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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.


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3,675 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3675
Reviews: 921
rAvg: 4.6
pDev: 8.26%

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.

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)
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Ratings: 3,675 | Reviews: 921 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ISmith87


4.98/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

04-14-2014 15:15:07 | More by ISmith87
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.21/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Stopped into the Portsmouth Brewery for their start of Portsmouth Beer Week, where they had some tasty Imperial Stouts on tap.... First off? Parabola! Bring it! Got a 10oz tulip (at $8.00) to start off....

Glass contained a dark, jet-black brew, letting no light pass through.... Head was tan and thin, a rim-clinger, with minimal lace.... Nose had some choco and dark fruit, and bourbon notes were quite evident.... Body was full, heavy and chewy, with the bier being very smooth and creamy....

Had some sweetish notes, with woody bourbon right up front... warming alcohol was quite evident, and dark fruit notes made themselves clear.... dates and raisins were found amongst the bourbon action... Quite tasty!!!

4.21/5 rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25


Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2014 01:36:47 | More by Bierman9
Photo of vitALEity


4.14/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

This review is for the new, fresh 2014 Parabola on draft. $14 for an 8oz pour!

Appearance - Dark brown, no head or lacing.

Smell - Strong bourbon, chocolate, coffee

Mouth Feel - Perfect

Taste - Bourbon and more bourbon but not as layered, balanced or developed as a 2-3 year old bottle, which I prefer to this draft

Overall- very good but not outstanding.

Serving type: on-tap

02-09-2014 01:15:50 | More by vitALEity
Photo of BVukelich


4.11/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Part of a special "barrel" week at The Beer Junction. $3.60 for a 4oz pour, listed as 13.0% ABV. Opaque, black color with a tan head. Aroma was roasty (borderline burnt smell), picked up on the alcohol and bourbon. Flavor was really potent and bitter. It was thin and didn't leave any lace. Very strong bourbon aftertaste. This was part of a 4 beer sampler (all barrel aged) and I would say it came in 3rd. Definitely not bad and worth a try.

Serving type: on-tap

02-08-2014 00:50:18 | More by BVukelich
Photo of derftron


4.89/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had a 2012 version on draft at Belmont Station during the Bigger Badder Blacker fest.

12 oz pour

Black with minimal lacing and head. you know the deal

Slight carbonation

smell is out of this world. Sweet, chocolate, oak, bourbon, malty, and probably 20 other smells that combine into something great.

mouthfeel is thick buy not to the BCBS level thickness. They got it just right.

taste/overall - this takes the cake for me. there are many others right behind. But the year and a half of aging on this keg did wonders. Cannot reccomend an aged Parabola enough. so many flavors going on that all work in harmony with a perfect touch of barrel aging. you can taste the alcohol, but it is not hot at all. molasses, burnt sugar, malt, chocolate, dark figs. I have had most of the Firestone offerings and knew it would be good, but this aged version I could have drank for hours. bravo.

Serving type: on-tap

01-30-2014 18:40:29 | More by derftron
Photo of CTbrew32


4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This beer is damn near perfect, and the only drawback I could see would be the booziness. However, at 13% abv that is expected, and for me it didn't detract too much away from the enjoy-ability of the beer. At the front there is a dark chocolate bitterness with some coffee and booze, and on the back end it gets a lot smoother and creamier. Definitely can get the bourbon notes from the beer as well which comes across with nice molasses flavor and slight vanilla. Overall, if you don't mind booze in a beer( which lightens as it warms up) then this beer is a great choice. Great balance of sweetness and bitterness, and its definitely a must try.

Serving type: on-tap

01-04-2014 02:43:02 | More by CTbrew32
Photo of pants678


4.26/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black with an off-white head.

Nose is of caramel and bourbon.

Tobacco, raisin and molasses, then, of course, bourbon barrel. Prominent sweet, sharp chocolate and light tinges of cinnamon go very well with the high ABV, mixes instead of hiding it. Great roasted malt character, though can't pick out coffee specifically. A year old really is the way to go, I had a 3 year vertical. That gives it a mellow, cloudy base.

Dense, syrupy, delicious.

Serving type: on-tap

11-09-2013 16:36:13 | More by pants678
Photo of Auraan


4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured a deep brown/black with a slight red tinge when held to light and a thin ring of off-white head. Not as pure black as some Imperial Stouts, but beautiful. Scents of oak, coconut, bourbon, faint coffee hints of alcohol and a bit of sweetness. Very nice, definitely an oak aged RIS, rich and boozy. I love it. Flavor starts with roast malt, black coffee, oak, bourbon and sweet malt, with very faint hints of alcohol. The finish brings forth bittersweet cocoa, sweet chocolate and alcohol that carry into the aftertaste. Very good. Deep and strong in flavor, with all the notes of barrel aging and a good RIS as well. Mouthfeel is thick and heavy bodied with moderate carbonation, a smooth feeling and a slight hint of alcohol burn. Very easy to drink, hiding the 13% ABV quite well. Overall this is an excellent RIS. It's got the nice barrel aged quality and the core strengths of the style to carry it and it is just plain wonderful to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

11-09-2013 07:20:46 | More by Auraan
Photo of Axnjxn

North Carolina

4.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

tap at Mekong. snifter.

pours a pitch black with a small beige head. big chocolatey nose...boozy too. you can tell this'll be a big beer. taste is a perfect blend of chocolate, malt, bourbon...just excellently blended together. just lovely. so smooth. full bodied with low carbonation.

overall, one of the best RIS in the world.

Serving type: on-tap

11-04-2013 21:42:44 | More by Axnjxn
Photo of blackie


4.5/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

draft, pizzeria paradiso alexandria

a: served in a snifter, appears a leathery brown-black in color, a nice khaki head gives a slow fall to a slim ring

s: an incredibly dense and sticky aroma - molasses and dark sugars, dark chocolate, dried dark fruits, hints of espresso, and a strong current of boozy liquor barrel, vanilla, just awesome

m: excellent mouthfeel - full but balanced on the palate, rich but not too thick, carbonation a smooth moderate

t: a graceful monster of a flavor with seamlessly combined flavors of rich malts and a full vanilla-bearing liquor barrel influence, deep silky chocolate, espresso, molasses, and loads of leathery-sweet dark fruits, hugely complex, lovely lingering finish

o: this one fully lives up to the hype and is worth seeking out, a luscious treat but still ridiculously drinkable

Serving type: on-tap

09-03-2013 03:08:47 | More by blackie
Photo of anteater


4.36/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz pour on tap at Bailey's

A: Black with a medium dark tan head, good looking carb

S: Delicious oak and bourbon swirled with roasty malt

T: Very similar to the aroma. The first thing I noticed, as I do with many big barrel aged FW beers, is that at 12.5% this is incredibly mellow. There is roasty bitter malt, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, vanilla, oak. All the usual suspects. Its as if the identity of the flavor is fantastic but its all dialed down a bit too much

M: Smooth and thick, right amount of carb

O: Really delicious stuff, don't get me wrong. However, I don't think its worthy of its spot so high on the top 250 and I wish the flavors were a bit more intensified.

Serving type: on-tap

08-04-2013 01:27:58 | More by anteater
Photo of MCain04


4.4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Loved this stout. Had it on tap fresh at Big Star, Chicago. Smell was hard to pick up but was poured into a pilsner glass, sadly. The bourbon barrel aging is smooth and not too harsh. Great flavors throughout, with roasty malts, vanilla, toffee, but balanced by some bitterness. This was served way too cold by really opened up as it warmed.

Serving type: on-tap

07-11-2013 05:33:55 | More by MCain04
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

4.63/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

On-tap 6/18/2013 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a short beige head that fades slowly and leaves a very thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very robust containing roasted malts, chocolate, dark fruit and bourbon.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of chocolate, bourbon and some dark fruit. Then a very hearty roasted malt character comes in. The hops presence is very mild but complementary but brings a very good balance. The after-taste is full of dark chocolate bitter-sweetness.

M: Crisp and very smooth, heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easy, slightly filling, deceptively strong kick, excellent representation of style, this is a very good big stout to drink for as long as you can handle it.

Serving type: on-tap

06-19-2013 01:24:13 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of JordanPhraczek


4.03/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Served in a Harpoon Leviathan glass. great beer for a rainy day.

A - Black with an ivory colored head that quickly dissipates with some intermittent lacing as you drink. Honestly a bit thin.

S - Bourbon and alcohol. strong fig and roasted oat.

T - Fiery charred bourbon with enough malt to stand up to it. Packs a wallop, definitely a sipper. This beer makes you want to take the time to understand it's depth and it is an old sophisticated man beer. Cranberry-Dark Chocolate musk. Nails the style of Imperial Russian, but the real energy required to properly taste it is the whiskey character.

M - wonderful stickiness. leaves a burnt dry feeling in your mouth that I love.

O - can't get it often, nails the style, tastes like Kentucky.

Serving type: on-tap

06-12-2013 00:27:52 | More by JordanPhraczek
Photo of AndyP612


4.76/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served on tap at piece brewery and pizzeria in a tulip.

A- black and syrupy with no head. Literally filled to the brim which is very nice as far as cost wise but I would have appreciated to see and quaff some head.

S- coffee and slight bourbon in the nose. Smells nice and sweet.

T- oh man, huge punch of sweet chocolate, vanilla, creamy coffee. Not sure if I am stuffed up today but the palate on this is so much Bigger than the nose alludes to. The oak comes through.

M- very nice slightly syrupy and chewy not too big on mouthfeel. Nice balance slight dry finish.

O- absolutely phenomenal. Definitely lives up to the hype. Now I just wish I could find it in the bottle somewhere. Cheers.

Serving type: on-tap

05-29-2013 22:31:38 | More by AndyP612
Photo of GreesyFizeek

New York

4.81/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

8 oz poured from the tap at The Tap and Mallet in Rochester, NY.

Very dark, "never-ending abyss"-black. Opaque as hell. Lace sticks to the glass like crazy all the way down.

Smells like cookie dough, bourbon, and chocolate.

Tastes like cocoa powder, cookie dough, toasty coconut, subtle but incredible bourbon sweetness. Very roasty bitterness plays off the sweetness provided by the barrel aging. Some oak there as well.

As full bodied as they come. Very low but still present carbonation.

One of the best. The guys at Firestone Walker are straight ballers.

Serving type: on-tap

05-22-2013 23:18:14 | More by GreesyFizeek
Photo of dar482

New York

4.88/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I had this aged 2012 in keg at Brouwerij lane.

The beer comes in a pitch black with a khaki ring.

The aroma has big toffee and caramel sweetness with dark roasted notes. With some barrel wood notes. Deep rich dark raisin.

The flavor has a nuttiness with deep roasted malt. Very creamy. Vanilla. Coconut. Burnt caramel. Bitter darkest chocolate. Espresso. Definitely that oakiness from the barrels. There's a bit of that sticking sweetness. Finish lingers a bit, but not long. The beer lacks an alcohol bite. The aging must have really mellowed it out.

KBS is still my favorite barrel aged stout. However, this is one of my favorite still. Under Bourbon County Coffee, but above the regular version. So freaking smooth, wonderful barrel age character, just an amazing and delicious.

Serving type: on-tap

05-20-2013 05:28:22 | More by dar482
Photo of Mikecap


4.96/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours a jet black with a brownish head that sticks around as I sip on this monster. As it disappears, it leaves beautiful lacing on my tulip glass.

Smell: So much going on here! I get whiffs of chocolate at first, followed by roasted barley and sweet malts. Definitely smell hints of bourbon at the end and maybe even some slight fruity undertones.

Taste: Absolutely lovely, chocolate and roasted barley with a definite alcohol hint coming at you as you sip. You can get some other sweetness in there as well, I can pick out some vanilla and molasses. The alcohol is definitely present, but this is still a great sipper.

Mouthfeel: Very strong bodied without a ton of carbonation. Very smooth at 13% which is masked well but can be tasted for sure.

Overall: This is one of the best beers I have ever had and I would love to have it again and again. The best Imperial Stout that I have tried, as I would place it slightly above Stone and BCBS which were two of my favorites. This is one of the most perfect beers I have tried, and worth seeking out.

Serving type: on-tap

05-18-2013 16:31:54 | More by Mikecap
Photo of Rainier


5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 Vintage on tap.
I would just say, this year's vintage is hands down so much better than last years. Last year's had too much coconuts, but this year's had the perfect amount. I really don't know what else to say as this is hands down the best RIS I have ever had. Not sure if huna, KBS, dark lord is going to be better.

Appearance: Hella dark but nice. Hella alcohol lacing. Hella everything(good thing) Nice head too.
Smell: This is the best part of the beer. Hella chocolate. Perfect amounts of coconut. Hella good bourbon smell. Hella great smelling beer
Taste: Heaven. All I can say
Moutfeel: Syrupy, but not too much. Had good amount of carbonation but not too much.
Overall: Holy crap this beer was effing delicious..

tl;dr - Hella good.

I had a sample snifter of this during a tour.

Serving type: on-tap

04-13-2013 23:28:57 | More by Rainier
Photo of joeseppy


4.41/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My snifter resembles a jet black oyster pearl.

Aromas of dark cocoa, whisky, coffee and candied molasses.

Taste is exactly like it smells. Smoky, sweet coffee, cocoa, hint of licorice. Slight bitterness and a warming alcohol sensation.

Bold and tasty. Well crafted and balanced brew. Got this on a rare FSW tap takeover. A treat to experience-wish it were here on a regular basis.

Serving type: on-tap

01-31-2013 04:33:09 | More by joeseppy
Photo of pepsican


3.6/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

tap at dld 08. Black, tan head. Aroma is buttered popcorn. Flavor is black jelly bean, bourbon, mollases, coffee, diacytal, a bit of hops round it out. Strong boozy finish, little carbonation

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2013 20:24:53 | More by pepsican
Photo of RyanLigeia

North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at McLaddens Irish Public House in Hampden, MA on 9/29/12.

Pitch black, completely opaque. No head which is expected with a 12.5% abv but there are a few small carb bubbles floating around the edges on top.

Smells heavily of bourbon, dark roasted coffee beans and some rich milk chocolate underneath. Just a hint of oak as well.

Taste is similar to smell but the coffee shines through a little more. Bourbon is still the most prominent but the oak flavor is much more noticeable here. A lot of booze in the finish, very warming. Also VERY sweet. Almost too sweet.

Mouthfeel is smooth, heavy, LOTS of alcohol warmth as it goes down. Low carbonation.

Overall this is a great stout! A little too sugary and the bourbon is kind of overpowering but those are my only complaints.

Serving type: on-tap

09-29-2012 19:26:17 | More by RyanLigeia
Photo of mfavoino


4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the Parkway Tavern in Tacoma, WA.

Appearance: Super rich brown, almost black color with a rim of espresso head.

Smell: Distinctly bourbon barrel character, vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts are all prominent. Intense scent that had a lot going on. All the aromas were easily distinguishable.

Taste: Initially sweet with chocolate and some brown sugar flavor. Roasted malts really come out with a wood flavor, and the bourbon is definitely noticeable, although not overwhelming. Vanilla and some tobacco too.

Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel, pretty strong alcohol flavor, and light carbonation.

Overall: FW kills it again. This is the first time I've been able to try Parabola, and it has so much flavor that I was analyzing every sip. Can't wait to try the bottle I have after it gets a bit more age on it.

Serving type: on-tap

08-02-2012 04:27:36 | More by mfavoino
Photo of TheRealBigC


5/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-26-2012 22:17:49 | More by TheRealBigC
Photo of Prospero


4.48/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2012 version on-tap and 2011 from a bottle tasted in 3/12 after some age, this review is for the on-tap as I found it more enjoyable.

Appearance is midnight black. If light passed through it, I didn't see it. Great 1-2 finger dark tan head that shows off it's barrel-aging.

The aroma is strong of oak, bourbon, some vanilla and nice roasted coffee. It just smells rich and complex.

The taste follows the aroma nicely as it tastes as rich as it smells. Lots of roasted coffee and chocolate flavors mixed with the oaky vanilla complexity that makes this a great savoring beer. I feel like I need a cigar to pair with this beer. Some bitterness, but not overwhelming, I feel like some age could smooth it out some. Some bourbon, but blended well with the malt bill.

In terms of mouthfell it's a rich, robust, full bodied beer. Medium to low carbonation, but still retains a smooth feel. It may be like motor oil to some, but delicious for me!

Have 3 bottles of 2012 I'm looking forward to aging to see if it balances out even more.

Serving type: on-tap

06-28-2012 17:47:05 | More by Prospero
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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,675 ratings.