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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
ParabolaParabola

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

4,893 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,893
Reviews: 1,005
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.46%
Wants: 2,301
Gots: 2,674 | FT: 189
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.

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]

(Beer added by: largadeer on 03-26-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Parabola Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,893 | Reviews: 1,005 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reserve Series No 003. 2012. 1 pint 6 fl oz (650ml) brown glass bottle with papered-over pressure cap served into a glassform bubbled pilsner glass in me friend Brendan's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given this beer's reputation.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food.

A: Pours a one finger head of slight tan colour, mocha soft cream, good thickness, and great retention for the 12.50% ABV. Colour is a solid nontransparent black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Predictable for the style, but nevertheless appealing.

Sm: The aroma's starting to get me more interested. Cream, vanilla, chocolate, moderately heavy oak, hints of roast, a light hint of booze, unwelcome caramelization, and unwelcome caramel. The oak distracts from the general tone of the beer. I'm a bit concerned about the oats, and I worry they'll make the mouthfeel too porter-like. A moderate strength subdued aroma. Not at all the bold flavours you'd expect from the style, but I'm hoping that's indicative of subtlety rather than restrained character.

T: Oak-laden, with nicely balanced caramel and hints of vanilla & chocolate. Nice dark malts comprise the foundation. Slight yeast comes through. Where's the roast? The style demands roast and it just isn't present. Certainly not a unique or special beer. It's a touch too sweet. The sugars used seemed simple and predictable. Built pretty close to the style; it lacks experimentation or boldness as a result. Some decent layering and subtlety, but not particularly complex for the style. I detect slight plum after suggested. Structurally indistinct; the first, second, and third acts are not clear and divisive but rather vague and poorly managed. It's good, but I'm far from impressed with it. The alcohol comes through as it warms.

Mf: Smooth - overly so for the style (even considering the oats). Tries too hard to have porter-like smoothness. Would be better with coarseness (ideally from roasted barley) to coax out the flavours. Not dry enough either, instead offering only jarringly overdone wetness. Adequately carbonated. Moderately heavy on the palate. A touch too thin.

Dr: Drinkable for the ABV - which is hidden alright. The expectations created by its high ratings and hype are certainly not met. This has been done similarly - and better - before many times There's nothing special or unique here. Pretty pricey for the disappointing quality. I expected great and got pretty good. I might try this on draught, but having now had most of Firestone Walker's beers (including Sucaba) I know that I oughtn't to get me hopes up.

B-

---

Revisited this on-draught because I kept seeing it hyped in the forums. Truncated review below. 17cl for $7.00.

A: 3 finger head, creamy, nice soft complexion, great thickness. Damn good (~10 minute) retention. Opaque black body colour.

Sm: Marshmallow, dark malts, chocolate malt, vanilla, cream. Lovely bourbon barrel notes including subtle vanilla and oak. No alcohol is detectable. Lovely aroma overall. No yeast or hops is/are detectable. Way better than the bottled form.

T: Syrupy, with molasses and marshmallow. Nice cream on the climax. Boozy. Chocolate malt, dark malts. The barrel notes hardly come through at all; no evocative vanilla or oak here. Very low flavour duration; it's brief and then it's gone. Timid intensity (save for the alcohol); shockingly restrained, to its detriment. Balance is off. The absence of roast is regrettable.

Mf: Nice creaminess, thickness, and carbonation. Smooth and wet. Strange presence on the palate; comes off somewhat artificial. Doesn't feel custom-tailored to the flavour profile.

Dr: Drinkable the high ABV, but quite pricey. Underwhelming overall compared to the hype. It's a decent beginner's imperial stout with timid barrel character, but timid and restrained does not equate to subtle and well integrated. I revisited this in good faith, but it's just not remarkable enough to justify its reputation or its high ratings. The barrel notes in particular are lacking compared to top beers in the style.

Low B-

kojevergas, May 29, 2012
Photo of Stevedore
3.36/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle of Batch #004 served chilled into an unlabeled snifter today, 8/22/2013. Have had this once before but since I'm at home enjoying it on my own, might as well write a complete review.

Pours a dark caramel brown colour, certainly not black but not far from it either. Its got a nice fluffy, bubbly light tan head that dissipates quickly into a bubbly collar, not much in way of film on the surface. Not much lacing to speak of which is fairly typical for a stout like this.

Its got a coconut and chocolate smell coming right out of the snifter. There's a kind of a sticky bourbon sweetness that reminds me of marshmallows, though that's not particularly strong here compared to say, BVDL or Rare. There's some deep flavours murking around here- maybe some toffee, a little bit of oak- but its kind of a mess right now where I can't really pick out one thing. There is a little bit of fusel here as well, unfortunately, which I am not a fan of.

Sipping this beer gives me a nice sweet twang straight up. It's that sweet bourbon. Its heavy on it. Then there's a bit of coconut, vanilla overlying it along with a bit of chocolate. But there really doesn't seem to be as much contribution from the base beer if that makes sense. I don't get the nice sugary chocolatey sweetness of Bourbon County or Black Note, nor is there that roast maltiness or the vanilla-ey creaminess of Assassin or Rare. It tastes like mellowed-out sweet bourbon with a splash of chocolate and tobacco, to be honest. Its not as complex as people make it out to be, in my opinion.

Disappointingly thinner body, on the medium body side. It doesn't have that creamy mouthfeel that you get with Bourbon County for example, but it is rather smooth. Carbonation is just right for the style and the aftertaste is of that sweet bourbon. A decent bit of booziness here, but not enough to deter me here. Its absolutely a sipper here.. not meant for pounding.

Overall, a very good barrel-aged imperial stout that's relatively readily available on the shelf at a solid price point. It showcases the bourbon, but not as well as a beer like Central Waters' Fifteen does.. but then again this is a shelf beer! I guess that "showcasing bourbon" thing is not enough to impress me these days.. plenty of BA stouts do a good job of that already. I just would like the base beer to stand out more in these types of beers. Otherwise, you might as well splash some bourbon in a non-BA stout. That being said, it's a good example of a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout so don't let my opinion prevent you from trying this beer. It's certainly worth drinking anytime.

Stevedore, Aug 23, 2013
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.46/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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.

Gueuzedude, Sep 30, 2013
Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Kevin for sharing this!

A- Body is big, thick, opaque and black. Pours with a soapy light brown head, which fades quickly, to a thin collar and leaves behind little lacing in the glass.

S- Nose is all about the bourbon barrel. Very woody, quite boozy, with a mild cocoa and bourbon sweetness.

T- Upfront is a big dose of roasted chocolate malt-which isn't present in the nose really at all and a pleasant surprise in the flavor. There is also a lot of oak and some bourbon. The alcohol becomes prominent for the finish in both flavor and heat.

M- Body is fairly heavy with a moderate weight and a lot of astringent alcohol consistency.

D- This brew, much like the full sail BBL stout, showcases the aspects of the barrel rather than the stout itself. Nothing wrong with that-but I prefer more balance. Its a decent, above average brew overall.

PittBeerGirl, May 24, 2010
Photo of guityler83
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage

A: poured with vigor into a snifter glass, the beer produced a finger of tan head composed of mixed bubbles. The foam sustained for about a minute before receding and left a layer of larger sized bubbles in the center with a ring around the edge. Streaky lacing when the carbonation is kicked up and medium alcohol legs are visible. The beer is opaque black with just a hint of dark brown when the carbonation kicks up on the top.

S: When the cap was cracked there was already an oak aroma seeping from the bottle. In the glass, big dark chocolate, coffee and molasses aroma. Vanilla and oak, with caramel and toffee notes are moderate in strength. Sweet impression overall with bourbon noticeable but no ethanol or harshness. Some mild citrus hop notes are also coming through surprisingly.

T: Lots of complexity from the malts - dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, molasses very upfront followed by caramel, vanilla, smoke, tobacco and roast. I get an interesting chocolate malt flavor as the beer warms up that reminds me of tasting pale chocolate malt in a homebrew shop – oxidation?. The barrel isn't as dominant in the flavor as the nose would lead me to believe, but there is some oak, vanilla and toffee notes mixed with light bourbon. No hop flavor and the bitterness is subdued.

M: Moderate alcohol warming, the beer drinks like its a 12%. Carbonation is mild to low with a big body like you'd expect from the style. There is some tingling on the lips/tongue from the bourbon.

O: I have to wonder if this beer isn't in the greatest shape given it's scores and reputation. Granted it has some age on it, if cellar'd decently that should have mellowed out some of the harsher qualities. However the malt/roast flavors coming through to me seem stale and or oxidized. Maybe I need to try a fresher example so I can give it a higher score but as it stands.. it didn't do so hot. CW16 is still my favorite BA Stout - I'll stick to that while I have a few left

guityler83, Aug 14, 2014
Photo of beertunes
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I know that this is a highly rated and sought after beer, but for me, it just didn't meet the hype. It was the expected black, but had no head. The aroma was subdued to the point of blandness. Some grainy malt, a whisper of roast and a solid alcohol scent.

The flavors weren't any bolder or more well-defined. The body was decent although much thinner than typical, which did help with drinkability. Overall, a good but not great beer. A relative disappointment from FW, a brewery I think very highly of.

beertunes, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of Beaver13
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle, 2012 version. Pours dark brown black with a small light brown head that quickly diminishes to a thin film that leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is grainy dark chocolate malts with some lactose and dark fruits and some sharp alcohol.

The flavor is sweet grainy chocolate malts, dark fruits with some roast and quite a bit of vinous alcohol in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

Overall, it reminds me of Old Viscosity. I remember this being better than this sample. It's in your face and not really well balanced. Too sweet and treacly at times, and the alcohol is too sharp for me. It's still a good beer though.

Beaver13, Aug 08, 2012
Photo of sordyl
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

sordyl, Sep 26, 2014
Photo of blakelive784
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1 pt 6 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours a jet black color with a light tan, thin head of one finger. Retention is decent, especially given the high ABV. Inviting, if a bit standard.

S - Earthy oak notes dominate over a strong but pleasant roasted malt body. Cream and caramel are present. Spicy ethanol on the back. I like the oak on the nose, though I think it hides some of the fine, subtle notes.

T - General oak notes are dominant. Surprisingly sweet. Restrained roasted malts are countered nicely by cream and lactic notes. All of the flavors are a bit subdued, in my opinion, and the alcohol is very present, even bordering obtrusive. Weak plum on the finish.

M - Full bodied, thick and coarse on the finish. Definitely boozy.

D - A good beer, though it's a bit restrained and I'm disappointed by it given the hype. Not memorable or unique.

blakelive784, May 29, 2012
Photo of mrunseen
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

mrunseen, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of ChrisPro
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

ChrisPro, Nov 16, 2011
Photo of Dave_Treat
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

Dave_Treat, Jul 26, 2013
Photo of ygtbsm94
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

ygtbsm94, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of mwbrady12
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

mwbrady12, Jul 18, 2013
Photo of ET678
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

ET678, Jul 16, 2013
Photo of oxdtown
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

oxdtown, Jun 11, 2014
Photo of jklecko2
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

jklecko2, Aug 05, 2013
Photo of tt0027
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

tt0027, Nov 07, 2012
Photo of stogirelli
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

stogirelli, Sep 22, 2013
Photo of rpaul2012
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

rpaul2012, Dec 19, 2011
Photo of kimjongill
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

kimjongill, Apr 05, 2014
Photo of jodybrutal
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

jodybrutal, Aug 19, 2014
Photo of ChrisKayler
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

ChrisKayler, Aug 14, 2014
Photo of E_Swift_
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

E_Swift_, Mar 14, 2014
Photo of HitchSlap
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

HitchSlap, May 12, 2014
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,893 ratings.