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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: 888 | Ratings: 4,926
Photo of AirBob
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

A- Thin layer of khaki colored head which quickly dissipated. Deep black body. Sparkling off-white lacing.

S - Coffee grounds and chocolate syrup.

T - Sweetened, burnt coffee and unsweetened chocolate. Some earthiness in the middle. Finishes with numbing boozy heat. Very bitter dark chocolate and burnt coffee.

M - Low carb. Full bodied. Bitter finish helps to cut through any stickiness.

O - Bitter. Reminds me of sweetened Starbucks house blend with some booze. Could be better balanced, but the bitterness cuts down on the stickiness which made this more drinkable than other beers in the style.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a black color with motor oil consistency. Decent sized thick brown head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a thin, crisp line of lacing around the edge of the glass, with a thin "island" of head left in the center.

Heavily roasted chocolate and coffee malts, and a good deal of booze. Some dark fruits are definitely there too.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts. The booziness is still there. Dark fruits are definitely noticeable, led by black licorice. Cocoa and molasses. Very dark, roasted coffee. A good amount of hop bitterness.

Heavy bodied. Not much carbonation. Very creamy and rich, with a relatively noticeable bite from the alcohol. Definitely a sipper.

Overall, another solid entry from SN. This is a very good example of a "good" RIS; doesn't execute any aspect perfectly but does them all very well. A good beer on a cold winter night. (Incidentally, my curiosity caused me to look up what a Narwhal is. Fascinating creature).

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Photo of H0PHead108
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Delicious aroma of chocolate with a hint of coffee. A med/full head on the pour supported by the dark chocolate brown body. Smooth and sweet with the bitterness of dark roasted coffee to finish. This doesn't hide it's 10.2%ABV Imperial kick for very long. I left this to chill on the porch for a bit [58 degrees] for about 30 min before I opened and poured. it. Delightful !

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown, almost black. Nice tan head that dissipates. I have some remnants of sticky lace in the pint glass, but not much.

Coffee and licorice in the nose. Some bitter charred notes.

Deep flavors with terrific balance of dark richness and bitter. Sweet malt of dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, charred burnt bits. Bitterness leans in with some alcohol, but it seems less boozy than it really is. Nice bitter finish with a coffee aftertaste.

This one even pours thick. Dense full body. A little acid.

Great RIS. Loved this and glad I tried it.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle.

Pours black with a tan head. Decent retention and small lacing. Char, chocolate, roast, and vanilla in the nose. Full bodied with a velvety mouthfeel. Bakers chocolate, coffee grounds, and Oreo shells on the palate. Finishes with lingering roast and chocolate.

Great RIS.

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Photo of grittybrews
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured an opaque black with a finger of mocha head. Aroma of roasty cocoa, licorice, and coffee.

Moderate carbonation and full, creamy, slightly chalky mouthfeel. Caramel and roasty chocolate up front with espresso and licorice. Quite a bit of hop bitterness and boozy warmth on the finish, with fruity esters that emerge as the beer warms.

Solid stout with sharp, big flavors.

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Photo of m0ntels
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark, bold, and strong. Really enjoyed this one and would go to a place specifically if they had this on tap again. Another winner from Sierra Nevada!

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Photo of DesMoinesMike
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Bottle at Beer Crazy.
After a terrible 6 weeks for my family I decided it was beer treat time.
The beer is so dark that Neil deGrasse Tyson might mistake it for a black hole. The very edges of my Celebrator stout glass show a hint of ruby.
The aroma is prominent with cocoa.
The taste is somewhat confusing. I can pick up on the density of it but not the individual components. There's the heavy malt base and everything else blends together, but in an awesome way.
The body is a good level of thickness with a tiny amount of carbonation. Smooth on the finish.
This beer is very likeable, but I was a bit disappointed by the flavors all blending into one compination that I just could not decipher. I would get this again but it's meant to be enjoyed in small gulps.

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Photo of neophilus
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Generous light brown head fills the top of the glass then quickly falls on top of a pitch black ale.

Aroma of dark roasted grain on top of a rich malty base, solid raw-grain bread scents with no hint of alcohol. Balanced hop bitterness with the first sip, pronounced american (citrus?) hop flavors quickly washed away by sharp roasted grain taste. Thick and lucious body carries the astringent roasted grain through to a dry finish.

Great balance in the finish, deftly pairing strong roasted grain with a thick and full malty body. Alcohol is well hidden behind this very solid malty RIS. This is a straight shooter that doesn't fool around with quirky flavors and nails the balance of drinkability just right.

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Photo of EMV
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass.

L: Pours an inky black with 2 fingers of brownish head. Delicate lacing with great retention.

S: Chocolate and coffee, roasted malts, molasses.

T/F: Roasted malts with a complex coffee and chocolate flavor. Slightly sweet gives way to slightly bitter and very smooth on the palate. Even better as it goes from cellar temp to room.

O: One delicious Imperial Stout, and a great product from the venerable Sierra Nevada brewery. Can't wait to see what they've done with the bourbon aged versions (2 bottles currently relaxing in my cellar) and this beer can have a place in my fridge any time.

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Photo of South2NW
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle to snifter.

A: very dark brown, closer to black. Very thin brown head with minimal lace.

S: Roasty. Coffee, malts, and a touch of chocolate.

T: roasty malts right away, followed by some dark coffee/chocolate flavors. Brief hop finish.

M: thick, creamy. Little carbonation. Not much alcohol burn. Very easy drinker.

O: SN did a great job with this. It's a very nice, balanced imperial. Great value at $10/4pk. Makes a great sipper on cold evenings. Paired well with thanksgiving desserts.

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Photo of ksimons
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-black with no highlights visible with a fingers worth of tan head

S-Roasted malt, molasses, coffee, mild dark fruit, and some bitter hops

T-taste matches the aroma but is a little heavier on the hops. Still lots of roasted malts, coffee, light burnt flavor, and alcohol warming

M-full body, light to medium carbonation, a dry burnt flavor is left on the tongue

Overall I really like this beer, great combination of flavors, and even though the alcohol is noticeable it is not overbearing

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Photo of warrenout330
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a unibrue snifter

A- pours a black as night color... big thick khaki colored head...fades to a bubbly ring around the glass... leaving smears of lace to the glass

S- whiffs of bitter sweet chocolate, slight burnt charred ... roasted coffee grains, a smeel that reminds me of a slight perique tobacco

T- slighty like the smell... big bold flavors of bakers chocolate, bitter coffee, slight bitter burnt tobacco leaf... huge hop bitterness

M- smooth and creamy... oily body due to the minimal carbonation... big hop bitterness that leads for dry bitter finish, cleans up nicely

O- I've been waiting for this to be delivered into my store ... and only 3 cases made into our county ... this doesn't disappoint... maybe my new favorite RIS, well done sierra

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Photo of Extol
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - dark as hell. Smell - very dark. Taste - dark chocolate and coffee. About all I get, but delicious and balanced. Overall - had on tap. Can't drink a lot but would get again.

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Photo of AmitC
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

So now i am reviewing Narwhal, another SN product and an excellent one as usual.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. While pouring it is thick, dark brown. In the glass, it is dark as hell. Pure black. Head is dark tan colored not usual shining stuff in some of the other RISs that i have had. One finger thick. Not enough standing Disappears into a thing blanket and then a ring. Not enough lacing.

Aroma: Not much happening here. Dark roasted malts, somewhat burnt up. Sweet heavily malt forward nose. Very mild aroma for a RIS. Some hops that are very faint. 10.2 is very well hidden, no presence whatsoever.

Taste: Magic lies here. Charring malts enter but do not send an overtly burnt up taste. Use of coffee is apparent. Some dark chocolate. A very good amount of after taste bitterness, that is a mix of some bitter hops and roasted malts. Alcohol is hidden to a very good extent. Only when you have consumed enough does the effects start to show. This one is very delicious RIS. Strong yet with good drinkability. Finish is bitter dry. No sweetness in the taste at all.

Mouth feel: Thick bodied yet surprisingly smooth and creamy. Low to moderate on carbonation. Somewhat astringent in its taste of charred malts, smokiness and hopping.

Very enjoyable RIS. Keeps you wanting for more. Strong and powerful. To be enjoyed slowly. Let it warm a bit and let it sit. Let it linger in your mouth for as long as it can.

 1,437 characters

Photo of BeerWizard
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

First of all, the bottle imagery is badass. I mean a narwhal is like my second favorite kind of whale, OMG! Seriously though, narwhals are badasses, and so is this beer. Pours completely opaque black - like a very deep, briny ocean, this beer does not let light through. Has a small, short lived, dark brown head. Clocks in at a 10.2, and the aroma doesn't hide it. Definitely detectable alcohol in the nose, with a deeper nuttiness and malt, choco-caramel, and other dark, sweet things. Taste reflects all that, and is almost bridging into a liquor-filled chocolate cordial. Really nice and I'd for sure get this again.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black with one finger of off white head. Smells sweet cola-like. Taste is very unusual for the style, a definite cola sweetness. Dark juicy fruit flavored, with a lot of carbonation. I like the juiciness, and no trace of alcohol.

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Photo of do_ob
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Very dark brown on the pour and settles pitch black in the glass. About 1/2 a finger of light brown foam initially, but bubbled down to a thick lacing pretty fast. Big, and assertive on the nose. One of those you can smell from a couple feet away. Dark chocolate, roasted malt, expresso, and tons of dark fruit - something I don't remember picking up on with last year's batch. Overall, the aroma is roasty and sweet with a small amount of alcohol. The taste is pretty well on-par with the aroma. Just an insane amount of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, coffee, and a small touch of booze on the back end. Velvety smooth feel. Still an awesome beer.

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Photo of kalosjakar
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ink black with a mocha head which dissipated rather quickly.

Aroma: Coffee up front, roasted malts next, bit of chocolate, toffee.

Rotating the glass the beer is sticking to the edges with the mocha color the head was.

Taste: roasted malt overtakes the coffee in terms of flavor, but its still there. A balanced sweetness/bitter sweetness in every sip.

 356 characters

Photo of craftbeersweden
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black, clear liquid with a beigebrown, fluffy, two finger high head that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

Nose: Red fruit, coffe, roasted malt, chocolate and spice.
Taste: A really great, hoppy, taste! Newly brewed coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, brown sugar and pine.
Medium body with just a little carbonation. Almoust no taste of alcohol, and it's 10.2 % ABV!

Great work Sierra Nevada!

 405 characters

Photo of genesisgrunge
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful black. No light shines through. No head (although I worry it may have been my specific bottle).
S: Chocolate and molasses with a strong roasted (but not coffee) scent. It has a wood scent to cap it off. Must be those bourbon barrels used to age it.
T: Dark chocolate and earthy with an alcohol hit that comes with a 10.20 abv, but it's still smooth.
M: I imagine the mouthfeel must be much better than I experienced since the head was very thin to nonexistent on my pour. Yet it is still smooth and velvety. Reminds me of a Rasputin, but slightly more harsh due to the more pronounced alcohol taste.
O: Excellent beer. I will need to try this again with a proper pour from a good tap or bottle. This beer is a truly dark monster of complexity and challenge, but in all good ways. For those who like Rasputin for its sweeter malts, this is not the beer for you, but if you like Rasputin Imperial for everything else, then Narwhal is a must have.

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Photo of mynie
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Pint in West Lafayette, IN. Ordered it because why not, what the hell.

Smells fairly tame, even as it warms. Big nodes of roasted barley combined with some light wisps of espresso and alcohol fire.

Tastes quite good, much stronger than its relatively tame ABV led me to anticipate. Very nice balance between sweet and roasty nodes, coming across both lively vinous and bitterly dark. Back end is a wee bit thin which blots out some of the complexities.

Nothing to write home about, really; just a nice, aggressive double stout.

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Photo of alarmclock314
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, dated 9/10/15. Pours black with a smaller sized tan head, good lacing. Smells of roasted malt and sweet licorice. The taste follows almost exactly with roasted malt, licorice, and some cocoa. Moderate sweetness and less malt than with other RIS's. Above average body and medium carbonation. Overall, it's a well done RIS, but could use flavors other than licorice.

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

Narwhal pours with a deep, black beautiful body that was topped with a dense, creamy froth.

Gorgeous scents of cocoa, light coffee, marshmallow creamy sweetness and hints of malty Graham cracker all waft gently to the nose.

The flavor really showcases the strong malt base with a steep charred grain profile. The char brings out the coffee and cocoa qualities. These malts also bring out a strong Graham cracker dryness. It is better served warmer as the booziness comes out in the cold.

The feel is moderately thick upon first sip but swallows with a touch of abrasive carbonation. There's an easy warmth from the strong alcohol character but it is tempered as it warms.

Narwhal proves itself as a quality stout with a begging for barrel aging.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Out of the bottle pours dark brown, then hits with some very dark black walnut, almost midnight. Forms a solid cocoa and coffee like head, with lots of pinhead bubbles. Settles slowly, and manages to always keep a nice collar while drinking and a decent puck. Lots of leg coating and spotted catty lacing on the glass.

Nose is a little subtle. Simple roasted malts, but a nice waffer and ovaltine chocolate sense. Whoppers candy and malt. Mild char action, but mostly kind of closed. There is this sense this is sort of airy and light. Otherwise solid, not getting any coffee sense.

Palate hits with anything but. First notes of hop lime and grapefruit in the front palate, moves to a thick but waffer like dark bitter chocolate while consuming. Large surprising body melding with notes of char and more cocoa powder. Not particularly finding coffee on this but it's a superb feel, large since it seems unexpected from the bouquet.

Overall a great balance between hop action and roasted malt, a very controlled and fun beer, with not a boozy taste either for 10, a real fantastic stout very enjoyable.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,926 ratings.
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