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

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Reviews: 886 | Ratings: 4,916
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 katybee
4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow, this is good!

Pours very dark with thin tracing of tan foam that sticks and sticks, it's full bodied, smooth, creamy....and the flavor hits you like a ton of bricks.... Well, it is imperial, so it packs a punch, but it's everything promised on the classic label "notes of baker's cocoa and dark roasted coffee" with a slight raisiny, molasses chewy edge too, without being citrus or sweet. Everything a dark beer should be, in my book.

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Photo of DanJan
4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
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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Photo of Zaktcc
4.36/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours as black as the depths of the Arctic just like the bottle states. Beautiful jet black coloring with 2 fingers of a coffee colored head. Great head retention and a lot of lacing present.

S - A perfect blend of everything my nose has come to expect with a high quality stout. Dominated with the aromas of roasted malts and brown sugar proceeded by notes of coffee bean and dark chocolate.

T - The taste follows on par with the nose. Of course, dominated by roasted/burnt malts up front, quickly followed up with flavorings of chocolate and sugar. The initial burst of flavor slowly lingers away leaving a pleasant aftertaste of coffee notes and sugar.

M - Wow! An incredibly full beer. The consistency is like that of motor oil with very subtle hints of carbonation. Vague hints of alcohol are noted, however, very well masked, especially considering the beer's ABV.

O - Beer after beer, S.N. is slowly becoming my go-to favorite brewery. And once again has lived up to and exceeded my expectations for them! Overall an amazing beer that is perfect for the winter time -- boozy enough to keep you warm and encompassing of winter flavorings (chocolate, coffee, etc...). Glad I picked up more than one!

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super dark, perfect black pour with over an inch of head in the off white approaching tan color realm. Aroma was full of roasted chocolate malt and oats. Coffee comes off the malt aroma wise even though there is no coffee in here.

Taste is big ibu bitterness that quickly gets absorbed. Like no sweetness to this one. Substantial beer, at a great price. Can pretty much always see grabbing a 4 pack of this every year.

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Photo of Umdrunner
3.96/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rich black pour with thick dark tan head that had good retention and lacing. Little disappointed on scent. Following aggressive pour I noted coffee and dark chocolate, but once the beer settled, minimal scent remained. Flavor was dark, heavily roasted malts, coffee, and slight chocolate. I'd like to see something slightly sweet to balance the dark roast and coffee.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.11/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an obsidian, liquid black death of 0% transparency. Forms a head of 2 fingers, almond color, and lace stays stuck to the head while it recedes.

Aroma of melted chocolate, cocoa powder, licorice, roast malts, coffee, and finally, leather. A complex, although quiet, bouquet.

Tastes of bitter chocolate, coffee grounds, charred malts, molasses, and a little brown sugar. As it warms some fig comes out, too. A touch of ash. The profile overall is robust and roasted. Coffee bitterness is moderate, but not overwhelming. At least, not more than any other Russian Imperial Stout. It increases as the beer warms.

Feel comes alive right away in a Coca-Cola like carbonation, tapering off to a crisp nip, and then an alcohol dryness.

Overall Narwhal is a winning stout. A solid representation. I'd rate it just under Old Raspy, maybe about on par with FBS...perhaps even more enjoyable due to the muted coffee notes (FBS is very coffee-forward).

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Photo of Redrover
4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottled poured into a pint glass, the beer is an opaque black with a clingy brown head.

The nose is of dark roasted malts, brown sugar and dark fruit.

It has nicely roasted malts. They add a slight char to the mix of dark fruit, a bit of molasses, a hint of coffee. This a big beer but is easily approachable. There is a hint of warming heat from the alcohol.

The mouth is silky with low carbonation.

Part of a long line of very solid beers from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - 4 - nice dark black/brown espresso colored beer with a nice mocha head that dissipates but still leaves nice lacing.
S - 4 - big roasty notes, dark chocolate, cocoa, char, black malt
T - 4 - roasty, creamy/umami character, dark chocolate, cocoa, bitter
M - 4.25 - big thick impy stout. alc covered. aftertaste is burnt marshmallow, roasty malts
O - 4 - definitely a more roasty imperial stout. At 10.2% it feels a little lighter than some of the beers I'd compare it to - Founders IS, Bells Expy. That said it's still a legit imperial stout.

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Photo of keithmurray
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - dark brown color body with mocha colored head

Smell - roasted coffee, roasted malts, dark chocolate, black licorice,
Tobacco, smoke

Taste - dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, smoke, citrus from the hops,

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, slight sweetness from the Chocolate upfront, hops and citrus in the back end along with a smoky feel. I'm finding the flavors to be a bit unbalanced on this beer.

Overall - slightly disappointing beverage as I feel like this beer borders on Black IPA territory. Flavors are a bit unbalanced versus other examples of the style. Perhaps age would help this one out.

Price Point - $1.99/12 ounce single

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Photo of Dragginballs76
4.02/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with about a 2 finger tan head that lasted about a minute good lacing. Bitter hoppy smell but not overpowering. Smokey hoppy taste little bitter. smooth feel going down little boozy feel on the tongue. Overall a good beer can't wait to try this aged a little.

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Photo of Myotus
4.13/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 bottle
Poured at 50°F from a 12oz bottle (packaged 10Aug15) into a snifter.
LOOK: Pours with a half finger's worth of khaki foam that shrivels into a line after 20 seconds. There is a subtle amount of very small rising bubbles. Black in color with an orange tint. Lacing is thin and subtle.
SMELL: A strong, smokey bitterness from the roasted malt aromas is noticeable right up front. Mild aromas of figs, raisins, prunes, molasses, and subtle aromas of sweet coffee, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate, and alcohol lie beneath the heavy smokiness.
TASTE: The intial taste is composed of strong bitter, smokey flavors that almost lean towards the smoked bacon flavors that would be found in a Rauchbier or a Smoked Beer. Mild flavors of molasses, figs, prunes, raisins, and subtle bittersweet chocolate and vanilla flavors follow immediately as the smokey flavors fade to mild, but the bitterness remains. Subtle flavors of sweet coffee enter lastly, as all previous flavors maintain except for vanilla, which fade away completely.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down very smooth and creamy. Ends with a moderate dryness.
NOTE: As beer warms, the perception of alcohol in the aromas grow stronger, but is not effected in the taste. In fact, I could not taste any alcohol, which is always a plus for me. This was slightly too bitter for my taste, but thankfully the smokey flavors (which I do love) balanced out the bitterness very well. An interesting Imperial Stout. If you love heavy stouts and also Rauchbiers, I would encourage anyone to try this.

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Photo of foundersfan1
4.41/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark as night, no light escapes Narwhal. Nose fills primarily with some stone fruits, primarily cherries (a complete surprise, considering what I was expecting) and some cocoa to fill it out. More dark cherries in the flavor with dark chocolate and booze fully present on the palate. A creamy feel, but sticks around far shorter than most imperial stouts. A great beer, and would love to give the barrel aged version a try.

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Photo of The_Snow_Bird
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Has a very dark look with a perfect inch and a half dark caramel head on top. Can smell roasted malts and dark fruits. Tastes just like how it smells.

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Photo of Bonkinishwa
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. - Narwhal Imperial Stout. 10.2 % ABV. 12oz bottle split between two snifters. Packaged on 8/5/15.

Look: Viscous pitch black body, with fair sized mocha colored head from aggressive pour, which settled into sticky lacing.

Smell: Strong roasted coffee, dark bitter chocolate, dark malts, and some boozy aromas. Bold but not overpowering.

Feel: Thick and chewy body, with a medium amount of carbonation; smooth.

Taste: Strong coffee, dark malts, and the dark chocolate up front. It has a little boozy flavor noticeable, but does not have a burn. Strong roasty/smoky flavors like from a Porter encompass the palate of coffee and chocolate.

Overall: This is a big, heavy, rich beer. Has a somewhat boozy taste, but without the burn, and with some nice strong roast coffee and chocolate to balance it out.

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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 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.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Fresh 2016 bottle served cold in a tulip glass.

Appearance: black, black, black, no light escaping, creamy tan head, poured out very creamy

Nose: coffee, chocolate, very muted nose while cold

Taste: alcohol, dark coffee, slightly acrid, not as smooth as I would have thought. Kinda harsh

Overall: pretty typical RIS here. I'm looking forward to doing a 3 year vertical in the next few weeks.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 8/05/15

Pours black with a light tan head. Smells lightly of dark chocolate and boozy fruit. Taste is like bitter dark chocolate baker's cocoa, dark stone fruit, and bittersweet dark roast coffee, with a slightly licorice and herbal hop note. Feels pretty light, almost sticky and chewy, with very little carbonation. The alcohol is covered up well. Overall, a really nice imperial stout.

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Photo of Chris_Huston
3.72/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2014 bottle. Dark brown-black, darkly roasted brown sugar/cinnamon colored head that piles high. Not much in the way of defining flavors -- e.g. coffee, cocoa; just a basic malt-forward adorned with general smokiness that gives the impression of a smoked porter. Pleasant, but not compelling. Same on the taste, but with even more smoke -- not too much, though; in fact, pitched better than some smoked porters I've had (e.g. Stone's regular one). Slight bit of creaminess to the feel, but also smooth without seeming watery. Nice weighted body.

Overall, this is dominated by smoke. That makes it disappointing as a stout, when compared to rivals such as Breakfast Stout, Vanilla Noir, Bomb!, etc., but if you blind tasted this without any expectations, it's a well done smoked imperial porter or stout, even if not amazing.

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Photo of TH28
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle. 2015 vintage. Appearance: Black and opaque with a khaki brown foam cap that lingers a bit. Aroma: Light roasted coffee with some raisin and cherry notes. Somewhat subdued. Taste: Deep, rich malt sweetness with a strong roasted edge. Some dark fruit and sherry notes intertwine, with noticeable bitterness accentuated by slightly astringent roast. Mouthfeel: Medium with some viscosity and a light to moderate carbonation. Touch of alcohol warmth. Finish: Slightly slick on the tongue, with a touch of dark fruit and a strong lingering roast. Overall: You can tell this is a fresh version, with a strong roast component dominating the overall profile of this beer. Aroma is maybe a little subdued to some other imperial stouts, but overall very good. Over time I’m sure this will improve as the roasted edge softens into some fruitier flavors.

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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.

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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 Jwburns75
3.54/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

My first time having a Narwhal, and I don't think this beer hangs with the upper beers of the style. The smell is faint, maybe some roastyness coming thru but not a lot to speak of. The taste seems one dimensional to me for a style that often has so much depth. There isn't a lot of sweetness in the mix which would go a long way. It's drinkable for sure and feels hearty, but it's lacking certain characteristics that I prefer in my imperial stouts.

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Photo of Wer34truh
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A rather small head which dissipates quickly. Large dark body with minimal activity. Looks like the depths of the ocean.

As far as the smell goes, it's mostly chocolate, with some coffee on the side. A subtle booze scent is also emanating from this. Otherwise a rather subtle smell.

Quite complex flavor. With coffee beans, chocolate,cola and a smokey sort of taste towards the end. Also noted some licorice. The taste is phenomenal, with a rather hefty body as well.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 4,916 ratings.
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