Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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1,079 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,079
Hads: 5,641
Avg: 4.53
pDev: 18.98%
Wants: 2,869
Gots: 3,257 | FT: 248
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  14.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: largadeer on 03-26-2008

Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged for 8 months in circa 1990's Heaven Hill bourbon barrels.

OG: 29.5p [plato]
IBU: 82 [high]
Cases: 3000 produced [LTD]
Aged: 12 mo [time in barrel]
Yeast: British Ale [house]
Color: 167SRM [midnight black]
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,079 | Hads: 5,641
Photo of birchstick
4.2/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Series 002

A - pours a black color with a nice 1/2 finger mocha colored head off of an aggressive pour

S - caramel and molasses from the bourbon stick out the most with a bit of cola and chocolate malt hidden beneath; subtle hints of charred oak are in the mix as well. Nice blend of aromas with nothing too overpowering.

T - vanilla and milk chocolates jump out immediately and provide a welcoming introduction. This then segues into LOTS of spicy bourbon on the back end that is slowly overtaken by a a very rich, dry, dark chocolate flavor with subtle hints of caramel that lingers after the exhale. Definitely let this guy warm up a bit as the bourbon hides itself better in the flavor profile the closer it got toward room temperature.

M - nice and full as it goes down; the body complements the rest of the beer nicely. Has a very dry finish and leaves you wanting another drink.

D - really solid BA RIS. I feel like the heat was a little overpowering at first but as this warmed up it turned into a really nice beer. I feel like a year or two would do wonders with this beer. Luckily I have a couple of bottles to lay down and anxiously await to crack in the future.

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Photo of surlytheduff
4.2/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle, so about a year old at time of drinking. Gave a rough pour into a snifter which yielded about a half inch of cola-colored head which quickly receded to a thin ring of bubbles with very little lacing along side the glass. The liquid itself? Black. How much more black could this be? The answer is none - none more black.

The smell was pretty rich. Roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate, a little bit of booze. The taste was a lot more bourboney, in a delicious sort of way. There was a really pleasant, not-too-cloying sweetness to it. As it warmed up the vanilla and chocolate really came to the forefront. The toasty oak flavors have been incorporated extremely well into this beer.

The mouthfeel is creamy and thick. It is full bodied with medium carbonation. Overall it was a fantastic stout which I'm glad I finally got around to cracking.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.73/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Popped off a bottle of 001 for a cousin's wedding reception Sunday night. Thick, viscous black and a mild cherry cola head to it. Less than forceful aroma of chocolate, oak, mild boozy bourbon, vanilla and cherry.

Wow, what a treat, a sipper, yet hid the alcohol so well. Nothing was dominant, equal parts of play between the chocolate, bourbon. Others got more coffee roast than I did, but I really appreciated the smooth cherry and vanilla aspect of this. Didn't even have that warming presence it hid the alcohol so well. Chewy. Would think there was oatmeal in here it was so chewy and smooth.

Sets itself apart from the wanna be barrel agers. This one actually tasted nice, not harsh. Going 'big' on the bourbon is often a mistake. Found it ironic that this is a part of the Anniversary blend, yet this had been blended so well itself, to not yield the alcohol heat, and allow every little nuance of the barrels and base beer itself to be noticed (and this was after a day of drinking, albeit a blood orange hefe sixtel).

I've bought 7 bottles of this both years. I think its the right number to keep doing every year. Not too many beers in that elite company (PTE, Bigfoot, Parabola, Celebration, Eclipse)

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Photo of Chaney
3.61/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I split this 2011 bomber tonight with my wife.

A: Viscious, extremely black, and with a head only a shade or two lighter than the brew itself.

S: Subdued bourbon, dark fruit, and a bit of dark chocolate to balance that out. Potent, but not too.

T: Fairly hot, chocolatey, and extremely viscious in general. This totally wasn't what I was expecting. I got a generous amount of heat on the aftertaste, but tons of chalk also.

M: Thick, but not as thick and creamy as I was hoping. Still, this was lightly carbonated and very cloying.

O: Disappointing. I'd heard lots of amazing things about this one and it kinda let me down. That's a shame, because I totally dig Firestone Walker overall.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 model

Stouty looking stout

Smells of roast, wood, vanilla, and bourbon: rather inviting.

Bourbon has mellowed in the year since I last had this, but plays wonderfully over the base stout. Barrel imparts smoke, rich vanilla, light woodiness, and milk chocolate covered cherry.

Mouthfeel is medium thick and lowly carbonated, making this is nice, enjoyable, should be sipper, that I chose rather to injest in swatchbuckling sized gulps.

Time has been kind to ye old Parabola. 13% my foot!

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Photo of ottovon
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: a dark brown almost black with a brown head.

S: i get a lot of chocolate and bourbon. there is vanilla and some oak. caramel, roast malt, and hints of coffee and toffee.

T: i get bitter dark chocolate, bourbon, oak. i get some burnt malt and toffee, with hints of coffee. there is dark fruit and molasses. there is a touch of sweetness and brown sugar.

M: it has a thick body with medium-low carb.

O: a great beer. I would never pass this beer up.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.92/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter glass.

A - Motor oil black with a tan head forming only at the edges.

S - Booze, oak, chocolate, and coffee.

T - The flavors roll onto the tongue in the same order, and are very pronounced. Booze, oak, chocolate, coffee.

D - A slightly bitter finish, but I was surprised by how balanced the mouthfeel was.

O - A complex RIS, very nice and warming.

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Photo of arizcards
4.59/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up 2 bombers in mid-June 2010 from BevMo for $15.99 each. I know the adage of trying one fresh and aging one but i sat both of them in my wine cooler given my experience with Goose Island Bourbon Stout (too hot).

Beer poured black as night with a brown head that dissapated quickly.

Nose is chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and charred oak. It does not get any better than that.

Taste is big on dark chocolate, bourbon is definitely treading lightly in the background. Notes of vanilla and hops balance the sweetness quite well.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and very smooth.

Overall drinkability is very good. This is definitely a world class brew. Viscosity is not quite what i had hoped but very good nonetheless. Definitely one to pursue for impy stout lovers!

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Photo of dtivp
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed this beer last week at the Savor.

Pours a very deep black with a nice light brown head that fades slowly into a ring, light lacing.

Aroma of bourbon, smoke, vanilla and chocolate.

Taste was smoky, roasty, woody, strong bourbon, with a mix of vanilla, toffee and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel was full to medium body, very smooth and boozy. A very nice bourbon ending.

Overall this is an outstanding Imperial Stout, there is a nice bourbon flavor, not the alcohol taste you get with the majority of bourbon barrel stouts. Great job.

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Photo of Sebowski
4.59/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks good. Nice cooper bubbles.
Smell is all chocolate bourbon and barrel. Love it.
Tastes like awesome. First taste if barrel smoothness. Followed by a nice roast with some oak and a little bit of rare in the bite. Aftertaste gets you the bourbon I'm after when I drink a bourbon barrel stout.
Mouthfeel is as it should be. Nice aggressive after taste. perfect consistency.
Overall I am really looking this brew. Much better than I remember it from last year, though I didn't have it very often last year.

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Photo of stupac2
4.42/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Pours a dark black with a couple fingers of light brown head. Smell is strongly vanilla, delicious bourbon vanilla. Mouthfeel is warm, the booziness coming through. Tastes magnificent, I love the vanilla, also roasty flavors coming through strongly. The main detractor (for me, at least) is the booziness, at 13% I'd expect it to be coming through somewhat less, actually. But I'm cellaring a few bottles, and I anticipate that age will mellow this and make it even better.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich black with dark brown head. Nose is rich with vanilla woody components, toffee, & creme de brûlée. Palate offers a rich combo of roasty flavors, vanilla wood bourbon elements again, and finishes delightfully boozy. Full bodied. Simply a hedonic delight.

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Photo of pumptrick
4.9/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured hard into my Reidel snifter which rendered a beautiful 2 finger head.

A- Pitch black with a wonderful brown head

S- Bourbon smoke vanilla chocalate and fruit

T- Bourbon roast barly vanilla booze and some dark fruit with the booze lingering

M- all over coater and lingerer if thats a word. this thing hangs on for minutes

O- outstanding overall but would love for the price to be more along the lines of stone brews. That being said I bought several and will enjoy every sip.

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Photo of mrkun
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Staring into the depths of the sea at night. This beer smells like bourbon, chocolate, and coffee with the latter two struggling to persevere over the bourbon. The taste follows the nose with alcohol being prevalent but not overbearing; aftertaste of hops, dark chocolatiness, and bourbon. Light carbonation, nice creamy mouthfeel, and some heat from the 13% abv. Overall an awesome impy stout that sneaks up on you and won't let you go.

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Photo of Jazzcrop
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tastes are smoke, a humidor, cigars, dark chocolate, hops, wood fire, British crystal, bourbon, oak, oats, dark fruits, (alotta) booze, fastly-warming heat, a little milk sugar/lactose, menthol, vanilla beans -- strong, caramel-covered apples, tea leaves and silk.

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Photo of TheBrewViking
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

poured from a bottle to a 17oz brandy snifter which was perfect for smelling the amazing aroma this beer puts off.

A- black, 2cm head with excited pour

S- bourbon and barrel with some maltiness

T- very smooth bourbon up front followed by oak and sweetness, vanilla finishes it up and leaves a sweet taste in your mustache/flavor saver. the alcohol heat is perfect for a big RIS like this. Firestone sure has their barrel aging down to an art.

M- this was fairly soft on the tongue very drinkable, i was hoping for a bit heavier but i dont think that is firestones style

O- Firestone has a very respectable stout here. i'm glad i bought a few bottles of this to age

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Photo of Allpe45
4.57/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at The Hungry Monk
Appears black, no head but I blame the pour. Little to no lace either.
Smells delightful, dark bitter chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, smokey bourbon and a bit of booze.
Extremely well balanced for what it is. This is the the most balanced "fresh" barrel aged beer I've had. Starts out roasty and chocolatey with hints of vanilla, in the middle it takes a complex dark fruity turn, with dark wine varietals and a bit of tartness. Bourbon flavor and a slight bitterness in the finish. along with some heat that is to be expected from a 13% barrel aged beer. Still this beer is incredibly smooth and balanced compared to other "fresh" barrel aged imperial stouts.
This is way too drinkable for what it is. Medium-heavy bodied with low carbonation, incredibly smooth, not too chewy but on par for the style.
This is my second time having it on tap and I look forward to having it again if there is any left tomorrow. Be sure to let it warm up before imbibing.

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.8/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage on tap.

Color is dark brown, almost black. Aroma was intense boubon, vanilla and caramel, no hop aroma. Taste was fantastic as expected. Huge alcohol beer that reeally needs to warm up to be fully appreciated. Flavors of oak, biurbon, vanilla and chocolate malt. The beer is extremely well balanced and complex. Mouthfeel was light for such a big beer. Bought a bottle to let age a good while.

Great beer.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the taproom In Buelton

Look: Extremely dark purple color to the point where no light can pass through it the beer had very little head maybe because it was poured to the very top of the 6oz snifter and had very little lacing

Smell: Spicy bourbon notes and alcohol are the front runners on this beer and are back up with hints of roasted coffee and chocolate

Taste: Much of the same as the smell. This beer can be alittle over powering on the power and the 13% abv is definately noticeable. When you get past that it has a very nice flavor profile with hints of burnt oak, coffee, chocolate and bourbon

Mouthfeel: It has a very silky smooth feel on the palate with alittle bit of heat from the bourbon and abv

Overall: This beer is good now but will be great with at least 1yr of aging most likely 2 just to dumb down the alcohol punch that it gives you and lets the true flavors really come through. So buy several like I did and forget about them

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Photo of kayalla
3.58/5  rDev -21%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this numerous time, both batch 1 and batch 2. This is my first review though I've been scouring this site for some time and going out of my way to collect bottles. On the the beer...from a batch 1 bottle. Pours black in the glass with a small brown head. Aroma was molasses, roasted grains, chocolate, hot bourbon. Really pronounced flavors, a lot of that molasses I got with dark chocolate, maybe some raisins. As a BA stout it's all right, not my favorite. Mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Kind of messy and really sweet overall. I guess this would fall into the "over rated" camp in my book.

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Photo of snpub540
4.66/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black with hints of brown at thee bottom and when held up to light. A vigorous pour yielded a one finger head that was a coffee brown and quickly turned into a very small ring of bubbles.

Aroma was slightly faint I thought for sucbh a big beer. Aromas of oak, coffee, roasted malts and a hint of the alcohol held within were present.

The flavors during my first sip were incredible. A complex mix of coffee, vanilla, roasted malt, dark fruit, and black licorice. As it warmed the roasted malts and coffe got stronger and so did the bitterness. With all that going on, there was hardly a notice of the alcohol content unless I took a really big gulp.

The mouthfeel was pretty much perfection. Smooth and thick like velvet. It was pretty much like drinking off of cask. Drinkability was great for such a big beer, but next time I'll probably spli the bottle with someone. This was outstanding and I'm glad I got a few more to put down.

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Photo of Mavajo
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nearly black body with a brown head. Aroma and taste consist of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, caramel. Exceedingly smooth taste - perhaps the most expertly bourbon barrel aged beer I've had yet. Mouthfeel is thick with appropriate carbonation.

Really a top notch -bal aged stout. Exceedingly good and smooth.

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Photo of domtronzero
4.45/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of claybeerman
4.3/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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.

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!

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Photo of cb462
4.47/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,079 ratings.