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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,461 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,461
Reviews: 980
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,145
Gots: 2,529 | FT: 174
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.

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
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Ratings: 4,461 | Reviews: 980 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of mdvatab


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

Received bottle in trade with a BA on the east coast. Having bought a bottle myself, I was surprised when it arrived without the box, and had sticky fingerprints on the outside of the bottle. Was concerned about possible handling issues, so with that in mind...

Poured from 22oz bottle into Bordeaux glass.
Bottled in 2011.

Aroma: Dark cherry (dark, fruity sweetness-not tart), anisette, vanilla, chocolate syrup, and a mild, boozy, bourbon note. I think I'm gonna like this one!

Appearance: Very dark brown/black with a brown halo around the outside where the liquid meets the glass. 1/2 finger head disappears to a ring of dark brown foam. Splotches of fine bubbles stick to the inside of the glass as it's tipped back with each sip.

Flavor: Smooth, rich dark chocolate. Dark cherry and fig. Toasted coconut, and sweet bourbon. A tad bit of an oxidized off-flavor, which may be coming from mis-handling of the bottle. Some enjoyable, mild peppery heat from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Medium-low, creamy carbonation. Medium body, and a bit of boozy heat.

Overall: Off-flavor aside, I'm really impressed with this one, and look forward to trying one that's been properly cellared. This beer reminded me of Ivan the Terrible, which is probably the best imperial stout I've had. Can't wait to try it again, and highly recommend it!

10-29-2011 21:02:10 | More by mdvatab
Photo of Vonerichs


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

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.

07-30-2011 01:37:45 | More by Vonerichs
Photo of Proteus93


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

A: Rich and inky-black, topped with the chocolaty brown head that I appreciate in an imperial stout. Some come with quite a white hue that offer an attractive contrast to the beer, but the deeper brown ones suggest a 'serious stout.'

S + T: Loads of vanilla, brown sugar, and chocolate. A sweet stout, though not one of the thick and intense ones (ie: Abyss, Dark Lord, Ten FIDY). There's nothing particularly subtle in either the aroma or flavour, but there is plenty of going on in each profile. There's a sweetness that I want to associate with dark fruits, but I can't name one off the top of my head that I would like to suggest. There are qualities to it that I would probably most attribute to something like dried tropical fruit... say papaya in the level of sweetness it offers on the finish. That's not to say it tastes like papaya... you know what? This isn't going well. Let's just say it there's a fructose quality that alludes to some tropical fruits without... no, that's rephrasing the statement. Forget it. Try it.

M + D: The one negative element I found in this beer was in the body. Considering the look, scent, and flavour, I would have expected something richer and thicker--and I would have preferred it for being such, even if it was following others of the same style. It seemed a little thin, and I found that it slipped down my throat quite quickly, leaving some alcohol burn that is slightly disappointing. Fortunately, the other elements of the beer make up for it. As for drinkability, it's got a pretty high ABV. It's an evening sipper or 'end-of-the-day' type brew--best slow and steady to finish the day up.

06-04-2011 03:46:18 | More by Proteus93
Photo of schwaeh


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

2011 22oz bottle enjoyed for hours on end.

A: Pours pitch black. No real head to speak of but some slight bubbles and whisps of foam. Standard barrel aged stout.

S: Whoa, lots of that great sweet bourbon emanating from this glass. Smells of chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, and some alcohol.

T: This is awesome! Big and bold flavors. First thing noticed was that sweet bourbon flavor, it is so well integrated into this beer. Flavors of bitter chocolate, lots of licorice, brown sugar, dark candied fruits, oak barrel flavor, and plenty of alcohol to make you slow down and enjoy the complexities. Some roastiness is left over after the swallow with a very slight lingering hop bitterness.

M: Thick and creamy. This has a lot of sugar so it leaves your mouth slightly sticky. Quite low carbonation.

O: This beer is instant gratification from the moment you pop the cap off. I would jump at the chance to get as much of this as possible. Firestone does magical things with barrel aging, this and their anniversary beers have set the bar very high with that technique. I might open my next bottle once the heat drops out some, this is a slow sipper by all accounts.

07-09-2011 20:09:15 | More by schwaeh
Photo of hansenm72


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

08-15-2014 00:50:12 | More by hansenm72
Photo of ReDave


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

I have had this a couple of times, and it always impresses me.
Rich dark and complex.

not much head, thin but VERY dark ring around the glass.

Nice rich chocolaty and a bit of leather in the aroma.

YUM this tastes great with a deep rich full mouth-feel.

Too bad the alcohol is up and the bottles are big, i'd get this again

12-01-2010 05:32:43 | More by ReDave
Photo of SykDoc


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

Had this courtesy of brdc, much thanks. Poured from a bottle into a snifter. It pours a basically thick black opaque with a 1/4 inch dark tan head that diminished to a mild over-the-top lacing.

The aroma reminded me of dark chocolate and at cooler temperatures almost bubble gum sweet. Definitely roasted malts with some booze in the nose. There seems to be just a hint of coffee.

The taste has the similar roasted malt/dark chocolate components with a bit of vanilla and some whiskey-like sweetness.

The mouthfeel was medium/full bodied with a slightly weak carbonation. It was smooth and tasty leaving a nice dryness at the finish. A nice texture sits in your throat afterwards.

Overall, this is a good beer. The ABV and mouthfeel combine to make it slightly less drinkable but incredibly good.

02-12-2011 03:37:23 | More by SykDoc
Photo of Yagman3000

New York

4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

Served from a bottle into my DFH goblet.

Appears a super dark brown with a tiny tinge of black. The most fantastic swirl ever of a tiny film is appearing on top that looks like something from Led Zeppelin 4's cover.

Smells a bit of licorice. I smell the classics: coffee and dark chocolate.

Taste is excellent but a bit heavy. All the smells are present in the taste. What's interesting in this beer is that the tastes blend together in a good way... they meld.

Mouthfeel is really nice. Consistent with a slow finish.

I very much enjoyed this beer and am so happy that I was able to try it. Super-limited edition that I was able to get two of. Having my second tomorrow.

07-08-2011 03:04:17 | More by Yagman3000
Photo of muttyd


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

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.

07-30-2011 02:53:06 | More by muttyd
Photo of Onenote81

North Carolina

4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

Vintage 2012. Thanks to ferillo for sending me this bottle!

Poured into a chalice. This beer pours a tinge lighter than black. An inch worth of mocha head rests atop. Light lace left behind. The nose is sweet with vanilla, maple, gingerbread, chocolate, oak. The bourbon isn't as strong in the nose as I'd expected.

Moderate mouthfeel, with decent carbonation presence. Slight oily feel on the back end, but drinks nicely. Chocolate, coffee, vanilla. Again, the bourbon is underplayed, but its subtlety is what I like about this. Rounds out a nice roasted brew, giving a welcome sweet balance. I usually like to split my bombers with someone, but this one was a treat to drink on my own. Loved it.

06-30-2012 18:25:30 | More by Onenote81
Photo of Jwale73

Rhode Island

4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

22oz. bottle served at 53 degrees in a tulip. Pours one shade shy of black with a frothy, half inch, mocha-colored head that eventually dissipates into a tight band around the shoulders. No lacing on this one. Nose expresses bourbon, licorice, burnt sugar, a hint of vanilla and ethanol. This beer is a major malt bomb. There's quite a bit of char happening in the flavor profile and the alcohol is a little caustic - it definitely lets you know it's there. Bourbon and vanilla resurface towards the back once the alcohol dissipates and a suggestion of toffee also reveals itself in the mix. The mouthfeel on this beer is exceptional. Body is medium in consistency with an oily, slightly viscous quality and there's also some residual alcohol burn that lingers at the back of the throat between quaffs. Carbonation is very pleasant; not too assertive, yet not still. Overall, I found this beer quite enjoyable, albeit a little hot. That said, I'm glad I tried it fresh because I'd definitely like to see how this one develops over time. I think it has great cellaring potential and in my opinion, will only improve with age.

09-24-2011 00:43:38 | More by Jwale73
Photo of ChugginOil


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

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.

07-31-2011 02:07:17 | More by ChugginOil
Photo of ThePorterSorter


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

The beer pours jet black with a razor thin tan head that settles down to a halo around the edges. As expected, the nose is bourbony, but its 12.5% abv is well masked. Notes of chocolate & coconut fight against slightly metallic notes of bourbon. It's definitely a bold elixir that drinks smoothly. The initial sweetness followed by much more bitterness (82 IBUs!) than I originally expected. It reminds me of wookey jack except with a lot more bourbon and booziness. The mouthfeel is bold and full bodied and despite spending 12 months in a barrel... there is ample carbonation. The aftertaste is a lingering vanilla bitterness that is possibly to bitter for its own good as the contrast overpowers the rich smoothness and drinkability I've come to expect in a good RIS. Regardless, this beer is damn good, but I must admit that I've had some that are better.

11-17-2012 05:16:17 | More by ThePorterSorter
Photo of coldmeat23


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
Thanks to a generous trader for this sweet hook-up!

This one pours up black, which is more than I'd hoped for, actually. Starting out well. An easy pour produces a head of two-fingers worth of almost dark-brown colored foam. The retention is very good and the lacing is in large spots, which are fairly sticky.

There is alot going on in this nose. Big presence of dark malts, along with a good amount of roastiness. Hints of leather and tobacco, along with some mild notes of dark fruits. A nice hint of dark roasted coffee. Light traces of oak and vanilla.
Complex and completely enticing.

Very roasted malts forward. The barrel presence is more of an afterthought, actually. This one follows the nose, for the most part. Just a whole lot more focus on the malts here. A light hint of dark chocolates works its way in. More than just a hint of smoke.

Here's the strongest part of this beer. It is full-bodied and has a light-to-medium level of carbonation. It is very smooth and has a nice amount of creaminess, which is wonderful to have. Especially for this style. It helps it come off as damn-near thick.

Flavor-wise, this one is very tasty and nicely drinkable. That 13.00%abv though, does manage to make itself known, mostly in a touch of warmth, on the back-end. Overall, it is nicely drinkable, though.

08-09-2010 03:48:20 | More by coldmeat23
Photo of SFLpunk


4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

A huge thanks to Thorpe429 for sending this one! 22oz brown glass pry-top bottle with plastic "foil" and a box. 2011 release.

Pours super thick inky black with very thin light tan head. Nose is dominated by an espresso notes and roasted grains. Coffee, toasted oak and mild dried fruits.

Palates is slick and big, but structured. Dried fruits, black vanilla beans, heavily toasted oak, creamy cappuccino froth, woody earthy (mulch) and top soil. Sweet cream and vanilla ice cream come to mind on the finish. Long, and gripping (woody) finish.

Yum. A bit less sweet than BCBS, but in the same flavor bracket. Super tasty...I want more!!!

07-15-2011 03:16:30 | More by SFLpunk
Photo of nickd717


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

Had a bunch of this at GABF. All in all, it's a pretty kick-ass imperial stout.

A - Pitch black and viscous with no head to speak of.

S - Aroma is roast, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, and wood. Not too much bourbon.

T - Flavor is intense, awesome, and fairly sweet, with roasted malt, coffee, rich chocolate cake, hints of dark fruit, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Nicely balanced. This is, as I would have said 10 years ago in my awkward youth, "the bomb diggity."

M - Mouthfeel is smooth, slick, and viscous with low carbonation.

D - Good for a -bal aged imperial stout.

10-18-2009 23:53:02 | More by nickd717
Photo of Gmann

New York

4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

Pours a very deep brown color, almost black. The brown head is short with fine carbonation bubbles, which settles into a light ring.

The aroma is of semi-bitter chocolate, vanilla, and wood. There is a subtle hint of bourbon and I think I detect some smoke. The overall aroma is not overpowering but its quite pleasant.

The taste starts off with a bitter chocolate and a strong roasted malt flavor. Some caramel and char from the malt as well. This is then followed by the barrel aging characteristics; vanilla and bourbon. The barrel flavors aren't too strong, where it dominates the flavor. It mixes well with the RIS base.

The feel is very thick but it is smooth and velvty. The carbonation is light but prickly. The stout starts off sweet but finishes with a roasted bitterness. A bit sticky and hot in the finish.

A very good stout; big and roasty. The barrel aging adds a nice flavor without overpowering. Impressive.


08-27-2011 19:52:21 | More by Gmann
Photo of jeffjeff1


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

My wife picked this up for me a while ago.

Appearance- black color, thin head

Smell- chocolate, roasted malt, bourbon

Taste- strong flavor of bourbon, vanilla,oak, bitter aftertaste,, very interesting

Mouthfeel- full bodied

Drinkability- really good, I would like to get another one to share with my friend who is into stouts.

07-08-2010 20:37:31 | More by jeffjeff1
Photo of SDDanC


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

On tap at Toronado SD - 5/5/12

Poured into a flute :/, jet black with half finger of creamy cocoa head. After the first sip, lacing is already showing. Nose is lots of toffee, butterscotch, bourbon and wood is hidden in the back. Taste is creamy milk chocolate, toffee/caramel, very subtle bourbon, bitter bite near the end. Mouthfeel is creamy, low carbonation, and relatively thick, IMO a great example of the style. Overall this exceptionally decadent, worth the $. Might actually get some bottles.

05-05-2012 19:56:05 | More by SDDanC
Photo of vkv822


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

2012 vintage. tulip snifter.

Pours black with a foamy light brown head.

Bourbon oak notes, with rich chocolate, light leathery dark fruit notes.

Very enjoyable blend of rich chocolate and bourbon notes.

Medium body with slight viscosity and low carbonation.

I really enjoyed this RIS. The bourbon and chocolate notes worked quite well together.

05-21-2012 16:53:00 | More by vkv822
Photo of brystmar


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

My first Parabola! Bottle split 3 ways for the finale of a recent tasting.

A: pours pitch black. One finger of tan head leaves beady remnants on my glass. Enough already, I could smell it from across the room!

S: the nose explodes with complexity as you draw the glass near. Loads of caramel, chocolate, fresh coffee, bourbon, roasted malts, and booze. I swear there's ice cream in there too -- definitely some lactose. Wish they made Parabola-scented candles.

T: deep chocolate & coffee right off the bat. Smooth caramel flows in and out with ease. Roasted malts, oak, bourbon, and booze all take their turn with my tongue as well. Fantastically complex, and utterly delicious. Nice boozy warmth as it descends.

M: medium- to full-boded and oily, yet still creamy. Minimal carbonation works well. Hard to give high marks to an RIS on mouthfeel after experiencing Dark Lord and Zhukov.

D: the complexity -- not the booze -- makes this one a sipper. But I could sip it all day (and night) long. It's a big beer for sure, and the alcohol isn't particularly hidden, but the boozy warmth soothes your throat without any burn whatsoever. Now I need another bottle. :(

What a way to cap off a beer tasting!

09-24-2011 18:28:00 | More by brystmar
Photo of orangesol


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

Thanks to FooFaa for bringing this to the Inaugural "Imminent Liquidation Bottle Share" Event. Bottle poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours pitch black with a small cap of half finger tall tan head, dissipating down to almost nothing, leaving little to no lacing down the glass.

S - Plenty of dark malt, chocolate, vanilla, dulled bourbon heat, and some light charred wood. Good overall balance but nothing too over the top. Solid Stuff.

T - Flavors are similar to the nose. Lots of dark roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, and charred oak. The booze is very well hidden, offering only short glimpses of the warming bourbon. Finish is a mix of sweetness and lightly warming heat. Damn, this is one good beer. I might need to get a few bottles of this for myself.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Nice full feel with some lingering sweet roast in the finish.

D - Very good. I have wanted to try this one for awhile now and now that I have I am impressed. I just wish I would have picked up a few bottles for myself.

03-10-2011 21:50:39 | More by orangesol
Photo of cccarson


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

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.

07-27-2011 17:02:50 | More by cccarson
Photo of DrJay


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

No. 002, 2011. Black with just the faintest of dark brown edges. Brown, soapy bubbles formed a collar while extremely fine bubbles coated the surface of the beer. Decent head retention with a bit of spotty lacing that wasn't too sticky. Bourbon was evident as soon as the cap was popped. Boozy aroma with vanilla and oak apparent, notes of toffee and coconut, roast and chocolate, faint licorice and figs. Great texture, full without being heavy, moderate carbonation that provided an airy mouthfeel, a bit of astringency from the kilned grains and wood, slightly sticky. Alcohol started warm and ended a little hotter, but still well controlled. Nice depth of bitterness, both from hops and the dark grains. This worked well with the considerable malt presence, toffee and chocolate sweetness, roast and light licorice. Quite oaky as well, vanilla throughout, with plenty of bourbon character. Unfortunately, the prominence of the wood and bourbon in the flavour seemed to mask some of the complexity present in the aroma. Overall, a very strong offering from a great brewery.

11-26-2011 23:41:35 | More by DrJay
Photo of callmemickey


4.3/5  rDev -6.7%

A: Pitch black body with a large brown-khaki head. Good retention before the head eventually crashed to a nice skim and a bubbly loose ring. Spotty lacing left here and there on the glass.

S: First impression is tons of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. As the beer warms more dark fruits and roasted malts begin come out.

T: Bourbon blast with oak and vanilla. Nicely roasted malts. Bitter chocolate, espresso, raisins, and a red wine like character. Some charred wood and earthy bitterness. Pretty damn complex.

M: Medium-full bodied. Good, assertive carbonation. Lingering earthy bitterness. Moderate heat, but no burn.

D: I don't know... something was a little off, and I can't put my finger on it. Despite tasting quite deliciously, I struggled to finish the bomber.

06-11-2010 03:15:02 | More by callmemickey
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,461 ratings.