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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
ParabolaParabola

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

4,587 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,587
Reviews: 987
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,197
Gots: 2,576 | FT: 184
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,587 | Reviews: 987 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of domtronzero
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%

A - Very dark brown, nearly opaque with a short lived, dense mocha head. Little lacing.

S - Dark fruits, vanilla, chocolate and a little roast. Very inviting.

F/M - Very similar to nose with a nice bourbony dark malt backbone. Vanilla and warm dark fruits. Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Nice semi-dry finish making me want another sip.

O - Another outstanding -bal from FW. Tasty, rich and quite enjoyable. Too bad it's in such limited quantities.

domtronzero, Jun 06, 2011
Photo of claybeerman
4.33/5  rDev -6.1%

I was really thrilled with this beer. A very enjoyable Imperial Stout.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. is becoming one of my favorite breweries. And lucky for me it is only 45 minutes away from my house. So whenever they have something fun on tap or realeasing, I try to stop by and see what's going on. I had one of those opportunities last month when Firestone Released their Parabola in bottles at the tasting room in Paso Robles, Ca.

Serving type:
on-tap poured into a 6oz snifter and 22oz bottle poured into a large wine glass.

Appearance:
It is quite dark. I held it up to the light in a large wine glass and even at the edges it was hard to see any light coming through.

Smell:
Much more fragrant in the large wine glass than in the snifter. My buddy and I would just sit and smell it over the course of the half hour it took us to finish the 22. It is almost as enjoyable to smell as it is to drink.

Compared to:
My other favorite in the imperial stout category would be Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout which I would say is quite similar. There is definitely much less of an alcohol taste with Parabola. I would say that when it comes to flavor, they are right on par with each other. It would be hard to name a favorite.

With Parabola now in bottles (and $15 for a 22 at the taproom), I am very happy that an amazing Imperial Stout will be accessible now. Way to go again Firestone!

claybeerman, Jun 06, 2011
Photo of cb462
4.47/5  rDev -3%

2011 bottle, poured into a Spiegelau (classic pilsner) tulip.

A-Poured dark as night with a full one inch creamy mocha head, which dissipates to a lasting film. Beautiful lacing.

S-Oak tannins, vanilla, caramel, all aspects of the bourbon blending in nicely. Bitter chocolate and roasted malt intermingling underneath the sweet bourbon aroma. Just a hint of bourbon soaked dark fruit.

T-Vanilla and caramel are the key players here. Again, bitter chocolate and oak coating the mouth. Light fig/date sweetness. Ass end leaves a lasting rich caramel/vanilla bourbon warmth. Delicious. Leaves you salivating for the next sip.

M-Spot on. Not to thick, not too thin. Carbonation is just right. Again, a really inviting bitterness coats your mouth.

O-A really nice BA stout. In my eyes, it doesn't tackle Silva, but is up there with a lot of other great examples of the style. I did a lot of leg work to track down bottles of this in the greater San Diego area. Firestone seems to spread our limited release allotment pretty thin, but I was glad to pick up several of these. I think a year or so would do interesting things to this, but its going to be hard not to crack into more.

cb462, Jun 05, 2011
Photo of nataku00
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%

The 2010 release on tap at Public House poured into a tulip glass. Poured a very dark brown / black with a half a finger of creamy mocha colored head. Head dissipated after several minutes to a thin collar at the edge with some nice lacing. Swirling reformed a finger of quickly dissipating head and showed a bit of alcohol legs.

Nose was very nice, rich dark chocolate, smoothly brewed coffee, dried dark fruits plums and raisins, molasses, red wine like fruit and a tinge of astringency, charred oak, and light vanilla. Really opens up as the beer further warms to room temperature.

Follows the nose. All of fruitiness gets richer as it warmed, along with the charred oak and vanilla. Very nice chocolate, coffee and cherry notes throughout. Delicious.

Full bodied, rich and creamy. Smooth small bubble carbonation further contributes to it. No alcohol detected for this year old keg.

nataku00, Jun 05, 2011
Photo of illidurit
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%

2010 batch shared at the May Santa Cruz tasting. Pours darkest brown, nearly black, with a coffee colored head. Aromas of sugary coffee, dark chocolate, graham crackers, and roasted malt. Flavor is punishingly strong coffee, dark bitter chocolate, immense roastiness, eternal black coffee bitterness, smoldering oak. Just an obliterating beer.

illidurit, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of beertunes
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%

I know that this is a highly rated and sought after beer, but for me, it just didn't meet the hype. It was the expected black, but had no head. The aroma was subdued to the point of blandness. Some grainy malt, a whisper of roast and a solid alcohol scent.

The flavors weren't any bolder or more well-defined. The body was decent although much thinner than typical, which did help with drinkability. Overall, a good but not great beer. A relative disappointment from FW, a brewery I think very highly of.

beertunes, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of alexhahn82
3.55/5  rDev -23%

A - Poured pitch black like Vin Diesel into over sized "Balloon" wine glasses, 1 finger head that dissipates at a medium pace.

S. Coffee, Toffee, Vanilla, Chocolate.

T/M - Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Chocolate, Toffee, slight vanilla, almost no hint of bourbon flavor on its own, though you can tell its in there. Thick and rich bodied, reminded me of Black Gold BBL.

Overall - I am not sure about the hype on this one, don't get me wrong its good, and should age very well. I prefer a bit more presence of bourbon on something aged in bourbon barrels.

PP (Price Point) -- I paid a $5 premium on the bottle, it should have been around $15 but I paid $20 and snagged 3 bottles. I will probably get a few more for trading but as I said didn't really live up to the hype to me, though it was an excellent beer, only slightly above average for the style.

alexhahn82, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of Devi0us
4.55/5  rDev -1.3%

Had this for the first time yesterday on tap at City Beer in SF.

A- Poured pretty damn black into a snifter. Couldn't really tell how black due to the place being dimly lit. Had a 1 finger head that gradually faded away after a couple minutes. Hardly any lacing but left a ring throughout my experience.

S- Had a  potent bourbon aroma with some slight dark chocolate and vanilla fused in there as well.

T - Upon first sip was bourbon and alcohol heat. Kinda unpleasant. 2nd sip after warming for about 5 minutes was a completely different experience. Has a nice chocolate taste with a sweet vanilla finish.

M - Medium bodied but not a thickest that I've had. Very smooth and drinkable.

O - What we have here was a highly anticipated beer that exceeded my expectations. When served cold, not so awesome. When given a chance to warm up, watch out now. Can i take a Bomber to the face? Sure, but this is one that you wanna share and enjoy with others. I've already searched all over Hawaii and nothing to be found. Once I get back to Cali, the hunt is on.

Devi0us, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of Proteus93
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

A: Rich and inky-black, topped with the chocolaty brown head that I appreciate in an imperial stout. Some come with quite a white hue that offer an attractive contrast to the beer, but the deeper brown ones suggest a 'serious stout.'

S + T: Loads of vanilla, brown sugar, and chocolate. A sweet stout, though not one of the thick and intense ones (ie: Abyss, Dark Lord, Ten FIDY). There's nothing particularly subtle in either the aroma or flavour, but there is plenty of going on in each profile. There's a sweetness that I want to associate with dark fruits, but I can't name one off the top of my head that I would like to suggest. There are qualities to it that I would probably most attribute to something like dried tropical fruit... say papaya in the level of sweetness it offers on the finish. That's not to say it tastes like papaya... you know what? This isn't going well. Let's just say it there's a fructose quality that alludes to some tropical fruits without... no, that's rephrasing the statement. Forget it. Try it.

M + D: The one negative element I found in this beer was in the body. Considering the look, scent, and flavour, I would have expected something richer and thicker--and I would have preferred it for being such, even if it was following others of the same style. It seemed a little thin, and I found that it slipped down my throat quite quickly, leaving some alcohol burn that is slightly disappointing. Fortunately, the other elements of the beer make up for it. As for drinkability, it's got a pretty high ABV. It's an evening sipper or 'end-of-the-day' type brew--best slow and steady to finish the day up.

Proteus93, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of ellswrth
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Appearance: vigorous pour into a tulip glass, about 1/3 inch of head which dissipates within a couple of minutes. It's as dark as Abyss or a strong cup of drip coffee. Not as opaque as Old Viscosity, however.

Smell: I'm really excited about this one and at first I kept smelling it without actually tasting it trying to nail down exactly what's coming into my nose. Definitely smelling bitter chocolate and the aroma you get when you grind beans for espresso. As it warms up the bourbon smell becomes a bit more apparent.

Taste: First sip - very rich - chocolatey and thick. What a mouthful! I could feel the heat of the alcohol, but I wasn't tasting it very much at just-out-of-the-fridge temp. As it's warmed up, it's tasting a little more like smooth tobacco and of course imperial stout, and while I know there is a bourbon flavor here somewhere, I am not really tasting it yet.

Mouthfeel: Sucking a bit of it into my mouth, and before it's really on my taste buds, it really does have the mouthfeel of chocolate milk--then when the flavors spread on my tongue I'm quickly reminded that I'm drinking a very impressive adult beverage.

Overall: I'm going to need to get a lot of these. This rivals KBS in my book -- they're different versions of one of my favorite styles. I'm going to have to go head to head one of these nights. Quite a commitment to drink a 22 of 13% imperial stout, but on special occasions, this will deliver quite a treat.

ellswrth, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of matttttYCE
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%

22oz bottle poured into my Deschutes snifter. Really looking forward to this beer!

Appearance - Pours a deep, dark black color with about a fingers worth of dark brown looking bubbles that aren't quite creamy, but that's probably the best descriptor for them. Head diminishes pretty quickly, but leaves a nice dark tan ring and a grouping of rockier bubbles in the middle.

Smell - There are some aromas of barrel aging, but they aren't overpowering and not strictly Bourbon barrel notes in the smell. There's a good deal of oak and barrel juice, but not straight bourbon barrels like some other beers (think Older Viscosity 2011). Makes sense though because they didn't just age this in Bourbon barrels, it's blended with some other stuff as well. Other notes in there are big bitter dark chocolate and burnt roast malt like a wonderful RIS should be. Behind that there's some pretty strong vanilla, hints of coffee and I feel like what I can't quite put my finger on is notes of dark fruit or slight dark cherry. Very complex and enjoyable aroma!

Taste - At first, the taste hits me with lots of dark roasted malt, smooth bittersweet chocolate, vanilla sweetness, charred oak, and some Bourbon hints. The barrel aged flavors are complex, but not strong or overpowering at all. You can tell there was some blending going on, some bourbon barrel aging, some other things as well. Next I get more of that rich dark chocolate and rich roasted malt and maybe some toffee and some of the dark fruit from the nose. Finish is some more dark chocolate and bold roasted malt of an RIS with just the slightest alcohol hint of alcohol on the way down, but still so smooth and wonderful. Overall, I think the taste of this is near fantastic. You can tell it's Bourbon barrel aged (mostly, but not all), but it's not in your face about it. The flavors meld with a complexity that I think I've yet to experience in any other beer I've had. Frankly, I think this is pretty damn deserving of 5.0 in the taste. I can only imagine how this one is going to age after a year or two.

Mouthfeel - Mouthfeel actually tends towards the lighter side for an Imperial Stout, but not light by any means. I was surprised to find myself not needing an extended amount of time between sips to get the mouth coating dryness to go away so I could take another sip. That aspect makes this one very drinkable and almost dangerous for the ABV it's at. I would describe the mouthfeel as velvety smooth, with a full, rich body (not heavy) and a moderate carbonation.

Overall - I just can't say enough about the complexity of this beer. It's like the *perfect* amount of everything mixed in. I'm not a fan of drinking a stout that tastes like someone slipped a shot of Bourbon in it. If I wanted that much Bourbon flavor, I'd just drink Bourbon. But this beer finds a wonderful middle ground between Bourbon and the other barrels used and it really just compliments what I can imagine the base beer being. Absolutely wonderful beer and I can't wait for the other half I have warming up from fridge temp!

matttttYCE, Jun 03, 2011
Photo of Kshock
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%

A- None more black...Great, bold, and bight black. no haze at all

S- Chocolate, coffee, decent amount of roasted malts. Everything is balanced pretty damn well.

T- Oh wow. Great coffee, chocolate flavors blend excellently with some slight roast at the backend. Finishes perfectly....

M- This is what really stood out to me on this beer is the mouth feel. Just like a big thick cask condition Imperial Stout. Supper creamy and gentle on the palate, like a glass of milk. Truly awesome.

O- Amazing beer, gets better ever ytime i have it, which says a lot. Wish i could drink this on the reg, but what would i dream about?

Kshock, Jun 03, 2011
Photo of Rizalini
4.7/5  rDev +2%

Poured from a bomber into my Deschutes tulip...

A - Pours dark as night, with a thick creamy 1 finger brown head. Fades to a thin head, leaving spotty lacing.

S - The smells are so wonderfully combined, of coffee, dark chocolates, burnt toasty oak, and ever a little bit of black licorice.

T - Dark chocolates hit the tongue right away. The middle gives way to vanilla, and a chared woodsey flavor. Very warming as it goes down. The taste is just as complex as the smell is.

M - Nice and thick, full-heavy mouthfeel. Perfect amount of carbonation for an imperial stout.

O - This is a very well crafted imperial stout. It's everything a stout should be, thick, complex, robust. It's all here. I can't wait to see what some aging will do to this...

Rizalini, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of Yby1acb
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%

Firestone comes through once again.
Blacker than the inside of a dead mans coffin on a moonless night.
Scent of chocolate, bourbon and coffee.
Great, complex flavor, a little boozie but that dessipates and comes back oakie and charred.
I think I'll ration out the case over a year and see how it evolves.

Yby1acb, Jun 02, 2011
Photo of Angst
4.78/5  rDev +3.7%

Was fortunate to have this on tap at the Taproom in Buellton. 2011 poured in a snifter.

A: Pours thick and black. The head is about a finger of a nice brown color.

S: Chocolate, vanilla, & bourbon

T: Complex layering of consisting of chocolate (so good!), vanilla, oak, toffee, bourbon but not overpowering, and some coffee/espresso.

M: Perfectly thick & rich with mild carbonation.

O: Outstanding big beer. FW continues to impress with their Parabola. This beer is very complex and hides the alcohol nicely! Just the right amount of bourbon comes through. Don't pass up the opportunity to try some if you have the chance!

Angst, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of atowle25
4.1/5  rDev -11.1%

Poured into a tulip, black as night, with a 2 finger brown head. Wow. This is one good looking beer. Good luck trying to see through this one. Leaves a bit of lacing as well. I primarily smell booze and some vanilla, with a little bit of dark chocolate, and a slight hint of cherries. The smell is pretty good and clearly has a lot of dimensions to it..however, I feel like the booze is a little too prominent in the smell. Taste is bourbon, dark fruits, vanilla, dark chocolate. For such high IBUs, I really do not get much bitterness at all..the end is mostly bourbon rather than hops. I could really use more chocolate and less booze in the taste. I think I would love this beer if that were the case.

I am going back and forth on this beer. Just for the record - I am not a big fan of bourbon barrel aged stouts. I generally find them too bourbon forward and not balanced enough. This is by far the most balanced bourbon barrel aged stout I've had. However, overall, this is still not a beer I would seek out or trade my first born for. It's a very good beer...and I'm curious to see how it will drink with a year on it. It is still too hot to me right now. It leaves a slightly unpleasant boozy aftertaste that I'm not fond of. Luckily, I have another one, so I think I will sit on that for a while. When it comes to imperial stouts, the Abyss has my heart, and so far nothing has come very close. This is no exception.

atowle25, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of Azurescens
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%

22oz bottle, batch 002 poured into Maudite stemmed glass, reviewed on 5/27/11

A: Pours black with fluffy brown head. Decent retention that leaves some lacing around glass. Some dark reddish brown hues around the edges when held to the light.

S: Roasted malts, oak, chocolate, vanilla and some alcohol. Alcohol becomes much more pronounced and begins to overpower the other aromas as it warms up from cellar temperature.

T: Layers of extremely rich and delicious bittersweet chocolate, oak, roasted malts, vanilla with some bourbon notes and a touch of alcohol. Fantastic.

M: Silky smooth full body with moderate carbonation, a bit more carbonation than I like in an imperial stout. Very little heat for a fresh 13% ABV barrel aged stout.

O: One of my favorite imperial stouts. You can really taste the additional complexities from the bourbon barrel aging without having the bourbon overpower everything else thats going on. Another world class beer from Firestone Walker.

Azurescens, May 28, 2011
Photo of greenmonstah
4.4/5  rDev -4.6%

Batch 001.

A - Dark brown, near pitch black. Half a finger of brown head.
Ruby edges.

S - Alcohol, molasses, dark fig. some chocolate.

T - Chocolate, a bit of alcohol. Some figginess. Finish is a chocolate extravaganza. Some whiskey flavors as it warms.

M - Full bodied, creamy. A touch of alcohol burn. I love the creaminess. Overall a brilliant feel. Ever so slightly cloying.

O - This is phenomenal. Could drink this any day. Deserves to be one of the best. The finish is hard to match.

greenmonstah, May 26, 2011
Photo of SFGuy187
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%

2011 version, acquired from the Firestone Walker brewery in Paso Robles. Massive props to my mom for picking this one up for me on her way to SF! The bottles states 12.5% abv.

A: Dark motor oil with minimal dark chocolate head. No light penetrates the glass ... beautiful.

S: Intensely complex. Oak, vanilla, roasted caramel, bourbon and subtle hops.

T: Very palatable for such a high alcohol beer. The bourbon character from barrel aging is well-balance. Layers of complexity one would expect from a world class barrel-aged imperial stout. Impossible to describe but it is massive and dangerously drinkable. I imagine the flavors will meld and the hops will mellow in time ... will probably be a 5 with a year of cellaring.

M: Surprisingly light ... I don't get any of the syrupy/oily aftertaste one might expect, which is a good thing.

O: This is one well worth seeking out, although I suspect many will be disappointed with its availability, especially us in CA. I didn't give it a 5 because this will only get better with age. However, it is outstanding right now.

SFGuy187, May 25, 2011
Photo of Ynot2
4.75/5  rDev +3%

2011 vintage On tap at the release at the brewery into a 6 ounce sniffer

Pours a deep deep dark brown, with a slight mocha colored head.

The nose is out of this world, chocolate brownie or fudge followed with carame, toffee and oak.

The taste follows the nose perfectly, chocolate and vanilla with toffee tossed in. A mild oaky bourbon flavor towards the end, the alcohol taste does not indicate 13%.

The mouth is smooth and oily. A nice thick texture.

An amazing beer that should really age well.

Ynot2, May 23, 2011
Photo of MrVonzipper
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%

Today was a good day!
Yesterday on the official release of this '11 Parabola, I didn't have time to stop by Firestone on my way to a wedding in San Luis Obisbo. But I'm glad because today we stopped by and took our time and was able to enjoy a meal as well as this phenomenal beer.

From the tap to a snifter tasting glass:
Poured a beautiful thick pitch black color. Nothing visible while held to light. Light frothy khaki head. Very little head retention.

Notes of deep chocolate/cacao, rich bourbon, roasted malt, leather and a little roasted nut.

Deep, dark full flavor with the Same flavor notes for the most part. Nice chocolate flavor up front with sweet/dark maltiness, nice alcohol-bourbon and a little oaky.

Smooth and almost creamy mouthfeel at first to the bourbonny alcohol zip. And that nice chocolatey bourbon aftertaste. Low carbonation.

The only reason I did not give this beer a perfect score is because it will be absolutely perfect after some proper aging. All the extra levels of flavor will open up that much more to make this beer a life changer. It is crafted So Well. So Balanced. Not overwhelming in Any way. I got 2 bottles for myself and can't wait for the right time to enjoy this Perfect Imperial Stout again.

Smooth and silky with the alcoholic zip. Low carbonation.

MrVonzipper, May 22, 2011
Photo of JamisonM
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Vintage 2010 Poured into a snifter

A: looks thick, it pours black so black maybe the blackest beer I have ever seen brown head looks so good glugging out of the bottle.

S: Rich sweetness deep caramel brandy notes bourbon notes chocolate and vanilla complex and very great smelling beer even maybe some dark cherry in there wow! no alcohol to speak of and I am drinking this thing warm almost room temp

T: Rich complex up front slight tartness on the tip of your tongue lots of bourbon and brandy character with chocolate. vanilla and cherry with roasted malts. 13% and no alcohol wow

M: super thick, one of the thickest beers I have ever had.

Overall: This is the best imperial stout I have ever had, Thanks FSW for making this crazy ass huge beer that is crazy good.

JamisonM, May 22, 2011
Photo of scottfrie
4.38/5  rDev -5%

22oz bottle into Portsmouth snifter. 2010 vintage, split with mjyoung.

A: Pours pitch black with a finger of dark brown head that faded into a thin collar leaving soapy spots of lacing down the glass.
S: Super dark and rich notes of black licorice, spicy bourbon, caramel, and dark roasted malts.
T: Follows the nose with big notes of licorice, bourbon, roasted malts and maybe a hint of chocolate and coffee. The finish is full of vanilla, marshmallow and latte foam. The aftertaste is extremely roasted, smoky and lasts forever.
M: Full bodied, thick mouthfeel with soft carbonation. Super rich and creamy feeling. For 13% the alcohol is barely noticeable.
O: An amazing amazing brew. I liked this with a year on it better than I did fresh on tap.

scottfrie, May 22, 2011
Photo of waltersrj
4.6/5  rDev -0.2%

2011 Batch 2 Bottling.

Pour: Jet black with a one fingered dark tan (espresso) head that lingers for a few minutes then turning into a small bubbled edge clinging head.

Nose: Fudge brownies, vanilla, charred oak, toffee, caramel, slight hops, espresso, slight alcohol and marshmallow. The bourbon character seems very smooth and well integrated into the beer. Very complex.

Taste: Fudge brownie, vanilla, charred oak, thick molasses, slight alcohol, bourbon (toasted coconut, charred oak, toffee and caramel), marshmallow and espresso. Also, a nice hop profile comes into play at the end of all the massive chocolate and bourbon notes.

Mouthfeel: Thick and oily, tongue coating (hell, mouth coating). This is a beer to bs respected.

Overall: I absolutely think FW has it going on here. An incredibly crafted stout that is underrated as far as I'm concerned. It's better (IMO) than The Abyss, Dark Lord, Speedway, MZ, etc. Absolutely amazing.

waltersrj, May 22, 2011
Photo of Hawkfish
4.83/5  rDev +4.8%

This is my second review. Met David Walker as he handed me a snifter of Parabola and 12th Anniversary each during Seattle Beer Week. Chocolate, oak, vanilla, coffee, toffee, and bourbon flavors. This is the second year bottling. Exceptional RIS. My favorite.

Hawkfish, May 22, 2011
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,587 ratings.