Narwhal vs TenFIDY

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BradenMK, Oct 15, 2013.

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  1. BradenMK

    BradenMK Aspirant (279) Sep 24, 2012 Alaska

    So the poll thread discussing whether or not TenFIDY was worth $6 (or so) more per 4-pk than Narwhal got me thinking, as neck and neck as the race was, and considering my own memory of TenFIDY being less than stellar. Could I have been wrong? So I had to conduct a side-by-side taste test. Just to see what all the fuss was about.

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    The results were not what I expected. The start with, both of them poured a fantastic, mocha/latte colored head that lasted, let's say three minutes, and both left really great lacing as the drinking went on. The Narwhal left slightly better lacing. Even holding them up to the light, both were an equally opaque motor oil black/brown.

    TenFIDY performed much better than I remembered. Last year I had been comparing it to Bell's Expedition, aged 3+ months, so perhaps not a fair comparison. This year, side-by-side with Narwhal, I actually preferred TenFIDY, by a small margin. Interestingly, I didn't care for either all that much until I paired with food.

    Once the food hit the table... Narwhal took the lead, again, by the smallest of margins. The tough thing about these two beers is that they don't take kindly to being tasted side-by-side. The flavor profiles, while extremely similar, destroy the taste of the other once imbibed. Take a sip of one or the other and then the other immediately after? It's just not going to taste great. No matter which you lead or followed with. I had to do plenty of palate cleansing between tastings to make sure I was being properly objective. Narwhal was boozier than I remember giving it credit for, while TenFIDY was about the same. Narwhal still had a bit more flavor profile going on for it, while TenFIDY was creamier and fuller than I remember.

    By the time I was done, honestly, I think I prefer TenFIDY. But am I willing to spend $1.50 more per beer to get it? Absolutely not. It's good. It might even be better than Narwhal. But for the cost, for me anyway, it's never going to be worth it. Has anybody else done a side-by-side of these two who wants to chime in?
     
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    IMO Narwhal is the better beer the fact that it cost less is a bonus.
     
  3. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Disciple (396) Mar 23, 2008 California

    I think blind tasting these is the way to go, personally.

    I'll set one up with Narwahl, Ten Fidy, and Old Rasputin.

    I prefer Narwhal, but then again I've never tried them blind or side by side.
     
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  4. pecokid

    pecokid Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I don't know what it is but Narwhal hurts me. It does not matter when or how much, there is just something about that brew that disagrees with me in a painful way.
     
  5. TequilaSauer

    TequilaSauer Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2006 Florida

    I haven't done them blind yet, but Fidy is an absolute monster. I actually took Narwhal in the cost/benefit discussion, but there's no doubt in my mind, Fidy is a far better beer. Both are great though.
     
  6. TequilaSauer

    TequilaSauer Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2006 Florida


    Make it interesting and toss in a Speedway and Yeti.
     
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  7. williamjbauer

    williamjbauer Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2012 Colorado

    Ten Fidy is one of my favorite beers. Period. I'll pay for it.
     
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  8. DWheeler379

    DWheeler379 Initiate (180) Jun 15, 2012 Colorado

    Had Ten Fidy recently at their brewery in Brevard. I just don't get all the love for it. I guess I'm not into the imperial stouts as much as everyone on here. For my money and ABV, I'd much rather have 2 good porters or many other beers really (love FBS). Ten Fidy was just very boozy and I don't care for the motor oil thickness or mouthfeel either. There are undoubtedly some complex flavors in there but IMO get dominated by the alcohol flavor.
     
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  9. BlackNote

    BlackNote Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2013 Michigan

    I've had both recently, but not side-by-side. I don't know what all the fuss is about Narwhal, but the Ten FIDY hipe is real IMHO. Plus, I don't like Bell's Exp Stout.
     
  10. cpjtr9559

    cpjtr9559 Initiate (0) Nov 30, 2007 New York

    hype
     
  11. DarkDragon999

    DarkDragon999 Aspirant (269) Feb 13, 2013 Rhode Island

    I had Sam Adams Imperial Stout over the weekend. I guess its not rated as high as Narwahl, Ten Fidy, and Old Rasputin but it tasted good to me. Im not a huge Imp stout fan because Id rather drink more easy drinking/less boozy beers rather than a beer I can only have a couple of max in a sitting.
     
  12. SenorHops

    SenorHops Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2010 Rhode Island

    Narwhal hands down. Ten Fidy is too syrupy and boozy IMO.
     
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  13. jplopez21

    jplopez21 Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2012 Illinois

    I've noticed throughout my short time on BA that most prefer more bitter less sweet imperial stouts (I'm the opposite). So naturally most BA's would prefer TenFidy since narwhal is a little on the sweeter side. That said I love both, but narwhal is def the clear winner for me.
     
  14. ChrisMyhre

    ChrisMyhre Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2013 Massachusetts

    Drinking ten Fidy now. I enjoy both, but Ten Fidy probably isn't worth the extra dough. I actually think Stone's RIS beats them both as well.
     
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  15. Givemebeer

    Givemebeer Zealot (543) Apr 6, 2013 Vermont

    Setting up a blind tasting soon with Narwhal, TenFidy, FBS, Storm King, Old Rasputin, Mission Dark Seas and BCS. Too many Imperial Stouts? Maybe.
     
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  16. derftron

    derftron Devotee (442) Feb 8, 2012 Oregon

    Had a Narwhal on Saturday for the Ducks game, and had a Ten Fidy tonight for Monday night football. Very close call for me, both fantastic. For the $1.50 less, I think Narwhal is the call. But Ten Fidy is worth $4 a can for sure
     
  17. tsauce2

    tsauce2 Zealot (564) Oct 12, 2011 Indiana
    Trader

    The most recent batch of Narwhal is the best so far, but if you are going for a great stout, Ten Fidy hands down. If you are going for the economical stout, there are better choices than Narwhal imo.
     
  18. Kadonny

    Kadonny Meyvn (1,389) Sep 5, 2007 Florida
    Trader

    There, fixed :wink:

    I had Narwhal this weekend for the first time and loved it. Very good Impy for the money.
     
  19. Quickicks

    Quickicks Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2013 North Carolina

    Ten Fidy is an awesome beer for the price and availability. Yes there are better values out there but I keep a few cans around. It does benefit a lot from about a year on it, wouldn't go much further with it being in a can. As for Narwhal, its decent and the most available to me. Really the only IRS I can buy from the grocery store when I'm in a pinch.

    I get a case of stone IRS every year and that's the best bang for your buck. I think I paid about 60 bucks for a case this past year. Actually.. that works out to almost the exact same price as Narwhal. Idk about aging Narwhal tho and stone is a good one to sit on IMO.

    To each his own. There's a million good IRS's to choose from and most are in this price range.
     
  20. SerialTicker

    SerialTicker Initiate (0) Jun 18, 2012 Michigan

    I haven't had Narwhal, but I had Ten Fidy. Factoring in price, I find it hard to believe Narwhal wouldn't beat Ten Fidy. Ten Fidy tastes pretty good to me when it's colder, but it becomes too sweet for me when it starts to warm up. I've only started really enjoying bigger stouts the past couple of months though, so it's about time to revisit.
     
  21. blivingston1985

    blivingston1985 Aspirant (279) Jan 7, 2010 North Carolina

    Ten-FIDY is awesome. First can of beer I've ever seen sink in the chiller at work. Huge stout. Narwhal has a little more depth and complexity to its flavor profile though. I'm told it is kind of a tweeked version of the awesome Fritz and Ken's 30th anniversary stout( http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/140/56761/?sort=latest&start=0 )that some of us were lucky enough to get our hands on back in 2010.

    I choose Narwhal, but I will still be buying both every year.
     
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  22. mj81

    mj81 Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2013 New Jersey

    For the most part it's clear to see that $$$ plays too much part in a person's opinion in these two beers. Comparing these two IMO is asinine as they are different in pretty much all categories. Narwhal is good but let's be honest, it's much closer to an imperial porter than a stout. I think comparing TenFIDY to the likes of FIS is a better comparison. Narwhal vs Victory at sea is more along the lines of two beers that are more similar (granted vas has more flavor profiles going on).
     
  23. Quickicks

    Quickicks Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2013 North Carolina


    Interesting..
    That's the first I've heard of Narwhal being a revised version of the 30th anniversary stout, seems very possible. Anyone else know if there is any truth to that?

    I got to try the the Fritz and Ken's stout at the BA Sexual release a couple months ago and it was pretty solid. Long night/day tho and I can't say it really stood out. Hope I can try it again sometime, maybe even side by side with Narwhal :wink:
     
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  24. rxeight

    rxeight Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2012 Illinois

    Expedition and Founders IS are far superior to both.
     
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  25. blivingston1985

    blivingston1985 Aspirant (279) Jan 7, 2010 North Carolina

    A few SN reps came into my store a week or so before Flipside was being released here in NC. We were talking shop when one of the reps asked me if I had tried Narwhal, to which I replied,"Oh my god, yes! I have been waiting so long for an annual double stout release from Sierra." I added, " It reminds me quite a bit of the 30th anniversary stout." The rep responds by telling me the Fritz and Ken's stout was the inspiration for Narwhal.
    That's all I know.
     
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  26. tectactoe

    tectactoe Poo-Bah (1,816) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan
    Society Trader

    Ten FIDY by a mile.
     
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  27. TequilaSauer

    TequilaSauer Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2006 Florida

    But money does play a part in opinions, as long as the things we buy have a monetary cost associated with getting them. I'm a fairly young guy and I just bought a house. I can't just toss 15 bucks on 4 cans of beer anytime I want. Narwhal is almost half the price here! The economics just don't make sense for a lot of people. Fidy's a better beer, I'm just not sure it's always worth it to pay such a premium for how much better it is than Narwhal.

    Additionally, did you mean Sea Monster instead of Victory at Sea? I don't really think a Coffee Vanilla Porter makes sense in a conversation about traditional imperial stouts.
     
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  28. mj81

    mj81 Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2013 New Jersey

    All I'm saying is that it's clear that money is clearly influencing what should be a comparison based solely on taste. Better bargain makes people feel better and also makes them perceive it to be better than it may be. obviously this will be an opinion but I think if you did blind tastings w/ money being no object (and people that already enjoy stouts in general) that more people would pick TenFIDY over narwhal (and probably by a substantial amount).

    I realize my comparison of Victory at sea is a little off (hence the note) but it was more to say that narwhal should be viewed as more of an imperial porter rather than an IRS. People that may not be fond of stouts would probably lean towards narwhal as its not as creamy and bold and much more like a higher abv porter (imperial porter). To me it didn't fit the bill of an IRS anywhere near the likes if TenFIDY/FIS/old Rasputin/stone IRS.
     
  29. TequilaSauer

    TequilaSauer Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2006 Florida

    I have no doubts that if you did a blind tasting, Fidy would slam dunk Narwhal. But until my beer comes to me for free, I'm going to have to make economic decisions. Cost is going to be a factor in my purchasing of beer. Is it a factor in my saying which is better? No. But it is a factor in my assessment of a beer. Narwhal isn't an amazing stout, but it is a very good one, and even "very good" stouts are rarely let go for 8 bucks a 4 pack! Honestly, I think Brooklyn Chocolate Stout and Storm King are maybe the only ones I can think of (10 bucks a sixer, technically).

    Narwhal is a stout through and through. It's just not pudding-thick like Fidy, Speedway, or Expedition. I think a good tasting for Narwhal would be like a "discount stout" tasting. Traditional stouts that are well priced and a little on the lighter side like Rasputin, Storm King, Green Flash, etc. Narwhal wouldn't even do all that great in that mix either, but it's still a good beer and that is more of the class it would fall in, IMO.
     
  30. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Disciple (396) Mar 23, 2008 California


    Like you said in a previous post, tasting blind is the best way.

    Do one with TenFIDY/FIS/old Rasputin/stone IRS and Narwhal. I would bet that your idea about Narwhal being an imperial porter will dissapear.
     
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  31. mj81

    mj81 Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2013 New Jersey

    Consequently, I have multiple bottles of each currently in cellar. Only qualm I'd have is that while I have a fresh TenFIDY and a narwhal from this year's batch, the others have significant age on them already and would probably skew the tasting as the narwhal fresh is somewhat of a boozy mess (I also have a few aged TenFIDYs as well). Next time I get together with my drinking buddy I'll do this and report a thread on it.
     
  32. alexipa

    alexipa Disciple (396) Oct 7, 2011 Colorado

    I love both these beers, but the fact Fidy is canned means I buy it much more often. Easier to transport, dispose of, travel with, etc.
     
  33. Treezilla

    Treezilla Initiate (0) Aug 12, 2013 Colorado

    Tenfidy for sure.
     
  34. BradenMK

    BradenMK Aspirant (279) Sep 24, 2012 Alaska

    I'm somewhat offended by this remark. I did a side-by-side tasting and sought to be as objective as I possibly could, having had both of them, and the ability to pick them out blind if I tasted that way anyway. If it was the money influencing me, then I would have picked Narwhal in the end. I chose TenFIDY. But saying that TenFIDY is better than Narwhal by a mile doesn't seem to be even close to accurate, to my taste buds that is.

    While this might be the case, it is missing the point. TenFIDY might be the better imperial stout. It might even be picked over Narwhal a substantial amount of times in a prolonged, open blind taste test of say, 100 people. But that doesn't mean it's better than Narwhal by a mile. I actually found the two to taste surprisingly similar, especially as they warmed. One sip I'd prefer one, and the next the other. The taste of each beer, the look of each beer, are much closer than people here are making them out to be. Yes, Narwhal is slightly thinner than TenFIDY, but it's not porter thin. Not even imperial porter thin. It's not as though TenFIDY is the biggest imperial stout out there either, especially not in its price point. I vastly prefer Narwhal to Old Rasputin and Brooklyn BCS, so I would hesitate to call it a "discount stout," which is also vaguely insulting, not only to those that drink it but to the brewery. That seems to imply that it's cheap because it's bad rather than being cheap because of any other number of reasons likely left between Sierra Nevada and it's distributors.
     
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  35. barleywinefiend

    barleywinefiend Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2007 Washington
    Deactivated

    My 4pk of Narwhal @ $8.99 is pretty damn amazing....
     
  36. barleywinefiend

    barleywinefiend Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2007 Washington
    Deactivated

    Your lady is hott.
     
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  37. mj81

    mj81 Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2013 New Jersey

    It's a beer message board so no reason to be insulted. Second, the money comment stems more from all the responses (both in this and the other thread) and not a direct shot at your comparison. In the end, it's beer and everyone will have different tastes and preferences but it's meant to be enjoyed and shared together regardless of who prefers what. anyone who's watched brain games though knows how much your mind can trick you into believing something that may or may not be true.
     
  38. RobinLee

    RobinLee Zealot (559) Feb 15, 2012 Wisconsin

    I have Narwhal, Expedition and Plead the Fifth at the moment (Speedway and Stone RIS are at my parents' house). I should pick up Ten Fidy, Rasputin and FBS.

    Speaking of Founders, when's their Imp Stout come out?
     
  39. twizzard

    twizzard Defender (648) May 11, 2013 New York
    Trader

    Just bought some Narwhal today....Gonna have to have my wife humor me and do a blind taste test tonight....It'll be tough to beat Tenfidy but We shall see....
     
  40. mj81

    mj81 Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2013 New Jersey

    Just drank some narwhal to see if anything changed from last time having it. The booze settled down a bit but to me it's just lacking flavor complexity compared to many other IRS. it's a good beer for the price but just doesn't hit that great status for me. It almost taste like they mixed a good stout w/ a dipa. Don't get that coffee/chocolate/caramel flavor like some of the others. Just kinda roasty and bitter with some VERY faint attribute that I get from the other high end imperials.

    I guess I'll sit on my last 2 bottles for another 3-6 months to see if anything changed but it's more along the lines of a Brooklyn bcs for me personally. I may pick up another 4 pack to let age a full year. I want to like this more than I do.
     
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