings:
5,205
pDev:
9.38%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
340
Gots:
1,501
Trade:
35
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,205 |  Reviews: 980
Photo of sabitu
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.46/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours black as night with a rather large, chocolately brown head. Head retention and lacing is pretty awesome. Head is amazingly frothy and persistent. Lots of rising carbonation.

S- Lots of deep, dark chocolately roasts. Next come the coffee flavors. Coffee is pretty dominant right after the chocolate hits. Bitterness at the end suggests some hop profile, but most bitterness is from the dark chocolate.

T- Big chocolates right off the bat, just like the scent. Chocolate is very dark and pretty bitter. Coffee is not as strong in the taste as in the scent, but still present. Slightly warming alcohol heat is also present with a dull bitterness in the flavor. Slightest bit of hop bitterness intermingles with the chocolate and coffee bitterness at the end. Flavor finishes very clean with only a little lingering bite.

M- Thick and creamy and a little slick on the palate. Only slight alcohol heat as previously mentioned. Lower levels of carbonation add to the thick and creamy effect. Easily sessionable because of the thickness and its tendency to lend itself to sipping.

Overall, another stellar beer from SN. I haven't had the regular stout, but I imagine they built off of it for this one, and it makes me excited to try some.

 1,244 characters

Photo of JebediahScooter
3.75/5  rDev -9.9%

Photo of Rollzroyce21
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%

Poured a 2012 vintage into a stemless wine glass on 22-Sep-14 (aged about 2 years).

Much smoother than fresh and the roasty chocolate flavors are holding up real well.

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Photo of BigJiMo
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of jriggins6
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of ngeunit1
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown-black color with a finger of frothy chocolate-khaki colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted dark chocolate malts, coffee, vanilla, black licorice, a bit of earthy, and a touch of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of roasted dark chocolate malts, vanilla, and a bit of black licorice. Through the middle, some coffee comes through with some earthy hops and touch of molasses. The finish is a mix of dark chocolate, coffee, earthy hops, a touch of dark fruit, and bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate-minus carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Incredibly smooth for how big it is with great overall balance.

 756 characters

Photo of thebigredone
4/5  rDev -3.8%

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.

 764 characters

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.

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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.

 466 characters

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%

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,205 ratings