Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #2
Ranked #30
4.65 | pDev: 7.53%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: 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.
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Reviews: 1,392 | Ratings: 7,059 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of just1cho
just1cho from California

4.66/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

*Parabola 2020 Batch No. 11*

*Poured into a Teku glass from a 12oz bottle*

*Drank on: 05/29/20*

This beer poured out pitch black with a khaki colored head. Though the black color looked deep and roasty, I was overall a bit disappointed with the look of the beer since the head was a bit weak only presenting a half finger thick head with little to no retention to it.

I found that the aroma on this was fairly well balanced for a bourbon barrel-aged beer. Normally I would get more bourbon notes than anything else, but on this one there was a nice mellowness in the bourbon which was balanced with roasted sweet malts, and chocolate in the front end. There were also subtle notes vanilla, caramel and coconut in the back-end. Overall, very well rounded.

The taste was well-rounded but it was a little less balanced than the aroma; still really tasty though. There were big notes of bourbon, dark chocolate, and sweet roasted malts which all balanced out in the front. Flavors of mostly bourbon and vanilla were very pronounced in the middle but then they mellowed out in the finish with complex flavors of coconut, caramel, oak char, coffee, and toffee. These flavors left a lingering aftertaste of roasty coffee/oak bitterness.

The feel of this was medium to full bodied, moderate amounts of carbonation, velvety smooth, and dry from start to finish. The warmth of the bourbon and ABV were definitely evident in the throat and chest, definitely a big and boozy beer and it doesn't try to hide it. definitely meant to be sipped on.

I overall really enjoyed this Russian stout. Other than the look, I found this to be very well rounded and balanced on the nose and palate giving lots of roasted and complex aromas and flavors.

Tuesday at 11:01 AM
Photo of Barettes
Barettes from Washington

4.17/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is for the 2017 brewed in Kansas City by Boulevard, consumed May 2020.
Poured into a snifter, brown-black with a short, creamy head that lingers before fading to a ring. Moderate lacing, appearance is marred by floaty bits.
Nose is black licorice, booze, and some charred oak. These same flavors dominate the taste, but as the glass warms vanilla, black cherry, chocolate and coffee notes emerge.
Not as thick as I’d hoped and the barrel, black licorice and booze are a bit strong to the detriment of the other flavors, at least to my palate.

May 23, 2020
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Nuttin_but_the_best_Clark from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm not much of a stout guy buy enjoyed the 2020 version of this. It is strong with the coffee and the chocolate notes and has the slight basil and licorice notes common to these type of stouts, really pronounced in the Founders line. The thing I like most about this is that it lacks that medicine/astringent aftertaste that many barrel aged stouts have.

I can't really taste the bourbon in this, or the wood, which is a good thing to me. Some beers which are less rounded out have that boozy bourbon taste that is over the top and makes it feel like a shot of bourbon is poured into your stout.

The ABV is a nice 12% which will give you a buzz. I can't believe I am saying this but given its ratings and balanced and well-rounded taste, $10 a bottle isn't a terrible price point. A decade ago if you told me $10 bottles of beer and $25 four packs would be the norm in 2020, I'd have said you were crazy.

From a packaging standpoint, the outer cardboard box is pretty pointless and a waste of paper. The beer itself is chocolatey awesomeness.

May 22, 2020
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maxpower from Missouri

4.25/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark jet-black color, has a small creamy brown head. Sweet roasted chocolate, coffee and bourbon aroma, sweet fruity plum-chocolate, bourbon and roasted coffee flavors. Nice burnt bitter-sweet finish. Medium-full body with creamy and smooth, oily mouthfeel, alcohol really shows as it warms, very nice!

May 08, 2020
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Mick666 from Canada

4.99/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2010 poured into a snifter hard. Little bit of mocha head that dissipates quickly with no lace. Noce balanced bourbon smell with dark chocolate and some bitterness. Taste follows suit. Divine

May 07, 2020
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EnderFett11 from Virginia

4.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2020 vintage. Poured hard from a bottle into a snifter glass, resulting in a delayed half finger of light brown head. Deep brown color with effectively no head retention. Delicious gentle bourbon smell, not too overpowering but very nice. Nice malt background, but primary flavor throughout is a complex bourbon mix. A bit woody/oak, mild sweetness, but not overpowering. Strong ABV, but doesn't taste like it's 13.6%. Definitely top 2 or 3 bourbon barrel aged stout.

May 05, 2020
Photo of Bostonchap
Bostonchap from Massachusetts

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First barrel aged stout I’ve had - just eye opening. Great dark silky look, fantastic taste and feel. I can’t get enough. Thanks to my neighbors!1

Apr 22, 2020
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orcrist_cleaver from New York

4.94/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a 2014 vintage I finally decided to break open. The results were amazing. Pitch black, heart of darkness level. The dirtiest, yet most beautiful khaki head. Vanilla bean, burnt caramel, spicy gingerbread, tobacco, and nutmeg. While its full bodied and silky smooth the finish remains dry, oaky and uncomplicated with an obnoxiously comforting warmth.

Apr 22, 2020
Photo of paltemose2303

4.86/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2020 Vintage No. 11 poured into a traditional pint glass

Really couldn't have asked for anything better on a cold night in quarantine.

L: When held to the light, almost none passes through. Where the little light does pass through, the beer is deep dark ruby. This beer looks aggressive with a thick caramel head and light glass lacing.

S: Aroma is great. Get some bourbon on first smell, followed by some dried fruit and vanilla. Some roasted notes as well, but its a very nice preview to what the beer tastes like.

T: So balanced. It's absolutely fantastic. The bourbon doesn't come through as strong as other barrel-aged beers I've had, which I prefer. The bourbon offers a modest amount of bite to counter the sweet vanilla and dried fruit flavors. Addition roasted malt flavors come through early and the bourbon leaves more of a bitterness at the end, but it doesn't linger.

F: Full bodied and a great mouthfeel. It's a thick beer but not syrup. Not too sweet to stick to your teeth, but not aggressively alcoholic in taste either.

The best barrel-aged stout I've had to date!

Apr 17, 2020
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Ohknows from Nevada

4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got the 2020 bottle.

This is beer pours a jet black color with a brown head.

This beer is awesome! It’s rich, malty, and thick. I get a boozy, chocolate, malty smell.

I want another one!

Apr 08, 2020
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firesidewithphil from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2020 Parabola Vintage No.11
This is quite the elite beer. There is a ton of barrel and sticky bourbon in this stout. It comes in a nice little box as well. The main flavor is chocolate and it climbs at a 13.6% ABV.

I was surprised by how good this beer was for the price. I got one bottle for $8.99 and another at a later date on sale for $6.99. I would pay $12 or $13 easy for this beer. It is a fantastic stout.


Apr 05, 2020
Photo of IPA_Stout_Fan_1997

4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours black with no clarity, and hardly any head. Notes of chocolate, espresso, molasses, vanilla, and bourbon. Super smooth. Despite a slight bitterness, the finish is long and sweet.

Mar 23, 2020
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Limazulu from Idaho

4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: not as dark and not as much head as I expected
S: molasses, and more molasses, tart cherry, and oak
T: follows the nose
M: smooth and silky moderate body with minimal carbination
O: just about perfect

Mar 20, 2020
Photo of brewandbbq
brewandbbq from New Hampshire

4.49/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle.

Pours opaque black with a short-lived head of tan. Dark chocolate, espresso, and light bourbon in the nose. Full bodied with an oily, slick mouthfeel. Charred brownie batter with booze-spritzed coffee beans on the palate. Finishes with rich chocolate, bourbon, and espresso.

Mar 18, 2020
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matts2896 from Connecticut

4.64/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Figs, tobacco, intense charred wood, liquid smoke, vanilla, spice, and dark chocolate tapering into a lightly tannic dryness. Bourbon shows itself mid-palette with milky, floral vanilla and a gentle heat. Hints of coconut and vanilla as an olfactory afterthought

FW does not miss on BA beers, very thoughtful barrel:base recipe relationship. A big step-up from 2019

Mar 08, 2020
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Msp004 from New York

4.53/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2020 release.
Pours black with a frothy three finger head which vanishes rather quickly with residual lacing.

Nose is sweet dark fruits (rasains, black cherry, figs) , caramel, licorice , charred barrells and bourbon....big nose!!!

Mouth is very thick, creamy and rich...very dense. Bourbon is the predominant flavor with dark fruit, and charred barrel. The mouth is hot and that's most likely due to the infancy of this brew. With some cellar time I expect this to become a benchmark brew. Still and amazing brew now but it's hot when this young which causes the bourbon flavor to dominate the mouth.

Feb 29, 2020
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Hooded from Texas

4.73/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Notes from 2/22/2020.
Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Teku glass.
The body is black. There's a slight bit of foam around the rim of the glass. I might have poured too gently or it's the alcohol level or both causing a lack of head. 4.00
The aroma is moderate in strength and of milk chocolate, caramel, raisin, and bourbon. 4.75
The taste is medium-high in strength. I will let it warm up a while before continuing, but I can already see why this holds the second highest ranking for this style. The flavor has milk chocolate, caramel, and a bourbon finish. 4.75
The mouth feel is thick, silky, syrupy, and creamy with a slightly astringent finish. Simply divine feel. 5.00
Overall, it's the best Russian Imperial Stout I have had. The amazing feel brings it all together. 4.75

Feb 24, 2020
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jkblr from Indiana

4.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle 2019 vintage (one year old) poured into a Spiegelau stout glass at just below room temp 13% ABV 60 IBU 150 SRM. The beer pours impenetrable black with mocha brown head. The head recedes slowly to a cap and leaves a little lacing. The aroma is oaky bourbon fudge brownie with just a hint of alcohol. The taste is semisweet caramel and chocolate slowly giving way to coffee, char, oak, bourbon and moderate earthy bitterness. The mouthfeel is full bodied with just less than medium carbonation and a creamy, drying finish with some residual sweetness perfectly offset by the booze & barrel. Overall, outstanding. I've heard this one is hot at first, so I left it in the fridge for a year after the purchase. Maybe the best combo of taste & feel in any BBA stout I've sampled. Just masterful.

Feb 12, 2020
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AZBeerDude72 from Arizona

4.49/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a 1/2" tan head and decent lacing that holds.
N: Boozy notes with chocolate, vanilla, malt, burnt sugar, and some nuttiness.
T: Sweet booze hit up front with vanilla and chocolate, then you get some burnt sugar flavors and nuts, minor malt and char feel also.
M: Full feeling with boozy hit that fades into sweetness.
O: Really loving this one, very well done and balanced. Will snag a few more to age.

Feb 08, 2020
Photo of drdiesel9483
drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.59/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look - basically black slight head and lacing
Smell - chocolate caramel woody roasty, booze
Taste - like the scent, very caramel woody and still booze. Dark fruit.
Feel - medium body like carbonation
Overall - incredible beer

Feb 03, 2020
Photo of KevinJanisse

4.5/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Every year i look forward to this release. Never seems to fail. Amazing palette pleasing flavors come through on every sip. Unfortunately at $11.00 a bottle it better be good. Between this and Bourbon County I have not found a better full bodied Stout. At half the price I do tent to favor the Founders series. If they could drop the price I might even bump the review up to a 4.75 ;)

Jan 20, 2020
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Saylor from Pennsylvania

4.93/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 12.5% bottle (boxed) Dangerously smooth and subtle booze flavor. First time having this beer and will immediately buy if I ever see it again.

Tasting notes- delicious

Jan 18, 2020
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philbe311 from Pennsylvania

4.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Been waiting for this one for a ling time... Two fingers worth of light khaki colored head with excellent retention... Flat black in color... Sweet nose dominated by milk chocolate, dark fruits and light brown sugar... Palate consists of roasted malts, dark chocolate and faint hints of coffee... The rest of the notes from the nose are present but are buried beneath the surface... Uber smooth and silky in texture... Outstanding in all facets and hides the ABV remarkably well...

Dec 31, 2019
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GrumpyGas from Illinois

5/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz 2019 vintage bottle eased into a snifter shows a dark-as-night, opaque black with just a hint of cola when lit at the edge. A chestnut brown head of mixed bubbles dissipates quickly to a bare body and leaves a clean glass behind after sheets of tiny bubbled lacing races down the glass.

Aromas of caramel, toffee, booze, oak, vanilla, leather, ash, black cherries, and roasted barley make for an enticing mix.

Flavors match and, combined with the velvety smooth mouthfeel, provide a wonderful experience. A tongue-coatingly full feel demands attention and respect, especially given the clean finish and lack of metallic acidity.

This is the closest I have come to a religious experience in a beer. Highest marks at every point along the way.

Dec 29, 2019
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Gajo74 from New York

4.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Available at Broadway Dive, NYC, in 12oz bottle and for take out. Expectations high considering its highly rated and I’ve yet to have it. At $13.99 + corkage fee, I decided to have this at the bar and split with my friend.

The 6 oz pour yields a jet black color, opaque, viscous and elegant. No head expected, merely a quickly dissipating wisp of light foam.

Complex aromas of roasted malts and barrel aged spirits fill the nose with their fragrant combination. Aromas evoke notes of coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon, wood, vanilla, dark fruit, and a touch of smoke. A rich chocolate cake and caramel like malt base also makes way for grassy and minty hops aromas.

Full bodied, gently carbonated and with an ultra smooth mouthfeel. Rich and decadent, yet, somehow balanced and drinkable. Flavors of coffee, bourbon, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, dark caramels, vanilla, oak and cherries, all mouth coating and accentuating the robust and viscous syrupy sweet malts. However, what this drink truly has going for it is the fact that its sweetness is not too cloying while its high alcohol spice is not too boozy. This is achieved through the espresso like bitterness of the roasted malts and the leafy and minty hops flavors. The finish is long with a smooth alcohol warming and slightly medicinal.

I’ve been a little critical of these bug boozy beers as of late, however, this one really does live up to its expectations. As stated above, its balance makes it significantly more drinkable than others of its kind. I’m glad I got to try it.

Dec 28, 2019
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 7059 ratings