Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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ParabolaParabola
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,168
Ratings:
6,167
Avg:
4.54
pDev:
8.15%
 
 
Wants:
3,143
Gots:
3,595
For Trade:
273
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Reviews: 1,168 | Ratings: 6,167
Photo of steenkampa
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazingly balanced hefty stout, at a great price.

The first time I had this one, 2011, I walked into a BevMo to buy two beers for myself to drink during a house party...and got 2 bottles of this, thinking "meh, cheap burly Stout, that'll do great for the night" not knowing at all what I had.

Half way through the night, I'm completely trashed off both bottles wondering what this was and why it tasted so amazing, and when did Firestone get so good when I only remember the DBA being boring before!? This really turned me onto them, and I keep an eye out for any in the Reserve Series (Abacus/Sucaba is great, too).

Anyway. Now I always buy the max, and I have at least 2-3 of each vintage since then in my cellar.

Dark, rich, not much carbonation, chocolate and bourbon notes, lots of roasted malts...just about everything I want in a stout.

Can't wait for the 2014 release, so I can keep the cycle going.

 912 characters

Photo of SkiBum22
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Dark as night, absolutely viscous appearance. Very minimal head with strong lacing on the glass.

S - Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, coffee, oak. You can barely smell the alcohol.

T - Sweet roasted malts and chocolate up front. On the back coffee, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. You can barely taste the bourbon.

M - Very good smooth feel. A lot softer then I would have guessed. Just like velvet.

O - Wow, that was the first word that came to mind after the first sip. This beer is as close as excellence can get in my opinion. By far the best beer for me this year and definitely in my top 5 all-time. Thank god I have one more bottle aging!

 660 characters

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

Very dark ruby pour, with a tan head with good retention. Rich smell of bourbon, milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark cherries, roasted malts and vanilla. Very well balanced taste, with notes of bourbon that do not overwhelm, followed by dark cherries, milk chocolate, vanilla and cocoa. Silky smooth texture and a very well balanced taste, not too sweet, not too bitter and not too boozy.

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

This beer poured jet black with a thin brown head. the head faded fast, leaving no lave.

This beer smelled strongly of vanilla. I also got some oak aroma, mixed in with some bourbon. Sweet caramle and molasses were alos poesent. A slight chocolate note mixes in as well.

This beer tastes like it smells. Sweet caramel with a healthy dose of vanilla. Bourbon as well, but more subtle.

This beer very smooth. It leaves a vanilla like aftertaste. The alcohol is well hidden in the aroma and the flavor.

This beer might not make a good session beer because it is pretty high in alcohol.

Overall: I had this at Howie and Sons in Visalia. I have had it before, and I have always loved it. This is probably one of the best bourbon aged beers I have ever had.

 757 characters

Photo of hagbergl
5/5  rDev +10.1%

The owner of Brookland Pint, DC's newest beer bar, really pulled out all the stops for the draft list on its grand opening this week. It was packed with rarities, many from the West Coast, like 2013 Speedway Stout, FW Stickee Monkee and Parabjava, and even a keg of "G'Dale" from Oskar Blues Brewing ( a blend of Dale's Pale and G'Knight). Now, these all sounded fantastic, but when I saw they had 2013 Firestone Walker Parabola, I felt compelled by the higher forces of beer geekery to FINALLY have what many consider to be the finest barrel-aged stout in the land.

Appearance: Pitch black, thin light tan head of less than one finger. Nothing astonishing about the appearance, other than some serious alcohol legs.

Smell: Huge oak and bourbon, some dark fruit (figs) and vanilla. This aroma only intensifies as the beer warms, becoming more noticeably chocolatey--and alcoholic--than it was at first pour.

Taste: Just insane. Massive vanilla, bourbon, and dark chocolate, with the bourbon essence really shining. A light espresso bean roastiness is mixed in there with a truly gorgeous amount of subtlety. Flavors keep changing as I drink. Sloshing the beer around in the sides of my mouth produces a flavor that is much more overtly chocolatey. The alcohol is present in the flavor, but it adds some spicy-sweet complexity to the flavor profile. As with the nose, so with taste; as it warms up, this beer evolves nicely, gaining a more pronounced brown sugar-molasses type sweetness. After about 45 minutes, this beer is at its true peak. So sip it slowly!

Mouthfeel: Velvet smooth, thick and full bodied (thanks to the oats, no doubt). The alcohol warmth is mild and not accompanied by any burn.

 1,707 characters

Photo of spacecake9
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade and saved for Christmas.
A - Pours a brown black with very little head.
S - The aroma is first dark chocolate and then booze.
T - The flavor follows the nose. And this is without a doubt the best tasting dark chocolate in beer I have ever had. The alcohol comes in at the very end and finishes perfectly.
M - Not as thick and chewy as you might expect. Low carbonation.
O - My latest WOW beer. Perfectly balanced, perfectly done. Just outstanding. Wish I had more.

 485 characters

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

Oily, black pour with creamy, brown head. Aroma has dark malts, bourbon, caramel and butterscotch. Taste follows with the same notes, slightly sweet but not cloying. Big barrel notes with vanilla and toasted coconut. Heavy body with creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol is really well hidden. Had multiple vintages of this beer and all of them have been fantastic. This is probably the most consistently well made barrel aged imperial stout on the market.

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

A - Pours jet black into a tulip glass. Intense tan head leaving delicate lacing down the sides of the glass.

S - Aromas of toasted marshmallows, grilled fruit, molasses and coffee overwhelm the nose.

T - Very smooth. Alot of molasses and toffee in the first sip. Coffee and cream flavors follow, slight hop bitterness. Simply divine!! Vanilla and bourbon flavors follow with alcohol warmth.

M - Thick and viscous, but the carbonation breaks it up and keeps it interesting.

O - WOW!!! I've been itching to get my hands on a bottle of this for years. It was definitely worth the wait.

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Photo of Heatwave33
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look- Creamy black silk that is only found inside the deep crevices in California.

Smell- Dark chocolate aged in roasty bourbon barrels for her pleasure.

Taste- As if the whiskey barrel creamed in my mouth!

Feel- Creamy, smooth, refreshing and hoping for a call the next day.

Overall- The first time a met her we made love all night. I told myself not to jump straight into the sack with this and build respect for a well founded relationship. But I couldn't help myself. My animal magnetism took over and I did what felt right. I'm thankful she still answers the phone when I call.

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Photo of sjones5045
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This review should just say "Perfect" and that's it. But since the site has to have a certain number of characters I guess I'll keep writing.

The pour is jet black and unlike others in the class the head appears strong white and fades quick rather than having a thin to almost no head like others.

The smell is a simply sweet chocolate smell. Nothing too big but I like it cause it actually hides what is about to happen.

Ok, the taste is as perfect as they come. There is nothing better in the beer world hands down. And this comes from the biggest KBS fan and Founders fan there is. The taste is the definition of balanced. The bourbon is such great balance where is blends with the chocolate taste with literally no aftertaste. Smooth as smooth gets. It's a heavy feel but perfect for the style.

Overall, it's the perfect beer. It has everything you look for in a beer. Look, smell and taste are all superior to everything out there. The big complaint is this beer is extremely hard to get. I now have to wait another year to have this again.

 1,050 characters

Photo of bbkd3b
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After the Abacus, I immediately added this to my wish list for brews. Luckily, there were quite a few to be found in Columbia, though my frequented stores ran out rather rapidly. Still, I got a hold regardless, and let's see what this is all about:

The near-black body gives away this beer's nature immediately. A tan head swirls to life, but pulls away very slowly, leaving only a ring around the edges of the brew. I don't even need to lean in to get my first impressions - the smell hit me from a mile away. Regardless, the chocolate notes are unreal, along with a nice mixture of robust, roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, and just the slightest bitterness. Surreal, potent, powerful - these are what a beer should be.

Sipping it reveals the best this beer really is. First impressions are like drinking a mocha beverage. Clean, smooth, almost like a dessert in a glass! As the thick body warmed, it's harsher side slowly came to be. The bitterness started to attack the tongue, reminding you that this is a wholly American-style Imperial stout. Notes of coffee and vanilla formed at the front of the tongue. What amazes me is that there was absolutely no trace of alcohol to be found here. Astonishing brew.

Overall/notes - I didn't think it possible, but Firestone Walker topped Abacus on this one. It's like perfection bottled. I never thought I'd live to see the day I tasted what I feel is a perfect brew. This will forever be on my watch list. I just need to get some dark chocolate along for the ride next time I can find it. Seek this out and savor it. A true sipper.

 1,579 characters

Photo of Chief09
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the beer that started it all for my obsession with craft beers. Just thinking of this beer makes me want to pull one out of the fridge. I have a few that I have been ageing.

 183 characters

Photo of TWStandley
5/5  rDev +10.1%

2012 Vintage shared on Xmas eve.

Poured into my Urthel glass.

Appeared a midnight-black color with a one finger cappuccino head that left some nice lacing.

Smell was amazing. Espresso, vanilla and bitter chocolate. A bit of a port-wine character to it. Nice bourbon burn in the nose.

Taste was delicious and complex. First you are hit with some malty sweetness and vanilla. This gives way to the more bitter chocolate/coffee notes. The bourbon finish is nice - perfectly balanced with the flavors.

Beautiful mouth-feel - silky and smooth, thick but not syrupy. The alcohol played a nice part in warming your throat as you drank.

Overall this is ranking as my favorite beer to date. I am a huge BCBS fan but find this slightly better and more balanced. I love the barrel-aging on this, I think FW hit it perfect. Wow...love it.

 832 characters

Photo of BeerZombies1
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Parabola - Firestone Walker
Russian Imperial Stout
14% ABV

APPEARANCE: Pours a deep shadow black from a bright sunny day. Slight dark chocolate rim variation. With a pillowy, creamy mocha head.

AROMA: Ginger bread pudding topped with coconut ice cream drizzled with a bourbon caramel sauce. Hints of raisins, and heat from the high ABV.

TASTE: Sexy and seducing layers that evolve in your mouth. Chocolate, leather, tobacco amazingly balanced with raisins molasses and bright oaky flavors. So delicious, just letting it roll back and forth getting more and more flavors each second.

MOUTHFEEL: medium body with vivacious and enthusiastic carbonation that dances in your mouth. Some heat from the 14% ABV, that ends with a nice long finish that leaves the mouth coated in a oily sweetness.

OVERALL: Very easy drinking and amazing flavor profile. Up until now the bcs has been the top of my stout list, this may have just knocked it off!

RATING: 5/5 Zombie Heads!

 972 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - dark brown black with mocha head that fades quick (high ABV), looks like motor oil. 
S - bourbon, oak, smoke, dark chocolate, espresso
T - Super smooth, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, smokiness, roasted malts, nice barrel flavors, caramel, coconut. 
M - super thick, alc covered, aftertaste is coffee, bourbon, roasted malts, smoke, and oak barrel flavors. 
O - I've heard this is the best of all the batches so far. I can't argue with that. Probably THE best barrel aged imperial stout that I've had. Hands down amazing.

 530 characters

Photo of nigerianfury22
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing nose and body to this years vintage. Great chocolate and coffee right away, and the taste is just as rich. Pours pitch black with a great chocolate brown head. Great balance with the bourbon, not too hot but you get the great flavors of the barrel.

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

A - Oily pitch black pour, very viscous. Absolutely no light shining through this. Small tan head recedes into darkness, but that's totally expected for a 12.5% abv beverage such as this.

S - Wow! There are so many componentes to this aroma. I get cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, earthy hops, some leathery flavours, and big roasty character. This smells incredible!

T - I get the same components as in the aroma, but with some more sweetness. This is well balanced by bitterness from both the hops and the roasted malts. There are some definite vinous qualities here. This is a beautifully crafted work of art.

M - Huge mouthfeel on this beer. The creaminess of an oatmeal stout x10! What an amazingly rich beer. This is a beer in no need of pairing, it is a meal on it's own.

O - I'm sure this is the best imperial stout I've tasted, and it's very likely the best beer I've ever had. This blew my mind, I'm soooo glad I've got one more bomber. I'm going to give it a good old fashioned cellaring. I highly recommend this beer. If you see it, buy it! don't worry about the $14 price tag, it's totally worth it.

 1,120 characters

Photo of sippinsudz74
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Found this 2012 bottle at Best Buy liquors in Camarillo,Ca.
A- midnight, head fizzled quick leaving a thin light cream colored ring on edge of glass.
S- like figs and raison soaked in coffee. You can smell vanilla.
T- follows smell raisons, figs, roasted java, slight bitter cocao with toasted coconut at the end and some hops hanging around. No burn, so smooth.
M- silky not light but not too heavy. Leaves my lips sticky. Leaves you dry, maybe time to drink some h2o.
O- overall lucky I was able to snag this. Parabola is efin sweet. I cant believe it was still available. Still some left.

 593 characters

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

Delicious Delicious Delicious. Smells of Vanilla, Chocolate, and a little bit of coffee. One of the best smelling beers I've had. Viscosity is perfect. Not too syrupy. Definitely strong hints of Oak in the taste. Strong Coffee flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel. Simply F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. Had the 2016 vintage. Saving one of them to be aged for a couple of years. Can't wait to see how it tastes later.

 408 characters

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

This is one that I will generally buy several bottles of each year, and it never disappoints. Rich with dark fruit fudge like characteristics with just enough bitter to balance everything out. I actually prefer this fresh, rather than with some age on it.

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Photo of bnelson997
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The cliche that "words can't express" definitely comes to mind. That said, here are some puny words from me to express my views of this nectar of the gods. This bottle was a 2012 release poured into a Firestone Walker tulip.

A - Black as night. A vigorous pour which yielded a 2 finger tan head that dissipated quickly, as is to be expected.

S - Roasty, toasty malts which gave up dark and milk chocolate, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and espresso.

T - Wow! The rich coffee and espresso notes really shine in this vintage. The oaky vanilla/bourbon doesn't smack you in the face, it's released ever so sweetly and delicately from the front to the back of your mouth. There is even some slight dark fruit in the middle. The age has done this beer wonders and you just don't taste the 13% ABV. Definitely a sweetness, but one that is pleasant and rich, not cloying.

M - Ever so silky across the palate.

O - Hands down, this is my personal favorite beer of all time. So well balanced and should be the example for brewer's everywhere what a barrel aged Imperial Stout should be. It ages perfectly, but is oh so fantastic as a young beer (I had the 2013 on release weekend at the brewery on tap). I just have to say over and over how good this beer is!

 1,247 characters

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

2014 bomber in a bourbon taster glass. Just everything about this beer is perfect. From the way it looks/pours to the way it smells to the way it taste and finally to the way it finishes. Its truly an experience. You simply end up wanting more after each pour. Firestone BA program is top notch and the best example comes from its Parabola. There is really nothing bad I can say about this beer other than you need to be on top of the release schedule for it at all your craft beer spots.

 488 characters

Photo of crob3888
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: a deep, super dark brown, almost black. Brown head.
Smell and Taste: vanilla, oak, deep chocolate, roasted barley, caramel, toasted marshmallow, bourbon finish.
Feel: so smooth and chewy sticky. Coats the mouth.
Overall: I prefer this to Black Tuesday and BCBS and every other BBA stout I've had. Perfect balance, unending complexity. Thank you firestone.

 364 characters

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

All I Can Say is God Serves This In Heaven!!!
Get a bottle of this. Find one, somewhere, anywhere, pay big bucks for it if you have to - or better yet, get a buddy to get one and share it with your buddy...but you need to have one of these!
The complexity is out of this world.
Chill it. Pour it cold, try it cold and sip it as it warms a bit and enjoy the taste as it warms and changes. Oh boy are you in for a treat!...all the way to the last drop...you'll be licking the bottle.
I love dark beers - this is dark - and even if you like blonde beers you will love this.
This and Barrel Aged Speedway Stout (Ale Smith) are the best beers in the world. All other beers are not even close. You can take that to the bank.
I do not want to describe the pour, the aroma, the mouth feel, the taste, aftertaste, etc...as this one needs to be experienced without giving you any indication of anything about it so you get the ultimate experience of WOW, Holy Christ, thank you God, that you will experience.

 999 characters

Photo of Yby1acb
5/5  rDev +10.1%

Firestone comes through once again.
Blacker than the inside of a dead mans coffin on a moonless night.
Scent of chocolate, bourbon and coffee.
Great, complex flavor, a little boozie but that dessipates and comes back oakie and charred.
I think I'll ration out the case over a year and see how it evolves.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,167 ratings.
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