Parabola
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

ParabolaParabola
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From:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
 
California, United States
Style:
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #4
ABV:
13%
Score:
100
Ranked #49
Avg:
4.61 | pDev: 7.59%
Ratings:
7,174
Status:
Active
Rated:
May 01, 2022
Added:
Mar 26, 2008
Wants:
  3,181
Gots:
  3,827
SCORE
100
World-Class
ParabolaParabola
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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Ratings by Bubba83:
Photo of Bubba83
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4
by Bubba83 from California

Review #100!

Poured at 50 degrees into a snifter. Boy, I am really excited they decided to bottle this beer as I have had it on tap and loved it two other times.

Pours slick and oily into my glass. I used a pretty quick pour without a glass tilt to achieve a two finger widths dark tan head. The body is an impenetrable midnight black with not even a smidge of redness near the edges. The head looks creamy and inviting, comprised of small bubbles. Unfortunately, the only thing holding this back is that the head mellows out rather quickly, and leaves a thin ring around the glass which achieves some slight lacing.

The aroma of this beer is very complex, and reminds me a lot of FW12. There's a huge tobacco component that hits hard initially, accentuated by a good bit of vanilla, followed by chocolate, and slight roast. The hops are here too, which is something I don't recall in the tap version. Perhaps this had to do with the new more potent hop bill employed for the bottle release version. The hop character is kind of a zingy spicyness, likely from the Hallertau hops used late in the boil.

A good bit of sweet vanilla sits up front on my tongue and plays with chocolate, much akin to vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. As I begin to move the beer around my palate I get a whirlwind of other flavors, cutting through the sweetness. Some of the flavors in this whirlwind include deep french roast coffee, tobacco leaf, slight citrus zing, and cherry liqueur chocolates. Fantastic, fantastic stuff. No off flavors or anything unwanted here.

The best way to describe the mouthfeel is velvety. It's quite thick and has a nice chewyness. I couldn't find any flaws here at all.

Drinkability is hindered a bit at the present time due to a considerable amount of warming on the swallow, but overall it's just a fantastic beer to consume over the period of an entire evening as I am doing now. Who wants to share a beer this good, anyway? With that said, the alcohol heat doesn't detract from the flavor one bit. I'm guessing the alcohol heat will mellow with some more time, but I'm curious to see if that will hurt the taste, since it might start missing some of the alcoholic cherry flavor that I love so dearly.

Jun 01, 2010
More User Ratings:
 
4.65 by Sinister from New York on May 01, 2022
 
3.56 by Affinity from Missouri on May 01, 2022
Photo of Olesjm
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by Olesjm from Kansas

A: Inky black
S: brown sugar, coffee, chocolate, oomami (soy sauce?)
T: brown sugar, coffee, chocolate
M: thick
O: well it's not a Bourbon County but it's still pretty good.

Apr 22, 2022
 
5 by akopczyk from Ohio on Apr 20, 2022
Photo of tradershmulie
4.68/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5
by tradershmulie from Connecticut

Picked up a few a while back - opened the first on a special occasion.

L - Nice pour, head not so thick, but hung around long enough to look nice and chewy.

S - Nothing noticeable.

T - Exquisite. Truly delicious. Deep, some sweetness, and excellent complexity of flavors. As compared to many other RIS, no bitterness at all, and not too sweet. Really great. ABV extremely well hidden.

F - As expected, smooth and easy to drink.

O - Definitely a world class beer.

Apr 06, 2022
Photo of Rug
4.41/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Rug from Massachusetts

Growler filled at Half Time in Mamaroneck on 3/26/22, 2022 vintage

Hooooooo boyyyyy. Parabola. Finally. We don’t see much FW here in Mass, but thankfully a trip to Philly found me at Half Time on the way back, where I ended up with this gem, as well as Perennial Abraxas! I’m so hyped to try this so let’s just get into it

Pours a very dark brown with a finger of creamy tan head that fades to a ring and leaves minimal lacing

This beer relies heavily on the bourbon barrels in the nose, with most of the complexity coming from them. I’m picking up on aromas of spicy whiskey, toasted oak, sweet vanilla, dark cherry, toffee, smoky tobacco, plum, milk chocolate, and toasted coconut

It is a bit less complex in taste, but I still think it’s just as good. On the front end of the sip I’m tasting dark cherry, dark chocolate, toasted oak, brown sugar, and sweet bourbon. The swallow brings notes of spicy whiskey, plum, toasted oak, coconut, roasty coffee, tobacco, and toffee

A medium full body pairs with gentle tingling carbonation, resulting in a thick and oily beer. Finishes mostly dry with a decent heat

This wasn’t mind blowing by any means, but it is pretty great. I grabbed a bottle from Half Time as well to cellar. Let’s see how this is holding up in 2 years

Mar 27, 2022
 
4.15 by BombayDingleMonkey from Pennsylvania on Mar 27, 2022
 
4.93 by joran from Kansas on Mar 26, 2022
Photo of HeightPower
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by HeightPower

* Note: I am a beginner and this is the first beer I've loved.

Rating the 2015 bottle I just had.

L: Almost black and pretty opague. Not too foamy.
S: Chocolate, cherries, and coffee or maybe espresso
T: My best way to describe this is that it tastes like someone poured bourbon or whiskey into a glass of red wine and mixed it with a chocolate bar-- but somehow some cherries fell in. Very strong,
F: Smooth and thick like I like my women.
O: This is so boozy and sweet without actually being too sweet like wine could be. Not sure how else to describe it. I took big sips but didn't rush it. I was so happy

Mar 21, 2022
Photo of jackflaps
4.47/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by jackflaps from Pennsylvania

Poured the 2015 edition and it's now 2022, so I'll try and round these scores up where it makes sense since I think this is past its peak.

L: Very dark brown (won't call it black), tiny head that recedes quickly and with little lacing.
S: Raisins, roasty, some barrel.
T: All sorts of things happening. When colder it matches the nose; as it warms you get rich dark chocolate, a little vanilla, and some booziness as well.
F: Thick, smooth, dessert-like.
O: Definitely should have opened this a couple years earlier but it's still one of the greats.

Feb 21, 2022
 
4.79 by infuturity from Massachusetts on Feb 14, 2022
Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.42/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by ZebulonXZogg from Illinois

L: Looks almost black, small, quickly receding kh!ki head, no lacing.
S: Snot locker gets some chocolate, dark fruit, fig or date maybe a bit of coffee and some leather. Kinky.
T: This is tasty, all of the aforementioned odors, some licorice, char and cherry.
F: Smooth, creamy, not much carbonation at all.
O: This is damn tasty and it certainly takes the chill oughta' these old bones.

Feb 10, 2022
 
4.44 by gkrishnan704 from Connecticut on Jan 29, 2022
 
4.5 by not2quick from Missouri on Jan 19, 2022
Photo of Beginner2
4.37/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by Beginner2 from Illinois

It is difficult for me to get as hyperbolic as the average ratings for Parabola. But that's OK; I'm an old man and a high ABV (13.6 on the 2020 vintage) no longer impresses me. But, this is a wonderfully smooth RIS and it was enjoyed after-dinner along with two friends. Another year cellared will take care of two rough edges: lingering hops; and a fuller melding of the dark fruit and chocolate, like the dessert that Parabola should supplant.

I am an enthusiast for FW and particularly how its owner (Duvel) is smart enough to let FW do its thing. But that is another story littered throughout enough of my reviews of the 7 other brewers Duvel owns; all I like to varying degrees.

Jan 16, 2022
Photo of NickSMpls
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by NickSMpls from Washington

2019 vintage. Wonderful aroma of figs, coffee and anise. First sip is intense flavors of bourbon, followed with strong dark chocolate, licorice, and stone fruit. Long lingering finish, you do get a bit of alcohol hotness, but that comes with the territory. A truly world-class beer.

Jan 01, 2022
Photo of bluejacket74
4.6/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by bluejacket74 from Ohio

12 ounce bottle, 2021 vintage. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch tan head that stuck around a while. There's also a good amount of lacing. I like the aroma a lot, the brew smells like bourbon, vanilla, roasted malt, dark fruit/cherry, toffee, chocolate and earthiness. I think the taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of some oak, caramel, wheat, licorice, burnt/charred malt and rye. There's a lot going on here! Mouthfeel/body is full, it's slick, creamy and easy to drink with a moderate amount of carbonation. I thought this was a really good overall brew. Wish I would have bought more of this when I was able to, will definitely buy more the next time I can!

Dec 30, 2021
 
4.75 by AshBlackstone from Florida on Dec 17, 2021
 
4.81 by shagal from Canada (AB) on Nov 11, 2021
 
4.64 by Kam from North Dakota on Nov 07, 2021
 
4.6 by Quarantinehobby from Massachusetts on Oct 20, 2021
 
4.75 by Resistance88 from California on Sep 27, 2021
Photo of flagmantho
4.59/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by flagmantho from Washington

Poured from 12oz bottle into a tulip. This is the 2021 version, aged in bourbon, rye, and wheated whiskey barrels. It's hard to imagine I've gotten this far in my beer-drinking life and have never yet tasted any Parabola.

Appearance: entirely black with a finger and a half of thick, creamy dark-tan foam atop. Beers like this really have a head-start on looking good, don't they?

Smell: wood, malt, whiskey; maybe a little chocolate thrown in for good measure. There're notes of dark fruit as well, which you know I always love.

Taste: rich, that's for damn sure. There's dark cherry and raisin and date and prune, of course, but also just a bit of oak and whiskey that add an extra dimension to the fruit and sweetness and booze. Very, very good indeed. Really, very wonderful.

Mouthfeel: thick body with a good carbonation and plenty of smooth, rich creaminess.

Overall: you never know what you're walking into when it comes to a beer that has a big reputation, whether it's an oldie or something super hyped. This beer is just downright excellent.

Sep 16, 2021
Photo of ZenAgnostic
4.93/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by ZenAgnostic from Texas

12oz bottle poured into Duvel tulip. Picked up from liquor store for around $10-12. 2020 vintage No.11 printed on front label.

Appearance - Black opaque body with a small, brown, creamy one-finger head with decent to low retention, good lacing and stick. Head easily regenerates with a swirl. 4.75

Smell - Dark fruit. Plums. Very vinous, rounded out with some chocolate and roasted coffee character. 4.75

Taste - Absolutely incredible. Flawless. Balanced. Bold up strong dark characters upfront but mellows out into a slow, rich, robust journey to a perfect aftertaste. 5

Mouthfeel - Smooth, creamy. Warming. 5

Overall - No off characters whatsoever. 5

Sep 11, 2021
Photo of oldmankoch
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by oldmankoch from Tennessee

One of the very best non adjunct BA Stouts

Sep 09, 2021
Photo of blazerkor
4.96/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
by blazerkor from Nevada

There is depth to this that's pretty incredible.  I can smell licorice, bittersweet chocolate and musty whiskey barrel.

The taste is sweet with chocolate, cherry, wood and liquor.

It has a medium mouthfeel with a small amount of bubbly carbonation.  The finish starts complex with the licorice, chocolate and cherry, then fades to a long dry bittersweetness.

Wow, what a beer.  It's the most complex stout I've had but the flavors are never muddled; always clear.  I give it a 5.9 out of 6.

Sep 05, 2021
 
4.5 by timmy2b from New York on Sep 05, 2021
Photo of mikeg67
4.51/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75
by mikeg67 from New Jersey

On tap at the brewery. Pours black with beige head. Body is full and smooth. Taste is of toasted malt, sherry, dark fruit, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, coffee, alcohol, herbal hops. Long almost dry finish. Delicious brew.

Aug 25, 2021
 
5 by kblomseth from California on Aug 19, 2021
 
4.31 by wolverine0712 from Missouri on Aug 18, 2021
Photo of MikeWard
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by MikeWard from Pennsylvania

12oz bottle into an odd shaped glass. 2021 release.

Looks outstanding in the glass. Jet black body with an initial generous tan head. This shrinks to a faint ring, leaving scattered lacing.

Aroma of smooth boozy barrel aging with a little chocolate.

On tasting, this beer is triple aged in barrels. Normally the booze element would be overpowering, especially in a recent release.
But here, it is handled superbly. Mellow, smooth dark alcohol, with a hint of chocolate here and there. Dried dark fruit weaves in and out.

Mouth close to full, finish warm sweet booziness.

Overall, just an outstanding beer. Rolls around the tongue beautifully. A must grab every time it shows up.

Aug 09, 2021
 
4.56 by WormGod from New York on Aug 02, 2021
 
4.5 by Casey_L from Texas on Aug 02, 2021
Photo of BucBasil
4.64/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by BucBasil from Rwanda

This is the 2021 vintage.

The presentation on this beer is top notch: a boxed 12oz bottle that feels super classy to open and creates anticipation as you read all the info written throughout. The label also provides some information such as how many cases were bottled, the degree of color, IBU, etc. This is a level of detail that I have not seen anywhere else, and really adds to the experience. The beer itself is a pure black color with a dark tan head that is not just frothy, but almost solid, and sticks around for a long time.

Chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, leather, anise, some smoke, a hint of dark fruit like plum, some spice, hint of vanilla, and then the bourbon - not overpowering but just enough to assert its quality. Wood rounds this one out. Nothing overpowering, everything in its right place.

Starts off with a bit of hoppiness actually, then covered quickly with roasted malt and coffee. Cherry and some other stone fruit. A hint of woodiness, spice, rum. Something sweet like coconut. Finishes with hints of leather and then a final boozy bourbon kick right at the end to remind you of the source of this treat.

There is a lot going on here, but it all somehow comes together. I'd love to see some age on this, but this was a fun drink for sure. A really complex one, and I'm sure I haven't covered all that this beer has to offer. I will try to pick it up again next time!

Jul 18, 2021
 
4.53 by fountainofyouth from District of Columbia on Jul 05, 2021
 
4.65 by tmryan21 from Illinois on Jun 28, 2021
 
4.5 by Rkitchen from Michigan on Jun 19, 2021
 
3.46 by CarpeDiem33 from Minnesota on Jun 16, 2021
Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 7174 ratings