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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,079 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,079
Hads: 5,650
Avg: 4.53
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 2,869
Gots: 3,259 | FT: 250
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.

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]
View: Beers (87) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,079 | Hads: 5,650
Photo of guityler83
3.54/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of seedyone
4.84/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

05/14/13 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. 2013 vintage. The first sip is like an innocent kiss & then it's too late. You find you have a tiger by the tail...or should I say it's got you. There's so much going on in the glass it's difficult to home in on where to start. Each sip is different from the last & they are spiraling upwards until you reach a plateau of familiarity that has simplified all the complexities of aroma & flavors that make up this admirable brew & you start to feel at home & very comfortable.

Not for the faint of heart (or anyone driving). I found myself sipping at a leisurely pace for 1) enjoyment 2) preservation of the potion, as it's a rare find & 3) self preservation. The 12.5% ABV, although present in every sip, never let's on that this is for adults only. Think of it as an encounter on a plane trip, sitting next to some extremely attractive & engaging person & your smitten. It's a short lived experience & most likely once in a lifetime. Because of that, all feelings are multiplied & enhanced, in memory, by distance from the moment.

Do yourself a big, big flavor favor & make some time for this indulgence. If you do I guarantee your self esteem will improve based on that decision alone.

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Photo of ramay86
4.57/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage:

Very pretty beer. Black as all hell, with a surprising amount of frothy head. Great lace and an expectedly heavy dose of booze legs.

An intense variety of chocolate on the nose... brownie, milk chocolate, bitter dark chocolate, dry cocoa... all soaked in a wave of bourbon.

The taste follows suit in every sense. The bourbon/heat becomes very evident here; the high ABV is magnified by a bourbon barrel presence that dominates more than in any other beer I can think of.

This is dessert.

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Photo of richj1970
4.6/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22 oz bomber into tulip glass. 2014 vintage.

A: At first glance, this is pitch black with absolutely no light penetrator. On closer examination, I swear there is a bit of deep mahogany brown lurking. One finger mocha colored head that settled quickly to a thin ring leaving very little lacing.

S: A wonderful bouquet of sweet bourbon, fresh picked cherries, vanilla, and good chocolate. Maybe a little hint of coconut and espresso.

T: Lots of bourbon bursts on the tongue from the first sip. Dark chocolate, roasted malts, espresso, and vanilla. The flavors remind me quite a bit of BCBS.

M: Full body coating the tongue nicely. Just a little alcohol burn at the end but not unexpected considering the 14% ABV.

O: Completely and utterly fantastic stout. One of my top three for sure. I really wish this was available in 12 oz bottles and distributed in my area.

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Photo of utopiajane
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This pours out the paragon of virtue. Completely opaque. Black walnut. If you only pour a bit like I did you will not see too much of the mocha colored head but it does refresh even though I did not pour one. It created a ring as I swirled it and left spot of lace and alcohol legs. In the natural light the beer showed a deep chestnut brown with engaging clarity. ( In the photo you can see my face in the beer)

Deep rich, sweet chocolate and hearty roasted malt combine on the nose. Subtle blushing cherries, bold bourbon and a bit of espresso coffee. The bourbon is like a flower that opens on the nose. It is fragrant and seductive. There is a scent of toasted coconut that is light and accented by a bit of vanilla. Dark fruits dance gayly in the background. Molasses rounds out the nose and the scent of sweetened nuts.

The palate is alive at once with earthy and full roast. This malt has been brought to the edge of blackness and yet it stays mellow and tempered with sweetness that collapses inward on all it's sides. The blushing cherry, the dry date, the light and airy oak, the creamy coconut and vanilla. The malt is dry and firm but just bitter enough to come up to the brink of char and stop short. Nothing burnt here. Smooth, creamy, chewy, full mouthfeel. Exceptional smoothness. The molasses takes over the palate as this finishes with bourbon getting lighter and the dark fruits getting stronger.

A slightly boozy finish takes hold at the very last moment of the swallow not with a big taste of alcohol but with a warmth like a smile from a gracious host who is sincerely happy to have set all this before you. The alcohol leaves a bit dry and fully engages the senses one more time before it's done.

Drinking this beer is like doing something you know is wrong and loving every minute of it.

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Photo of larryarms847
4.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a thick midnight black with an off white/light brown head. Looks similar to crude oil.

Slightest of coffee, mainly toasted nuts, roasted malt, and bourbon to finish.

The coffee is still very slight in the overall flavor, but adds a nice roasted nuttiness to this monster of a beer. A lot of bourbon and dark chocolate are also prevalent.

Mouthfeel is thick, like I said before much like crude oil.

Overall, not my favorite BBA imperial stout, but nonetheless an amazing example of one.

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Photo of dcmchew
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage.
Pours pitch black with a nice dark brown half finger head that lingers a while, just a thin lacing later on.
The smell tells you this will be incredible. There's great rich dark chocolate, smokey roasted malts, espresso, toffee, some dark fruit, some bourbon barrel (without any booze tho), faint tobacco, and much more.
Taste started with rich milky chocolate , salted toffee and dark fruit (plum, raisin, some fig). Huge tasty vanilla, lots of oak, nice bourbon, again, with a great flavour-enhancing abv that never gets boozy. Barrel notes intensify, roasted malts and some nice coffee start appearing, but the initial tastiness is never pushed away. Great complexity.
Perfect mouthfeel.
Had just a few quick notes, so i'm sure i didn't get to write down all about this beer, and i'm sure i wouldn't be able either way. There's a huge complexity here (incredible barrel-aging), incredible flavours, setting this one as the best beer i've ever had, without any doubts.

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Photo of ToriBug13
4.7/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best beers I have ever had in my life. Poured with a gorgeous, thick, luxurious head which left delicate lacing on my glass. The taste of slightly roasted cocoa nibs and mocha was so smooth I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Smooth, thick, rich, round, yet still clean and refreshing on the finish. I have never had a more perfect beer. I am so glad I have another, because I cannot wait to taste this with some age, I can't even fathom how it could be improved!

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Photo of BeerME_562
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best Stout I ever tasted... This beer should be put on a pedal stool.. soo amazing

A: dark espresso color, little to no head 14% can't blame it

S: lots of sweet chocolate, coffee, little alcohol, coconut

T: Amazingly well balance... Simple yet complex...beautiful sweetness of coconut carmel/toffee feel, great espresso, dark chocolate that linger through and slowly dissipate. little to no alcohol taste which is amazing for a 14%...

M: full and more of it... the taste and feel changes as it dissipate on your tongue ...

The best stout i've tasted by far. i have to say underrated compared to Founders/ bourbon county

yes fitting words

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Photo of JulioH
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A unique beer.

Pours a light brown beer, almost looks like chocolate syrup with water, or watered chocolate. Forms bubbles immediately. Aroma is heady, coffee, chocolate. Taste is very strange. It is a heady beer but it is highly carbonated, and the carbonations tickles the tongue in a way that doesn't let you taste the high alcohol. Very strange feeling. The body is very light, not a heavy beer.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.59/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage.

Pours opaque black. The 1/2 inch khaki head quickly fades to a thin ring on top and leaves faint spotty lace.

The smell is of dark chocolate, vanilla, pipe tobacco, coffee, oak and faint bourbon.

The taste is of brown sugar, dark chocolate, earthy almost herbal oak, vanilla and just a hint of bourbon.

The texture is heavy bodied and slightly oily with medium carbonation.

Amazing aromas and flavors. This is a little thinner in body and more carbonated than I expected. Goes down scary smooth considering the 13% ABV. World class.

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Photo of Smokesnotes
4.82/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Excellent beer.

A: Very dark brown, not much head.

S: Good bourbon/vanilla aroma.

M: Great mouthfeel. Pretty smooth finish.

T: Lots of caramel flavor.

O: I want more.

Drank at a bottle share alongside Black Xantas and KBS. Parabola definitely holds up next to these beers even though I think KBS edges it out slightly. I enjoyed the info on the label and was surprised how high the IBUs are for not seeming too hoppy. Definitely recommend if you like BA stouts or Imperial Stouts.

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Photo of Larbear2497
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured my bottle of Firestone Walker Parabola 2014 into a snifter.

Appearance-Upon pouring Parabola into the snifter, I noticed the midnight black color. Extremely dark at first, but as it settled, a small amount of dark brown reddish foam stayed at the top of the pour.

Smell-Smelled a lot like the 2013 release with some additions. It had a boozy smell at first, with vanilla, bourbon, and the sweetness of chocolate.

Taste-Had a small amount of smoke. The more I drank, the more chocolate I got. A lot like the chocolate oak aged yeti but more complex.

Mouthfeel-Overall it was very smooth, not chalky like I had expected. It was a nice surprise, and very easy to drink even with the high alcohol content.

Overall-One of the best beers I've ever tasted. I have 3 more bottles of this years brew, and I'm very excited to see how this years vintage ages.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.4/5  rDev -2.9%

Not as viscous as I expected it had a deep deep brown color that allowed a bit of light to pierce the edge. The head foamed to a light brown cap but then collared quickly.

Brownie, raisin, chocolate, maple and coconut meet the nose as this has glimpses of a barleywine.

The flavor is all barleywine with dark fruit, raisin, chocolatey sweetness, caramel malt, toffee malt, barley and wine. Vanilla begins to form on the palate as it warms.

The feel is velvety, with a slight alcohol heat and a touch of alcohol tang. It has a nice thickness to it as well.

Very good beer but I thought I was drinking Bourbon County Barleywine the entire time, which isn't a bad thing.

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Photo of BullDoza
4.86/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

My first Parabola called for my first rating. 2014 poured from bottle to glass.

A: Very deep, dark brown with a reddish tinge where the light hits toward top and bottom of the glass. The red tinge is subtle, but enough that I can't call this Black; maybe a few shades darker than cola. 3/4 finger, khaki, roasted tan head. Head diminished quickly to only a thin film atop the beer.

S: Wow. Depends on the stage of temperature...this one changes that much. Fresh from the pour, it was not at all what I expected. Whiskey, not bourbon is what hit me in the face. Chocolate and toffee was very faintly present. First thought was: watered down whiskey/cola drink. First thought, based on this, was along the lines of, "I let the hype get me, and this is going to be a let down." NOT SO FAST!! This one morphs as it warms; quickly, at that. What I described as "whiskey" quickly evolved into sweet bourbon, vanilla, and wood. This is what I expected! The chocolate and and roastiness remained as the vanilla became more pronounced. Amazing.

T: based on my initial "nose." I did NOT expect what I tasted. Unlike the whiskey/soda nose, a wave of chocolate and roasted malt hit me. Just as quickly, it fell and finished clean with sweet vanilla and faint toffee. This one changed and presented me with something new as it warmed, and with almost every sip. The bourbon and vanilla/woody tastes became more and more apparent as it warmed. Hints of dark fruit are detectable as well; fig? Dark chocolate and roasted malt linger in the aftertaste. The faintest bit of oatmeal and toffee remain. Vanilla, bourbon, wood continue to dominate 40 minutes later. Could swear there was some caramel in there too. Exceptionally complex beer!

M: this is where the beer could have been a tad bit better, in my opinion. The mouth feel was, though silky and smooth, lighter than anticipated. While not all bad, it wasn't as full bodied as I would have preferred. Was hoping for more "oomph"...thicker and chewier. While not what I was expecting, it certainly wasn't a bad mouth feel.

Overall: this is by far the most complex beer I have had to date. The aroma, the number of favors I picked up as the beer warmed, and the way it all worked was phenomenal. So complex, yet so well made. No one aspect of this beer felt out of place or overwhelmed any other No matter how much, or how little, each piece contributed...they all worked together to create a master piece.

If looking at style, this one tops the List of BA beers I've had to date: Black Note, KBS, Uncle Jacob's (2012), Black Crack, among others...none are this good. Wow...

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Photo of Brew_Bear
4.83/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Parabola 2011, tasted on June 28th, 2014.
This beer is very very special for me. Some background is required (jump to TASTING if you don't care).

First off, I discovered Parabola in spring of 2011 or 2012, as part of a flight of imperial stouts in a bar. This changed my life. Before tasting Parabola, I had no idea about the world of vintage beer, barrel aged beer, and most importantly, how an imperial stout could be good. Before that I cared more or less for stout, but now I was in shock. It's afterward that I started buying and aging beer at home. It's been my favorite beer since then, and I don't hesitate to drive for hours and spend lots of money to get some.

Anyway, forward to November 2013. I'm at Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks (CA), and surprise, they have a vertical flight of Parabola: 2011-2012-2013. I'm freaking out!! The 2012 and 2013 vintage were excellent, as usual, but the 2011 vintage.... HO. LY. SH*T. It was like 10x better. Oh my god.

So much in fact, that I declared on several occasions that I would pay good money for a bottle of 2011. Well it looks like the universe heard me! Few days ago I was in Las Vegas, and oh surprise, Aces And Ales is selling the bottle for $75, which is what I was expecting. I thought screw it, it's now or never. I brought the bottle home, and opened it last night. And then...


First off, it's an incredibly complex beer. It's hard to describe it in few lines. Furthermore, my impressions evolved during the tasting. Although I will present each sensory aspect separately, in reality I took notes on those aspects throughout the tasting: smell, taste, smell, taste, repeat for an hour and half.


The beer pours an opaque black color, topped with a rich mocha head. Swirling the beer in the glass shows thick viscosity that sticks onto the glass wall. Promising!


Initially, Parabola lets out smells of malt, lots of licorice, as well as molasses and dark fruit: prune and red raisin, with a touch of blackberry. Those aromas combine marvelously with an impression of brown sugar, typical of the Firestone vintage beer (I strongly suspect their British house yeast).

Once passed the first impression, I realize that the beer has definitely maderized. Very soft aromas of fortified wine and port caress my nostrils.

Then the dessert side of the beer imposes itself smoothly. First, a note of cola. Yes, sweet cola! There is a candy character that's hard to define, something like toffee, truffle, and very subtle chocolate.

It is late that the roasted malt manifests itself, via a subtle coffee aroma, accompanied by black cherry.

The barrel qualities are pratically absent from the aromatic profile. The wood and bourbon are so timid that I didn't really get them. No worries though.


Madera and a note of port wine welcome my taste buds. Another sip, and molasses and licorice show up. A solid start.

Oh hey, the wood and bourbon of the barrel finally show their nose! It was about time. The bourbon is however closer to whiskey than bourbon. A very dry quality, less sweet than bourbon.

At last, the dessert persona arrives. It's like I'm drinking sugar pie (a French Canadian specialty dish: brown sugar, butter and cream, mostly) spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Wow. After swallowing the ichor, caramel and toffee linger for a while. It's later, when the beer has warmed up in my glass, that dates and vanilla softly augment an experience that is already rich and fabulous.

It is very late that I detect the nuances confered by age, via subtle notes of tobacco and leather.

Overall, the flavor profile is incredibly balanced, very smooth and mellow. Sometimes, bourbon barrel aged beers are too "bourbonny" for my taste. This is not the case here. The wood and bourbon take a back seat, letting the other comedian express themselves freely. A perfect harmony.


Toward the end of my first sip, a sensation of rough texture manifests on my tongue. I would describe it as when when you eat waffle cookies, and lingers a little bit. The sensation amplifies during the finale. Surprising, but not unpleasant. However, this sensation completely goes away after few sips.

A chewiness, typical of imperial stouts, accompanies the rough texture. Contrary to that texture however, the chewiness doesn't go away. The beer is completely round. I suspect the use of oats grants it great velvety quality. The beer coats my tongue and leaves a soft viscous impression.

The heat from the alcohol warms up my throat during the finale, but is not burning. Very pleasant.


A spectacular beer, nothing less. Very mellow, very smooth, yet bold, complex and multi-faceted. No aroma or flavor is competing with another, nothing feels overwhelming or off-balance. It completely deserves it's rating, and then some.

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Photo of DavidVega
4.89/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: jet black, deep tan head
S: rich, complex roasty. Reminiscent of coffee, toffee, dark chocolate, caramel. Some fruity esters.
T: sweet bourbon, chocolate, espresso, dark fruits, plums, raisins. Alcohol is evident but not "hot"
M: big chewy, viscous, very full-bodied stout. Velvety luscious texture.
O: everything I look for in a BA stout. One of the best I've had. Great representation of the style. FW brews gold..

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Photo of kjlcm
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had done a quick review as a 4.75 but am updating to 5.0 across the board after careful reconsideration. I claim to be an IPA guy but this stuff is perfect. A nice thick strong stout that is overflowing with flavor. Cary strong but you would;t know because it tastes so good.

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Photo of Admbmb92
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage poured into a dogfish snifter. First time with this, here we go!
App-poured aggressively. Half finger head. black as night with some brown on top of the sides. Legs sticking to the glass.
Ar-huge oaky barrel-aged notes. Oak, vanilla, bourbon, tobacco, dark fruit, and sweet alcohol.
T-Wow. Just wow. Everything the aroma promised and then some. Love the alcohol sweetness. Dangerously drinkable for being 14%. First get barrel flavors followed by amazing imperial stout kick. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee, dark fruit.
MF-velvety smooth and chewy.
Overall- pure barrel aged perfection. Nuff said

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Photo of ZagZagg
4.56/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage into goblet

A: Thick oil black, viscous brew. Completely opaque, no light able to pass through this guy – Head is thin, just shy of one finger with a flecked silvery bronze hue. Body looks big and chewy – lacing appears weak along with retention and carbonation.

S: Tangy, roasted malts, bitter, dark chocolate, smoke, some acidity of tobacco and rich wood. Coffee beans, espresso, light hints of aged liquor, whisky and bourbon. Aggressive nose that reminds me of a smoldering fire pit, lightly earthy, very roasty

T: Sweet warm bourbon leads the charge with superb power. Espresso, chocolate liqueur, and a pungent smoky character follow the Bourbon; the smoke accompanies notes of burnt tobacco and oak. The middle mouth showcases a fantastic melding of sweet chocolate malts, chocolate syrup and the bitter elements imparted by ground coffee bean, bakers chocolate, vanilla extract, and a light nuttiness. The barrel profile instills essences of black cherry, date, and amaretto - Hop character is blended and quite indirect, robust vanilla bean chauffeurs in the finish, which is warming without being overly boozy.

M: Big oil slicked chewy mofo, the mouth feel you seek in a big stout. Little to no carbonation. Aftertaste is sweet and aged tasting – syrupy and very reminiscent of bourbon.

O: This is a fantastic imperial stout. Possibly the best I’ve had. Excellent BA character, big body, sweet while also piquantly bitter - There are a lot of elements here that seamlessly coalescence - exhibiting the essentials; roasty malts, sweet warming bourbon, while also presenting a aged resin with a bit of dank earth. Itsss aaaa parrrabbbboooolaaaa. Get some.

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Photo of prtwin2a
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pitch black
S: Bourbon and espresso, chocolate, vanilla
T: Hands down, the best stout I've ever had. I literally babysat this beer for hours, because I did not want it to end.
M: Smoothest, most syrupy stout I've ever had.
D: Best stout, makes it my only A+!

Overall: A+

This stout, in my opinion, beat out Dark Lord, Hunahpu, and Black Note.

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Photo of jdhowe
4.74/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 bottle enjoyed in March 2014, reviewed from notes.

For my 100th review, I'm going to put down my long-standing "favorite beer," recently dethroned by BCBCS 2013.

A: Pours a deep, opaque, syrupy black with minimal fine khaki head. Very little light through the edges of the glass reveals a dark brown color. 4.5

S: Caramel and chocolate are prominent; along with vanilla, coconut, bourbon, and oak from the barrel. A very slight smoke character has emerged in this bottle. Interestingly, in another three months most of the coconut and vanilla that I found on this bottle were nowhere to be found in either of two 2013 bottles opened. 4.75

T/M: Thick, slightly coating, and with moderate carbonation (that pretty quickly leaves as the beer warms.) Caramel, cocoa, and mild bitterness lead into swelling notes of molasses, light coffee roastiness, and finally a coconut and vanilla finish. Since then the coffee has begun to fall off slightly and some more dark fruit character has emerged. 4.75/4.75

O: After almost a year, still a phenomenal beer. I think I'm finding out that I actually prefer Parabola from fresh to just under a year in age, but even with those bottles that I've enjoyed slightly less I have had no real complaints. My favorite parts about this (and most of FW's barrel-aged beers) are the coconut and vanilla notes, so I strongly prefer enjoying this while they are still present.

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Photo of leroybrown10
4.66/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours black, thick, oily, and light sucking. Small dark khaki head is slow to form. Head leaves small spiderweb lacing behind as it dissipates. Lacing doesn't last.

Aroma is roasted malt, sweet bourbon, and tobacco. Caramel and toffee add more sweetness. Undertones of chocolate and coffee.

Taste is bourbon, cocoa, oak, tobacco, and caramel. Hints of vanilla. Mild espresso. Rich malt undertones tie everything together. Sweet without being cloying or syrupy.

Rich, luscious mouth feel. Full body. Oily, thick, and creamy. Paints the tongue with flavor. Mild carbonation.

This is a true standout beer. Amazing complexities in both aroma and taste. Everything blends and compliments well. Great sipper. Even with the high abv, I didn't get any alcohol notes.

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Photo of putonyourwalkingshoes
4.56/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle cellared. I have a couple more bottles thought I'd review one from last year:

A: fairly vicious machine pild black. Nice carbonation for a ba stout. Solid tracing.

S: admittedly a little offputting but I've noticed this during the aging process in the past. Somewhat muted bitterness from dark chocolate and coffee notes. Subtle esters. Deep fruit but not prominent. Fresh smells a lot better although some might say a bit harsher.

T: more balanced albeit the coffee is toned down and rather muted. It lingers on the finish very nice. Good bourbon character and sweetness from the hh barrels. Currants come through with some vanilla. No ester presence. Some mild prune, deep fruits, but mostly luxurious coffee. Not perfect but close.

M: solid with no alcohol burn. The finish is very clean. Coats the mouth well. Would love a thicker mouthfeel but this is nice. More subtle with age.

Overall: a hyped up barrel aged stout that deserves the hype. Its balanced and still hasn't complete lost the coffee and it hasn't distorted the beer either. I thoroughly enjoyed the 2014 fresh. The flavors come out real well. Firestone makes ba beers that drink really well fresh which I appreciate although this is more balanced with zero alcohol presence. Fresh smells a lot better too. Overall a difficult beer to review because time changes this a lot for the better.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.33/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Brief re-re-review of the 2014 vintage. Now, I can safely say, Parabola finally lives up to the hype. All the best qualities of the '13 vintage (the depth, the richness, the bourbon character) was here in full force, but - despite being 14% - it wasn't that harsh. The oak was prevalent, but the fusel-y abrasiveness of the '13 was almost perfectly muted this time around. I was really shocked how well balanced this was (especially taking the last 2 vintages into account). Only thing I can really nitpick now is that it was rather sweet - hell, so is BCBS, and look at the score I still gave it! This is everything I hoped Parabola would be ever since I moronically spent $40 for a bottle at a DC bar 2 years ago.

2014: (3.5/4.25/4.5/4.5/4.25)
2013: (3.5/4/4/4/4)
2012: (2.5/3/4.5/3.5/3.5)

Re-review of the 2013 vintage. 22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a very dark brown color; it isn't quite as pitch black as the 2012 version. There's more head than the previous vintage, though - a one finger khaki shade. It doesn't last a very long time, however a thin collar of lacing is left on the side of the glass.

S: There's a lot of dark chocolate at first, subtly augmented with a good bourbon character. Concentration will yield additional notes of brown sugar, hazelnut, currants, plums, vanilla, and coconut. I wish the aroma was more 'in-your-face', but I can't at all complain about the decent complexity and relative lack of harsh alcohol.

T: Pleasant dark chocolate and vanilla opens the palate, before it develops a currant-heavy midtaste. The back end is very heavy in charred oak, with some additional roasted malts (a welcome addition compared to last year), and piny hops. The big problem here is how obnoxiously boozy the finish is - especially taking its lack of notable alcohol aroma into consideration. However, much like Sucaba, the harshness seems to decrease the more this is imbibed. Even better, it shows good depth of flavor. At the end of the day, I enjoy it's decent bitterness and bourbon character too much to nitpick its flaws.

M: This seems to be a bit drier on the back of the palate compared to last year. It's just as sticky and viscous, though. The body itself is wonderfully creamy, with a medium texture befitting a barrel-aged RIS. Carbonation isn't terribly strong, and alcohol presence is assertive.

O: Let me start out by saying I'd be lying through my teeth if I said this wasn't a great BA RIS. It presents an excellent bourbon character and a depth others in the style lack. However, it's just too harsh to be world-class in my mind. Still, I'm really intrigued over aging my other bottle for a year to see how it develops.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,079 ratings.