Imperial stouts are one of the style that I find a bit scary. As their name suggests, they’re big, big, BIG – brimming with alcohol and a stupid amount of coffee flavour.
And those are the two reasons I’m scared of them – with all that alcohol most of them taste more like a spirit than a beer. And I’m not the sort of guy who likes a strong coffee, so a beer that packs a whopping great coffee punch isn’t going to endear itself to me.
So I was a bit scared of the Narwhal from Sierra Nevada (which is the 2012 vintage if you’re such a geek you care about that sort of stuff). But it came as a bit of a surprise – it weighs in at 10.2 per cent but you’d be hard-pressed to pick that while drinking it.
It comes with dark roast coffee aromas and a hint of licorice. On the tongue there is a load of deep rich coffee flavour, which should have turned me off but didn’t. Maybe it’s because the alcohol flavour isn’t wrapped around it but rather is hidden in the background.
It’s a good imperial stout – and while it didn’t taste like a 10.2 per cent beer, I can tell you that, by the end of the glass, it had a bit of an effect on me.