Sierra Nevada Trip In The Woods: Cocoa Coconut Narwhal
BREWERY: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Chico, Calif.
STYLE: Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.9 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $19.99
AVAILABLE IN: 750ml bottles
Overall, Sierra Nevada’s A Trip In The Woods Bourbon Barrel-Aged Coconut Cocoa Narwhal Imperial Stout is one hell of a long name for a beer. But seriously, I expected a bit more composure from the likes of Sierra Nevada. This beer has all the notes but really lacks balance; the brown booze dominates the nose, the taste is overly bitter-almost astringent and the coconut flavor is insubstantial.
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An OG in the craft beer world, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has been around since the beginning of the 1980s. Its first year produced only 500 barrels of beer but is now producing well over 1 million barrels per year. Some of the core beers have even been caught on the silver screen; not in the typical product placement manner but instead in a coy, almost furtive, fashion. The brand and labeling is unmistakable especially for the more iconic beers like Celebration, Bigfoot, and Pale Ale.

Today’s beer is a bit off the beaten path from Sierra Nevada’s core beers. From the Trip In The Woods Series is a special version of the Narwhal imperial stout. Brewed with toasted coconut, the beer then sat in bourbon barrels for a year with additions of cocoa and even more coconut. It comes in at 11.9 percent ABV.

The pour reveals a jet black body with a light brown head that is fading very quickly. My guess is the high alcohol coupled with coconut oils are preventing retention. In fact, I can see small pieces of coconut floating on the surface along with a light oil slick given the right angle of light. At first, the smell is straight bourbon with an abundance of oak char. Some sweet caramel malts, a subtle hint of smoke, and dark chocolate are also noted. The coconut is there but it is really far back and is seemingly outpaced but the barrel character.


The taste is more bitter dark chocolate with a burnt coffee hit up front and if I really search for it I can even manage to taste some of that elusive coconut flavor. The bourbon is big here in taste too but mostly on the back end in the form of oaky tannins and boozy alcohol heat. The base beer is actually well pronounced as the normal Narwhal roasted char slightly smoky note is there. The mouthfeel is slick and borderline syrupy. This beer could have benefitted from more carbonation as the syrupy feel really sticks around and coats the teeth.