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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,968 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,968
Reviews: 1,006
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,337
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.

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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,968 | Reviews: 1,006 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of vonnegut21
4.39/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep, pitch black with a slight head. Smells lightly of bourbon with strong chocolate and roasted malt. Taste is much more bourbon forward, chocolately, smoked and roasted malt. The bourbon is nicely balanced with the imperial stout backbone. Mouthfeel is smooth, well carbonated and very drinkable. This goes down exceptionally easy for a 12.5% beer. Overall, this is excellent. Pick up several if you can.

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

this is a near perfect beer, and defnitely the best firestone brew ive had, including the anniversary blend. pours jet black, dense and mean, with a one inch mocha colored head that fades out after a few minutes. smells is incredible. tons of wood, vanilla, bourbon notes, wine tannons, fresh pipe tobacco, chocolatey malt. i could smell this beer for ages. the flavor is lovely, very rich. notes of oak, milk chocolate, burned sugar, and that pipe tobacco marry perfectly in the mouth for a long complex drinking experience. not sure ive had any stout this good. mouthfeel is right on. velvety smooth with all that body, mellow carbonation from the barrel time. overall this may be one of the best stouts out there, its absolutely fantastic, and worth every penny of the 15 bucks it cost. you must must try this

Photo of ttttrrrrtttt
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of gbrill
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

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

22 oz bottle poured into a Deschutes snifter. 2012 vintage.

A- Pours a pitch black with a creamy mocha colored head. The head sticks around for a minute but dissipates to a thin ring around the glass. The body appears to be viscous; I wouldn't quite say motor oil but pretty damn close. Some spotty lacing hangs around.

S- I love what this beer brings to my nose. Notes of chocolate and cherries immediately become apparent. As the beer warms, the bourbon starts to come out. Vanilla and oak round out the aroma. I really am not picking out much coffee. The aroma is what a quality bourbon barrel aged RIS should smell like.

T- Everything really blends together well. Very similar to the nose. Chocolaty malts, vanilla, some oakiness and a touch of caramel. I detect dark fruits in the background. The bourbon makes its presence known, which does leave a slight burn on the tongue.

M- Surprisingly smooth, creamy and drinkable for a beer that's 12.5% ABV. Medium-thick body with light carbonation. My mouth is coated with every sip.

O- A fantastic beer. One of the better bourbon barrel aged stouts out there. This beer has a nice complexity mixed with solid drinkability. Definitely a must try. And since this beer isn't super rare, you shouldn't have much trouble getting your hands on a bottle.

Photo of JamDog
4.75/5  rDev +3%

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

Poured dark as night from a 22 oz bomber (2012) with the ABV and other vital characteristics of the beer noted on the label.
No penetration of light whatsoever through the beer.
An almost non-existent mocha colored head that disappeared before it could appear properly.
Characteristic Firestone Walker barrel-aged aroma; with bourbon, some sherry, rum soaked dried fruits, raisin, charred wood, charred dried coconut, cocoa notes. There is so much going on in the nose, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the notes. The aroma gets better with time.
In terms of taste, there is a slight sweetness upfront, followed by charred wood notes from a barrel and definite heat from the alcohol. Raisin, dried fruit, malts notes in the middle till the alcohol almost acts like a palate cleanser towards the finish. This is a very complex and a really "big" beer. Lots of flavors blend really well. Smooth, luscious, full-bodied mouthfeel.
One of the best barrel aged RIS in my opinion.
Age is definitely going to make this beer even better.
Highly recommended. Definitely has Firestone Walker barrel characteristics stamped all over it. Lives up to the hype.

Photo of Whimpers
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of dmsulli
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Rudy
4.75/5  rDev +3%

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

Poured from a bottle into a nonic pint. 2012 edition.

A – So damn black it almost appears to absorb light. One finger light brown head, which dissolved quickly. Lacing is a complete coat of teeny tiny bubbles.

S – Powerful aroma of chocolate, coffee, charred grains, and oak. Time to dive in…

T – Taste follows the nose; both dark and milk chocolates, oak, burnt grain, espresso, caramel, raisin, a hint of black licorice, and a little ash/smoke. Abv is so prevalent as to be slightly distracting. Still, many layers of complexity here. All the flavors are extremely deep and full flavored. Drinking this beer is the equivalent to eating a whole cake, its that rich. Pretty amazing.

M – Might be the best part of this beer. Smooth, silky, and very creamy. Slightly oily. Helps balance the booziness that comes out in the taste. Low carbonation. Full bodied, but not quite “chewy”.

O – World class, but this is one intense beer. Calling it a “slow sipper” is an understatement. I’ve had spirits that drank easier than this. Took me over an hour to finish the bomber. But lest you think that’s a critique, it’s not. This imperial is challenging but accept the challenge, and you will be rewarded. If there is a minor flaw, it's that it's just slightly "hot". I would love to sample this after a couple of years of aging.

Photo of Omer4176
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of KingStephenR
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of BenH1068
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of edwardprung
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Brodybeer
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance is like motor oil. No head. Very light carb. Hold it up to
Light and u cannot see through
Smells like prunes or raisins. Alcohol is present but fruit is stronger. Bourbon.
Taste. Outstanding. Espresso and dark chocolate finish. Nutty hazelnut up front. Alchohol is well hidden. If aged this will for sure go the distance. Can't believe how well alchohol is hidden. Throughout the taste Carmel flavor is masking alchohol while still allowing the hazelnut esspresso to approach. Damn
Mouth. Thick syrupy. Thin for most part but syrup appears at the end and coats the mouth with a maple syrup viscosity.
Overall. Champion IRS for me. I love imperials so I might be partial but for me this beer is just what beer should be. It seems to take you on a journey that is another level. Kicks your palate in the groin to say wow! That's a beer

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.



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 blakelive784
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1 pt 6 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours a jet black color with a light tan, thin head of one finger. Retention is decent, especially given the high ABV. Inviting, if a bit standard.

S - Earthy oak notes dominate over a strong but pleasant roasted malt body. Cream and caramel are present. Spicy ethanol on the back. I like the oak on the nose, though I think it hides some of the fine, subtle notes.

T - General oak notes are dominant. Surprisingly sweet. Restrained roasted malts are countered nicely by cream and lactic notes. All of the flavors are a bit subdued, in my opinion, and the alcohol is very present, even bordering obtrusive. Weak plum on the finish.

M - Full bodied, thick and coarse on the finish. Definitely boozy.

D - A good beer, though it's a bit restrained and I'm disappointed by it given the hype. Not memorable or unique.

Photo of roblund
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of whatthehull
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Pint glass

A - beautiful deep sludgy black, one finger between brown and tan head and some nice lacing

S - cinnamon, sugar, anise, very nice bourbon booze, very nice light but full flavor coffee, dark and milk chocolate, straw/ras/black berries, currents, caramel, molasses, tons of vanilla, cherry, earthy hops, huge sweet and roasted malts, nice must, tons of wood, earth and greens

T - dark and milk chocolate, huge earth, bourbon, tons of berries, vanilla, huge malts sweet and roasted, nice hop, one of the best coffee notes in any stout ever, cinnamon, cherry,

M - huge full body, awesome complexity, wonderful balance, low acidity and a very long delicious finish

D/O - one of the best drinking, best tasting, refreshing and awesome stouts ever. This is very impressive. I could and would drink this beast daily. If you like stouts and not this one, you are a fool. Get your hands on this beast, the warmer it gets, the better

Final thoughts - GET THIS BEER

Photo of hickmancase
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of kaseydad
4.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally picked this up after missing the show last year. Excited to partake.

Pours a dark black ale with a nice brown head that quickly turns to a ring around the glass.

Picking up some great vanilla, chocolate, heavy oak, booze soaked fruits and more barrel booziness.

The taste is outstanding. A combination of chocolate, light coffee, vanilla, caramel, wood and the distinct presence of warming alcohol. It all works. Very complex beer that keeps me guessing as to what else I taste and smell.

The mouthfeel could not get any better. Creamy and smooth like silk. Amazing.

Overall this lives up to the hype. An outstanding beer and not to be missed. I think it is drinking great right now but I am cellaring a few to see what becomes of it. Great stuff!!

Photo of Dontcounttoday
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of DeirdreE
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of ambruns1979
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,968 ratings.