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 NoLeafClover44
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a DFH signature glass. Bottled October 6 and put on the shelf two days ago at my local store.

A - Pours black with a dense finger of wood brown head. Sticky tiered lacing.

S - Toasted malts dominate along with almond, vanilla, cedar, and some mellow pine hops. Sweet and roasty with balancing earthiness.

T - Starts with an iced mocha coffee sweetness. Some burnt pine follows along with vanilla notes. The finish is more bitter than anticipated with earthy tree sap hops. Warming alcohol comes in late and becomes less noticeable with each sip. Sweetens as it warms and caramel, vanilla, and marshmallow step up to the char.

M - Definitely has enough body for the big flavors. Smooth carbonation. The alcohol isn't in your face, but isn't forgotten.

O - I have been waiting for this to land in my area for a few weeks. Balanced flavor that improves as it warms. The more drink it, the more I like it. A very good RIS that is right up there with Old Raspy in the RIS 12oz. 4pk under $10 category. Sierra Nevada rarely disappoints. Hopefully this becomes a shelf staple so I can grab it whenever I choose.

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Photo of mattcrill
4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

<< Review #700 >>

Aroma: Coffee, dry cocoa, and roasty malt characteristics up front. No fruity esters that tend to be more common in English versions. I get a bit of pleasant graininess that reminds me of oatmeal and maris otter malt.

Appearance: Inky black pour with a large tan batter-like head.

Flavor: Follows the aroma but there is more of a dark fruity flavor that reminds me of fig and raisins to match the coffee and cocoa character. Slight earthy bitterness that helps offset some of the malty character and just a touch of chocolate sweetness. Finish is pleasant and dry.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slight dark grain roasted astringency which is pleasant and appropriate for the style. No alcohol heat which is surprising given the ABV.

Overall impression: Immensely drinkable given the style and size of this beer. A perfect 700th review. One of my favorite styles and one of my favorite breweries so this was appropriate. I hope they make more of this.

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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 KYGunner
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Narwhal pours with a deep, black beautiful body that was topped with a dense, creamy froth.

Gorgeous scents of cocoa, light coffee, marshmallow creamy sweetness and hints of malty Graham cracker all waft gently to the nose.

The flavor really showcases the strong malt base with a steep charred grain profile. The char brings out the coffee and cocoa qualities. These malts also bring out a strong Graham cracker dryness. It is better served warmer as the booziness comes out in the cold.

The feel is moderately thick upon first sip but swallows with a touch of abrasive carbonation. There's an easy warmth from the strong alcohol character but it is tempered as it warms.

Narwhal proves itself as a quality stout with a begging for barrel aging.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Out of the bottle pours dark brown, then hits with some very dark black walnut, almost midnight. Forms a solid cocoa and coffee like head, with lots of pinhead bubbles. Settles slowly, and manages to always keep a nice collar while drinking and a decent puck. Lots of leg coating and spotted catty lacing on the glass.

Nose is a little subtle. Simple roasted malts, but a nice waffer and ovaltine chocolate sense. Whoppers candy and malt. Mild char action, but mostly kind of closed. There is this sense this is sort of airy and light. Otherwise solid, not getting any coffee sense.

Palate hits with anything but. First notes of hop lime and grapefruit in the front palate, moves to a thick but waffer like dark bitter chocolate while consuming. Large surprising body melding with notes of char and more cocoa powder. Not particularly finding coffee on this but it's a superb feel, large since it seems unexpected from the bouquet.

Overall a great balance between hop action and roasted malt, a very controlled and fun beer, with not a boozy taste either for 10, a real fantastic stout very enjoyable.

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Photo of SometimesIfart
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours pitch black with a one finger dark mocha head that sticks around. Left spotty lacing.

S - Deep roasted malts, dark fruits, slight alcohol.

T - Deep roasted malt up front, alcohol in the middle, and very very dark, I guess you could almost say roasted like a smore chocolate finish. It's almost like it melts in your mouth.

M - Thick oily body with very lightly stinging carbonation.

O - Overall, I'm completely convinced that Sierra Nevada can do no wrong. In my opinion, this stout had a one of a kind flavor. I don't know how they managed to make the flavor seem as though it melts in your mouth. I'd definitely have again and I wouldn't mind aging one.

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Photo of JackieTH
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Review is from written notes. Dark aggressively black-brown pour with mocha foam. Smells loaded with semi-sweet chocolate, crispy toast, lightly burnt coffee. Very nice. Taste follows with thick dense toast and biscuit, char, heavily roasted coffee, baker's chocolate, dark dried cherries. Medium heavy body, creamy mouthfeel. Enjoyable and a nice RIS from Sierra Nevada.

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Photo of Suds
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Utterly black, the ale is thick and intense. It has a thin, light-brown head, with an intense smell and a heavy alcohol punch. The smell is of licorice, wood, fleeting smoke, and booze-soaked raisins. The taste is very dry...and very bitter. The bitterness begins in the foretaste, combined with an immediate intense warming. Lots of alcohol. Roasty flavors...bitterness and some woody resin-like characteristics. Full in body...luxurious and heavy. This is one powerful brew, in almost every sense of the word.

 511 characters

Photo of kagent777
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was purchased begrudgingly from the Utah system on December 15th, even though this bottle has been bottled since Oct 12, 2012 according to the date code. I poured it into a CCB snifter after about thirty minutes of being out of the fridge

Appearance: Black with some legs as I swirl it around the snifter. Not much of a head, but that is not expected. Appears to be well carbonated.

Smell: Unsweet chocolate, coffee, roast and charcoal. A bit of boozyness also.

Taste: All of the flavors carry over from the smell, I also pick up on some dried dark fruit (figs, raisins, and dates) and licorice. I cannot tell if the bittering on the finish is from the hops or the roast. It all works really well together.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation is a little strong for my taste, while the body is smooth and rich. The finish is very long and bittering from the level of roast.

Overall: I like this beer quite well, but I am not sure it is worth more than double the price of Old Rasputin. I need to taste them side by side to be able to do a better comparison. Utah really screwed the pooch on pricing on these (4/bottle retail). I am glad to have had one, but unless Utah lowers the price, I cannot purchase any more. I imagine this would age really nicely, too.

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Photo of DIM
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

a: Black with a large, foamy, off-white head.

s: Rich dark chocolate with some molasses. Hints of red wine and espresso.

t: A bit on the sweeter side and it works. Lots of dark chocolate backed by vinous fruits and molasses a nice lingering ashy char.

m: Full bodied and chewy.

o: Absolutely a top notch stout, and a relatively inexpensive one at that. Sign me up for a case next year.

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Photo of dandandan79
4.23/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

this was a great surprise, a excellent stout, great taste, strong and great aftertaste, chocolate taste.
picked it up last minute and and glad i did. will get again.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black with one finger of off white head. Smells sweet cola-like. Taste is very unusual for the style, a definite cola sweetness. Dark juicy fruit flavored, with a lot of carbonation. I like the juiciness, and no trace of alcohol.

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Photo of do_ob
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Very dark brown on the pour and settles pitch black in the glass. About 1/2 a finger of light brown foam initially, but bubbled down to a thick lacing pretty fast. Big, and assertive on the nose. One of those you can smell from a couple feet away. Dark chocolate, roasted malt, expresso, and tons of dark fruit - something I don't remember picking up on with last year's batch. Overall, the aroma is roasty and sweet with a small amount of alcohol. The taste is pretty well on-par with the aroma. Just an insane amount of roasted malt, bitter chocolate, coffee, and a small touch of booze on the back end. Velvety smooth feel. Still an awesome beer.

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Photo of kalosjakar
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ink black with a mocha head which dissipated rather quickly.

Aroma: Coffee up front, roasted malts next, bit of chocolate, toffee.

Rotating the glass the beer is sticking to the edges with the mocha color the head was.

Taste: roasted malt overtakes the coffee in terms of flavor, but its still there. A balanced sweetness/bitter sweetness in every sip.

 356 characters

Photo of craftbeersweden
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black, clear liquid with a beigebrown, fluffy, two finger high head that leaves a lot of lacing on the glass.

Nose: Red fruit, coffe, roasted malt, chocolate and spice.
Taste: A really great, hoppy, taste! Newly brewed coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, brown sugar and pine.
Medium body with just a little carbonation. Almoust no taste of alcohol, and it's 10.2 % ABV!

Great work Sierra Nevada!

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Photo of genesisgrunge
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful black. No light shines through. No head (although I worry it may have been my specific bottle).
S: Chocolate and molasses with a strong roasted (but not coffee) scent. It has a wood scent to cap it off. Must be those bourbon barrels used to age it.
T: Dark chocolate and earthy with an alcohol hit that comes with a 10.20 abv, but it's still smooth.
M: I imagine the mouthfeel must be much better than I experienced since the head was very thin to nonexistent on my pour. Yet it is still smooth and velvety. Reminds me of a Rasputin, but slightly more harsh due to the more pronounced alcohol taste.
O: Excellent beer. I will need to try this again with a proper pour from a good tap or bottle. This beer is a truly dark monster of complexity and challenge, but in all good ways. For those who like Rasputin for its sweeter malts, this is not the beer for you, but if you like Rasputin Imperial for everything else, then Narwhal is a must have.

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Photo of mynie
4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Pint in West Lafayette, IN. Ordered it because why not, what the hell.

Smells fairly tame, even as it warms. Big nodes of roasted barley combined with some light wisps of espresso and alcohol fire.

Tastes quite good, much stronger than its relatively tame ABV led me to anticipate. Very nice balance between sweet and roasty nodes, coming across both lively vinous and bitterly dark. Back end is a wee bit thin which blots out some of the complexities.

Nothing to write home about, really; just a nice, aggressive double stout.

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Photo of hagbergl
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a brown stubby 12 ounce bottle into my Beer Geek Nation tulip glass.

Appearance (4.25/5): Black with a two finger tan head. Not hugely heady. Evident alcohol legs appear on the sides of the glass.

Smell (4.25/5): Powdered cocoa, rich, dark chocolate, underlying molasses, roasted malt.

Taste (4.25/5): Strong initial flavors of dark chocolate and coffee, chewy, sticky molasses. At mid-mouth, more overtly chocolatey flavors and nice semi-sweet, rich, dark maltiness. This semi-sweetness subsides and gives way to a dry, mildly bitter roastiness. An imperial stout that–thankfully–aims at nailing classic stout flavors without doing anything insane. Complexity can come from good craftsmanship just as much as it can come from barrel-aging and/or employing wild yeast strains.

Mouthfeel (4.25/5): Nice and full-bodied; a nice resinous feel in the front and middle is contrasted with a dry and roasty finish. Very, very nice. Smooth and creamy.

Overall (4.25/5): A great Russian Imperial Stout that fires on all cylinders. It's not brewed with any additives–no coffee. No oats. No cacao nibs or chocolate added. No bourbon barrel aging. Sierra Nevada proves with Narwhal that complexity can be gained through great craftsmanship just as it can be gotten through adding complementary ingredients.

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Photo of Samp01
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from mike67. Pours a deep slightly viscous black with a small brown head. Aroma and Taste of dark roasted caramel malt, some mild liquorice notes, dark fruit with some notes of dark cacao and mild espresso flavors with a dark toasted malt bitterness on the end for balance. A full bodied, creamy body on the palate with moderate carbonation and sticky mouth feel. A good full flavored brew, rich and creamy. Overall this is very good, delicious and flavorful brew.

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Photo of fank2788
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 bottle served in a pint glass
Inky opaque black in the glass with a one finger dark khaki head of fine bubbles and good lacing. The smell is quite roasty with black patent and chocolate and brown malts coming through. A bit of smokey character, dark fruits and alcohol are all in the aroma as well. The taste is also dominated by roasted character it is actually quite overpowering at first as acrid bitter notes from the dark roasted malts bounce around. Also in there is dark chocolate, black coffee, molasses and a touch of alcohol. All of this is balanced by a dash of hops which are only in there as an attempt to balance the strong malts. Mouthfeel is pretty good as this beer is thick and chewy with low to moderate carbonation and excellent body. The finish is quite dry with puckering burnt malt bitterness and a touch of alcoholic spice. Overall this is a great beer and very surprising coming from sierra nevada a brewery that tends to specialize in hop bombs rather than malt focused beers like this. It appears as though I can now look forward to two great SN winter releases every year.

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Photo of schad
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

12oz bottle packaged 8/13/14, served in a Spiegelau stout glass.

Color is midnight black with an espresso colored head.

Aroma is rich chocolate, espresso and roasted malt.

Taste is of dark roasted grain, with a spicy alcohol burn. Barely noticeable bittering hop addition. Lots of pleasant dark fruit flavors.

Very smooth for an imperial stout, mild carbonation.

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Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

An outstanding and delicious imperial stout. Superb chocolaty and coffee flavors. a smell that doesn't disappoint. Rich and smooth. Perhaps my favorite beer from SN. What can I say? I love this style, and Sierra Nevada delivers on my high standards for stouts. Will make this a regular in my rotation, along with Ten Fidy, FBS, FIS, and others. Well done.

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Photo of megahurts4
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Appearance: dark brown, medium head, and a little lacing.

Smell: coffee, chocolate, hops, and mineral water.

Taste: vanilla, coffee, some hops, and a hint of cocoa.

Mouthfeel: medium and a slight chewy sensation.

Overall:
This is quite nice. While not incredibly complex, the flavors mesh very well and are properly proportioned. The mouthfeel is great. This is very drinkable.

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Photo of Pegasus
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance; Utter black body, impenetrable to light, crowned by a small, dense tan head, which slowly fades to scattered patches of foam, like some archipelago on midnight seas. Thin, fine-beaded lacing coats the glass walls.

Aroma: Roasted malt, dark roasted coffee, and bitter cocoa dominate the aroma, the dark roasted malt being particularly notable. There is only a faint whiff of spicy alcohol in the aroma, remarkable considering the ABV of 10.2%

Taste: Opens with strong measures of cold coffee and bitter cocoa. Warming alcohol is soon evident, but is presented gracefully. The coffee and cocoa dominate, and are supported by a strong presence of roasted malt. Later in the taste, the is a strong hop presence, which compliments the coffee, cocoa, and roasted malt. The taste draws to a close with a late flourish of herbal hops against the roasted malt.

Mouth feel: Rich, quite smooth and full, with just a hint of carbonation.

Drinkability/notes: A really excellent example of the Russian Imperial Stout style, I am thankful to have found this gem. Narwhal should be bought to cellar, as a gift to our future selves.

Presentation: Packaged in a stubby twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

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Photo of liamt07
4.25/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle form Siciliano's, 12oz into a tulip - 2012 vintage.

Impenetrable black with a deep brown head. Creamy retention and a whole load of lace. Nose of dark chocolate, coffee, molasses, carmel, dark fruit liqueur notes. Light anise and a bit of alcohol. Relatively sweet, but spot on for what I enjoy in imperial stouts. Taste has heavy dark roasted character, dark chocolate, light tar, charcoal with some back end sweetness to prevent everything from getting away. Full feel, some alcohol warmth. Medium low carbonation. This do es well as is and could be great with some time.

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