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Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
100
world-class
1,155 Reviews
THE BROS
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,155
Ratings:
6,082
Avg:
4.54
pDev:
18.5%
 
 
Wants:
3,123
Gots:
3,555
For Trade:
272
ParabolaParabola
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This Russian imperial oatmeal stout is aged for a full year in a blend of bourbon barrels from Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve, and Buffalo Trace.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

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Reviews: 1,155 | Ratings: 6,082
Photo of MaartenvanDoorn
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Good, nice and dark. Looks more like coffee than beer, actually.
Smell: The smell is nice. Coffee-like. Also hints of chocolate.
Taste: Very rich taste. Hints of caramel, nuts, coffee, vanilla and also a very nice alcohol taste. Not too heavy, the balance is perfect.
Mouthfeel: my favorite part. Very well balanced. A sweet, thick beer. Very nice thickness.
Overall: awesome beer!

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Photo of SickBrew
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had this beer on date night at Saraveza in NE Portland along with a few other tastings from Firestone. They hit the nail on the head with this one. I think it's a notch above The Abyss! It seems to be perfectly balanced among the style characteristics with no major flavor attributes sticking out in front of others. Well frick'n done!

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very dark brown-black with a half-finger of frothy chocolate colored head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted chocolate malts, dark fruits, vanilla, toasted coconut, oak, Bourbon, and a bit of booze.

T - Starts off with dark chocolate and roasted malts with vanilla and some dark fruits. Through the middle, the Bourbon and oak comes through with some toasted coconut and molasses. The finish is a mix of dark chocolate, molasses, tobacco, vanilla, oak, Bourbon, and dark fruit with a bit of booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with light carbonation. Feels smooth and a bit creamy with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Amazingly smooth for how big and bold the flavors are. The balance is really spot on and the Bourbon comes through really nicely.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capone's Black Friday event, this beer poured out as a very dark black color with a thin tan head on top. The smell of the beer was roasted and sweet, some aromas of wood and sweet bourbon on the nose. The taste of the beer is just stunning... I really couldn't believe how nice this tasted. The sweet bourbon flavors come out perfectly in this brew. The mouthfeel of this beer was thick and oily just like it should be. Overall this brew is special. It's very very good!

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Photo of BuckeyeBeers
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Amended rating: Just tried a 2012 bottle and it was a dramatic difference from the relatively fresh bottle consumed last fall. Despite what some folks have said, age made a great beer an extraordinary beer.

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Photo of SoCal_Matt
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage served in a Teku.

Pours a very dark brown with minimal head. Bourbon, coffee, and chocolate on the nose. The taste is dominated by dark chocolate with a bit of vanilla. The barrel comes through nicely on the finish. Having had this on draft and from the bottle, I found the bottle to be far superior. This is definitely a top notch BA RIS.

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Photo of SFGuy187
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 version, acquired from the Firestone Walker brewery in Paso Robles. Massive props to my mom for picking this one up for me on her way to SF! The bottles states 12.5% abv.

A: Dark motor oil with minimal dark chocolate head. No light penetrates the glass ... beautiful.

S: Intensely complex. Oak, vanilla, roasted caramel, bourbon and subtle hops.

T: Very palatable for such a high alcohol beer. The bourbon character from barrel aging is well-balance. Layers of complexity one would expect from a world class barrel-aged imperial stout. Impossible to describe but it is massive and dangerously drinkable. I imagine the flavors will meld and the hops will mellow in time ... will probably be a 5 with a year of cellaring.

M: Surprisingly light ... I don't get any of the syrupy/oily aftertaste one might expect, which is a good thing.

O: This is one well worth seeking out, although I suspect many will be disappointed with its availability, especially us in CA. I didn't give it a 5 because this will only get better with age. However, it is outstanding right now.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip. Thanks to goodstrongbeer for bringing this over.

Appearance: My glass is a thick looking mahogany color with a very thin brown head that reverts to a collar rather quickly.

Smell: My nose is filled with notes of roasted malts and coffee, some tobacco, smoke, dark chocolate, molasses, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. No one smell really dominates, making me think that I am in for a treat.

Taste: Parabola is a demonstration of brewing excellence. There is a confidence that a nuance will be noticed and no flavor must bludgeon you with its strength. Up front, roasted malt takes on a lightly charred character, and semi-sweet dark chocolate and a bit of molasses add further flavor and sweetness. Roast coffee and vanilla add some more delicate flavor, with a bit of oak and bourbon hardly noticeable at the end.

Mouthfeel: The full body of this beer works well with the light to medium carbonation to create a decadent and creamy feel. The thickness is necessary to provide a reasonable base for such a rich and complex beer.

Overall: This is a beer that definitely lives up to the hype. A bourbon barrel stout that still manages to be delicate and complex is a rare find. I will definitely try to stock up on this beer and look forward to having it again.

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Photo of ottovon
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: a dark brown almost black with a brown head.

S: i get a lot of chocolate and bourbon. there is vanilla and some oak. caramel, roast malt, and hints of coffee and toffee.

T: i get bitter dark chocolate, bourbon, oak. i get some burnt malt and toffee, with hints of coffee. there is dark fruit and molasses. there is a touch of sweetness and brown sugar.

M: it has a thick body with medium-low carb.

O: a great beer. I would never pass this beer up.

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Photo of Jazzcrop
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tastes are smoke, a humidor, cigars, dark chocolate, hops, wood fire, British crystal, bourbon, oak, oats, dark fruits, (alotta) booze, fastly-warming heat, a little milk sugar/lactose, menthol, vanilla beans -- strong, caramel-covered apples, tea leaves and silk.

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Photo of TKEbeerman
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker Parabola courtesy of coryking:

A: Poured into my Firestone Walker Pint Glass (purchased for me by my beautiful girl friend) this brew pour an extremely dark black with an extremely impressive, almost 2in, chocolate milk bubble colored head that refuses to bow down and leaves some of the best lacing I've seen on a beer glass (let alone @ 13%) ever.

S: The aroma is almost perfect. Were those barrels made of chocolate? Seriously there is a heavy amount of biter sweet chocolate in this brew. Molasses and slight espresso with whims of whiskey make up the nose.

T: Upfront chocolate dominates the flavor. Vanilla is present and really does an excellent job smoothing out and combining everything present in the brew. As far as Bourbon barrel aged stouts go, this brew has note more along the lines of Whiskey, and it is a slight accent that just gives this beer more depth. Molasses and a little hop bitterness wrap up the profile of this stout. As the brew warms, whiskey becomes a more dominate flavor note and chocolate starts to take a back seat.

MF: The mouthfeel is good without being spectacular. Like many barrel aged beers (especially Bourbon) I've had, I've begun to notice the barrel aging really does a job of thinning the mouthfeel just a tad to much. Still this brew is silky smooth and excellent.

D: Drinkability at 13% is superb. This stout is a little more filling then most.

Overall, I am very grateful to coryking for a trade I thought I could not have completed with the beers available in my area. Parabola is a stout worthy of its place amongst the best.

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Photo of MrVonzipper
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Today was a good day!
Yesterday on the official release of this '11 Parabola, I didn't have time to stop by Firestone on my way to a wedding in San Luis Obisbo. But I'm glad because today we stopped by and took our time and was able to enjoy a meal as well as this phenomenal beer.

From the tap to a snifter tasting glass:
Poured a beautiful thick pitch black color. Nothing visible while held to light. Light frothy khaki head. Very little head retention.

Notes of deep chocolate/cacao, rich bourbon, roasted malt, leather and a little roasted nut.

Deep, dark full flavor with the Same flavor notes for the most part. Nice chocolate flavor up front with sweet/dark maltiness, nice alcohol-bourbon and a little oaky.

Smooth and almost creamy mouthfeel at first to the bourbonny alcohol zip. And that nice chocolatey bourbon aftertaste. Low carbonation.

The only reason I did not give this beer a perfect score is because it will be absolutely perfect after some proper aging. All the extra levels of flavor will open up that much more to make this beer a life changer. It is crafted So Well. So Balanced. Not overwhelming in Any way. I got 2 bottles for myself and can't wait for the right time to enjoy this Perfect Imperial Stout again.

Smooth and silky with the alcoholic zip. Low carbonation.

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Photo of beerhan
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 Vintage-22oz bomber to myself.
I am finally getting around to reviewing this and will preface by stating that I think this may be the best vintage yet for Parabola.

A-Jet black, thin light brown lacing that remains after a one finger head lingers for a minute. I would not expect anything less.

S-Dark chocolate, figs and grain. Not a very aromatic beer in my opinion.

T-Lots of bourbon up front but not overpowering. Very mellow woody notes followed by an intense dark chocolate, cocoa, and caramel onslaught.

M-Very smooth and without a burn. Oily and sticky with a syrupy feel that hides the alcohol.

O-Truly one of the best big stouts out there. A little more vicious and less balanced than others but delivers a high abv punch that is hidden rather well. The carbonation was dead on this year whereas last year I found it to be a bit high.

My one complaint, I have to say this about a lot of bigger beers in large format bottles, it would be nice if they took the route of making this in smaller bottles. It is a fantastic beer but I can't always find someone to share the bottle with especially during the week. It is a heavenly elixir but a big beer so be ready for it.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Rightfully one of the standard bearers of the style, it is a lovely synthesis of coffee, dark chocolate, roast, bourbon barrel/char, and maybe the slightest hint of dark fruit. Absolute classic that'll warm you right up.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage, poured into a teku

A- pours a midnight black color with no light seeping through, creamy, foamy & bubbly khaki colored head retains for a while, eventually settling to a film on top, some patches of lace being left behind

S- complex aroma starts with walnut fudge brownies & a big hit of chocolate. Beyond that, layers of caramel & toffee mesh with toasted coconut, vanilla & sherry. Slightly sweet fruit aromas of fig, prune & black cherry. Toasted charred oak and barrel juice close it out with a hint of coffee at the end

T- Rich chocolate brownie batter flavor up front with notes of marshmallow cream and coconut. The fruity flavors immediately follow with notes of rum soaked raisin, black cherry, fig & dates. Toasted walnut, charred wood, bourbon juice close it out with lingers of espresso coffee & cream

M- viscous chewy body leads to a creamy mouthfeel and a velvety-chewy finish, lingers of alcohol warmth

O- simply a world class RIS, the complexity of this beer is so impressive, and more subtleties are revealing as it warms. Way too drinkable at 13%, one of my favorites

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Photo of dar482
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

(2015 Vintage)
The beer pours out brown as it is lighter than BCBS by a good amount. Black in the glass with a ring of light head.

The aroma is bright of cherries, bourbon sweetness, lots of oak, cocoa, chocolate.

The beer up offers a pop of bourbon alcohol, lots of spice and star anise throughout the palate offering bitterness. The roast is medium for the style. Plums, raisin combine with sweetness of the bourbon. Oak hits in the mid-palate, but does not linger like previous vintages. Mouthfeel is medium to medium plus, but certainly not full.

A clear loser in a blind taste test against BCBS.

(2014 Vintage)
The beer comes in a beer comes in a black color with a brown head.

The aroma has lots of raisin and dark fruit with bourbon and chocolate.

The flavor follows with chewy chocolate, sweet vanilla, and chocolate in the front. Then there's some hint of umami and meaty qualities and a big caramel sweetness. Then onto an explosion huge back palate of toasted coconut. Almost like biting into an Almond Joy or eating toasted coconut.

The beer then ends of oak, leather and tobacco. 10-15 minutes in, the oak tannins will still linger, which actually is a bit too much.

The mouthfeel is medium plus to full, though not as viscous as Bourbon County.

A wonderful brew, but still not as good as Bourbon County.

I had this aged 2012 in keg at Brouwerij lane.

The beer comes in a pitch black with a khaki ring.

The aroma has big toffee and caramel sweetness with dark roasted notes. With some barrel wood notes. Deep rich dark raisin.

The flavor has a nuttiness with deep roasted malt. Very creamy. Vanilla. Coconut. Burnt caramel. Bitter darkest chocolate. Espresso. Definitely that oakiness from the barrels. There's a bit of that sticking sweetness. Finish lingers a bit, but not long. The beer lacks an alcohol bite. The aging must have really mellowed it out.

KBS is still my favorite barrel aged stout. However, this is one of my favorite still. Under Bourbon County Coffee, but above the regular version. So freaking smooth, wonderful barrel age character, just an amazing and delicious.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review #500!

’10 Vintage. Served at cellar temperature. A million thank you’s to the incredibly generous Ryan for this wonderful treat!

Pours thick black with a one finger brown head that leaves some spots of lacing and holds a small creamy cap all the way to the bottom of the glass. Very inviting.

The incredibly potent aroma features strong bourbon notes, deep dark roasted malts, premium dark chocolate, coffee beans & espresso, vanilla & oak, a touch of smoke and some alcohol. Like many top-tier bourbon barrel aged stouts, this is a great "sniffer" as I get just as much enjoyment from the aroma as I do the flavor. Wonderful.

Flavor is like bourbon-soaked chocolate-covered raisins, bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, premium coffee/espresso, some caramel, rich roasted malts, dark fruits, some molasses and anise, minimal hops, moderate alcohol but not bad at all for a 13% brew...well hidden for its size. Fairly sweet, one to sip and savor...a dessert in a glass! Super-tasty.

Mouthfeel is THICK and sticky, just the way I like it. I’ll put it this way...Ten FIDY is too thin for my tastes and Parabola is one of the heavier Imperial Stouts I’ve encountered. Soft carbonation. I’d score it a 6 if I could!

My goodness what a brew! I’m a sucker for bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts and this is top shelf stuff right here...right up there with KBS and BCBS. Saying this is amazing makes me feel like I’m selling it short...adjectives just cannot do it justice. Can’t thank Ryan enough for this one...wow!

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Photo of Kenmac19
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 release. L- Pours a beautiful pitch black with a thin quickly disappating coffee brown head. A- Bourbon, espresso, vanilla, chocolate & a hint of smoked oak. T- Bourbon is definitely present but allows the coffee, burnt brown sugar, vanilla and an ever so slight hint of licorice to shine through. F- Medium carbonation and great chewy mouth feel. Alcohol is there but not hot or overpowering. O-Exceptionally balanced blend of flavours that shine through the 14% ABV. Best BBA Stout I've had so far.

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Photo of Crosling
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Draft. Dark Lord Day 2008. Pitch black color. Integrated aromas of dark chocolate, dark fruit, vanilla, bourbon and coconut. Flavor is amazingly complex, with similar notes in the flavor as in the aroma. This one really shows Firestone Walkers great barrel aging ability and gave Oak Aged Dark Lord a run for its money.

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Photo of SquidLTV
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage bottle poured into a 5 oz snifter

A - pours a dark black with a slight off white head that disappated quickly

S - notes of chocolate similar to a tootsie roll, caramel, bourbon and a slight bit of heat hit the nose

T - very similar to the nose. Chocolate, caramel, boozey and with the barrel coming through on the backend

M - medium body with a slight amount of heat. Very well hidden for 13%

O - Big, beautiful, boozey,bangin' beer. #myfirstwhale

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Photo of Newbeergeek1
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had a couple of friends for a tasting at my house last night and Tyler brought this RIS. It is something I'd never heard of as his contribution. WOW is the operant word for this. My contribution were a couple of CigCity hard to gets but Tyler's was the clear "winner". Amazing color, lacing, complex tastes that just blended incredibly well. Likely my one and only but if I ever see it again I will get it in a heartbeat.

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Photo of BradfordStuckey
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

An incredible beer. Very limited. Got lucky to purchase a bottle at bevmo this year(never put on shelves, sold right at the cash register only). Great scents of chocolate and toffee from the BA. Very sweet at first but decadent bourbon flavors ease you into a welcoming boosiness. The bitterness is masked by the incredible scent and outstanding barrel aged flavors. Had the pleasure of trying it on tap at barrelworks in buelton as well. One of my favorite beers.

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Photo of beerwolf77
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of chswimmer. A cali BA that sadly no longer exists. Shared with the tickeratzi.

A: Pitch black hue. Quick burst of mocha hued head. Tiny amount of soapy lace. Small cap.

S: Sweet chocolate syrup, roast black coffee, caramel, molasses, tiny wisp of campfire. Almost no trace of the abv can be found.

T: Dark chocolate and black coffee are the most dominant. Much more bitterness in the flavor than the nose. Black licorice and molasses. Hints of campfire. Again almost no trace of the high abv.

M: Thick chewy body. Very mild carbonation.

D: Overall a great Double Stout. Super drinkable. FSW hit this one out of the park.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage in a trade. Poured on 1/22/13. Pours deep black with no light let in. Aggressive-ish pour left with a tiny brown head. Aroma is very strong vanilla, molasses, chocolate, licorice, and of course plenty of bourbon. Really beautiful. Thick an viscous mouthfeel opens up to Very mellow bourbon tones, lots of vanilla, and a burst of chocolate on the finish. Mild carbonation that is right on for this. Incredibly mellow, and I am curioud is that is the age or the uncanny craft of FW. Prickle of alcohol burn on the tongue, and a nice bit of warmth on the way down. Probably a new favorite BA Stout for me. Just right.

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Photo of GetTheYayo
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours black with dark mahogany hues and a light sienna head that quickly develops into a lasting ring. Generous but not clinging lacing. Bourbon, campfire, oak, dark cherry, vanilla, chocolate, toffee, alcohol, and the slightest whisper of maple present in the nose. Smell translates to taste perfectly. This is a big, thick, and heavy albeit silky smooth beer. A 13% monster that lives up to the hype. This one checks all the boxes.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,155 ratings.