Ken Grossman the founder of Sierra Nevada began his brewery in 1980. In a time where small breweries were few and far between Ken took an unique approach to build his brew house. Taking up-cycled dairy equipment he developed a pale ale beer that was much bitter than any of the light lagers that existed at the time. These initial risks became a standard for Ken and the prevalence of hoppy bitter ales today show that his risk payed off. In taking a series of bold risks he has been able to grow this brewery from recycled material to a company that has breweries on both the west and east coast. These bold decisions come through with their Barrel Aged Narwal. Sierra Nevada took an already big bold beer and aged it an additional year in oak barrels. This provides an even greater richness to the mouthfeel and flavor of this exceptional beer.
Imperial Stout 50 – 55º F (10º – 13º C)
Distinct barrel oak aromas from the pour. The beer flows thick and syrupy. Deep roasted barley notes and a raisin. Sweetness covers the alcohol heat and warmth in a pleasant way. Slight oxidation light wet paper smells. Full body flavor. Raisin malty notes. The aftertaste gives a definite oak aroma and taste. Tan to almost brown head. Lingers for a medium length, until after a few sips. Head dissipates to a paper thin persistent head. Jet black color. No light passes through the glass. Oxidized flavors of wet cardboard. This is expected in a beer that has lingered in an oak barrel for a year. Definitely enjoyed the beer but a pint at 11.9% makes this a one and done kind of night.
Cheese plate of smoked Gouda, and sharp cheddar. Strawberries would also be a great pairing with the imperial stout if you are lucky enough to live in an area where they are in season. Luckily for us Okinawa is in a tropical climate and strawberries are not only in season they are affordable. The tartness of the strawberries would cut into the creaminess of this thick stout. For those that are still doubting just think of chocolate covered strawberries.