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): 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

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Reviews: 1,194 | Ratings: 6,295
Photo of Spreetaper
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had the 2010 version (001 batch) from a cellared bomber from a store in the Socal area near to the brewery.
This was trully amazing - just the right amount of age and hit right on every point.
If I could rate it higher than 5 on all accounts I would!

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Photo of Rainier
5/5  rDev +10.1%
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 luisitoelmatador88
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ive had a fresh 2015 parabola last year and it was unbelievable. This was before I was even into stouts to be honest and nonetheless this absolutely blew my mind. Parabola may be the reason I started getting stouts, in particular bourbon barrel ages stouts.

I had 2012 Parabola a few weeks ago. This thing was probably better than 2015. After 4 or so years of aging this beer lost none of the complexity of a fresh parabola possesses. There was so much going on and it remained drinkable, not hot (alcohol-wise) and absolutely exquisite. This beer is world class for my preference and palate.

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

A: Silky black body, very thick. Nice one finger dark tan head with good lacing. This is what a stout should look like

S: Getting a lot of vanilla, bourbon and coffee in the nose. Very, very sweet smell with a bit of alcohol in there

T: Very roasty, a lot of complexity on this one. Getting a very dark, almost like baking chocolate flavor first, which transitions into sort of vanilla and coffee. Then the barrel flavor hits and I absolutely melted. I am picking up the bourbon, but not too strong and it accentuates the roasted malts to make a perfectly balanced imperial stout for the gods.

M: As noted in the body, silky. Liquid velvet. Nice and thick with little carbonation and a nice warm finish courtesy of the bourbon barrel

Overall there is not enough praise I can give this beer. This is a picture perfect RIS, and without a doubt the best one I have had to date. I would gladly buy it by the case if it was easier to obtain. My hunt for this most elusive beer was well worth it.

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Photo of BeerME_562
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best Stout I ever tasted... This beer should be put on a pedal stool.. soo amazing

A: dark espresso color, little to no head 14% can't blame it

S: lots of sweet chocolate, coffee, little alcohol, coconut

T: Amazingly well balance... Simple yet complex...beautiful sweetness of coconut carmel/toffee feel, great espresso, dark chocolate that linger through and slowly dissipate. little to no alcohol taste which is amazing for a 14%...

M: full and more of it... the taste and feel changes as it dissipate on your tongue ...

The best stout i've tasted by far. i have to say underrated compared to Founders/ bourbon county

yes fitting words

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

Received in a trade, along with Heady, Pliny, and Cellarman Batch 3 for a LOT of Pipeworks and some other Midwest beers.

Drank in a Pipeworks Tales from the Oak 10 oz snifter.

Appearance: If you believe the theory of The darker the stout, The better, than this would work for you. Worked for me.

Smell and taste: Perfectly balanced. So many different notes and flavors, yet nothing overpowered anything else.

Feel: sublime, warming, filling. Just about hit every taste bud it could find and some I didn't know I had.

Warmed up wonderfully, and was an excellent companion to two and a half hours of late night reading of Hunter S Thompson's biography, "Gonzo".

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

My favorite beer from my favorite brewery. This is the closest thing to perfection that I have ever tried. I can not understand how there are 28 beers that are rated higher than this on the top 100. I have tried several of the beers that are rated higher, and I just don't see it.

A- Black with copper head

S- Coffee, dark chocolate, cherries, roasted malts, vanilla

T- Oh my goodness. I was in love with the first taste. I actually got in my car quickly and went and bought the other two that were left at the store before I finished it. Coffee and bitter chocolate are the primary flavors- but not overpowering coffee. It is sweet too, with a lot of cherry and vanilla.

M- This is my favorite body. Flat, thick, stays in your mouth.

O- Like I said, a perfect beer. I always take value into account when doing overall, and even though I spent $14 on these, I think it is a great value for this beer

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

Of all the beers I've ever tried, this one might have officially taken the crown as my favorite beer.

Served on tap at 775 Gastropub.

Deep brown body, thick mocha head with solid retention for an imperial.

Rich aromas of coffee, cocoa, tobacco and more. One of those beers where you want to get a huge sniff in before a sip, and you want all the sips you can get. All of that fragrance translates into the flavor and it's as robust as any imperial stout you'll ever have.

It's clearly a strong beer, but the strength of the flavor works in tandem with the strength of the alcohol like cognac. Every sip is enjoyable, the alcohol is never overwhelming, but it makes its presence well known on the palate and in your body. Take it nice and slow. It's a perfect beer.

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Photo of ActonBrewer
5/5  rDev +10.1%
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 mjw1200
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is one of the best beers I have ever tasted. the perfectly right amount of booze enhances an impressively crafted stout. Outside of eclipse 20 yr Elijah Craig aged stout I can't think of anything better. Only slight slight draw back is I would have liked some more thickness

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Photo of whatthehull
5/5  rDev +10.1%
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 prtwin2a
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pitch black
S: Bourbon and espresso, chocolate, vanilla
T: Hands down, the best stout I've ever had. I literally babysat this beer for hours, because I did not want it to end.
M: Smoothest, most syrupy stout I've ever had.
D: Best stout, makes it my only A+!

Overall: A+

This stout, in my opinion, beat out Dark Lord, Hunahpu, and Black Note.

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Photo of Jeffreysan
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous, completely opaque, pitch-black color with a finger of caramel/chocolate-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin lacing of foam that completely covered the top of the beer.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic, with tons of rich, earthy, roasted malt, which imparted aromas of freshly toasted dark bread, boozy bourbon with lots of dark stone fruit, tobacco, hints of vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, oak, and dark molasses and tons of caramel. Smells inviting and delicious!

Taste: Wow! Just…wow! Holy shit, actually!! Absolutely delicious! Tons of roasted malt up front, followed by lots of boozy bourbon which imparts lots of dark stone fruit, tobacco, hints of oak, vanilla and lots of brown sugar-like sweetness. Awesome, spectacular, incredible, world class!

Mouthfeel: Chewy an extremely smooth as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 14.0%, there is a pleasant alcohol warmth on the palate, and a very, very long finish.

Overall: Wow, just…wow! Holy shit, actually!! I totally understand and see why this beer has such a world class reputation! Next to BCS, this is one of the best beers I’ve ever had! Absolutely world-class!

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Photo of Gerasimos
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz [2013 Series No. 004] served and savored in signature Lost Abbey Rastal Teku stemware

Appears - light-absorbing darkness; traces of tan, creamy head

Smells - lush; more than traces of licorice and cacao

Tastes - impeccably balanced sweetness and dark chocolate bitterness; amazingly complicated array of layers to dissect: licorice, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, coffee, oak cask wood and earth; lingering bourbon barrel finish with alcohol ephemera

Mouthfeels - silky, satiny smooth; coating but not heavy; approaching syrupy but with the ideal amount of carbonation to lighten

Overalls - adding my voice to the general consensus of this beer's epic awesomeness; a bomber is almost too much to enjoy alone, but I'll make the sacrifice; a beer that welcomes reflection after each sip; well worth the price even if you're outside the distribution zone

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Photo of MrPlayboy
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So, until tonight I didn't think anything could top Bourbon County but I had never drank of the Parabola's sweet elixir. This is right on par with Proprietor's and has almost as much coconut flavor and aroma though I'm not sure how that is possible since Parabola has no coconut added.

Vintage 2014, picked up today from Whole Foods Chicago

Appearance: Black as night with a tan head that dissipates quickly after pouring. Some moderate lacing on the glass.

Smell: Oh boy, this stuff smells so good. It is hard to describe all the different aromas but I am picking up bourbon, caramel, coconut, and a little vanilla.

Taste: Here is where Parabola asserts itself as a beer for the ages. Starts off boozy and sweet and then finishes with coconut and a bitter cocoa like 90% dark chocolate. There is a slight hop presence on the long finish that lingers and keeps you coming back for more.

Mouthfeel: A little thin for the style but it lends itself to being a very drinkable BA stout. Very light carbonation and slightly sticky.

Parabola goes from bourbon and brown sugar to coconut, cocoa, and then hops if you wait for it. This is complex and incredible. Gives any BA stout a run for its money.

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Photo of Robomunky
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2015 on tap at the Beer Junction in Seattle. I always remember this beer being excellent. Then it comes back around and knocks me on my ass all over again. World class BA stout.

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Photo of Dodgerrigo77
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Fantastic, different texture then Abyss or BCBS!
Awesome lots of body!!
Not as boozym, the Molasses in Abyss was nice.
On a tap @ Toronado all 3 awesome but Parabola takes the cske!!!

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Photo of RLVineh
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark Black but not motor oil. Nice mocha color in the head. Smells absolutely amazing, Dark chocolate, bourbon and coffee with a slight hint of caramel. Taste is fantastic bourbon and dark chocolate blend well with the vanilla and molasses. Thick body to this beer, absolutely amazing, cant wait to have this with some age

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Photo of RichD
4.99/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Been anticipating trying this beer for so long. Batch 004 poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a pitch, murky black. There was a small dark khaki colored head that eventual gave way to nothing.

S: Upon first smell, I get huge notes of coconut and vanilla with some wood character. Some oats and deep chocolate also fill my nostrils with glee. What a fantastic smell. Some dark fruits also come through, though muted.

T: Holy god! This is fantastic. Huge vanilla and coconut flavors start this out and chocolate comes through as well. The bourbon character is tremendous. It's not overpowering at all. Roasted coffee comes in for the finish, and what a finish it is.

M: An incredibly smooth brew this is. Medium mouthfeel

Overall: This is a treat for me to even have this considering how long I've been waiting to try this. The chocolate and coffee flavors mesh so well with the coconut and vanilla that come from the barrel aging. The 13% is virtually non existent so far. This is a well constructed beer and I'm definitely glad I got to enjoy this. This is one of the best beers I've ever had and Firestone Walker may have the best barrel aging programs in the world and this is a clear indication of it.

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Photo of UpToMeBeer
4.98/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2012. Aged the bottle a bit over one year. Drank it tonite. This is just so classic. Complex. Layers of revelations. The only beer that arguably surpasses it that I know of in this category is Goose Island's Bourbon County (which I think has the edge in terms of a viscous "motor-oil" quality). Clearly, Firestone is at the top of their game here, and this version is probably even better than the prior two years.... I think this version has a little extra sweetness that takes some edge off the bourbon.

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.98/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I had the honor of experiencing this brew on tap at the New England Tap House Grill in Hooksett NH on 5/28/14. This was one of those ultra-surprising unexpected finds on their(or anyone's) rotating beer list.

The beer was poured into a snifter glass and the first glance offered up one dark beauty of a beer. Mostly black with hints of brown on the edge when hit by the right lighting. No head to speak of just a slight mocha ring around the top and virtually no lacing as well. Smells of, well, bourbon. Some vanilla, aged oak, dark coffee, and some espresso also join in with the abundance of bourbon. Taste is great with the hints of the above mentioned with bourbon being the most pronounced flavor for me. Very well done mouthfeel that coats the palate and is very smooth. I found Parabola to be moderately sweet and extremely easy to drink, but a sipper with that high abv. I really enjoyed this aged stout tremendously and it was amazing to get a hold of this masterpiece . Highly recommended!

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Photo of justintcoons
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours an impenetrable pitch black with a thin brown head that dissipates quickly. A layer of film clings to the side of the glass along with sparse lacing.

N: Highly aromatic nose. Huge, sweet bourbon, very fine dark chocolate, sweet toffee, coconut, vanilla and hints of oak.

T: Oh my God! Rich, chalky dark chocolate, toffee, bourbon, creamy vanilla and coffee grounds upfront. This is followed by liquid dark chocolate, espresso, truffle and notes of cherry. Finishes with lingering vanilla, bourbon, oak, toffee, dark chocolate and a hint of coconut.

M: Medium-full bodied, chewy, soft, silky, creamy, sticky, warming and dry.

O: Absolutely phenomenal! Just the right amount of bourbon. Not too overpowering with fantastic vanilla and oak flavors. Complex, rich, thick and deep in flavor. Almost no alcohol presence. Makes an excellent desert beer. Save this one for a special occasion.

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Photo of bosco7
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep black with tan creamy head. Attractive. Very attractive.

Probably the best smelling Imperial Stout I have ever smelled. Abyss, Dark Lord, BCS whatever they're not as pretty smelling as this. Caramel, chocolate, coffee, anise, vanilla and so much more there. I cant think of enough words to describe.

Holy fuck. This is fantastic. Starts with licorice and chocolate and moves into the roasty flavors. Caramel and toffee really round this beer out. Finish is lightly boozy with plenty of vanilla. World class.

Mouthfeel is full and decadent. Man. This is a fantastic beer and I am frankly surprised how fantastic it is. I thought the pinacle of Imperial Stouts was reached with Darklord but this takes the style to a whole other level AND I found it at a liquor store across my hotel in Santa Barbara and didn't have to get a golden ticket or nothing. Game changer. Get it if you find it.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,295 ratings.
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