Barrel-Aged Narwhal
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Barrel-Aged NarwhalBarrel-Aged Narwhal
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Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #63
Ranked #950
4.33 | pDev: 8.31%
Feb 03, 2024
Jan 11, 2013
This deliciously dark treat is our bold Narwhal Imperial Stout aged in oak Kentucky bourbon barrels. Black as midnight, this intense stout is incredibly complex with notes of dark chocolate, rich roasted grains, and espresso seamlessly blended with hints of vanilla and toasted coconut with a slight touch of honey from aging in the oak spirit casks. Nearly as rare as its nautical namesake, try it out while you can because, like the creature itself, it will disappear into the blackness soon and leave nary a trace behind.

Additional Info:
Narwhal was aged for 8 months in fresh bourbon barrels (a combination of Willett single barrel, Heaven Hill and various Beam brands).

ABV: 12.9
IBU’s: 62
Bittering Hops: Challenger
Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Carafa III, Roasted Barley
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of ToshT2M
Rated by ToshT2M from Rhode Island

4.71/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Nice rich smell and body, strong taste, lovely after taste and nice ABV level.
Feb 03, 2024
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Reviewed by josanguapo from Spain

4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
De akasionalbeer. En copa Teku. Con pistachos. Jugando a Hogwarts Legacy. Protagonismo de un perfil a madera bien conseguido, disfrutándose en casa trago sin que nunca decaiga. Se echa en falta algo más de complejidad
Jan 20, 2024
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Reviewed by defunksta from Wisconsin

4.05/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
Canned 10/10/2022 (15 months ago)

Appearance: Pours a completely dark, rich velvety dark color with a massive and thick tan head. SRM of 24. (4.25)

Aroma: Strong aromas of rich cocoa upfront. Then some hints of bittersweet and roast mixed with hints of coconut, strudel, and vanilla. Mild/moderate bourbon notes underneath. Toffee and more chocolate linger off the end. (4.25)

Flavor: Strong flavors upfront of cocoa, chocolate. Sweet initially, then a rich bourbon burn through the middle. Some more toffee, syrup, caramel, and chocolate notes evolve off the end mixing with the bourbon and vanilla. Minimal bitterness. Sweet bourbon lingers. (4.00)

Feel: Heavier-bodied, low carbonation. Smooth and sweet and sticky. (3.75)

Overall: First try at this World-Class rated BBA Stout. Aged it one year and picked it up at the end of the season last year. About 15 months from canning. It pours beautifully. The aromas follow with aromatic cocoa, vanilla, and bourbon. Comes in swinging on the flavor with sweetness and more bourbon. Boozy on the mouthfeel. I'm glad to have tried it, but in a pinch, I'd probably swing back to the original Narwhal.
I can tell this beer is very good. A good BBA Stout as it maintains the rich bourbon and boozy sweetness. It does lose that bit of dank, earthy, bitterness that the original Narwhal had however, which is the drawback.
Just the right occasion as this beer fits perfectly to keep me cozy and warm for the winter snowstorm pouring down right now. (Rating: 4.05)
Jan 12, 2024
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Reviewed by MutuelsMark from Kentucky

4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
2015 bottled tried in 2023.
I thought this was a lot more 'flat' than I expected. Most of the carbonation was gone, assume due to aging. Flavors were still evident and good. Just wish there was more carbonation left over.
Dec 18, 2023
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Reviewed by jonphisher from New Jersey

4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
This one pours thick and black; the quick rising head caught me off guard, nice light brown creamy and frothy looking, settles kind of quick but leaves nice thick film thah lingers.

The nose is very rich in dark chocolate, fudge like; some alcohol tinkles my sinuses, a bite of dry oak, very light coconut like; and charred wood.

Taste is again heavy on the chocolate; like dark fudge brownies dipped in bourbon, without all the sweetness, noticeable oak tannin presence, nice balanced dose of roast on the finish.

This beer is in incredibly smooth for how big it is; big body with almost zero alcohol hint, it is there but negligible, nice little bit of bitterness on the finish with a nice low carbonation; having let this warm a bit, the alcohol comes out a touch, warming in the sinuses.
Nov 27, 2023
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Rated by bitterbeer from New York

4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
Nov 18, 2023
Photo of Braunmeister_1943
Rated by Braunmeister_1943 from Pennsylvania

4.89/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
I usually give a brief summation for each of the five descriptors here. Not this time. This beer speaks for itself!
Nov 18, 2023
Photo of wmeckley44
Reviewed by wmeckley44 from Tennessee

4.31/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Super dark and boozy. Pours almost jet black with a nice brown head. Typical imperial stout on the nose, sweet with lots of molasses and coffee. Great mouthfeel, not too thick or coating with a higher level of carbonation than expected which makes it more refreshing. Flavor is huge. Deep, dark sugar and roasty espresso gives way to a ton of coconut and honey, and almost a little too sweet for me. Finishes quite dry and with a good hint of bitterness.

Overall, I have a love/hate relationship with barrel aged stouts in that it's an aggressive flavor, but the usual brown sugar coffee combined with high ABV means it's a hard drink. This one is definitely a sipper but worth the time. I was baking while drinking this one and the bitterness, thinner texture, and higher carbonation made it much easier to drink than a usual barrel aged stout. I haven't tried the regular version but I think I would prefer it if it was lighter on the toasted coconut.

Overall a great stout, very much what I was expecting but with more drinkability compared to others of its type. Avoid if you don't like coconut though, the massive amount I'm getting is my only reservation with this beer.
Nov 07, 2023
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Reviewed by mschrei from Illinois

4.61/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Rated beer 2300 for me. Wanted it to be something great, this was a good choice. Just what I want from a barrel aged RIS. Plenty of roasted dark malt with a strong boozy background from the barrel, easy drinker, not thick or oily or syrupy. Lays it out there plain and simple. Glad I bought two, but I’ll probably drink the second without letting it age.
Oct 27, 2023
Photo of Offa
Reviewed by Offa from California

4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Black. Big dark tan head steadily shrinks to thin lasting foamy top. Aroma rich brown bread and chocolate rum balls. Rich. Taste smooth, rich well rounded. Some bitterness but definitely leans a little to sweet side. Velvety feel. Booziness is notable but gentle. Dark raisins and dark rum, some very mild charcoal roastiness. Excellent. Too easy to drink for this abv. I still think I like the regular Narwhal better because I think it has a more complex character, but I'll have to have it again to see. Thankfully, I've got both on hand right now.
Oct 18, 2023
Rated: 4.35 by dafla67 from Pennsylvania

Oct 17, 2023
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Reviewed by farmerhank from Maryland

4.13/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Pours out of the can jet black, nice smell of coffee and dark chocolate, malt and bourbon barrel. Tastes just as well with a nice bight of the "barrel aged" effect. Medium smooth body. Great RIS
Sep 24, 2023
Rated: 4.75 by MouldyCrow from Pennsylvania

Sep 23, 2023
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Reviewed by SpaceCamp from Virginia

4.19/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
L: Pours a dark, rich hickory. Moderate tan head that fades slowly. Nice silky layer of retention on the surface and a frothy ring of lacing around the edge of the snifter. Near-black chocolate hue when held to the light.

S: Coffee beans, vanilla, and baker's chocolate. Faint malt and barrel influence. Roasty.

T: Barrel influence is noticeable straightaway. Vanilla and coffee roast are prevalent in opening, followed by oak, dark chocolate, and some charred/toasted malt. Hint of caramel sweetness. Finishes with more bourbon barrel, and a light char in the finish. Mildly astringent with a smattering of hops.

B: This beer is medium- to full-bodied. Slick, coating, and creamy, slightly oily. Light carbonation.

O: Very drinkable RIS, strong barrel-influence really elevates the flavor without becoming overpowering. Well done and worth returning to.
Aug 27, 2023
Photo of Jwale73
Reviewed by Jwale73 from Rhode Island

4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
16oz. Can served in a Spiegelau tulip. Pours two shades shy of black with a loose head, that quickly disperses into a tight band around the shoulders and an oily slick across the surface. Nose expresses dark chocolate, molasses, char and a suggestion of soy sauce. Taste consistent with nose; however, less soy sauce, and chocolate is much more amplified. There’s also a trace of butterscotch in the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is light-medium with an assertive carbonation and an oiliness to the texture. Overall, a nice break from the aggressive sweetness of a pastry stout; however, not much barrel-aging comes out.
Jul 31, 2023
Rated: 4.32 by BLVBBERGIXLL from Arizona

Jul 02, 2023
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Reviewed by Orca from Washington

4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
750mL (vintage 2013, best by 4/28/2014 according to my notes but I see nothing to that effect printed on the bottle) into a tulip. Pours a deep dark brownish black, not the most opaque imperial stout I’ve ever seen, but very clean-looking if that makes sense, with a thin khaki head and moderate carbonation

Aroma is roasty and chocolatey with strong notes of bourbon and vanilla. A nice nutty quality on the swirl.

Taste is likewise dominated by dark roasted malt, chocolate, and espresso balanced by bourbon, vanilla, and caramel. Really nicely integrated flavors.

Mouthfeel is slick, creamy, medium-heavy body. Highly drinkable.

Overall a very nicely balanced BA imperial stout, wish I had gotten to it sooner but it has held up quite well.
Jun 10, 2023
Photo of Beertsipper
Reviewed by Beertsipper from New York

4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
16 oz can dated January 2023. There are so many notes in the smell and the taste, that' it's hard to discern. A very complex beer. Coconut, baker's chocolate, licorice, espresso, some notes of dark fruit, whiskey... A sipper, and the flavors only get better as it warms. I'll have to pick up the remaining two 4 packs at my local grocer. If no one got to them first.
Apr 20, 2023
Rated: 4.2 by AccipiterofBeer from New York

Apr 19, 2023
Rated: 4.5 by shigg85 from Japan

Mar 09, 2023
Barrel-Aged Narwhal from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 2172 ratings