Monday, December 22, 2014
Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Narwhal
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
- Beer Advocate: 4.36/5
- RateBeer: 3.92/5
Sierra Nevada has taken their standard, seasonal Narwhal Imperial Stout and aged it in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first year this beer has seen a wide (albeit limited) release to all of Sierra Nevada's markets.
Pours absolutely pitch black with less than a finger of a tan/light brown head.
Sweet bourbon greets you first on the aroma followed by vanilla and toasted marshmallow. In addition I get some black licorice, coffee, and wood from the barrel.
Once again the bourbon is first and foremost. It's very smooth and sweet with no alcohol taste. There's also lots of oak and wood and the barrel aging has really brought out some big vanilla notes. This is also incredibly roasty with big coffee flavor and maybe even a hint of dark fruits.
As I said before, this is incredibly smooth, but also very thick and viscous. It coats your entire mouth with a motor oil-like consistency with even a few carbonation bubbles to boot. At a whopping 12.90% I do get a warmth in my throat and chest on each swallow (oh, grow up!), but you'd have an easier time finding Bigfoot riding a unicorn than you would at finding any alcohol presence.
In regards to the standard Narwhal Imperial Stout, I remember that being heavy on the roastiness while being a bit too hot fresh off the line. Barrel-Aged Narwhal has smoothed out all of those imperfections while making other flavors pop. This version is significantly more complex with bigger, more robust flavors combined with a thick and luscious mouthfeel that remains highly drinkable and smooth.