Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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

Brew Review: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

20 Oct

Brew: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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

Style: American Pale Ale (5.6% ABV)


Sierra Nevada has been around since 1980, that’s over 30 years now, and I believe they have been making their pale ale for that long as well, or at least they should have been. The flagship brew of a company that is one of the top ‘craft’ breweries in the US. This beer is the 2nd best selling craft beer behind (yeah we guessed it) Sam Adams. That alone says a lot about how popular and therefore how well liked this beer is. This is a standard in the American craft beer scene.

The Pale Ale pours out a clear golden/straw color with a small off-white cap of foam that rests gently on the surface and is retained throughout the drinking of the beer. This is basically what a pale ale is supposed to look like.

The aroma is so well balanced, there are the hops that you expect from a pale ale, the bitter, grassy and slightly floral hops provide just enough yin to the yang of the sweet malts that also hold a place in this beers scent. There is nothing out of place and everything is perfectly matched to create an aroma that doesn’t stand out but has inspired countless other beers.

The taste is on the same plane as the aroma. There is a solid malt body balanced to perfection by a hop content that picks up just enough spice and character to make this one of the most time honored pale ales of all time. The beer is perfectly balanced and there is nothing bad to say about it at all.

Overall, this beer is exactly what we have come to expect a classic American pale ale to be. Slightly hoppy but with a malt presence to balance it out. Sierra Nevada was one of the pioneers in the craft beer movement in America and this is one of the main reasons why. This beer is loved by many people, both beer snobs and people who just like beer in general. It has enough for the people who love big pretentious beers but doesn’t overpower those who prefer the lighter side of craft beer. This is a beer that anyone who thinks they like beer and know anything about it should have and know well as it has been the basis for many current brewers passions and professions. Deserves a lifetime achievement award (can anyone say Tim Duncan in the 2011 All-star game?).


Final Grade: A