Narwhal (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

10.2% ABV

60 IBU’s

Beginning Gravity: 24.2 Plato

Ending Gravity: 6.6 Plato

Bittering Hops: Magnum & Challenger

Aroma Hops: Challenger

Malts: 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Carafa, and Roasted Barley

I love this bottle.  I’ve always been a fan of Sierra Nevada’s bottle art, and their limited releases only continue this feeling.  The coloring choice of dark blue is brilliant for a stout, I love the narwhal graphic and the nautical theme, the fonts are funky, and all the boring stuff is stuck on a label on the back, except for the bit that says that Sierra Nevada brewed the beer.  The Neo-Art Noveau-esque style is also fantastic.  This bottle will be displayed proudly beside my other beautiful Sierra Nevada bottles.  A keeper for your shelf for sure.

The beer pours a deep coffee black with a dark khaki head that fizzes away quickly.  The body is opaque and dark with no carbonation bubbles present.  Lacing is sticky and cloud-like, though thin.  The beer smells like dark coffee and dark chocolate.  Roasted malts are very present in the nose and give the beer a beautiful overarching feel of “Big Stout” which is precisely what I want from this beer, but there are also some slight notes of toffee and caramel which add complexity to the nose.  The beer tastes wonderfully rich with roasted malts that suggest black creamy espresso.  Chocolate is also present, equally as creamy, and very dark.  The bitters are light and slightly citrusy in the background of the taste, but there are some rough charred notes in the flavor.  The beer begins as black coffee, transitioning into dark chocolate with light citrus bitters from the hops.  The close is bitter black coffee and slight hints of the citrus hops which come through strongly if you force yourself to belch.  The alcohol is pretty hidden in this beer, with just a hint of it showing through at the open of the sip but quickly being lapped up by the roasted malts.  The does return lightly in the aftertaste as a weird slight burning tingle.   This flavor is very classic as far as imperial stouts go, though I’m not quite sold on the Russian imperial stout bit.  The beer is a perfect example of the style but nothing above and beyond it.  The mouthfeel of this beer, however, is one of the best I have ever felt.  Creamy and thick, this beer sits on the tongue as an angelic liquid; it leaves the tongue coffee dry, with light wet notes on the very fringes of the mouth.  Saliva is thick and chewy when it does run, and it begs for more.  This is legitimately what makes this stout.  The mouthfeel is incredible, even if it is a little strange for a stout.  Overall, I’m pleased with this stout.  I kind of wanted more in terms of flavor, especially in the hops category, but the mouthfeel makes up for most of my complaints.  The taste is classically average, but the mouthfeel is above and beyond.  This beer is worth a try, especially since Sierra Nevada does so few stouts.  I know I’ll be cellaring at least one of the bottles for quite some time.  This beer is obviously not the top of the style, but it is fantastic, drinkable, and has a mouthfeel to die for.  Try this beer and you will not be displeased.


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