Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #2
Ranked #35
4.64 | pDev: 7.54%
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: 1,417 | Ratings: 7,137 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of garymuchow
garymuchow from Minnesota

4.53/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

100 score on BA - World Class. I'd think that would be recommended.
First try on this, on the eve of another b-day in my 6th decade of life.
This is a 2020 consumed in a very hot (record setting) June day 2021.
That is one dark beer. No color highlights. Small dark beige head.
Deep rich fruit on the nose.
Really nice chocolate flavor that is bittersweet. Yummy. The abv is not over-powering in flavor enhancement but it hits quickly. The dark fruit lies in the background a bit, like dark chocolate on berries.
Being only a year old it still has some bright sharpness to the malt profile, nonetheless it is very smooth and holds a rich and full mouthfeel.

Jun 06, 2021
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HardTarget from Texas

4.79/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2020 vintage boxed bottle, sampled June 2, 2021.

Appearance: Bonus points for the nice box, beer is black and shows clear ruby edges with strong back light. A short lived tan head dropped off to a thin halo that doesn't lace.

Aroma: Heavy dark malt, bourbon barrel, dark fruit.

Taste: Starts a little sweet, deep malt bill, then a toffee middle goes into an almost sharp bourbon barrel, hop bitter, hot alcohol finish. All of it glorious.

Mouthfeel: Sultry. Silky smooth, low carbonation, medium heavy body, slight chew, a little warm on the finish but fairly clean.

Overall: Wow. It deserves the big numbers. Huge flavor, no flaws (but, it would be hard to tell), alcohol is kept low key and felt more than tasted. Boozy, malty, silky, hints of citric peek through, very complicated but well packaged taste profile. Easy drinking, it's a treat!

Jun 02, 2021
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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.83/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Parabola pours black, with a small, tan head. Aroma is big, huge, whiskey notes, oak, and black licorice. Flavor is sweet, and a little bitter, aggressive, whiskey and oak flavors, warm, hints of smoke and black licorice, a tad of tobacco to finish. Good body and feel. Overall, an increasable, perfectly put together stout.

May 18, 2021
Photo of Bruno74200
Bruno74200 from France

4.66/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown body with a small head
The smell is lovely with toffee, bourbon barrels with coconut, vanilla, some roasted notes, some nutty notes
The tastes follows
The mouthfeel is a tad thin but still enjoyable
A really good BA Imperial stout, a real sipper

May 17, 2021
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Bhubbard34 from Pennsylvania

4.91/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2020 Vintage, Drank 4/17/21

L - Motor oil, jet black

S - Sweet, brown sugar, syrup, whiskey

T - HUGE bourbon/char taste dominates, chocolate as well

F - Somewhat thick, barely any carbonation

O - One of, if not the most bourbon forward BA stouts I’ve had. Not overly sweet, enjoying this around the campfire and I couldn’t think of a more perfect beer for the occasion. Easily a top 100 beer

Apr 18, 2021
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mwilbur from Minnesota

4.48/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2021 vintage. Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter.
A: Pours a dark brown hue with a one inch tan head with good retention.
S: Molasses, dark bitter chocolate, leather, bourbon, wood char, and hints of spicy rye and vanilla.
T: Molasses, dark bitter chocolate, leather, wood char, whiskey, bourbon, vanilla, and a hint of fig.
M: Medium heavy body. Darkly sweet and bitter. Coating and slightly viscous feel. Lingers nicely on the palate.
D: Superbly crafted brew with excellent barrel aging characteristics.

Apr 11, 2021
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stosh66 from Pennsylvania

4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle in a snifter.
A: Super dark. No light shines through. Pours with thin 1/4 head that dissipates quickly.
S: Dried fruits(dates,plums,cherries), bourbon,
T: Dried fruits, bourbon, slight char at the finish? Not cloyingly sweet.
M: velvety smooth, light carbonation. not super heavy.
O: The rave reviews are deserved. Haven't been a fan of barrel aging in the past due to overly sweet & heavy experiences. This one is a home run.

Apr 04, 2021
Photo of simonrgilbert57
simonrgilbert57 from California

4.48/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'm not sure it lives up to the hype even though it's a great beer. It has nearly a solid black body with light brown foam (although it doesn't have much of head). Smell contains a lot of the bourbon/vanilla flavor one would expect. Taste delivers as well, with a nice cherry body in the middle. Very light carbonation and feels pretty light for what it is, which I'm not sure is exactly ideal. Overall I'd highly recommend for the flavor but I don't know if it merits the 100 it currently has.

Mar 22, 2021
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backblast from Alaska

4.91/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 vintage enjoyed on 12-31-2020

Wonderful smell, taste and mouthfeel. Super smooth and silky tasting the bourbon cask vanilla, nice coffee mixed with chocolate and what seems to be oats (there are no oats in it) send it over the top. Amazing.

2021 vintage enjoyed on 3-18-2021

Again, wonderful smell taste and mouthfeel. Heavy oak vanilla, loads of dark malt and dark fruit, pick up the booze along with dark chocolate, tobacco and a malty bitterness. As it cellars, it is only going to be more amazing! Will probably reach a 5 in an update.

Mar 20, 2021
Photo of Dillpickle315
Dillpickle315 from Colorado

4.81/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours black, smell is a lot of caramel but the balance of sweetness is phenomenal with the barrel. First time having parabola and I will definitely be getting more of them.

Mar 18, 2021
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UWDAWG from Washington

4.86/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2021 vintage:

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a tulip glass.

Look- Black, medium brown frothy head, average head retention and lacing.

Smell- Cocoa, bourbon, oak, coffee.

Taste- Bourbon, coffee, slight cherry, slightly sweet in the middle and finish.

Feel- Full body, smooth, average carbonation, mouth warming, mouth coating.

Overall- Delightful experience.

Mar 14, 2021
Photo of Awolter
Awolter from Minnesota

4.34/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black motor oil with a great nose of roasty chocolate and bourbon. The taste is quite similar. My bottle has been aged a bit, so it's got some oxidation. Great beer, pick one up if you see it.

Feb 16, 2021
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund from Norway

4.25/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

650 ml bottle, kindly shared by gunnar. ABV is 12.5%. Pitch black colour, moderate to low tan head. Intense roasty aroma, notes of dark bitter chocolate, tar, tobacco, leather and coffee. Same elements in the flavour, intensely tarry and rich, salty finish.

Jan 23, 2021
Photo of J_mo
J_mo from California

4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brown reddish color. Stains the glass a bit. Get charred oak and bourbon followed by cherry tartness and finishing with just a bit of coffee. Excellent beer. Very complex.

Jan 20, 2021
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highdesertdrinker from Arizona

4.65/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black with a little tan head and a healthy brown ring. Smells like bourbon, vanilla, a little coffee and chocolate. The flavor is smooth bourbon, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and the oats make it super silky. Everything blends very nicely as is the case with most FW barrel aged brews. One of the best stouts, no doubt, buy it it if you see it, cheers!

Dec 20, 2020
Photo of Anders91
Anders91 from California

4.69/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: black with brown edges. Basically no head

Smell: chocolate, malt bourbon

Taste: follows the nose, the bourbon opens up more and there is a nice depth to the malt

Feel: super smooth, nice gentle carbonation

I have kept the bottle a 2020 for about a year before drinking it.

Dec 05, 2020
Photo of bret27
bret27 from California

4.41/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 version thanks to steve k.
Roughly 3 yrs old.
L: very dark brown in the sunlight, suspended sediment, minimal dark brn head.
S: Chocolate, licorice, bourbon booziness.
T: chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, bourbon, oakiness. No oxidization.
F: fairly viscous and oily, not super thick.
Overall: solid. Interesting color, fairly boozy but no weird flavors.
(Different vintages vary differently. 2018 12 oz bottle. Darker and significantly better).

Oct 12, 2020
Photo of Wattie83
Wattie83 from Pennsylvania

4.58/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a teku glass. Pours dark deep brown/black. Khaki head falls off quick to a thin collar. Smell is coffee, cocoa, tobacco, oak, bourbon. Smell is deep and strong. Taste follows nose with vanilla, coffee, cocoa up front. Starts a bit bitter and roasty. The middle gets sweeter with the cocoa, some cream, and bourbon dominating. Finishes with tobacco and a bit of chocolate covered raisin. Feel is full, fairly carbonated, but with a soft creamy finish. Overall, this is a really nice beer. Good evening sipper. May try to get a few bottles more to age. It's deep, rich, flavorful, and highly enjoyable.

Oct 04, 2020
Photo of Mikemcgrath4
Mikemcgrath4 from North Carolina

4.75/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Parabola 2020. Enjoyed 7-28-20. Oak, plum, sweet tobacco and chocolate on the nose. Chocolate and plum and oak on palate with a caramelly finish that leaves a sticky film on the tongue. Smooths out even more as it warms up. I would imagine this beer would be a prime candidate for aging.

Jul 28, 2020
Photo of mmilyko
mmilyko from Nevada

4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 vintage in 2020....soooo good. Pour it into a snifter, swirl it to create some additional head, take a deep, deep nose, and you'll realize how nice this is before you even drink any. Continue at your own risk, it'l put a smile on your face....ENJOY!

Jul 24, 2020
Photo of MaxBrews
MaxBrews from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


It's hard for me to wax poetically about this beer: it's fantastic across all marks, but I paid $15 for a 12oz bottle of this! I know it's hard to put a price on a beer that's been this labored over but when you put a premium price tag on it, you expect it to be a life changing experience. While I wouldn't put it on that pedestal, it's a damn near perfect stout.

An incredible melange of dark roasted coffee, vanilla, boozy bourbon and spirit-like notes. It's really everything you'd want out of an imperial stout just a bit more blended and dialed in.

You get lost in enjoying it that you forget to take careful notes of what's it like. It doesn't drink as if it's as boozy as it is, not heavy or syrupy.

The TL:DR on this is that it's a pricey beer, but it's the most dialed version of an imperial stout you'll come acroos.

Jul 09, 2020
Photo of puck1225
puck1225 from Texas

4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had it from draft at a local World of Beer, served in a snifter. Rich dark brown color with than nice beige head and excellent lacing. Strong dark chocolate and coffee smell and taste. Boozy with warm bourbon feel. Wonderfully smooth, a real treat of a beer.

Jun 20, 2020
Photo of BourbonForBeer
BourbonForBeer from Illinois

3.1/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Not much to it, it's balanced and smooth, but other than that it's meh at best (imo) and not sure why there is such high ratings for it. I've had this a few times and never understood that. Idk I personally am okay if I don't have another one again tbh. (No head, no lacing, no foam) Just disappointing. It wasn't bad, just not better than good.

After living in California and living in Chicago. The beer scene and standard in Chicago destroys CA breweries I've learned and figured out generally speaking (other than west coast ipa's)

Jun 13, 2020
Photo of gooddaydiablo
gooddaydiablo from New Jersey

4.76/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2020 vintage, tasted on 2021.1.13:
everything remains as below, superb beer, cheers!

2019 vintage, tasted on 2021.1.8:
look: black, 98% dark, khaki head

smell: soy sauce, booze, bourbon

taste: wow! mushrooms, shrimps, umami! raisin, a little coffee bitterness, very complex, like a lot of things going on

feel: mellow, hide abv perfectly, yet it makes you warm from inside, balanced well, you get bitter from one sip, then sweet from another sip.

overall: this blows my mind, I had some aged beers before but this is really really good

Jun 06, 2020
Photo of just1cho
just1cho from California

4.69/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | 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.

Jun 02, 2020
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 7137 ratings