Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 3,725 | Reviews: 923 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by Pahn:
4.95/5 rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to BA morningthief for picking this up for me in Boston. 2011 batch, 12.5% ABV, 82 IBUs.
Appearance: Free pour yields a 1.5 inch frothy tan head that dissipates slowly and leaves tight rings of lacing that don't last. Pours solid black. Big legs, no lacing.
Smell: Mostly a heavy caramel aroma, along with some roasted malt, chocolate, cookie dough, and a mild influence of oak and hops. Not enormously aromatic, but what's there is nice.
With some warmth, the aroma quickly opens up. The 12.5% ABV starts to show itself with some reasonably heavy booziness, but, as with many great high gravity beers, this deepens the other notes rather overshadowing them. The interplay of alcohol, hops, and deep pastry and dark fruit smelling malt (along with some restrained barrel influence) is very satisfying.
Some surprising, savory molasses comes out late in the bottle, urging me to push this score up to a 5.0. I'm sold; there's the beautiful, decadent dessert stout depth, but the savory molasses and roasted aromas take it all to another level. Exceptional.
Taste: Mellow and smooth up front, with cookie dough, caramel, and some mild oak, leading to a welcome bitter and somewhat highly carbonated finish. Long aftertaste in which the bold alcohol heat dances with roasted malt, chocolate, and caramel (I know "dances with" sounds a little precious, but the heat persists while different beautiful malt flavors make appearances through the long aftertaste).
The flavor integration in this beer is amazing. The caramel, cookie dough, oak, and mild roasted malt flavors up front are silky smooth, rich, and utterly devoid of alcohol heat. Then the back end has a big hop kick, tons of heat, and lots of deep roasty stout flavors. While "start" and "finish" are very distinct, the notes (especially in the start) are in such harmony that it's more artificial than usual to talk about distinct cookie dough, caramel, chocolate, (etc) flavors.
I hate to give out so many 5s, but this is a real "wow" beer. Virtually nothing left to improve upon here.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, very smooth and creamy, with a great bitterness and high carbonation apparent at the end that allows for the extremely rich flavor up front. Nice long aftertaste that tries its best to say "I know this beer is delicious and you want more, but take it slowwww...." Wouldn't change anything about it.
Overall: This is a stunning beer. I'd heard that Firestone Walker were barrel aging masters... and it seems they live up to their reputation.
For the first couple sips, I thought, "This is indeed a great beer, with nice dessert flavors balanced out by bitterness and heat; around a 4.5 in most categories." Then in all aspects the beer just kept getting better... if you want more out of a beer than Parabola delivers, you're probably asking too much or are confused. Seriously close to perfection.
Serving type: bottle
08-08-2011 00:32:39 | More by Pahn
More User Reviews:
4.51/5 rDev -2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
A - Any time I get to use the phrase 'light-swallowing black' I'm a happy man. I feel that phrase is appropriate here. And now I'm happy. Pours slick, thick and dark into my snifter.
S - Booming bourbon notes lead the chorus. Agitating my snifter releases powerful wafts of booze, and to a lesser extent maple and apple brandy. Bourbon slightly edges out the subtler aromas.
T - The barrel-aging process has certainly left its mark. Bourbon flavours are massive and tempered by sweet vanilla notes. Charred oak kneads the tongue, accompanied by mellowed-out espresso and bittersweet cocoa powder. All these flavours are supported by a solid base of roasted malt. This is not a smokey or peaty stout. Vanilla, bourbon booze and maple syrup are strongest here; followed by the cocoa and coffee. Dark cherry is faint but existent as are rum-infused chocolate truffles if my senses do not deceive me. As in the nose, bourbon character is somewhat at the expense of subtler notes.
M - The flavours in this beer are not playing any games, and the mouthfeel isn't either. As the eyes intimate, this beer is thick and slick. Satisfying viscosity should be easy to achieve for a beer at 14% abv., and in this instance it is. It drinks smoothly, although it is more at the syrupy than the creamy end of the spectrum
O - A sipper through and through, this beer was a journey, a genuine undertaking at over two hours of drinking. I normally drink pretty quickly, so this was unprecedented. I'll be aging my remaining bottles to see if time can mellow the booziness and the bourbon, allowing the subtler elements and deeply buried characteristics to shine. Nonetheless this was a highly impressive beer which is either a little rough around the ages or as yet still raw. Time will tell.
Serving type: bottle
04-21-2014 06:09:27 | More by abeeronthebeach
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,725 ratings.