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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,118 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,118
Reviews: 1,029
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,535
Gots: 2,749 | FT: 192
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:
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 (76) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,118 | Reviews: 1,029 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of lion22
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Kendo
4.59/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 version. Consumed on 10/13/12.

A: Poured from the bomber into a Duvel tulip. Body is black with a small - and quick-to-disappear - light chocolate-brown head. No lace.

S: A big nose - dark fruit (raisins & figs), bourbon, vanilla & molasses. Also some oak.

T: Follows the nose - and then some. Roasted malt, coffee, bourbon, liquid chocolate, vanilla, plummy raisins and some tannic oak providing a bit of bitter balance at the tail end, with some lingering roasted coffee beans as well. Finishes with a bit of alcohol heat, but that's not surprising for a 12.5% ABV beer. It's not overwhelmingly bourbony or boozy, though you wouldn't mistake this beer for a 7.5 percenter.

M: Heavyweight in heft. Full-bodied is an understatement. Carbonation is muted - it's smooth but never really becoming oily or slick - though it comes close.

O: Really good stuff. A tad bit too boozy for me to garner a higher score anywhere, but if you like the -bal aged, bourbony RISes, you might rate this one higher than I did, and I wouldn't quibble with that.

Note: As I hit enter on this review, a bootleg version of "Loving Cup" by the Stones popped up on my iTunes. Perfect.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
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 Reaper16
4.7/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage, served into a Duvel glass

Pours a nice dark roasty black color. You know what this beer looks like. It looks dark. Lots of head, especially for a beer with age on it. It looks great. Not much to say.

What sets Parabola apart from its competition is balance. The aroma is so complex but so balanced: roast, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, coffee bean, vanilla, dark caramel, bourbon, dark fruits, cherries. All of that is there in the aroma, but it all works together. It's got fantastic cohesion.

Same with the flavor. Things don't unfold in waves, really. Its more of an "all these flavors are happening all at once, singing as if in a chorus, making a joyful noise together" thing. Fantastically blended, these flavors. It's a very sweet beer, so keep that in mind. It's not Dark Lord sweet, but its close. What Parabola has over Dark Lord is that balance though. Phenomenal.

The mouthfeel is full but not super-sticky, not ultra-thick. It's pleasant. I have to say this, this is important: there is NO alcohol burn on this year-old bottle. None. This is so smooth, so drinkable, that it should be illegal in most states.

While I can conceive of a better-tasting imperial stout, It's hard to think of one that could be better-brewed than Parabola. Everything works together. Perfect harmony.

Photo of jbertsch
3.72/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage.

Wow, I can smell the booze as soon as I open the bottle.

Pitch black. A little half-finger head sticks around for a little while before fading.

Underneath its boozey aroma I get significant oak, vanilla, and chocolate.

It's flavor is a seedless meld of dark chocolate and French vanilla coffee. Bourbon soaked cherries come to mind. Alcohol is NOT hidden. Milk chocolate and hot booze sticks around on the finish.

Full bodied, a little syrupy, with a prickly finish.

Enjoyable, but not a breeze to drink. To be honest, i think the bourbon hurts this beer. It's a bit too hot for my personal tastes. There are other RISs that I enjoy more. So I was let down a Little. If I think of it as a beer, I'm not a huge fan. If I think of it as an after dinner cordial, I'm a fan. It has its place but you have to be in the mood. I just feel that the bourbon barrel aging added an unnecessary element to a beer that was probably perfect in the first place...and took some of its greatness away.

Photo of carbonhaze74
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of benbjb
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of spy1981
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of HoshuaJobbs
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Graviz
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Massbmx
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of N3ptune
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of xdtfx
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of cleonile2000
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of bellywin
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of Goatshaver
4.7/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Bottle

First impression is this is one dark beer with a nice light mocha colored head that just stays on there forever. Smells of dark roasted chocolate and malts with the bourbon and oak smells coming through. Wow...it just smells so smooth. Now to tasting it and even more wow! Coffee, chocolate and the oaked bourbon tastes hit immediately finishing with a deep chocolate taste with slight alcohol taste. This is a really smooth drinking beer...I don't find as much alcohol as some other barrel aged imperial stouts I've tried so its has a nice feel with low carbonation and a warming feel.

All in all easily my favorite barrel aged imperial stout I've had to date. This is such a treat and I look forward to getting my hand on another one. A++

Photo of Kinephys
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of duff247
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of AlaskanYoung
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of VeganUndead
4.83/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into Chimay Chalice

Motor oil. As black and syrupy as 30 weight. The nose is all toasted malt, coffee, chocolate, with some spice. Definitely a sipper, probably good for your health to share the bottle but you won't want to. Absolutely delicious. People who call oil liquid gold clearly haven't had this. One of the best RISs I've ever had and one of my new favorite beers. Can't wait to open the other bottle in a couple years.

Photo of MattMew
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of jmccrum
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Archemedies
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of kendellmarie
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of beenitty
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 5,118 ratings.