Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
ParabolaParabola

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

1,109 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,109
Hads: 5,842
Avg: 4.54
pDev: 18.72%
Wants: 3,022
Gots: 3,341 | FT: 249
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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.

2011
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 (85) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,109 | Hads: 5,842
Photo of TheRealBigC
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Of all the beers I've ever tried, this one might have officially taken the crown as my favorite beer.

Served on tap at 775 Gastropub.

Deep brown body, thick mocha head with solid retention for an imperial.

Rich aromas of coffee, cocoa, tobacco and more. One of those beers where you want to get a huge sniff in before a sip, and you want all the sips you can get. All of that fragrance translates into the flavor and it's as robust as any imperial stout you'll ever have.

It's clearly a strong beer, but the strength of the flavor works in tandem with the strength of the alcohol like cognac. Every sip is enjoyable, the alcohol is never overwhelming, but it makes its presence well known on the palate and in your body. Take it nice and slow. It's a perfect beer.

 769 characters

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

Poured into a Smuttynose Big Beer tulip

A: Beautiful brown two fingered head with a creamy black body. This is exactly how I want my stouts to look.

S: OH MY GOD. I can't stop smelling this beer. Chocolate, sweet tobacco, coffee and a slight smokiness. If they made air fresheners that could copy this, I'd buy them out. As the beer warms, the chocolate really comes out as the forward aroma.

T: As the beer warms, the taste gets better. Alcohol is very well hidden by the chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee flavors. As it warms the chocolate goes from sweet to bitter. I'm also getting some cherry that I assume is from the barrels.

M: Good body and carbonation considering the ABV. Nice and creamy.

O: This beer has ruined other Imperial Stouts for me. This is probably one of THE best stouts I've had. I can't wait to see how this beer develops over time.

 862 characters

Photo of mjw1200
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is one of the best beers I have ever tasted. the perfectly right amount of booze enhances an impressively crafted stout. Outside of eclipse 20 yr Elijah Craig aged stout I can't think of anything better. Only slight slight draw back is I would have liked some more thickness

 284 characters

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

2011

Pint glass

A - beautiful deep sludgy black, one finger between brown and tan head and some nice lacing

S - cinnamon, sugar, anise, very nice bourbon booze, very nice light but full flavor coffee, dark and milk chocolate, straw/ras/black berries, currents, caramel, molasses, tons of vanilla, cherry, earthy hops, huge sweet and roasted malts, nice must, tons of wood, earth and greens

T - dark and milk chocolate, huge earth, bourbon, tons of berries, vanilla, huge malts sweet and roasted, nice hop, one of the best coffee notes in any stout ever, cinnamon, cherry,

M - huge full body, awesome complexity, wonderful balance, low acidity and a very long delicious finish

D/O - one of the best drinking, best tasting, refreshing and awesome stouts ever. This is very impressive. I could and would drink this beast daily. If you like stouts and not this one, you are a fool. Get your hands on this beast, the warmer it gets, the better

Final thoughts - GET THIS BEER

 977 characters

Photo of prtwin2a
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pitch black
S: Bourbon and espresso, chocolate, vanilla
T: Hands down, the best stout I've ever had. I literally babysat this beer for hours, because I did not want it to end.
M: Smoothest, most syrupy stout I've ever had.
D: Best stout, makes it my only A+!

Overall: A+

This stout, in my opinion, beat out Dark Lord, Hunahpu, and Black Note.

 347 characters

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a finger of caramel/chocolate-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic, with tons of rich, earthy, roasted malt, which imparted aromas of freshly toasted dark bread, boozy bourbon with lots of dark stone fruit, tobacco, hints of vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, oak, and dark molasses and tons of caramel. Smells inviting and delicious!

Taste: Wow! Just…wow! Holy shit, actually!! Absolutely delicious! Tons of roasted malt up front, followed by lots of boozy bourbon which imparts lots of dark stone fruit, tobacco, hints of oak, vanilla and lots of brown sugar-like sweetness. Awesome, spectacular, incredible, world class!

Mouthfeel: Chewy an extremely smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 14.0%, there is a pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate, and a very, very long finish.

Overall: Wow, just…wow! Holy shit, actually!! I totally understand and see why this beer has such a world class reputation! Next to BCS, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had! Absolutely world-class!

 1,245 characters

Photo of Gerasimos
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz [2013 Series No. 004] served and savored in signature Lost Abbey Rastal Teku stemware

Appears - light-absorbing darkness; traces of tan, creamy head

Smells - lush; more than traces of licorice and cacao

Tastes - impeccably balanced sweetness and dark chocolate bitterness; amazingly complicated array of layers to dissect: licorice, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee, oak cask wood and earth; lingering bourbon barrel finish with alcohol ephemera

Mouthfeels - silky, satiny smooth; coating but not heavy; approaching syrupy but with the ideal amount of carbonation to lighten

Overalls - adding my voice to the general consensus of this beer's epic awesomeness; a bomber is almost too much to enjoy alone, but I'll make the sacrifice; a beer that welcomes reflection after each sip; well worth the price even if you're outside the distribution zone

 860 characters

Photo of MrPlayboy
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So, until tonight I didn't think anything could top Bourbon County but I had never drank of the Parabola's sweet elixir. This is right on par with Proprietor's and has almost as much coconut flavor and aroma though I'm not sure how that is possible since Parabola has no coconut added.

Vintage 2014, picked up today from Whole Foods Chicago

Appearance: Black as night with a tan head that dissipates quickly after pouring. Some moderate lacing on the glass.

Smell: Oh boy, this stuff smells so good. It is hard to describe all the different aromas but I am picking up bourbon, caramel, coconut, and a little vanilla.

Taste: Here is where Parabola asserts itself as a beer for the ages. Starts off boozy and sweet and then finishes with coconut and a bitter cocoa like 90% dark chocolate. There is a slight hop presence on the long finish that lingers and keeps you coming back for more.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for the style but it lends itself to being a very drinkable BA stout. Very light carbonation and slightly sticky.

Parabola goes from bourbon and brown sugar to coconut, cocoa, and then hops if you wait for it. This is complex and incredible. Gives any BA stout a run for its money.

 1,199 characters

Photo of Robomunky
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2015 on tap at the Beer Junction in Seattle. I always remember this beer being excellent. Then it comes back around and knocks me on my ass all over again. World class BA stout.

 177 characters

Photo of Dodgerrigo77
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fantastic, different texture then Abyss or BCBS!
Awesome lots of body!!
Not as boozym, the Molasses in Abyss was nice.
On a tap @ Toronado all 3 awesome but Parabola takes the cske!!!

 183 characters

Photo of RLVineh
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark Black but not motor oil. Nice mocha color in the head. Smells absolutely amazing, Dark chocolate, bourbon and coffee with a slight hint of caramel. Taste is fantastic bourbon and dark chocolate blend well with the vanilla and molasses. Thick body to this beer, absolutely amazing, cant wait to have this with some age

 322 characters

Photo of RichD
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Been anticipating trying this beer for so long. Batch 004 poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a pitch, murky black. There was a small dark khaki colored head that eventual gave way to nothing.

S: Upon first smell, I get huge notes of coconut and vanilla with some wood character. Some oats and deep chocolate also fill my nostrils with glee. What a fantastic smell. Some dark fruits also come through, though muted.

T: Holy god! This is fantastic. Huge vanilla and coconut flavors start this out and chocolate comes through as well. The bourbon character is tremendous. It's not overpowering at all. Roasted coffee comes in for the finish, and what a finish it is.

M: An incredibly smooth brew this is. Medium mouthfeel

Overall: This is a treat for me to even have this considering how long I've been waiting to try this. The chocolate and coffee flavors mesh so well with the coconut and vanilla that come from the barrel aging. The 13% is virtually non existent so far. This is a well constructed beer and I'm definitely glad I got to enjoy this. This is one of the best beers I've ever had and Firestone Walker may have the best barrel aging programs in the world and this is a clear indication of it.

 1,206 characters

Photo of UpToMeBeer
4.98/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2012. Aged the bottle a bit over one year. Drank it tonite. This is just so classic. Complex. Layers of revelations. The only beer that arguably surpasses it that I know of in this category is Goose Island's Bourbon County (which I think has the edge in terms of a viscous "motor-oil" quality). Clearly, Firestone is at the top of their game here, and this version is probably even better than the prior two years.... I think this version has a little extra sweetness that takes some edge off the bourbon.

 505 characters

Photo of dpgoblejr
4.98/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I had the honor of experiencing this brew on tap at the New England Tap House Grill in Hooksett NH on 5/28/14. This was one of those ultra-surprising unexpected finds on their(or anyone's) rotating beer list.

The beer was poured into a snifter glass and the first glance offered up one dark beauty of a beer. Mostly black with hints of brown on the edge when hit by the right lighting. No head to speak of just a slight mocha ring around the top and virtually no lacing as well. Smells of, well, bourbon. Some vanilla, aged oak, dark coffee, and some espresso also join in with the abundance of bourbon. Taste is great with the hints of the above mentioned with bourbon being the most pronounced flavor for me. Very well done mouthfeel that coats the palate and is very smooth. I found Parabola to be moderately sweet and extremely easy to drink, but a sipper with that high abv. I really enjoyed this aged stout tremendously and it was amazing to get a hold of this masterpiece . Highly recommended!

 1,002 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - dark brown black with mocha head that fades quick (high ABV), looks like motor oil. 
S - bourbon, oak, smoke, dark chocolate, espresso
T - Super smooth, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, smokiness, roasted malts, nice barrel flavors, caramel, coconut. 
M - super thick, alc covered, aftertaste is coffee, bourbon, roasted malts, smoke, and oak barrel flavors. 
O - I've heard this is the best of all the batches so far. I can't argue with that. Probably THE best barrel aged imperial stout that I've had. Hands down amazing.

 530 characters

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

A: Pours an impenetrable pitch black with a thin brown head that dissipates quickly. A layer of film clings to the side of the glass along with sparse lacing.

N: Highly aromatic nose. Huge, sweet bourbon, very fine dark chocolate, sweet toffee, coconut, vanilla and hints of oak.

T: Oh my God! Rich, chalky dark chocolate, toffee, bourbon, creamy vanilla and coffee grounds upfront. This is followed by liquid dark chocolate, espresso, truffle and notes of cherry. Finishes with lingering vanilla, bourbon, oak, toffee, dark chocolate and a hint of coconut.

M: Medium-full bodied, chewy, soft, silky, creamy, sticky, warming and dry.

O: Absolutely phenomenal! Just the right amount of bourbon. Not too overpowering with fantastic vanilla and oak flavors. Complex, rich, thick and deep in flavor. Almost no alcohol presence. Makes an excellent desert beer. Save this one for a special occasion.

 897 characters

Photo of bosco7
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep black with tan creamy head. Attractive. Very attractive.

Probably the best smelling Imperial Stout I have ever smelled. Abyss, Dark Lord, BCS whatever they're not as pretty smelling as this. Caramel, chocolate, coffee, anise, vanilla and so much more there. I cant think of enough words to describe.

Holy fuck. This is fantastic. Starts with licorice and chocolate and moves into the roasty flavors. Caramel and toffee really round this beer out. Finish is lightly boozy with plenty of vanilla. World class.

Mouthfeel is full and decadent. Man. This is a fantastic beer and I am frankly surprised how fantastic it is. I thought the pinacle of Imperial Stouts was reached with Darklord but this takes the style to a whole other level AND I found it at a liquor store across my hotel in Santa Barbara and didn't have to get a golden ticket or nothing. Game changer. Get it if you find it.

 897 characters

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

This beer is magical.

Imagine dipping the finest cherries into a fondue pot of rich dark chocolate, soaking the combination in bourbon, and then roasting it over a smoky campfire. Somehow, that is exactly what this beer tastes like.

 234 characters

Photo of ISmith87
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - 4.5 - dark brown black with mocha head that fades quick (high ABV), looks like motor oil.
S - 5 - bourbon, oak, smoke, dark chocolate, espresso
T - 5 - Super smooth, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, smokiness, roasted malts, nice barrel flavors, caramel, coconut.
M - 5 - super thick, alc covered, aftertaste is coffee, bourbon, roasted malts, smoke, and oak barrel flavors.
O - 5 - I've heard this is the best of all the batches so far. I can't argue with that. Probably THE best barrel aged imperial stout that I've had. Hands down amazing.

 549 characters

Photo of BastardKing24
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the one, the only, PARABOLA. I have had this 3 times before in the past 3 years. This is the biggest one yet at 14%, I am curious how it will end up.

Pours a very dark black with a brown edge to it, so its semi transparent. Not the darkest RIS I've seen, but its just fine. a small mocha head recedes fast to a ring and lacing.

Smell is perfect. Boozy bourbon and coffee, chocolate, dark fruit, you name it. anything dark like in the food chain lol, smokiness, toffee, caramel, figs, raisins, prunes, did I mention bourbon? Its all here.

Taste is similar. This huge wallop of chocolate and bourbon hits the tongue and stays there for days. All the aformentioned smells are there in the taste, plus I have to say theres a leather note as well. Vanilla too. Also, the alcohol gives a slight burn to the tongue but it's not harsh like a shot of whiskey.

Feel is nice, very slick and oily, this thing has legs on the side of the glass like motor oil. Carbonation is just right at about low to medium.

Overall I highly suggest people find this and try it, or trade for it if they can't get it back east. It's a sensation you will never forget, and I am glad that I bought 3 bottles of it. Worth every penny.

 1,215 characters

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

2011 Vintage
22oz bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip, served at cellar temp.

A: Pours pitch black, motor oil thick. The pour came with a small half fingers worth of head -dark mocha in color. Little to no lacing left on glass.

S: Bitter dark chocolate followed by mocha/expresso and bourbon. Also getting some rich molasses and vanilla along with some woodyness, Oak? The nose is very rich and complex. With one sniff, this beer will have you on your knees. Very, very good.

T: Oh. My. God. FanFREAKINGtastic. Once you start sipping you just can't stop. Bitter sweet dark chocolate paired with charred oak and vanilla. also some expresso notes coming through along with a small amount of dark fruits. There is some booziness coming through in the taste of bourbon, but that is to be expected this fresh. Its actually a nice note that works well with the other flavors. This thing is like sipping on a nice scotch. Rich, complex and satisfying.

M: Full bodied, with some carbonation. Would like a little more carbonation, but that is to be expected with a barrel aged beer. There is a slight amount of heat from the alcohol but unlike with most beers, it blends in perfectly with the other flavors.

O: This beer is one for my own beer tasting history book. Completely amazing. I only bought one to try, but I will be going back TOMORROW as soon as possible to pick up some more. Worth every freaking penny spent.

 1,418 characters

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

A: Very black with a brown head that dissipates quickly.

S: Vanilla and bourbon. This is exactly what I wanted to smell.

T: Holy vanilla! Wasn't expecting all that, but I love it. Fruity and just enough bourbon. I now know what a perfect stout tastes like.

M: Creamy and WAY too drinkable. Dangerous.

O: It hurts me to say this since I've had so many amazing beers, but this is the best beer I've ever had. At least for now.

Perfection.

 441 characters

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

650ml bottle 12,5% Abv.
2011 Vintage
No. 002

Thanks to pittsburghkid66 for hooking me up with this bottle.

Appearance: Parabola looks thick and oily as it gloops out of the bottle, it is pitch black in the glass with deep red edges when back lit. A rough pour yields a small, creamy, mocha coloured that displays average retention and leaves a little lace. A light swirl causes the head to slowly reform as well as leaving a brown residue on the glass.

Smell: My first sniff tells me that I am in for one super delicious beer, this could be right up there with Abacus! Sweet milk chocolate, stunning bourbon, oak, vanilla and dark toffee make up the initial aroma. Further analysis yields sweet dark fruits (raisins and cherries), toasted coconut, molasses and chocolate liqueur. As the beer approaches room temperature the bourbon notes increase and a hint of nose tickling alcohol is noted.

Taste: The nose lead me to believe this was going to be a super delicious beer and the flavour does not disappoint!
The initial flavour is of dark caramel, sweet chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and sweet dark fruit. This fades into Molasses, roasted malt and Liquorice notes. The finish has a welcome bitterness and a distinct roasted coffee bean note. The alcohol is not totally covered and there is a distinct bourbon flavour and warming which grows as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel: Perfect! Full, heavy body, lightly sticky with a moderate level of smooth, creamy carbonation.

Overall: This is my second beer from Firestone Walker and again my mind has been blown! I will most certainly chase down a bottle or two of this from each future release!

 1,651 characters

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

I broke out a 2013 Parabola for the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII. The Parabola poured a dark brown/black with a thin off-white head. The smell was simply tremendous. I picked up lots of dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and bourbon on the nose. It was one of those beers that I just couldn't stop smelling it between sips. The flavor of the beer lived up to and perhaps even exceeded its incredible scent. The taste made me think of a slightly undercooked dark chocolate fudge caramel brownie a la mode with vanilla bean bourbon ice cream. There were also some notes of roasted coffee beans. Its rich and decadent flavors were a perfect match for its smooth, velvety, creamy mouthfeel. I thought that the 13% ABV was rather well-disguised for the style. An absolute pleasure to drink in every way possible. Insanely delicious. 2013 Parabola is definitely an all-timer for me. Firestone Walker has blown me away yet again with their barrel-aged releases.

 952 characters

Photo of Roose13
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into a shaped pint glass. It's a 2013, no. 004.

A: Beautiful, thin black color. I poured it with minimal head, but about a half inch of thin head lingers throughout the entire enjoyment of this beer. Leaves a wall of bubbles

S: Sweet, dark chocolate; bourbon is also strong; coffee, vanilla and subtle cherry.

T: The bourbon is so strong in the taste, but not too strong if that makes any sense. Like, it's definitely there, but not over powering. The chocolate is also strong and sweet, dancing with the bourbon to make this a ridiculously tasty stout. A very rich beer. I get the vanilla and coffee lingering in the aftertaste as well.

M: Incredibly smooth, like liquid silk. It also lingers beautifully, leaving the entire mouth coated with all it's different flavors.

Overall: Seriously, this is one of the best effing beers I have ever had and may just be the best RIS I've ever enjoyed. I paid $15 for this and would easily drop $20 it's so freakin' good. Sipped it slow and made it last like a fine bourbon.

 1,034 characters

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,109 ratings.