Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel AgedNarwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged
1,890 Ratings
Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel AgedNarwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-11-2013

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,890 |  Reviews: 292
Photo of ScubaLeon
4.86/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of SABERG
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 2015 bottle into the test glass.
A - Color of a block of bakers chocolate, refined carbonation feeds a fine cap of tiny mocha spheres, lacing is formed then traces fall to liquid level.
S - Fig, cocoa, hint of mint, likely from the alcohol rising, nice touch. A very refined thread of chocolate malts , blends well with a delightful earthy element, The barrel ads the usual suspects but in fine balanced fashion, a bit of vanilla, and kiss of toffee.
M - A hefty body, with a slick initial coating, then a nice bitterness runs through changing it all. Lingering flavors include a bit of smokey bourbon and barrel char.
O - 2015 was a good year indeed, the resting seems to have smoothed this out. The bitterness level is a touch high, not off putting. The offering is a treasure and a great way to sip the afternoon away.

 835 characters

Photo of aztraz
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of WheelsPSU
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Muss42
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of rodbeermunch
4.09/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I guess we're doing barrel aged stout beers today. Could have sworn I did this review before, but with all the duplicate content on here, entirely possible.

Pours a black and hearty pour with a tan head,nearly 1" in depth. Great looking beer, Sierra Nevada delivering as usual in that department. Aroma hits the dark roasted malt and bourbon notes well. Not the heaviest bourbon aroma, but it feels like a decent amount of time.

Taste stays away from dark fruit notes and comes off more American than Russian, plenty of thickness and heft from the chocolate malt. Bitterness is up there, usual C hop SN hopping here, would guess 80ibu. Nice melded bourbon notes. Pretty smooth despite the high ibu level. Slight coffee notes from that dark roasted malt. Its a real good beer that is relatively available and affordable. Honey and caramel malts bring the mouthfeel into decadent territory and contribute to that aforementioned smoothness.

Beers like this make trading for barrel aged stouts dumb.

 1,013 characters

Photo of wanderingwheelz
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just opened a bottle of ‘15 and I think some age has helped quite a bit. I wouldn’t rate it higher than a 4 when fresh. Literally no alcohol that I can taste, and fnd sweetness has stepped it up a bit, which I like. Great beer!

 232 characters

Photo of vfgccp
3.66/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Sabtos
3.92/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A slappy black drippy pour silkens up and slowly accumulates a creamy tan blanket that settles to a persistent thick film clinging in ridges at the edges.

Woody, spicy bourbon and oak are on the nose up front with some piney hops. This is followed by creamy peanut butter wafer, medium roast coffee and softly faint chocolate.

Taste is a bit spicy as well, with the oak, bourbon and hops all colliding, but mid-palate it smooths with some milk chocolate and coffee. The swallow then prickles up a bit, back to a piney and boozy bite, with a touch of cola. I also get a bit of vanilla and brown sugar in the finish.

A medium body with a smooth feel has a light crisp carbonation that thickens and softens when swirled on the palate, coming up to an almost fully dry, tingly finish.

2015 bottle

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Photo of Sk8sean86
4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of TrojanRB
4.17/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kevintaraross
4.44/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Parmesan
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours a pitch black color with a small tan head and no lacing.

S: Dark stone fruit, molasses some coffee and milk chocolate and roasted malt, vanilla, and oak bourbon is present but not overwhelming. Booze is quite noticeable.

T: Tart cherry, notes of vanilla and oak, bourbon is forefront but there is some nice roasted malt and coffee and chocolate. Taste is not quite as nice as the aroma but still good.

F: A bit of cola like carbonation and a heavy body.

O: This is a really good barrel aged stout.

 518 characters

Photo of Cwarwick812
4.27/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Vidblain
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Justdoit1234
4.18/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Mikexw
4.12/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of bb-magic
4.33/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of HoppingMadMonk
3.98/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Completely black,light carbonation with a medium feel despite that. Heavy aroma of roasted grain,espresso,and sweet boozy bourbon. Taste didn't stray far from the aroma,despite high abv it was somewhat hidden. This is far from a session beer,something to be had when you are relaxed and have time slowly enjoy this.

 315 characters

Photo of Patches826
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Scobu
3.35/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Photo of doktorhops
4.35/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review #900! Only 100 more reviews till I get a free sub and perhaps a captains hat (Seinfeld reference). So what better way to go out than with this barrel aged version of one of my favourite Russian Imperial Stouts: Sierra Nevada Narwhal. I review a lot of Sierra Nevada brews, and they rarely disappoint (except for Otra Vez of course), so I really wanted to save something special for #900 and it had to be something BIG [Bearing Immense Gusto], and dark, and barrel aged - well looks like we’ve found ourselves a tasty... and no I’m not going to attempt to drink the entire bottle tonight... 750mls of obsidian nectar of the Gods in our good friend Narwhal - really, really looking forward to this - is perhaps an understatement.

Poured from a 750ml corked & caged bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Black like the inkiest depths of the vacuum of space with a thin tan ring that does little to offset the terror to be found in this dark murky soup. Less impressive beers abound freely in comparison to this Goliath. 9/10.

S: The aroma: Inescapable - a rich melange of sweet bourbon whiskey, dark fruits, molasses, a woody/oaky note, chicory, licorice, and cacao nibs. “Get down on your knees and pay me respect now” - Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout 2015. This aroma is scary assertive. 9/10.

T: Maybe it’s the 2 yrs age on it but this is nothing near as powerful as I expected from the aroma. First sip is a bit of a bourbon nip with a slight burn, dark fruits (raisin, plum) and the molasses/oaky note. Second sip comes in and dumps chicory, licorice and a raw espresso character. Aftertaste comes in with a touch of medicinal herb and espresso bitterness. 9/10.

M: Feels less viscous and heavy than regular Narwhal - which is a surprise I wasn’t even expecting! Mid to heavy bodied with a thin carbonation. 8/10.

D: It’s overall civilized, but at 12.9% ABV one gets the feeling that maybe “it’s a little too much”. Too much ABV, too much flavour going on - it’s not as good as regular Narwhal in that respect, regular Narwhal had more balance. So yeah, what I’m trying to say is that I would actually take a regular Narwhal over this, and that feels a bit of an odd statement from me - shouldn’t barrel aging make a regular beer better??? In the case of Narwhal for me the answer is a slightly perplexed “no”. Oy vey I’ve got a lot of barrel aged Narwhal to drink now... I’ve never been so daunted by a 750ml bottle of beer in my life... I need beer friends. 8/10.

Food match: I had cigars on regular Narwhal and it’s even more relevant here.

 2,591 characters

Photo of BEER88
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's narwhal, shit is delicious!

32 characters

Photo of KensWorld
4.73/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottle cellared.

Soooo smooooth!

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Photo of weareallfalafel
4.89/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Narwhal Imperial Stout - Barrel Aged from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 1,890 ratings