Narwhal Imperial Stout

American Imperial Stout Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.


Narwhal Imperial Stout, an American Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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Narwhal Imperial Stout is an American Imperial Stout brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and for the purposes of this craft beer review, the ale was served in a snifter from a bottle.


The ale pours an oily black and is topped by a thick head of dense, light brown colored foam that shows fine retention. A thin film of soapy residue coats the top of the brew following the reduction. Patches of residue cling to the sides of the glass during consumption.


The aroma is a delightful blend of sweet, roast, and hoppy. There are scents of floral hops, coffee roast, and dark chocolate.


The palate begins with a taste of brown bread and dark fruits of fig and prune. The bitterness is subdued but there are just enough floral hops happening in the middle to add balance. The finish is mostly sweet with a taste of dark chocolate and a hint of smoke. As the beer warms, there’s also a taste of booze but it’s not overpowering.


The feel is smooth and creamy with a body that’s nearly full and has low carbonation. The finish is dry with a slight warming alcohol sensation.


The Narwhal Imperial Stout is superbly crafted in every way. The appearance is lovely and the feel is spot on. The aroma is pleasant and its tasty palate is complex, balanced, and strong. A high ABV has minimal impact on the aroma or taste. If anything, perhaps the bitterness or roast could be dialed up a little. But only the nitpickers are going to find such a fault with this brew. Get yourself some and you’ll quickly learn why this stout has been around for so long.

Recommended Pairings

Sierra Nevada recommends the following food pairings with the Narwhal Imperial Stout: braised short ribs, gorgonzola cheese, sweets of chocolate mousse and tart raspberry cheesecake.

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About the American Imperial Stout

Rich, dark, and complex, the American Imperial Stout has a strength similar to that of an American Barleywine. Its bitterness typically runs high from hops, roast, or booze, and it should have a silky, luscious feel. The style originated in the Russian Imperial Court, became popular in England, and then all but disappeared. The modern craft brewing renaissance resurrected the style in America and in England.