Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

Parabola - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,090 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,090
Hads: 5,717
Avg: 4.54
pDev: 18.72%
Wants: 2,916
Gots: 3,277 | FT: 250
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,090 | Hads: 5,717
Photo of argock
4.35/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz brown bomber into a clear glass snifter. 2011 vintage. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $15.99.

A: Black with 1-2 fingers of light brown, fomay head with decent retention and plenty of lace forms down the glass.

S: Dark maltiness dominates easily above the bourbon qualities, although the oak and vanilla are certainly as strong as the bourbon character. The dark malt notes highlight fig, coffee, dark and milk chocolate. There are some minor earthy hops contributions.

T: THe flavor is bold and unapologetically big beer in nature with a huge chewy dark maltiness including espresso, dark chocolate, and dark fruits like fig and raisin. The hops component is balancing mainly with some earthy, herbal, tobacco roundness. The vanilla and barrel qualities are most decidely oak in nature, with very little bourbon component. Alcohol mainly produces a warming effect, although there is some cherry-berry quality of it too.

M: Very smooth and chewy but not as heavy in body as you would imagine for the ABV.

O: A very interesting beer that really aims high. I still like Bell's Expedition and a handful of other RIS's better, but I plan to grab another bottle and age this as I think it has a lot of aging potential with the high ABV and complex maltiness. Parabola is an excellent brew.

 1,328 characters

Photo of flexabull
4.57/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep flat black color with a nice creamy white head.

Aromas are wonderful and quite pronounced. Vanilla, chocolate, coconut and booze notes.

Taste is of toasted coconut up front, dark roasted malt flavors, bitter bakers chocolate, and a bit smoky. Beer them settles in some creamy vanilla, toasted oak, and some warm booze and pine bitterness on the finish. Very complex and full flavored.

Mouthfeel is good, quite soft, but with good body. Wish it was a touch heavier though.

Overall, an outstanding brew. I can see how this makes a great component of the anniversary beers. Another home run barrel aged beer from Firestone Walker.

 644 characters

Photo of homebrew311
4.64/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage poured into Bruery snifter.

A: Pours like I'd expect from a 12.5% stout, pitch black, viscous, minimal head, color of cocoa colored head, some lacing

S: the nose is perfect. Mellow notes of vanilla, coconut, and raisin give way to rich dark chocolate and some coffee character. The bourbon and oak character pairs with the base beer in a synergistic fashion. Amazing.

T: the stout character comes first and presents with huge roasted profile and then comes waves of vanilla and oak which build up as this brew is sipped. This brew features impeccable balance considering the high ABV and the bourbon aging. Very nice.

MF: smooth velvety texture, mellow carbonation, no issues here

O: This beer lives up to every bit of hype that has been mentioned. The only bourbon barrel beer that I can think of that has better balance is Bourbon County Rare. This one is well worth seeking out.

 899 characters

Photo of alalvarez75
4.21/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark black and brown lacing with a tan head.

S - Rum and raisins, with a hint of vanilla and almond slightly booze.

M - Very strong, yet subtle and powerful.

T - Amazing. Rich rum/raisin/spicy hop accents with a nice almond/vanilla finish.

O - Amazing Stout. I'll stock up when I see more.

 297 characters

Photo of starrdogg
4.12/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Bottle - Figured it was finally time to drink one of these.

A: Pours dark brown/black with a pretty fluffy tan head and minimal lacing. For a beer this big, I'm kinda shocked at the level of carbonation and lack of viscosity.

S: Bourbon, oak and sweet chocolate come together with a hint of alcohol as well. This smells a bit like a chocolate cake covered in bourbon.

T: Bourbon and chocolate are the two predominant flavors up front with some hints of vanilla. The finish interferes with the deliciousness, however: the combination of oak, roasted malt and a bit of heat combine to detract somewhat from the awesome start.

M: Medium-bodied and a good amount of carbonation, not nearly as thick or flat as most beers this big.

O: This is my 2nd time having Parabola, and the first time I thought was mindblowing (but it was at a beer festival, so I didn't review it ). Upon further reflection, perhaps I overlooked a few of the flaws in this beer - most notably the odd finish. That said it's still a damn good beer, but I'm glad I sat down with it on its own to properly evaluate it.

 1,096 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.15/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

drank last nite with several friends; reviewed from notes.

poured into a snifter glass.

Appearance: dark black beer with dark brown head. This beer really is got a huge head for a barrel aged beer.

Smell: Barrel notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Also chocolate and dark fruit come through the barrel notes as the beer warms to room temperature.

Taste: follows the nose of the beer really close bitter chocolate upfront that integrates with the vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Mild boozy heat noted in aftertaste and as you exhale after a sip of beer. Dark fruits, molasses and tobacco all linger in the back adding nice complexity to this great RIS.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied beer with low carbonation but, its almost moderately carbonationed. Silky, oily, and sticky.

Overall: This beer has beat the hype and still remains a fantastic beer! Taste is similiar to Older Viscosity. Really well done and really enjoyable.

 919 characters

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.51/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter

Sits a near perfect midnight black in the glass. Some ruby highlights around the edges. No head rises, no lacing whatsoever. There's an oil like consistency to this beer.

Broad and complex to say the least. Vanilla, bourbon and oak off the bat with toffee, dark fruits, tobacco and bitter dark chocolate. Some very mild grassy hops. This is tremendously balanced. Everything in equal doses, nothing outshining anything else. Fabulous.

Follows the nose closely. Vanilla and bourbon up front. Lightly toasted oak, dark fruit, tobacco, toffee and bitter dark chocolate through the middle. The finish is of rich chocolate, dark fruit, bourbon, and vanilla.

Full bodied, rich and decadent. Oily/sticky and just plain delicious. It works really well with the breadth of flavors/aromas going on but I can really see the smoothing out with age.

Overall, this is a pretty spectacular RIS. It reminds me a lot of fresh Kate, just not as smooth. However, the barrel aging makes up for some of that. The flavors and nose are there, it just lacks on some of the finer points. An excellent RIS.

 1,119 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.82/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-This beer pours absolutely black. Motor oil slick as is glugs from the bottle. A thin tan head forms and dies away leaving a film atop the viscous liquid. Tiny patches of lacing speckle the glass. Big, intimidating look from a big, bad stout.

S-Wow. Big, and frighteningly rich aroma. Powerful notes of chocolate and wooden goodness. Vanilla extract and burnt roasted coffee. Alcohol is detectable but it should be here. The bourbon aroma is not overwhelming but is at a great balance. Dark, dried fruits are also there. Smells like a chocolate brownie dipped in coffee liqueur.

T-Oh my, this is absolutely delicious. Luscious chocolate hits me first. Then the vanilla, dark fruitiness, and wooden oakyness come into play. The alcohol is big and bold but I love how it plays with the flavors. Just an unbelievably rich, and complex beer. I get some awesome toffee flavors here too. The flavor absolutely lives up to the hype here. Very happy.

M-Viscous and slick. Gentle bubbles tickle the tongue. The alcohol rounds out the feel. Exceptional feel for a big RIS. Iam a big fan of the carbonation. And the aftertaste is awesome.

O/D-Yeah. This lived up to the hype, and then some. I was worried having such a huge beer on a warm night would not be the best idea, but I loved this one. Firestone Walker seems to be one heel of a company. Double Jack and now this one...doing an unbelievable job. I love how its boxed, and for $12.99 in MA; the price is actually pretty damn good. Absolutely a great time in a bottle.

 1,521 characters

Photo of amphion1065
4.26/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Based on the information passed around on the forums, this review should have been posted a few weeks ago. 22 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip.

The pour is... audible, like olive oil from a jug. Thick and viscous, though there's a curious soda-like carbonation. The one-finger head reminds me of cappuccino froth, and it lasts and clings to the glass. Very nice.

Plenty of fresh coffee grounds in the nose, with a hint of vanilla - cafe au lait comes to mind. Overall, the aroma is pretty restrained: even as it warmed, this didn't give off a particularly rich or full bouquet.

Loads and loads of bourbon in the taste. The -bal presence is enormous, and there's charred oak and leather to go around. That said, this isn't brash or abrasively hot, and the heat is pretty mellow. The finish is all bourbon, and it lasts and lasts. Fudge brownie flavors from the base beer counterbalance the liquor character.

I had a feeling the mouthfeel would be spot-on from the pour, and I wasn't disappointed: thick and rich, this is a modicum of the style.

Right out of the gate, I prefer Parabola to fresh BCBS. I'm very excited to lay this down for a year or so - it's a little one-dimensional right now, but it'll be spectacular in 2012.

EDIT: Happened upon a bottle of 2011 this past week. This beer has matured beautifully over the past several months. The barrel presence has mellowed without losing its bourbon bite, but the base beer has taken on an absolutely gorgeous, mellow dark fruit sweetness that complements the chocolate notes very well - it is, in many ways, quite akin to BCBS. This is drinking so well, and I am updating my score accordingly.

 1,655 characters

Photo of SFLpunk
4.3/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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!!!

 639 characters

Photo of colforbin73
4.77/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

just about ethereal -- (i think Abacus may have the edge), but what does that say about these beers? one an imperial stout, one a barley wine -- well -- "barrel-aged" of course. and while the barrel aging provides an incredible overtone to the taste and aroma -- this beer shines on the depth of the malt base -- a simply delicious, delectable fine luxurious drink.

pours a good rich black as night with a MILKY WAY of tan swirl and froth in the middle of the glass. you sort of get a Big-Bang/moment-of-creation in the pour.

smell is amazing -- deep chocolate and roasted malt, spicy, hazelnut -- very inviting aroma.

serve not too cold and you get a smooth smooth drink -- the bitterness is sooo appropriate -- perfect bite on top of the rich filling stout. you can sense the QUALITY of this brew as you sip -- the roasted, chocolate and caramel malts dance on top of a rich base and the barrel aging provides the vanilla/liquor MELLOWNESS. did i say SMOOTH already?

SUPERB DRINK -- wowed by abacus, floored by parabola.

 1,026 characters

Photo of Docer
4.17/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2011 bottle, 12.5% Alc. by Vol.

Appearance: (4.0)
- Nice super dark murky brown and black. Thick fingers of mocha tan head, nice and creamy looking.. slowly settles to a thin blanket and large ring ready to create more rings the whole way down the glass.

Smell: (4.5)
- Lovely sweet toffee, vanilla, oak earthiness and a tart bourbon touch. Barrel aging has worked well with the aroma on this stout. Chocolatey smooth grain and sweet creamy candy. Light grassy bitterness.

Taste: (4.0)
- Very sweet toffee, vanilla, and bourbon flavors melded very well with a candy-like chocolate and dark bitter chocolate. Big bourbon notes with fantastic flavor. Dry bitter grassy and earthy hops are quite present as well to attempt to balance this sweet beast. Super good and doesn't taste too hot. Guessing this beer will taste even better with a few years on it.

Mouth Feel: (3.5)
- Little sticky and syrupy as of now. Cloying, chewy, and drying. Pretty viscous body with a healthy amount of carbonation. Not too bad, but again, something I feel will get much better, and maybe even more creamy and less sticky with age.

Overall: (4.0)
- This is a stellar stout, and rises above many in its field. It is damn fine fresh, and is sure to be a real hit aged. I am hoping to find a couple more to cellar as I now only have one left in the cellar. Damn good, and get it while you can.

 1,384 characters

Photo of Rhettroactive
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 22oz bomber to Jackie O's snifter on our day of Independence,
July 4th 2011
*From notes

I'm skipping ahead in my reviews a bit as this is my 200th, and thought it only right to make it a special one.

A: As expected, it's a rich and dark molasses - almost black. A gorgeous 1.25 finger head that looks like the crispy edges of a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Decent lacing rims the snifter.

S: Dark caramel and chocolate. Rich, with thick layers of tobacco and cocoa that you can cut with a knife. As it warms, that toasty coconut I love so much comes out. The alcohol is present from beginning to end. A top notch bouquet.

T: Boozy. It's apparent from the get-go that this could take some time in a proper cellar. The tanninic acid and bourbon come out right away and never let go. As it warms, the beer really opens up - the toasted coconut and melted 65% dark chocolate come out to play. A refined layer of malt balances the heat here, and the nuances of this beer really come to life over the hour-plus I consumed it.

M: The mouthfeel is good. Very good in fact, but not great. The rich feel to this one is thick and luxurious, but I've had bigger stouts. It's also a bit oily from the barrel conditioning, though it doesn't effect the overall presentation of the beer.

O: Firestone-Walker's Parabola is a wonderful and masterfully balanced Russian Imperial Stout. I feel that with some age, this could be one of the best RIS's in my cellar.

Without question, Parabola is in the upper echelon of the style. I highly recommend seeking it out.

 1,558 characters

Photo of Blanco
4.03/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from Notes

Black with thin light brown head. Lacing is more along the lines of how wine sticks as a film. Smell is somewhat mute with some dark malt and slight hint of booze bourbon. Flavor is more complex, lending some more bourbon than the smell as well as hints of chocolate and fruit. I feel like there is another liquor working here, but having trouble picking it up. A hint of smokiness as well. Slight burn from the alcohol here. Lighter mouthfeel than I prefer, but still acceptable. Overall, another unique interpretation by Firestone Walker here. It’s not your standard barrel aged stout. The complexity of the flavors keeps me guessing some.

 664 characters

Photo of DrStiffington
4.38/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

OK, so I had to pick one of these up, even though it's not exactly a "summer" beer. It pours very thick into a tulip glass. Dark, thin head. Black color, no light coming through at all. Smell a little chocolate, not much else going on. Ahhhh, but the taste. Roasted malts, chocolate. Absolutely delicious! I rarely comment on the mouthfeel, but I really dig the creamy, heavy taste of this beer. Overall, one of the best stouts out there. Must grab another soon!

 462 characters

Photo of schwaeh
4.24/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

 1,169 characters

Photo of CaptainTripps
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage
22oz bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip, served at cellar temp.

A: Pours pitch black, motor oil thick. The pour came with a small half fingers worth of head -dark mocha in color. Little to no lacing left on glass.

S: Bitter dark chocolate followed by mocha/expresso and bourbon. Also getting some rich molasses and vanilla along with some woodyness, Oak? The nose is very rich and complex. With one sniff, this beer will have you on your knees. Very, very good.

T: Oh. My. God. FanFREAKINGtastic. Once you start sipping you just can't stop. Bitter sweet dark chocolate paired with charred oak and vanilla. also some expresso notes coming through along with a small amount of dark fruits. There is some booziness coming through in the taste of bourbon, but that is to be expected this fresh. Its actually a nice note that works well with the other flavors. This thing is like sipping on a nice scotch. Rich, complex and satisfying.

M: Full bodied, with some carbonation. Would like a little more carbonation, but that is to be expected with a barrel aged beer. There is a slight amount of heat from the alcohol but unlike with most beers, it blends in perfectly with the other flavors.

O: This beer is one for my own beer tasting history book. Completely amazing. I only bought one to try, but I will be going back TOMORROW as soon as possible to pick up some more. Worth every freaking penny spent.

 1,418 characters

Photo of zaphodchak
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown-beige head, about a half-finger, and opaque black body. I see only my reflection. Some nice surface memory.

Smell is of coffee and steak, some smoke.

Taste is phenomenal. Bitter, a bit hoppy, and there's a lot of sweetness to balance. Oaky, woody, and faintly boozy.

Mouthfeel is nice and punctuates the very thick body.

Incredible; I couldn't ask for more from an oaked imperial stout.

 396 characters

Photo of mikul93
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz 2011 batch

A Black with a small head with a hard pour that dissipated rather quickly, which is to be expected from a high ABV

S Coffee, chocolate, alcohol with sweet fruit.

T Wow! This is one complex beer. Roasted coffee, bitter chocolate, hops, booze, vanilla. Outstanding beer!

M- Surprisingly light feel. Creamy goodness

O Just an outstanding beer. This beer is getting a lot of hype and there are haters out there that dismiss it just for that fact, but this beer is all it is cracked up to be and more. I am so glad I scored a case of it.

 555 characters

Photo of OPWN3NTSL4Y3R
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An aggressive pour into Duvel glass tulip

A- Black as midnight, tan/brown 3 finger tight frothy head, dissipates into intricate lace

S- Bittersweet dark chocolate, espresso/coffee, charred oak

T- Blew me away, BIG coffee, BIG chocolate, oak barrel, not too bitter, balanced sweet malts, warming alcohol is present

M- Creamy sweet, medium carbonation, full bodied, not too dry on the finish

O- Quite an experience in a bottle, incredibly complex, flavors come in waves, not jumbled together. This one will only get better with age

 535 characters

Photo of Gushue3
4.22/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Notes from split bottle wih my friend. Thanks Doctor B2B for this bottle before it hit my state.

. a- pours very dark but can still see through. 1 finger mocha head that has very little retention and no lacing to speak of. 3.5

s- alcohol scent and dark fruits dominate the nose. smells hot. 4

t- big combo of flavors. alcohol from the barrel is most prevelant. coffee ,chocolate, dark fruits. nice mixture of flavors. 4.
coffee and hot alcohol heat mix is great when cooler. 4.5

m- heavierthicker moutjhfeel thays kind of syrupy. moderate carbonation thays suits it well.

o- nice beer that could use a little age but not bad by any means. crazy complex flavors

 665 characters

Photo of Yagman3000
4.3/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

 676 characters

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.

 1,144 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
4.82/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bomber split with oglmcdgl and sourbatchkid. Glad to see firewalker out here on the eastcoast. The world just got a bit smaller. Sorry Cali :(

Into the Duvel tulip, Parabola pours out a sludgy black color resembling night time. Pretty viscous looking streaming down, it is jet black once in the glass. A nice mocha brown inch of foam bubbly and lasting leaving some marks.

Smell is something to marvel at. It's bold, pungent and full of everything you would think. Bourbon clashing with a big roasted malt scent. Wood with chocolate hints and a underlining vanilla scent. Bold and beautiful.

Had a sip, meh, had another, yeah, and another, give me more!! Roasted malts play a big part as does the bourbon and wood at this young stage in the bottle. A bit of char and smoke and a faint drop of dark fruit resembling cherry. Not sure what the wine barrel influence brings, but something gotta be there. Chocolate over slight and I mean slight vanilla. Not a sweet beer, but well balanced with all above.

Feel is what you would expect from the look. Viscous, a big ol body, adaquate carb yet goes down smoother than that. With all the flavor it's best to sip this slow to get to know it better. A bit oily and a coater of the throat. Get a bit of char with bourbon in the aftertaste and some heat to go with it.

Im not the biggest rizzzz guy, but for what Parabola puts out, im more than game and if a bottle needed to be drank by myself, I would do it. It would take me four hours to do it, but it would get finished. A sipper at heart that begs to be drank more and more and more.

Overall I think this is an excellent BBA beer and one of my top three. It helps that it is not insanely overpriced like a certain ops from Brooklyn. The other barrels used impart so much more than just your average Barrel stout and it shows from the complexities, especially the faint cherry. Got one to lay down till wintertime, maybe christmas.

 1,937 characters

Photo of pmarlowe
4.44/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tasted the 2010 and 2011 together. Overall scores are an average.

2011 vintage. Stone Oakquinox taster glass.
(3, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5)

Pours a very dark brown coffee color, almost no head and no lacing. Smell is very chocolate forward, creamy vanilla, with the bourbon way in the background (a little more forward once it warms, but still...) Taste is also very chocolate/cocoa forward, vanilla, some more bourbon and oak present. The flavors are stronger here than in the 2010 version, and the bourbon is definitely more subdued. Smooth and chewy, medium carbonation and full body. Alcohol is quite well hidden, but becomes a little more noticeable as it warms; still, this isn't anywhere near "hot", just slightly warming. Overall, this is top class bourbon aged stout, very drinkable.

2010 vintage. Tulip glass. Thanks to spry for opening this one up.
(4, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5)

Again, pours a very dark brown coffee color, with a ring of dark khaki foam that has good retention, but minimal lacing. Nicely balanced sweet bourbon, vanilla, plus a little brandy (?) as it warms. The bourbon is much more forward than in the 2011 version. Taste is cola and cocoa, bourbon, nice oaky backbone, fairly dry with a smooth chocolate finish. Mellow, thick and mouthcoating, medium-low carbonation, alcohol is a little present at the finish. Overall, this is a nice contrast to the 2011 vintage: more mellow, more bourbon forward, less chocolate, but still nicely balanced.

I'm not picking up any of the fruit that you might expect from this (and that a number of other reviewers reference), so perhaps this merits another go at it.
2013 vintage

Fresh: Something was off with this vintage. I get more heat/alcohol, a thin body, moderate tobacco, and very little chocolate/bourbon/etc. After a year: A little better, with substantially less heat, but the roast and ashiness are still prominent (though the flavor overall is fairly muted).

 1,939 characters

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,090 ratings.