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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.


Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

3,701 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3701
Reviews: 922
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)
View: Beers (64) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 3,701 | Reviews: 922 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ryan1788a5


4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a large snifter. 2013 vintage.

A: Absolute black, as in the absence of light. Little to no head, but this is not unusual for such a large barrel aged beer. Lacing is small and spotty.

S: Sticky dark fudge sauce. Thick, chewy dark caramel. Brown sugar. Hints of espresso and coffee beans. Warming vanilla. Bourbon has a firm but gentle grip on the nose, oak as well. Touch of char and acrid smoke. Bruised prune, fig, and baked apple. Highly complex, wave upon wave of bold new aromas. Excellent.

T: Bakers chocolate, black cocoa. Waves of chewy dark caramel and fudge sauce bring a lot of sweetness. Rolos candy. Double chocolate cake generously topped with a thick chocolate frosting. Mocha and chocolate biscotti. Hints of brown sugar. Bourbon is apparent and assertive, bringing a stiff whiskey punch. It never gets too hot though, as the beer is so big that it can handle it. Subtle fruity undertones of fig and baked apple. Woody vanilla and underpinnings of oak. Hollow hop bitterness, but the counterpoints provided by the oak and bourbon also help to keep the massive malt sweetness from running amok. Infinitely long finish of caramel and fudge with receding bourbon and a kiss of smokey roasted malts.

M: Massively thick and chewy. Very full and round in the mouth with a lot of substance. For all its size and heft, it still does not seem overly weighty. It glides easily over the tongue with a refined and effortless velvety smooth texture. Little in the way of carbonation, but it isn't really needed. Plenty of warming alcohol.

O: Wow. An absolutely enormous beer, but such a pleasure to sip. Hugely complex, but surprisingly lithe on the palate for its size. It's one of the rare beers that not only lives up to the hype, but surpasses it. Firestone Walker's barrel aging and blending programs simply cannot be touched.

Note: Made for an amazing pairing with Sartori Espresso rubbed BellaVitano.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 02:24:17 | More by ryan1788a5
Photo of minterro


4.46/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Been waiting on this one for a special occasion to crack this one. Today was nothing super special however I could count it as spill over from MSU making it to the big ten title game, along with finishing a small project at work. But most importantly it is my 300 reviewed beer, not rated, reviewed!

Bought from Little's Wine and Liquor store over the summer (maybe around July). The specs on this are all posted reserve series 003 from march of 2012. I believe it was aged 12 months in barrels and it was cellaring for around a year and a half.

Shared with some friends and poured into a snifter.

A&S: Lots of dark fruits and sweetness up front. Surprisingly there is a decent amount of oakyness left over even after a year plus of aging. Not as much chocolate or alcohol as expected. Jet black colored beer. Creamy tan head that hangs around in a very thin layer.

T&M: Upfront a pretty powerful amount of bourbon, although bourbon isn't described in the beer label's description. Decent amount of vanilla present upfront and midway through the taste. A present but not overwhelming smokiness in the finish. Other favors include licorice and some sour tones. Dark & milk chocolate along with some alcohol present in the finish. For the most part the alcohol is well hidden. More mild in the taste then I expected. Very creamy feel, medium to high body and lower carbonation (but not completely dead).

Overall: As with all of firestone walker's beers really solid. I had pretty high expectation for this beer, and it lived up to most of them. I would be interested in trying this beer "fresher". I would say it was a little overrated being in the top 10.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 02:53:15 | More by minterro
Photo of vinny21bal


3.64/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very good beer here but a little over rated because of the alcohol in it. I have tried it multiple years and it just doesn't do it for me. I can understand how people can like it. It just isn't my thing. The smell is really good, and the appearance is amazing almost like motor oil. It is just a lot of booze flavor and to big of a beer to sit and drink.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2013 04:07:56 | More by vinny21bal
Photo of StoutItOutLoud


4.24/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22-oz bomber to tulip, shared. 2011 vintage, courtesy of daniloknezic.

Thick, slow pour, dark as night, very slight red tinge at the edge. Minimal, 1/2-finger tan head fades to a very minimal collar.

Whiskey dominates the nose. Oak, tobacco, coconut. Vanilla with warmth, perhaps toffee.

Oaky bourbon, dark cocoa, stone fruit. Vanilla at the back end.

Agree with many of the observations of Stevedore here. It is not particularly thick, moderately carbonated. Owing perhaps to the predominance of the bourbon on the palate, it is lacking the alegasmic "fudginess" of Baudoinia (or even the 2012 BCBS I sampled on tap last weekend). It is not as creamy or smooth as Black Note. Way too much bourbon, even at 2+ years.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2013 02:50:25 | More by StoutItOutLoud
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 SquidLTV


4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage bottle poured into a 5 oz snifter

A - pours a dark black with a slight off white head that disappated quickly

S - notes of chocolate similar to a tootsie roll, caramel, bourbon and a slight bit of heat hit the nose

T - very similar to the nose. Chocolate, caramel, boozey and with the barrel coming through on the backend

M - medium body with a slight amount of heat. Very well hidden for 13%

O - Big, beautiful, boozey,bangin' beer. #myfirstwhale

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2013 23:37:01 | More by SquidLTV
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 TwelveOunces


4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a tulip
2013 Vintage
review #550

A- Pours pitch black in the glass. A rather large frothy brown head. Pretty impressive alcohol legs as well.

S- Strong bourbon nose. A hint of alcohol. A lot of bitter dark chocolate. Burnt sugar. Leather and a hint of oak.

T- A big dark chocolate flavor at first. A nice burnt sugar and caramel. Sticky molasses. A big bourbon character, lots of sour mash. A burnt oak flavor. Lots of wood flavor. Some alcohol, I did have this beer a few months ago and the alcohol has receded quite a bit.

M- Big and full bodied, some alcohol burn.

O- One of the best out there.

Serving type: bottle

11-04-2013 00:24:54 | More by TwelveOunces
Photo of mjpolzin


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

Tried this big beer recently and followed it up with TG's Assassin on a night of "Big Stout" tasting.

This beer would be a great candidate to age. I had the 2013 Vintage and although it was very good, it had a little too much of the roastiness that I don't love in fresh imperial stouts. With some time though, my guess is this taste would mellow out allowing some of the other flavors to come through. Overall though, this beer was fantastic as it has a great bourbon smell and taste to help compliment the imperial stout characteristics that are there behind the bourbon.

Serving type: bottle

11-03-2013 19:16:35 | More by mjpolzin
Photo of drmcleod10


4.78/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Served in Bottle at restaurant in Monterey 2012 Version -- had August 2013

A - Amazing Dark as night with small head. Minimal Carbonation.

S - Amazing cocoa chocolate, vanilla, coffee with minimal booze smell

T - One of my all time favorite beers. Taste as it smells. Alcohol is perfectly hidden in this monster. Chocolate, oatmeal, marshmallows, vanilla, coffee. Amazing flavors all come out of this beer as it warms to 55

M - Nice and creamy, smooth with full body.

O - One of my favorite stouts to date. Still have Dark Lord, Darkness, Berserker, Speedway and a couple others in the cellar to try. Comparable to the Abyss which is at the top of my stout list right now. It makes its way to the top due to the low level or carb, creamy full bodied mouth feel, and the aging has made this beer nearly flawless

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2013 15:45:39 | More by drmcleod10
Photo of mtomlins

Ontario (Canada)

4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 650 ml bomber into a stemmed tulip glass.
Thanks to afallon86 for the trade!!!

A: Midnight black in color and pouring to 2 fingers of thick, creamy mocha head slowly settling to a thin creamy collar and leaving loads of lacing.

S: Sweet malt, impressive roasted character, a bit of espresso and a big boozy bourbon nose, but in balance with the rest of the beer.

T: Sweet and rich! Massive dark roasted malt character, raisins, figs, molasses, dark brown sugar; dark chocolate and a bit of coffee and lots of boozy bourbon. As the beer warms, the boozy bourbon becomes stronger and the alcohol becomes known.

M: Big body and medium low carbonation; rich, silky, smooth.

O: Dark, rich bitter…amazing! Extremely balanced and smooth. It is just spot on!

Serving type: bottle

10-29-2013 13:09:26 | More by mtomlins
Photo of magictacosinus


4.51/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally found an opportunity to open up a bottle of Parabola I have on me. I've been very impressed overall with FW's barrel aging program, and this lived up to my expectations. 2013 vintage (in Four Roses barrels!!). I actually had the chance to take a sip of this vintage a few months prior to this review, and although the bottle in question had been opened 3 weeks before I tried it, it was STILL impressive in spite of its flat and old feel. Poured out of a 22oz bottle into a tulip wine glass. Split with others for obvious reasons anticipating inebriation.

Pours an extremely darkened (yet not totally opaque) black color, complete with a lovely head that's mocha-brown tinged that rises about 2-3 fingers high in the glass. Other than relatively large tears, this leaves behind scattered patches of lacing, although not as much as I'd expect as this doesn't seem to be bottle conditioned. It DOES however maintain excellent head retention when considering the ABV at hand, and the color never seems to let go in the same vein of an excellently brewed espresso. Quite eye candy from the very start - leaves you excited to try it.

The aroma is even more exciting - big yet boldly refined notes of bourbon sweetness and roasted stout characteristics that are both rich and refined. At first, the bourbon immediately comes through, displaying notes of vanilla and coconut shavings, as well as caramel and light leather and tobacco. Soon, however, it dispels slightly to reveal wonderful notes of dark fruit, ranging from raisins to dark ripe cherries, all topped with molasses, cinnamon (the largest spice, actually), brown sugar, and light anise. The roasted notes are a little buried under the sugar and spices, but it's most definitely there - roasted oats, light coffee, cocoa nibs, and light dust and earth. Extremely complex, but the bourbon is rather strong at times. Still, ranks up there as one of the most memorable aromas I've come across on a bourbon barrel blended stout.

At first, you're immediately washed with notes of sweet bourbon, with vanilla, coconut, caramel, and light butterscotch, but very soon it fades away and the roasted, oat forward malty notes, as well as barrel spices, start to come in to create something truly beautiful. The best way I can describe drinking this is the equivalent of chewing on bourbon toasted chocolate caramel covered espresso beans. Roasted notes of coffee and chocolate cut the sweetness dramatically, and hide the ABV in order to create a more refined drinking experience. Tobacco, cherries, leather, and floral textures follow, as well as the wonderful caramelized cinnamon and maple syrup flavors that complete the journey. Silky and velvety, with excellent carbonation and thickness that makes this comfortable and delightful to sip. A true pleasure overall.

Without any doubt, this vintage may be the best one FW has developed in their line of barrel aged beers, and the drinkable qualities of this are absurdly superior. Sadly, I don't think this would age very well, as I feel the roasted, fresh herbal notes are what make this unique, and it would most definitely lose them over time. I'm going to experiment with aging this for a year and see how it holds up. No matter what, however, this is a true treasure. Lives up to the hype, and is totally worth tracking down. I haven't had the opportunity to try or to crack open any other significant amount of widely considered world class bourbon aged stouts so far, but I'm wondering if most people should bother even MAKING any when we have FW's barrel program. This is amazing stuff - completely exceeded my expectations with its complexity.

UPDATE (1/6/2014): Damn the hype! This is amazing stuff, no doubt, but after pitting it in a bourbon barrel stout blind tasting some time ago, this didn't even make the top. Very sweet compared to other offerings of its kind, but perhaps the best one that's easy to get. Gets a lot of those bourbon sweet oak notes that I find a little difficult to wade through. This is best fresh - once it loses that roasted character, it gets a little too putrid, herbal, and sweet. Still, phenomenal stuff, but let's not forget to be objective even about our favorite beers.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2013 07:12:27 | More by magictacosinus
Photo of Trulyamazing

New Jersey

2.89/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This beer confused me. All the hype I've read had me expecting something different. This is just too intense for me. Maybe years from now my pallet will develop to like this one. I love imperial stouts. In fact I prefer them, but there is something going on with this that I couldn't even finish it. Funny thing is, I think I'm the only one.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2013 08:53:12 | More by Trulyamazing
Photo of jbaker67


4.66/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black pour with small brown head and patchy lacing. The aroma is rich with roasted malts, dark chocolate, burnt wood and light bourbon. Similar flavor with some vanilla, light coffee and faint dark fruits. It hides the alcohol rather well. Full body with a soft and smooth velvety feel. An excellent sipper and a truly incredible beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-13-2013 16:01:09 | More by jbaker67
Photo of Jas45678


4.44/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle (2013) into snifter

Pours a deep black with a small tan head. Smell is dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, marshmallows and some dark fruits. Taste is bourbon and coffee with some dark chocolate and a little vanilla and toffee. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with light carbonation. Overall a great beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2013 01:26:32 | More by Jas45678
Photo of Gueuzedude


3.46/5  rDev -24.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-30-2013 02:27:36 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of MaartenvanDoorn


4.69/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Good, nice and dark. Looks more like coffee than beer, actually.
Smell: The smell is nice. Coffee-like. Also hints of chocolate.
Taste: Very rich taste. Hints of caramel, nuts, coffee, vanilla and also a very nice alcohol taste. Not too heavy, the balance is perfect.
Mouthfeel: my favorite part. Very well balanced. A sweet, thick beer. Very nice thickness.
Overall: awesome beer!

Serving type: bottle

09-27-2013 07:11:57 | More by MaartenvanDoorn
Photo of eric5bellies


4.61/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a Chimay chalice with my beer buddies, Anthony, Andrew and Joel

A - Pours a midnight black with no light. The head is one fingered and reduces to a film.

S - Aromas of Bourbon, toasted poppy seeds raisins and current with a little booze.

T - Plenty of vanilla, oak and raisins up front, fruit cake comes through on the mid palate with dark fruit and raisins on the back palate, before the balanced bourbon vapors kick in for a lingering finish. Excellent

M - Full body with medium carbonation, a very creamy feel and everything is in harmony.

O - This is a very well constructed brew. The bourbon aspect is introduced with balance and there are still a lot of other flavours on offer. The creaminess is truly impressive. I could drink this beer as a night cap constantly.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2013 09:34:11 | More by eric5bellies
Photo of joaopmgoncalves


4.94/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Dark brown body with a caramel two-fingered thick head.
S: Bourbon. Bourbon. Bourbon. And yeah, some quality booze (there are some booze that are not good at the nose, but this one is), vanilla and only some hops in the back.
T: Bourbon. Bourbon. Bourbon. And yeah, some coffee due to the high rostiness of the malt and maybe some chocolate I guess.
M: Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. The 82 IBUs mixed with this British Yeast makes it so soft in mouth, while a bit smoothly harsh in the sip and then it dries your mouth out. This is just fantastic.

O: I don't know what to say - This is probably the best beer I've ever had. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Bourbon. Awesome.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2013 22:32:11 | More by joaopmgoncalves
Photo of boilermakerbrew


4.81/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle.

A- Pours pitch black and thick with about a one finger, tan colored head. Head retains as the body of the beer is dark and ominous. Lacing is very good for the smaller sized head left on the top.

S- A mild intermingling of charred barrel notes, semisweet vanilla, bourbon spiciness, and rich dark malts. Really a complex, but consistent, scent throughout the entire duration of the smell. Chocolate is a little more prominent and noticeable at the very end.

T- Starts with a smooth dark malt flavor. Mild coffee mixes with semisweet chocolate before giving way to the barrel flavor profile. The middle of the drink is barrel dominant, yet mild. Vanilla and a hint of bourbon meld together to provide a smooth, gentle barrel flavor. Towards the end of the drink, more traditional RIS flavors come out in the form of mildly bitter dark malts. Just a hint of a dark fruit flavor from the dark malts. Ends with just a small bit of lingering barrel spiciness.

M- Tick and smooth, but just a little high in the carbonation department. Barrel is subdued enough that this isn't a sipper, but the alcohol will catch you if you don't respect it. Overall, this one just feels smooth.

Overall, this beer lives up to its billing. As far as barrel aged stouts go, this is right there with BCBS and KBS. I think the oatmeal gives this beer an edge in smooth feel over some others.

Serving type: bottle

09-06-2013 01:43:36 | More by boilermakerbrew
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 Stevedore


4.25/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2013 02:31:50 | More by Stevedore
Photo of UpToMeBeer


4.98/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2013 03:41:29 | More by UpToMeBeer
Photo of micromaniac129


4.54/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

What a lucky score I got at Craft beer outlet. A parabola #004.
I poured this into my firestone tulip after letting this brew warm up a bit.
The color is deepest brown with very sutle hints of ruby. The head was deepest mocha and lingered long after the pour as a thick foamy ring. Spotty lacing was left on the glass.
The aroma has a depth but is dominated by a huge alcohol presence. It seems to take over the smell. That aside one can smell dark fruits, coffee or espresso, vinilla roasted malts and bourbon barrels.
Drinks thick and velvetty on the palate but with touchs of tannins that make it semi dry.
A bold roasted malt flavor greets you first perhaps with even some char and burnt malts.
Considerable alcohol notes intermingle and weave through the flavor. The alcohol presence is really too much for me, it's very dominate in the taste like in the nose.
Like the nose the flavor depth is quite deep I can taste coffee, vinilla, licorise, fruits, char and oak to name a few.
A wonderfull beer very complex and flavorfull. The alcohol and bourbon were through the roof for me. I cut the rest of the bottle with some DBA. The mix made an excellent bourbon barrel black IPA.

Serving type: bottle

08-09-2013 11:41:21 | More by micromaniac129
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,701 ratings.