Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 Golden Narwhals!! Bada bum bum!!

(Let's see how many of you get the Muppets reference in the title.)

Anyway... the Sierra Nevada Brewery makes a lot of great varieties.  Summer time picnic?  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Kellerweis.  Too plain?  Need more hops?  Sierra Nevada Torpedo or if you are lucky, Hoptimum.  Looking for their classic hoppy holiday style?  I always look fwd to Sierra Nevada Celebration.

Now there's one winter time style that they make VERY well.  Sierra Nevada Narwhal.  An imperial stout.  Here's their description directly from the website:

Narwhal Imperial Stout is inspired by the mysterious creature that thrives in the deepest fathoms of the frigid Arctic Ocean. Featuring incredible depth of malt flavor, rich with notes of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke, Narwhal is a massive malt-forward monster. Aggressive but refined with a velvety smooth body and decadent finish, Narwhal will age in the bottle for years to come.

And what's this?  Matt snagged a Bourbon Barrel Aged version just released this year (or perhaps it's the first time we're getting it on the East Coast).  Yeaaaaah buddy.

Appearance: A thin layer of khaki head on the pour.  The lacing on the glass has some syrupy/oily characteristics along with some tan bubbles.  And boy is this dark.

Smell: On the nose there's a party of things going on.  Wowza.  Vanilla.  Boozy.  Malty.  Come to think of it... I feel like I'm smelling a Bourbon Blonde Brownie if there ever was such a thing.  And if anyone from NoRA Cupcake is reading this, please invent a Bourbon Blonde Brownie Cupcake.

Taste: Sweet malt right away.  You get a lot of the heat from the alcohol, as well.  I wonder how that would settle over time.  After all, the website does mention that it would age well.  There's also some dark fruits in there too... like a bourbon-soaked raison.

Mouthfeel: As I mentioned... alcohol warmth, sweetness. Actually, it was thinner than we thought but you do get a lot of that syrup coating that we noticed on the lacing.

Finish: More of those dark fruit notes, a bit of coffee too.  Perhaps from the roastiness of the barrel.

Overall: Matt and I both found that this was delicious.  The BBA Narwhal is a treat no doubt, but be prepared to pay the price.  I believe this bottle ran Matt about $15-$20 for a bomber.  But you now what, the #Beer411 countdown only happens once a year so why the heck not.  Beer is supposed to be drank with your friends to appreciate the good times.  If you're lucky enough to come across one of these bottles and you have a little extra spending money - yeah, it's worth it.  It's perfect for a sipper on a cold night and ideal to share!

Food Pairing: Bourbon Barrel Aged beers are very difficult to pair in my opinion.  Truth be told, there's so much going on from the vanilla, to the full-bodied Imp Stout style, to the boozy bourbon heat that you get from it, not to mention all of the other flavors.  For this pairing, I say skip the food, enjoy everything that this Sierra Nevada variety has to offer and pair it with THIS VIDEO:

#Beer411 #12BeersOfXmas

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