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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

4,611 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,611
Reviews: 988
rAvg: 4.61
pDev: 8.24%
Wants: 2,209
Gots: 2,581 | 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.

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: 4,611 | Reviews: 988 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of XmnwildX12
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

XmnwildX12, Nov 28, 2013
Photo of garuda
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A - Pours black, with a thick tan head that has good retention and actually laces quite a bit better than I had expected.

S - Bourbon notes hit first, then rolls into rich baker's chocolate and a little bit of roast.

T - Cold, the bourbon is muted a bit with bigger notes of sweet chocolate and a little roasted malt. Finishes warm with the bourbon coming through again. After it warms up for a few minutes, the bourbon becomes much more prevalent.

M - Full body, low carbonation, thick and chewy. Doesn't finish great with some residual sugar left coating the mouth after the finish.

O - I'm generally not a fan of bourbon barrel beers, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The bourbon is not overpowering, and compliments the heavy chocolate notes well. Alcohol presence is hidden extremely well. A nice treat, but at this price, I probably won't seek it out again.

garuda, Aug 25, 2011
Photo of CuddleZombie6
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

CuddleZombie6, Jun 11, 2013
Photo of jjheinrichs
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

jjheinrichs, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of dbattey
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

dbattey, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of radio2525
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

radio2525, Feb 03, 2013
Photo of Bonko_the_sane
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Bonko_the_sane, Jul 05, 2013
Photo of HugeBulge
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

HugeBulge, May 29, 2013
Photo of ipas-for-life
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

ipas-for-life, May 12, 2013
Photo of mpayne5
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

mpayne5, Nov 29, 2013
Photo of Rocklobsterbrew
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Rocklobsterbrew, Jun 16, 2013
Photo of Zaplt
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just purchased a bottle of Firestone's Parabola. Never was excited about the beer until my friend recommended it to me telling me it challenged the Abyss. What a claim, we'll see how well it does...

Appearance - Pours a deep endless black with a beautiful reddish brown, caramel colored head with not the best retention and light lacing.

Smell - Immediately I can tell this beer is going to be complex. I don't know where to begin. Levels, of tartiness, Manhattan?! I smell one of my favorite cocktails - bourbon, cherry, bitters? Interesting... coffee, deep roasty maltiness, floral?!, light hop presence?

Taste - Holy Shit! There's an amazing whitewash of tastes in the beginning - alcohol, tart, cherry, that slowly fades into the malt - deep roasty coffee, toffee, caramel, vanilla, oak...

The beer is extremely alcoholic but for the 13 percent it is relatively smooth. Pretty sweet from what I expected as well.

Overall - This beer far surpassed my expectations. Amazingly well done with perhaps just a little too much of a bite (so age it to perfection!). Delicious but from memory I must say I don't think it tops the Abyss. But hey you two, that I know will eventually read this - lets try it out. Simultaneous tasting - Abyss vs Parabola August 2010 !!!

Zaplt, Aug 02, 2010
Photo of tom10101
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

tom10101, Mar 20, 2013
Photo of Imacopyouidiot
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Imacopyouidiot, Dec 14, 2013
Photo of pants678
4.26/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black with an off-white head.

Nose is of caramel and bourbon.

Tobacco, raisin and molasses, then, of course, bourbon barrel. Prominent sweet, sharp chocolate and light tinges of cinnamon go very well with the high ABV, mixes instead of hiding it. Great roasted malt character, though can't pick out coffee specifically. A year old really is the way to go, I had a 3 year vertical. That gives it a mellow, cloudy base.

Dense, syrupy, delicious.

pants678, Nov 09, 2013
Photo of zander4dawin
4.27/5  rDev -7.4%

Dark black color, thin mocha head. Coffee, chocolate pretzel, chocolate malt taste. thick silky body. Light hop presence, oaky vanilla character, fat beer.

zander4dawin, Aug 17, 2014
Photo of degerbah
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours midnight black with a dark brown head. The aroma is molasses sweet with a hefty hint of booziness. The taste is fantastic with the booziness providing a sightly harsh overtone to the coffee and sweet malty taste. The mouthfeel is noticably thick, which makes sense given the borderline ridiculous alcohol content. All in all its a fantastic beer in the vein of dark lord or the other tremendous big body american stouts.

degerbah, Aug 23, 2010
Photo of mdvatab
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!

mdvatab, Oct 29, 2011
Photo of Vonerichs
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Vonerichs, Jul 30, 2011
Photo of Proteus93
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Proteus93, Jun 04, 2011
Photo of schwaeh
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

schwaeh, Jul 09, 2011
Photo of hansenm72
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%

hansenm72, Aug 15, 2014
Photo of ReDave
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

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

ReDave, Dec 01, 2010
Photo of SykDoc
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

SykDoc, Feb 12, 2011
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,611 ratings.