Monday, May 20, 2013


I snatched up a four-pack of the highly anticipated release of Narwhal Imperial Stout by Sierra Nevada when it was released last year.  

It turns out that there is all kinds of controversy regarding the name "Narwhal". 
There is a small craft brewery out of Brooklyn New York that had planned to use "Narwhal" as the name of their brewery.  The pair of home brewers have been perfecting their recipes for years and planning their dream.  However, when they began the process of starting up their new business six years ago they failed to trademark the name.

However, Sierra Nevada did due diligence and filed for the copyright in June of 2012 and then filed suit against the small start-up.  All this, despite conversations with Narwhal Brewing indicating that they would withdraw their application and allow the new brewery to properly register the name.

In the end, Sierra Nevada sued Narwhal Brewery and won. The little craft brewery out of Brooklyn is now known as Finback Brewery and Sierra Nevada owns the name Narwhal.

Admittedly, I don't know all the facts and there are always two sides to every story.  But if Sierra Nevada did indeed say they would let them use the name and then turned around on pulled the rug out from under the little guy then shame on them.  They started out in as a basement brewer, too, for hops sake!

Narwhal Imperial Stout (10.20% ABV) pours sable brown with deep red highlights.  In the glass it's dark and dense with a thick mocha head that thins out to skim of foam.

Coffee dominates the aroma with a hint of cocoa and roasty malts.

The taste is bitter coffee up front followed by chocolate.  There is a tinge of sweetness offered up by the malt but bitterness rules out.  Think a cup of black coffee.  The finish is roastiness and lingering bitterness.

The mouthfeel is medium to full with moderate carbonation.

This is a good beer, but nothing special.  A fair representation of the style.  It didn't meet my expectations based on all the hype.

Overall:  good.

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