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
sierra-nevada.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
Reviews:
924
Ratings:
5,022
Avg:
4.14
pDev:
9.66%
 
 
Wants:
332
Gots:
1,446
For Trade:
41
User Reviews
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Reviews: 924 | Ratings: 5,022
Photo of Samuel906
3.81/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance:

Black as night, thick and heavy like the darkest of motor oils. Had almost no head when poured slowly from an ice cold bottle into a tulip. Almost bizarre not seeing any head and it just adds to how insanely black it is. Some earthy brown bubbles began to slowly form but didn't remain long, and diminished to a fine lace around the glass.

Aroma:

Probably the weakest point of this beer. If your someone like myself who likes to frequently get a nice nose-full of your beers aroma, you won't find yourself going back to sniff this one too frequently. The aromas you expect are there - chocolate, roasted coffee, malts - but it just doesn't have the impact you would expect from an Imperial stout. I thought it smelled more like a milder Irish Stout than a heavy Imperial.

Palate:

Thick, heavy and glorious with mild carbonation. Creamy, soft, and every other adjective you can apply to a good Imperial Stout. One of my favorite parts of this brew. It's like a dark, chocolatey pillow for your tongue.

Taste:

Like a true Imperial Stout, coffee and chocolate are your major players here. Bitter, rich baking chocolate and cocoa... The coffee reminds me of a dark espresso roast; toasted nuts, slightly caramelly. Mild chocolatey aftertaste will make you think you just ate a Hershey's kiss. This beer is also much less sweet than I was expecting. If you're used to the diabetes-in-a-bottle stereotypical Imperial Stouts, this is a welcome change. I would like to note that as I write this and the beer warms, it really comes to life. The added flavor with the mild warmth from the impressive ABV really do make this feel like a blanket for your mouth and stomach.

Overall:

In my mind, the direct competition for this beer is the Samuel Adams Imperial Stout that comes in the blue and black four pack, are similarly priced, and even features some similar artwork and stylistic themes. The Narwhal is a terrific Imperial Stout, the mothfeel is absolutely spot on, and while the flavors are strong, the taste never gets over bearing like some Imperials do. However it is nothing overly exciting or novel, and personally I feel that something like the Samuel Adams Imperial Stout would be a better overall choice. Again, I want to reiterate that this is a TERRIFIC BEER, but it has some impressive competition that just slightly edges it out. If you're looking to mix it up or just to try something new, you won't be disappointed.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.05/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from Sprayberry Bottle Shop (Marietta, GA). 10.49/ 4 pack. Bottled 10/5/12. Served in a Sweetwater.

Pours black with a frothy two and a half fingers of tan head. A good bit of dark lace.

Sharp anise hits the nose first. Followed by smokey cocoa, earth and booze.

Unique flavor profile. Bitter molasses, anise, licorice, cocoa, dark roast coffee, a powerful boost of alcohol and a bit of tangy stone fruit.

Medium full feel with moderate to low carbonation. Lingering bitter aftertaste.

This is a very different stout. It's quite good now, particularly as it warms, but my guess is that in 12-18 months this will be incredible.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a dfh snifter

A: pours black with two finger of tan chocolaty mocha head after a rather aggressive pour.... Nice head retention and lacing... Good lookin brew.

S: some roasty malts and chocolate with a light touch of smoke.
The coffee aromas really come out as this brew warms. A good smelling beer.

T: much like the smell, roasty malts, chocolate and coffee notes along with a touch of smoke, some light pine hop notes mingle with the smoke and roast to add a nice bitterness, well rounded and tasty.

M: nice heavy medium body, dry and slightly bitter on the finish low to moderate creamy carbonation.

O: a pretty good imperial stout, nothing earth shattering but a very solid representation of the style.... Good fresh, interested to see how this one ages, I could see it getting pretty good with a bit of time.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.8/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a black color with a large tan head. The aroma has some roasted malt as well as some dark fruit. The flavor is very similar. There is a good bit of smoke and heavily roasted malt. I also get some sweet chocolate and cherry notes, as well as a good dose of alcohol. I also get a bit of tobacco in the flavor. As the beer warms I get a huge amount of black licorice flavor, which I am not a huge fan of. Thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of balticporter99
4.65/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just picked this up at my local Whole Foods. Pours black as my ex-girlfriend's heart with a lingering 2 fingers worth of head. Smells of burnt toast and coffee. Suprisingly smooth taste (easier drinking than old Rasputin) with coffee and chocolate notes. Noticable, warming but not boozey alcohol aftertaste. Exceptional example of a Russian Imperial Stout.

 357 characters

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

Appearance: black as the deepest depths. No head to speak of, just some mocha brown bubbles that disappeared immediately. Super viscous, even more than I would expect for a 10.2% beer. Lots of alcohol legs. Lacing of brown bubbles around the rim.
Smell: firewood smoke and cinders, chocolate, coffee, charred oak.
Taste: woah, it honestly tastes like a campfire. Dark chocolate, smoke, char and coffee. I've had smoked beers and smokey beers but none have ever tasted like this. Sure there's some smokiness but it actually tastes like charred wood in a good way.
Mouthfeel: on the full side of medium.
Overall: totally unique. I've never tasted a beer like this, especially one that isn't barrel aged.

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Photo of rajendra82
4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown pour evolved into a near pitch black opaque liquid in the glass, with ruby highlights. The head was quite small in size, but it left some awesome khaki lace. The aroma of the beer showed off the roasted malts, with the smells of coffee, toffee, and chocolate. The taste was an extension of the smell, but with amped up intensity. The coffee taste was thick in this beer, with a bitter, astringent finish. If I let the sip linger in my mouth, some powder cocoa notes crept in. I usually dislike "Imperial" stouts that have runny, weak mouthfeel. Luckily this was not one of those namby pamby beers. The body was as thick as they come. Sierra Nevada has delivered another awesome product to the mass market.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.03/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a near solid black. Some super dark reds at the edges when held to the light. Head is dark khaki and creamy. Nice retention with a smallish cap. Creamy lacing sticks to the glass. Big bubbly creamy.

Smell: Big notes of roasted barley. Some minor citrus in the back. Burnt edges and some serious cocoa. Baker's chocolate and some leather. Roasted malt sweetness. Touches of caramel and dark fruits, mainly plum with some dark cherry thrown in for good measure. Orange zest and milk chocolate.

Taste: Rich cocoa. Bitter baker's chocolate layered with sweet milk chocolate. Loads of roasted malt. Burnt with a nice push of char. Building sweetness is tempered by the super roasted malts. Some nice caramel malt and a backing biscuity malt presence. Leather and more burnt. Minor citrus from the hops, mainly orange zest. Fudgey at times, cakey at others. As it warms the burnt malts take the forefront and push a minor smokiness along with the char.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. A lingering dryness from the sheer volume of deeply roasted malts. It's a sipper and a drinker.

Overall: Hell yeah underwater unicorn!

This isn't going to shatter a tongue or a mind, but damn if it's not one of the most drinkable RISes on the market. A bit of edge will temper the hops and really allow the malt flavors to shine. Great fresh and I can only imagine how great it will be when it's aged.

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Photo of DrinkSlurm
3.95/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into tulip. Purchased in Louisiana on a business trip...
Pours a deep black with about 1-2 inches tan froathy head. Slightly sweet belgian-like chocolate. Roasted malt is dominant though.
Taste is smooth but bitter roasted malts, some chocolate, and ever so slight smokey booze. No doubt this would age well, maybe mellow this out a bit. A bit bitter now, but still really nice stout. Although, compared to some "top" RIS, its not quite up to par. Still tastey, but not an RIS in my opinion. Maybe an American Stout is more suited to this brew.It just doesnt have the body and personality Ilike in a RIS.

 623 characters

Photo of ncketchum
4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Excited to see this finally hit WI!
Served in a Duvel tulip, cellar temp

A - pours midnight black, large amount of dark chocolate head, which soon dissipates to leave a ring of lacing

S - impressive nose, roasted chocolate malt followed by a good amount of nuttiness, a hint of coffee, and the slightest bit of booze

T - Very complex taste - first, there is a big sweet cafe mocha presence, followed by the roasted malt, then a big bitter, piny hop note to end off the palate

M - minimal carbonation, nice and viscous, great imperial stout with a fairly big hop presence that I have come to expect from SN.

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Photo of Bung
3.88/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. Pretty standard black pour, nice layer of light tan head.

Aroma, roast malt, anise, a light pine and herbal hop aroma.

Taste very balanced roast, chocolates and bitter. Dark chocolate, anise, coffee. Coffee and a muted pine linger nicely.

Mouthfeel, probably the best part. A near creamy well coating stout. Alcohol is pretty well hidden.

Thought this was pretty nice, much better than the beer camp imperial oatmeal stout, not quite as nice as the 30th anniversary stuff. Worth a try at the price.

 509 characters

Photo of jjanega08
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Edition
Bottle Stamped
2279207 : 47

A= Pours a deep black color with a nice half finger of dep brown head on it that holds great retention and lacing on the side of the glass.

S= Smells of liqorice and dark roasted malt. Tons of liqorice. A little hoppy aroma comes through as well.

T= The taste is a nice mix of imperial stout styles. It starts as a nice liqorice taste before being swallowed by a nice bitterness. Dark chocolate and a bit of a hop bittereness. Nice roast and coffee character.

M= Nice mouthfeel

O= This is a solid imperial stout. Not the most amazing thing in the world but worth trying and

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Photo of avalon07
3.58/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a black color and a thick texture. There was a half inch of tan-colored, foamy, long-lasting head. Pretty good lacing.

S: Definitely an underplayed aroma of coffee, chocolate and malt. Decent.

T: Tasted of light coffee notes, some dark chocolate, roasted malt, and maybe some dark fruit. There's also a very pronounced burnt quality as well. Not a bad flavor, but it could have used a bit more punch.

M: A very well-carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This isn't too bad of a beer, but it doesn't necessarily reside among the top tier Russian Imperial Stouts. Still, worth a look.

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Photo of yamar68
4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic imperial stout appearance... near pitch black, an edge of copper clarity, a finger of khaki head that recedes to a dense collar.

Fresh coffee notes, burnt chocolate... quite impressive actually.

I was a bit skeptical of this beer but Sierra Nevada nailed it - it's a textbook example of the style. Smooth chocolate and a hint of coffee, slight vanilla notes, entirely delicious.

Very, very good.

 407 characters

Photo of flexabull
4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep and dark black color with a very fine light brown colored head. This looks just like an imperial stout should.

Aromas are of burnt sugars, espresso, dark chocolate, and notes of cream.

Taste is very full flavored. Burnt brown sugars, dark bitter chocolate, heavily roasted coffee, light cream, and a really bitter and dry finish.

Mouthfeel is full, with nice carbonation, but I wish the body was a bit stronger. Still good though.

Overall, a very well made Imperial Stout. For mass produced RIS, this is going to be hard to beat, another winner from the fine folks in Chico.

 591 characters

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black bodied with just a ring of brown foam coating the edge of the tulip glass. Got some thick sediment out of the last 1/5th of the pour.

Heavy roast, fresh cream, light coffee bean, hint of dark chocolate.

Big boozy and toasted grain taste. Plenty of warmth felt also. Notes of deep dark chocolate, heavy cream and coffee bean. The roastiness lasts throughout and well into the aftertaste. Bitter chocolate and coffee bean. Finishes with a hoppiness on the tongue.

Feels much lighter than a 10% beer. Not thin, but just not as thick as many for the style. Smooth for sure and lacks the slick feel associated with imperial stouts.

A very well done imperial stout all around. Very well rounded, but nothing stands out a ton to me to make it elite. Doesn't matter, this is a satisfying imperial stout that will fit the bill for the upcoming winter months.

 865 characters

Photo of acevenom
4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. Pours black like motor oil with a tall, brown head. The head retreats very slowly, leaving some lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is filled with dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts. It's a good smelling stout. The taste follows the nose. The dark roasted malts, the chocolate, and the coffee are prominent without all being strong and overpowering. There are some hops on the back end just adding some back end bitterness to help balance this big brew. The body is full and thick with light carbonation. The beer just coats the mouth and allows the aftertaste to linger. You know this is a big beer when you encounter it, but it doesn't hit you over the head. It helps make this is a very drinkable stout. This is an excellent beer.

 773 characters

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

Wow. This is an imperial, alright. This tastes like it must have hundreds and hundreds of calories.

It's a bottle of motor oil. - black and opaque. There is a light and persistent head. The aroma is of the cocoa and coffee tastes that are under the hood of this monster. The taste is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely roasty, chocolate and coffee with a nice aftertaste of mostly coffee.

Over all this is a great effort and yields a nice thick stout.

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Photo of Powderhornphil
3.92/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer pours completely black with a nice head that recedes leaving a nice lacing.

The nose seems subtle coffee and chocolate.

Taste is coffee and chocolate a bit of alcohol on the end. A very nice tasting stout. I really enjoy the coffee notes on this one. Not too much roast.

Mouthfeel is nice and makes for easy drinking considering the abv.

Overall I like this stout; it's big but also subtle. I will put a couple of these away and will be interested to see how it ages.

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Photo of bsp77
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black with thick espresso head and light lacing.

Smell: Cocoa, espresso, some dark fruitiness, and alcohol. Not as much molasses as many Imperial Stouts.

Taste: Cocoa and coffee lead the way on the taste buds as well. More dark fruit than burnt molasses, making this have a titch of what I like about Belgian Imperial Stouts. Finish is char, smoke, roast and hops.

Feel: Very smooth and creamy. Warming. Finish could be a tiny bit drier - the only thing stopping a perfect score here.

Overall: Can't believe it took Sierra Nevada so long to make an Imperial Stout (not counting the one-offs). Worth the wait. Will be fun to see how this ages alongside other affordable 12oz Imperial Stouts (Bell's Expedition, Founders, Brooklyn Black Chocolate, Victory Storm King, Old Rasputin).

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Photo of caskstrength
3.76/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Unicorn whale!!

Pours dark and stouty with carbonation as expected. No floaties or anything.

Smells are roasty. Coffee, but the good coffee, not the simple stuff. Maybe some darker fruits, but those are subtle (more with letting it warm, but still in the back.)

Tastes are roasty stout. Look up stout in the taste dictionary, and this how your tongue would define it. Coffee and bitter dark chocolate weave into the smoked roasty flavors, and some fruits hang out at the back of the tongue, but they barely hang on. Just like the smells, they are there more as it warms.

Smooth mouthfeel, nailed this part. Bitterness maybe a little much on the finish, but works with the flavors.

Solid, straightforward imperial stout for those who want the classic roasty vibe. Job well done. And the price is great.

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Photo of rayre
4.08/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a St. Bernardus Chalice.

A: As black as they comeā€¦ thin brown head with good retention .

S: Roasted malts, coffee

T: Dark chocolate/Cocoa. Roasted coffee/malt

M: Very light for an imperial stout. Does not coat the mouth. Good carbonation.

Overall this an enjoyable everyday stout. The flavors are subtle, with good balance between the alcohol and malt. The mouthfeel is to my liking and a big plus to me. It's always nice to find stouts in a 12oz offering, and I could see myself rotating between Narwhal and Old Rasputin as far as stouts to keep on hand in a smaller format.

 596 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.18/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Darker than a moonless night with a nice brown head into my glass. Don't you ever get the feeling that the color of a beer isn't that interesting in the first place?

Cocoa, cream and roasted coffee notes dominate the nose. Dead-accurate. I'm excited to go further.

Dark and foreboding with all the fury of a New England winter. Coffee, cocoa and booziness abound. The latter is subdued, which is a big relief.

Mouthfeel is predictable with more of the roasted coffee than anything else. Much easier to digest when the alcohol stays in the background.

I believe this is a very good example from Sierra Nevada. I wonder if they'll do a yearly release like Bigfoot? They could certainly bump up the ABV, age it in oak, etc. As long as the base beer is done right, anything is possible.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Narwhal was brought over tonight as part of the "we are not at the GABF tasting"... Not sure that this bottle makes up for it, but it helps... Thanks my amigo.

12oz bottle.. pitch black brew... the head is dark, darker brown.. nice retention...

Big roasty elements... dark malts and some background cocoa... cold brewed beans... very nice.

The flavor is rich and unrelenting... dark roast coffee... plenty of roasted malt.. dark chocolate... just enough sweetness to bring out the malty flavors... a bit of dark currant and maybe fermented out raisin..

Body is about right... carbonation is square....

Pretty damn good... seriously.

All 4's

 663 characters

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Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
4.14 out of 5 based on 5,022 ratings.
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