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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding
876 Reviews
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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:
876
Ratings:
4,879
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
22.71%
 
 
Wants:
307
Gots:
1,375
For Trade:
46
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 876 | Ratings: 4,879
Photo of JayS2629
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep black with a nice two finger, creamy head. The aroma had a perfect balance of dark chocolate and coffee notes with hints of dark fruit and licorice. The flavor followed with a balanced earthy hops against a background of mocha and notes of vanilla and dates. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Rich, deep, and balanced. Nothing super complex, but perfect balance. Excellent standard example of the style.

 419 characters

Photo of Wiffler27
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

pours jet black with a dark cream colored head.

smells of creamy chocolate with coffee. very creamy aroma.

taste is equally creamy. hints of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. unique taste in combination with the smoothness. almost a nitro-beer creaminess but without being thin. the body is full and the creamy is so smooth. just amazing! goes down so smooth, this is dangerous!

instantly one of my favorite RIS' if not favorite beer over all. great full flavored taste, not one-dimensional at all.

 499 characters

Photo of EvanJohnson
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this beer side by side with a Founders Breakfast Stout. Both were great but I have to say I enjoyed the Narwhal more. It's much different and cleaner than the FBS. At the same time you don't lose any of the complexity from the malt. Not quite as much chocolate. A great beer with a smooth finish. I'm just starting to enter the world of RIS and it's off to a great start with this one!

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Photo of BeerNFoodDood
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this beer into a tulip from a bottle.

Pours a deep jet coffee black. With a nice vanilla cream head.

Smells of fresh coffee, chocolate, coconut, vanilla raisins.

At first taste the beer coats the inside of your mouth, bringing rich stone fruit, coffee and bitter cocoa forward. A nice subtle sweetness is balanced perfectly by that chocolate bitterness.

Beer laces nicely on the glass giving some noticeable legs.

Have a few fresh and a few for the cellar.

Cheers

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Photo of TDotScott
4.55/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a wine glass. Cellared for 6 months.

L- Dark brown, with an off-white head that quickly dissipates.

S- Dark chocolate, plum, a note of espresso.

T- Dry chocolate up front, with a drawn out, lasting bitterness

F- prickly carbonation, a little heat. Medium-full body.

O- Very balanced, and quite typical of style

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Photo of AleYes
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just got a 4-pack in Maui with a label stating pkgd 9/29/14. It was dusty, but I was desperate; not many big beers available. I was going to bring some good beers with us on the trip, but we brought a few bottles of Champagne and wine, instead. :( We live on the East coast, so a 13 hour + layover trip to Maui is a special occasion. Thankfully, my wife likes beer, too.

It is a nice, easy to drink, too easy to drink at 10.2%, beer with a nice smooth taste, not sweet, not bitter, nice roastiness, slight char, chocolate and coffee notes, mild lingering licorice, slightly malty, toffee finish. A pleasant, easy to drink beer; alcohol well-hidden. Nice, small bubble carbonation, and not heavily carbonated. I don't know if that is due to the aging or if it starts that way, but I like low carbonation beers. Head went from a creamy head to almost non-existent within a couple of minutes; that isn't an issue for me. Apparently it ages well, even on a supermarket shelf for almost a year and a half. Now starting my second beer - too easy to drink... :) I still prefer Old Rasputin, my fav, the elixir of life on nitro tap.

Edit: After reading some of the reviews of this beer, it seems that the better reviews, such as mine, involve this beer having been aged for at least a year or more. So I guess it ages well, and improves with age. Lucky me, then. And thankfully for me, Maui residents and most visitors do not have an affinity for good beer.

Now back to some Maui Brewing beers tomorrow. Going to the brewery in Kihei.

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Photo of gman1602
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours inky black with a decent tan head that recedes quickly leaving little lacing.
S: Deep roasted malt and a little dark cocoa.
T: Heavy on the bitter roast flavor with a little chocolate mocha coffee in the background.
F: Carbonation is perfect but the beer feels a tad thin - however in RIS world that just means more alcohol which this one has. Feel is right for the style.
O: A very nice Imperial Stout that I would/will have again. Aging would be interesting as well.

 479 characters

Photo of Glanzman
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Russian Imperial Stouts... my favorite beer style!

12 ounce bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a jet black color with a gorgeous tan, 1 fingered head.

Smells of dark roasted malts... coffee and chocolate.

Taste of rich malts, chocolate and coffee with a little bite from the hops. Very well balanced.

A slight bit of aftertaste tho... not sure what it is... kind of metallic or alcohol or something. Not as prevalent as it warms to room temp.

Definitely worth buying a 4 pack tho!

 489 characters

Photo of djaeon
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black. Expected coffee & dark chocolate flavors are every evident. Velvety smooth mouthfeel, some stickyness in the finish. A hint of bitter aftertaste, not unlike what you would get from black coffee (with booze in it).

All in all, a great imperial stout.

 263 characters

Photo of LouZ
4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage - pours black with a finger of foamy head. Scent is roasted malt and chocolate. Taste hits the spot with that malt backbone is chocolate-forwward with some bitterness from hops (and coffee?) to balance. Delicious. Feel is thick and wonderful - I love it. Goes down easy. Overall, this year's version far surpasses last year's and I will be picking up another 4-pack to enjoy very soon.

12oz bottle 2014 vintage, aged one year; pours black with minimal head. Roasty, malty scent. Taste is mildly sweet at start, but finishes with coffee and bitter hops. The bitterness is more pronounced than any sweetness in this version. It's a smooth drink, creamy, with nice carbonation despite the lack of head.

 713 characters

Photo of puboflyons
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle, 2012 batch with a stamp of 2279210:52. Sampled on December 29, 2012.

The pour is very dark brown to black but under the light there is this kind of maroon tint. The moderate tan head is silky and soft and settles down after a few moments. There is a lot of lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of dark malts with coffee esters and a vague hop bitterness hanging around in the background.

The body is bold and smooth.

The taste begins with dark malts and yeast with a resounding bitterness balancing it off at the end. The bitterness lingers and burns slightly but the alcohol is well-integrated. This is a highly recommended stout.

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Photo of JDrake31
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a beautiful pitch black with a tan, one-finger head. Looks amazing!

S: A hint of alcohol and dark fruit. Lots of toasted malts and roast coffee with just a bit of sweetness.

T: Espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malts with a pinch of hop bitterness. Delicious!

M: A mid-heavy thickness. Creamy and slightly chewy. Moderate carbonation.

O: What a great beer for the cold months! Would definitely recommend.

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Photo of Act25
4.53/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Massive. Up there with all the best. Right now my favorite, and you could not know which 2x stout is best until you taste test.

Appearance: Pours an energetic black, with a tan head they mounds and then lasts and leaves rills and contours as it falls, leaving also behind spidery rings of lace. Best looking.

Smell: Dark pit fruit soaked in coffee and liquore, skewered on top of charcoal fire.

Taste: Follows the smell, so that the roast and plum/cherry flavors emerge after a chocolate coating. Much complexity and ancient church like flavors, incense, old wool, old wood, wet wool. Lovely bitterness paints the tongue keeping it an unsugared coffee like experience, along with some licorice and alcohol - but like an ancient after dinner drink. Chartreuse like.

Mouthfeel: Warm, full, bitter, great bitter roasty finish, leaves you in a kissy place. Warming.

Overall: My current favorite 2x stout. A must try. Accessible. Sierra scores.

 948 characters

Photo of Spikester
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First time for the big bold stout. According to the stamped date it is about six weeks from bottling. Quite fresh.
The look is great with three fingers of foamy brown head that stays about ten minutes. Lacing is clumps and splotches so far. Smell is mostly sweet molasses some chocolate and coffee.
The taste is sweet molasses coffee a bit of dark chocolate from the bitterness of the hops. There is a whiff of booze but mostly when exhaling.
Mouthfeel is full and well carbonated. Finish is mostly sweet but long term finish is lightly dry and bitter.
Overall a bit sweeter than I like but it is an Imperial Stout. You can reform a head with just a few swirls of the liquid in the glass.

 691 characters

Photo of trygelski1
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into tulip glass:

Look: Pours an amazing dark black with about an inch of dark tan head and very minimal lacing. No retention on the lacing as well.

Smell: Chocolate, raisins, roasted malts.

Taste: Tons of roasted malts, some chocolate, and raisins. Wish I could get a hint of coffee but I am not with this brew.

Feel: Medium to heavy body.

Overall: Really enjoying this beer. Very solid Russian imperial stout. Its a step below the Great Lakes Blackout Stout in my opinion. I am very glad that I picked up a 4 pack of this to try. I will likely revisit this beer next year when it reappears.

 625 characters

Photo of BigCheese
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. About 2.5 months old. Served a bit below room temp.

A: Pours straight black, a thin but thick light brown head forms and sticks around for a few minutes. No real laving.

S: MMM. Dark Coco, espresso, raisins, maybe some vanilla. Pretty aromatic out of the bottle, enticing.

T: Not as viscous as I would have thought. A mix of dark coco nibs and espesso, some vanilla oak and maybe even coconut. Some caramel maltiness linges on palate. There seems to be some substantial hops trying to fight through, cascade perhaps, something with a very slight hint of pine. Primarily chocolate, with some cherries and honey too. A little bit of heat, but not much.

M: Super thick mouthfeel. Real chewy, very heavy, very creamy. One of the richest bodied beers I've ever had. Low carbonation.

O: A really smooth velvety brew, definitely well executed, I'd love to see how this ages. A great sipper to have on a cold winter night. Probably the best value RIS I've had to date. I will have to buy this again to drink and cellar. Try it if you can, a real winner from SN.

 1,075 characters

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From notes
Poured from a cool looking 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A Pours a nice black with a mocha head that has great retention and leaves some nice lacing.

S Lots of coffee and milk chocolate and not too much else.

T By far the best part of this one. Lots of milk and dark chocolate backed up by lots of coffee and some pine like hops in the background.

M A bit thin but still good.

Overall this is an excellent non barrel aged imperial stout by Sierra Nevada that is well worth seeking out. I just wish I had more.

 527 characters

Photo of AndrewGoria
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a great beer but make sure you age it for at least a year. Pulled out one I had aged for three years recently and it was well worth the wait. Smooth, chocolaty and rich.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.51/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Named after the horned cetacean - that's a whale for you Bud drinkers - this is a well made Imperial Stout that combines great taste with a smooth body. It opens in a swift rush of thick beige foam that subsides into a foreboding body of tar colored liquid. There is a pleasant nose of coffee ground that wonderfully supplements the semi-sweet dollop of baker's chocolate and burnt toast. Include a moderately dry smoothness to tingle upon the palate and you've good one velvet elixir.

While it may not be the greatest imperial stout out there, it is still a damn good one and one that must be tried.

 602 characters

Photo of MadScientist
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Jet black with a creamy, express colored head that has a good long retention period.

S: A solid roast with some licorice, moderate coffee and light citrus hop aroma. There is a low caramel malt sweetness and a light alcohol sweetness as well.

T: A huge malty flavor with rich dark flavors of roast, coffee and caramel along with a moderate sweetness. There are some underling burnt sugar and slight charcoal in there as well. The citrus hops flavors and bitterness are at a medium level. The balance is about equal between the bitterness and sweetness and almost out to a medium finish. The hops bitterness lingers a bit an edges out the dark roast flavors.

M: A full bodied beer with a moderately-strong level of carbonation.

O: Rich and full with equally strong malt and hops character; simply an excellent beer. I'm hoping this will be easy to find than Night Stalker where I live because Narwhal is running neck and neck with it as my favorite Imperial Stout. There will have to be a side by side tasting to for me to call a winner though.

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Photo of deebo
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 version that has been sitting in my fridge since November. Poured into a snifter this brew comes out of the bottle looking like motor oil topped with a dark tan thick head 1 finger wide with good lacing. Aromas of chocolate and roasted malt. Fairly simple but delicious. Taste is also chocolately with some nice roasted slightly bitter malt. A rather thick yet smooth mouthfeel. Really clean for a 10%+ beer. This is a fantastic RIS. Favorite beer from Sierra Nevada

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer pours an inky jet black body with a dark coco tan head of cream that last as a thick foam and sticks to the glass with each sip. There is a few random bubbles that can be spotted in that abyss.

S- The inky but mellow deep charcoal aroma blends with black roasted malt and some brewer’s licorice note blend in the finish. It is a full aroma even during the pour.

T- The green wood taste gives way to a much larger black roasted malt flavor that is full and creamy. There is a slightly dry finish with a nice balance of black malt bitterness and perhaps some minty woody hops bitterness as part of that. The rich mellow but deep dark malt flavors linger in the dry finish along with the softer bitterness. As the beer opens up there are some dark graham malt flavors and brewer’s licorice flavors that come through aswell.

M- The medium-full mouthfeel has a nice creamy texture and an alcohol warmth that compliments the big beer.

O- This beer has a big complex rich flavor but it is very well blended. The alcohol offers a nice support to the big flavors and texture. It taste great now and I can’t think of a reason it would need any age. Delicious.

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Photo of Jjski
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened a 2013 this evening.
RIS perfection in the non-barreled category. deep, rich chocolate malts. Smoky hints, velvet mouth feel. Black as my leather pants.

Last week, after horseshoes, The Czar said to me: "[email protected] all that happy horse crap, hops, flavors, chiles, etc.... Get me a Narwhal"

It was a beautiful moment with the Czar. I'm all tingly thinking about it.

 371 characters

Photo of xboxhueg
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

Roasty, chocalately, coffee notes all to be expected. Strong dark fruit sweetish taste. Alcohol warmth. Suberb lacing. Medium to heavy mouthfeel. Rather on the sweet side. AWESOME!

 181 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%

A: perfect black beer with a dense mocha fluff; lengths of lace left behind

S: rich dark malt aromas full of cocoa and espresso suggestions; sweeter hints of molasses

T: bittersweet chocolates and espresso with cane sugar; flashes of vanilla; lighter tones suggestive of anise and oak

M: creamy smooth and soft; slips across the palate with the barest brush; a full-bodied beer that's light-as-a feather?

O: an epic Russian Imperial - runs a little sweeter and less bitter than say, an Old Rasputin; had a slimmer, less sticky character than say, Stone's IRS; an elegant entry in the style. Don't pass it up.

 612 characters

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
92 out of 100 based on 876 ratings.
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