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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,089 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,089
Hads: 5,715
Avg: 4.54
pDev: 18.72%
Wants: 2,913
Gots: 3,278 | FT: 252
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]
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,089 | Hads: 5,715
Photo of Gfunk720
3.9/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Michael for hooking this bottle up. Consumed out of my Sierra Nevada 30th Anniv. Tulip.

A- Very dark with a frothy coffee colored head. Good head retention, no lacing. The beer is pretty much solid black, with some hints of red at the edges.

S- Smells of creamy bourbon, with oak notes. Definetely not as strong as most bourbon aged beers, but noticeble. I notice a good hop smell as well, but nothing crazy

T- Starts very creamy, then opens up to flavors of chocolate/coffee/caramel/bourbon and oak. I like big bourbon beers, and thats where this one fell a little short. It just didn't stack up to some others.

M- Nice, and a very good blending of flavors. I wish it was a little thicker, as it is 13%. Good, but no BCS

D- All around pretty darn good. A little tangy, and some overly lingering hop aftertaste at times. Quite light for a bourbon barrel beer at 13%

I might have hyped this one up a bit in my head, thinking it could best KBS/BCS and some of my other favorites. I'll age a couple bottles, and see what I think down the road.

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Photo of ne0m00re
3.91/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(No date... sometime in the Summer of 2011)- Review of a No. 002, 2011 22oz.
A: Black with a good cream lacing.
S: Caramel oatmeal, milk chooclate and raisins and rum barrels (oddly).
T: Tastes just like a chocolate chip cookie or brownie with oatmeal and whiskey raisin. Good, but very sweet.
M: Thicker chewy and creamy good strong chocolate stout.
O: Good, but nothing mindblowing. Maybe I'm not the biggest fan of Firestone Walker.

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Photo of froghop
3.91/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a midnight black with a small brown head, and great lacing.

smell is of nuts, bakers chocolate, licorice, some sour malt, and hops.

taste is thick, cocoa, nuts, and some sour malt, ends dry and nicely bitter.

overall a very good imperial stout. nice chocolate flavoring.

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Photo of glazeman
3.92/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Split with airohead2001. I had high expectations for this beer, as I enjoyed a sample at FoBAB and enjoyed FW13.

A: black in color with a ½ finger mocha head that fades fairly quickly into a crown and oily film. There's minor lacing.

S: There's a little bourbon and then some alcohol that comes through as a windex type smell. I don't know if my nose is just off tonight, or if this beer just doesn't have a smell anywhere near the taste. I was worried I had a bad bottle at first smell, but the taste is spot on.

T: There's a nice balance of milk chocolate, a little bit of roast, and a little bit of coffee. The bourbon comes through up front and is just the right strength, as it adds to the overall profile without being overpowering. This is an excellent beer for this style, but not quite my favorite. My only complaints are I would have liked a little more smoothness and a little more dark fruit flavors.

M: The beer has an above average viscosity for the style, which I like. The carbonation is appropriately low and the aftertaste is great.

O: Overall, an excellent beer. Not quite in my top 5 stouts, but probablyly in the top 10. The beer is balanced, tastes great, and has great drinkability for 13%.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.92/5  rDev -13.7%
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 Khazadum
3.95/5  rDev -13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Thick creamy emulsive head of deep chocolatey brown. We are talking long lasting, low frothing from carbonation, sticky lacing. Very appreciable and inky dark. No fake out edges, no almost stout appearance. This is Steee-out!

S- This smells like cheap espresso, but its delightful. I don't need no starbucks, intelligentsia "shi shi" coffee aroma today. This nails it. You couldn't mistake espresso if it came up and bit you in the ass. Sweet lactose sugar makes me think of a nice latte. There is a bit of sharpness to the back end. Like a middle of the road spirit. A bit of darkened fruit, similar to dried cranberries. There is the bitterness of crushed beans that have oxidized for a week or so. Altogether, very enjoyable.

T- Oo, biting alcohol. Its bitter, sharp, and a tad bit hot. Is that bourbon sweetness on the opening? Like a... earthen sucrose and brown sugar mix? The bitterness is both in acrid burnt grain but also in black coffee. Nothing superb or complex, just a cup of joe you could throw together on Saturday morning with the right effort.

So, initially its a smash of alcohol harshness, followed by sweet dark fruits. Plums and cranberries. After that is a noticeable roast flavor, but its all about old coffee flavors in terms of bitterness. Its like an aged coffee stout without all the flavors dropping off. 8 months? Not sure how to gauge this one. There is lactose sweetness that perks up occasionally. The finish is what you would expect. Bitter grains and coffee grounds.

M- Like before harsh alcoholic flavors, 10-12% burn. Biting bitterness. The creamy opening can be attributed to the carbonation being low, well placed. It helps attenuate some of the alcoholic problems. Sticky flavors and an overall creamy but medium body present an altogether tasty beverage.

Good, not great. Would drink again, but it really goes downhill after the first two senses are tickled.

Coffee RIS? Barrel Aged Coffee RIS? I don't think I've had this one, and if I have its been a long time since I have had it.

Reveal is... Parabola! Oh cool! This is nothing like I expected it to be. After loving Abacus and XIV and XV this should have been amazing.. Kind of dissappointed, but still a good drinking beer regardless.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.95/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap for the bottle release (kind of ironic) at the Goat.

Appearance- Black. About a quarter inch of dark brown, mocha head. Settles into a ring. No lacing to speak of.

Smell- Subdued. Roast. Coffee grounds. Some burnt char. As well as some bittersweet chocolate. Toffee.

Taste- Roastiness. It's pretty hot, could certainly use some time to mellow out. Hint of sweet cherry but it's lost behind that roast. Oak and lots of char, like the barrel it was aged in was burned. Similar to the 13th Anniversary, for obvious reasons, but it's less sweet/balanced. There's a reason that beer is blended, because by itself the Parabola is a little intense. Bitter chocolate lingers.

Mouthfeel- Silky smooth. Coats the tongue beautifully. The best part of this beer for sure.

Drinkability- The first third of the pour was very pleasant, but it became a chore to finish. Probably took about 45 minutes. It was quite intense. It tasted like burning. The alcohol really kicks you in the teeth.

This beer needs some time to mellow out. It's pretty hot right now, and the roast is intense. I'd love some more bourbon or vanilla or something to even things out. Basically, I want it to be 13, which it isn't. On it's own it's a good beer, but I just know how much better it could be.

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Photo of bobhits
3.95/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Medium black, seemingly flat in the pour but eventually nice 2 finger head forms and seems to linger well. Not overly dense or motor oil like (shucks).

Black cherry, coffee, chocolate, and bourbon aromas.

What an interesting beer. It has notes of bourbon, but the fruit aromas are certainly in the flavor and rather strong. I believe they hinted at red wine barrel aging? I think that has to be this fruit flavor. Regardless of how they did it, they have crafted a full complex and rather interesting beer. This embodies those complex floral notes that Russian Imperial Stouts should have intermingled with the chocolate and coffee roasted flavors of a stout. Chocolate and roasted notes are the biggest show cases here though. That sweet floral flavor is a background note near the end as it warms, but up front it is pretty damn powerful.

Thick and creamy, yet not motor oil thick. I nice balance is struck here, but it lacks that perfect carbonation to round things out. Good but not great.

I’ve only had a few firestone walker beers, but all have been outstanding for their styles and simply showcase level beers. This one…well it is competing with perhaps my favorite beers so it is hard to compare. It isn’t the coffee forward beer I had been lead by reviews to believe I was about to enjoy. It has barrel aged but really it reminds me more of non-barrel aged Russian imperials. All that said for the 25th best beer in the world, I’m a bit unimpressed. A perfect 5 in complexity, but is complex enough? Very very good, but truly great? Maybe a hair short. e

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Photo of crossovert
3.96/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010 vintage. 650ml black foiled and boxed bottle.

It pours a thick, viscous black with a large dark tan hea that slowly recedes.

The smell is rich and chocolatey, chocolate seems to be the main smell my nostrils are picking up. It is big and luscious with a hint of roastiness. There are notes form the barrel aging with some vanilla and oak.

The flavor is a bit boozier, but very nice. It is chocolate and caramel with a big dose of coffee, oak, vanilla, dark fruits, and alcohol. It isn't ultra-complex at first, but then as you drink more and more of it subtle flavors come out.

The mouthfeel and drinkability could be better, the alcohol is a bit cloying and sweet.

A solid imperial stout from a fantastic brewery.

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

A second shipment seems to have come into Illinois, picked up 2 bottles last night, should be about 4 months of age on it by now. Poured into my St. Bernardus glass.

Thick, viscous pour. Huge, creamy head that nearly toppled this glass. Not much lacing...strange.

Nose - Alcohol first...hmmm....cocoa, nibs, some vanilla. I'm a bit nervous, I don't seem to remember it this way.

First sip. Goodness this is rich. Strong dark chocolate and espresso are dominant. A bit of alcohol on the back palate.

Body is chewy and rich...yes, wow...rich rich rich. Loads of vanilla after it warms and I've taken in a bit more than a sip. This thing is massive (yes, that's what she said). BCS without such a bourbon onslaught. Enormous chocolate character. Is that bit of red wine in the background? Yes...almost like Cab. Sav.!!!!

Finish sites back palate. Long, with warming alcohol ending.

This stout is huge...absurdly huge. I can't imagine how much malt was used to make this beast - the Midwest/Great Lakes area is lucky to finally have it here. Fans of chocolate bombs should seek this out. Splendid stuff.

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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 drpimento
3.97/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Let this bottle warm some out of the fridge. Poured with a tan, smallish head and a little lace. Color is an opaque brown black. Aroma is mild, malt, roast, wine, yeast, dates, figs. Flavor's like nose, bittersweet up front, enough carbonic tang to balance. Finish is boozy and the alcohol is striking. killer brew.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
3.97/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A fine stout, a good showing from the boys in cali. The roast is big, the fruits present, it feels lacking though. I want more vanilla, more licorice, more fire. Stupidly smooth for such a virginal imperial stout, take that as a positive or negative or moot point from whatever your vantage.

I think my hesitation with this beer is the lack of identity. Its like so many other RISs, its just a fairly smooth one. A fine showing, but not one I would put in a fancy box and charge too much for.

I like it, I like it a lot in fact, I just would rather have an abyss.

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Photo of nkersten
3.98/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of RamyG4
3.98/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours black with a small brown head. Aroma is bourbon, coffee, strong oak, a little alcohol. Taste is very sweet, dominated by bourbon, some vanilla, chocolate, with a roasted background. Finish is roasty and a little alcoholic. Very full bodied, syrupy, soft carbonation. Big big beer.

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Photo of velosuds
3.98/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a clear pint glass. Paid $14.95 at Corvallis Brewing Supply, the most I have ever expended for any beer.

A-Pours a midnight black. Very dark. No light gets through this beauty. A two finger, dark tan head slowly recedes into a modest lace.

S-Alcohol from the bourbon barrels is the predominant aroma. Very fragrant. Vanilla and raisin notes are also present.

T-This is definitely a bourbon stout, and probably deserves its own style classification, as it is very different from non-bourbon barreled double stouts. I admit it is not my thing. Bourbon whiskey from 90 days aging in bourbon barrels is the most dominant flavor profile. However, there are some very nice stout beer flavors in the background like brown sugar, bittersweet chocolate, and dried fruits, especially raisins. Taste definitely improves as it warms, and becomes very sweet. The alcohol adds to the flavor rather than detracts from it.

M-A bit too astringent from the alcohol and too thin for style, i.e., not nearly luxuriant enough.

O-This is a decent beer. Best enjoyed by sipping. Didn't live up to the hype for me.

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Photo of decadance
3.98/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark black, and pleasantly shocked at the amount of tan head this holds and retains through out the glass.

S - Up front you get the bourbon and a bit of brown sugar. While I think there are other smells there, all I can discern is bourbon and sweet.

T - Not my favorite of the evening, but not bad either. Its mainly bourbon on the palate with a some toffee. A bit too sweet to be honest. Borders on Batch 9000 sweetness.

M - This completely coats the palate. Quite pleasant. Just the right about of carbonation. Low, but ideal for the style.

D - Honestly, the abv is a bit high to drink multiples and the sweetness might linger after a couple of these.

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Photo of MaximalC
3.99/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From Notes (3/22/14):

Pours pitch black with a skim khaki head that settles into swirling wisps. Flavor features oodles of bourbon and vanilla along with dark fruit, coffee, maple syrup, and marshmallow. The vanilla-laced sweetness is almost cloyingly strong, though the complexity of the subtler elements is enjoyable. The alcohol is present, as is to be expected at 12.5% ABV, but not distressingly so. The texture is slick and smooth on the palate.

Overall, this is a rich, smooth, flavorful imperial stout with plenty of flair for the bourbon fans. With that said, it doesn't quite live up to its exceedingly lofty hype in my estimation. There are more balanced imperial stouts, barrel-aged or otherwise, that don't lean so heavily on a nearly candied sweetness.

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Photo of tjthresh
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried this beer at The Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer 08. This beer pours black with a brown head. The aroma is light toast with plenty of chocolate and fruit. Well balanced bourbon, oak, and chocolate flavors. The mouthfeel is oily and the finish is sweet.

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Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

 977 characters

Photo of KornWallace
4/5  rDev -11.9%

Date: 8/31/14
Location: Trade
Glassware: Snifter

Appearance: Pours pitch black and allows no light through. Large light brown head with good retention. A lace of carbonation and alcohol ring the side of the glass when swirled. The carbonation falls quickly but the alcohol ring remains.
Aroma: Smells of bourbon, cocoa powder are the heavy hitters. Some fruity esters from alcohol, think cherries and figs. Some cereals surprised to get a light oatmeal (even if is titled oatmeal stout).
Taste: The taste is lovely, nice hits of vanilla, cocoa powder, big boozy bourbon, cherry fruit, port, oatmeal cereal, dark malts.
Mouthfeel: Heavy body and medium carbonation. This beer weighs like a brick on my tongue. At times it feels smooth but on the whole it has a coarseness like cocoa on the tongue. Some viscitude from the bourbon but it is surprisingly low.

Notes: Tragically, this bottle was heat damaged from a loss of power to the fridge. There was a strong smell of soy and it was found in the flavor to a lesser extent. I did my review of the beer omitting those flavors, and graded it accordingly, but I will cellar need to rereview this at a later time.

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Photo of beergod1
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown color with a small tan head. Faint spotty lacing. Aroma is lightly roasted malt and bourbon. Flavor is roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, and oak/bourbon. Very nice. Alcohol is noticeable, but it is 13%. Finish is fairly smooth with no unpleasant lingering aftertaste. Medium to full body. A very good beer. But a sipper.

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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 joefuzz
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 2 poured into snifter.

Pours jet black with a tan small tan head. Smell is a huge bourbon presence some nice roasted malts. Big vanilla and milk choclate on the taste some slight toffe sweetness. Mouthfeel and carbonation are pretty spot on. Great sipper but nothing mind blowing.

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Photo of patm1986
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from Hulmeville Inn Beer Geek BBQ July 2011

black as night. motor oily. no head on this baby, just thick, syrupy, viscous. it looks fatty actually.

smells like bourbon and a little rummy, some vanilla, coffee, milk chocolate, some lactic acidity, smoky, oaky, boozy. there's a sense of conflation in the complete aroma that is interesting.

the first sip is BOOMING: vanilla, coffee, wood, caramel, chocolate, oat, burnt wood, booze burn. the first gulp is leveling, however, subsequent sips are underwhelming in comparison. the flavors are good, but they're vigor seems to fade into the aforementioned conflation.

it's thick and rich and oily. it has a great deal of viscosity and creaminess on the front of the palate, but heading out, it finishes with a bitter, dry burn.

it's solid. a straight "good" across the board. the first impressions were impressive, but it didn't sustain its initiated characteristics enough to warrant an elite standing. i enjoyed it, but i'm definitely coming back to see if i'm just being picky and snooty from the hype.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,089 ratings.