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RATINGS: 1298   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.9   SEASONAL: Special   IBU: 60   EST. CALORIES: 306   ABV: 10.2%
Narwhal Imperial Stout is the latest beer in Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude Series. This malt-forward monster is bold – with notes of baker’s cocoa, molasses, and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex, rich, and intense and will develop in the bottle for years to come.

Style: Imperial Stout
Hops: Magnum, Challenger
Malts: Two Row Pale, Chocolate, Honey, Carafa, Roasted Barley

Availability: 12 oz bottles, Draft
Arrival: October, 2012

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Evolutionary (408) - Ohio, USA - NOV 7, 2013
Bottle from bonefish grill. Pours dark as night. Nose is smooth stout and taste is coffee and cocoa bean with some molasses too. A bid acrid though. ---Rated via my mouth

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1473) - Albany, New York, USA - NOV 6, 2013
I poured a 12oz bottle into a goblet. It was bottled on 9/24/13 and cost $3.99 ($0.33 per ounce).

Appearance: Opaque black hue, no visible carbonation. Pours to a surprisingly large, dark brown, frothy head which laces and retains quite well.

Smell: Black licorice with minor notes of coffee, though alcohol is quite prominent.

Taste: Sierra Nevada is known for their hoppy beers, though Narwhal is probably their most notable stout. It gets a lot of acclaim from my fellow craft beer enthusiasts, though I probably wouldn’t equate it to some of the world class examples of the style. It’s a great example of an imperial stout brewed to spec.

The flavor profile here is familiar, but in a good way. The palette is significantly sweet with notes of caramel, milk chocolate and black licorice. It’s also quite bitter with a strong presence of roasted malt and astringent hops. The alcohol is a major component to the taste as well - imparting a dryness and maybe just a hint of smoke. Definitely satisfying and enjoyable, though it doesn’t exactly break new ground in the imperial stout field (not that I think it’s meant to). A beer that could likely be enjoyed by newcomers and connoisseurs alike.

Drinkability: I was a little intimidating going into Sierra Nevada Narwhal when I saw the 10.2% ABV on the label. I was prepared for a heavy, intense body that could only be sipped. I was quite relieved by how smooth and comfortable it was in the mouth. While there is a significant alcohol component, it’s a gentle warmth that works with the palette rather than against it. The mouthfeel is actually thinner than I’d expect and the aftertaste is a bit cleaner than most of the style, too.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
BelgianBeerGal (3458) - Panama City, Florida, USA - NOV 4, 2013
Phoenix bottle. Fairly standard dark stout pour with a nice foamy brown head. Big fruity, slightly astringent, aroma with some coffee and milk chocolate. Creamy mouthfeel. Flavor is actually fairly mild with dark roasted malt. A little booze and espresso in the finish. Pretty nice.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
SpongeRuiner (966) - Michigan, USA - NOV 4, 2013
Pour looks great with that nice dark chocolate looking head I love so much. A lot of roasted chocolate in the smell. Nice thick texture. Small slight boozy at the end, nothing too much. Got four bottles from 2012 aging, should be quite nice.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
MadIndian (2634) - Levittown, Pennsylvania, USA - NOV 4, 2013
On draft at Isaacs. This was a really well blended Imperial stout with nice bold roasted malts, chocolate and a mild splash of honey. The body is nice and thick, the finish dry and coffee. Well done.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
daleharshman (982) - San Diego, California, USA - NOV 3, 2013
2012 vintage. 12 ounce bottle purchased eleven months ago at Holiday Wine Cellar ($9.89 for four-pack with 10% discount). Pours pitch black with two fingers of creamy light brown head. AROMA of dark roasted malts, a bit of smoke, dusty dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, and some vanilla. FLAVOR of rich creamy dark chocolate, lightly smoked and hard roasted malts, vanilla, dark earthy coffee, and lighter notes of honey and molasses. Only lightly sweet but really full of flavor. The high ABV is very well concealed. Perhaps not the most nuanced of imperial stouts, but this is highly drinkable and all-around great. (816, 823)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
mansquito (4356) - Nueva York, New York, USA - NOV 3, 2013
Whole Foods, Bowery 355ml: Pours black like oil. Aroma is a whole lot of chocolate, coffee, dried and preserved fruits, molasses. Taste is somewhat sweet. Plenty fruity. Loads of chocolate. Bunch of coffee. Body is thick and viscous. Yet, this is surprisingly drinkable. As other people pointed out, this might not be the most balanced thing in the world, but it certainly ain’t unbalanced in no bad way.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
pinkie (470) - New York, USA - NOV 3, 2013
Pours completely black with a frothy mocha colored head that left rings and patches of sticky lace. Nose is bold espresso coffee, unsweetened chocolate , a hint of prune, licorice and a bit of alcohol. The alcohol smells solvent and detracts from the nose. There is blackened malt character on the nose with a hint of smoke. The drink is syrupy. First thing you notice is that the body of the beer is thin and has a slick mouthfeel. The alcohol is prominent on the palate. The malt is black and roasted to perfection. Dry, bitter and not burnt. The coffee and the chocolate are smooth but neither of those is sweet. I kept waiting for caramel or molasses and it did sweeten on the nose as it warmed so that made the alcohol seem less bitter. I also lost the fruits I observed on the nose and this one could have used some raisin or some dried dark fruits. That kept the taste very bitter also. Finished dry and with some alcohol dryness too.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
furthur (496) - Eagle River, Alaska, USA - NOV 2, 2013
Thin head, dissipates fast., beer opaque black. Aroma pineapple and caramel. Taste caramel, faint spicy peach, oak, coffee. Alcohol is subdued, bubbles fine, beer is viscous, oily. This is good beer, but subtle. A rich, complex imperial that is very drinkable. Glad I got the 4-pack!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
BEENJAMIN (290) - Portland, Oregon, USA - NOV 2, 2013
2012 Vintage, 12oz Bottle - Oil Black pour with a creamy tan head. Rich aroma of coffee, chocolate, and hops. A lot of hops in the flavor even with a year on it, still drinks like it’s fresh almost. Body is thick, sweet deep malts, the Carafa malt displays coffee really well and the Magnum hops are very bitter also leaving an intensely fruity finish. The stout needs more age, way too rowdy even after a year in the bottle. It’s a delicious stout but pretty unbalanced.

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