Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout

Review Date 8/3/2021 By John Staradumsky

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout! My friends, what is better than that? What’s that you say? Why, Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout? You may be on to something. Narwhal Imperial Stout is a wonderful interpretation of a classic style, and a beer I’ve enjoyed for many years now. So, when you take that delightful beer and age it in bourbon barrels, amazing things are bound to happen.

Sierra Nevada says:

The mysterious beast grows more intense.

Deep in our barrel room, out of light's reach, our legendary Narwhal Imperial Stout rests in bourbon barrels for nearly a year. After aging, it emerges anew: rich with notes of oak, vanilla and coconut layered onto the Stout's malt flavors of dark chocolate and espresso. Enjoy this beast of a beer.

Ingredients from the website:

Malts: Caramelized malts, Chocolate, Carafa III, Honey, Roasted Barley, Two-row Pale

Hops: Challenger, Magnum

Barrel Aged Narwhal is not precisely the same beer as Narwhal, besides the barrel aging I mean to say. Narwhal clocks in at 10.2% alcohol by volume with 55 IBUs, while the barrel aged version is stronger at 11.9% ABV, but has a lower IBU count at 55. I paid $4.89 for my can from Craftshack, which is actually less than the $19.99 a 4-pack Total Wine charges. I never did see this beer for sale in Georgia. My can is stamped 091820, which is I assume the packaging date. I drank it on March 29th of 2021. I wish I had bought too because this one I think would do well with age.

Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout pours to a jet-black color with a thick creamy tan head and a nose of wood, roast, lots of bourbon and raisin. Taking a sip, the beer is big and roasty at the fore, boozy with bourbon, splintery with woody notes, vanilla, dark fruit, hinting at charcoal and more notes of dark bittersweet chocolate, then finishing roasty and woody and boozy and woody and warm with alcohol. Everything comes out again at the last, and the beer is slightly reminiscent of Willy Wonka exploding in a distillery.

Would I buy it again? Let’s just say that while I’m not a fan of using the term “whales” to denote truly special beers, in this case, I’m quite OK with scoring a narwhal. And yes, I’d go hunting for this one again.

 And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, canned