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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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1,069 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,069
Hads: 5,589
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 7.54%
Wants: 2,828
Gots: 3,233 | FT: 250
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  14.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: largadeer on 03-26-2008

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]
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,069 | Hads: 5,589
Photo of steenkampa
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 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. (912 characters)

Photo of SkiBum22
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 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! (660 characters)

Photo of OStrungT
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer poured jet black with a thin brown head. the head faded fast, leaving no lave.

This beer smelled strongly of vanilla. I also got some oak aroma, mixed in with some bourbon. Sweet caramle and molasses were alos poesent. A slight chocolate note mixes in as well.

This beer tastes like it smells. Sweet caramel with a healthy dose of vanilla. Bourbon as well, but more subtle.

This beer very smooth. It leaves a vanilla like aftertaste. The alcohol is well hidden in the aroma and the flavor.

This beer might not make a good session beer because it is pretty high in alcohol.

Overall: I had this at Howie and Sons in Visalia. I have had it before, and I have always loved it. This is probably one of the best bourbon aged beers I have ever had. (757 characters)

Photo of hagbergl
5/5  rDev +10.9%

The owner of Brookland Pint, DC's newest beer bar, really pulled out all the stops for the draft list on its grand opening this week. It was packed with rarities, many from the West Coast, like 2013 Speedway Stout, FW Stickee Monkee and Parabjava, and even a keg of "G'Dale" from Oskar Blues Brewing ( a blend of Dale's Pale and G'Knight). Now, these all sounded fantastic, but when I saw they had 2013 Firestone Walker Parabola, I felt compelled by the higher forces of beer geekery to FINALLY have what many consider to be the finest barrel-aged stout in the land.

Appearance: Pitch black, thin light tan head of less than one finger. Nothing astonishing about the appearance, other than some serious alcohol legs.

Smell: Huge oak and bourbon, some dark fruit (figs) and vanilla. This aroma only intensifies as the beer warms, becoming more noticeably chocolatey--and alcoholic--than it was at first pour.

Taste: Just insane. Massive vanilla, bourbon, and dark chocolate, with the bourbon essence really shining. A light espresso bean roastiness is mixed in there with a truly gorgeous amount of subtlety. Flavors keep changing as I drink. Sloshing the beer around in the sides of my mouth produces a flavor that is much more overtly chocolatey. The alcohol is present in the flavor, but it adds some spicy-sweet complexity to the flavor profile. As with the nose, so with taste; as it warms up, this beer evolves nicely, gaining a more pronounced brown sugar-molasses type sweetness. After about 45 minutes, this beer is at its true peak. So sip it slowly!

Mouthfeel: Velvet smooth, thick and full bodied (thanks to the oats, no doubt). The alcohol warmth is mild and not accompanied by any burn. (1,707 characters)

Photo of RocPorterFanatic
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours jet black into a tulip glass. Intense tan head leaving delicate lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - Aromas of toasted marshmallows, grilled fruit, molasses and coffee overwhelm the nose.

T - Very smooth. Alot of molasses and toffee in the first sip. Coffee and cream flavors follow, slight hop bitterness. Simply divine!! Vanilla and bourbon flavors follow with alcohol warmth.

M - Thick and viscous, but the carbonation breaks it up and keeps it interesting.

O - WOW!!! I've been itching to get my hands on a bottle of this for years. It was definitely worth the wait. (587 characters)

Photo of Heatwave33
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look- Creamy black silk that is only found inside the deep crevices in California.

Smell- Dark chocolate aged in roasty bourbon barrels for her pleasure.

Taste- As if the whiskey barrel creamed in my mouth!

Feel- Creamy, smooth, refreshing and hoping for a call the next day.

Overall- The first time a met her we made love all night. I told myself not to jump straight into the sack with this and build respect for a well founded relationship. But I couldn't help myself. My animal magnetism took over and I did what felt right. I'm thankful she still answers the phone when I call. (586 characters)

Photo of sjones5045
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This review should just say "Perfect" and that's it. But since the site has to have a certain number of characters I guess I'll keep writing.

The pour is jet black and unlike others in the class the head appears strong white and fades quick rather than having a thin to almost no head like others.

The smell is a simply sweet chocolate smell. Nothing too big but I like it cause it actually hides what is about to happen.

Ok, the taste is as perfect as they come. There is nothing better in the beer world hands down. And this comes from the biggest KBS fan and Founders fan there is. The taste is the definition of balanced. The bourbon is such great balance where is blends with the chocolate taste with literally no aftertaste. Smooth as smooth gets. It's a heavy feel but perfect for the style.

Overall, it's the perfect beer. It has everything you look for in a beer. Look, smell and taste are all superior to everything out there. The big complaint is this beer is extremely hard to get. I now have to wait another year to have this again. (1,050 characters)

Photo of bbkd3b
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After the Abacus, I immediately added this to my wish list for brews. Luckily, there were quite a few to be found in Columbia, though my frequented stores ran out rather rapidly. Still, I got a hold regardless, and let's see what this is all about:

The near-black body gives away this beer's nature immediately. A tan head swirls to life, but pulls away very slowly, leaving only a ring around the edges of the brew. I don't even need to lean in to get my first impressions - the smell hit me from a mile away. Regardless, the chocolate notes are unreal, along with a nice mixture of robust, roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, and just the slightest bitterness. Surreal, potent, powerful - these are what a beer should be.

Sipping it reveals the best this beer really is. First impressions are like drinking a mocha beverage. Clean, smooth, almost like a dessert in a glass! As the thick body warmed, it's harsher side slowly came to be. The bitterness started to attack the tongue, reminding you that this is a wholly American-style Imperial stout. Notes of coffee and vanilla formed at the front of the tongue. What amazes me is that there was absolutely no trace of alcohol to be found here. Astonishing brew.

Overall/notes - I didn't think it possible, but Firestone Walker topped Abacus on this one. It's like perfection bottled. I never thought I'd live to see the day I tasted what I feel is a perfect brew. This will forever be on my watch list. I just need to get some dark chocolate along for the ride next time I can find it. Seek this out and savor it. A true sipper. (1,579 characters)

Photo of Chief09
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the beer that started it all for my obsession with craft beers. Just thinking of this beer makes me want to pull one out of the fridge. I have a few that I have been ageing. (183 characters)

Photo of TWStandley
5/5  rDev +10.9%

2012 Vintage shared on Xmas eve.

Poured into my Urthel glass.

Appeared a midnight-black color with a one finger cappuccino head that left some nice lacing.

Smell was amazing. Espresso, vanilla and bitter chocolate. A bit of a port-wine character to it. Nice bourbon burn in the nose.

Taste was delicious and complex. First you are hit with some malty sweetness and vanilla. This gives way to the more bitter chocolate/coffee notes. The bourbon finish is nice - perfectly balanced with the flavors.

Beautiful mouth-feel - silky and smooth, thick but not syrupy. The alcohol played a nice part in warming your throat as you drank.

Overall this is ranking as my favorite beer to date. I am a huge BCBS fan but find this slightly better and more balanced. I love the barrel-aging on this, I think FW hit it perfect. Wow...love it. (832 characters)

Photo of BeerZombies1
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Parabola - Firestone Walker
Russian Imperial Stout
14% ABV

APPEARANCE: Pours a deep shadow black from a bright sunny day. Slight dark chocolate rim variation. With a pillowy, creamy mocha head.

AROMA: Ginger bread pudding topped with coconut ice cream drizzled with a bourbon caramel sauce. Hints of raisins, and heat from the high ABV.

TASTE: Sexy and seducing layers that evolve in your mouth. Chocolate, leather, tobacco amazingly balanced with raisins molasses and bright oaky flavors. So delicious, just letting it roll back and forth getting more and more flavors each second.

MOUTHFEEL: medium body with vivacious and enthusiastic carbonation that dances in your mouth. Some heat from the 14% ABV, that ends with a nice long finish that leaves the mouth coated in a oily sweetness.

OVERALL: Very easy drinking and amazing flavor profile. Up until now the bcs has been the top of my stout list, this may have just knocked it off!

RATING: 5/5 Zombie Heads! (972 characters)

Photo of SonOfThor
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Oily pitch black pour, very viscous. Absolutely no light shining through this. Small tan head recedes into darkness, but that's totally expected for a 12.5% abv beverage such as this.

S - Wow! There are so many componentes to this aroma. I get cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, earthy hops, some leathery flavours, and big roasty character. This smells incredible!

T - I get the same components as in the aroma, but with some more sweetness. This is well balanced by bitterness from both the hops and the roasted malts. There are some definite vinous qualities here. This is a beautifully crafted work of art.

M - Huge mouthfeel on this beer. The creaminess of an oatmeal stout x10! What an amazingly rich beer. This is a beer in no need of pairing, it is a meal on it's own.

O - I'm sure this is the best imperial stout I've tasted, and it's very likely the best beer I've ever had. This blew my mind, I'm soooo glad I've got one more bomber. I'm going to give it a good old fashioned cellaring. I highly recommend this beer. If you see it, buy it! don't worry about the $14 price tag, it's totally worth it. (1,120 characters)

Photo of sippinsudz74
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Found this 2012 bottle at Best Buy liquors in Camarillo,Ca.
A- midnight, head fizzled quick leaving a thin light cream colored ring on edge of glass.
S- like figs and raison soaked in coffee. You can smell vanilla.
T- follows smell raisons, figs, roasted java, slight bitter cocao with toasted coconut at the end and some hops hanging around. No burn, so smooth.
M- silky not light but not too heavy. Leaves my lips sticky. Leaves you dry, maybe time to drink some h2o.
O- overall lucky I was able to snag this. Parabola is efin sweet. I cant believe it was still available. Still some left. (593 characters)

Photo of bnelson997
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The cliche that "words can't express" definitely comes to mind. That said, here are some puny words from me to express my views of this nectar of the gods. This bottle was a 2012 release poured into a Firestone Walker tulip.

A - Black as night. A vigorous pour which yielded a 2 finger tan head that dissipated quickly, as is to be expected.

S - Roasty, toasty malts which gave up dark and milk chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and espresso.

T - Wow! The rich coffee and espresso notes really shine in this vintage. The oaky vanilla/bourbon doesn't smack you in the face, it's released ever so sweetly and delicately from the front to the back of your mouth. There is even some slight dark fruit in the middle. The age has done this beer wonders and you just don't taste the 13% ABV. Definitely a sweetness, but one that is pleasant and rich, not cloying.

M - Ever so silky across the palate.

O - Hands down, this is my personal favorite beer of all time. So well balanced and should be the example for brewer's everywhere what a barrel aged Imperial Stout should be. It ages perfectly, but is oh so fantastic as a young beer (I had the 2013 on release weekend at the brewery on tap). I just have to say over and over how good this beer is! (1,247 characters)

Photo of makeyourself
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 bomber in a bourbon taster glass. Just everything about this beer is perfect. From the way it looks/pours to the way it smells to the way it taste and finally to the way it finishes. Its truly an experience. You simply end up wanting more after each pour. Firestone BA program is top notch and the best example comes from its Parabola. There is really nothing bad I can say about this beer other than you need to be on top of the release schedule for it at all your craft beer spots. (488 characters)

Photo of crob3888
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: a deep, super dark brown, almost black. Brown head.
Smell and Taste: vanilla, oak, deep chocolate, roasted barley, caramel, toasted marshmallow, bourbon finish.
Feel: so smooth and chewy sticky. Coats the mouth.
Overall: I prefer this to Black Tuesday and BCBS and every other BBA stout I've had. Perfect balance, unending complexity. Thank you firestone. (364 characters)

Photo of Belchmaster
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

All I Can Say is God Serves This In Heaven!!!
Get a bottle of this. Find one, somewhere, anywhere, pay big bucks for it if you have to - or better yet, get a buddy to get one and share it with your buddy...but you need to have one of these!
The complexity is out of this world.
Chill it. Pour it cold, try it cold and sip it as it warms a bit and enjoy the taste as it warms and changes. Oh boy are you in for a treat!...all the way to the last drop...you'll be licking the bottle.
I love dark beers - this is dark - and even if you like blonde beers you will love this.
This and Barrel Aged Speedway Stout (Ale Smith) are the best beers in the world. All other beers are not even close. You can take that to the bank.
I do not want to describe the pour, the aroma, the mouth feel, the taste, aftertaste, etc...as this one needs to be experienced without giving you any indication of anything about it so you get the ultimate experience of WOW, Holy Christ, thank you God, that you will experience. (999 characters)

Photo of Yby1acb
5/5  rDev +10.9%

Firestone comes through once again.
Blacker than the inside of a dead mans coffin on a moonless night.
Scent of chocolate, bourbon and coffee.
Great, complex flavor, a little boozie but that dessipates and comes back oakie and charred.
I think I'll ration out the case over a year and see how it evolves. (305 characters)

Photo of Chrisfarleywine
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This may be my favorite beer of all time. The mouthfeel is second to none. There's a thick, oatmeal quality to it. The flavor begins nutty, malty and chocolately and effervesces into a complex mixture of tobacco, dried fruits, malt, chocolate, booze, wood - amazingly complex and very drinkable. I wish I could scrooge mc duck into a pool of this beer. (352 characters)

Photo of Tony_Snow
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Im no expert by any means. But I know what tastes good. & this Parabola, Which iv had now bottled & tap.

Tap (2014) is complex. Malt country roast goes down the throat leaving a scratch of rich dark aromas. A tad hint of exotic coffee beans.

Smells like a stinking rich dark expresso on a sunday morning.

Had it on tap in this hole in the wall place in Las Vegas called Shakespeare's

Iv had Head Topper, Russian River & Goose Islands Bourbon Countys. This ranks amongst them

Of course Bottled is on point as well. If you get your hands on one you dont care if its bottled or not (585 characters)

Photo of imstimpy
5/5  rDev +10.9%

By far the most balanced stout I've ever had the chance to wrap my lips around. Toasty, malty, rich, chocolatey, coffee, all perfectly entwined. A 2013 aged for 1 year before sharing with some great friends. (207 characters)

Photo of kjlcm
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had done a quick review as a 4.75 but am updating to 5.0 across the board after careful reconsideration. I claim to be an IPA guy but this stuff is perfect. A nice thick strong stout that is overflowing with flavor. Cary strong but you would;t know because it tastes so good. (277 characters)

Photo of DirtGrub
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the luck of working in a restaurant that was selling this beauty and due to the steep price (not all millionaires in the service industry) I split it four ways.
Money well spent.
The appearance was very near black. Poured thick. Mocha colored head that was small
The smell was like espresso beans and shaved chocolate with a hint of bourbon.
The taste was heaven. Front notes of coffee and rich chocolate, followed by vanilla and oak, near the end there is a trace of cherry(?). For being high in abv the boo zones is hidden remarkably well. Coming out just enough to let you know you're having something children are not old enough to understand.
Overall this is one of the best barrel aged stouts to be had, Bourbon Country doesn't do it like this.
Dad is getting his own bottle for fathers day (807 characters)

Photo of BryanReed
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting to crack this sucker open for a few months. Couldn't wait any longer! 2015 vintage

Average aggressive pour yeilds about half an inch of tan head. Fades pretty quickly. Looks like its highly carbonated, tons of rising bubbles can be seen if held up to the light. Very very dark black in color.

Aromas. The best way I can describe the smell is chocolate covered bourbon soaked plums. Very very slight banana yeastyness. A little coffee, and maybe a bit of vanilla.

Taste: first sip..... The aroma misleads. I was expecting a bourbon bomb. Nice and smooth, almost "crushable", for the style, that is. Stone fruit, earthy barrel flavor, caramel dark chocolate truffles, with a bit of bourbon. As it warms in your mouth, the bourbon and barrel become more pronounced, finishing with a nice warmth/booziness. Mouthfeel is nice. Nowhere as near carbonated as it appeared.

If I had to describe this beer in one word: Smooth.

Overall, I haven't had too many BB stouts, but I can see why this is in the top 50 brews on this site. Super smooth, balanced, complex goodness, even for a " younger" 2015 vintage brew. Try it, 100%!!! (1,144 characters)

Photo of Admbmb92
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage poured into a dogfish snifter. First time with this, here we go!
App-poured aggressively. Half finger head. black as night with some brown on top of the sides. Legs sticking to the glass.
Ar-huge oaky barrel-aged notes. Oak, vanilla, bourbon, tobacco, dark fruit, and sweet alcohol.
T-Wow. Just wow. Everything the aroma promised and then some. Love the alcohol sweetness. Dangerously drinkable for being 14%. First get barrel flavors followed by amazing imperial stout kick. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee, dark fruit.
MF-velvety smooth and chewy.
Overall- pure barrel aged perfection. Nuff said (614 characters)

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,069 ratings.