Narwhal Imperial Stout | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
5,041 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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:
No notes at this time.

Added by JohnGalt1 on 10-14-2012

BEER STATS
Ratings:
5,041
Reviews:
930
Avg:
4.15
pDev:
9.64%
 
 
Wants:
332
Gots:
1,446
For Trade:
38
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 5,041 |  Reviews: 930
Photo of Brewsephus
3.69/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

16 oz bottle, poured into a Duvel Tulip.

A-Black, completely opaque, viscous pour. Head is dark caramel color, about quarter inch of head, retains for approx 1 min. Thumb-tack sized bubbles appear on surface, small pinpoint carbonation bubbles collect around rim of glass.
S-Chocolate is the first smell I get, followed by some slight fruity esters, raspberry, plum.
T-Big robust dark chocolate flavor, which gives way quickly to the intense warmth from the 10.2% abv. On the finish a little roast malt lingers. There is a slight cherry flavor on the middle of the tongue, until the alcohol warm kicks it away, only to be dominated by the dark chocolate barrage.
M-This is actually a lot more carbonated than I thought it would taste. The carbonation is enough to tingle your tongue, but wouldn't be described as effervescent. It is actually quite refreshing. The beer has a great amount of body to it, and I think without the carbonation it could come across as very motor-oil-esque to some.
O-This is a very OK version of an Imperial Stout. I feel that Sierra opted to side more with the Chocolate Malt than with the Roast Malt, which is fine, but just not my preference. Still, this beer has a ton of character and only intensifies as it warms. There are zero flaws in this beer. I was hoping for a little more excitement in the flavor. If you name a beer 'Narwhal', to unicorn of the ocean, it should have a little more pizzazz. I would have liked to seen a more estery yeast, maybe a little less baker's chocolate or chocolate malt, and a touch more roast malt. After your first or second sip the flavors don't change, which is something I look for in a beer capable of being so nuanced and complex.

 1,708 characters

Photo of alphagnome
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance:
Pitch black body wears a finger-thick medium-brown head. Respectable retention and a fair amount of carbonation.

Aroma:
Potent vanilla and oak aroma. Heavy, roasted dark malt and cocoa notes. Hints of coffee and cherry shine through.

Taste:
Considerable amount of hoppiness for the style, but I like it. Heavy roasted coffee and a bit too much vanilla. Quite boozy.

Mouthfeel:
Thick - a slow sipper. Moderate carbonation for the style. Semi-sweet finish.

Overall:
Not a bad Imperial Stout by any stretch of the imagination, but there are better, more enjoyable options available. Worth picking up though. Try Clown Shoes Vampire Slayer if you want to know just how good an Imperial can be.

 708 characters

Photo of craftaholic
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Absolutely pitch black. Even with a flashlight held against it there is no light getting through that barren void. Had a layer of creamy tan head that left a little lacing and had subtle legs.

S - There's a lot of alcohol in the nose. With that there is hints of rich chocolate, hops and dark grains

T - There's a very strong coffee flavoring and after that it's a true melting pot of nuances. There is vanilla, grape, chocolate, grain, even a touch of citrus. Alcohol is present especially in the aftertaste but the malt is there to help mellow it somewhat.

M - Creamy and rich. Surprisingly more carbonated than expected.

O - It's definitely bold in both a flavor way as well as in the booze. It's a good sipper for sure.

 731 characters

Photo of gibgink
3.71/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of minterro
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bought from Little's wine and liquor

A&S: Pours about a finger of milk chocolate colored head, which dies very quickly to nothing more than a small ring. Solid black colored beer that poured. Sweet dark fruits present complemented by some black coffee. alcohol is pretty hot when it warms.

T&M: Dark roasty coffee is pretty much all I'm getting in the taste. Even as it warms, not much as far a chocolate or other classic imperial stout characteristics. Surprisingly pleasant bitter finish. Not super creamy, but smooth.

Overall: About what I expected, nothing special, but nothing bad. Won't buy again, just really wanted to check it off my list.

 652 characters

Photo of Birmz
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%

Photo of Duane_Opfer
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 10/17. Consumed on 11/18. Written from notes.

A - Brown approaching black. Less than a half finger of light brown head which dissipated quickly. No lacing.

S - Not very fragrant. Dark chocolate with a hint of lemon.

T - Dark chocolate with a hint of espresso and citrus/lemon. Very warming. Does not hide ABV well.

M - Higher than normal carbonation and also lighter bodied. Not appropriate for style.

O - Not unpleasant in any way, but left room for improvement. Felt like I was drinking a cross between a black ale and a porter.

 585 characters

Photo of Chris_Huston
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

 825 characters

Photo of szarom1992
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Narwhal (2014), Poured form 12oz bottle into snifter glass

Appearance
Dark, brown-black beer. No head, or lacing on the beer. Very opaque.

Smell
You can smell the booze on the nose immediately. This beer smells sweet, almost milky. You’ve got a lot of cocoa nibs present, and I think there’s some nice roasted malt. I don’t really get too many distinct flavours from the nose, which is surprising considering that this is a ‘big’ beer.

Taste
This beer has a little too much lactic sweetness up front, in my opinion. It’s not like it’s a sweet beer, but it just has a milky (almost yogurty) tinge on the tongue at the front of the sip. Afterwards, you start to see some of the other darker flavours come through. There’s a little bit of chocolate, but its mellow. Some dark, roasted flavours are on the end of the sip, and linger on the aftertaste. Its coffee, but it seems rather nutty. The alcohol content (10.2%) really shows on this beer, but certainly doesn’t take away from the flavour. Narwhal has minimal carbonation, has a medium body and is rather smooth.

Overall
I’m a little let down. I thought this beer was too sweet, and that its important flavours (ie, the coffee and baker’s cocoa) were too timid. I have another 3 of these beers that I put away, so I’ll see if age provides any benefit, but I’m not anxiously awaiting another.

Score
8.6

 1,385 characters

Photo of NCStateAE
3.72/5  rDev -10.4%

Photo of Mojo
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 ounce bottle -> tulip glass

This beer poured up a deep obsidian black with a lucious black appearance, one to one and a half finger foamy head, and lots of spotty lacing left behind. Smell is coffee, roasted nuts, and a bit of alcohol. Taste is pretty much the same as the smell. There is a sweet maltiness that is pretty well balanced by the taste of coffee, roasted nuts, a smoky flavor, and alcohol. The finish is a little too hot for my taste. This is not bad as you'd expect from a Sierra Nevada product, but it is nowhere near as good as Ten Fidy or Ol' Raspy.

 573 characters

Photo of Czequershuus
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Kennethzelljr
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A good stout,the mouthfeel was a lot lighter than I was hoping for though.

74 characters

Photo of DaveAnderson
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Sludgeman
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on Sept 22, 2012. A 12 ox bottle poured into a chalice.

A - Black opaque with a one-finger reddish brown head, which quickly disipates.

S - Coffee, whiskey and molasses.

T - Dark coffee, roasted malt, alcohol - too much, whiskey, some slightly smokiness, good bintterness - not excessive.

MF - Starts smooth but finishes a bit hot with lots of alcohol.

O - Balanced. Half a beer would be good for me. The true test is a full pour. Do you like the beer as much at the end as you did at the beginning? This beer did not pass that test.

 546 characters

Photo of jrs3994243
3.73/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Bugs318
3.74/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ranger7
3.74/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bomber into a pint glass.
Review from notes: January 28th, 2014.

A: Nice. Black and cloudy, can't see through. Tan head which sticks to the glass.

S: Chocolate and malt. More malt than chocolate, almost bitter.

T: Bitter front and end with smooth middle, can't pinpoint the bitterness.

M: Some carbonation, but smooth overall.

O: Good. This is a nice example of a Russian Imperial Stout with plenty of ABV bite. A bit too roasty for my tastes, but still good.

 480 characters

Photo of BFCarr
3.74/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A little rough around the edges but still good stuff. Mouthfeel is a bit disappointing.

87 characters

Photo of chip26
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Doomcifer
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of megamass
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of Katylou7
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of dankjohn
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of fionn13
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.15 out of 5 based on 5,041 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Subscribe