Tuesday, 26 February 2013

REVIEW#126: Narwhal (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.)

Well, a new imperial stout from Sierra Nevada, the granddaddy of the US craft brewing scene. I'm more than a little excited/expectant...

Style: Imperial Stout
Appearance: Pours a deep brown but appears black as pitch in the glass. The head is golden brown.
Nose: Pungent! It has a bit of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale pine aroma (although no new world hops in this), sweet and resinous, but there's also charred wood and treacle, and a phenol undertone.  
Taste: This is one decadent beer... there's leather and tar, liquid honeycomb and herbal cough syrup notes. These flavours travel into the finish where things become much drier. Acrid charred wood also found in the nose, comes across very plainly in the finish. Cocoa powder is also apt, both in terms of flavour and bitterness; roast coffee too. There's a hefty 60 bitterness units (IBU) to this beer, but even so, and quite rightly for the style, it acts purely as a backdrop to the vicious malt attack, helping to highlight the malt character rather than compete with it. There's little in the way of alcohol, save for some warmth... Its probably hidden by a sea of gloopy malt!
Mouthfeel: Thick and chewy.
Carbonation: Minimal.
ABV: 10.2%
What's in it?: Magnum and challenger hops (60 IBU)... 2-row pale, chocolate, honey and carafa malts, plus roasted barley (not malted). 

The name for this beer comes from a whale with a giant tusk, found only in the Arctic around Canada and Greenland. It's heavily hunted and sensitive to climate warming unfortunately so not sure how long the species has left! Narwhal the beer is part of Sierra Nevada's 'High Altitude' series, currently made up of three BIG beers: Narwhal, Hoptimum (an imperial IPA) and Bigfoot (a barley wine). 

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