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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

4,647 Ratings
THE BROS
97
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,647
Reviews: 991
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.46%
Wants: 2,216
Gots: 2,592 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Parabola Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,647 | Reviews: 991 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Mudawg
3/5  rDev -34.9%

Mudawg, Dec 04, 2011
Photo of soldat329x
3/5  rDev -34.9%

soldat329x, Sep 10, 2013
Photo of parkingphi
3/5  rDev -34.9%

parkingphi, Jun 08, 2013
Photo of Brew33
3/5  rDev -34.9%

Brew33, Jul 11, 2013
Photo of bennettj1087
3/5  rDev -34.9%

bennettj1087, May 13, 2013
Photo of SiegeSpitfire
3/5  rDev -34.9%

SiegeSpitfire, Mar 06, 2014
Photo of hoppyboy69
3/5  rDev -34.9%

hoppyboy69, Aug 24, 2013
Photo of Nichols33
3/5  rDev -34.9%

Nichols33, May 09, 2014
Photo of dcoat
3/5  rDev -34.9%

dcoat, Jun 21, 2014
Photo of Jerryt0000
3/5  rDev -34.9%

Jerryt0000, Jun 07, 2014
Photo of TaylorBrake
3/5  rDev -34.9%

TaylorBrake, Apr 14, 2014
Photo of HoppyDazed
3.1/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

To start I am trying the 2014 vintage and I admit that stouts aren't my preferred style, but I do like trying new things and I do attempt to expand my horizons. That being said, I just didnt really care for this. I found it overwhelmingly sweet. My first sip I immediately get the bourbon, followed by chocolate. The oak and coffee begin to creep in after a couple of sips but sweetness is dominate. The mouth feel is a bit heavy for my preference, but not off-putting necessarily. I can appreciate the number of flavors and the balance of those flavors but this is just not for me. Kind of reminds me a little of a barley wine, maybe I'm way off on that, I dont know. I would say if you know you dont like this style but you are trying it because of the hype (like I did) then save your money and save the bottle for someone that will enjoy it.

HoppyDazed, May 31, 2014
Photo of Mikeluzzjr
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

Mikeluzzjr, Mar 24, 2014
Photo of ImperialBrau
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

ImperialBrau, Jul 29, 2014
Photo of Broden
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

Broden, Nov 06, 2012
Photo of Hill4Hops
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

Hill4Hops, Jul 31, 2013
Photo of pmccallum86
3.28/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a super deep and dark black color with a small bubbly cocoa colored head. The color here is very dark, this beer looks awesome.

Smell is very woody, almost like a campfire. Looks of dark and bitter chocolate aromas as well.

Taste is unlike any other beer I have ever had, very big, rich, and woody. Lots of barrel flavors come through here with a light bourbon burn on the finish. This beer seems a little messy right now, it is very dry, it tastes like I am sucking on wood.

Big, full, and rich mouthfeel. Medium carbonation, a little hot on the finish. Very dry, something seems off.

Overall kind of a disappointing beer. I won't be seeking it out again.

pmccallum86, Jul 04, 2010
Photo of Jayli
3.3/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from beerbeerbeerbeer so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!

Consumed 4/19
Poured in to my Portsmouth snifter

A: This beer pours an opaque deep brown with a one finger brown head. Head recedes quickly leaving small spots of lacing.

S: Nose is sweet, toffee, molasses, brown sugar and a bit of roast.

T: Taste starts with a sweet vanilla and toffee flavoring. Middle has a roastiness where a hefty dose of alcohol flavoring takes over. Helloooo bourbon! More oaked vanilla notes and bitter bakers chocolate are present in the background.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, a bit thin and slightly prickly.

O: Goes down alright, somewhat tasty, somewhat filling, decent kick, ok representation of style. I was really looking forward to this beer, and although it's not undrinkable, I would opt for others of the style. Perhaps aging a bit would enhance this beer.

Jayli, Apr 22, 2011
Photo of groovejackson
3.3/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - What you would expect....complete black...looks good!

Smell - Not overpowering....some currents...some toffee.

Taste - The first and lasting impression is twizzlers. You could think of it as wine but It's a bit medicinal...not in a good way. Alcohol is nicely hidden. I do taste some vanilla and wood as well.

Mouthfeel - nice and smooth....luxurious.

Overal - I was so excited about this one but I have to say I'm disappointed. The synthetic fruit is overpowering and I think it is just not my cup of tea. I really prefer a more cocoa and coffee profile in my Imperial Stouts. I'm glad I tried it but I don't think I'll be getting it again.

groovejackson, Sep 18, 2012
Photo of tewaris
3.33/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Batch # 1 poured into a New Belgium balloon. Thanks Frank!

Jet black with a sheet of dark brown bubbles for the head. Hardly any lacing but the beer itself clings to the glass sip upon sip. Certainly "strong" looking.

Aroma is mostly vanilla and bourbon. Some alcohol here and there, nothing fusel though. Taste is signature -bal stout: slightly sweet with notes of vanilla, slightly acidic with a powerful roasty and woody finish and lingering roast on the palate. While not a coffee stout, the aftertaste is very close to chewing on a roasted coffee bean.

Certainly warming in its strength with a medium body among similar examples. The carbonation is too high for my liking. Another flaw, in my opinion, is the excessive wood. Whisky sits in a barrel to get mellow; the effect of barrels on this beer seems to be the exact opposite. Not that I mind an intense beer but Parabola sometimes feels like wood and vanilla, and nothing more.

4, 3.5, 3.5, 2.5, 3

tewaris, Nov 19, 2011
Photo of Arbitrator
3.35/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Revision on 11/5/2011: Batch 001 has simply fallen off a cliff. Less heat, but simpler flavors. I am no longer optimistic about Batch 002 improving. In fact, I'm disappointed: a recipe change that results in a beer I don't particularly enjoy fresh, and it doesn't age into something I enjoy later? Time to be honest with my score. I honestly don't plan to buy Batch 003.

---

Batch 002 review from 6/7/2011.

A: Pours a dark brown body (I'd call it an opaque black, but some light penetration at the edges makes it evident that that's not quite right). A finger of tan head leaves a nice collar on the edges. No lace.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, earth, licorice, tobacco. Bourbon is muted. In reading over my comments for the previous batch, I'm surprised by how much the impressions are the same. They seem to have dialed in the recipe. It's a little hoppier than I remember from last time, though.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and an earthy, borderline green hoppy bitterness (Willamette?). The flavors work fairly well together, but I've never been a huge fan of bitterness in my barrel-aged imperial stouts, and I confess that I find it a distraction here. Flavors of tobacco and charred oak only accentuate the bitterness. Bourbon, licorice, and a mild presence of dark fruits (plums) are pleasant, as is the vanilla on the finish, but those are all weaker elements. There's a light spicy bite in the aftertaste.

M: Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. It's creamy. Bitterness lingers on the palate. It's a little warm as far as ABV goes, with a bite to it.

O: It's merely good right now. I suspect it will become better with time as the bitterness fades, but truthfully, I'm not that enthused about it. I wish they would use the old keg recipe.

~~~

Old review of Batch 001: 4 / 4 / 4.5 / 4.0 / 4.0

Chilled bottle into a glass. Split with the girlfriend, who is becoming a connoisseur of expensive barrel-aged stouts.

A: Pours a dark, not fully opaque, black body in the glass, with a finger of short-lived mocha head. Edge penetration shows ruby colors.

S: Dark chocolate and roasted coffee in equal strengths, when cold. As it warms, the aroma gets more balanced brings out tobacco, earth, light anise, light bourbon, oak.

T: The taste is big, but balanced (or at least, not as overwhelmingly bourbony as so many other barrel-aged impy stouts). The base beer shines through first in dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavors. The barrel kicks in later with a contribution of bourbon, tobacco, charred oak, vanilla. I pick up anise at times, but it's very light. I pick up some dark fruits lingering faintly behind all this, but I can't tell what they are. There is an underlying earthy bitterness that works well with the tobacco and oak to counteract the sweet flavors; at no point do I feel this beer is cloying. Parabola actually reminds me a lot of the 50/50 Eclipse (Heaven Hill).

M: Full-bodied in flavor, though the body isn't uber-viscous. Low carbonation, giving it an overall coating, creamy presence.

D: I paid $16, which is a fair price for a stout of this caliber. I would go no higher, though. I think some of the tannic and bitter flavors could stand to be toned down a bit, but I'm sure if I wait a few months the beer will hit its sweet spot for me. Right now it's not in the top-tier of barrel-aged stouts, but it's just on the cusp.

Arbitrator, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reserve Series No 003. 2012. 1 pint 6 fl oz (650ml) brown glass bottle with papered-over pressure cap served into a glassform bubbled pilsner glass in me friend Brendan's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given this beer's reputation.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food.

A: Pours a one finger head of slight tan colour, mocha soft cream, good thickness, and great retention for the 12.50% ABV. Colour is a solid nontransparent black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Predictable for the style, but nevertheless appealing.

Sm: The aroma's starting to get me more interested. Cream, vanilla, chocolate, moderately heavy oak, hints of roast, a light hint of booze, unwelcome caramelization, and unwelcome caramel. The oak distracts from the general tone of the beer. I'm a bit concerned about the oats, and I worry they'll make the mouthfeel too porter-like. A moderate strength subdued aroma. Not at all the bold flavours you'd expect from the style, but I'm hoping that's indicative of subtlety rather than restrained character.

T: Oak-laden, with nicely balanced caramel and hints of vanilla & chocolate. Nice dark malts comprise the foundation. Slight yeast comes through. Where's the roast? The style demands roast and it just isn't present. Certainly not a unique or special beer. It's a touch too sweet. The sugars used seemed simple and predictable. Built pretty close to the style; it lacks experimentation or boldness as a result. Some decent layering and subtlety, but not particularly complex for the style. I detect slight plum after suggested. Structurally indistinct; the first, second, and third acts are not clear and divisive but rather vague and poorly managed. It's good, but I'm far from impressed with it. The alcohol comes through as it warms.

Mf: Smooth - overly so for the style (even considering the oats). Tries too hard to have porter-like smoothness. Would be better with coarseness (ideally from roasted barley) to coax out the flavours. Not dry enough either, instead offering only jarringly overdone wetness. Adequately carbonated. Moderately heavy on the palate. A touch too thin.

Dr: Drinkable for the ABV - which is hidden alright. The expectations created by its high ratings and hype are certainly not met. This has been done similarly - and better - before many times There's nothing special or unique here. Pretty pricey for the disappointing quality. I expected great and got pretty good. I might try this on draught, but having now had most of Firestone Walker's beers (including Sucaba) I know that I oughtn't to get me hopes up.

B-

---

Revisited this on-draught because I kept seeing it hyped in the forums. Truncated review below. 17cl for $7.00.

A: 3 finger head, creamy, nice soft complexion, great thickness. Damn good (~10 minute) retention. Opaque black body colour.

Sm: Marshmallow, dark malts, chocolate malt, vanilla, cream. Lovely bourbon barrel notes including subtle vanilla and oak. No alcohol is detectable. Lovely aroma overall. No yeast or hops is/are detectable. Way better than the bottled form.

T: Syrupy, with molasses and marshmallow. Nice cream on the climax. Boozy. Chocolate malt, dark malts. The barrel notes hardly come through at all; no evocative vanilla or oak here. Very low flavour duration; it's brief and then it's gone. Timid intensity (save for the alcohol); shockingly restrained, to its detriment. Balance is off. The absence of roast is regrettable.

Mf: Nice creaminess, thickness, and carbonation. Smooth and wet. Strange presence on the palate; comes off somewhat artificial. Doesn't feel custom-tailored to the flavour profile.

Dr: Drinkable the high ABV, but quite pricey. Underwhelming overall compared to the hype. It's a decent beginner's imperial stout with timid barrel character, but timid and restrained does not equate to subtle and well integrated. I revisited this in good faith, but it's just not remarkable enough to justify its reputation or its high ratings. The barrel notes in particular are lacking compared to top beers in the style.

Low B-

kojevergas, May 29, 2012
Photo of Stevedore
3.36/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle of Batch #004 served chilled into an unlabeled snifter today, 8/22/2013. Have had this once before but since I'm at home enjoying it on my own, might as well write a complete review.

Pours a dark caramel brown colour, certainly not black but not far from it either. Its got a nice fluffy, bubbly light tan head that dissipates quickly into a bubbly collar, not much in way of film on the surface. Not much lacing to speak of which is fairly typical for a stout like this.

Its got a coconut and chocolate smell coming right out of the snifter. There's a kind of a sticky bourbon sweetness that reminds me of marshmallows, though that's not particularly strong here compared to say, BVDL or Rare. There's some deep flavours murking around here- maybe some toffee, a little bit of oak- but its kind of a mess right now where I can't really pick out one thing. There is a little bit of fusel here as well, unfortunately, which I am not a fan of.

Sipping this beer gives me a nice sweet twang straight up. It's that sweet bourbon. Its heavy on it. Then there's a bit of coconut, vanilla overlying it along with a bit of chocolate. But there really doesn't seem to be as much contribution from the base beer if that makes sense. I don't get the nice sugary chocolatey sweetness of Bourbon County or Black Note, nor is there that roast maltiness or the vanilla-ey creaminess of Assassin or Rare. It tastes like mellowed-out sweet bourbon with a splash of chocolate and tobacco, to be honest. Its not as complex as people make it out to be, in my opinion.

Disappointingly thinner body, on the medium body side. It doesn't have that creamy mouthfeel that you get with Bourbon County for example, but it is rather smooth. Carbonation is just right for the style and the aftertaste is of that sweet bourbon. A decent bit of booziness here, but not enough to deter me here. Its absolutely a sipper here.. not meant for pounding.

Overall, a very good barrel-aged imperial stout that's relatively readily available on the shelf at a solid price point. It showcases the bourbon, but not as well as a beer like Central Waters' Fifteen does.. but then again this is a shelf beer! I guess that "showcasing bourbon" thing is not enough to impress me these days.. plenty of BA stouts do a good job of that already. I just would like the base beer to stand out more in these types of beers. Otherwise, you might as well splash some bourbon in a non-BA stout. That being said, it's a good example of a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout so don't let my opinion prevent you from trying this beer. It's certainly worth drinking anytime.

Stevedore, Aug 23, 2013
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.46/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2010 Bottle Release; Sampled April 2012
A vigorous pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a dense, darkly browned, fat-two-finger thick head. The beer is an inky black color that shows perhaps a hint of color around the edges when held up to the light, but remains ominously opaque. The aroma smells of hot alcohol, and Bourbon soaked fruit as I pour this, a closer inspection yields lots of barrel and bourbon influences and, at first blush, only a touch of toasted malt character. The barrel / bourbon character is fairly smooth, considering the 13% abv, with lots of burnt sweetened coconut, ample vanillin, touches of spicy oak, and lots of toasted character that supports the toasted malt. The malt character is here, especially as my nose gets used to the barrel influence that was so dominant at first; aromas of sweetened, concentrated black malts, touches of char, cold espresso, and lots of roasted nutty notes. Interestingly enough, the barrel character is dominant at first, but once your really start to dig in for an extended time, the malt aromatics come to dominate and almost completely consume the Bourbon notes; in the end this ends up well balanced between the barrel character and the dark malt character & is quite a bit more enjoyable than my first impression left me with. As the beer warms up it can be a touch hot smelling, which certainly detracts a bit, but isn’t a deal killer for my enjoyment of the aroma.

Thick, rich, and viscous, this beer is most definitely a sipping beer; it isn’t as dense, or cloying as something like Darklord, but certainly is a meal in a glass. The beer isn’t as sweet as it could be, and much of the sweetness that is here is a complex, concentrated, roasted caramelization, rather than simplistic, cloying sweetness; this definitely escapes being cloying. Big, bitter, burnt, roast notes linger on the palate in the long finish; after some time the finish sees my first flavor influence from the barrel with some softer Bourbon-fruit notes (alcoholic melon more than anything), as well as some spicy oak notes and an astringency and alcohol warmth accentuating barrel character. Now that I have noticed the Bourbon character it is quite a bit more noticeable throughout the flavor profile. A rich nutty note, that is definitely on the roasted side of things, flavors the middle and finish of each sip. Vanillin flavors as well as notes of toasted coconut (in that order of noticeability) accentuate the sweetness in the middle of each sip. There is a sweet, somewhat concentrated, coffee syrup like note here that is a product of the ample residual malt and the roasted grains. The beer can be a touch hot and in my second pour the carbonation really seems to accentuated the spicy / hot Bourbon notes over the base, Imperial Stout; this is definitely much more enjoyable with a lighter carbonation. Once I swirl out a bunch of the carbonation a roasted cocoa and dark chocolate note start to come out.

I like that this isn’t overly Bourbon influenced, it is a bit hot & boozy in the end, but what can you expect from a 13% beer. Still, this does achieve a fair amount of balance in the end and is a nice way to cap off a long day; though I certainly wouldn’t want to try and finish off a whole 22oz bottle.

Gueuzedude, Sep 30, 2013
Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Kevin for sharing this!

A- Body is big, thick, opaque and black. Pours with a soapy light brown head, which fades quickly, to a thin collar and leaves behind little lacing in the glass.

S- Nose is all about the bourbon barrel. Very woody, quite boozy, with a mild cocoa and bourbon sweetness.

T- Upfront is a big dose of roasted chocolate malt-which isn't present in the nose really at all and a pleasant surprise in the flavor. There is also a lot of oak and some bourbon. The alcohol becomes prominent for the finish in both flavor and heat.

M- Body is fairly heavy with a moderate weight and a lot of astringent alcohol consistency.

D- This brew, much like the full sail BBL stout, showcases the aspects of the barrel rather than the stout itself. Nothing wrong with that-but I prefer more balance. Its a decent, above average brew overall.

PittBeerGirl, May 24, 2010
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,647 ratings.