Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

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.

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Reviews: 1,351 | Ratings: 6,938
Photo of Yby1acb
5/5  rDev +8.5%

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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Photo of SHODriver
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 Edition

A: Poured into a Barrelworks Glass to a deep black topped by a finger of dense dark tan head that fades quickly to a collar around the edge of the glass with some lacing
S: Smells of oak, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, roasted malts, espresso, and some smoke
T: Taste is roasted malts and dark chocolate covered espresso beans with some oak, caramel and vanilla. Slight smoke and charred wood as well. The swallow brings more charred wood and smoke with lingering roasted malts, dark chocolate and coffee with some lingering caramel and vanilla
M: This beer is big and silky smooth on the palate with soft but adequate carbonation. The beer has a dry finish but that is to be expected.
O: Overall this beer is worthy of its reputation. It's big and beautiful with an amazing amount of flavor and complexity without overpowering the palate. Balanced yet still a heavy hitter. This is a beer that I always want to have on hand.

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Photo of BryanReed
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've been waiting to crack this sucker open for a few months. Couldn't wait any longer! 2015 vintage

Average aggressive pour yeilds about half an inch of tan head. Fades pretty quickly. Looks like its highly carbonated, tons of rising bubbles can be seen if held up to the light. Very very dark black in color.

Aromas. The best way I can describe the smell is chocolate covered bourbon soaked plums. Very very slight banana yeastyness. A little coffee, and maybe a bit of vanilla.

Taste: first sip..... The aroma misleads. I was expecting a bourbon bomb. Nice and smooth, almost "crushable", for the style, that is. Stone fruit, earthy barrel flavor, caramel dark chocolate truffles, with a bit of bourbon. As it warms in your mouth, the bourbon and barrel become more pronounced, finishing with a nice warmth/booziness. Mouthfeel is nice. Nowhere as near carbonated as it appeared.

If I had to describe this beer in one word: Smooth.

Overall, I haven't had too many BB stouts, but I can see why this is in the top 50 brews on this site. Super smooth, balanced, complex goodness, even for a " younger" 2015 vintage brew. Try it, 100%!!!

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Photo of bvdubn
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage 22oz bottle poured into a wide mouth wine glass at a bar.

The beer pours pitch black. Little head but honestly I wasn’t paying close attention because it was too cold so I set it off to the side to warm while I finished the 2010 Abyss I was drinking. When I get to the Parabola I take a deep whiff and smell chocolate, bourbon, and roasted malts. I am blown away by my first sip and it only gets better. The alcohol is hidden very well and I get chocolates and bourbon. The beer is sweet and delicious. This is definitely one of the best stouts I have ever had. I am going to pick up a few fresh bottles when it is released this year but I will not hesitate to age as a few years has done this beer well.

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Photo of SkiBum22
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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!

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Photo of RacerX5k
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Superb. Maybe the most complex beer I've ever had. Definitely top 2 (along with 2014 Alewerks Bourbon Barrel Porter). Funny thing is I've had this beer 3 times before (2012 - 2013 I think?) and didn't like it at all. Amazing.

Pour is beautiful highlighted crimson black. I'll just list the aromas and flavors from this beer. The most interesting was the black cherry halfway thru the bomber, the hint of mint towards the end, and what I'm going to call black hops (yea I just made that up). Hops drenched in black alcohol goodness. Tasty.

Bourbon, whiskey, chocolate, vanilla, oak, barrel. marshmallow, coconut, coffee, black cherry, black licorice, mint, alcohol and black hops. Yea I said all that.

The only (minor) imperfection was a tiny twinge of plastic, fake feeling aftertaste 2/3 of the way thru. But I will not dock the score, this beer was every bit as good as the best barrel aged beers I've had. Only drawback is I can only get one. Question, what would aging this beer do? It's already (obviously) been aged perfectly by the brewer.

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Photo of ActonBrewer
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Smuttynose Big Beer tulip

A: Beautiful brown two fingered head with a creamy black body. This is exactly how I want my stouts to look.

S: OH MY GOD. I can't stop smelling this beer. Chocolate, sweet tobacco, coffee and a slight smokiness. If they made air fresheners that could copy this, I'd buy them out. As the beer warms, the chocolate really comes out as the forward aroma.

T: As the beer warms, the taste gets better. Alcohol is very well hidden by the chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee flavors. As it warms the chocolate goes from sweet to bitter. I'm also getting some cherry that I assume is from the barrels.

M: Good body and carbonation considering the ABV. Nice and creamy.

O: This beer has ruined other Imperial Stouts for me. This is probably one of THE best stouts I've had. I can't wait to see how this beer develops over time.

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Photo of Admbmb92
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage poured into a dogfish snifter. First time with this, here we go!
App-poured aggressively. Half finger head. black as night with some brown on top of the sides. Legs sticking to the glass.
Ar-huge oaky barrel-aged notes. Oak, vanilla, bourbon, tobacco, dark fruit, and sweet alcohol.
T-Wow. Just wow. Everything the aroma promised and then some. Love the alcohol sweetness. Dangerously drinkable for being 14%. First get barrel flavors followed by amazing imperial stout kick. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee, dark fruit.
MF-velvety smooth and chewy.
Overall- pure barrel aged perfection. Nuff said

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Photo of Gambyt20
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow absolutely amazingly! Can't even nit pick much here. So complex yet so well balanced. Every flavor, tone, ingredient shines thru without overtaking another. So much depth in flavor as it sits. So smooth and velvet.

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Photo of Zonk
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just an amazing beer. Rich barrel flavors. I prefer this with at least 6 months of bottle age, as the heat and from the barrel flavors tend to not be so overpowering. This is the standard I judge other BBA RIS's by.

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Photo of Belchmaster
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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'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, 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.

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Photo of winningwes91
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is an absolute favorite. Pours out motor oil black. Smells like bourbon soaked macaroons and some oakiness. Taste follows suit. Yum. Chocolate dipped macaroon with bourbon and a nice bitterness from the barrel. Nice velvety mouthfeel. The best west coast ba stout.

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Photo of Demer
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage

A. Solid Black with a tan head that dissipates quickly, some spotty foam remains on the surface.

S. Chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon, vanilla, oak all brought together by a lingering sweetness.

T/M. Wow, amazing. A full bodied beer that gets into every taste bud. The alcohal is very well hidden for a 12.5% beer The first flavor you get it Bourbon and it is great. Followed by bitter chocolate, espresso, coffee and vanilla. Im getting a little of the tabacco taste on the finish I often get after smoking a great cigar. The oak is always there as well but never prominent. This one is world class.

O. This is a special beer. I am glad I have a few more to crack open in the next few months and years. It will always be for a special occasion because this is a beer that deserves it. This beer was not over hyped it deserves all the hype and praise it gets because wow it keeps getting better with every sip and blows away ones expectations. Buy/Trade or do whatever you need to do to get your hands on this one because you will be kicking yourself if you dont.

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Photo of sippinsudz74
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of Bedrocker
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage poured from a 22 oz into a snifter.

A: Black as used motor oil. Pours a small tan head that leaves excellent lacing.

S: First smell I detect is oak and bourbon. Coffee and chocolate are there too, along with a little bit of vanilla. Very sweet smelling, with a slight touch of toasted malt.

T: Incredible. Bourbon and oak start off like in the nose, and then a cascade of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, caramel, dark fruits, and malt. The balance of these flavors is what makes this beer so good. There's a little bit of bitterness in there from the roasted malt, and it pairs extremely well with the sweetness of the beer. The finish is also very sweet, with a chocolate and bourbon aftertaste that covers up a slight amount of booziness.

M: Thick and full-bodied. Not syrupy like some big stouts, but drinks like silk. Warms your throat up as well, which is to be expected from a 14% brew...

O: My favorite barrel-aged stout out there. This is my favorite yearly release from FW, and this year's release was excellent. When I'm drinking this, I savor every last drop. Every sweet, roasty, complex drop.

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Photo of Rristow
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Tasted from bottle. Pours black with dark brown head. Amazing aroma of chocolate, coffee, bourbon. Taste definitely does not disappoint. Flavors of chocolate, vanilla, dark fruits, spices, caramel, toffee, coffee. Syrup and clingy mouthfeel. Moderately sweet with mild to moderate bitterness. You do get a little alcohol burn from the high ABV. Overall an amazing imperial stout. Definitely one of the best I've ever had.

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Photo of Davidpgibbons
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours super thick black i mean black! Carmel color lacing wrapping the sides of the glass which diss very quickly.
Aroma strikes totally boozey but nicely with a sweet toffee smell.
Taste tingles the tongue and hits hard with bourbon. I get more toffee some vanilla and chocolate, mixing perfectly with the bourbon maltiness of the beer
aftertaste is quite nice linguring on my tongue for a while
overall an amazing ba russian imp, you can pretty much gurentee any of the firestone brews are gonna be solid!
Im looking forward to ageing this beast for a couple yrs and trying again, i can only imagine it will get better

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Photo of HopHunter19
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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, vanilla, toffee, caramel, toasted coconut, big roasted malts
T - Super smooth, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, smokiness, tobacco, leather, roasted malts, nice barrel flavors, caramel, coconut, burnt marshmallow
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. Have had on tap twice and out of the bottle twice and it never dissapoints.

2017 bottle:
A - pitch black beer with a mocha head that does dissipate as expected at 14.5% abv
S - huge roasty malts, dark chocolate, bourbon, coconut, vanilla, molasses, toffee, oak, smoke/char, umami umami umami
T - again big roasty malts, vanilla, cream, dark chocolate, molasses, toffee, oak, smoke/char, burnt marshmallow, so wholesome, the bourbon flavor in this beer is so well balanced with every other flavor
M - this beer is huge, it has a heavy mouthfeel, alcohol is covered, aftertaste is more dark chocolate, smoke/char, vanilla, toffee. It's excessively good.
O - amazing beer, still 5/5 in every aspect

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Photo of RocPorterFanatic
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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 whatthehull
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Pint glass

A - beautiful deep sludgy black, one finger between brown and tan head and some nice lacing

S - cinnamon, sugar, anise, very nice bourbon booze, very nice light but full flavor coffee, dark and milk chocolate, straw/ras/black berries, currents, caramel, molasses, tons of vanilla, cherry, earthy hops, huge sweet and roasted malts, nice must, tons of wood, earth and greens

T - dark and milk chocolate, huge earth, bourbon, tons of berries, vanilla, huge malts sweet and roasted, nice hop, one of the best coffee notes in any stout ever, cinnamon, cherry,

M - huge full body, awesome complexity, wonderful balance, low acidity and a very long delicious finish

D/O - one of the best drinking, best tasting, refreshing and awesome stouts ever. This is very impressive. I could and would drink this beast daily. If you like stouts and not this one, you are a fool. Get your hands on this beast, the warmer it gets, the better

Final thoughts - GET THIS BEER

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Photo of Rainier
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 Vintage on tap.
I would just say, this year's vintage is hands down so much better than last years. Last year's had too much coconuts, but this year's had the perfect amount. I really don't know what else to say as this is hands down the best RIS I have ever had. Not sure if huna, KBS, dark lord is going to be better.

Appearance: Hella dark but nice. Hella alcohol lacing. Hella everything(good thing) Nice head too.
Smell: This is the best part of the beer. Hella chocolate. Perfect amounts of coconut. Hella good bourbon smell. Hella great smelling beer
Taste: Heaven. All I can say
Moutfeel: Syrupy, but not too much. Had good amount of carbonation but not too much.
Overall: Holy crap this beer was effing delicious..

tl;dr - Hella good.

I had a sample snifter of this during a tour.

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Photo of bbkd3b
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of Chief09
5/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of kjlcm
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had done a quick review as a 4.75 but am updating to 5.0 across the board after careful reconsideration. I claim to be an IPA guy but this stuff is perfect. A nice thick strong stout that is overflowing with flavor. Cary strong but you would;t know because it tastes so good.

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Photo of dcmchew
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage.
Pours pitch black with a nice dark brown half finger head that lingers a while, just a thin lacing later on.
The smell tells you this will be incredible. There's great rich dark chocolate, smokey roasted malts, espresso, toffee, some dark fruit, some bourbon barrel (without any booze tho), faint tobacco, and much more.
Taste started with rich milky chocolate , salted toffee and dark fruit (plum, raisin, some fig). Huge tasty vanilla, lots of oak, nice bourbon, again, with a great flavour-enhancing abv that never gets boozy. Barrel notes intensify, roasted malts and some nice coffee start appearing, but the initial tastiness is never pushed away. Great complexity.
Perfect mouthfeel.
Had just a few quick notes, so i'm sure i didn't get to write down all about this beer, and i'm sure i wouldn't be able either way. There's a huge complexity here (incredible barrel-aging), incredible flavours, setting this one as the best beer i've ever had, without any doubts.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 6,938 ratings