Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
sierra-nevada.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
925
Ratings:
5,023
Avg:
4.15
pDev:
9.64%
 
 
Wants:
332
Gots:
1,446
For Trade:
40
User Reviews
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Reviews: 925 | Ratings: 5,023
Photo of gtermi
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Narwhal pours a dark black body with a thick tan head that slowly fades away and leaves a little bit of lacing on the glass.

S: There is a little bit of chocolate malt, a lot of burning booze, some roasted malt and even a tiny bit of sweetness.

T: Wow this reminds me a lot of Old Rasputin. It is so tasty with the chocolate and roasted malt flavors hitting my palate with a punch. There is a tiny bit of booze, but the sweetness really covers it.

M: Very thick and creamy body, that isnt too thick. It goes down with ease and really doesnt have much crispness.

O: This is just another damn good beer from Sierra Nevada, but what else should I have expected?? I mean everything they make is delicious and they knocked this beer out of the park.

 751 characters

Photo of ddedhed
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful black, with a thick dark tan head, which leaves nice lacing. Smell is chocolate sweet with a whiff of hops. Taste is chocolate, smooth roast, slight licorice, some dark fruit, and roasted, bitter finish. Defintiely some booze noticable. Mouthfeel is thick, yet soft and smooth. Overall, I really like this a lot. Very nice sipper.

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Photo of BeerDocT
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and judging by the subject matter and colors of this beer's label, they seem to be attempting to look like a famous and very popular beer from the Great Northwest named after a mad Russian holy man. What about the contents of the bottle? How do they measure up?

-Appearance 4.0: Poured out an inky black that almost looked thick. It looked like it was actually going to stain the sides of my glass! No head to speak of and a big glop of something dropped in at the end of the pour. Look out!

-Smell 4.0: In spite of its inky blackness, this brew has a subdued bouquet. I smell hops and toasted malt, but nothing really jumps out at me.

-Taste 4.5: Whoah! Front is mildly sweet and bitter. Middle is a huge, rushing wave of smoky grains, alkaline hops, dark chocolate and yummy malty goodness. Finish is huge too and is very hoppy and malty, but very well balanced. Aftertaste is long, smoky, chocolaty and delicious. Wonderful.

-Mouthfeel 4.5: So smooth and perfectly balanced with the taste of the beer. Really outstanding.

-Overall 4.5: I don't remember what I gave Ol' Rasputin, but this baby is a close second. Wonderful, huge beer that does not seem to be as big (in ABV and other areas!) as it really is. Deliciously smooth and robust, but at the same time very complex and nuanced. A chip off the old block. Recommended.

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Photo of beerdedking
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%

Vintage 2013. From the snifter emits one of strongest black licorice scents in an RIS I've encountered.
Oohh, I'm gonna like this already. Comingled with the initial licorice are light scents of dark cherry and prune.
After the quickly dissipating head vanished, I started the swilling. The licorice continues with dark fruit and a touch of fine coffee
which all play nicely on the tongue long after a pull. My favorite attribute is the lack of char. Strangely this is bit thin for the style, but slightly. This minor lack of density does
give way to a bit greater drinkability. You can slug this baby down, then have another, then nite nite. Overall, this is quite worthy for the style, it's Sierra Nevada, and the
price is great as you'd expect. SN doing awesome things as usual.....

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Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a viscous black. Thick head of dense brown bubbles. Moderately sticky lace.

Smells of milk chocolate, baking coco, cherry cordials, and roasted malt.

Big flavors of dark chocolate, dark fruits, raisins, figs, brandied cherries, and dark roasted coffee. Lactic sweetness, and smokey roasted malts. Bitter hop twang on the back end, with a slightly boozy finish.

Thick chewy mouthfeel. Leaves an oily feel on my tongue.

Overall and excellent Impy stout. Some nice complex flavors, especially as it warms.

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Photo of Neorebel
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pleasantly surprised that one of my local haunts had Narwhal on tap. She pours an inky jet black with a thick looking tan head to boot. Very nice, almost perfect for what I want in a stout, in fact. The aroma is quite roasty, with a fairly large presence of bittersweet chocolate as well. After a highly anticipated sip, that baker's chocolate satisfied my taste buds fully, along with very pleasant fruit esters (predominantly plum and dark fruits). What I like is how wonderfully bitter the overall package is. There is perhaps some hops detectable in the flavor here. Very full on the mouth feel. Overall, a very solid Imperial Stout.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a thick black with a thin mocha head. Shows the thickness when swirled in the glass, leaving big trails of lace.

S: Roasted malt, burnt toast, anise, dark chocolate, molasses, mexican chocolate and some charred malt. Pretty complex.

T: A big charred malt hit right off the bat. Molasses, burnt coffee grounds, baking chocolate and charred grain. Maybe a hint of smoke and earthy hop resin on the finish. A really great RIS. Mouthfeel is big and chewy without giving away the ABV. Solid stuff.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a Sierra Nevada tulip style glass.

Narwhal poured out thick, a stout is a stout, this one has a very dark black color and a sturdy inch of dense dark tan bubbles like chocolate milk. It fades away into a small cap up top leaving minor splotches on the glass. Smell is pretty balls deep, scents include bakers chocolate, earthy hop tones, licorice, roasted malt, smores, and some minor dark fruit. It smells great. Taste is superb, just a big RIS, no bells or whistles. With so many RIS out there they kind of run in circles with one another. Narwhal does the same. Taste includes most of the scents up above, but the two characteristics that stand out to me in this specific RIS is licorice and dark fruit. Body is full and carbonation keeps the beer going after some warming, while this indeed does warm up to me. A one and done beer in a sitting with the body and alcohol. This is another RIS that I will be keeping in touch with during the cold months and possibly building a vertical down the line, which seems like the right thing to do.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served on-tap at the Dive Bar in West Haven, Conn.

A: Pours jet black with a two-finger head of espresso-colored foam which retains nicely and leaves some chunky lacing around the glass.

S: Very nice, robust, dark and roasty malt aroma with hints of anisette, charred wood and bittersweet cocoa. Some subtle fruitiness and herbal hops rise from the brew as well.

T: Rich, sweet and well-rounded malt flavor, giving off the taste of dried tobacco leaves, roasted coffee and dark chocolate. There's a slight vanilla sweetness around mid-palate which cascades into a spicy, herbal hop resin that lasts until the bittersweet and smooth, roasty finish.

M: Full-bodied, very drinkable stout with a creamy malt mouthfeel and rounded bitterness to stave off cloying sweetness while offering a smooth, robust finish.

O: SN Narwahl RIS is a very complex and enjoyable, sweet, strong stout. It packs a ton of flavor into that 10.2% ABV while not slowing you down with too hot of a hop or alcohol burn. Perfect beer to serve as dessert or to accompany a raspberry chocolate torte. I'd love to try it again, or one of it's aged varietals.

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Photo of Kenye
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 Ounce bottle poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Pours pitch black with a small persistent tan head that slowly fades down into quite a pretty collar around the edge of the glass. Nice but pretty average lacing. 4/5

Smell - Like a typical Imperial Stout, the smell is wonderful, especially as it warms. Lots of roasted malts and you can smell the 10.2 ABV. The more you let it warm up the sweeter it smells. 4/5

Taste - There are a lot of hops in this beer. They hit you first and hard. They quickly fade into the lovely roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate middle. The swallow gives you that high ABV burn you expect, and makes me do that little "alcohol twitch" I have. Like you would expect from a fresh Imperial Stout. Curious to see what age will do to this. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel - Wonderful silky mouthfeel. It coats the tongue perfectly, and just the right carbonation to keep it from lingering for too long. 4.5/5

Overall - Very solid Imperial Stout at a very good price. It tastes like a Sierra Nevada beer. The hops are trademark. If you see it, pick it up. I'll be grabbing up more of these, and aging them a couple months. I imagine age will make this an even better beer. 4.5/5 (Taste and Mouthfeel a little more important than Appearance and Smell for me personally.)

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Photo of CNoj012
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours an opaque jet black with 2 fingers of a brown head colored head that reminds me of chocolate milk with a dab of caramel. There is not much retention and no lacing.

The smell is chocolate, coffee, roasted grainy malt and sweet rasins.

Taste is very similar to the nose with the addition of a bit of smokiness and some bitterness on the finish.

Feel is oily, slick and there is not even a hint of alcohol.

Overall this is a great stout. One of my favorite seasonals, and something I will definitely go out of my way to get each year.

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Photo of Ego
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$20 for a growl fill on this ? mad props to Copper Mine Pub in N Arlington NJ

eyes...
devilishly black, totally opaque, lacing ? legs? yeah... got that, the head retreats pretty quickly but easily comes back with a quick swirl-o-rama, the head itself is a nice dark cocoa tone, this looks impy...

nose...
burnt wood left outside, the spicy note of licorice, bitter chocolate, hints of smoke and molasses,
hints of mint like toothpaste

taste etc...
initially pretty smooth but man this sucker is heavy, like drinking a cannon ball, woah this thing is thick and weighty, this is big boy territory right here... the first blast is sort of the sweet end of things with the malts parading the molasses across the mouth, then the after bomb drops... we're taking a trip to flavortown folks (can I say that without comping Guy Fierri ?).. anyhoo, the aftertaste slapped me so hard (insert one liner here but it probably involves my mom), you get some deep dark euro chocolate that teeters on barelywine-ish flavors but never loses the RIP style, the booze is there but really lends itself to the mix here.

verdict?
luckily I have my bro and his current girl to help me out with this growldog, cause otherwise I am taking a trip to passoutville. damn, this is one deep dark sucker, maybe not my fave RIS but it is bold, any RIS fan needs to check this out, it might be the spanish fly to your.. well..

 1,398 characters

Photo of daledeee
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Some more of this showed up. Got a 4 pack for a reasonable price.

Pours black with a medium brown head and great lacing.

Smell is charcoal, malt.

Wow, this one hits you in the face. This is the bitterest stout I have had. Loads of malt bitterness. Charcoal, oak, chocolate and sweetness as well.

The mouth feel is very creamy and I don't notice too much alcohol warmth. Overall this is a great example and unique as well.

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Photo of CurtFromHershey
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - pitch black with a thick, persistent tan head. Head speckled with darker brown flecks.
S - smells a bit thin. Burnt coffee and chocolate. Licorice, dark fruit. Not overwhelmingly good.
T - wow. Rich, caramel, artisan dark chocolate and cacao nibs. Coffee flavors. Much better than the nose.
M - rich and luscious. Thick. Ominous.
O - SN knocks it out of the park on this one (as usual). The smell is a bit lackluster, but everything else top notch here.

 457 characters

Photo of barnzy78
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Narwhal 2012, served @ ~55F
12oz bottle, pours black with slight chestnut hues at the edges of the glass when held to a light. Light brown head is thin and leaves some lacing down the glass. Big roasty nose with dark bittersweet cocoa powder and coffee. Smells powdery if that makes any sense? Tastes are complex and bold with lingering dark rich cocoa, espresso, booze, roasted barley, slight anise and pine on the finish. Mouth-feel is smooth and nearly full bodied, nice carbonation allows for palate coverage and depth of flavors. Overall, a very nice RIS. I'd buy this again, and hope I see it again next year!

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Photo of Thedusanmandic
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

'13 vintage. Spongy caramel head. Smells of red velvet cake and heavy molasses. A little hotter than expected with a year on it, but nice buttery feel. Very malty with slight roasted coffee tones. Excellent imperial stout.

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Photo of Czarkazm
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage. A muddy coca-cola brown color on the pour. In the glass, the body is black, nearly opaque, with just a tint of light shining through along the edges. The head disappears quickly from a creamy looking light brown to a thin tan film. A little bit of age turns this one into quite a complex stout. Getting strong licorice notes in the smell up front, along with bitter dark chocolate, molasses, burnt brown sugar, heavily roasted malts, prune juice, coffee beans, and vanilla. Full mouth feel, silky texture, well balanced. The flavor is more roasty, dark malts, charred caramel, bittersweet chocolate, espresso, wood earthiness, slight stale hop bitterness, and a touch of booze. Don't remember it being this good.

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Photo of n2185
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours black with three fingers of brown head that fades into a frothy ring with decent lacing.

S: Roasted malts dominate with semi-sweet chocolate and slight coffee notes. There are some faint licorice notes towards the finish with a sweet charred aroma.

T: Roasted malts dominate here as well. Bitter chocolate and coffee are also present with a robust, charred finish and light alcohol burn. Delicious.

M: Thick body with medium carbonation, this beer is a bit more carbonated than most imperial stouts, but it goes well with the robust flavors.

O: A surprisingly good imperial stout. Very robust and flavorful without being too sweet or too bitter. Quite enjoyable.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage poured in to tulip glass.

A - Black with half a finger of medium brown head.

S - A huge roast aroma up front with some coffee and a hint of smoke.

T - Very bold and flavorful right away. Starts with a big roast presence with some char. A big hop presence enters mid-palate along with a warming alcohol presence and hints of cocoa and licorice. The finish is dry and bitter with a lingering pine flavour from the hopping and becomes almost sticky a few seconds after the swallow.

M - Medium to full body. Creamy. Light carbonation. Somewhat sticky at times.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into one of my snifters, this beer pours a an extremely dark brown, almost black color that lets in no light whatsoever. has a dark tan head that is about 1/4 inch thick when first poured that, despite the fact that I gave this beer a very rough pour, settled very quickly to a medium sized ring lining the inside of the glass along with swirls of foam on the surface of the beer. Okay lacing, but not that good. Aromas of caramel malt, hints of chocolate and vanilla, coffee, some hints of dark fruit that are all rounded out with a bourbon smell. pretty sure this edition of this beer was not aged in bourbon barrels, but it sure smells like it. Weird. The flavors match the aromas almost verbatim, caramel malt, chocolate and vanilla sweetness upfront, followed by some roasted coffee bitterness notes, hints of plum and raisin, rounded out with a touch of bourbon. Oh yeah a hint of alcohol too. The flavors mesh very well together as the beer sits and warms up a bit too. Has a slightly crisp, but mainly smooth, creamy, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. This one really coats the palate. Easy to drink in the way an excellently crafted beer should be.

Eric

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Photo of EdwardAbbey
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My favorite Sierra Nevada beer, and easily better, to my mind, than the barrel-aged version (which mutes so much of what I love about it). The baker's cocoa is definitely the predominant note, followed by the dark roasted coffee. Some palates may find this harsh, but I think the flavor and feel of this one is unique and delicious. Just as important, it's a great value.

 374 characters

Photo of HipCzech
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Serving: 12 oz bottle (08/05/16) poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter.

Appearance: Opaque, inky dark brown with a cap of lush, tan foam; spotty lace.

Smell: Rich aroma of roasted, smoky malt, coffee, molasses and tobacco.

Taste: Smooth roasted malt, sweet dark fruit (dates), chocolate and coffee. Closes with a brisk, earth herbal bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full, velvety smooth body with light carbonation.

Overall: Solid, full bodied imperial stout with great roasty aroma.

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Photo of Joshpu
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a duvel.

A: Black, used motor oil. About a finger of tan head, which dissipates quickly. Spotty lacing with alcohol legs.

S: Roasty smell. Coffee, dark chocolate, malt, some dark fruit.

T: Little bit of hop or chocolate/coffee bitterness, not overwhelming, it tastes great. Alot of coffee, malt, dark chocolate, sweet aftertaste.

M: Medium to full bodied, fairly creamy tasting. Fair amount of carbonation.

O: Outstanding beer, for a 10% beer it is very well executed. This beer is addictive, makes me wanting to come back for more.

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Photo of GetMeAnIPA
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 12 oz bottle into my dogfish signature glass.

A - midnight black. 1/2 inch of brown small buubled head that fades quickly, but appears again with a few swirls of the glass. No bubbles that I could see, but the beer is so black if there where I couldn't even see them.

S - licorice, coffee, roasted malts with a some sweetness and alcohol that pierces the nose.

T - I get an array of flavors. Roasted malts, coffee, slight coco. A little sweetness comes through in the middle with some bitterness on the back end. The bitterness fades 1/4 through the beer as the coffee and roasted malts take over.

M - very little carbonation. A little syrupy and viscous. I get a slight tingling on the tongue.

O - very solid. I like how there isn't too coffee or coco flavor and its balanced nicely between not being too sweet or bitter. The abv is well hidden. I get a perfect amount of warming but no alcohol burn. Sierra Nevada says this will
Age for years and I plan on aging a few. Interested how it will change.

 1,020 characters

Photo of DanJan
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I let this one warm up a bit out of the fridge and the characteristics really stand out. Looks like the definition of a Russian Imperial Stout; deep and dark without a hint of light and a tan head with a little bit of lacing. In other words, it looks delicious. Roasted malts, coffee, and dark chocolate on the nose. But really the taste is what we're all here for. It is spot on. Exactly what you'd expect. Waves of chocolate and roasted dark malt. Not overly bitter but just enough. A really solid mouthfeel that lingers long enough to want more. Sugars last the longest leaving the finish slightly sweet. An excellent staple of the style.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,023 ratings.
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