New brew Thursday has brought us an absolute treasure this week: Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal imperial stout. Coincidentally, it won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Fest just a few days ago (what better way to help push a new release to your customers, right?). Think of the medals at the Great American Beer Fest almost like blue ribbons at state and county fairs. The brews that win medals at this event are a cross between what people consider a perfect example of the style and how a brewer riffs on that example.
Going back to how the autumn season brings a plethora of great beers as I discussed in my last posts, Russian imperial stout is the big one. Russian imperial stout prepares us for winter and shepherds us through until spring with a big, malty, almost hop-less taste. It’s high in alcohol to help us hibernate and high in calories to help us dig out of the snow. Sierra Nevada has delivered the perfect example of this style.
Narwhal has all the characteristics of an imperial stout: cocoa and dark roast coffee flavors, a thicker mouthfeel, a color that pours as black as night, and a high ABV, 10.2% to be precise. I’m on my third bottle of four, so strap in, folks. Speaking of being on my third bottle of four, Sierra Nevada has done something with this beer that a lot of other breweries can’t do quite as well, which is making these huge brews semi-sessionable! I have a feeling that this may be one of the factors that helped to get them that silver medal. I’ve had several iterations of imperial stouts since I discovered the style, all of which have been delicious, but half of them are almost too heavy to drink more than a pint or two without switching to a pale ale of some kind just for the sake of washing them down!
As a lot of beer nerds are saying, it’s stout season, folks. Get out there and dig into something malty, boozy and stouty! Or don’t! I don’t care! Stop by a bottle shop and ask for a recommendation of whatever your style is and start digging into your local beer scene. It’s crazy what can be done with four ingredients!
Drink up, speak up!
P.S. I’m on my fourth bottle of four. Goodnight!