Founders Imperial Stout vs. Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by n2185, Feb 17, 2013.

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  1. n2185

    n2185 Poo-Bah (1,911) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    This is more of a love letter than a fight to the death. I just can't get enough of either of these beers this winter. Both have similar profiles to me--hoppy, bitter, and robust--and are incredibly drinkable.

    FIS is a beer I like more and more every year that I have it. I did a 3 year vertical recently and it ages pretty well, too. The fresh and the year-old bottles were equally delicious with the two year old bottle a little less so, but still enjoyable.

    Narwhal is the first beer from SN that has really wowed me. I got it on tap originally not expecting much and had to immediately go purchase bottles. I'm on my third 4-pack now and find it difficult to hang onto even one or two for aging.

    Overall, I might have to give a slight edge to FIS, but Narwhal has an advantage in being a little cheaper and easier to come by. Both are two of the best imperial stouts out there, barrel aged or no.

    On a side note, I hope Bell's decides one day to bottle their Dagger Imperial Stout since it's another great example of a hoppy IS.
    deadonhisfeet likes this.
  2. ESeab

    ESeab Initiate (0) Jan 3, 2013 New Jersey

    I'm one of the few that wasn't wowed by narwhal at all. I bought 6 bottles I believe, drank 3 or 4 and want to hold on to the others. I actually liked it less and less each time I tried it. We had a lone 4-pack left sitting at our store for a month and I just didn't feel like getting it (kind of regret that) and someone bought it this past weekend (can't believe it lasted that long) You kind of make me want one now though to try yet again (4th times a try?)

    Anyways, I love FIS, bought two four packs and two singles and I think I'm going to snag one more 4-pack today (again can't believe this stuff is still around). I'm definitely intrigued to see what happens to this over time and I tend to think that what made me like narwhal the first bottle was the fresh factor and that it won't benefit as much from aging. FIS wowed me first sip and I think its bigger and fuller than narwhal. It's all part of the game, finding what YOU like. By no means would I ever turn a narwhal down, I just think FIS IS superior, but thats just my opinion.
    Me Love Stout Long Time
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  3. lackenhauser

    lackenhauser Poo-Bah (2,449) Dec 10, 2002 Maryland
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I was never impressed with FIS but need to retry it. I loved Narwhal but I am such a huge SN fan that's not suprising. One hoppy RIS that I simply cannot abide is Storm King. To each his own.
  4. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    FIS is one of the best RIS's you can buy, IMO. Blows Narwhal out of the water. and the price is awesome, too.
  5. sergeantstogie

    sergeantstogie Aspirant (202) Nov 16, 2010 Washington

    Not even close. Not by a country mile. FIS is THE stout. obligatory IMHO
    Boverhof3, mgregg11, smutty33 and 7 others like this.
  6. No1Smitty

    No1Smitty Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    It's funny hearing how the availability was back east. I was lucky to find Narwhal once at the Bevmo in town. After that it was all gone. I thought it was great for a SN fan boy such as myself.
    MikeP64 likes this.
  7. n2185

    n2185 Poo-Bah (1,911) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Some grocery stores have it around here. I picked up one's last 4-pack last night along with a 4-pack of Bigfoot. What's great is that SN, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues are all considered "local" beers around Asheville now and are often discounted further, even though OB is the only brewery that's actually open so far. 4-packs of Narwhal for $8 and change are awesome.
  8. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Aspirant (260) Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    Haven't had either unfortunately. I keep almost buying Narwhal, but passing it up for something else, and Founders isn't available to me. I did however get my hands on a bottle of speedway stout for the first time the other day (I know its a coffee stout, but I thought the coffee aspect was fairly low key compared to some others I've tried which I like). Completely blew me away, so I guess it all works out lol
  9. nickapalooza86

    nickapalooza86 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2010 Wisconsin

    I love um both, with a extremely slight edge to FIS for the mouthfeel.
    PBoegel likes this.
  10. tommyz

    tommyz Devotee (420) May 28, 2007 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    In before the, quality has dropped over the years
  11. creepinjeeper

    creepinjeeper Crusader (743) Nov 8, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Just bought FBS and will have to try FIS as well. Narwhal is pretty friggin great! If tectactoe is sayin' it blows Narwhal out of the water, then I'm bumpin' it up on my tick list.
  12. C2H5

    C2H5 Disciple (383) Jan 7, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    FIS is better than Narwal.. I liked narwal a lot but FIS is awesome, I cant think of a better "non barrel aged" stout
  13. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    The first? You have really wowed me, in that the brewery that laid the blueprint for craft beer's existence and continued development, just now wowed you in 2012.

    They're both pretty damn good subjectively and objectively. Don't understand how you can blow something out the water (funny phrase though when dealing with something called Narwhal) when both items of comparison are top notch.
    MikeP64, AmitC, fmccormi and 5 others like this.

    CORKSCREWFISH Initiate (0) Apr 22, 2011 Illinois

    Honestly,FIS is quite possibly the very best non-ba RIS in the world!
    While Narwhal is quite good,it's almost disrespectful to FIS,to compare the two.
    Yeah,FIS is that good.
    Kind of like all the fuss comparing MJ to LJ.Come on man! Lebron shames isn't close.
  15. DaveLikesAle

    DaveLikesAle Initiate (182) Jan 24, 2006 Ohio

    Went through quite a few of both. At the (roughly) $10 price point for 4-pack, Narwal is competing with Old Rasputin and Siberian Night. Nice to have so many affordable options.
  16. Jnorton00

    Jnorton00 Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    I haven't had Narwal but FIS is still way better.
    MikeP64, TapeDeck, johnnieoz and 2 others like this.

    CORKSCREWFISH Initiate (0) Apr 22, 2011 Illinois

    Honestly,FIS is quite possibly the very best non-ba RIS in the world!
    While Narwhal is quite good,it's almost disrespectful to FIS,to compare the two.
    Yeah!.. FIS is that good!
    Reminds me of all the recent fuss comparing MJ to LJ.Come on man! Lebron shames isn't close!
  18. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    Don't get me wrong, Narwhal is damn good (read my review!). My statement was more of a testament to just how good FIS really is. It is probably the best RIS you can get for the money, and almost a perfect beer in my eyes. But again, remember that it's only my opinion. I'm sure there are many people who would prefer a Narwhal.
  19. n2185

    n2185 Poo-Bah (1,911) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    It has nothing to do with SN's niche, history, or role in the craft market. I have yet to have a bad beer from them, and they and New Belgium are probably the closest to being staples in my fridge. I love what they do and will try any new beer from them without hesitation. That being said, Narwhal is the first beer from them that made me go out and immediately buy more. To put it in beer grade terms, it's the first A+ beer I've had from a brewery that never gets below a B or B-.
    DStoked likes this.
  20. mjn5036

    mjn5036 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2008 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    FIS is awesome. Narwhal was okay but didn't come close to FIS.

    Also, I heard that the name Narwhal was being disputed with another brewery. All of it was pulled from the shelves locally according to one of my beer reps. Not sure of the validity of that but that would explain why it literally disappeared all at once.
    tectactoe likes this.
  21. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (2,165) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I liked Narwhal a lot but FIS is a big notch above it.
    JoeyBeerBelly and tectactoe like this.
  22. zachary80

    zachary80 Zealot (504) Nov 29, 2009 Indiana

    FIS is one of my favorite beers, and despite being impressed with Narwhal, I wouldn't consider it a close competition
  23. Highbrow

    Highbrow Devotee (476) Jan 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    gee. obviously no bias in this statement. :confused:
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  24. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Good comparison, given the geography, even though I think your conclusion is incorrect (and I fully realize I'm in the minority there, sentimental favorites are often belied by objective data). Both players dominated their league and are clearly the greatest of their era, similar to Sierra Nevada and Founders.

    Lebron dominates an NBA with world talent (big men can shoot and play defense now!) over many continents. Sierra Nevada distributes to all 50 states, I've had their beer half way around the world. MJ dominated an NBA with talent from one country. It was a regional league essentially, much like Founders distribution.

    They're both great beers and great players. Let's just leave it at that.
    Bluecane likes this.
  25. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Hey even I like FIS "more". . . but its kinda like if they had a fight, I would score it 50-49 FIS. If it was a football game, it would be 35-31. An 8-7 baseball game etc. . .

    Just thought the 'blows it out the water' thing sounds like something that should be reserved for comparing FIS, to say, Guinness or Indian Wells, not Sierra Nevada.
  26. jplopez21

    jplopez21 Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    im pretty sure most people will pick fis only because its more bitter than narwhal. ill take narwhal any day over fis. but ill also take parabola and big john over both fis and narwhal. and ill agree to storm king being too bitter when fresh.
    joeseppy likes this.
  27. GP012

    GP012 Initiate (152) Mar 22, 2011 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    IMHO, FIS is much better. Narwhal was just average to me.
    ESeab likes this.
  28. Highbrow

    Highbrow Devotee (476) Jan 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    not meaning to be an ass, but then why not say Founders Imperial Stout ((AND)) Sierra Nevada Narwhal instead of placing splitting terminology? since they already covered basketball analogies although i'd point out Jordan did have left handed pretty boy dude from Croatia playing on his side later... but let me put it to you like this: Biggie & Tupac drives a different immediate tone than Biggie *VERSUS* Tupac. jmho
  29. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    The shit that is a staple in my fridge (Sierra Nevada, Central Waters), wows me, hence why it is a staple. I think our (you, me, tectactoe) word choice is prolly the bigger substantive difference than our thoughts about the beer.
    joeseppy and BrettHead like this.
  30. Jnorton00

    Jnorton00 Initiate (0) Apr 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    Of course not :wink: I really don't think many of the SN beers are that good and FIS is one of my favorites so that's why I said it. I just know it won't be close.
  31. BB1313

    BB1313 Poo-Bah (2,668) Jul 16, 2009 Ohio

    FIS is in a whole different stratosphere and beats Narwhal at every turn, IMO. Although I liked Narwhal, there are countless Imperial Stouts I'd personally go for ahead of it. One similarity they both have is that they're both pretty hot and boozy when fresh. Only time will tell, but I have a feeling Narwhal will age with the best of them.. we already know FIS ages with the best of em...
  32. BrettHead

    BrettHead Devotee (479) Sep 18, 2010 Nebraska

    There was a trademark dispute but SN prevailed.
  33. n2185

    n2185 Poo-Bah (1,911) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Because it was more of a comparison between the two, but I didn't want to give the impression that it was just a bashing topic like the umpteen million "[Beer X] vs. Pliny" topics.

    Yeah. I refer to "wow" beers as A+ beers that I can't get enough of. Unfortunately, there aren't any beers that both meet that description and are readily available year-round. Most SN beers are like a good recipe--something you can have on a regular basis that isn't too expensive or difficult to make/obtain. Narwhal is more like going out for a $20+ meal of high quality sushi.
  34. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    Fair enough. Believe me, if I saw Narwahl on shelves, I'd definitely pick up more of it (seems to have disappeared around here). I think that I hold a certain affinity for FIS because it was one of the few beers that really "blew my mind" when I first tried it.

    I do like the fact that they both have a demanding hop presence, though. That's something I really like in my imperial stouts.
  35. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (388) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Last time I had the Founders it really impressed me with the way the flavor just went on and on and on. I recall liking Narwhal an awful lot, too, though, and I've got 'em both on hand, so it looks like I may have to stage a head-to-head this evening.
  36. Barrelsnbeer

    Barrelsnbeer Initiate (0) Oct 6, 2012 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    i liked narwhal very much, the other night i had FIS but only after having a hop slam, a flying dog centennial, and a black cannon. so by the time i got to the FIS i wasnt going to be getting any bitterness at all. that being said it was one of the best beers ive had in a while then i got sad when i realized it was the last FIS in the store and i wasnt going to be able to get another one. but damn that beer was delicious hopefully i can trade for a bottle of each and do a side by side comparison at a later point
  37. Highbrow

    Highbrow Devotee (476) Jan 7, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    yes but i think you're ignoring the point & perhaps on purpose? you already acknowledge there umpteen million examples of bashing. your example uses the key word 99.9999999% of them contain [Beer X] "vs." - you used the key word, a known identifiable trigger. why not avoid that if your intention truly is to avoid umpteen million & 1 cases? not saying you did something on purpose but i am saying subconsciously or otherwise your wording feeds the rage you claim you are trying to avoid. you know the saying: "if you're not a part of the solution. . . "?
  38. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Poo-Bah (2,165) Feb 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I hate that "blows it out of the water" remark too.
    Especially, when someone says ___________ blows Pliny out of the water.

    More importantly, Lebron isn't worthy to smell Michaels jock.
    highdesertdrinker likes this.
  39. brewbetter

    brewbetter Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2012 Nauru

    Are you really trying to say that Jordan has Kukoc to thank for his championships? Sorry, but that's laughable. I could entertain the idea if you had said Pippen, Phil Jackson, Rodman, or even someone like Kerr, but Kukoc? Sorry, no.
    MeBeerGood likes this.
  40. n2185

    n2185 Poo-Bah (1,911) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. I considered other topic titles but without being able to use acronyms, most would not have fit or have been vague/awkward. And even if a word might have a negative connotation, that doesn't mean it invalidates the word's actual meaning. Kind of like the word "adjunct," that also gets a knee-jerk reaction around here despite many popular ingredients in brewing (e.g. oatmeal, wheat, rye, fruit, etc.) being adjuncts.
    Blanco likes this.
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