Barrel-Aged Narwhal
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Barrel-Aged NarwhalBarrel-Aged Narwhal
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Style:
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #28
ABV:
11.9%
Score:
97
Ranked #532
Avg:
4.36 | pDev: 8.26%
Reviews:
383
Ratings:
2,095
From:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  295
Gots
  918
SCORE
97
World-Class
Barrel-Aged NarwhalBarrel-Aged Narwhal
Notes: 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
Reviews: 383 | Ratings: 2,095 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Unholy_UFO
Unholy_UFO from Indiana

4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Dark and completely not letting light through, but not so murky that when pouring that it's not like 5W30. Foam is beautiful, lingers with top layer being white and bottom layer being closer to the color of the beer.
Smell: Aromas of pale malt syrups (not that I think that they use extract), wood tannin aromas, and hints of coffee and vanilla.
Taste: Front of the tongue, flavors of bittering hops, slight bite with aromatic malts. Flavors of chocolate, vanilla and bourbon linger with chocolate malt on the exhale.
Feel: Slightly thicker, it is a big beer. There is a slight bite but it warms you up on those cold winter nights. Based on the feel on the tongue you would think it would have a higher residual sweetness.
Overall: A solid beer, definitely one you should seek out. It belongs in the fridge for those days where you wanna sip away a Sunday, or outside to grill some meats in November.

Nov 25, 2021
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BigGinge from New York

4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Jet black with a thin ring of tan foam.

Smell: Rye bread, dark chocolate, hint of bourbon, charred grains.

Taste: Rich. Roasted malt up front, tiny bit of raisin, molasses and dark roast coffee towards the finish. Alcohol is well hidden.

Feel: Full bodied, almost chewy, kind of oily. Not Ten Fidy levels of full bodied, but it's a sturdy beer. Alcohol warmth is very mild.

Overall: Nothing crazy here. Just a really good stout that's been put into a barrel.

Nov 19, 2021
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DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

With this beer I hit 3,900 wow what a milestone! Into a pint glass
A - As expected deep dark soulless goodness with a 1/4 inch of dark mocha froth.
S - The whiskey is strong on this one sweet then some wood. Chocolate coffee smoke all the ticks of a good imperial stout.
T - Wow so much more than just whiskey and wood I am getting sweet bakers chocolate bitter dark chocolate and roast some espresso and hop bitterness in the finish.
M - Pretty heavy bodied well worth sipping its slick and not the smoothest but could see some age rounding out the aggressive whiskey notes.

Overall a great compromise was thinking of getting a Marshal Zhukov at 18 dollars but getting a pounder of this for 8 bucks I think I get a better if not equal experience!

Nov 19, 2021
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RonaldTheriot from Louisiana

4.85/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Barrel Aged Narwhal has a medium, beige head, with an almost black appearance and brown highlights. Lacing is minimal. The aroma is of whisky barrel and dark bread. The flavor is of dark brown bread crust, some bitterness, cream, coffee, and a touch of cocoa. One will notice whisky barrel, across the sip. Barrel Aged Narwhal has a heavy body and a dry finish.

RJT

Nov 09, 2021
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thebeers from Pennsylvania

3.77/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours near black with an amber hue. Half finger of khaki-colored head. Decent retention. Soupy lacing.

Umami, chocolate, nougat and amaretto in the nose.

Bitter and semi-dry tasting with bakers chocolate, a kiss of umami and a little cheap booze sweetness.

Medium to full bodied, slick, with light fizz.

Type of beer that would have seemed next level a decade ago, but has since been surpassed by others.

Nov 07, 2021
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pianoguy from Washington

4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16 Oz can poured into a pint glass. Writing on bottom of can says 041421 (package date ?)

Solid black body with a fluffy dark tan head. Lots of retention

Nose is quite complex. Lot's of vanilla sweetness. A little bit of cherries along with some expresso notes. A slightly astringent booze scent lingered throughout. As it warmed I got a lot more maple

Taste follows with a lot of sweetness. Some oak. I'm also getting a lot of bourbon along with a boozy finish

Creamy, full and not overly carbonated.

Very enjoyable ! I have been drinking the regular Narwhal for years and this was my first taste of the barrel aged version. Definitely a step up, As for my rating, I went back and forth on the feel. Specifically the carbonation level. (could have been 4.75) Need more research !!

Nov 03, 2021
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Jeffo from Netherlands

3.74/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this from the Duvel guy in Utrecht. Cheers!

From a 16oz can into a snifter
Aged in bourbon barrels for a year

APPEARANCE: Clear black pour yields a 2+ finger, medium looking, fizzy and noisy tan head with decent retention. Pretty fizzy and loose. Black body with hints of carbonation evident. Head recedes to a thick, foamy cap rather quickly. A splotchy wisp remains but leaves no real lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Bourbon on the nose for sure, with vanilla cream, milk chocolate, hints of coconut and some nice roasted coffee in there as well. Solid roasted base, with lots of bourbon and wood tones on this one. Bold nose.

TASTE: Bourbon, oak, some toffee sweetness, vanilla cream and milk chocolate flavors up front, with lots of barrel character, wood and some roasted base at the swallow. Bold and flavorful. Big finish of bourbon, oak, vanilla cream and coconut, some milk chocolate, and a solid roasted coffee base linger on the palate. This plays the part quite nicely.

PALATE: Medium-lighter body and slightly higher levels of carbonation. Fizzy and somewhat airy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes a touch mouth-coating. Some decent heat lingers. Unfortunately this is too light and fizzy for the style.

OVERALL: This has all the right flavor and aroma in it, but the finishing mouthfeel is not quite as thick and slick as this style really needs. It’s unfortunately too light and airy, which detracts from the overall experience. Still, this is right down the pipe when it comes to aroma and flavor, so if you’re a fan of the style, you’ll like this one too. Glad I picked one of these up. Cheers!

Oct 22, 2021
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ZeroHero

2.44/5  rDev -44%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Look: Pitch black with a thick, amber brown head. Long head retention and great lacing down the glass.

Smell: Charred oak and roasted espresso, with a hint of spice.

Taste: Follows the nose, with a heavy emphasis on the roasted espresso and charred oak. Finish is quite bitter.

Feel: Lightly carbonated with a relatively creamy mouth feel.

Overall: The taste was alright but was too bitter for me, which is a shame because overall I appreciated the flavor profile.

Oct 11, 2021
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Guaro from Italy

4.64/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: black with a compact, creamy and persistent beige head.
Nose: caramel, vanilla, coconut, wood, bourbon, cocoa, roasted coffee and barley, deep dark fruit.
Taste: fully reflects the sensations perceived on the nose with a constant and robust ethyl embrace that dries out the sweetness together with a finish where a decisive bitter hopping takes center stage.
Body: round, dense and creamy with very low carbonation.
Compared to the basic version, the muscular roasts are calmer and the beer softer and more docile despite the passage in cask. However, it remains a black beast to enjoy calmly. Great!

Sep 18, 2021
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BuxMontBeerLover from Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at Wegmans in Warrington, PA. $21.99/4pk (16oz cans)

Pours jet black, totally opaque . A half inch mocha colored head on the initial pour that gradual fades to a light skim.

After letting it sit for a few minutes, I get a distinct bourbon aroma mixed with roasted malt. Smells delicious.

A very rich tasting stout. The barrel aging adds a great bourbon taste but isn’t overpowering. A mix of roasted malts, sweet chocolate, coffee and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Very drinkable at almost 12 ABV.

A moderate consistency, low carbonation. Leaves a sweet coating in the mouth.

Overall a great imperial stout. I’ve had the regular Narwhal and the barrel aging adds a lot to this brew. A well done beer from Sierra Nevada. Very happy to be able to pick this beer up. Recommended!

Aug 09, 2021
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blazerkor from Nevada

4.85/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Whiskey is the first scent I get the rich roasted malts.  The brew just smells dark.

The taste is burnt chocolate and coffee bitterness with a background of vanilla, wood and alcohol.

It's thick and has almost no carbonation at all.  The finish is long and bittersweet.

This is a fantastic stout.  It's not quite my favorite but it's really good.  Overall I give it a 5.8 out of 6.

Aug 02, 2021
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gooddaydiablo from Texas

4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

look: black with nice dense brown foam

smell: roast, coffee, vanilla

taste: umami, coconut a little, oak, dark roast coffee

feel: smooth, balance, a good sweet bitter after taste

overall: this is indeed the best of sierra, cheers!

Jun 29, 2021
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KT3418 from Colorado

4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really excited to see this in the store since we mostly just carry their IPA's and the pale ale. I found this highly enjoyable idk easily up there for me with Finkel and Garfs barrel aged stouts and various other brewery treats. Honestly this is better to me just cuz the barrel isn't the most dominant factor. Great stuff, if the can excited you just try it.

After having it a little warmer than previous outings I get much more chocolate and small coffee, the barrel is more background

Jun 06, 2021
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Snowcrash000 from Germany

4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch-black coloration with a large, creamy, lasting head. Smells of slightly roasted, caramel malt, milk chocolate, dark fruit and vanilla, with hints of bourbon-soaked oak as well. Taste is a great balance of slightly roasted, quite caramelly malt, milk chocolate, dark fruit, with notes of raisin, fig, plum and coconut, as well as lighter coffee, licorice and charred, bourbon-soaked oak. Finishes rather sweet, with a very light bitterness and some lightly roasted malt, chocolate and dark fruit lingering in the aftertaste. Full mouthfeel with a rich body and light/medium carbonation.

Narwhal is one of my favorite Russian Imperial Stouts, so I was really looking forward to this, although it left me slightly disappointed, to be honest. This may well be due to unrealistic expectations and this still makes for a very enjoyable BA RIS, although the barrel aging doesn't feel all that rich here, mainly accentuating the sweeter and boozy notes rather than adding a great deal of complexity and richness of character, which doesn't really take away from the impressive complexity that there already is to the base beer though. Overall, the barrel-aging just turned this a bit too sweet and boozy for my personal liking, while taking away from the a bit more roasted and bitter character of the base beer, while the distinct milk chocolate and dark fruit still shows through very nicely here.

May 16, 2021
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emteegee from Wisconsin

3.87/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2020 Barrel -Aged. Poured from a 16 oz. can into a snifter.

LOOK: Pours dark and smooth. Looks like motor oil. Light, medium-brown foam that doesn't linger.

SMELL: Vanilla, bourbon.

TASTE: Espresso, coconut, bourbon, a little heat in the middle. Stronger, more bitter than some others.

FEEL: Very smooth, think. Nice mouthfeel, not too coating.

OVERALL: Good. Straightforward BBA Imperial Stout. Not as sweet, fancy as others, but absolutely very good.

May 10, 2021
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Herbabee from Pennsylvania

4.75/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

simply put, i poured some of this pint can into my Firestone gentleman's sample snifter... and could have easily mistaken it for a Parabola. it's got all the qualities of a fine BBA stout in all the critical areas - actually put it to a blind taste test with Dragon's Milk, finding the Narwhal to be drier and more hoppy than its challenger. I say it's a respectable effort from an equally respectable brewer, and am going to keep a 4-pack in tow & stow for a warranted occasion.

May 09, 2021
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.14/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a half finger of khaki foam. Aroma is chocolate, with toffee, molasses, and boozy bourbon. Char from the barrel mingles with hearty roasty, toasty malts to turn the sweet onset into a dark bouquet of goth malts - roasty & toasty. Flavor profile is roasty & toasty malts with caramel, molasses, chocolate, and bourbon. There is a kiss of char at the back along with a little swell of heat. Mouth feel is thick with a rather still texture, that is to say, not much effervescence play on the tongue. This may be due in part to the age of this bottle - 2015. Overall, hearty stout with great barrel character. It's a stand up standard stout without any flavor additives.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 750mL bottle.

May 02, 2021
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mushroomcloud from Texas

4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

16.9oz canned 2-4-21, opened 4-24-21.
2 finger tan head that slowly fades, great retention and settles in at a pillowy soft 1/4".
Coal color, no light shining through.
Molasses, dark roasted malt, boozy dark fruit, and wood.
Bitter roasted dark roast espresso coffee bean soaked in booze but insanely smooth and a little nutty.
Full body, silky smooth mouthfeel and low to medium carbonation.
Very Good.

Apr 25, 2021
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CisPiece88 from Nebraska

3.89/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Barrel aged stout aged in Bourbon barrels for 1 year. Rich with notes of oak, vanilla, Coconut. With lingering flavors of chocolate and expresso.

It's a little to astringent on the backend for my liking and lingering after taste that should be smoothed out by the Bourbon but it's not. Would be well over a 4 rating without the astringent after taste.

Apr 09, 2021
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Darkmagus82 from Texas

4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bourbon barrel narwhale (4.25, 4.5, 4.5, 4, 4.25)

Poured from a can into a snifter glass

Appearance - The beer pours a viscous dark brown color with a one finger head of brown colored foam. The head has an amazing level of retention, very slowly fading over time to leave a ton of foamy lace on the sides of the glass. Upon swirling the brew in the glass its thickness can be seen. Thick fingers of brew cling to the sides of the glass, slowly fading back to rest at the bottom of the vessel.

Smell – The aroma of the brew is huge. As soon as you open the can, aromas of dark roasted malt and bourbon greet the nose. Along with the big dark and roasty smells comes plenty of chocolate, coffee, and a rather sizable showing of brown sugar, molasses, and caramel. At the same time other dark aromas of leather and dark fruits of cherry and plum are in the nose. With a touch of vanilla, overall, the aroma is super rich, dark, and robustly warming in nature.

Taste – The taste begins with a big showing of dark roasted malt mixed with a big showing of sweetness of molasses and brown sugar. At the same time there is a rather sizable showing of a milk chocolate taste as well as some flavors of dark fruit, coffee, and brownies. Right from the start the bourbon can be detected as well, growing stronger and stronger as the taste advances. At the same time other flavors of char, vanilla, and smoke develop a bit, starting out weak, but getting stronger as the taste sits on the tongue. Toward the very end the bourbon really kicks it up bringing a nice warming booziness to the tongue. With a slight decrease in the sweet and the increases in the dark and boozy flavors of the brew, one is left with a deep, dark, roasty, and warming toasty taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the brew is super thick and chewy with a carbonation level that is on the lighter side. For the massive dark flavors and big nature of the brew the feel is fantastic and makes this brew a very nice slow and enjoyable sipper.

Overall – A very tasty and quite warming brew. A very nice balance of boozy bourbon with big dark and roasty malt and a nice sweetness. Overall, quite nice and well worth a try if you have the opportunity.

Mar 17, 2021
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mkh012 from Colorado

4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Canned 9/18/20, opened 3/6/21.

Pours near-black with two fingers of tan head that fade after a few minutes.

The nose is cherry, dark chocolate, and bourbon with more subtle notes of coconut and minty, piney hops.

The taste follows, with notes of dark chocolate, coffee, raisin, leather, and char. Medium bitterness rides in late and sticks around through the finish. Lingering notes of espresso, pine, and 90% cocoa chocolate.

The mouthfeel is medium for the style. Leans bitter and dry on the finish.

Overall, good. Definitely complex and worth trying. This is probably killer with 2+ years of age on it.

Mar 07, 2021
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backblast from Alaska

4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2019 vintage. Huge vanilla and barrel upfront with fig-dark candied cherries all mixed in and topped off with dark toasted malt. Has an amazing silky medium mouthfeel that just makes you smile.

Feb 25, 2021
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TerryMills from Tennessee

4.09/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Good but a little overpowering with bourbon for my taste , the other dominant flavor is bitter chocolate ..

This one could certainly use some age to mellow everything ..

If I had to have them fresh I would take a regular narwhal over this one honestly..

With all that said, its a fine brew.

Feb 11, 2021
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TooManyGlasses from Canada (AB)

4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had 2016 Narwhal (no barrel) last night ao a bit of comparison.
Pours pitch black with finger reddish brown head.
Aroma of the bourbon, dark chocolate, raisin, dark fruit, a bit roasty, touch of espresso and grainy malts.
Tastes of dark chocolate, prominent bourbon, a little oaky, caramel and vanilla with notes of raisin and dark fruit - a slight espresso roasty bitterness at the end.
Smooth and creamy full mouthfeel - mildly boozy and a lingering bittersweetness. Honestly only a slight improvement over the base beer.

Feb 08, 2021
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: It pours black with a brown head. Head retention is very good.

Smell: The aromas start with bourbon, chocolate, and roast. There is a very slight burnt note well in the background. There are moderately low dark notes that feature mostly plums.

Taste: The bourbon is a bit more pronounced in the flavors. The roast is more prominent and the chocolate less so. There is a slight burnt flavor well in the background. The Dark fruits are moderately low with mostly plums.

Feel: It has a full body that is a bit silky. It is quite aggressive with the bitterness. Alcohol warming is at a pleasant level.

Overall, a complex and well put together beer that has plenty of alcohol and flavor.

Jan 17, 2021
Barrel-Aged Narwhal from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 2095 ratings