Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Imperial Stouts — Sierra Nevada vs. Green Flash

2012 Sierra Nevada
Narwhal Imperial Stout 
ABV 10.2%

Green Flash
Double Stout
(Black Ale)
ABV 8.8%

I've been a Narwhal enthusiast for some time now. As a graphic designer for Archie McPhee I helped with the concept and design of the infamous Avenging Narwhal Play Set (now available in a slightly lesser version here). I even wrote a children's picture book called Do Narwhals Have Blowholes? So you can imagine my excitement at seeing the image of a Narwhal staring at me from the shelves at our local bottle shop. The fact that it was an imperial stout made it even more compelling. After finding a suitable competitor in the Green Flash Double Stout the battle was on.
The Green Flash was very nice with roasty chocolate and coffee notes mixed with a slight hop spiciness in the aroma. The flavor continued with the same roasted chocolate malt and coffee characteristics. It finished sweet and malty with a mild bitterness to round things out.
The Narwhal was a whole different beast. It smelled very fruity and sweet with some noticeable harsh alcohol aromas and a bit of vanilla. The flavor was very sweet, a bit syrupy and somewhat soapy while the finish was sweet, boozy and harshly bitter.
I was pulling for the Narwhal the whole time but in the end even my extreme bias could not propel the Narwhal to victory. The Green Flash was just a better beer, more balanced, more nuanced, more enjoyable. I haven't lost all hope though. I have stashed a bottle of Narwhal in my beer cellar in the hopes that some time in the bottle will transform it into a magical beer worthy of its name. I'm giving you another chance Narwhal, don't let me down...  

Unanimous Decision: Green Flash Double Stout

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