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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,079 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,079
Hads: 5,639
Avg: 4.53
pDev: 18.98%
Wants: 2,867
Gots: 3,256 | FT: 247
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 (88) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,079 | Hads: 5,639
Photo of DoctorZombies
4.74/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black with tan head, little lace; Caramel, toffee and chocolate aromas - there is a dank fruit nose here too; Caramel and toffee flavor a up front, cherries dipped in dark bittersweet chocolate, and a boozy finish; Rich velvety tongue coating, long lasting medium mouthfeel, with a little alcohol burn with dry wood linger; Overall so well balanced, the interplay between the toffee/chocolate malt and dark stone fruit, and earthy hop flavor is sublime.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a finger of caramel/chocolate-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic, with tons of rich, earthy, roasted malt, which imparted aromas of freshly toasted dark bread, boozy bourbon with lots of dark stone fruit, tobacco, hints of vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, oak, and dark molasses and tons of caramel. Smells inviting and delicious!

Taste: Wow! Just…wow! Holy shit, actually!! Absolutely delicious! Tons of roasted malt up front, followed by lots of boozy bourbon which imparts lots of dark stone fruit, tobacco, hints of oak, vanilla and lots of brown sugar-like sweetness. Awesome, spectacular, incredible, world class!

Mouthfeel: Chewy an extremely smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 14.0%, there is a pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate, and a very, very long finish.

Overall: Wow, just…wow! Holy shit, actually!! I totally understand and see why this beer has such a world class reputation! Next to BCS, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had! Absolutely world-class!

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Photo of Gregaroo
4.71/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Isaac Newtons in Newtown, PA. Served into a tulip glass. Very like head, but great aroma and taste! Went back for a second, but the keg was gone. Nice treat on a Wednesday evening.

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Photo of Sintech
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle share at Courtyard & Cellar for Toppling Goliath Mornin' Delight release!

22oz Bottle.

Jet black in color. Smell is chocolate and the barrel. Taste is a complex sweetness and follows the smell. Very chewy, super thick, awesome! Highly recommended.


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Photo of scottzilla
4.46/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Was in a BevMo with some Firestone Walker beer tasting going on and some gy cam in looking for Parabola. The Sales Rep said all sold out but try a couple places in the area...50 mile radius...and the guy split. Found out it's a super tough get but a local pub had some on tap. Wife and kids were out of town so I went over...beefy looking beer with an interesting nose and a motor oil look as i remember....but velvety smooth and all the taste you could ask for. Doesn't disappoint.

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Photo of krrockwe
4.64/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bought myself 2 and I figured I would save the second one for a year from now. Even without aging it was easily in the top 5 beers I have ever had. Very strong taste that lets ya know this is a strong imperial stout. Even after a big meal this beer got my drunks gears moving. I wish this was more readily available so I could enjoy it again and again.

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Photo of Hesscabob
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Have one now and have one for later. Boozy right now, not that anything is wrong with that. Fudge, roast, and caramel hopping off with bourbon in the back. If you have one, I'd recommend saving it, but two have right meow. Go Hawks!!

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Photo of Rob23
3.7/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not sure if I purchased a bad bottle or just did not care for it.The sweetness was way too much for my palate.It seems like sweet stouts are taking over especially in the BBA era.I may revisit it in the future to see any difference.

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Photo of TomMorris
4.93/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is magical.

Imagine dipping the finest cherries into a fondue pot of rich dark chocolate, soaking the combination in bourbon, and then roasting it over a smoky campfire. Somehow, that is exactly what this beer tastes like.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.21/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Black with ruby periphery. Wet-sand colored head, nice and thick which is appreciated for a barrel aged brew (suggesting massive hopping), but disappears entirely with no lace.

S: Oak, chocolate, vanilla.

T: Intense dark chocolate, oak, vanilla, pronounced bitterness (alpha acids as well as burnt malt), some coffee. Warm alcohol, some tang like barbecue. Fruit phenols like strawberry on retro-olfaction.

M: Thick, surprisingly non-astringent, mildly oily.

O: Balance and realness of flavors fell short of supreme, and I'm not a fan of hop notes in my stout, but still a solid brew with character to spare.

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.55/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a Founder's CBS snifter. No bottled on date, but this is roughly 4 months old at this point.

A: Not super thick, pours a medium-body, pitch black with a light brown head that sticks around the edges.

S: So for the style, this one is very, very boozy and with a ton of oak, char and barrel characteristics. Underneath that first layer is more tobacco and smoke, followed by a dark chocolates and vanilla notes.

T: Right up front you're just hit with booze and alcohol. Very hot. Middle of the mouth is your chocolate and vanilla notes, but not too strong. Finishes quite sweet with hints of coconut and dark cherry.

M: For as thin as the appearance is, it's a bit more fuller in the mouthfeel. Decent carbonation. Tons and tons of booze and heat with the burn all the way down your throat.

O: After hearing so many rave reviews for this beer, it just doesn't live up to the hype for me. I can't get away from how hot and boozy it is, making it seem really unbalanced. It's very, very aggressive. At 4 months, I thought this was ready to go, but maybe not. Right now, BCBS is still the winner, and even Black Note and BB Plead are a touch higher for me. This beer is still great, and a nice representation of the style, but this year's vintage is just a bit too strong and unbalanced for me.

Recommendation: Even though it's not the best of the best for BA Imperial Stouts, it's still worth fighting for to try at least once. Keep your eyes peeled for this one.

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Photo of BradfordStuckey
4.69/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

An incredible beer. Very limited. Got lucky to purchase a bottle at bevmo this year(never put on shelves, sold right at the cash register only). Great scents of chocolate and toffee from the BA. Very sweet at first but decadent bourbon flavors ease you into a welcoming boosiness. The bitterness is masked by the incredible scent and outstanding barrel aged flavors. Had the pleasure of trying it on tap at barrelworks in buelton as well. One of my favorite beers.

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Photo of DM1293
4.48/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black as night, with the essence of dark fruit on the nose. Taste is dark chocolate, with those notes of dark fruits playing off caramel sweetness. Creamy without being too rich, very low carbonation, and the alcohol taste is kept in check.

A deep yet approachable stout.

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Photo of Moose90
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 Vintage No. 006
22oz Bomber served into 16oz tulip

A – Pours a deep and rich brown, opaque, head is coffee cream colored and thin, leaves behind sticky, spotty lacing, and thick legs coat the inside of the class, quite thick.

S – Warm oak, buttered toffee, coffee, licorice, creamy caramel, rich bourbon, cinnamon, rich mocha, chocolate roasted malts.

T – Deep layers of flavor, bourbon dominant, rich and spicy bourbon notes, cinnamon, spicy, leads way to rich and decadent notes of chocolate, cocoa nibs, coffee, espresso, caramel, vanilla bean, licorice, anise, spice, warming, wonderfully rich.

M – Thick, rich, and sweet, coats the inside of the mouth and has a long and lingering finish that warms you to your core, very enjoyable and decadent.

O – Excellent beer, very nice balanced notes of coffee, chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, toffee, just amazing, this absolutely lives up to its "hype" grab it if you can.

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Photo of everyman
4.61/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I opened the '15 - just couldn't wait. Hard pour yields some head. However, it's surprising how much carbonation there is. Certainly the beer doesn't have much bite in the sense of carbonation, but with any movement at all thousands of tiny bubbles rise upwards in the murky black liquid. This is a beer with the true black and tan appearance. At first, I had a difficult time depicting the smell, then my wife walked into the room and said, "is that rotten fruit?" Haha! To her defense, the dark fruit comes through far more than any other aroma. And in smell and flavor, The alcohol heat comes through far less than I anticipated, which was instead nice and balanced. Flavor wise, any newcomers to the series should know that these beers are thick and rich with flavor. Parabola is far from being a routine stout. I equivocate its richness to a very dense chocolate cake. The intensity of five or more flavors is difficult to pick apart, yet each taste reminds me that this is definitely a stout, a very dark, dessert-like one. While there's a little sweetness and syrupyness to this beer, the roastiness aligns with all aspects of its flavoring. It's really one-of-a-kind.

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

2013 vintage consumed in 2014. I have to be critical based on the 100 rating, but I thought this was missing something. Maybe it wasn't as sweet as I'd hoped? It definitely had the cacao, coffee, barrel, and licorice to it though.

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Photo of lemmy187
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A little thinner than expected.....but a world class stout none the less. Nose is full of bourbon, chocolate, and oak. Taste follows the nose closely and finishes on the sweet side.

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Photo of IowaBiertrinker
4.73/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 from a bottle.

Pours moderately thick. Very flavorful with just enough carbonation and balance to make this near perfect. Couldn't find many flaws to criticize. Get some.

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Photo of arvidkoval
4.14/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Smell is straight bourbon. After the initial bourbon blast, some toffee, espresso, chocolate, some oak flavors. On the sweeter side. Good full body. Tasty shit.

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

A: black, almost oil slick, ten head.
S: amazingly complex. Vanilla, oak, marshmallow, cherries, coffee, bourbon. In unison. Perfect
T:amazeballs. Everything in the aroma comes through in waves. Sweet finish.
M: thick, like milk. Perfect
O: outstanding, just wish the finish was a bit less sweet but perfect sipper by a fire.

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Photo of Kuaff
4.86/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

In my snifter at cellar temperature. I'm excited!

Midnight black, as the label describes it, is accurate. A fleeting sheet of rich-looking dark mocha froth.

That's quite an aroma. VERY forward with dessert-like caramel, butterscotch, and maple. It also has vanilla, oak, toasted pecans, bourbon, leather, earth, and yeasty dark bread dough. It even brings the dark fruits like raisins and plums! Add to all this the most lusciously rich, enticing of dark chocolate scents , and it makes for a superbly sniffable stout.

Oh my dear. That first sip just took me on quite a ride. EVERYTHING I just described above comes through in the flavor, if not more. And it's incredibly well-integrated and smooth. Intense bourbon, leathury oak, vanilla, dark fruits, and chocolate barrage the palate, yet nothing feels over-done. The finish leaves me feeling not cloying sweetness, but rather a dry, almost woody, earthen grainy sensation. Powerful, yet balanced.

The feel is sticky and wonderfully viscous.

Words cannot do this stout justice.

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Photo of tony2beers
4.81/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage poured from bottle into snifter

Poured a deep black color and immediately smelled chocolate and vanilla up front with a more bourbon as it warmed.

Very thick mouthfeel, and taste of chocolate and bourbon.

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Photo of aleigator
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Parabola '12 vintage

Many thanks to Kevin for the bottle.

Pours a black color, with a decent, bubbly head.

Aromas reveal a rich Bourbon note among chocolate, coffee and wood. The Bourbon is very well pronounced, hovering on top of sweet, toffeeish malts, bakers chocolate and molasses, well balanced between sweet, earthy and bitter aromas. Toffee and hot Bourbon blend outstandingly well into each other, with coffee playing a balancing role, bittering the nose.

Drinks incredibly smooth, revealing the rich, decadent body of the beer, with almost no carbonation necessary to showcase its complexity.

While the Bourbon is very prominent on the nose, it is well integrated into the beers taste, due to earthy malts, wood and creamy milk chocolate, balancing the bourbonic impact. It tastes quite hot though, with coffee blending into the oak incredibly well, exhibiting a slightly dry quality, absorbed by sweeter chocolate with lots of cream. The bitternes turns quite prominent, due to the wooden, hot bite, inviting matured hops and coffee to the tongue. Until the very end, coffee and chocolate are on par, leading to a semi-dry, slightly burning finish.

Fantastic brew, outstandingly balanced, while providing an amazing depth. Wooden coffee and creamy milk chocolate are balancing the Bourbon artfully, both staying recognizable until the finish, while their taste gets gently transformed due to luscious, slightly dry, warming Bourbon and notes of coconut, as well as vanilla.

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Photo of BuccoFan
4.53/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a 22 oz bottle into snifter. 2015 bottle. Didn't find it much different than BCBS, which is to say I found it exceptional. Totally robust feel with nice bourbony taste. Worth every effort to get hold of, if you can.

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Photo of raynmoon
4.61/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 bottle

Looks a little strange actually. Doesn't pour as black as some other stouts out there, but that is how parabola has always been. The strange thing is how large the bubbles are on the foam. No head to speak of. But to be expected.

The smell is glorious however. You get that classic firestone barrel character shining immediately. I get a big amount of brown sugar sweetness, toasted coconut.

Wooh, this is a big boy. Boozy heat comes in the back end of the sip, starts to tingle and burn the tongue a little. But the first taste is a soft, warm wave of dark chocolate and coconut. It has quite a bit of vanilla and barrel coming through while also maintaining tons of balance.

Mouthfeel is superb, very velvety, low carbonation.

This vintage of parabola is coming off a little hot, which it don't quite remember any of their barrel beers being, but this is a super fresh bottle of a 14% abv beer! should be expected.

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