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Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

1,130 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This Russian imperial oatmeal stout is aged for a full year in a blend of bourbon barrels from Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

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Reviews: 1,130 | Ratings: 5,975
Photo of Wasatch
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to dsgolovin for this brew.

22oz. Bomber
Black Tin Foil/Capped

Pours a jet black color, nice carbonation, with a one-finger creamy tan head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, tons of chocolate/toffee notes, vanilla, slight bourbon note. The taste is malty, sweet, with lots of chocolate/toffee. Full/Medium Body. The ABV is too up front on this one. A very tasty brew.

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Photo of pkeigs
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Split this bottle at the Mayor of Old Town on Sunday with some friends while we watched the Formula One race. Was a treat that I was excited to share with the 6 of us present.

Beer pours black with absolutely 0 head, carbonation was still there, but just formed a thin layer of bubbles on the edge of the glass. Swirling it leaves a nice legging effect as beer sticks to the glass.

Smells great, lots of oak, little bit of bourbon, some nice caramel flavors coming through. Seems to be more balanced than most other barrel aged stouts. Amazing that this one has seen at least 12 months on wood.

Tastes a lot like it smells. Amazing finish on this one, seems to last for ages. Once again great balance between the deep rich stout, and the oak. Vanilla, coffee, dark fruit and caramel round out the palate.

A tasty treat, very happy to get a bottle of this, will open it at a stout tasting when the weather starts to get a little cooler.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.37/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thanks to augustgarage, served in .5l ceramic.

A- Chestnut brown, big building head that settles just as quickly.

S- Strong bourbon, nutty caramel and spicy oak.

T- bitter creamed coffee, lots of dark roast. Bourbon is wonderfully meshed and compliments the malt. Sweet brown sugar and chocolate cake. Bold flavors, well-balanced.

M- Firestone makes a damn good bal-aged beer. Great balance, full and rich mouthfeel.

O- Very good stuff- I think I liked it a bit better as a blend in 13, but it`s strong on its own two legs.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
3.96/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage

A - this is one of the darkest beers I've ever seen. Black pour yields black body. Medium brown ring of foam with a thin film and pack of bubbles in the middle.

S - Hot bourbon! Super Boozy! Vanilla and wood. Banana. Smoked meats. There are some good bourbon barrel notes and some good stout notes beyond the alcohol.

T - Lots of alcohol here too. Not as dominant though. Wood and smoked meats on the forefront, dark malty flavors, vanilla and bourbon sweetness throughout. But man, that booze really lingers.

M - This is a huge and beautiful mouthfeel. It's very smooth, very full. Only problem is the alcohol numbness that lingers when the beer is gone.

O - Well, I wish I had saved it longer. It seems like this would be exquisite with subdued alcohol notes. I guess some might call it a boozy mess. It's more of a boozy delight.

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Photo of DrinkThemAll
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle Poured from a 22oz bomber into a pint glass...

A-Pours an opaque black with about a one finger deep tan or caramel head with a bit of copper that dissipates rather quickly into nothing, has minimal lacing if any...

S-Very sweet dark roasted malts with dark fruits, melted dark chocolate sweet molasses with slight espresso and a very alcoholic bourbon aroma that burns your nose...

T-Holy sh*t...Damn good right here. So smooth and balanced for being 13%...dark roasted malts right away with very sweet molasses dark roasted chocolate and slight coffee or espresso and a massive bourbon oaked alcohol finish which is very warming...nice...

M-Wow...Medium body with decent carbonation, a mouth full of chocolate molasses espresso and bourbon...has a gnarly bourbon
alcohol finish that has a slight burn...

O-Damn good...I couldn't wait to pop one of these open, just glad i have 2 more of these baby's to age...very balanced, smooth and
complex. alcohol is very high on this one and you can taste it here but its a nice roasted bourbon taste which is nice...a must try and
very strong share with a buddy or loved one...enjoy

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.27/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review 165, Parabola, to celebrate the birth of my first child early this morning, Lydia Marie.

Thanks to Sean for this one. Shared with my brother, 22oz 2011 bomber split into two New Belgium snifters.

A: Pours jet black, dark as midnight, with a dark brown head and great alcohol feet; viscous and heavy.

S: Bourbon barrels; oak and vanilla; hints of molasses and dark fruit/red wine; dark roasted malts; and hints of earthy bittering hops.

T: A sweeter beer than I was expecting, with lots of chewy dark fruit flavors; the barrel characters (whisky/bourbon and red wine are discernible) and roasted malt and booze and woody notes all mixing together beautifully. There is some chocolate here as well, and slight coffee bitterness on the back end.

MF: Hella smooth, creamy, viscous, chewy. Medium/heavy body with light carbonation. The alcohol thins the mouthfeel a touch.

O: A really good BA stout, with pretty intricate flavors and characteristics. I'm not sure how old this bottle is but a couple more months would only help; however it's quite enjoyable now.

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Photo of THECPJ
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes: Had on draft at Jose Pistola's.

appearance: dark black with a 1 finger mocha head

smell: bourbon, vanilla, roast, malts

taste: bourbon, vanilla, roast, malts,

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: this was an amazing beer and would definitely recommend giving it a try. Totally delicious.

the CPJ

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Photo of dancingnancie
4.57/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz poured into a smuttynose pint glass.

A: Beautiful black coffee like appearance. Light mocha head that fades instantly. This is beautiful.

S: Very dark bitter chocolates, sweet vanilla, bourbon, and some cherry. Pretty outstanding.

T: I definitely believe this is the best stout I've had. I haven't reviewed all the beers I have had, but I believe this is the best stout I've ever had. Very chocolatey, nice coffee bitterness. Absolutely no alcohol bite. Just very well crafted.

M: Not as thick as some of the big imperials, but it doesn't disappoint in this category. Perfect amount of carbonation. I can't express how nice this brew is.

O: Seek this out, gets one of my highest recommendations. Great job Firestone Walker!!

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Photo of bld81
4.92/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap served into a snifter:
A: Carefully set in front of me because the pour ends right at the edge of the glass. Clearly, the server was not expecting any head formation. Very dark appearance, like a rich cup of coffee, with small brown bubbles settling at the edges forming an incomplete ring.
S: Very impressive complex aromas of coffee, cocoa nibs, butterscotch and toffee, sweet chocolate, and finally bourbon, but not overpowering
T: Vanilla first (a surprise due to muted presence in the nose) and great chocolate and toffee flavors, slight alcohol burn, bourbon on the tongue, tobacco lingers and dries the palate
M: Creamy, coats well, leaves a dry finish, alcohol not overpowering, one could drink this faster than expected
O: Amazing beer, up there with the other highly regarded RIS, less roasted and coffee flavors than KBS, but the sweetness here is balanced well and makes this a must purchase

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Photo of stxSS07
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip. Split with lookitsmp

A- Pours pitch black with a half-finger mocha-colored head that quickly dissipates to a thin cap. Huge legs, but not much lacing.

S- I smelled this beast immediately upon opening. Barrel notes and bourbon greeted me upon cracking the cap and filled the room. Closer inspection reveals sweet sugary vanilla, chocolate, and well-cured tobacco notes.

T- Starts off intensely sweet with sugary malts and vanilla notes that are balanced by mellow barrel and bourbon flavors. Ends with spectacular tobacco and chocolate notes that also have a smokey character.

M- Thick and viscous. Coats the the mouth with a motor-oil like texture. Finishes forever.

O- Amazing RIS. Firestone-Walker hits another one out of the park.

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.3/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Happy Birthday Wu-Wu, this ones for you.

This brew pours a dark dark brown and settlea pitch black with mocha head. Oily lacing slides down the glass with grace. The nose is chocolate infused with oak, vanilla, basically bourbon characteristics. The taste is much the same. Sweet choxolate and toffee are presented up front, followed by a slight booze welcome. The mouthfeel is sticky and full, leaving a great coating on my palate. Overall, this brew packs a great punch full of originality and tastiness. Barrels are working wonders here in this brew.

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Photo of OddNotion
4.2/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Split the bottle with my lovely girlfriend. Poured into my DFH Signature Glass.

Appearance: Pitch black with a one half finger tan head that recedes to a lacing.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee notes, brandy/bourbon, and heavy barrel scents dominate the nose. Smells very sweet.

Taste: Very good taste. The barrels play a major role but find the perfect mix where the beer still stands out on its own. It is very chocolate and coffee forward though neither are added. I want to say there is a good amount of Brandy and Bourbon presence, both of which work great in a beer like this. It is a little sweet and a little boozy but I feel that some time can take care of this.

Mouthfeel: Nice and thick which I like, slightly too carbonated but not overpoweringly so.

Overall: Lives up to the hype and I am so glad they distribute near me. Very solid beer and I am glad I have a vertical started as I would love to see how this ages over the years!

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Photo of muttyd
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Jon over at Kappy's on Rt 1 in Malden for this one. Bottle for now, bottle to age.

Poured gently into a large Tripel Karmeliet glass. Pitch black with a faint, spotty tan head. Great lacing and sticks to the sides of the glass very well. Very viscous looking.

Aroma hits you right away with a deep, dark chocolate candy bar sweetness. Roasted malts, toffee, and oaky vanilla all there as well. Some slight warming alcohol comes through more and more as the beer warms up. The flavor is very similar to the nose but has a strong dark fruity/fig sweetness that mixes in well with the dark chocolate, vanilla, caramel and coffee flavors. Very big, bold imperial stout. Leaves a sticky coating on the palate and finishes with a warming alcohol presence.

Excellent offering from FW. Really enjoyed this beer.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is one I've been dying to get my hands on for a couple years now (ever since it was on tap at Two Bros For the Love of Hops and it ran out as I was in line, before it was distributed in IL.)

Pours a pitch black with a finger of cinnamon head that dissipates in a matter of minutes.

Smells of oak, vanilla, and toffee.

The taste is very robust and vivid. The vanilla and oak hit first followed by toffee and light chocolate. There is a dark roast finish, but it's subtle.

The mouthfeel is very thick and creamy. The alcohol gives off a fairly heavy burn, but it plays well with the oak and vanilla. I'd imagine this would drink extremely well with a year or two on it, but I appreciate it young, too.

This is a top notch imperial stout well worth the hype and deserves to be in the discussion with the big boys.

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Photo of nicnut45
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 2011 22 oz. Bottle poured into a chimay chalice. Batch No. 002.
A- Dark tan head upon a mild pour. Head fades to a very faint almost not even there head. Its as black as can be and no light will pass through this beer. Head seems to awaken as this beer sits and warms up, though its still not very much.

S- Seems a bit muted upon first pour though charred wood and rum raisins strike me first. Really opens up upon warming.
Sweet bourbon smells are mixed with choclate covered cherries and other sweet aromas. All these compliment well with the charred oakiness. A pleasure to smell.

T- Buttercream frosting sweetness upfront melds to sweet cherries. All this is abruptly pushed out of the way by a charred smokey bitterness. Alcohol is evident and hot tavelling down the gullet. Leaves a dry charcoal taste in the mouth. This is very fine, like sipping on a fine bourbon. And tastes better as it warms up.

M.F.- Thick and creamy. Like whole chocolate milk. Alcohol and carbonation provides a nice bite that doesn't leave the sweetness clinging to you your palate. Has a nice clearing effect.

O- This is wonderful and will get plenty good with time. I suggest letting it warm up past 55 as it only seems to taste better the warmer it gets. This beer is still young, but its roughness is pleasent and reminiscent of sipping on a fine bourbon. Well done.

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Photo of LaneMeyer
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a bomber into a tulip. Damn this beer is tasty!

A- black black, one to one and a half fingers of mocha head

S- Pepper, vanilla, fig, date, plum, coffee, caramel, toffee, raspberry, cherry, mocha

T- pepper, vanilla, cherry, coffee, alcohol is quite prominent, fig, date, mocha

M- a bit hot, a nice medium bodied beer, nice carbonation, coats the tongue and mouth vigorously

O- Truly an amazing RIS. It could use a little aging but I have not had a better example of this style.

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Photo of emmasdad
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks so much to my friend Ken for bringing this one over last Friday night. Poured a deep, opaque black color, with a nice tan head. Aromas of oak, black licorice, bourbon and dark chocolate. On the palate, this one is full bodied and boozy, with flavors of bourbon, dark chocolate, oak and vanilla. Excellent; welcome to Colorado.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Ok, had this on draught the other day, now time for the bottle.

Fancy cardboard 'case'. Nice looking bottle, love the label.
Pours black, dark ruby tints around the rim. Nice off-brown, dense head. Love it. Solid, rich, smooth

aroma differs from the tap version a bit. This one has more of a chocolaty foundation. The leather, baked caramel, vanilla and wood are in there, but not as prominent. It's a smooth chocolate, not too sweet. Black plums and anise.

yeah, taste is more chocolaty, too. It's complex, but not as much as tap version I think. The carbonation doesn't life the flavors up and around. Still, the black strap leather, plum, raisin, coffee, vanilla, and caramel.

Feel is drier than tap, and it was fairly dry. Some tannin and velvet-ness at once. The chocolate gives way to a prune-like finish. Still smooth and darn tasty

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Photo of 1Adam12
3.71/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 batch 2. Pours dark black with huge white head, brown lacing. Smells of bourbon, oak, malt, vanilla, chocolate, and a bit of cherry. Taste is mostly bourbon, followed by a sweet malt, chocolate, then comes the vanilla, and then slammed with more bourbon. Everything seems kind of meshed together though. Not layered very well. Burning in my nose from the bourbon. Mouthfeel is full bodied and creamy. Bourbon burns my cheeks. Kind of a funny finish on this. Overall, this dude is way too hot. It just tastes messy to me. It's good, but not what I was expecting at all. Very underwhelming from the reputation, and the rating, IMO. This was hard to get, and I've had better beers that are easier for me to get. I do have 2 bottles left, and I'm not touching one at all for at least a year. I'm hoping the bourbon mellows and there will be less of a mess.

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Photo of cccarson
4.34/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Map Room. 10oz pour into a snifter.

A: The appearance was really the only unremarkable thing about this exceptional brew. That is, if you are of the traditional mindset that stouts (and especially imperial stouts) should be jet black. It actually was more of a very dark brown to light black, almost maroon-colored at the top when held up to the light. A surprising amount of dark tan head disappeared relatively quickly (expected), with minimal lacing on the snifter.

S: The bourbon hits you first, but is not overpowering. Raisins, cherries, caramel, and dark chocolate follow in a perfect harmony, all with an underlying oak base. A magnificent smelling beer. I would have given this a 6 out of 5 if possible.

T: Chocolate-y, raisin-y, dark fruits and bourbon. The bourbon is amazingly not too hot. Instead it is perfectly woven into the beer. At 13% I fully expected this to be way too boozy. I was glad to be proven wrong. I remember Goose Island's BCBS to be a hot, boozy mess at 13%. A lot of reviews indicated a vanilla taste - I did not perceive this. Perhaps this is something that is more present in the bottled version of this beer. Complaint: too much of a soy sauce presence in the taste.

M: Viscous and thick. Syrup-y. Often beers are described as "milkshakes" - this is definitely like a shake in every bit the best way.

O: Deceptively drinkable at 13%. Actually dangerously so. The beer got better and better as it warmed. Cut out the overpowering soy taste and this is a home run.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.85/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a creamy fluffy coffee colored head that sticks around for a bit. Smells of coffee, chocolate, licorice, with hints of vanilla, oak, sweet bourbon and alcohol. Thick like maple syrup body has a creamy smooth mouthfeel and a light level of carbonation. Wow this one has some residual sugars that's for sure. Taste starts out with licorice and chocolate but they are assaulted with bourbon, vanilla and oak very quickly. Coffee and chocolate step in but disappear as the whole thing turns into an oddly dry finish. Long lingering alcohol heat and earthy hop bite rolled in roasted grains. This is a big beer that is tasty. I find it a bit hot in the finish, I'm curious to see what a little age does to this one.

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Photo of sbegraft
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Incredible brew.

a nice medium of aged Founders KBS and goose island Bourbon County Stout,

This beer exceeded all expectations.

great small great mouth feel taste is 2 nd to none. Definitely the best stout i have tasted in a long time.

I have not tasted such a complex beer in a long time.

Bought the rest that was on the shelf from the only craft shop that carried it.

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Photo of nerow
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving Container: Deschutes Tulip.

A- Pours a tarry black with a deep bronze head. Head retention is minimal (as is expected with a beer this heavy), and quickly recessed to a ring that clung to the sides of the glass. Beautiful.

S- Bourbon-y. Lots of vanilla, Almond, toffee, black licorice and hints of black cherry and expresso. Brilliant stuff.

T- Rather sweet to begin with, notes predominantly of bourbon and chocolate. As the middle of the beer approached, I began to taste more carmel, molasses and vanilla, along with the faintest hints of toasted almond. The back end continued this trend with a fulfilling, slightly hoppy aftertaste that harbored traces of black cherry. Finish lasted for a good half minute.

M- Creamy, with only a slight alcohol presence at the very end. Nearly flawless.

O- Bloody Brilliant. I could wax poetic about this beer for hours. Only minor flaws mar what was an otherwise fantastic tipple, flaws which will probably be eliminated after a year or two of aging. If I were king of the world, I would drink this with and for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Photo of SkiBum22
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Dark as night, absolutely viscous appearance. Very minimal head with strong lacing on the glass.

S - Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, coffee, oak. You can barely smell the alcohol.

T - Sweet roasted malts and chocolate up front. On the back coffee, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. You can barely taste the bourbon.

M - Very good smooth feel. A lot softer then I would have guessed. Just like velvet.

O - Wow, that was the first word that came to mind after the first sip. This beer is as close as excellence can get in my opinion. By far the best beer for me this year and definitely in my top 5 all-time. Thank god I have one more bottle aging!

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.22/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

Big thanks to the Central PA group of the Gang Bang BIF for this bottle!

Another big Want brought forth thanks to this BIF. Good times. It pours a straight onyx topped by a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises chocolate syrup, roasted malts, molasses, very light oak, vanilla, and caramel. The taste holds notes of dark chocolate, roasted malts, molasses, light vanilla, very light coffee, and an even lighter touch of char. The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a kinda chewy feel. Overall, a great impy stout, one that seems to warrant the hype it receives. Get some.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,130 ratings.