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 Buļ¬€alo Trace.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

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Reviews: 1,217 | Ratings: 6,361
Photo of Bloodbuzz99
4.55/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Delicious buttery goodness- it's how most of these top BA stouts separate themselves from the crowd. Tried right after a KBS 2017 and it was twice the beer. The finish is the key: a smooth buttery finish- well done FW!

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Photo of hopflyer
4.62/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 Vintage. Been wanting this for a long time. 14.5% for this year's version. Brewed, barrel aged, and bottled in collar. With Boulevard in KC, MO.

Color is lighter than I expected during the pour. Light cola colored, light tan one finger head dissipates quickly. Nearly opaque in the glass.

Deep roast malts and prominent charred wood initial smell. Vanilla and chocolate as well, faint coffee. Little in way of fruits but I'd rather my stouts carry what I'm picking up now than the fruit.

Taste carries with deep charred wood and hefty on the vanilla flavors. Some chocolate but I think the barrel wood and vanilla dominate, but the subtle whisky booze carries nicely thru. More booziness as it warms some along with roasted coffee bitterness. Fairly complex flavor profile.

Feel is a full medium body, but wouldn't say it's "thick" and lower side of medium carbonation. Was thinking it be a bit more slick and viscous and less carbonated. A touch of alcohol burn but Doesn't detract from anything.

Glad to finally give this one a try. It's a bit lighter than I expected for such a big beer but array of flavors more than make up for that. Got 3 more and looking forward to trying a few with some time on them.

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Photo of jcoleMA66
4.76/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This was the 2017 vintage and my first ever Parabola. Looks like dark fudge in a glass and sticks to the glass with some serious alcohol legs. Smell is dark fruit, chocolate and barrel character. Taste follows nose with addition of vanilla and bourbon from the barrels and the flavor really evolves as it warms. Mouthfeel is thick and sludgy. Great beer that I'm glad I finally got to try. I managed to get a second bottle which I'm going to cellar for a year or two. Can't wait to see how it changes.

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Photo of Strohm
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 Vintage
Smell = Chocolate. Vanilla fudge. Bourbon. Not much alcohol
Taste = vanilla. Coffee. Fudge. Not much alcohol when poured cold but more when it warms up.
Feel = thick. Low carbonation but almost feels like a nitro
Overall = this is really good. Wow. I'm not the biggest BA fan but this is light on the alcohol and sweet bourbon flavor which are my main gripes with BA

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Parabola (2015 Vintage) Aged for two years.

The beer pours a nice creamy tan head that dissipates fairly quickly while leaving a nice ring around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is a nice dark chocolate black with a nice, shiny, and slick looking surface. It definitely looks like it drinks smoothly.

The smell is pretty good. The taste is better than the smell but it isn't without its charm. The smell seems to have a stronger coffee note mixed in the bourbon along with a decent char note and some nice fire from the alcohol.

The taste is fantastic. It has a nice blend of barrel aged beers whose notes mix fantastically with the beer notes. The stronger notes tend to come from the barrel notes but only barely. The beer notes tend to fall more towards the sweet dark chocolate notes and a very light roasted malt note and hop bitterness in the finish. The barrel notes are sweet with a good bourbon in the finish. The charred oak is definitely there but it's hard to identify it. There is also a good vanilla note that makes itself known by peeking through the chocolate.

The feel is pretty good. It's a heavy bodied beer that is extremely drinkable and dangerously so. The feel is extremely smooth with a slight thinness from the barrel aging to it. The carbonation is extremely light and tingly enough to give it a good texture to remind you that it's a beer. There is a slight alcohol burn to it in the finish and the smell.

Overall, this a pretty good beer and it seems to have aged extremely well. The aroma and taste are absolutely fantastic and create a great experience. If you manage to run across this, grab since it seems to have aged fairly well but seems like it could use an extra year or two.

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Photo of PlinyMeNow
4.1/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle into a wine glass, 2017 vintage. Paired with 70% dark chocolate (Chocolove Strong Dark), which I recommend doing!
Pours an extremely dark opaque brown, not quite black, with a thin but even brown head without a lot of bubbles rising from the bottom. I highly recommend drinking this after it has warmed and breathed a bit.
Smell is of milk chocolate, roasted coffee, toasted caramelizad malts, bourbon. Taste follows the nose with the addition of some bitterness and unfortunately is dominated by ethanol as well, a bit strong for me... but again, wait and let it warm and breathe and it doesn't diminish, but seems to make more sense. Mouthfeel is slick and mouth coating, somewhat resinous, and aftertaste is a bit bitter with some burnt character as well as some alcohol burn. Overall very well done but not necessarily up to the hype.

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Photo of dream
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 bottle. This year's is better than 2016 imo. The differences in my opinion are more of a cherry note this year, and the mouthfeel is thicker. There is also a pleasant lingering nutty note in the aftertaste similar to bravo. Also, not too hot for 14.5%, and a bit browner than I remember in the appearance. Getting phantom stickee monkee notes too. good stuff

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Photo of scotorum
4.6/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5


Finally get to try this classic which if I recall correctly was once in the BA top ten but I was never able to find before. At $11/12oz., even more expensive than BCBS. The premium bourbon barrels it is aged in and the length of aging are perhaps part of the reason for that.

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English tulip.

a: Opaque black with a hint of clear ruby at the very bottom. Two inch thick tan head receded slowly to dense lacing over even surface foam.

s: Dark roasty malt, chocolate and whiskey

t; Follows the nose with more emphasis on the chocolate and whiskey, which leaves a burning throat from the very high ABV. Sweetish finish. Later, barleywine fruitiness takes over from the initial chocolate notes.

m; Full, great body and moderate carbonation tingle.

o; Outstanding as expected, smoother overall than BCBS, if perhaps a bit lighter. Will still be buying Backwoods Bastard, Central Waters BBA Scotch Ale, Weyerbacher Insanity and New Holland Dragon's Milk for barrel aged darkness, but this may very well top the list, albeit the least accessible and affordable among them and also tasting at times less like an RIS and more like a barleywine.

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Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.64/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black color with a two finger head. Aroma- a little bit of a Cherry and Bourbon. Soy sauce, chocolate, vanilla. Taste- more cherry and Bourbon. Dark chocolate and coffe in the back end. Mouthfeel- semi thick and coating. Overall- this is 2015. And I've pretty much only though... not as good as Bourbon county. Still good though.

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Photo of Bum4ever
4.07/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: dark brown with a small amount of light tan head.
S: oak first with some bourbon followed by smoke and something sweet I can't place.
T: charred oak and cherries then light bourbon taste. I personally love bourbon and this seems too light on the heat for me.
F: medium bodied and smooth. Could be thicker but still solid.
O: really good BA stout. At $10 for the 12oz I would prefer Bomb but this is still good.

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Photo of NicholasL
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2017 Review
L: Barely any head when poured. Dark brown in color, reminds me of coca-cola in color and consistency (with less carbonation).
S: Initial smell is booze followed by char and sweet cherry.
T: Boozy, Roasty, Cherry, and Char.
F: Thinner than I would like, little to no fizz creates a smoothness, light to medium bodied.
O: Good, but not as good as I remember last year. Is it because it was brewed in Kansas City by Boulevard Brewing this year? I'm hoping time will mellow it out.

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Photo of Korbynlehr
4.83/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

WOW, just tried a 5 year aged bottle. This beer is legit! It pours dark as can be. The nose is strong of bourbon and molasses. There was no head whatsoever, and very little carbonation. First taste is smooth and full of flavor. Deep, but not bitter, essences of molasses. Not much of a aftertaste, which surprises me. Great beer. Wish I had a case to age.

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Photo of andrewh995
4.48/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown with the smallest brown head that lasts only seconds. Plenty of bourbon, chocolate, coffee, dark sweet fruits. Alcohol is mostly hidden but there is a bit. But for a 14% I'm very impressed for how well it's hidden. The body is a little thinner than I'd like but not bad. Low carbonation. This is a dipper, and man it's good.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.9/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Picked up from Total Wine, Woodland Hills CA. Poured into a snifter. 2017 vintage: 69.0 IBU, 14.5% ABV, 12oz bottle.

Look: Pours jet black, small dark tan head of foam, quickly dissipating. Very little, quickly dissolving lace.
Smell: Strong coffee notes initially greet your nose, followed by a pleasant bitter booziness. Balanced by a deep cherry and plum fruitiness and an very apparent charred oak profile that I initially missed. Amazing finish.
Taste: Chocolate, bourbon, and coffee all perfectly balance in an incredible symphony of dark, roasty and subtley sweet flavors. Again that subtle fruitiness like dried cherries or raisins, with a lingering hop bitterness.
Feel: Incredibly smooth for its 14.5% ABV. Sticky, very low carbonation that gives a nice sting to the tip of your tongue as you gather the flavors on your palate. Heavy bodied but I've never had a stout that balanced it so well with a such a level of seltzery carbonation that you barely notice. Amazing.

Shit, there's no way around this one. Imperial stouts like Speedway and Old Rasputin deserve their place, but there is a reason that this beer is considered one of the best in the world. Having just recently hit shelves with this 2017 vintage, do not miss your chance to get a hold of this incredible imperial stout. $9.99 a bottle.

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Photo of Kdouble
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A 12 oz bottle (2017) poured into a snifter.

Look- A dark brown almost black color. A thin tan head with little lacing sticking around the glass. It looked rather thin for a stout but...

Smell- Fantastic dark chocolate, vanilla, dried fruit and light alcohol. The smell seemed to be more sweet chocolate around the halfway point of the glass. Such a unique blend

Taste- The chocolate and dried fruits mixed with an alcohol kicker. The thin look was very deceptive. A thick sweet chocolate taste with more oak than the smell led me to believe. Never would have guessed a 14%+ ABV stout could be so sweet.

Mouthfeel- Sticky and thick sweetness from the first drink to the last. Reminds me of chocolate covered raisins. A little dryness toward the end.

Overall- A phenomenal high ABV stout with little alcohol taste. If you like a sweet fruity stout this is probably the best. I would love to a bottle to age for a year or so.

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Photo of Egotist
3.57/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2017 poured into a snifter.

L: A little lighter than I remember from previous vintages. Pours out thinner than I remember too.

S: Cold out of the bottle strong boozy notes then as it warmed chocolate, oak, and light vanilla appeared.

T: Hot from the alcohol. Oak and dark fruits. Light chocolate flavors as it warms.

F: This is where the big disappointment comes from. Thin and watery, nothing like any previous years I've had. We even opened a '15 next to it to confirm.

O: Since it was so easy to find I will give it another shot next year. If it fails to impress then there's no reason to bother since the the market has become so competitive and other options are so readily available.

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Photo of rypkr
4.71/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 2017 poured into a snifter

L - (4) dark murky brown coming out of the bottle. Dark cola black in the glass. The head is a light khaki and creamy looking. Only rated 4 on look because it looks terribly thin for a 14.5%. I prefer my big stouts syrupy thick. Lacing is extremely sticky from the high alcohol.

S - (4.75) nice. Dark fruits. Plums, grapes, and alcohol soaked raisens. Loads of vanilla. Excellent bourbon presence on the nose. Oak, leather, vanilla ice cream, molasses are all triggered in my nose. Love this.

T/M - (4.75)/(4.74) wow was I wrong. This is thick and chewy as can be. Decadently creamy and reminiscent of bcbs on the feel. It tastes of the nose with a little extra char of smoldering oak. Heavy on the fruit flavors. Very, very sweet. Spicy alcohol burn.

O - (4.75) this is stellar. I literally just made a thread on the forums looking for dark fruit forward big stouts and this is exactly what I was after. This is every bit worth its high regarded rating. I would LOVE to do a side by side with bcbs.

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Photo of Sabtos
4.06/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a tan, bubbly blanket.

Smell is rich, as in money! Maple, vanilla, coconut, fine bourbon, oak, Tootsie Roll, nougat, and amaretto. Some heat tickles the nostrils.

Taste changes it up, starting with raisin, molasses, charred oak, and bourbon. After a short while, it starts developing into warm Kahlua, or even a hot toddy. Further along, I then get cocoa, and hints of raspberry, amaretto, and spicy cologne.

Medium body with a thin froth, finishing a little sticky and semi-dry. Definitely warm, at least.

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Photo of Radcpa
4.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2017 vintage Dark brown appearance with no head. Very strong bourbon and caromel aroma. Taste is very smooth bourbon and caromel with an alcohol taste that should disappear with some aging.

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Photo of shareallthebeer
4.4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think I psyched myself out... waiting to try this. I had wanted to try Parabola for a few years, but never wanted to pay for the cost of admission. I had a chance to taste it at a bottle share mid-March 2017 and, while it was a very good beer, it wasn't nearly as good as many other barrel-aged stouts that I have had. In fact, I preferred Sucaba over it... and I am not really a big barleywine fan.

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Photo of scottsoileau
4.69/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 004, Pours like motor oil into my 18 oz snifter. Beautiful but small head. Deep bourbon and vanilla aroma and flavor. Silky smooth mouthfeel. Simply an amazing beer. So happy that I was finally able to try it.

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Photo of HipCzech
4.56/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 22 oz bottle, poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter. 2015 vintage, no. 006.

Appearance: Deep cola brown with clear mahogany edges and a brief but lush head of tan foam.

Smell: Full aroma of burnt caramel, charred barrels, vanilla beans, Bounty chocolate bars and bourbon.

Taste: Massive layers of roasted malt, cocoa powder, warmly sweet and boozy bourbon, and some oak barrel tannins. Just enough roasted coffee bitterness for balance.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body, oily smooth and rich, with moderate but soft carbonation.

Overall: A huge, boozy beer - deeply flavorful and complex with plenty of bourbon barrel influence, but somehow perfectly integrated and balanced.

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Photo of Samlover55
4.61/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 Vintage sitting in cellar since May
22oz "bomber" into libbey tulip
L- dark black in glass with tints of brown, small brown head, fizzling quickly
S- rich chocolaty fudge, vanilla, black cherry,of course the bourbon as well
T- roasted chocolate malt, laced with bourbon, vanilla, cherry, with velvety finish with notes of cocoa and a revisit from the bourbon
F- rich velvety feel, smooth, slight alcoholic bite, but at 14% can't expect otherwise, light carbonation as well
Overall this is one heck of a beer, reminiscent of Barrel-Aged Cherry Vanilla Cola, and sweet Bourbon infused Brownie.
I am really glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of ajcuster89
4.27/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A little thinner than I expected out of this stout. HUGE bourbon flavor, but the alcohol burn is very miniscule. Big dark fruit flavors, think really good raisins and overripe plums. A very good stout!

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Photo of stevepat
4.27/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2015 vinatage
The look is a beautiful dark almost black but the head is surprisingly thin and white.
The smell is also beautiful and delicate but is honestly surprisingly light and simple. Chocolatey with a subtle note of roasted nuts. Very milder smell than I expected, especially at cellar, not refrigerator, temperature.
The taste strikes an elegant balance for a bourbon aged stout. I'm also drinking it almost 2 years after it was barreled. The front is a deliciously bitter-sweet flavor that exemplifies stout in my mind, and is reminiscent of good dark chocolate. The bourbon makes itself known quietly on the tail end, after the liquid has passed. Very nice
The mouth feel is a great balance of full and light. Creamy and complete as it passes your palette, it fizzes off nicely leaving a delicious taste without a residue.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,361 ratings.
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