Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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ParabolaParabola

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

1,063 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,063
Hads: 5,548
rAvg: 4.51
pDev: 3.33%
Wants: 2,799
Gots: 3,203 | FT: 244
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  14.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged for 8 months in circa 1990's Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.

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]
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,063 | Hads: 5,548
Photo of Sammy
3.71/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Mikesgroove for indulging me. Pours thick black with nearly black head. This is a bourbon story. Bourbon hits you in the nose and is strong, with alcohol apparent, in the taste. I am Ok with bourbon in moderation, we are not a corn distilled fan nation, but it was too much. Cocoa powder and coconut was also experienced and not integrated. This is above average body, it was finishable, I owed it to the brewers. Not as great as many other RIS I have consumed of late, it is an example of what is turned out as a big beer. (530 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.42/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage.

Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch khaki head that fades to a thin film on the top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. The smell of this beer is very complex with toasted coconut, vanilla, wood, milk chocolate, and roasted malt. Taste is the same as the nose with more of a cocoa powder flavor coming through than milk chocolate. Mild roasty bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good stout with very complex smells and flavors. Some of the smells and flavors remind me a lot of Abacus which I can only assume is from the barrel aging program both beers went through. I am glad I have a few more of these in my cellar to enjoy in the future. (800 characters)

Photo of metter98
4.47/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin tan head that quickly faded away and left some lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are strong aromas of bourbon, oak and vanilla on the nose along with some hints of alcohol.
T: Quite complex, the taste is very similar to the smell with flavors of oak and vanilla and also has notes of chocolate and hints of wine in the flavors. The complexity increases as the beer warms up.
M: It feels full-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation with heat from the alcohol in the finish.
O: Despite its strength, the beer doesn’t taste overly strong but is a good sipping beer because its complex aroma and taste will retain your interest. (777 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.24/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Skuter for getting this out to me.

A: Pours near-black with a nice tan head that sticks around with a bit of lacing.

S: Very, very nice. The first thing I notice is quite a bit of oak alongside some vanilla and bits of char. In the background there are notes of chocolate and roasted coffee.

T: Much the same as the nose, but the roasted malt and oak take over a little bit, not allowing many of the subtle complexities to come through. It is very clear that this played a big role in the final FW13 blend.

M: Nice and creamy. Medium to full body.

D: Quite drinkable, although I really wish that the flavor profile was as well-integrated and complex as the nose. I'm definitely looking forward to trying this with a bit of age on it. (753 characters)

Photo of brentk56
4.17/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 bottling

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with a ringlet of foam that fades away though it leaves some dots and dashes behind

Smell: Chocolate, oatmeal/raisin and Bourbon

Taste: Rich chocolate flavors, up front, with the oatmeal/raisin and marshmallow flavors developing; by mid-palate, the Bourbon adds its heft to the sweeter elements, creating a boozy counterpoint; after the swallow, the sweeter flavors re-emerge, providing balance into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, slightly creamy; boozy, with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: As can be inferred from the geometry of its name, this beer is still moving along the curve to the apogee; not sure how long the process will take but it is still a ways away from its optimal point of consumption (770 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.72/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

this is a near perfect beer, and defnitely the best firestone brew ive had, including the anniversary blend. pours jet black, dense and mean, with a one inch mocha colored head that fades out after a few minutes. smells is incredible. tons of wood, vanilla, bourbon notes, wine tannons, fresh pipe tobacco, chocolatey malt. i could smell this beer for ages. the flavor is lovely, very rich. notes of oak, milk chocolate, burned sugar, and that pipe tobacco marry perfectly in the mouth for a long complex drinking experience. not sure ive had any stout this good. mouthfeel is right on. velvety smooth with all that body, mellow carbonation from the barrel time. overall this may be one of the best stouts out there, its absolutely fantastic, and worth every penny of the 15 bucks it cost. you must must try this (812 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Insane intensity and full of character, this Imperial Russian Stout is one for the ages.

Dark, dark brown (nearly black) with almost complete opaqueness, only admitting light around the estreme edges. Froathy tan head formation leads to average retainage (falters underneath the thinning of 13% abv.). Light on lacing but moderate on classic brandy legging.

Deep and complex aromas start and finish with brownie-like chocolaty notes that are decorated with cherry, sherry, soy, grape, dates, figs, caramel, vanilla, and aged woods. With all that going on, the beer's aroma is all about the bittersweet chocolate and French roast coffee.

Chocolatey early, the beer morphs into Irish Coffee flavors (think whisky and cream), and fruitness that comes equally from fruity esters and alcohols. Again, aged and dehydrated fruits of cherries, apples, figs, dates, raisons all give a rum-soaked fruitcake flavor that carries through to the finish and aftertaste.

Full and rich early, the beer breaks early to finish with an alcohol thinning texture and ultimately warm, maybe hot finish. Very drinkable because it doesn't start too thick but doesn't finish thin, fusal, or abrasive.

Very well balanced throughout, Parabola demonstrates all of what is prominant about the spread of flavors that make up the Russian Imperial Stout profile. All of this manifests in a beer that reviels new flavors with each warming sip. Delicious and succulent from sip to finish, this beer drinks much more easily than it should.

Thanks Auroracrisis! (1,530 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.67/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capone's Black Friday event, this beer poured out as a very dark black color with a thin tan head on top. The smell of the beer was roasted and sweet, some aromas of wood and sweet bourbon on the nose. The taste of the beer is just stunning... I really couldn't believe how nice this tasted. The sweet bourbon flavors come out perfectly in this brew. The mouthfeel of this beer was thick and oily just like it should be. Overall this brew is special. It's very very good! (481 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.21/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a nice large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of black chocolate with some light vanilla notes and some light dry roasted malt. Taste is dominated by loads of black chocolate notes with some light dry roasted malt and some vanilla and light bourbon notes. Taste is definitely quite complex and not as dry as expected with quite a bit of residual sugar coming through. Body is full with a really nice creamy texture and some good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. I can’t find many fault in this beer except that that bourbon could bit a bit more pronounced. (641 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz bottle into a tulip. Parabola is an opaque obsidian color, viscous but well carbonated, topped by an inch of head that slowly recedes to a crown.

The aroma is wonderfully nuanced, roasted malt at balance with notes of dark bittersweet chocolate, spicy black licorice, mellow spirits and fruity red wine. Alcohol is noticeable, but just barely.

Bold flavors of dark chocolate, rich molasses, sweet whiskey and black licorice hit the taste buds first. There's a slight fruity, vinous quality to it as well, enhanced by a light tannic astringency. Barrel aging makes its presence known without overwhelming the complexities of the base beer, which has not always been the case in past iterations of this beer; this is clearly the most balanced batch of Parabola yet out of those I've tried. It has a hefty, chewy texture with a firm lingering roasted bitterness that clings to the tongue after a few sips and doesn't let go. Sweetness is reserved, at a perfect balance with the bitterness and tannins. The more I drink this, the more impressed I am. I've tried several batches of this beer over the years, some aged entirely in bourbon barrels, others in rye whiskey barrels, some a blend of different components. This one really nails it; the balance, nuance and delicacy make it my favorite batch yet. Thankfully, it's the one we finally got in bottles. (1,367 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.49/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Wil for busting this out at the Ludachris summer bbq. Never thought i'd ever see a bottle of this! Review is from notes.

Pours placidly with little activity, inky black with a glassy surface. Some sticky mocha foam flecks to the edges, forming a ring with some spotty lace too. As the glass is tilted, traces of tiny carb bubbles slowly creep upwards.

Woody tobacco and mellow roasted coffee in the aroma. Just a hint of the barrel, but it's masterfully integrated.

Rich dark chocolate smudged with oak, with a well integrated taste of mellow bourbon that lingers in the end. Traces of vanilla and coconut blend easily with a mellow bitterness. Though there's little indication of heat, it's still a mellow sipper best shared. I'm most impressed with how seamlessly Parabola is put together, nice work from the team at Firestone Walker... (858 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.92/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Can this beer live up to the hype, I have a lot of expectations on it to be honest. I have been staring at it on my wants list for 3 years, dying to get a taste, but with no luck. Then they bottle it and I go into full on rage mode to get some. A kind BA sent me a bottle and I am in heaven. My son graduated yesterday, what better way to celebrate I could not think of one.

Served chilled and poured into a snifter, this one was consumed on 05/26/2010.

Deep and dark, black as night this one poured with a tremendous fury. Evil looking and thick as oil it came at me . Small two finger head settled down and coated the sides with sticky chocolate colored lacing that let me know I was in for it.

As I reach in and take a whiff it hits me like a ton of bricks. Deep aroma of roasted malts, huge bourbon notes , vanilla, molasses, tons of rich oak and lots of sugary and boozy touches. Hard to explain, just soo complex I dont know where to begin. Warming just confuses me more as the profile seems neverending. Each sip is like liquid god for me. Deep roasted notes, coffee, light licorice, bourbon, boozy flavor that seems to dominate early on but fade as it starts to warm. Vanilla, and oak, chocolate, rich decadent notes of toffee and never ending complexity welcome me and wont let me go. Smooth carbonation, full, complex body, delicous, perfect nightcap.

Overall everything I wanted it to be and then some. One of the best BA beers I have ever had. It works on every level possible. So worth seeking out. (1,515 characters)

Photo of zeff80
4.59/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Good looking Imperial Stout. Opaque, jet black hue with a small, light brown head of fluffy foam. Nice retention and minimal lacing.

S - Lots of dried dark fruits like raisin, plum and maybe some figs. Also, chocolate, roasted malt and bourbon notes.

T - Delicious beer. So much balance in a huge beer. Bourbon, raisin, rich dark chocolate, toffee, vanilla. Fantastic.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth with a dry finish. A medium to full bodied beer with a potent alcohol warmth.

D - Again, a fantastic tasting brew. I wish I could get my hands on some more. (568 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.82/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Blue Palms 1st Anniversary

A: Dark as night and wonderful viscosity to it. No head and no visible carbonation.

S: Vanilla, chocolate, licorice, some graham cracker, and slight booze.

T: A truly amazing beer. Very smooth vanilla flavor from the barrel, lots of chocolate, and some graham cracker. The booze is very well hidden in this monster, as well.

M: Huge body, velvety smooth.

D: I was expecting this one to be really overwhelming, but it wasn't at all. A fantastic beer, one that I wish I could have more often, and I actually ended up buying two glasses of it today. (592 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
4.22/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Big thanks to the Central PA group of the Gang Bang BIF for this bottle!

Another big Want brought forth thanks to this BIF. Good times. It pours a straight onyx topped by a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises chocolate syrup, roasted malts, molasses, very light oak, vanilla, and caramel. The taste holds notes of dark chocolate, roasted malts, molasses, light vanilla, very light coffee, and an even lighter touch of char. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda chewy feel. Overall, a great impy stout, one that seems to warrant the hype it receives. Get some. (645 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.46/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours jet black with one finger of dark head. The head goes away but leaves some lacing.

Smell: Sweet and roasty with some dark chocolate notes coming through.

Taste: This one is quite sweet and roasty with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. The roast is kind of bitter and you can taste the booze at the finish. The booze is a bit hot.

Mouthfeel: The body is somewhat thick and it coats the mouth completely. The finish is dry.

Drinkability: I really like this one. It is quite well balanced and I intend to drink it again some day. (598 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at The Stone Brewing Bistro & World Gardens on 11/13/09 during their Firestone Walker 13th on the 13th event. Served in a snifter.

Pours an inpenetrable dense black, with a 1/2 finger mix of reddish burnt and chocolately brown head. The retention on this is VERY rich, on the edges, with some thinner wisps in the center, leaving a strong latticework of heavy spotty lacing and brown gooey residue behind. Bourbon, vanilla, and oaky tannins jump out of the aroma at me first. This in no way overruns the nose, as a velvety smooth layer dwells underneath the barrel character, just dripping notes of chocolate syrup, molasses, roasted coffee, flaked oats, licorice, and coconut. Some alcohol hangs heavy with a pang of warmth in the nose, but it never does get overly intrusive or stinging.

The taste starts out with a rich & thick base of dark gooey chocolate, which the other flavors then seem to quickly gather around. Roast, coffee, vanilla, chewy oats, licorice, dark cherries, and finally shredded roasted coconut (which really puts this over the top), all wrap around that big chocolate sweetness, making for about as decadent of a flavor profile as I could hope for or want from this. Bourbon is flavorful (char and molasses are poking out at me) yet it is still fairly restrained in the finish, along with that every present slick woody character. It is just so WELL balanced in here with the other flavors, with the majority of the barrel coming out with a dry flush in the backend of the profile. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a huge creaminess to it from the oats. That powerful ABV is present (you can literally feel it raging underneath each sip) but the flavors are so equally mammouth here, it just perfectly masks any actual alcohol taste. It pretty much just leaves a slight haze on the breath, with much of any alcohol flavor coming from the bourbon and not the ABV.

Wow, the flavor and complexity of this was just outrageous and it's no wonder that the Anniversary blends are always so awesome with this being a big part of each one. This is one of the finest barrel-aged Stouts I've that I've had this year and I personally think that this is a bit underrated on here. Just fantastic stuff all around! (2,238 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage. After lots of seeking, sleuthing, battling, and waiting, I'm finally gonna crack this one. It better be worth the hype and wait. Also gotta thank Visionaries and womencantsail for last year's vintage that I never ended up cracking.

Pours a fairly thick oil level viscosity midnight black syrupy looking beer, with a smaller 1/2 finger fizzy black head that fades fairly quickly, not one photon of light getting through.

Nose erupts with chocolate, baker's, dark, cocoa, hot chocolate, milk chocolate, etc. Some roast, light coffee, but not a ton of roasted malts, dark malts, fairly malty but lots of dark malt aromas, hints of caramel and dark crystal malts, hint of licorice and some oats. Then a light bourbon touch, some sweet candy bourbon, as well as a bit of a wood and barrel, with quite a bit of vanilla as well. Hints of booze waft out, and bring a very slight earthy hop kick.

taste starts creamy and luscious, dark malts just sit. It's fairly sweet from the loads of malts, balancing out the booze a bit that doesn't come on as strong as 12.5%, but you can tell is there with a bit of tingle and lots of warmth. Again loads of chocolate, some dark chocolate, baker's, hot cocoa and almost cocoa nib like addition, and creamy chocolate milk almost. Lots of oats as well bring a nice creamy thick almost gooey feel. The bourbon is there too, but not dominant, it plays a role in helping to round the heavy beer off, bringing more of the oak and wood, especially vanilla, but just a bit of the sweet molasses like bourbon. Then come the hops, it starts slightly bitter but gets more so the longer the sip goes and fades, bringing some big earthy hops, light spicy and chewy hops, a slight salty bitter hop quality. There is a slight touch of brine between the charred malts and earthy hops. As it fades, some caramel comes out with the vanilla, and a bit more of the bourbon, a big mouth coating that just blankets the mouth for minutes after, and still a bit sweet. But that all gives way fairly quickly to the bitterness and earthy hops that bring a bit more salty and earthy bitter tastes long after the sip is gone.

Mouth is big bodied, very big, thick and luscious, creamy, a bit velvety, and slightly syrupy and mouth coating, lower but decent for the style carbonation, and some hot booze.

Overall great, worthy the hype I think. not the best of the big Imperial Stouts around, but definitely a great Imperial Stout. Big and bold, great stout flavors, doesn't overpower with roasted malts or briny scorched malts, and doesn't overpower with booze or sweetness but definitely lets you know it has both. The oak, wood, and vanilla help round it some, but the bourbon is just an afterthought compared to the big malts, chocolate, and other big flavors. The nice creamy and lucious feel are great. And then when the big earthy spicy hops kick in it really brings it up to hype level of awesomeness. Can't wait to see how it ages. (2,961 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.61/5  rDev +2.2%
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. (860 characters)

Photo of mactrail
4.2/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vast, boozy, but pleasing black concoction. Maybe it's the color, but I think of tar and liquorice. Rather sweet, like whiskey, but more of a candy taste. Quite hot and tangy with alcohol, like a liqueur. Malt is a big wall of taste with that sweet Sugar Daddy flavor all the way to the aftertaste. Hops are robust enough to stand up to the sugar and barrel flavors. Intense is the word.

Sippibility is good, if you're in the mood for a strong dose of hootch. Label says this is 2011 batch.

June 15, 2012 update - tried the 2012 version. Lovely aroma of Yukon Jack, and that hot malt is endlessly tasty. But it still tastes like something that squirts in your mouth out of a liqueur chocolate. (695 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
4.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at DLD.
A - Pitch, piano black w/ a light tan collar of about 1/4 inch, the lace is moderate.

S - Plum, coffee, toasted marshmallow, currant and dark cherry aromas. There is subtle smoke, french roast, vanilla and bullion in the background.

M - Rich, viscous almost w/ roasted boozy, but not hot feel. There is roasted grain and char in the texture w/ subtle spice and molassess tinge the Stout is relatively mildly carbonated.

T - A mince meat, raisin and deep currant flavor w/ peppery hop spice and a coffee extract taste. The flavor has elements of warm extra dark toffee and rich blackstrap tinges.

D - Dark berry, boozy and magnificent. The finish is dry and it is easy to drink for its hugeness. A blessing to my taste buds - it tells the story well this Parabola is a testament to Firestone Walker-Kudos! (835 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.35/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Glad I passed up the chance to try this at a bar I was at and was able to pick it up at a store (at random). Saved some coin and got a chance to truly relax with a nice beer. That being said, you gotta love finally getting to these super hyped up beers. Because you're either going to be blown away and really dig it, or you're going to be under-impressed with it. Guess which of those two this beer was for me. The latter. Sure, it's nice. Has some nice characteristics to it that work well. But this thing is rated up there with other beers that I've had that really made an impression. This one does not do that so much. There are nice vanilla and bourbon tones and a good profile, but there is nothing really interesting about it. It's "nice", but doesn't really do anything for me at all. Especially for the price. (819 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
4.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First had: on tap at Teresa's, Wayne, PA

Tremendous stout! Served on tap and poured into a tulip glass, this beer was a rich opaque black with a lovely chocolate brown head, nearly a finger of it, which receded a bit during the session and left just a bit of soapy lacing behind. Luscious aroma of rich bittersweet chocolate, with notes of bitter coffee and a touch of vanilla and bourbon. All these qualities followed through in an excellent way on the palate, with the smooth, rich chocolate taking the foreground, both in the front and the finish, with a good balance of coffee bitterness mid-palate. Alcohol warmth definitely present, but barely boozy at all in the taste. Woody with subtle oak tones, and just a hint of dark fruits: cherries and figs. Full-bodied, rich, and quite the amazing drink overall. (813 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -24.6%
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- (4,282 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Sixth Annual Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer.

A - Pitch black, with a healthy amount of head and light carbonation. Very ominous looking brew.

S - This one took a while to warm up - but when it did, wow! Molasses, rye & bourbon whiskey, marzipan, toffee, and oak. A really distinct and unusual collection of flavors.

T - Really hits you with the wood & whiskey on the front palate, then rewards you with a little sweetness at the back. Pretty potent.

M - Creamy, but not as viscous a I expected. I couldn't think of much else to say - a little generic.

D - The strong whiskey aftertaste would pretty much limit me to one of these in an evening.

Wish we got more Firestone Walker stuff in Chicago... (725 characters)

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,063 ratings.