Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 4,473 | Reviews: 981 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Pahn:
4.95/5 rDev +7.4%
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.
08-08-2011 00:32:39 | More by Pahn
More User Reviews:
4.85/5 rDev +5.2%
05/14/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. 2013 vintage. The first sip is like an innocent kiss & then it's too late. You find you have a tiger by the tail...or should I say it's got you. There's so much going on in the glass it's difficult to home in on where to start. Each sip is different from the last & they are spiraling upwards until you reach a plateau of familiarity that has simplified all the complexities of aroma & flavors that make up this admirable brew & you start to feel at home & very comfortable.
Not for the faint of heart (or anyone driving). I found myself sipping at a leisurely pace for 1) enjoyment 2) preservation of the potion, as it's a rare find & 3) self preservation. The 12.5% ABV, although present in every sip, never let's on that this is for adults only. Think of it as an encounter on a plane trip, sitting next to some extremely attractive & engaging person & your smitten. It's a short lived experience & most likely once in a lifetime. Because of that, all feelings are multiplied & enhanced, in memory, by distance from the moment.
Do yourself a big, big flavor favor & make some time for this indulgence. If you do I guarantee your self esteem will improve based on that decision alone.
08-08-2014 15:46:30 | More by seedyone
4.81/5 rDev +4.3%
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
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
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
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
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
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
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,473 ratings.