Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout

It's been awhile since I've posted in this space.

But recently I was lucky enough to obtain (thanks to the fine folks at Crafted, a great new bottle shop that recently opened in my town) a rare bottle of Sierra Nevada's Narwhal Imperial Stout aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. I had enjoyed the regular, non barrel aged Narwhal Imperial Stout the week before, and I was very excited to have an opportunity to try this bad boy so soon after.

It was also a great chance to get back to this little ole' blog thingy.

Sierra Nevada
Chico, CA
Narwhal Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
12.9% ABV

This monster of a beer comes in a 1 pint, 9.4 ounce corked bottle with beautiful artwork.

Now, I've found that stouts, especially the imperial kind, are better when warmed a bit, so I popped the cork and just let this sit on the counter for a good 15 minutes. I feel that the flavors are more pronounced and the aromatics more active once the chill is taken off. The beer is still cold mind you, just not as cold as if you'd enjoyed it immediately after removing it from the fridge.

Barrel Aged Narwhal pours thick and oily, with a very thin coffee colored head. There is little to no head retention and very minimal lacing on the surface and on the sides of the glass. A few swirls of the glass revives a low head of dark coffee foam, but it quickly falls and disappears. 

I lower my nose to the glass for a sniff and get a huge dose of bitter coca and chocolate aroma, with very subtle hints of alcohol. With almost 13% alcohol by volume, I had expected a boozier nose, but the other aromatics mask it well.

I finally allow myself a sip, slowly drawing from the glass and swirling it around my mouth. It's very soft and warm on the tongue. This is a full bodied beer, thick and rich with a velvety smoothness. 

At first taste I immediately detect a bit of alcohol bourbon burn, but just a touch. Coffee and bitter coca follow, and these are much more pronounced. The finish brings in some very subtle vanilla notes from the bourbon barrels used to age this beer, and more warm booze burn. All in all the taste is very bold and tasty, 

This beer is a behemoth, with tons of flavor that do a frighteningly good job of masking the massive alcohol content and bourbon burn. It works extraordinarily well, The bold flavors are well balanced and compliment each other superbly. Highly recommended if you can find it and be patient enough to let it warm a bit before consuming.