Sierra Nevada Brewing recently released the 2013 edition of Narwhal, their latest beer in the “High Altitude” series. This imperial stout sits at 10.2 ABV and 60 IBUs. Let that be a warning to any curious “lite” beer drinkers, Narwhal has some serious heft. Narwhal 2013 is pitch black with a mocha, chocolate head that makes for some very pretty lacing. I found Narwhal 2012 to be too smooth and creamy. Narwhal 2013 has a rougher, warmer feel, which I prefer in an imperial stout. This year I am getting more bittersweet chocolate and baker’s cocoa. The finish is coffee and warmth. The nose on this beer is curious to me. I get immediate bittersweet chocolate, a slight pine and a surprising amount of dark fruit, I will call it prune. The 10.2 ABV is also noticeable in the nose. Some beers are just so big that they warn you before it even gets to your mouth.
I sampled the Narwhal 2013 with the excellent tour guides at Sierra Nevada Brewing. The guides are not only well versed in the history and current practices of Sierra Nevada, they are all well educated in beer in general. Sampling beer with them is always fun and enlightening. I would recommend Narwhal 2013 to anybody looking for a hefty, flavorful beer.