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 | website

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:
877
Ratings:
4,884
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
22.71%
 
 
Wants:
310
Gots:
1,378
For Trade:
44
User Reviews
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Reviews: 877 | Ratings: 4,884
Photo of drunkenmess
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured a dark charcoal black.
Dark tan frothy head.
Spider web lacing, lasting as well.
Smell of sweetness and strong booze.
Taste is superb, hints of vanilla. Sugar. Burnt malts/toast.
Strong alcohol after taste.
Very nicely done.
Especially for a year old :)
Nailed it!

 273 characters

Photo of rypkr
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

L - poured into a 12oz snifter. Aggressive pour net virtually no head. Looks like used motor oil, thin on the swirl but extremely viscous on the lacing. The lacing also has a peculiar fizzy ness to it where the carbonation is sticking to the side of the glass, I may have over chilled this and that may explain the phenomenon.

S - smoky, malty, fruity. Nothing overpowering really. The predominant smell here is smokiness.

T - mmm. Very bitter and potent. Light smokiness, faint fruitiness, very chalky and heavy on the hops for the style.

M - perfect here. Incredibly filling and creamy full feel to it. I was having a hard time giving a taste rating because everything I could focus on was related the great feel. Nothing docked here, 5/5.

O - solid. I love stouts and I lve BA stouts. Regular RIS's however I often have a hard time appreciating. While I'm sure the BA version of this is much better, this one in its own is still quite good.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very well constructed and balanced RIS, with the coffee, chocolate and roast flavors playing equal parts. The coffee does emerge as slightly predominant as it warms. For the price point, a high quality product for a very reasonable price.

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Photo of Brad007
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than a moonless night with a nice brown head into my glass. Don't you ever get the feeling that the color of a beer isn't that interesting in the first place?

Cocoa, cream and roasted coffee notes dominate the nose. Dead-accurate. I'm excited to go further.

Dark and foreboding with all the fury of a New England winter. Coffee, cocoa and booziness abound. The latter is subdued, which is a big relief.

Mouthfeel is predictable with more of the roasted coffee than anything else. Much easier to digest when the alcohol stays in the background.

I believe this is a very good example from Sierra Nevada. I wonder if they'll do a yearly release like Bigfoot? They could certainly bump up the ABV, age it in oak, etc. As long as the base beer is done right, anything is possible.

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Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev +1%
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.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a pitch black color with 2 fingers worth of brown head

S: Get some nice baker's chocolate, dark roasted malts, hints of coffee and alcohol

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with some bitter-sweet dark chocolate and coffee along with the dark roasted malts. Alcohol pokes its head out slightly, but very well hidden for the most part. Hops kick in towards the end and add some more bitterness

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy

O: This one is right up there with Stone IRS and Old Raspy as far as RIS's go. Serves as a good night cap or fireside sipper. And as with all SN brews, a great price-point

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Photo of MacMalt
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter glass. The color is jet black with a rather thin, light tan head and minimal lacing. The smell features dark chocolate with a hint of dark fruit. The taste includes abundant dark fruit with burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel. It's like a rich dessert. This stout has a rich, creamy mouthfeel and is very easy drinking notwithstanding its 10.2% ABV. Overall, it's a very good imperial stout. I particularly like the prevalent raisin and dark fruit. I'm a big fan of the barrel-aged version of Narwhal but the base stout does not disappoint. I don't think it's quite as good as Founders Imperial Stout, but it's excellent

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Ink. Pitch black. Head is of respectable stature. The best part of the head is its color. The head is brown. Legitimate brown. Sierra Nevada consistently makes the best looking beers. What a beaut. Light lacing webs…boy is the head dark.

S-Dark dutch chocolate and French-press espresso. A bit burnt and smoked. The nose does not have any unique traits, but it is very finely tuned. Not super-intense, but aromatic enough.

T-An addition of dark fruit and a lick of black licorice join the gang of dark chocolate, coffee beans and smoke. Like dumping a spoonful of cocoa powder into a dark-roast java. The bitterness stems more from the roast than the relatively modest hoppiness. Narwhal is an oily sea-monstrosity of deliciousness.

M-Full bodied. I can just picture this beer coagulating and turning into gel if left alone for too long. Plenty of carbonation. Booze is masked perhaps too well. This brew could dethrone you if you aren't wary of the ABV. Too drinkable…although it does warm up my cheeks a bit.

O/D-Like Hoptimum, this brew is a textbook Imperial Ale. Also like Hoptimum, Narwhal does not attempt to do anything that hasn't been done before. That is my only true criticism of this brew. It is a scrumptious and blameless Stout, but it offers no unique qualities. Regardless, this brew is a beast!

 1,323 characters

Photo of ZAP
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Black with ruby hues..

S-Shaved chips of quality dark chocolate....dark fruits (prunes, raisins, dried black cherries, plums)....some light coffee

T-Rich and malty...hop load is dialed back which I can enjoy....roasty malts lend a decadent expensive chocolate flavor....light coffee...dark fruits still there but lighter than on the nose...a bitter splash of alcohol on the late finish....

M-Big....Rich....Full Bodied...Fits the Bill....right about where it should be....

O-An impressive IMPY...would seem to be on par with most of the heavy hitters...great price too....

 578 characters

Photo of PatrickBeebe
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage into a snifter

still big huge roasted malts after 3 years in the cellar. the alcohol has definately cooled down drastically. hardly noticeable. not as choclatly as a fresh narwhal, but roastier and even more effervescent. some earthy flavors come through as well. body seems a bit light though.

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Photo of popery
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's a really pretty stout. The head is a thick blanket of brown foam. Fine bubbles stick to the walls of the glass with each sip. The body is jet black. It's hard to see any color even at the edges of my glass. The aroma is full of chocolate and coffee. There's some caramel and roast beneath those initial notes. It smells rich and sweet. A touch of hops blends into the background. The taste is also quite good. Heavier on the roast and coffee than chocolate. Starts with lots of caramel and chocolate sweetness before the more bitter flavors take over. Mouthfeel is soft and full. Excellent. This is a great example of the style. I wish it was a bit more chocolatey and even less bitter, but I could see my score going up even higher upon subsequent tastings.

 763 characters

Photo of TheRealBigC
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally! An imperial stout from the wonderful Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. What should be a recurring rotational release, Narwhal is a textbook imperial stout, only better. It is deep black, huge roasted malt smell and taste. The hops come into play in the complex palate, just enough to bring a pleasantly strong bitterness - if you let the sip sit in your mouth a bit, you will be able to pick it apart. The mouthfeel is ridiculously creamy even out of the bottle. I'm glad to see this one come to life. Sierra Nevada is an excellent brewery and it only makes sense that they would make a great RIS.

 598 characters

Photo of Sammy
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Capone's Restaurant. Dark brown with no head. A rich aged beer aroma. A good carbonation and full mouthfeel. Chocolate is important, coffee-like roasting is incredible. Fruity, a little syrup. Very good drinkability, no obviously booziness, other than its slight resemblance to the new Manhattans.

 307 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours black/very dark brown, topped with a couple fingers of rich mocha head. This retains with a smooth ½ finger, leaving back a robust and sudsy looking cascade of patchy lacing. The aroma smells of chocolate fudge, coffee, dark cherries, a touch of licorice and some spicy sweetness from the alcohol. This smells delicious.

The taste is pretty aggressive with flavor. Bitter citric hops spread out, mingling with sweet notes of cocoa and caramel, before things segue into ripe dark fruit across the back. Roasted coffee character is scattered throughout, leaving zippy espresso on the finish and then finally a deep lingering charred feel. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a firm prickliness that is overlaid on top of a slick chewiness underneath. You get just the right amount of beefy warmth from that 10% ABV here, which hangs just a touch of lingering fusel spice and sweetness on the tongue after each sip.

For an off-the-shelf and reasonably priced RIS from a major brewery, this was pretty damn solid! There is lots of flavor and complexity here and this just feels like it’s going to age marvelously over the years. I need to grab some more of this for the cellar before it’s gone.

 1,238 characters

Photo of glass_house
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque black like an imperial stout should. One finger of creamy off-white head. Aroma is heavy on roasted dark malts with a little burnt coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit.

Taste is heavy on the roasted malts with subtle fig and dark plum in the aftertaste. There are hints of coffee and chocolate, but much less so than many beers of this style. The roasted malt takes center stage. It's a bit of a one trick pony, but when that trick is really really good, that's not a bad thing. The mouthfeel is silky smooth and just slightly creamy. Coats the palate well. Virtually no noticeable alcohol. One of the smoothest 10%+ beers I've ever had.

There are more exciting and complex stouts out there, but this is super solid and never lets me down.

 752 characters

Photo of DoctorZombies
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black pour with cinnamon tan head; thick cap and fairly thick lace; no clarity under cap. Roast malt and coffee bean nose. Flavors of bittersweet dark chocolate, roast malt and roast coffee. Medium plus mouthfeel; semi creamy tongue coating; moderate carbonation. Excellent roast malt linger; alcohol well hidden.

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Photo of CFHMagnet
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I bought a four pack about 3 months ago and have finally brought it up out of the basement. It poured over half a finger of mocha colored head over a deep brown/black body. Has a thin sheet of lacing to show off.

Smells of dark fruits, a tinge of dark chocolate and coffee and ends with mild alcohol.

Starts off slightly sweet with dark fruit, then plunges you into a dark chocolate bath. Coffee, more dark fruit and light alcohol finish her off.

This beer is very carbonated, must be what keeps it from bogging down. It is medium-heavy bodied. Leaves a light coating on the tongue.

 585 characters

Photo of hopsputin
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

a: a deep, dark, thick black. kinda viscous. solid 2 finger tan head. looks like you could rest a coin on there

s: a nice rich blend of caramel malts, toffee, smooth roasted malts, sweet chocolate, hint of black licorice, brown sugar, molasses, some sticky syrup

t: heavy tasting. alcohol right off the bat. brown sugar & molasses. more alcohol. toasted malts, milk chocolate, some hops in here. hint of root beer, more alcohol

m: its definitely on the fuller side. sticky. this is a sipper for sure. not much carbonation - but its the perfect level

o: this needs to sit for a few years or months me thinks. i can taste a real nice base beer in here, theres just a lot of alcohol in the flavor right now. as it sits in the glass for a bit, those flavors do shine through. its a nice beer, that will be made better as the alcohol flavor dies off

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Photo of ronniebruner
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Easily one of the darkest stouts I have seen in a while. Beer pours a DARK black molasses color, making light impossible to penetrate this brew. The beer has a beautiful, smooth aroma, topped off with a nice amount of lace and head when poured into a glass. A slight hint of chocolate is abundant and the beer is extraordinarily smooth. Sierra Nevada never let me down and in my opinion it is a toss up between them and Widmer as the best American brewers. An absolute must have, so far the best new beer I've tried in the last 6 months or so.

 543 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1632nd Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
12oz

2012 Release
Purchased a single 12 from Total Wine, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

App- Poured a very dark brown and then bordered onto a black color. A great amount of density in the center and a little bit of lighter browns on the edges. A nice 1/2 inch head was there and fairly compact and then moved into a nice bit of lace and cling.

Smell- It was a nice RIS. Had a good amount of malt behind it with some roasty notes and bit of the bottle conditioned hop bitterness. A bit of bakers chocolate came into play as well.

Taste- I enjoyed this RIS. It had a great balance behind it. A good hop bitter with a solid milk chocolate and roast offering. The beginning is a bit thin and takes a few sips to warm and release a bit more of the flavors. More grainy that I thought, but still very flavorful.

Mouth- A very solid medium body with a medium grainy carbonation. A good amount of chocolate and malts balanced by a nice amount of bitter.

Drink- I liked it. Couldve been just an off day for me to rate a little low. Might have to grab a 4 pk to sit on.

 1,095 characters

Photo of cvm4
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle

A - Appearance is stunning. Rich, black body with a tan mocha head that leaves behind a highway of lacing.

S - Roasted malts, dry bakers chocolate and vanilla.

T - Bitter dark chocolate, roasted malts and a touch of molasses to start off. Bitterness all the way through with coffee on the finish along with a lingering smokeyness.

M - Medium body that is somewhat more carbonated than other RIS I've had. Doesn't feel "thick," but somewhat creamy/chewy and airy all at the same time.

O - Well done SN, well done. Continually impressed with how this beer comes alive as it warms.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
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 draheim
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz into a tulip. Pours a jet black w/ a 1-finger tan head.

Aroma is bitter, roasty: coffee, chocolate, dark fruit. All that's missing is the bourbon.

Taste follows nose. Rich bitter chocolate, deep roasted malt, coffee.

Mouthfeel is just right. Medium-bodied, balanced; crosses the palate effortlessly. Nice bitter finish.

Overall a rock-solid imperial stout. Well done Sierra Nevada. Once again a no-nonsense, straightforward, excellent beer.

 449 characters

Photo of mactrail
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

More nearly black than a lot of beers claimed to be black. An unexceptional head but the sudsy mouthfeel is very pleasant.

Sweet in a rich and forgiving way with a distinct smack of licorice. The hops slowly come on the dominate the aftertaste, but it's never overly bitter. Becomes more tart after some sipping and has some pie cherry-like flavors. Grainy but refined, reminds me of really heavy black German bread with some yeasty intrigue. More licorice in the nose. Hints of bitter chocolate and dark nutty roasted flavors. Smooth and creamy without being unctuous.

The first time I tried this I thought it was exceptional. Certainly one of my top favorites in the RIS style. The neck label says "2012" so I hope it will be an annual delight. From the 12 oz four-pack bought at Ibis Market in San Diego.

 810 characters

Photo of homebrew311
4.17/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served on tap at the Falling Rock. Appearance is opaque black with generous finger of head and heavy lacing that leaves layers behind. Smell is dry and roasty with dark fruits, chocolate, coffee, and grain. Taste is deep and roasty with light sweetness, heavy cocoa and coffee character at the end. Nice well rounded stout. Mouthfeel is heavy with medium carbonation. Overall, a very solid offering from Sierra Nevada.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 877 ratings.
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