Exercising some self control
A Review of Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Posted on 10/25/2012 by Chops
Sierra Nevada has been really impressing me lately. I readily admit that I had previously carried a bias against the brand because of their massive product line and relentless market infiltration. Logic tells us that quality reduces with expansion. But, Sierra Nevada is one of the very few breweries that have managed to keep their competitive edge despite their status as a craft beer trailblazer. After all, they are one of the behemoths of the craft beer movement and most breweries owe a debt to them. This point was driven home for me when I came across their Narwhal Imperial Stout.

In the glass, this beer is stark black with absolutely no edging. It has that awesome ''motor oil'' pour that stout fans love so much. It comes with a creamy pillowy head that likes to stick around for a very long time. On the nose, I was greeted with a strong roasted malt aroma that consisted of little more than a rich dark chocolate. Much to my surprise, the 10.2% ABV was nowhere to be found. Let me repeat that: I found no alcohol burn. I was stunned really. This had the makings of a very dangerous beer.

Suspicions confirmed. Narwhal drinks like a glass of melted dark chocolate. The mocha and cocoa notes dominate everything and you can't get away from them (not that you would want to). The mouthfeel is creamy smooth to start, but exits dry and chalky. It's a big swing that takes a few sips to get used to. And just like with the aroma, there is no alcohol aggression to be found. The flavor profile is very malt forward and hop light. There are also some other dark notes swirling around like espresso and a slight smokiness. To be perfectly honest, and try to follow me here, Narwhal tastes like an Old Rasputin, but without any of the hops or aggression. Yeah, let that savory nugget sink in for a minute.

Overall, Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout is a delicious brew with a rich chocolatey character. I greatly enjoyed the experience and can recommend this beer to any and all beer fans. Yup, you heard that right. Even novices can battle the Narwhal and come out victorious. But, always remember that the strength is very well hidden. If you drink these beauties as fast as the mouthfeel allows, then you're liable to be put into a coma. Stout lovers and other seasoned drinkers will appreciate this beer as an imperial treat, much like a dessert stout. Just be sure to exercise some self control.

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Narwhal by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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