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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,460 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,460
Reviews: 980
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,145
Gots: 2,529 | FT: 174
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged for 8 months in circa 1990's Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.

OG: 29.5p [plato]
IBU: 82 [high]
Cases: 3000 produced [LTD]
Aged: 12 mo [time in barrel]
Yeast: British Ale [house]
Color: 167SRM [midnight black]

(Beer added by: largadeer on 03-26-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,460 | Reviews: 980 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Gueuzedude:
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.46/5  rDev -24.9%

2010 Bottle Release; Sampled April 2012
A vigorous pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a dense, darkly browned, fat-two-finger thick head. The beer is an inky black color that shows perhaps a hint of color around the edges when held up to the light, but remains ominously opaque. The aroma smells of hot alcohol, and Bourbon soaked fruit as I pour this, a closer inspection yields lots of barrel and bourbon influences and, at first blush, only a touch of toasted malt character. The barrel / bourbon character is fairly smooth, considering the 13% abv, with lots of burnt sweetened coconut, ample vanillin, touches of spicy oak, and lots of toasted character that supports the toasted malt. The malt character is here, especially as my nose gets used to the barrel influence that was so dominant at first; aromas of sweetened, concentrated black malts, touches of char, cold espresso, and lots of roasted nutty notes. Interestingly enough, the barrel character is dominant at first, but once your really start to dig in for an extended time, the malt aromatics come to dominate and almost completely consume the Bourbon notes; in the end this ends up well balanced between the barrel character and the dark malt character & is quite a bit more enjoyable than my first impression left me with. As the beer warms up it can be a touch hot smelling, which certainly detracts a bit, but isn’t a deal killer for my enjoyment of the aroma.

Thick, rich, and viscous, this beer is most definitely a sipping beer; it isn’t as dense, or cloying as something like Darklord, but certainly is a meal in a glass. The beer isn’t as sweet as it could be, and much of the sweetness that is here is a complex, concentrated, roasted caramelization, rather than simplistic, cloying sweetness; this definitely escapes being cloying. Big, bitter, burnt, roast notes linger on the palate in the long finish; after some time the finish sees my first flavor influence from the barrel with some softer Bourbon-fruit notes (alcoholic melon more than anything), as well as some spicy oak notes and an astringency and alcohol warmth accentuating barrel character. Now that I have noticed the Bourbon character it is quite a bit more noticeable throughout the flavor profile. A rich nutty note, that is definitely on the roasted side of things, flavors the middle and finish of each sip. Vanillin flavors as well as notes of toasted coconut (in that order of noticeability) accentuate the sweetness in the middle of each sip. There is a sweet, somewhat concentrated, coffee syrup like note here that is a product of the ample residual malt and the roasted grains. The beer can be a touch hot and in my second pour the carbonation really seems to accentuated the spicy / hot Bourbon notes over the base, Imperial Stout; this is definitely much more enjoyable with a lighter carbonation. Once I swirl out a bunch of the carbonation a roasted cocoa and dark chocolate note start to come out.

I like that this isn’t overly Bourbon influenced, it is a bit hot & boozy in the end, but what can you expect from a 13% beer. Still, this does achieve a fair amount of balance in the end and is a nice way to cap off a long day; though I certainly wouldn’t want to try and finish off a whole 22oz bottle.

09-30-2013 02:27:36 | More by Gueuzedude
More User Reviews:
Photo of aszatk01


4.75/5  rDev +3%

11-29-2013 20:44:29 | More by aszatk01
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4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

07-01-2013 03:51:17 | More by DanGeo
Photo of Smokesnotes


4.81/5  rDev +4.3%

Excellent beer.

A: Very dark brown, not much head.

S: Good bourbon/vanilla aroma.

M: Great mouthfeel. Pretty smooth finish.

T: Lots of caramel flavor.

O: I want more.

Drank at a bottle share alongside Black Xantas and KBS. Parabola definitely holds up next to these beers even though I think KBS edges it out slightly. I enjoyed the info on the label and was surprised how high the IBUs are for not seeming too hoppy. Definitely recommend if you like BA stouts or Imperial Stouts.

07-14-2014 02:32:52 | More by Smokesnotes
Photo of steenkampa


5/5  rDev +8.5%

Amazingly balanced hefty stout, at a great price.

The first time I had this one, 2011, I walked into a BevMo to buy two beers for myself to drink during a house party...and got 2 bottles of this, thinking "meh, cheap burly Stout, that'll do great for the night" not knowing at all what I had.

Half way through the night, I'm completely trashed off both bottles wondering what this was and why it tasted so amazing, and when did Firestone get so good when I only remember the DBA being boring before!? This really turned me onto them, and I keep an eye out for any in the Reserve Series (Abacus/Sucaba is great, too).

Anyway. Now I always buy the max, and I have at least 2-3 of each vintage since then in my cellar.

Dark, rich, not much carbonation, chocolate and bourbon notes, lots of roasted malts...just about everything I want in a stout.

Can't wait for the 2014 release, so I can keep the cycle going.

08-08-2013 21:40:22 | More by steenkampa
Photo of tectactoe


4.6/5  rDev -0.2%

Thanks to the numerous BA's who sent me some bottles of this; I've put it off for way too long. It pours an extremely dark brown color that might as well be called jet-black as it sits, motionless in the glass. A light-mocha colored head plumes up and shows excellent retention; it lasts for days and leaves nice lace spots behind as it slowly recedes down the glass.

The aroma is magnificent; lots and lots of bourbon that's mellowed out by a deep onset of wood and oak. Plentiful amounts of chocolate graze the top of the booze; sweet, creamy and delicate, like a molten mocha cake. Mild hints of vanilla ride over the top of everything, most likely an induction of the barrel itself.

A nice, underlying blanket of roasted malts gives a solid base upon which everything else seems to stand, although the bourbon is strong enough that it may not even need a "base". Parabola has a very large aroma; its potency outright is surely something to behold, and if nothing else, it tells you that this is gonna be one hell of a beer.

Wow. One sip in, and color me impressed. Incredibly smooth, silky, and soft on the palate with just a light tingle of carbonation as the bourbon-heavy brew slips across my palate. The "first and foremost" flavor would be the monumental heaps of chocolate that assault my palate. Deep, dense, dark, bittersweet, and creamy fudge-y chocolate cascades over my senses, clashing with smaller pips of vanilla to create an almost dessert-like delicacy with each sip.

Make no mistake about it, though, the bourbon and oak are as heavy as can be. Soft, warming bourbon entrances every sip just as well, showing the huge robustness of the brew and sending a permanent warmth from the back of your tongue to your belly. Not "hot", but pretty warm, while still remaining smooth thanks to the blunting efforts of the creamy chocolate and the oatmeal.

The aftertaste also contains a bit of bourbon and lots of oak; almost enough oak to call the finish "dry", but falling just shy of this mark. The malts open up a bit more with time, adding more complex notes of burnt caramel and maybe even a touch of sweet maple syrup in the finish. The dominant chocolate and bourbon notes still reign supreme, making this beer like an "adults only" dessert that would be fit for a king.

Well, it's taken me long enough to finally try Parabola, and now that I have, I'll be sure to nab up as much as possible each year that it comes out. Being from Southeast Michigan, some might say we're spoiled with "big" stouts; BCBS, KBS, Black Note, etc... But I'd put Parabola RIGHT up with those brews, and possibly even ahead of a few. So what the hell are you complaining about West Coasters?? This stuff is amazing.

07-01-2013 03:01:22 | More by tectactoe
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4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

06-02-2012 03:32:29 | More by DavyJones
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4.75/5  rDev +3%

12-31-2013 00:58:32 | More by OhioBobcat
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4.75/5  rDev +3%

11-27-2013 19:34:22 | More by jono0101
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5/5  rDev +8.5%

02-14-2014 01:36:08 | More by brownbeer
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5/5  rDev +8.5%

06-22-2012 17:29:21 | More by abeerdude
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4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

06-12-2013 01:08:05 | More by Schlais
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5/5  rDev +8.5%

06-14-2014 05:56:24 | More by Spaten454
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4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

06-05-2013 19:46:52 | More by Dabeel
Photo of poibag808


4.63/5  rDev +0.4%

poured from bottle into a snifter.

A: Poured black almost oily with very little head. Some lacing on the glass.
S: sweet with hints of oak and coffee.
T: Initially strong dark fruit/raisin flavors. As the beer warmed up a bit I got dark chocolate, roasted coffee and hints of vanilla. Amazing complexity and drinkability as the beer opened up.

M: The colder it was the more syrupy sweet it stuck in my mouth, almost cloying. As the beer warmed up it become much smoother.

Overall great beer, wish I could get my hands on another bottle.

11-27-2011 08:04:42 | More by poibag808
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4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

07-21-2013 20:46:18 | More by SanFranJake
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4.75/5  rDev +3%

03-03-2014 20:30:14 | More by delaced21
Photo of SkiBum22

New York

5/5  rDev +8.5%

A - Dark as night, absolutely viscous appearance. Very minimal head with strong lacing on the glass.

S - Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, coffee, oak. You can barely smell the alcohol.

T - Sweet roasted malts and chocolate up front. On the back coffee, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. You can barely taste the bourbon.

M - Very good smooth feel. A lot softer then I would have guessed. Just like velvet.

O - Wow, that was the first word that came to mind after the first sip. This beer is as close as excellence can get in my opinion. By far the best beer for me this year and definitely in my top 5 all-time. Thank god I have one more bottle aging!

07-25-2011 20:15:55 | More by SkiBum22
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4.75/5  rDev +3%

05-19-2014 21:16:42 | More by RebeccaMB
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4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

04-06-2014 03:47:28 | More by BubalooBrewMaster
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5/5  rDev +8.5%

02-18-2012 17:00:16 | More by bdkucharski
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5/5  rDev +8.5%

01-01-2014 22:00:49 | More by Ben7773
Photo of newk340


4.78/5  rDev +3.7%

A: a dark mocha pour, very little visible carbonation and an thin tan head.

S: certainly hints of chocolate and vanilla at first with some lingering notes of caramel, malts, and bourbon to round out an absolutely delicious smelling beer.

T: YUM. similar to the smell there was an immediate blast of chocolate and bourbon while undertones of vanilla and toffee took some time to develop.

MF/D: definitely could've drunk the bottle by myself if it were my own (and it wasn't 13%). went down fairly smooth, though some lingering IBU's tickled my tongue. could feel the ABV at the end of my 8oz pour.

03-01-2011 15:31:54 | More by newk340
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4.75/5  rDev +3%

04-03-2013 16:04:19 | More by bulldogg915
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4.4/5  rDev -4.6%

Firestone parabola is nothing new... but lord is it good. I think that this beer is a textbook example of the Barrel Aged RIS style. Its not too sweet, not to hot (though it could use 9-12 months), and incredibly balanced. this beer will mature to really be a heavy hitter. Can't wait

05-30-2010 16:49:01 | More by gregmoscetti
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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,460 ratings.