Dismiss Notice

Site Performance Updates: We're aware of the nightly site outage, and working on resolving the issue.

Follow our progress ...

Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

1,155 Reviews
no score
Send samples
For Trade:

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This Russian imperial oatmeal stout is aged for a full year in a blend of bourbon barrels from Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 1,155 | Ratings: 6,078
Photo of Uscjojo
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

What a way to celebrate Father's Day. Parabola is an amazing Russian Imperial Stout.
It pours black. The smell is Bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, and dark chocolate.
The taste was amazing. It was 53 degrees out of the fridge and the flavors took off from there. Sweet vanilla, dark fruits, malty, and chocolate. As the stout warmed to room temperature, the sweet dark chocolate came out. The bourbon was very consistent thru out. One of the best I have tasted, next to BCBS and Black Tuesday.

 492 characters

Photo of DaveBar
4.38/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Got on trade! 650ml bottle served at 14deg C in a challis. 2015 vintage

A- Opens well and pours a the tiniest of heads that is gone is seconds. Super dark brown colour

S- Good bourbon

T- Complex. Licorice, chocolate, coffee, bourbon and other spices. Some brown sugar or molasses. Good balance but would enjoy more bourbon.

M- Creamy going down but dries right out afterwards

O- Nice brew. Not great and is a nice to try. Just does not have the depth and thickness I am looking for in a higher priced brew. Don't get me wrong it's good but just for me I know of way better

Food Pairing

As usual with bourbon barrel aged stouts this one is difficult to pair. Sorry but I have to go with the best there is on this one....... Chocolate cake with chocolate icing or brownies. Either or is great!


 807 characters

Photo of MadScientist
4.81/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Rich whiskey and dark roast malt aromas dominate with some dark fruit and caramel notes.

Bourbon, vanilla oak flavors and a medium amount of sticky caramel sweetness dominate the flavor. There is a moderately-strong hops bitterness and some alcohol as well countering the sweetness making for a beer that somewhat bitter on balance. The finish is slightly sweet with aftertastes of caramel, dark roast, and dried dark fruit.

 426 characters

Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had a couple of friends for a tasting at my house last night and Tyler brought this RIS. It is something I'd never heard of as his contribution. WOW is the operant word for this. My contribution were a couple of CigCity hard to gets but Tyler's was the clear "winner". Amazing color, lacing, complex tastes that just blended incredibly well. Likely my one and only but if I ever see it again I will get it in a heartbeat.

 424 characters

Photo of luisitoelmatador88
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ive had a fresh 2015 parabola last year and it was unbelievable. This was before I was even into stouts to be honest and nonetheless this absolutely blew my mind. Parabola may be the reason I started getting stouts, in particular bourbon barrel ages stouts.

I had 2012 Parabola a few weeks ago. This thing was probably better than 2015. After 4 or so years of aging this beer lost none of the complexity of a fresh parabola possesses. There was so much going on and it remained drinkable, not hot (alcohol-wise) and absolutely exquisite. This beer is world class for my preference and palate.

 593 characters

Photo of Boccu
4.8/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Pours dark and rich. Nice head. caramel, mild coconut, vanilla, dark roast coffee, rich dark chocolate, fudge, some dried black cherries and fig, brown bread, some charred oak, can taste the different barrel aging. Exceptional. Very young no aging though. Would be a lot better aged I feel.

 294 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.76/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2016 Bottle: Pours pitch black color with a thick foamy 1 finger tan head that faded very slowly and left very good spotty foamy lacing.

Smells of molasses, dark chocolate, tobacco, burnt coffee grinds, caramel, peat moss, brown sugar, bourbon, red wine or a merlot, oaky notes, light piney hops, roasted malts, earthy tones and a malty sweetness that cuts through and lets the bourbon tie it back together. Very complicated and the sweetness is stronger than expected, but tamed by the smoky/earthy notes. The barrel notes are intense and I found it very hard to distinguish any real essence of each spirit barrel used for this blend, but that's what makes it so damn interesting and enjoyable.

Tastes like it smells with molasses, dark chocolate, tobacco, cocoa powder, burnt coffee grinds, caramel, peat moss, toasted coconut, vanilla, brown sugar, bourbon, red wine or a merlot, oaky notes, light piney hops, roasted malts, earthy tones, soy sauce, sherry and a real sweet, syrupy finish that gets better as it warms and only lets a little bit of the ABV through with the extreme complexity of this brew.

Really, really tasty at this stage of the bottle's life, looking forward to trying a well aged bottle to see if it lives up to the hype. A lot smoother than it should be, it's chewy and viscous with a nice heavy body that slides down with ease - incredible ease actually. A smoky and sweet aftertaste lingers with a touch of bourbon, a dash of hoppy bite and a slight bitterness. Excellent at this point, I'm sure it can (and will) only get better. World class indeed.

 1,581 characters

Photo of Lapalou
3.97/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 vintage poured into a snifter. Jose is great, silky bourbon. Taste is bourbon notes on top of a standard stout. Mouthfeel is lacking, it's pretty highly carbed for an imperial stout that has been ages in barrels this long. It's solid but not spectacular and certainly doesn't live up to some of the ratings here compared to its peers. They did a great job with the barrel but the base beer lacks creaminess and or any other complimentary flavors, no chocolate or deep malt here. It's truly just a conduit for the bourbon. Good beer, not great and certainly doesn't belong with its peers in this category.

 609 characters

Photo of SteveB3014
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First time trying this and I have to say it might be my favorite beer I've ever had. Drank a 2016 Vintage poured into a Teku glass. Pours out a deep burnt toffee color that evolves into a black pool into the glass. Some head develops, but not much. The head slowly lowers, but a minimal amount remains for the remainder of the drink. I'm amazed at the smoothness of this 13.1% ABV beer despite virtually no age on it, and yet, a wonderful booze still floats in the background the entire glass. Aromas of Vanilla, Bourbon, smoked wood, caramel, black licorice, and dark chocolate escape from the glass. Each sip reveals layers of burnt caramel, vanilla bean, bourbon, black licorice, and fresh roasted coffee. The balance and complexity of this beer is rivaled by few beers that I have had. This was somewhat transcendental to drink. Some beers live short of their hype, other beers live up to their hype. This exceeded its hype, which should say enough. Definitely a euphoric drinking experience. I have another bottle that I plan to age for 2 years. I am ecstatic to see what happens.

 1,085 characters

Photo of nigerianfury22
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing nose and body to this years vintage. Great chocolate and coffee right away, and the taste is just as rich. Pours pitch black with a great chocolate brown head. Great balance with the bourbon, not too hot but you get the great flavors of the barrel.

 256 characters

Photo of Zoomslowik
4.62/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L- Pitch black, not a lot of head or lacing. Some carb bubbles on initial poor.

S- Bourbon, sweet smell with dark fruit. Some vanilla.

T- A lot going on. Fruity on initial taste, plum and a little dark cherry. A little bitter-sweet with dark chocolate, coffee and caramel. Definitely some bourbon and something else I can't quite place (coconut?). Well blended.

F- Luxurious feel that coats the mouth. I would like it to be slightly thicker though.

0- Really good. A lot of interesting flavors, but nothing is overpowering. Doesn't feel like 13% either. I would try to track this down again, but I fear I won't be as lucky.

 631 characters

Photo of Diglitt
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love this beer. When I finally got a bottle to open, I was nervous because I usually don't follow hype and it mostly disappoints if I do. This though.... Parabola really shot up to the top ranks of my list with every sip. I remember sharing with my roommate and we were both just amazed by it. Definitely try to get one of these if you haven't yet. Simply awesome.

 366 characters

Photo of W_Des
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours black from the body. Nice medium notes of bourbon, chocolate and roast. Nice viscous mouthfeel, almost chewy and drinks very smooth with a subdued heat and nice light sweetness.

 183 characters

Photo of MizterJawsh
4.13/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage poured into a tulip glass after chilling and warming slightly. Black as the night sky in color, followed by a slight lacing on top. Fruit flavors abundant upfront, a blast of bourbon with chocolate undertones, and finishing off with a hint of coconut. Overall this a super quality beer, maybe not quite what I expected given the hype however I still extremely enjoyed it. Have another 2016 sitting on my shelf until 2017 so I can rotate, perhaps with age it will blow my mind.

 491 characters

Photo of StoutElk_92
4.9/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 Vintage - No. 007 - 13.1% abv

Pours burgundy black with a creamy dark beige colored head. Smells really sweet and boozy, kind of like dark bread and fudge brownies with dried dark fruits, big bourbon, vanilla, toffee, caramel, coconut, chocolate, coffee roast, charred oak, and mild earthy grass. Tastes very bittersweet with bourbon, toffee, caramel, mild coconut, vanilla, dark roast coffee, rich dark chocolate, fudge, some dried black cherries and fig, brown bread, some charred oak, with mild earthy grass. Feels thick, medium-full bodied, creamy with low carbonation. Overall a really great bourbon barrel aged imperial oatmeal stout.

 646 characters

Photo of fireazzi
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had the 2014 and the 2015. Firestone makes a great stout. the 15 was a bit more boozy than the 14 but probably my favorite out of their stouts. Parabola is a really good beer for one that isn't impossible to find.

 218 characters

Photo of Ready4aHeady
4.31/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 vintage
thin for a stout but nose and taste is spot on... a complex mix of dark fruit, raisins, and coconut... sweet but not cloyingly so, with a mildly bitter dry finish.... very pleasant.

 194 characters

Photo of nerdboy19
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look : Very dark black and brownish tan head. - 4/5
Aroma : A little bit like soy-sauce, licorice, very vanilla and bourbon, black malts, a little bit of roasted / burnt, chocolate, coffee. - 8/10
Mouthfeel : Huge body and low carbonation. Now overwhelming and incredibly smooth and easy to drink. - 5/5
Taste : Lots of bourbon-ish vanilla, chocolate, coffee, pretty sweet like dessert, satisfying bitter finish. - 10/10
Overall : I can't Imagine a better beer than this. This is soooooo good and it lived up the hype.

 518 characters

Photo of MOVERTON1284
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Did a 3 year vertical of this at a share (2013-2015). I felt the 2014-2015 were both the best and pretty even to each other. This beer is very thin for a stout, and with age it gets more thin it seems. I would definately drink these fresh or just a little age. They don't age gracefully.

 287 characters

Photo of d3brewing
4.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 review. This was an excellent year but did have a few complaints.
Taste was near perfect, burbon, chocolate ans black malt, no bitterness or burnt flavors. I did think it was a little hot compared to other years and will sit on a few and try them with the next batches.
My biggest complaint was the mouthfeel, way to thin for a BA stout. Compared it side by side with an Alesmith BA Speedway and the Speedway won hands down on mouthfeel. Actually the concensus was BA Speedway was all round better beer this year.

 518 characters

Photo of LXIXME
4.61/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer delivers. Was lucky enough to get included in a tasting of 3 years of this beer (14, 15, and 16) and this rating is based off the 2016 new release which I found to be slightly better than 2015 and equal but slightly different than 2014. Three great beers, but I think 2014 with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream would be five 5's using the Beer Advocate rating system.

 381 characters

Photo of Buck89
4.54/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fun to pour with a viscosity like motor oil. Jet black with hints of brown around the glass edges and capped with a modest tan foamy cap. Smells like a bourbon barrel covered with caramel. Rich taste with toffee, caramel, vanilla, cocoa, oak, bourbon, and plum. For me, the large feel is the best part. Like butter. Just beautiful.

 331 characters

Photo of ClavisAurea
4.86/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2016 vintage served cold in a wine glass

Appearance: poured an oily black with a thick and chewy roasted coffee colored head.

Nose: massive Barrel character, char, coffee, bourbon, vanilla, coconut, toasted, marshmallow, chocolate, slight dark fruits

Taste: follows the nose perfectly. The barrel character really shines here and is the dominant free in the glass. Coconut, char, bourbon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, dark fruits, marshmallow. Does not drink like a 13% beer; seems like half that. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy to heavy but with a nice creamy fudge quality.

Overall: clear winner of the night. Paired perfectly with homemade coconut coffee ice cream.

 668 characters

Photo of uvachief
4.27/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Draft. Pours a pitch black with a full two fingers of tan fluffy head. Looks beautiful. The head slowly melts into the body of the beer with nice lacing throughout the drink. Smells of a conglomeration of everything you want in a stout: chocolate, toffee, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, etc. However, I'm slightly disappointed thereafter. It's good but not great. Not off the charts great on draft. I'm finding I like beers like this aged at least 6 months on a bottle lately. You get the abv booze rush and ask the flavors above but it's just too young. They haven't melted together as I would have thought. However, these mixture beers are always this way to me unless they have sat on a shelf for some time. Had a bitter subtle kick to it at the end. MORE.watery than I could have possibly expected. Lots of abv burn. Need to try it properly aged at least a year and then revisit it.

 902 characters

Photo of RacerX5k
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Superb. Maybe the most complex beer I've ever had. Definitely top 2 (along with 2014 Alewerks Bourbon Barrel Porter). Funny thing is I've had this beer 3 times before (2012 - 2013 I think?) and didn't like it at all. Amazing.

Pour is beautiful highlighted crimson black. I'll just list the aromas and flavors from this beer. The most interesting was the black cherry halfway thru the bomber, the hint of mint towards the end, and what I'm going to call black hops (yea I just made that up). Hops drenched in black alcohol goodness. Tasty.

Bourbon, whiskey, chocolate, vanilla, oak, barrel. marshmallow, coconut, coffee, black cherry, black licorice, mint, alcohol and black hops. Yea I said all that.

The only (minor) imperfection was a tiny twinge of plastic, fake feeling aftertaste 2/3 of the way thru. But I will not dock the score, this beer was every bit as good as the best barrel aged beers I've had. Only drawback is I can only get one. Question, what would aging this beer do? It's already (obviously) been aged perfectly by the brewer.

 1,049 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,155 ratings.