1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,592 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,592
Reviews: 987
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,200
Gots: 2,575 | FT: 185
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Parabola Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,592 | Reviews: 987 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Hoptoss
4.38/5  rDev -5%

Poured dark with a nice darker head.

Smell: Heavy on the roasted malts, especially chocolate but with hints of sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Was appropriate for the type of beer, a little on the heavier side for having a higher ABV, which is very nice.

Taste: Very complex. Starts with coffee/chocolate type roasted flavors, followed by hints of sweetness that compliment the initial flavors very well.

I had this beer on numerous occasions, both from bottle and draught, there were no major differences.

Hoptoss, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of GregSVT
4.47/5  rDev -3%

22oz bomber into a snifter

A: Pours a deep black with a nice dark brown head that fades to a ring and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose is full of molasses, dark fruits, dark chocolate, and vanilla. Really nice aromas that I could smell as soon as I started pouring it into my glass.

T: The taste starts with a burst of vanilla and then black strap molasses which fades to a bitter dark chocolate finish. There are dark fruits in there as well with a bit of a boozy element but what do you expect from a 13% beer.

M: The feel is very thick and coats the mouth making the finish last a lot longer than I've ever experienced.

D: Probably one of the better barrel aged stouts I've had in a while. 13% would definitely make this hard to drink the entire bomber...good thing I split it with my fiancee.

Having had FW13 a few months prior to this I can definitely tell this was a main component of that blend and after looking it up I confirmed that it was the highest percentage beer in that blend. Great stuff and I have another to age a few years. This seems to have great aging potential like GIBCS.

GregSVT, Nov 14, 2010
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.38/5  rDev -5%

Trade with MrMiles about 4 months ago, but now that it's getting cold outside it feels proper to try it. A 13% bomber, this had to be shared with my wife. Strong stuff.

It pours a dark brown-black color with a thin tan head, about 1cm or less. The aroma is just about perfect, rich and complex, with all sorts of delicious bourbon throughout. Vanilla, toffee, roasted malts, bourbon and alcohol, everything is there in an inviting package.

It tastes just as I'd hoped strong and worth of attention. There's so much going on that it's best to sip this beer, plus it gives the feeling of high ABV with each sip. Brown sugar or molasses, robust roast, licorice, everything's in there. Thick and a little burning, you taste each sip for a long time. Excellent, maybe even a little overpowering.

This is absolutely worth its hype, a very good bourbon stout, I would be very happy to have it again.

TurdFurgison, Nov 10, 2010
Photo of Mooch273
4.88/5  rDev +5.9%

A: Black like tar or molasses; no head yet still looks so inviting.

A: Cocoa, vanilla, anise, slightly nutty and quite roasty.

T: Coffee, cocoa, roasted almonds, bourbon, vanilla, slight nutmeg.

M: Very thick. Coats the tongue with a layer of roasted cocoa and vanilla nuttiness. Not hot. Very smooth.

D: Surprisingly easier drinking than I thought it would be. I could easily enjoy a bottle on my own. This is one of the best stouts I have ever had. Nice job Firestone!

Mooch273, Nov 09, 2010
Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Sierra Nevada tulip. O.G. 30 P, 13% ABV, 80 IBU, British Ale House yeast, 1000 cases produced, 167 SRM, no date.

Thanks to the ever-generous Beerwolf77 who gets his jollies off reading these little quips I write about him when he shares his epic stash. There's a reason you're my #1 ninja Todd!

A - Did it actually get darker in the room when we poured this? It's totally black. No light comes through at all. Inky oil with a dark tan head. Lower retention isn't surprising from the alcohol. Not a whole lot of lace. Still epic looking.

S - Smooth, supple bourbon and notes of oak with a drop of vanilla kick the nose off right. A little molasses and roasted malts follow up. The alcohol is penetrating my nostrils the more I smell it though. So awesome.

T - Smooth, rich, and very coffee forward with fantastic notes of vanilla and oak. Bourbon is there but not overly powerful. Not a whole lot of raging alcohol either. Chocolate and cocoa come through in the back end. Perfection in flavor.

M - Strong, full-bodied, and rich, it's smooth and slightly boozy. Very warm on the finish and a little bit dry. Mouthfeel is near perfection.

D - So good, this is one of the best beers out there for the style I'd wager. Fantastic flavor and mouthfeel. Still highly drinkable despite the slightly noticeable, but well-balanced alcohol. Delish! Thanks Todd!

BeerFMAndy, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of sweemzander
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 05-05-10 bottled date. Yet again, I have Beerwolf77 to thank for his continued generosity; next time I bring the beer! ;)

(A)- Pours thick and pitch black in color. Produced a good frothy brown colored head with decent retention. Some lacing present.

(S)- A nice rich profile. Chocolate, coffee, and molasses. A nice mellow caramel sweetness at the end. This will be strong, but it sure does smell wonderful.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. A really nice rich profile of coffee, chocolate, molasses with a nice mellowed caramel sweetness. A tiny hint of a dry vanilla-like oak. All in all, an excellent flavor profile that meshes well despite its strength/ABV.

(M)- A great carbonation level and balance. It is rich, but has a superb balance and smoothness despite the 13%. It is almost restrained and mellow due to how well balanced this is as a whole.

(D)- Simply a fantastic Imperial Stout. A superb balance that makes this really shine for the style. Still not for the faint of heart since it is rather strong in all senses, but it just fits. Just an excellent beer.

sweemzander, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%

Bottle courtesy of chswimmer. A cali BA that sadly no longer exists. Shared with the tickeratzi.

A: Pitch black hue. Quick burst of mocha hued head. Tiny amount of soapy lace. Small cap.

S: Sweet chocolate syrup, roast black coffee, caramel, molasses, tiny wisp of campfire. Almost no trace of the abv can be found.

T: Dark chocolate and black coffee are the most dominant. Much more bitterness in the flavor than the nose. Black licorice and molasses. Hints of campfire. Again almost no trace of the high abv.

M: Thick chewy body. Very mild carbonation.

D: Overall a great Double Stout. Super drinkable. FSW hit this one out of the park.

beerwolf77, Nov 07, 2010
Photo of Metalmonk
4.38/5  rDev -5%

Sent by msubulldog25, to whom I give eternal gratitude, for this beer and the many others he's sent me over the years. This, my 1300th review, is for you buddy!

A marvelous coal-black liquid pours into the snifter. As it was pouring, the light revealed some deep ruby/burgundy-like highlights, but now that it's in the glass it's total black hole time. The head is a toasted brown beauty, but it gets scared away quickly by that 13% alcohol thing.

The label doesn't make clear what kind of barrels this was aged in, and from the aroma, it's hard to discern if the barrels held whiskey in their former lives or not. Such a thing is usually pretty clear, but here I get some charred wood aroma, and a peculiar boozy-plus-vanilla-plus-soggy dark fruit flare that could be showing the ghost of whiskeys past, or just be that big ABV talking. Either way, it's subtle, especially for the strength, with tiny nuances deep beneath the surface.

Mmm...mellow, mellow, mellow, with dark bittersweet chocolate, serious dark roast coffee, and alcohol-soaked wood all woven together. Plum, fig and raisin are threaded into all of this, and they become more prominent with warming. Of course this can't escape without some heat, but for the strength, the alcohol level is just right. The heat is a warming, soothing one, far from some kind of aftershave disaster. As with all other elements of Parabola, the keyword here is "balance."

As the taste is triple-mellow, so the mouthfeel is smooth, smooth, smooth. Silky, slick, and carbonated just enough to add textural brightness, this wins because it's so approachable. With the mellow, nuanced taste, and the high alcohol, something thicker would have been overkill and/or out of place.

For a barrel-aged 13% imperial stout, it really doesn't get much more drinkable, or accessible, than this. Obviously one to take slow and savor, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it's just too good to drive down quickly. What a start to the weekend...

Metalmonk, Nov 05, 2010
Photo of nkersten
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Reviewed from notes, shared generously at a Chicago tasting. Pours black with a tiny tan head that fades leaving little trace. Smell is mostly oak and light hops, sweet dark malts and vanilla. A slight metallic smell as well. Taste is bourbon and carmel up front, heavily roasted malts and a bit of alcohol in the finish. Mouthfeel is lighter then i would have expected, medium to heavy with a light carbonation. Overall drinkability for the style is pretty good, but this one could use a little time.

nkersten, Nov 04, 2010
Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%

Insane intensity and full of character, this Imperial Russian Stout is one for the ages.

Dark, dark brown (nearly black) with almost complete opaqueness, only admitting light around the estreme edges. Froathy tan head formation leads to average retainage (falters underneath the thinning of 13% abv.). Light on lacing but moderate on classic brandy legging.

Deep and complex aromas start and finish with brownie-like chocolaty notes that are decorated with cherry, sherry, soy, grape, dates, figs, caramel, vanilla, and aged woods. With all that going on, the beer's aroma is all about the bittersweet chocolate and French roast coffee.

Chocolatey early, the beer morphs into Irish Coffee flavors (think whisky and cream), and fruitness that comes equally from fruity esters and alcohols. Again, aged and dehydrated fruits of cherries, apples, figs, dates, raisons all give a rum-soaked fruitcake flavor that carries through to the finish and aftertaste.

Full and rich early, the beer breaks early to finish with an alcohol thinning texture and ultimately warm, maybe hot finish. Very drinkable because it doesn't start too thick but doesn't finish thin, fusal, or abrasive.

Very well balanced throughout, Parabola demonstrates all of what is prominant about the spread of flavors that make up the Russian Imperial Stout profile. All of this manifests in a beer that reviels new flavors with each warming sip. Delicious and succulent from sip to finish, this beer drinks much more easily than it should.

Thanks Auroracrisis!

BEERchitect, Nov 03, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
4.38/5  rDev -5%

Big thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle. This has been on my wants for a long time.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a tan head.

The aroma is a mix of licorice and roasted malt. The beer's aroma reminds me of Ten Fidy and is a little disappointing.

The flavor more than makes up for the slight disappointment in the aroma. I get a ton of roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and maple. The flavor is very complex and all of the flavors meld together very well, with none of the individual flavors stomping on the others.

Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

This is how you do a bourbon barrel aged beer. Excellent.

Mora2000, Nov 03, 2010
Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -13.2%

A bottle shared at Al's blow-out.

A: The imperial stout sure is imperial looking, dark and black. A moderate-sized head, a tan color, stands out against the darkness.

S: The nose is nutty and roasted, plenty of malts to go around. Call me an outlier, but I wasn't impressed with the bourbon presence.

T: The roasted flavors consume the stout, burnt and bready, well toasted. Nuttiness matches the dark stouts, a sweeter flavor that puts a few dents into the roasted depth. Again, the barrel aging isn't very dominant. Instead the malt profile is left to fend for its own. Some oak comes through late, but the oomph of bourbon seems to be lost on me. Anyone wanna send me another to try?

M: The mouthfeel is that of an imperial stout, sweet and deep, burnt and full. Much more stout than bourbon, at least what was in my glass.

D: Big and bold, a mouthful of a stout. Only problem is that is like every other imperial stout, dark and warming with plenty of roasted flavors.

akorsak, Nov 03, 2010
Photo of Huhzubendah
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%

Review #400

A: Pitch black. Opaque. Big beige head that has the look of wet sand on the beach. An ideal appearance.

S: Huge roasted malt presence with very prominent bourbon aroma.

T: Absolutely fabulous. Everything I love about barrel-aged beers is embodied in this beer.

M: Rich and full-bodied with a great, warming lingering finish.

D: An awesome beer that I highly recommend. One of the best barrel-aged imperial stouts I have ever had.

Huhzubendah, Oct 31, 2010
Photo of billab914
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass. It poured pitch black with a thin tan head to it. After a few minutes the head had all but retreated to the edges of the glass, where it left just a bit of lacing.

The aroma shows a lot of dark chocolate coming through. Oak wood with a bit of a bourbon alcohol and vanilla flavor come through as well. Very flavorful and complex aroma to it overall.

The taste has a lot of really great flavors to it. Dark chocolate mixes with a pretty big barrel aged, vanilla and oak wood flavor. Towards the finish more of the bourbon notes come out along with some coffee and bitter chocolate. Just a bit of some cherry flavors pop up and add a nice chocolaty cherry aspect to it. Fantastic flavor overall and perfect barrel aging for my taste. It doesn't get better than this.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side with carbonation being low. Drinkability is great for such a high alcohol beer. The flavors all came together excellently. The barrel aging really enhanced it and gave it some fantastic depth instead of overpowering it. World class beer overall and one of the top of the style for sure.

billab914, Oct 30, 2010
Photo of mjn5036
4.13/5  rDev -10.4%

Bottled opened and poured into a large snifter. A black hole of a beer. The pour is dark, thick; a vicious appearing beer unrelenting and uncompromising in its attempt to keep out the light. A small, one inch head arises, initially light in color but darkens into a nice mocha/caramel color as is subsides into a thin ring clinging desperately to the side of the glass. On the nose I am picking up on strong fig, lots of bourbon, vanilla and a nice oakiness that gives way to booze and more booze. Taste is right along the lines of the nose, in addition to a really pleasant presence of thick caramel; chocolate covered toffee, cane sugar and toasted grains. The mouth feel is medium to heavy, at times almost seeming to be too much at once. The moderate amount of carbonation helps the drinkability. A good beer overall. This is a beer that demands your time and attention; sip it slowly and reap the benefits.

mjn5036, Oct 29, 2010
Photo of mikey711
4.33/5  rDev -6.1%

A: Dark brown near black with a small mocha colored head. it doesnt hold all that much but it doesnt bother me all that much

S: Lots of caramel notes upfront which is very pleasnant almost like a twix bar with some cookie and chocolate notes as well. nice vanilla notes and some woodiness. The bourbon adds a nice bit of spiciness as well

T: Again the caramel and toffee notes mix with an almost cookie like flavor. Nice oak notes that bring out some vanilla and chocolate sweetness. the bourbon is very prevalent and both sweet and spicy

M: there is some heat and it is a bit thin for 13% and actually a bit more like a strong ale. it is not very coying

D: A slow sipper for sure and best shared, but overall a great beer that i wouldnt mind getting more of

mikey711, Oct 26, 2010
Photo of JAXSON
3.58/5  rDev -22.3%

Pours black with a mocha head that fades to a ring. Nose is roasted malt of the burned varietal. Typical FW anise, almost mint-like barrel notes shine in. That was part of what I loved so much about the FW13. Bitter baker's chocolate. Mouth is almost numbing, very heavy, that burned malt playing with dark fruits like dates, raisins, still that nice herbal quality. Boozy and fairly hot. Heavy and unfocused to my taste. Has good qualities but this is a bit much on its own. I much prefer it in the anniversary blends.

JAXSON, Oct 26, 2010
Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.47/5  rDev -3%

Tasted at the local SMBDC meeting, got a decent serving size in a taster glass.

Pours a dark brown/black color with a nice viscosity to it, the size of the glass makes it difficult to produce any sizable head but there is some small bubbeage to it.

Smell is a beautiful mix of dark roasted malt, chocolate and just the right amount bourbon, some dark fruit notes linger about as well, from the bourbon you can pick up that it could be a little hot.

Taste isn't as overwhelming with the bourbon that I thought it was going to be which also means that it isn't overly hot like some similar beers, in fact all the flavors meld quite well together, the dark bitter chocolate is probably my favorite part about this beer, good stickiness in the mouth as well, not overly syrupy and not cloyingly sweet which makes this beer all the more respectable.

Didn't think I would enjoy this one as much as I did, a top notch example of the style. Something I'd like to try again, hopefully from a larger sample.

deltatauhobbit, Oct 22, 2010
Photo of srandycarter
4.18/5  rDev -9.3%

1000th review!

A - Black, of course. Small tan head after hard pour. Thin ring left with not much lace. EDIT: Subsequent hard pour delivers better head.

S - Yum. Every open a bar of really good dark chocolate and shove your nose in it? Booze and wood notes in the smell. Malt in there trying to say something... anything... over these other loud mouths!

T - Beautiful. Chewy. Chocolately. Booze and wood very evident. Little anise and molasses in there too.

M - Thick, low carb, coating and finishes still thick on the palate. Understandable for this one.

D - Hell no. Sipper and good night!

Good stuff!

srandycarter, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of steve8robin
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%

Got this as an extra in a trade. Thank you so much Dave. 22oz bottle, 2010 vintage. Very excited to try this one...

A: A beautiful thick deep dark pour with a 1 inch deep mocha colored head that fades quickly to a nice mocha foam atop the brew. Very good.

S: I get some nice sweet bourbon chocolate upfront quickly blended a nice dark fruit raisin scent. I get some nice coffee roast notes in the middle with some creamy dairy on the backend. Almost like a fig and molasses scent blended in there. There are a lot of different scents bouncing around. Very good.

T: It's a brew where I get some many flavors in the first sip all at once. There is not one specific pronounced flavor. I get a blend of cocao, vanilla, bitter chocolate, a perfect spot for the warm bourbon, followed by some awesome creamy milk chocolate. As I drink more, the more it tastes like a perfectly balanced milk stout. I start to get some port notes blended with some booziness and dark fruit. This is my idea of a stout. Perfect!

M: Full bodied with a very nice carbonation balance. Very good.

D: The drinkability on this one is quite good. Goes down good once you get a handle on all of the flavors bouncing around. Good.

All in all, bravo Firestone Walker! This is my idea of a fantastic stout. Definitely worth hunting if you like deep, thick, creamy, dark stouts to try and grab some to age. One of my new faves for sure!!

steve8robin, Oct 16, 2010
Photo of JohnGalt1
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Inflatablechair busted this one out at Eric's a while back... just getting around to entering in the notes.

Pours with a thick brown head... great retention and lacing...

Nose shows more wood than bourbon but with a good roasty background that carries a subtle sweetness reminiscent of dark dark chocolate.

Flavor is immediately drier than the nose made me believe.. bits of vanilla and sweet cigar wrapper envelope waves of great complexities.. a bit boozy with warmth.. and the malts open up to be a bit sweeter as the temperature rises.

Smooth but present carbonation with a pretty full decadent mouth coating body.

Thanks Sammy.... I really need to try and score some of these before the wells run dry.

4.5 across the board.

JohnGalt1, Oct 13, 2010
Photo of hophead247
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%

Pours a pitch black color with a brown highlights and a tan 1 finger head. Poured into my Surly Darkness glass. Have heard how good this beer is and really am trying to not be dissappointed if it doesn't reach the level of goodness I have heard so much about. Coffee, bourbon, and cream type notes in the aroma. This is a very complex beer with lots of aromas and tastes. I taste dark chocolate, coffee, bourbon, and some hop bitterness. I would say this is a very balanced and complete Imperial Stout well worth the praises I have heard. Medium/heavy mouthfeel. Very rich and good. It doesn't really get much better than this.

hophead247, Oct 12, 2010
Photo of TKEbeerman
4.7/5  rDev +2%

Firestone Walker Parabola courtesy of coryking:

A: Poured into my Firestone Walker Pint Glass (purchased for me by my beautiful girl friend) this brew pour an extremely dark black with an extremely impressive, almost 2in, chocolate milk bubble colored head that refuses to bow down and leaves some of the best lacing I've seen on a beer glass (let alone @ 13%) ever.

S: The aroma is almost perfect. Were those barrels made of chocolate? Seriously there is a heavy amount of biter sweet chocolate in this brew. Molasses and slight espresso with whims of whiskey make up the nose.

T: Upfront chocolate dominates the flavor. Vanilla is present and really does an excellent job smoothing out and combining everything present in the brew. As far as Bourbon barrel aged stouts go, this brew has note more along the lines of Whiskey, and it is a slight accent that just gives this beer more depth. Molasses and a little hop bitterness wrap up the profile of this stout. As the brew warms, whiskey becomes a more dominate flavor note and chocolate starts to take a back seat.

MF: The mouthfeel is good without being spectacular. Like many barrel aged beers (especially Bourbon) I've had, I've begun to notice the barrel aging really does a job of thinning the mouthfeel just a tad to much. Still this brew is silky smooth and excellent.

D: Drinkability at 13% is superb. This stout is a little more filling then most.

Overall, I am very grateful to coryking for a trade I thought I could not have completed with the beers available in my area. Parabola is a stout worthy of its place amongst the best.

TKEbeerman, Oct 10, 2010
Photo of davod23
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%

I finally broke open the case of Parabola I have sitting in my cellar. I've had this a few times before, but never reviewed. It was, at one point, my favorite beer... I'm looking forward to this.

Pitch black, viscous, but not chunky pour. Dark tan head billows up, but fairly quickly dissipates completely. A swirl coats the interior of my Bruery tulip in brown. This is a really nice-looking stout - I wish the head stuck around a bit longer, but hell, this is a 13% barrel-aged stout, I can't expect miracles.

Smell is delicious. Great balance. Huge chocolate, coffee, and roast. Touch of smoke, vanilla, brown sugar, and anise. All of this backed up by the bourbon barrel, which thankfully does not overpower the brew.

Taste follows the nose for the most part. Bourbon plays a bit bigger role here. Chocolate, coffee, vanilla. Oak. Molasses. A sweet beer, but not overly so. Alcohol is present, but very, very well hidden considering the ABV on this brew. Bittering hops in the finish balance this out nicely - I recall this on tap at the release being a bit astringent in the finish, but that's either not present in the bottled version or it's mellowed out in the time since the release. Either way, I'm happy. This beer is a flavor monster.

Mouthfeel is awesome. Thick, syrupy, but with a surprisingly dry finish. The end is as clean as you can possibly get with a stout of this magnitude.

Drinkability is tough. It's not easy to drink a ton of this stuff - I had about 3/4 of the bomber, and that was enough for me. I kinda wish this was in smaller bottles, like 2008 Bourbon County.

Nevertheless, this beer is awesome. Highly recommended, if you can find it.

davod23, Oct 02, 2010
Photo of Spica66
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%

Received in trade from Darkrthebettr. Thanks, Erik!

Poured into tulip with Fr. Ian and Tom Taylor.

A: Black as the night is long. Beautiful brownish head. Absolutely perfect looking stout.

S: They named it right. Dark chocolate, dark fruits, dark caramel.

T: Just like it smells. Bitter chocolate, dark figs, really Imperial Stouty. No gimmicks, just huge, dark flavors.

M: Creamy with the just right amount of carbonation. No stickiness. Really, really nice.

D: Alcohol hits a little hard in the chest on the way down, or else I would have given a 5.

Spica66, Sep 29, 2010
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,592 ratings.