Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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ParabolaParabola

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

4,984 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,984
Reviews: 1,006
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,339
Gots: 2,701 | FT: 188
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: 4,984 | Reviews: 1,006 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of drmcleod10
4.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | 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

Photo of mtomlins
4.94/5  rDev +7.2%
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!

Photo of DrewGingras
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of JratBones
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of ScottO
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of obiwan_k3n00bi
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

One of the first craft beers I ever had, and for some reason I kept one from that same time.

Genuinely bad idea, tasted like old salty raisons.

Photo of Msudukie
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of MNBeerGeek
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of ananddullabh
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of blabaer
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of SDNikki
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of weezarc
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Smarty_Pints
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Beer_Trotter
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of awalk1227
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of sierrahopdevil05
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of TPONY51
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of DanSmith17
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of dkw0063
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of Liberatiscioli
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of kbhess
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of sorvats
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Vimarsh
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of magictacosinus
4.51/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

Photo of SaxmanRick
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,984 ratings.