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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

4,972 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,972
Reviews: 1,006
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,338
Gots: 2,693 | FT: 187
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)
View: Beers (79) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,972 | Reviews: 1,006 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mora2000
4.38/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle. This has been on my wants for a long time.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head.

The aroma is a mix of licorice and roasted malt. The beer's aroma reminds me of Ten Fidy and is a little disappointing.

The flavor more than makes up for the slight disappointment in the aroma. I get a ton of roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and maple. The flavor is very complex and all of the flavors meld together very well, with none of the individual flavors stomping on the others.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

This is how you do a bourbon barrel aged beer. Excellent.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.75/5  rDev +3%

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-

Photo of InspectorBob
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

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.

Photo of wrightst
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of GClarkage
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11/15/08- Had on tap in samplers at the Barrel Aged festival at the Bistro in Hayward, CA.

Presentation- Via the tap into small taster glasses.

Appearance- Pitch black in color. Drity white slight creamy head. Left behind sticky patches of lace.

Smell- Rich in roasted caramel, bittersweet chocolate and mild coffee notes. Light fusel alcohol notes.

Taste- A mixture of everything. Mild bitter hops, medium dark chocolate with a nice dash of sweetness, slight grain flavor noted...vanilla oaky barrel taste, nice bourbon barrel base. Coffee is there, but toward the back because of all the other flavors. Even some booze soaked dates.

Mouthfeel- Thick, viscous, creamy, but with all that a higher rate of carbonation.

Drinkability- I could easliy buy this if it came out in bottles. A 12oz bottle would be sufficient.

Photo of Halcyondays
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ, 8 oz. serving, as it is 13%,

A: Pours a jet black, with a light tan head with good retention, and excellent, thick lacing.

S: Get a lot of bourbon notes mixed with some coffee and booze, ethanol volatiles are there that you can feel in the nose.

T: Reminds me of Firestone 11 right of the bat with its initial taste which was full of vanilla. But then the beer changes and shows that it was only a small part of that beer. Major chocolate and coffee notes, definite espresso with a soothing alcohol presence, very tasty stout.

M: Velvety smooth and thick, what you'd expect from a 13% stout, pretty much picture perfect, very full-bodied.

D: This is an outstanding beer from Firestone and I was suprised how fast I finished the glass. Not as good as the blend of Firestone 11, but this is great in its own right, glad I finally got to try it; I definitely want to have it again while it is still out.

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

Appearance: pours a black color with a 1/2" head which falls quickly to a spotty surface foam.

Smell: roasted malts, dark chocolate, and some fruit sweetness are up front. Some vanilla and alcohol round it out.

Taste: big roasted malt flavors, chocolate, vanilla, prunes, a bit of coffee , and alcohol. Very complex and flavors improve as it warms.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Smooth throughout. Long lasting aftertaste.

Overall: very slow sipping but very flavorful. This would be better aged as it is a bit boozy now.

Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of orangesol
4.3/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to FooFaa for bringing this to the Inaugural "Imminent Liquidation Bottle Share" Event. Bottle poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours pitch black with a small cap of half finger tall tan head, dissipating down to almost nothing, leaving little to no lacing down the glass.

S - Plenty of dark malt, chocolate, vanilla, dulled bourbon heat, and some light charred wood. Good overall balance but nothing too over the top. Solid Stuff.

T - Flavors are similar to the nose. Lots of dark roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, and charred oak. The booze is very well hidden, offering only short glimpses of the warming bourbon. Finish is a mix of sweetness and lightly warming heat. Damn, this is one good beer. I might need to get a few bottles of this for myself.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Nice full feel with some lingering sweet roast in the finish.

D - Very good. I have wanted to try this one for awhile now and now that I have I am impressed. I just wish I would have picked up a few bottles for myself.

Photo of dbrauneis
4.56/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 Vintage

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with some very dark amber highlights and a very light amount of visible carbonation. The beer has a quarter finger tall dark tan to mocha head that quickly reduces to a small patch of very thin film and a very thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Strong aromas of bourbon, oak, and vanilla along with some light to moderate notes of chocolate. There are some very light hints of alcohol in the aroma as well.

T: Upfront there is a strong flavor of chocolate, caramel, and coffee - the chocolate is more of a dark chocolate, a bittersweet chocolate. There is a moderate to strong flavor of bourbon, vanilla, and oak with just a hint of coconut towards the finish. There are light notes of roasted malts and vinous notes. Light to moderate amounts of bitterness in the finish.

M: Just shy of full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Velvety smooth with a light amount of alcohol heat in the finish.

O: This beer is very enjoyable with a great amount of complexity to both the taste and the smell - this makes it a great sipping beer that is best slowly enjoyed... The beer smells much stronger than it tastes but the alcohol is not overly present in the flavor. The beer continues to smooth out as it warms and the complexity increases.

Photo of yourefragile
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of stakem
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Leon for sharing this brew on 1/22/11.

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears black in color with no light shining through as it is held to the light. A thin dark coating of brown head appears across the top. Faint spotty lace clings to the glass with legs. A swirl revives the cap to a thin film.

The aroma of this brew includes the pleasant barrel indication of vanilla. I love that smell in barrel aged beers. Sweet and roasty with indications of chocolate malt overtop of a tingly presence of whiskey. As it warms, notes of coffee, licorice and citrus hops come forward.

The taste includes a vanilla flavor just like the aroma led on. It is roasty with a mild bitterness like unsweetened chocolate mixed with whiskey. There is a tangy hop influence but it is mellow and does not outshine the roasty qualities of this brew. A lingering roastiness resides in the mouth with some earthy coffee notes and a bit of astringent alcohol.

This is a medium bodied brew that is lightly carbonated and very smooth drinking. Tons of flavors to enjoy and quite a deep brew. Roasty and bitter with lots of nuances to pick up on. This is a solid example of barrel aging and something I would love to have as a staple in the cellar.

Photo of duceswild
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of corby112
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber, received in a recent trade with BelgianBeerGal. Thanks again Amy!

Pours pitch black and completely opaque with a one finger dark mocha head that quickly fades into a thick lasting ring. Sporadic spots of lacing left behind.

Complex aroma with a good balance of luscious roasted malt, dark fruit, coffee and bourbon. The barrel character is there without overpowering the other notes. Lots of earthy oak/dry wood in the nose along with sweet boozy bourbon as well as some hints of vanilla and toasted coconut. Lots of dark roasted malt giving off hints of dark chocolate, roasted coffee bean, oatmeal and tobacco. Slightly smokey but not burnt or acrid smelling. Smells like there might even be some cedar in there. Surprisingly, underneath all of this, there is some very faint light fruit and licorice as well as a good bit of earthy, piny hops. This beer has 80 IBUs and it shows in the nose, even with all of the other intense aromas.

Chewy full body with a blast of dry, bitter hops up front that lingers thrughout the intense malt backbone into a nice warm fnish. Resinous, earthy pine flavor that holds it's own against the more intense, robust flavors. This adds another dimension to this beer that I wasn't expecting. After the initial bitterness there is a strong barrel presence with a prominent dry oak/wood flavor. The bourbon and other spirits are there but they are well integrated into the beer withut turnng it into a hot, boozy mess. The smoother vanilla/marshmallow/coconut notes that were suggested in the aroma aren't evident to my palate.

Although there is a nice bourbon flavor, the robust, roasted malt flavors are very prominent. Lots of luscious dark chocolate, oatmeal and burnt toast as well as a very strong roasted coffee bean presence. The coffee/espresso flavor is deep and roasty but is not stale, burnt or acrid tastng at all and doesn't overpower the other flavors. Again, I'm picking up a good amount of smokiness/tobacco flavor that I'm really loving. All of these flavors are bouncing off of one another resulting in an incredibly complex, delicious beer. Each sip brings something new and although there is some nice heat and burn in the finish, the ABV at 13% is very well masked. Very quaffable and tackling the whole bomber was no problem for me. Maybe that says more about me than the beer but that's a discussion for another time.

Photo of superspak
4.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Got in a trade with cyde. 22 ounce bottle into snifter; 2013 vintage, bottled on 3/18/2013. Pours pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, toasted coconut, toffee, oak, bourbon, tobacco, light char, and roast/oak earthiness; with some light alcohol/booze. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and oak barrel notes; with solid strength. Taste of big milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, toasted coconut, toffee, bourbon, oak, tobacco, light char, and roast/oaky earthiness. Fair amount of roast/oak bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, toasted coconut, toffee, bourbon, oak, tobacco, light char, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/roasted malt and oak barrel flavors; with a great malt/barrel balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. A very slight oak astringency was present but not detrimental. Light-medium carbonation an full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is fantastic. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely incredible barrel aged imperial stout. All around outstanding complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. An insanely delicious offering as I expected.

Photo of weeare138
4.6/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appears a turbid opaque onyx with russet toned edges. A small, foamy tan head slowly fades. Scattered streaks of pacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of dark bakers chocolate, vanilla beans, sugary rum, bourbon, and intense caramel. Sheesh! I could smell this all afternoon.
Taste is of the aromas with a fine sipping version of caramel, vanilla, and cocoa. Obvious bourbon influence on amwell done imperial stout. Hells yeahs!
Mouthfeel is a tad boozy, as expected, full bodied, chewy, with a resonating sugar cookie and chocolate chip finish.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.55/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 boxed bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe during a brewday in Sydney, Australia.

Pours a fine deep brown-black, with a slightly frothy, large-bubbled head of mocha brown that leaves speckled lace. Body is solid but fluid, leaving fine carbonation, but swirling quickly. Looks good.

Nose is an excellent deep sweet oak-aged stout melange. Hints of vanilla mixed with a depth of roast, with a sharp ashy tinge like the cold remains of an overnight campfire. There's a little touch of sulphur to it as well, which lends some organics in a slightly weird, but not necessarily unpleasant way.

Palate is exceptional. Incredibly smooth and rich, and wonderfully balanced. Deep darkness is obviously the order of the day, but it's blended and folded over itself again and again until it has no harshness in it: it's smooth, rich, and certainly dark, but in the most mellow and approachable way. Light oak gives some vanilla, but as ever, that darkness sits around and draws the flavour back to its midnight depths. Wow. Incredible stuff.

Feel is smooth but with a lightness that again antagonises the true darkness that is at its heart.

This is a wonderful beer. It straddles the dichotomy of dark and light, of good and evil of sweet and bitter. Of everything. This beer is a little of it all. Really great stuff.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 bottle I've been aging in my cellar- I decided to crack it with my wife in this prelude week to Christmas. I very much like the way the 13% abv edges have been smoothed out and the Bourbon flavors have become integrated into the beer. Definitely noticeable Bourbon notes, but it doesn't dominate the beer, and it's become oh so smooth. Pours inky black and viscous with a thin brown rim of a head and some legs on the glass. Nice aromas that present as a seamless whole- outstanding notes of licorice, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses. The taste is even better- really nice bourbon notes coupled beautifully with roasted notes, dark chocolate, licorice, and a slight woodiness than underlines the beer. Wonderful stuff. Absolutely silky in the mouth, with the sense of having swallowed some excellent drinking chocolate laced with good quality whiskey. Thoroughly enjoyed this, and I'm glad I was patient enough to wait.

Photo of mothman
4.47/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to kbutler1 for sharing this.

Poured into ccb snifter

Pours a light layer of brown head. Color is an oil black.

Aroma: Oak, vanilla, whiskey, coffee, chocolate, and light cherry flavors.

Taste: I get more of a bourbon flavor here instead of the whiskey I picked up in the nose. Dark chocolate, very sweet. Roasted malts, oak, vanilla, cherries, raisins, and coffee. Just a tad boozy.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends warm and a bit dry, but clean.

Overall, a very nice imp stout. Good -bal aging notes. Good flavors and the drinkability is nice on this one. Solid stuff.

Photo of Gonzoillini
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.6/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured opaque black with a huge frothy brown head.

S: Nose is boozy,oats, light bourbon, cocoa.

T: After having Parabola on draft numerous times and initially at FW 13 release I thought the bottled 2011 was a tad bit hotter and bourbon heavy than previous years. Nose and taste mirror are very close with molasses and dark chocolate being most prominent with some bourbon and oak in there. This beer is pretty boozy but the ABV is hidden pretty good. If you dont watch it this beer will sneak up on you.

M: This brew is totally full bodied and smooth. The ABV is pretty high and this keeps drinkability at Good. Not a session beer for sure but great for a cold day!

O Oh so well done and down right fantastic

Photo of ejimhof
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,972 ratings.