While doing a bit of booze shopping for the Holidays at WineWorks in Marlton, New Jersey (I purchased two bottles of wine for the bosses at work, two big bottles of beer for my dear Papa, and a bottle of Bunnahabhain 12 for a very close friend), I decided to cruise past the “mixed six” Craft Beer section to see what they had in stock. Since I had been hearing so much about Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout, I just HAD to pick up a bottle!
Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with my impressions of this beer…
- Appearance: Deep, dark mahogany color. It certainly looks highly viscous as you pour it into your glass. The foam (light tan color) tops out at about one third of an inch, then dissipates completely within a minute or two, and leaves a thin bead of foam around the inner walls of the glass. No lacing.
- Aroma: Very earthy with oodles of dark chocolate, Italian roast coffee (i.e. espresso), and a touch of hoppy goodness. Can you say truth in advertising?
- Taste: Moderate carbonation with a thick and chewy mouthfeel. This stuff coats your mouth with rich, roasted malt flavors. The dark chocolate and espresso notes in the nose have carried through to the palate. It’s like drinking a double espresso and chewing on a piece of dark chocolate at the same time. Really long, bittersweet finish. A tad astringent as well.
- ABV: 10.2%
For the past year, my go-to Imperial Stout has been the North Coast Old Rasputin. Looks like Old Rasputin is going to have some company at the “top of the food chain” from now on…
The Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout is seriously superb! From its thick and viscous pour to its deep, rich, mouth coating flavors, this is a great Craft Beer drinking experience. And for a beer with this much alcohol content, it is quite dangerous since it hides its booziness REALLY well. As far as when to drink it, I would definitely skip dessert and have one of these instead. Well done Sierra Nevada!