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Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial StoutNarwhal Imperial Stout
BA SCORE
4.16/5
Exceptional
5,129 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:
#1,350
Reviews:
960
Ratings:
5,129
pDev:
9.62%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
336
Gots:
1,482
Trade:
36
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 5,129 |  Reviews: 960
Photo of Bunuelian
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of jaycar06
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of themind
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

This is a very well crafted Imperial Stout. The beers pours a near perfect head with its rich dark color. The aroma is roasty with slight coffee coming thru. The taste was excellent! cocoa and roasted coffee make up this potion of love from SN. The mouth feel was awesome and the 10% ABV was hidden well. Overall this was a great beer that I would purchase again for sure.

Bottom Line: if its on the shelf....grab it!

 419 characters

Photo of gillagorilla
3.61/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Burley Oak snifter.

A: Pours a thick 3 finger head with nice lacing. Quite dark, but I wouldn't say pitch black.

S: Roasted malts. There is a bit of sweetness in there once you swirl it real nice.

T: Lots of roasty flavors with a bunch of malt in there for good measure. Not too sweet. Eh.

M: Quite carbonated. Prickly. Much smoother once it warms up.

O: Not a big fan of the mouthfeel on this one. I don't know what to say about this one. It's not really appealing to me. Not a big fan of the flavors here. Nothing compared to the BA version. Good.

 568 characters

Photo of jn84
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of dvmin98
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of ChipMurray
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of JasonLovesBeer
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of MaximalC
3.82/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark molasses color with a modest mocha head of course bubbles. Aroma is mild but pleasant, smelling of roasted malt and dark chocolate. The taste lures you into complacency at first blush with a smooth roasted malt flavor. This is rapidly superseded by a massive kick of alcohol and cough syrup, which in turn yields to a decrescendo of plum, dark chocolate, and spicy, herbal hops. The degree to which the flavors transition here within a single sip is something to behold. While I admire its boldness, the front end may be a bit too caustic for my tastes. It has a peppery alcoholic heat that wears you down and distracts from the finer malt character beneath it. It reminds me of Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Imperial Stout, but more heavy handed. The mouthfeel is smooth and rich, reminiscent of an oatmeal stout, and well suited to style.

Overall, this is a bold, flamboyant imperial stout whose gusto may be too great for its own good. The spicy booze masks what is actually a quite nice roasted, chocolate malt flavor. I could see myself drinking it again, but for a style brimming with superior beers, this is only above-average at best.

 1,149 characters

Photo of Dcunicelli
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of NHhomebrewguy
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of tkdchampxi
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottom Line: Great, syrupy stout that reminds me a lot of coca cola and beer, but in a good way. Not as good as your Founders Breakfast Stout, but still very enjoyable, and worth the ticket price.

Appearance: Dark, with a very small head, when poured down the side of the tulip glass.

Smell: Cold, refreshing, a little piney, a little bit like a cola.

Taste: Coffee flavor typical of a stout, but subdued. Sweeter than a typical stout, that really reminds me of coca cola.

Mouthfeel: medium low on carbonation, but with a silky, syrupy texture. Maybe it could use a bit more carbonation?

Overall: Finally got to have my first Narwhal, and I'm happy to say that it lived up to its reputation of being a great stout, worth the $10/4pk price.

 745 characters

Photo of FartBoss
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of Joey-bags1990
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Dolfan907
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of mpalestino
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of dbkdev
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - A thick, dark, opaque black beer which generates a dark tan head with an aggressive pour.

S - There is, not surprisingly, a strong alcohol note, with a big malty blast. Coffee and chocolate notes are secondary. The booze overwhelms here.

T - This is a big beer, delivering on the smell. Beneath a complex combination of malts, caramel, coffee and chocolate is a build of booziness that comes in big for the finish. Surprisingly, the brew is not particularly bitter, nor overwhelmingly sweet, even though every flavor here seems to be turned up to 11.

M - Heavy enough to coat, but with carbonation sufficient to keep it from getting cloying.

O - A drinkable brew that does not hide its 10%, but still manages to be quite drinkable. Suggests many of the qualities of a barrel aged imperial stout, which is a real trick since it was not. The alcohol does cloud somewhat the complexity below, so I cannot say it is the best imperial stout I've had, but it is a good one. A very good one.

 992 characters

Photo of yancot
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of StArnoldFan
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of mlhyatt
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of Scarflower
3.25/5  rDev -21.9%

Photo of DangerDawg
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of BrownNut
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Updated 10/29/13 after aging one of this same 2012 versions for 11 months. Served a little cooler than room temp from a tulip. The original scores for the fresh version are the ones I'll leave in place as the official scores. Here's the current review of the aged 2012 release then the original review of the fresh 2012 release below that:

A - 4.25 - Black with a nice darker khaki head that settles fairly quickly

S - 4.25 - Unmistakeable black malt char aroma alongside something almost perfumey that I've smelled elsewhere in the beer world, like maybe in a weizenbock or somewhere. A kind of clean smell. Unexpected and unremembered from last time.

T - 4.25 - The char from the nose translates directly onto the palate. As does whatever that perfumey note is. Different here, but you can tell they're related. Over time, the char seems to give way to the semisweet dark chocolate. Late in the glass it's more mellow and balanced in terms of char vs. choc. The aftertaste starts off as a nice char and you think that's all it will be but, but it quickly reveals notes of dark chocolate sweetness peeking out.

M - 4.5 - Nice heavier mouthfeel, yet not exactly viscous. It seems heavy at first when you pull it in, but then it settles somewhere south of there. Kind of neat.

O - 4.25 - That nice black malt char taste is basically what I want out of an imperial stout. This one delivers in spades. And it has a tasteful and classy undertone of dark chocolate. I don't know what that perfumey element is but it works as something to give this its own identity. There are three elements I was able to identify, but I think it is less complex than some imperials. As I look at my original review and scores from when I had it fresh, I don't think aging it 1 year really did anything worth waiting for. It changed, in some cases for minor improvement and in some for minor degradation and in others just different. Overall I say it's better fresh.

ORIGINAL REVIEW 11-27-12

A - 4.5 - Pours dark brown with some light around the edges but goes opaque black in the glass. Lovely thick textured tan head that endures for quite a while.

S - 4.0 - Mostly chocolate on the nose with a hint of char underneath. Possibly a leather note in there.

T - 4.5 - On the palate, the char and the chocolate switch places, with the char coming more forward, though overall it's fairly balanced. It just barely approaches chocolate sweetness. That appears more on your hard palate and lips after you swallow than in the main taste. A bitter char/bitter chocolate aftertaste lingers.

M - 5.0 - Wow. This is a top 5 mouthfeel, maybe top 3. I just googled the words luxurious and luxuriant and apparently neither is what I'm going for, but you get the intent. Wonderful. It's not pudding-like, as are some big imperials, which is something I like. It's closer to medium bodied than pudding bodied. Call it north of medium. But it's just so well done. I've never thought about mouthfeel being balanced, but that's what this is - balance between the silkiness of a thick pudding-like mouthfeel and the drinkability of a medium bodied beer.

O - 4.5 - Fantastic. Sierra Nevada just doesn't disappoint. I bet you could go through the gallery of beers that didn't make it out their door because they didn't measure up to their standards and find a bunch of great beers. Because the ones that make it out the door are just flat professional. These guys are master craftsmen. Their way is not the flashy way - it's the balanced, understated way, which delivers top quality humbly. Their touch is so deft and delicate.

 3,594 characters

Photo of abkayak
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 5,129 ratings
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