1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

5,126 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,126
Reviews: 1,031
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,559
Gots: 2,753 | FT: 191
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:
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]
View: Beers (76) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Parabola Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,126 | Reviews: 1,031 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BabyTree
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Chevchelios
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of DogfishJoe
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Brew_Bear
4.83/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Parabola 2011, tasted on June 28th, 2014.
This beer is very very special for me. Some background is required (jump to TASTING if you don't care).

First off, I discovered Parabola in spring of 2011 or 2012, as part of a flight of imperial stouts in a bar. This changed my life. Before tasting Parabola, I had no idea about the world of vintage beer, barrel aged beer, and most importantly, how an imperial stout could be good. Before that I cared more or less for stout, but now I was in shock. It's afterward that I started buying and aging beer at home. It's been my favorite beer since then, and I don't hesitate to drive for hours and spend lots of money to get some.

Anyway, forward to November 2013. I'm at Boneyard Bistro in Sherman Oaks (CA), and surprise, they have a vertical flight of Parabola: 2011-2012-2013. I'm freaking out!! The 2012 and 2013 vintage were excellent, as usual, but the 2011 vintage.... HO. LY. SH*T. It was like 10x better. Oh my god.

So much in fact, that I declared on several occasions that I would pay good money for a bottle of 2011. Well it looks like the universe heard me! Few days ago I was in Las Vegas, and oh surprise, Aces And Ales is selling the bottle for $75, which is what I was expecting. I thought screw it, it's now or never. I brought the bottle home, and opened it last night. And then...


First off, it's an incredibly complex beer. It's hard to describe it in few lines. Furthermore, my impressions evolved during the tasting. Although I will present each sensory aspect separately, in reality I took notes on those aspects throughout the tasting: smell, taste, smell, taste, repeat for an hour and half.


The beer pours an opaque black color, topped with a rich mocha head. Swirling the beer in the glass shows thick viscosity that sticks onto the glass wall. Promising!


Initially, Parabola lets out smells of malt, lots of licorice, as well as molasses and dark fruit: prune and red raisin, with a touch of blackberry. Those aromas combine marvelously with an impression of brown sugar, typical of the Firestone vintage beer (I strongly suspect their British house yeast).

Once passed the first impression, I realize that the beer has definitely maderized. Very soft aromas of fortified wine and port caress my nostrils.

Then the dessert side of the beer imposes itself smoothly. First, a note of cola. Yes, sweet cola! There is a candy character that's hard to define, something like toffee, truffle, and very subtle chocolate.

It is late that the roasted malt manifests itself, via a subtle coffee aroma, accompanied by black cherry.

The barrel qualities are pratically absent from the aromatic profile. The wood and bourbon are so timid that I didn't really get them. No worries though.


Madera and a note of port wine welcome my taste buds. Another sip, and molasses and licorice show up. A solid start.

Oh hey, the wood and bourbon of the barrel finally show their nose! It was about time. The bourbon is however closer to whiskey than bourbon. A very dry quality, less sweet than bourbon.

At last, the dessert persona arrives. It's like I'm drinking sugar pie (a French Canadian specialty dish: brown sugar, butter and cream, mostly) spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Wow. After swallowing the ichor, caramel and toffee linger for a while. It's later, when the beer has warmed up in my glass, that dates and vanilla softly augment an experience that is already rich and fabulous.

It is very late that I detect the nuances confered by age, via subtle notes of tobacco and leather.

Overall, the flavor profile is incredibly balanced, very smooth and mellow. Sometimes, bourbon barrel aged beers are too "bourbonny" for my taste. This is not the case here. The wood and bourbon take a back seat, letting the other comedian express themselves freely. A perfect harmony.


Toward the end of my first sip, a sensation of rough texture manifests on my tongue. I would describe it as when when you eat waffle cookies, and lingers a little bit. The sensation amplifies during the finale. Surprising, but not unpleasant. However, this sensation completely goes away after few sips.

A chewiness, typical of imperial stouts, accompanies the rough texture. Contrary to that texture however, the chewiness doesn't go away. The beer is completely round. I suspect the use of oats grants it great velvety quality. The beer coats my tongue and leaves a soft viscous impression.

The heat from the alcohol warms up my throat during the finale, but is not burning. Very pleasant.


A spectacular beer, nothing less. Very mellow, very smooth, yet bold, complex and multi-faceted. No aroma or flavor is competing with another, nothing feels overwhelming or off-balance. It completely deserves it's rating, and then some.

Photo of KevinGordon
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Corbin19
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of ponderous
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of nleaders
4.85/5  rDev +5.2%

Photo of Rocketman2013
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of Josbor11
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of SteelersX
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of aalton77
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of jkhobbs99
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of mvdhype
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of GregDuB65
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of Jmbbabson
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of donnie19
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of djjolt
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Bushwacker393
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Chris_Panos
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Dexterityviking
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of BrentLinkin
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of RebornStussy
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of sammyg832
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 5,126 ratings.