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Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,086 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,086
Hads: 5,709
Avg: 4.54
pDev: 18.94%
Wants: 2,913
Gots: 3,275 | 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: 1,086 | Hads: 5,709
Photo of chanokokoro
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage 22 oz. bottle fairly aggressively poured into Firestone Walker Proprietors Reserve snifters

Pours a viscous motor oil black with a one and a half finger tan head. Huge aroma of oak, bourbon, and roasted malt. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak with hints of chocolate joined by the dense flavor of black cherries, hints of plums, and rich fig. Finishes with bold espresso notes and roastiness and a comfortable alchohol warmth. Full bodied, smooth, and even a bit of creaminess. Incredibly complex and without a doubt one of the finest barrel aged Russian Imperial Stouts available.

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Photo of ellswrth
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: vigorous pour into a tulip glass, about 1/3 inch of head which dissipates within a couple of minutes. It's as dark as Abyss or a strong cup of drip coffee. Not as opaque as Old Viscosity, however.

Smell: I'm really excited about this one and at first I kept smelling it without actually tasting it trying to nail down exactly what's coming into my nose. Definitely smelling bitter chocolate and the aroma you get when you grind beans for espresso. As it warms up the bourbon smell becomes a bit more apparent.

Taste: First sip - very rich - chocolatey and thick. What a mouthful! I could feel the heat of the alcohol, but I wasn't tasting it very much at just-out-of-the-fridge temp. As it's warmed up, it's tasting a little more like smooth tobacco and of course imperial stout, and while I know there is a bourbon flavor here somewhere, I am not really tasting it yet.

Mouthfeel: Sucking a bit of it into my mouth, and before it's really on my taste buds, it really does have the mouthfeel of chocolate milk--then when the flavors spread on my tongue I'm quickly reminded that I'm drinking a very impressive adult beverage.

Overall: I'm going to need to get a lot of these. This rivals KBS in my book -- they're different versions of one of my favorite styles. I'm going to have to go head to head one of these nights. Quite a commitment to drink a 22 of 13% imperial stout, but on special occasions, this will deliver quite a treat.

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Photo of BrewtifulMind
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at The Bottle Room, Whittier. 9 oz pour

This is just about as black as black can get. No light gets through this one. Has a minimal brown head, if you can even call it that. Its more of a thin blanket that recedes to the sides of the glass. It leaves minimal, spotted lacing down the glass. The aroma on this one is amazing. A very strong vanilla presence, chocolate, espresso, dark fruits, and a nice touch of bourbon booziness. It smells sweeter and sweeter as it warms up as well. On to the taste test. Just as the nose described, really heavy tones of vanilla, bitter chocolate, coffee, oak, and booze. The boozy taste is by no means in the way. Its the perfect complement to the rich sweetness. Taste is just phenomenal and very complex, all of the flavors just seem to meld with each other perfectly. It has a very rich, thick, and creamy mouthfeel. Just phenomenal. I was very excited to try this, and very glad to say that this exceeds its hype. Being someone that is fairly new to BA Imperial Stouts, they are quickly becoming my new favorite style. Cheers.

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Photo of kevanb
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The first year Parabola was ever bottled, this 2010 bottle came to me as part of a share and I could not be more grateful. It pours a really sexy jet black color, thick viscous motor oil like texture as it fills the glass with a nice thick foamy caramel colored head on top which dissipates rather quickly leaving a nice ring of caramel color along the rim of the glass and a slight film at the top of the glass. The aroma is great, mild bourbon, definitely cut down from aging, strong tobacco and chocolate are big players with faint bitter coffee at the end. The flavors are superb, bourbon up front with smooth creamy chocolate right at the front, coffee is in there but muted as a result of aging, with tobacco playing a major role but definitely at the back end with some vanilla and toffee flavors as well. The body is unreal, silky, creamy, full and chewy, bold and viscous, perfect for the style and takes this to another level.

Verdict: Easily one of the best stouts I've ever had, and one of the best barrel aged beers of any style I've had. If you are fortunate enough to come across this vintage or the 2011 vintage, make a point to try this, you won't be let down.

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Photo of alexgrahamlv
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is amazing!!!
Pours opaque black with long lasting tan brown head, nice legs filming the glass.

Aromas of chocolate, molasses, nutty toffee caramel. The booziness burns the inside of the nose.

Taste is very rich of cocoa, very complex, dark chocolate, not overly roasty, quite a bit of booze. Toffee, nutty.

Mouthfeel is big bodied with moderate carbonation. Still quite hot at 13% and young.

This beer young is fantastic and aged will only be even better. Glad I got some to hold on to. Yummy!!!

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Photo of mdfb79
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From 11/28/10 notes. Shared a 22 oz. bottle of this with my brother. Poured into an oversized wine glass.

a - Pours a jet black color with one to two fingers of tan head and moderate carbonation evident. Head lasts for a few minutes and leaves a little bit of lacing on the glass. Looks great.

s - Smells of bourbon, oak, chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts, and coffee. Very complex and great. I had Old Rasputin XII the night before drinking this one and I think the two of them might be the best barrel aged RIS's I've ever had.

t - Tastes of bourbon, chocolate, roasted malts, oak, dark fruits, and vanilla. Again, very complex; I loved it.

m - Wow, the mouthfeel is truly amazing. Light to medium body and low carbonation, this might be the smoothest RIS I've ever had. A perfect mouthfeel.

d - Truly an amazing barrel aged beer; this is one of my favorite RIS's. The smell and taste are both very balanced and complex, and the mouthfeel is perfect. I felt like I could drink a lot of this, even with the 13% ABV. Can't wait to have this one again.

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Photo of ToriBug13
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of the best beers I have ever had in my life. Poured with a gorgeous, thick, luxurious head which left delicate lacing on my glass. The taste of slightly roasted cocoa nibs and mocha was so smooth I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Smooth, thick, rich, round, yet still clean and refreshing on the finish. I have never had a more perfect beer. I am so glad I have another, because I cannot wait to taste this with some age, I can't even fathom how it could be improved!

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Photo of drabmuh
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared at a recent small tasting. Split between three people. Beer served in a snifter. Beer is dark black and forms a one fingered head of small brown bubbles that leaves some lacing on the glass. Nice.

Aroma is bourbony and nice. Its a little hot in the nose, much hotter in the nose than in the mouth.

This is close to the perfect tasting beer. Its creamy and smooth, mildly sweet up front, not hot in the mouth. A subtle and well balanced liquor flavors, nice bourbon character. Its mildly dry but not harsh or acrid. Good roast in the back, some almost coffee like flavors. Very wonderful beer. I would drink this again if given the opportunity.

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Photo of Goatshaver
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Bottle

First impression is this is one dark beer with a nice light mocha colored head that just stays on there forever. Smells of dark roasted chocolate and malts with the bourbon and oak smells coming through. Wow...it just smells so smooth. Now to tasting it and even more wow! Coffee, chocolate and the oaked bourbon tastes hit immediately finishing with a deep chocolate taste with slight alcohol taste. This is a really smooth drinking beer...I don't find as much alcohol as some other barrel aged imperial stouts I've tried so its has a nice feel with low carbonation and a warming feel.

All in all easily my favorite barrel aged imperial stout I've had to date. This is such a treat and I look forward to getting my hand on another one. A++

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this from 2beerornot2beer in the Blind Beer Round 6 BIF. Batch 002.

A: Pours a super dark oily brown with a thin mocha head. This beer has some serious legs on it. It coats the glass in a thin greasy film. Very little lacing as it drinks. This beer looks great.

S: I’m picking up some bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate, and some really nice roasted notes. This beer begs to be sipped. And I shall oblige.

T: This beer starts off a bit sweet with a blast of raisins, but the dark malt and bourbon come to the forefront right after. There are mixed flavors of vanilla, chocolate, caramel, oak, and maybe a little bit of coffee. This beer is legit.

M: Full bodied beer. This brew is sweet, silky, and coating. The flavors linger on the palate for a bit. I'm loving the smoothness of this beer.

O: This beer is damn tasty. All of the aspects are top notch. I’m really diggin’ on the smell and taste of this beer. It’s a wonderfully easy drinking brew.

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Photo of InebriatedJoker
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured form bottle into pint tulip - bottle date 4/28/11.

A: Poured a deep black with three finger head that dissipated into a thin frothy tan lacing, good carbonation - Great looking stout.

S: Rosted barley with slight molasses , anise, bourbon, chocolate, toffee, caramel.

T: Roasted malts and barley , bitter chocolate with slight molasses,anise hints, coffee ,toffee and caramel, vanilla hints as well slight bourbon.

O: Overall this was a wonderfull RIS ,Just made my top five,
The sweet lip smacking taste was extremely well blended and balanced with great and complex flavors. Will definitely seek this one out again.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker
22oz bottle 2011
Deschutes snifter

A: This one pours completely black. Basically no head, but what is there is nice tan color. Great lacing. Alcohol legs for sure. Some red on the edges when you tilt the glass.

S: Lots of vanilla/bourbon notes. I get some deep dark chocolate and some espresso notes as well. Beautiful roasted malts, pumped up by the bourbon/vanilla hints for sure.

T: Just flat out awesomely blended beer. Absolutely no hop bite. It comes to life in the middle of the mouth and through the back of the throat. Lots of deep dark chocolate along with the bourbon, vanilla, and bourbon. You get some of that coffee bitterness, but just a touch. Alcohol is completely hidden at 12.5% which is amazing. I have had lesser BA beers that blast you with bourbon, and this one does not. Again, great blending.

M: Full bodied with tons of mouth coating.

O: A+ for sure on this one. Currently in my top 5 of the year, if not all time. I just wish I had more bottles to lay down for a while.

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Photo of azdback
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Utter darkness. Not even a hint of light coming through this beer. There isn't any head to speak of. What little there was, dissipated quickly. No lace is sticking around on this one, this is possibly due to my snifters being washed in the dishwasher (tisk, tisk) or maybe just the high abv.

Smells of vanilla, coffee, and chocolate, with hints of bourbon barrels and a little smoke. All these are wrapped up in a nice whisky booze package. It almost smells as fantastic as The Abyss.

Tastes of dark roasted coffee, bitter chocolate and brown sugar. There is also some spicy flavors of tobacco and charred wood. The barrels are here as well, bourbon, oak and whiskey tastes. Just a perfectly blended Imperial Stout.

The mouth is quite fantastic. Deep rich flavors all the way to the end. Alcohol warminess sooths the throat all the way to the belly. There is no carbonation to speak of. As this warms it almost drinks like a glass of bourbon.

Overall I really enjoyed this. I believe this has cracked my top five Russian Imperial Stout list. Seek this out at all costs!! Really!!! Thanks to aandresen for this bottle.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

From the 2012 batch Reserve Series no. 003. Sampled on July 31, 2013.

The pour is a deep dark brown with an opaque black veil dropping down from top to near the bottom. The brown is around the edges and there is a short-lived tan head.

Imperial Stout aroma galore including dark malts, sugar sweetness, licorice, chocolate, fig, wood, and the slightest sniff of smoke. Hops are downplayed on the nose.

The body is full and delicately smooth.

The taste is upfront with sweet malts, a little chocolate, maybe some butterscotch, and bourbon with this moderate hop bitterness that powers its way forward at the very finish lingering briefly. A topnotch Imperial Stout.

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Photo of Gregaroo
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Isaac Newtons in Newtown, PA. Served into a tulip glass. Very like head, but great aroma and taste! Went back for a second, but the keg was gone. Nice treat on a Wednesday evening.

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Photo of More_betterness
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage.

A: Absolutely pitch black body with a half finger mocha head that recedes to the thinnest of rings around the glass quickly. Perfect appearance for an RIS.

S: Bourbon soaked vanilla bean, bakers chocolate, and rich dark pitted fruits. Sweet alcohol emerges as it warms. As inviting as it comes.

T: More vanilla, but this time paired with dark cherry and raw cocoa nibs. Charred oak and dark chocolate covered espresso beans linger on the palate long after each sip. Remarkably hidden alcohol for 14%. Glorious.

M: Full bodied and velvety. Coats the mouth completely and a bit of viscous texture remains following each taste.

O: World class. In my opinion the yardstick by which each and every bourbon barrel aged stout should be measured. Remarkably potent flavors and aromas, yet maintains perfect balance throughout. Firestone + barrels = magic.

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Photo of BeerBuckeye
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage poured into Bell's snifter

A - Pours a little lighter than I was expecting. Mostly opaque, but a dark brown color rather than a viscousy black

S - Good amount of bourbon in the nose, vanilla sweetness, licorice, grapes, and a hint of chocolate.

T - Great complexity here. Taste starts with bitter coffee, nice and roasted. Comes into a good amount of bourbon, provides a kick of vanilla. Works into dark fruits before finishing again with some bitter baker's chocolate and a tinge of hop.

M - Drying almost, but smooth, very

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: this pours a thick muddy black with a nice dark tan head. Lacing is beautiful, I've never seen anything quite like this.

S: bitter dark chocolate, minor notes of espresso, dark fruit and oak with a slight alcohol finish.

T: wow, lots dark chocolate and vanilla upfront that fades into the rich charred malt that is highlighted by the oak and hints of dark fruit. Bourbon is subtle, not over powering and very well balanced. Alcohol is there but well hidden.

M: thick in the best way possible, coats the mouth entirely and great small bubble carbonation, has the velvety feel of a nitro, really nice.

O: best beer I have had in a long time. Perfectly balanced and very complex. I can't wait to re-review the one I'm putting away for next year.

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Photo of Dlish
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- It is murky black with a hint of ruby. its foam is a dark brown and lightly beaded.

S- smells of dark chocolate, hits of Bourbon and alcohol.

T- Rich deep chocolate, hints of vanilla race by as a bourbon and rich dark cherries spread over the tongue. coffee and roasted malts start to grow and ends with just a hint of smokiness. Overall amazing, taste like liquid black forest cake but better.

M- thick chewy milky.

D- I've had this both on tap and from the bottle, both are amazing, I enjoy the small 4oz of it just fine, the 22 becomes over whelming. but now that i have had it, i keep getting the urge to by more or drive back to firestone!

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Reserve series #003. 12.5%abv. 2012 vintage.

A: Dark hersey chocolate pour is a pitch black in the vessel accompanied by golden micro-beads of carbonation slowly rising to build up the creamy, dark khaki head that sits stubbonly about with no where to go. Decent lace coverage.

S: Nice wiff of whiskey upon first uncapping gives you a good indication for what follows on the nose. Whiskey laced smooth chocolate malts appear with a slight smoky and charred nature of woodiness. Burnt licorice and burbon soaked dark fruit are always welcomed with roasted barley and a scorched toffee sweetness that balances just right.

T: The flavor is even more endearing. Whiskey heavy with bitter dark chocolate and licorice first pops out. Flashes of sweet scorched toffee offers balance and sweetness with a soothing campfire minerality of burnt grains and currant. Burbon touch of dark fruitiness comes about while the alcohol still is shy, feeling much lower then its advertised 12.5%abv which is just fine with me, it just shows how well and clean as smooth this beer really is on the next level. Smooth earthy and silty bitterness follows the swallow along with some freshly brewed french roast.

M: Luscious mouthful, silky thick and creamy from the oats with a warming of whisky and vanilla coffee bean ease. Amazing bite of earthy dark bitterness covers the tongue.

O: Overall this beer is certainly on a level above most others and a 1% by style. For such a dark and high abv beer this comes off amazingly smooth, refined, balanced and is so deliciously inviting i feel i can continue much longer then the bomber should allow me to. Was literally awestruck from the first sip to the last, kept my attention and excitment thoughout with vocal explanations thrown around as to its heavenly nature. I dont hand out 5's to often but really couldnt find much else i would rather see here that could make this any more enjoyable except for another bottle in hand. Highly recommended.

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Photo of spark3148857
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours bitch black (midnight black according to FW) with a one finger tan head that recedes to a ring of tight bubbles. Notes of bourbon, oak, cherries, dark fruit, dark chocolate, coffee, some booze and brown sugar sweetness in the nose. Taste opens with bourbon and oak followed by dark fruits in the middle of the palate. Back end is a pop of intense milk chocolate and coffee that coats the mouth. The alcohol is imperceptible. Mouthfeel is thick and coating, among the best I've had. Parabola meets the hype and in some ways exceeds it. Certainly the best barrel aged RIS I've had (still waiting on KBS).

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Photo of jsanford
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a Firestone-Walker Snifter. 2010 vintage.

A - Dark, inky black with a short-lived mocha-colored head that recedes to a slight ring and wispy haze.
S - Dark chocolate and roasted malt with huge caramel, vanilla, and oak aromas from the Bourbon barrels. Incredibly dark and complex!
T - Oboy. Tons of dark chocolate, espresso, malt, and molasses with a strong Bourbon character. Deep, sweet, and pleasantly boozy, this is what a BA Stout should be.
M - So smooth, velvety even, with a creamy mouthfeel, full body, and nice prickly carbonation. Superb.
O - Easily one of the best Barrel-Aged Stouts I've had, this is an exceptional beer!

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 bottling poured into a Stone IRS snifter. The pour is pitch black, opaque, and very sinister-looking. A rough pour produces a thin, dark brown head that quickly dies down to a thin edge lacing. Mild nose (perhaps it's a bit cold) with muddled bourbon, oak, fudge, and dark fruit notes.

The beer is very full-bodied with a rich, complex flavor and velvety feel. The flavor is amazing and the super creamy feel of this beer pushes it completely off-the-chart. Extraordinary depth and complexity here. I don't think I've ever detected this many flavors in a beer since I first tried The Abyss. Sweet malt, toffee, and milk chocolate up front, followed by bourbon, licorice, and vanilla at mid-palate. Finally, I get fudge, coffee, and molasses in the back of the palate. There is just a whiff of alcohol warmth as the bourbon and toffee return and linger briefly on the finish with the coffee, then it all turns to rich, fruity port.

I am a huge fan of Russian Imperial Stouts and this is a masterpiece of a beer that approaches RIS flavor perfection. I'd love to try this a little fresher so I can get the total effect. My thanks to ThaFATkid for giving me the opportunity to try this. I owe you one, buddy!

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Photo of beerdrifter
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at a great beer store, Tops Liquor, while at a conference in Phoenix. Been saving it for almost a year so it has some nice age on it. Pitch black pour with beautiful chocolate-colored two finger head that fades quickly with minimal lacing. The bourbon and oak are huge right from the first whiff. Hints of vanilla, tobacco, espresso and dark chocolate make every sip a pleasure to the nose. This is one big beer! The taste is huge and complex. As in the nose, the bourbon and oak are the stars. The balance is perfect with just enought bitter hops to offset the sweet malts. Dark chocolate, vanilla, roasty coffee, oak and lots of bourbon only get better as this warms. The mouthfeel is thick and smooth as silk. And although this is a huge sipper of a beer, it was extremely drinkable. I had read complaints about the size of the bottle being too big for one person, but I was totally enjoying every drop and never felt overwhelmed. The alcohol is warming but not overpowering. This is one of those rare beers and I can't thank the staff at Tops Liquors enough for hooking me up with this classic!

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Photo of KeefD
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one side by side with BA Yeti during our first all grain brew day celebrations. This was the clear winner, IMO. Review from tasting notes:

Pours dark and thick, viscous, completely black in the glass but no head or lacing.

Aroma isn't overly crazy, but there's a great balance between chocolate, char, barrel, vanilla, only a touch of whiskey, which I kind of wished was more pronounced, but it's nice.

Taste is fantastic. I like how it's not incredibly sweet like most stouts this thick. Some chocolate blends well with vanilla, ample roastiness, but not astringent, dark fruit on the finish. Would kill for just a tad more bourbon.

Body is full, sticky yet dry, low carbonation. Alcohol is perfectly hidden. Delicious.

Easy drinking, lovely beer. Love that it's not a sugar bomb!

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,086 ratings.