Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal
I’m not going to lie, Sierra Nevada traditionally has not been a brand that has piqued my interest in the craft beer market. Its not their fault really, its my own personal preferences. Typically they have made beer that has just been outside of my wheelhouse. Couple that with the fact that they have been around for a long time and its easy to overlook them. Today’s brew however changes all of that; its Sierra Nevada’s answer to the Imperial Stout, the Narwhal. It’s because of beer like this and their new Ovila lineup that Sierra Nevada has become a brand I once again get excited about and look for on my local tap lines and retailer shelves.
Sierra Nevada is a big player and really they have been doing craft beer since before it was cool to do craft beer. They are fairly unique in that they are one of the last big guys that are completely family owned and are not publicly traded. Despite their large footprint on the craft beer scene, they are still able to produce some pretty special and limited brews. The Narwhal is one of those. I love imperial stouts and am fairly picky about them, and so the Narwhal had a tall order to fill. It had to not only impress me, but it had to deal with my label bias and really stand out and shine. I would like to be able to say that I’m not influenced by the label, but sometimes its hard not to come into a situation already judging a beer, because of its lineage. The Narwhal despite its tall order was able to shine and impress.
According to the promotional materials, Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal is,“Inspired by the mysterious creature that dwells in the deepest Arctic seas, Narwhal Imperial Stout is midnight black and bold–with notes of baker’s cocoa and dark roasted coffee. This massive imperial stout is incredibly complex and explores the darkest depths of malt flavor.” With a description like that one can’t help but get excited, and excited I was, so let’s find out how it measured.
The Narwhal poured dark and opaque. As the beer settled, the head, which was about a finger thick, was creamy in appearance and a slight swirl revealed a lacing of high viscosity as the beer left a thick brown film on the glass. Nosing the Narwhal revealed deep notes of molasses, dark chocolate, and coffee. Drinking the stout was pure delight. The Narwhal yielded strong notes of a rich dark roast and dark chocolate. It had a great maltiness to it, and a slightly boozy finish. In my opinion, the Narwhal was very balanced and had an excellent ying-and-yang pull between the chocolate and coffee notes.
Sierra Nevada has created an imperial stout that is not only serviceable, but really delicious. The Narwhal finds an excellent ground in being a full rich beer with complimentary chocolate and coffee notes. It has the richness and viscosity that I have come to love in an imperial stout and is a potent beer weighing in at 10.2% ABV. So if you are a fan of imperial stouts and looking to warm yourself up this holiday season, then hustle on over to your nearest craft beer destination, and give this guy a try before it disappears back into the dark recesses of the Arctic seas!
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout
Price: $2.49 a unit, $8.99 a four-pack