Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout



A malt-forward monster, highlighting the depths of malt flavor. Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come. 10.2% ABV 60 IBUs For more information click here

Just in time for the colder months of winter, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, CA) has released its version of a Russian Imperial Stout. For most beer geeks (myself included) the reputation of this brewery alone was enough to become excited to try this beer. However, another factor that some people I spoke to also considered was how much of the brewery’s love for hops would impact the aroma and flavor of this big dark beer. Therefore, after buying a 4-pack of Narwhal I made sure to write down tasting notes while drinking my first bottle so I could share my thoughts on it with you.

Being that I was going to be drinking other higher abv beers that night I chose to split the 12oz bottle with my brother (see above picture). Narwhal poured  opaque black with a half finger khaki head that quickly dissipated, but left attractive dots of lacing and alcohol legs on my snifter. Overall, a pretty nice looking imperial stout.

Initially the aroma was comprised of big and bold roasted malts and espresso coffee with hints of cocoa. This got me a bit worried that the beer would end up tasting like an average roasty stout. Adding to this concern my first few sips were quite similar to the aroma with a touch of added chocolate in the finish.

Then as with most Imperial Stouts the beer’s underlying complex flavors slowly emerged as it approached room temperature. Once the roasted malts and coffee hit my palate upfront, tasty semi-sweet dark chocolate notes added sweetness and depth at midpalate, and a bit of cocoa and earthy hops rounded out the finish. My last few sips were the most enjoyable because the hop flavor intensified quite a bit with floral, pine, and earthy notes that reminded me of some Black IPAs that I’ve enjoyed in the past.

At 10.2% abv Narhwal Imperial Stout was medium bodied and besides a touch of heat in the semi-dry finish, the abv was hidden quite well in the taste. Lastly, as I wrote in my tasting notes upon finishing this beer, “all of the flavors blended together nicely to make for a unique yet straight forward imperial stout.”

Rating: 8/10





About Barry W

Israel (formerly NJ) based sourdough baker and fermentation enthusiasts sharing his baking, fermenting, cooking, and brewing adventures on
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2 Responses to Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout

  1. Chemical Craig says:

    I picked up a bottle of this at Belmont Station last time I was in Portland. I had heard a lot about it and was assured it was a good beer. But after a weekend of sampling world class beers at the Portland Winter Beer Festival, this one was very middle-of-the-road. Not bad, by any measure, but it didn’t really stand out either. I guess that’s SN’s strong point though, right? They make incredible beer that won’t offend anyone, and can be enjoyed by all.

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