February 16, 2013 – Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout
Over the past few days I’d been facing a dilemma. Due to time constraints, I’d been sampling new beers this year, but had not had the time to actually properly write out reviews. And so I thought, well, if it’s going to be like that, why not just wait until you have the time to properly write up the review? Anyone who’s seen me drinking in a bar will almost invariably see me peering into my iPhone, making notes – perhaps fairly incomprehensible notes, but notes nonetheless – on whatever I’m drinking, but actually taking the time to write out each review is, well, time consuming. It generally takes the better part of an hour to write up a proper review, and since I’d been short on time, I resolved to continue my little experiment (drinking one new beer every day) but not writing about any of it until such time as I can ACTUALLY write out reviews beyond “high abv, tasted good, I’m going to bed” – which turned out to be now. So this is the first of four reviews I’m going to churn out tonight. I can’t promise quality, people, but you’ll be getting quantity!
Saturday was the date of Brewz Crewz, a craft beer festival in Downtown Lakeland I’ve told you about a few times. I was fortunate enough to be invited by the organizers as a VIP Guest, and the results of a Facebook contest had my second VIP ticket going to one Abby Jarvis. After a bit of confusion about how exactly to get in (I was never given a ticket, simply put on a list, and a few well-meaning volunteers had difficultly locating that list), I was in, and immediately enjoying the fruits of my VIP status. I got to try a summer shandy I’d not yet had, and took the opportunity to again sample some Bell’s Hopslam, but I knew what my “beer of the day” was going to be going into the process.
Narwhal Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada Brewing had been heavily advertised in the days leading up to the event and I knew my mouth was watering for some of that delicious goodness before I even got there. I’ve got a thing for stouts, you see, especially Russian Imperials, and this was one that I both had never tried and knew to be quite good by its reputation. I can say honestly that it did not disappoint, even slightly.
It was bitter cold for Florida Saturday, with temperatures down in the 30s at one point, so it’s no surprise that after meeting up with a few friends, I headed for the stout. Stouts are great cold weather beers, warm and hearty, something to chase away the winter. It’s no wonder that Russians make such great stouts.
At the table for the Narwhal, a volunteer took my little sample cup and filled it for me, allowing me to just watch the process. It pours with the viscosity of 10w-40 motor oil and the coloration of a squid’s escape mechanism, and the head is thick and foamy to seal in the deliciousness. It smelled burnt, but in a good way, like warming fireplace on a night where the chill is threatening to creep too far into your home. And the taste – something smoky, some espresso, and chocolate. Almost like a burnt s’mores, but in the best way possible.
Here’s the skinny, folks. If given the opportunity, you should not only drink this, but stick one in your cellar. It’ll be gold for beer trades or for impressing friends on a cold winter’s night, for those of you who get those regularly. I highly recommend this legendary beer.