Brew Review: Narwhal (2012 Vintage)

20 Nov

Brew: Narwhal (2012 Vintage)

Brewed by: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, CA)

Style: Imperial Stout (10.2% ABV)


It is officially stout season 2012.  Recently a plethora of breweries have put out their seasonal stouts in preparation for the colder months where it’s acceptable to sit around all day, watch TV and drink nice heavy beers to keep you warm.  Sierra Nevada throws out its Narwhal imperial stout as a limited release, not as abundant as its seasonal lineup. Either way this brewery is so big that there is plenty of Narwhal to go around for all the stout seekers out there.  I picked up a 4-pack of this big beer, drank one right away and plan on having the 3 throughout the winter and into next year to see how well they develop and change. 

The Narwhal poured out black.  Not much else to describe there as with most imperial stouts.  No light shone through and it looked like night.  There was a thin cap of head that was slightly tan.  Not an impressive head for a big beer like this, I have probably been spoiled by the head that shows up on Founders Breakfast Stout, that one is amazing.

The aroma of this beer is full of malts up front.  The roast is subdued which leads to more of the dark fruit, molasses, some coffee and chocolate taking up the smell and running with it.  A slight roast is a good balance but it’s nowhere near the center of attention.  A really complex and deep aroma wafts off this whale. 

The taste is slightly bitter due to the roast. That bitterness lingers but gives way to more chocolate and coffee roast.  Surprisingly it isn’t a super thick brew as the look would suggest.  The hops are still present as this brew is still fresh.  It is nicely creamy as it warms up. 

The Narwhal is somewhat boring in its fresh state.  There really isn’t anything that makes me want it again and again.  I still enjoyed it because I love imperial stouts but it could use some work. I am hoping that age will work wonders for this brew.


Final Grade: B

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