Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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ParabolaParabola
BA SCORE
4.61/5
World-Class
6,598 Ratings
ParabolaParabola
BEER INFO

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

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
Ranking:
#29
Reviews:
1,257
Ratings:
6,598
pDev:
7.59%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
3,145
Gots:
3,744
Trade:
283
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,598 |  Reviews: 1,257
Photo of Sammy
3.71/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Mikesgroove for indulging me. Pours thick black with nearly black head. This is a bourbon story. Bourbon hits you in the nose and is strong, with alcohol apparent, in the taste. I am Ok with bourbon in moderation, we are not a corn distilled fan nation, but it was too much. Cocoa powder and coconut was also experienced and not integrated. This is above average body, it was finishable, I owed it to the brewers. Not as great as many other RIS I have consumed of late, it is an example of what is turned out as a big beer.

 530 characters

Photo of kylehay2004
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of Texasfan549
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of jaydoc
4.49/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.42/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage.

Pours an opaque black with a 1 inch khaki head that fades to a thin film on the top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. The smell of this beer is very complex with toasted coconut, vanilla, wood, milk chocolate, and roasted malt. Taste is the same as the nose with more of a cocoa powder flavor coming through than milk chocolate. Mild roasty bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good stout with very complex smells and flavors. Some of the smells and flavors remind me a lot of Abacus which I can only assume is from the barrel aging program both beers went through. I am glad I have a few more of these in my cellar to enjoy in the future.

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Photo of GRG1313
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.72/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

this is a near perfect beer, and defnitely the best firestone brew ive had, including the anniversary blend. pours jet black, dense and mean, with a one inch mocha colored head that fades out after a few minutes. smells is incredible. tons of wood, vanilla, bourbon notes, wine tannons, fresh pipe tobacco, chocolatey malt. i could smell this beer for ages. the flavor is lovely, very rich. notes of oak, milk chocolate, burned sugar, and that pipe tobacco marry perfectly in the mouth for a long complex drinking experience. not sure ive had any stout this good. mouthfeel is right on. velvety smooth with all that body, mellow carbonation from the barrel time. overall this may be one of the best stouts out there, its absolutely fantastic, and worth every penny of the 15 bucks it cost. you must must try this

 812 characters

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of kjkinsey
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of djrn2
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Knapp85
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Capone's Black Friday event, this beer poured out as a very dark black color with a thin tan head on top. The smell of the beer was roasted and sweet, some aromas of wood and sweet bourbon on the nose. The taste of the beer is just stunning... I really couldn't believe how nice this tasted. The sweet bourbon flavors come out perfectly in this brew. The mouthfeel of this beer was thick and oily just like it should be. Overall this brew is special. It's very very good!

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Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -13.2%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of metter98
4.47/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a thin tan head that quickly faded away and left some lacing on the surface and a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are strong aromas of bourbon, oak and vanilla on the nose along with some hints of alcohol.
T: Quite complex, the taste is very similar to the smell with flavors of oak and vanilla and also has notes of chocolate and hints of wine in the flavors. The complexity increases as the beer warms up.
M: It feels full-bodied and smooth on the palate with a light to moderate amount of carbonation with heat from the alcohol in the finish.
O: Despite its strength, the beer doesn’t taste overly strong but is a good sipping beer because its complex aroma and taste will retain your interest.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Insane intensity and full of character, this Imperial Russian Stout is one for the ages.

Dark, dark brown (nearly black) with almost complete opaqueness, only admitting light around the estreme edges. Froathy tan head formation leads to average retainage (falters underneath the thinning of 13% abv.). Light on lacing but moderate on classic brandy legging.

Deep and complex aromas start and finish with brownie-like chocolaty notes that are decorated with cherry, sherry, soy, grape, dates, figs, caramel, vanilla, and aged woods. With all that going on, the beer's aroma is all about the bittersweet chocolate and French roast coffee.

Chocolatey early, the beer morphs into Irish Coffee flavors (think whisky and cream), and fruitness that comes equally from fruity esters and alcohols. Again, aged and dehydrated fruits of cherries, apples, figs, dates, raisons all give a rum-soaked fruitcake flavor that carries through to the finish and aftertaste.

Full and rich early, the beer breaks early to finish with an alcohol thinning texture and ultimately warm, maybe hot finish. Very drinkable because it doesn't start too thick but doesn't finish thin, fusal, or abrasive.

Very well balanced throughout, Parabola demonstrates all of what is prominant about the spread of flavors that make up the Russian Imperial Stout profile. All of this manifests in a beer that reviels new flavors with each warming sip. Delicious and succulent from sip to finish, this beer drinks much more easily than it should.

Thanks Auroracrisis!

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Photo of biboergosum
4.29/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, in a nicely informative cardboard sleeve. Apparently this one was actually brewed at Boulevard in Kansas City - whatever, this is a brew that I've wanted to try for quite some time.

This beer pours a solid black abyss, yet with evident red-cola basal edges, and two flabby fingers of puffy, finely foamy, and somewhat bubbly brown head, which leaves a monolithic wall of cliff face lace around the glass as it lazily sinks away.

It smells of bittersweet cocoa powder, bready and doughy caramel malt, biscuity and gooey toffee squares, a mild vulcanized rubber note, free-range char, vanilla-forward Bourbon wood, an indistinct dark orchard fruitiness, ephemeral cafe-au-lait, and some tame leafy, weedy, and certainly sauced-up floral green hop bitters. The taste is roasted caramel/toffee malt, intense Bourbon County essences (vanilla, boozy wood, and blurred spice), those brandy-laced milk chocolates you used to find at Christmas parties, Scandihoovian anise candies, cherry vodka, subtle artisanal coffee beans, and more laid-back earthy, musty, and soused floral verdant hoppiness.

The carbonation is fairly understated in its overlooked frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, and actually (was there ever any doubt?) rather smooth, with a big-boy creaminess not waiting for a sign to emerge at will. It finishes well off-dry, the cocoa, caramel, Kentucky whiskey, and mixed benign fruitiness carrying the lingering day.

Overall - sometimes meeting your heroes doesn't exactly meet up with expectations, and I'm happy to say that isn't the case here. Yup, a big and brash, besotted Stateside RIS, one thankfully delivered to we north of the border fans of the style. I put off pulling the trigger on this dear offering for a couple months when it first arrived here, but last weekend I was beer shopping on my birthday (akin to hitting the grocery store when you're peckish), and well, y'all know the rest of the story.

 1,959 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.4/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reserve Series No 003. 2012. 1 pint 6 fl oz (650ml) brown glass bottle with papered-over pressure cap served into a glassform bubbled pilsner glass in me friend Brendan's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given this beer's reputation.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food.

A: Pours a one finger head of slight tan colour, mocha soft cream, good thickness, and great retention for the 12.50% ABV. Colour is a solid nontransparent black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Predictable for the style, but nevertheless appealing.

Sm: The aroma's starting to get me more interested. Cream, vanilla, chocolate, moderately heavy oak, hints of roast, a light hint of booze, unwelcome caramelization, and unwelcome caramel. The oak distracts from the general tone of the beer. I'm a bit concerned about the oats, and I worry they'll make the mouthfeel too porter-like. A moderate strength subdued aroma. Not at all the bold flavours you'd expect from the style, but I'm hoping that's indicative of subtlety rather than restrained character.

T: Oak-laden, with nicely balanced caramel and hints of vanilla & chocolate. Nice dark malts comprise the foundation. Slight yeast comes through. Where's the roast? The style demands roast and it just isn't present. Certainly not a unique or special beer. It's a touch too sweet. The sugars used seemed simple and predictable. Built pretty close to the style; it lacks experimentation or boldness as a result. Some decent layering and subtlety, but not particularly complex for the style. I detect slight plum after suggested. Structurally indistinct; the first, second, and third acts are not clear and divisive but rather vague and poorly managed. It's good, but I'm far from impressed with it. The alcohol comes through as it warms.

Mf: Smooth - overly so for the style (even considering the oats). Tries too hard to have porter-like smoothness. Would be better with coarseness (ideally from roasted barley) to coax out the flavours. Not dry enough either, instead offering only jarringly overdone wetness. Adequately carbonated. Moderately heavy on the palate. A touch too thin.

Dr: Drinkable for the ABV - which is hidden alright. The expectations created by its high ratings and hype are certainly not met. This has been done similarly - and better - before many times There's nothing special or unique here. Pretty pricey for the disappointing quality. I expected great and got pretty good. I might try this on draught, but having now had most of Firestone Walker's beers (including Sucaba) I know that I oughtn't to get me hopes up.

B-

---

Revisited this on-draught because I kept seeing it hyped in the forums. Truncated review below. 17cl for $7.00.

A: 3 finger head, creamy, nice soft complexion, great thickness. Damn good (~10 minute) retention. Opaque black body colour.

Sm: Marshmallow, dark malts, chocolate malt, vanilla, cream. Lovely bourbon barrel notes including subtle vanilla and oak. No alcohol is detectable. Lovely aroma overall. No yeast or hops is/are detectable. Way better than the bottled form.

T: Syrupy, with molasses and marshmallow. Nice cream on the climax. Boozy. Chocolate malt, dark malts. The barrel notes hardly come through at all; no evocative vanilla or oak here. Very low flavour duration; it's brief and then it's gone. Timid intensity (save for the alcohol); shockingly restrained, to its detriment. Balance is off. The absence of roast is regrettable.

Mf: Nice creaminess, thickness, and carbonation. Smooth and wet. Strange presence on the palate; comes off somewhat artificial. Doesn't feel custom-tailored to the flavour profile.

Dr: Drinkable the high ABV, but quite pricey. Underwhelming overall compared to the hype. It's a decent beginner's imperial stout with timid barrel character, but timid and restrained does not equate to subtle and well integrated. I revisited this in good faith, but it's just not remarkable enough to justify its reputation or its high ratings. The barrel notes in particular are lacking compared to top beers in the style.

Low B-

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Photo of emerge077
4.49/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Wil for busting this out at the Ludachris summer bbq. Never thought i'd ever see a bottle of this! Review is from notes.

Pours placidly with little activity, inky black with a glassy surface. Some sticky mocha foam flecks to the edges, forming a ring with some spotty lace too. As the glass is tilted, traces of tiny carb bubbles slowly creep upwards.

Woody tobacco and mellow roasted coffee in the aroma. Just a hint of the barrel, but it's masterfully integrated.

Rich dark chocolate smudged with oak, with a well integrated taste of mellow bourbon that lingers in the end. Traces of vanilla and coconut blend easily with a mellow bitterness. Though there's little indication of heat, it's still a mellow sipper best shared. I'm most impressed with how seamlessly Parabola is put together, nice work from the team at Firestone Walker...

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Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.46/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of brentk56
4.17/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 bottling

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color with a ringlet of foam that fades away though it leaves some dots and dashes behind

Smell: Chocolate, oatmeal/raisin and Bourbon

Taste: Rich chocolate flavors, up front, with the oatmeal/raisin and marshmallow flavors developing; by mid-palate, the Bourbon adds its heft to the sweeter elements, creating a boozy counterpoint; after the swallow, the sweeter flavors re-emerge, providing balance into the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, slightly creamy; boozy, with low to moderate carbonation

Overall: As can be inferred from the geometry of its name, this beer is still moving along the curve to the apogee; not sure how long the process will take but it is still a ways away from its optimal point of consumption

 770 characters

Photo of oline73
4.46/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours jet black with one finger of dark head. The head goes away but leaves some lacing.

Smell: Sweet and roasty with some dark chocolate notes coming through.

Taste: This one is quite sweet and roasty with hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. The roast is kind of bitter and you can taste the booze at the finish. The booze is a bit hot.

Mouthfeel: The body is somewhat thick and it coats the mouth completely. The finish is dry.

Drinkability: I really like this one. It is quite well balanced and I intend to drink it again some day.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.21/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a nice large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of black chocolate with some light vanilla notes and some light dry roasted malt. Taste is dominated by loads of black chocolate notes with some light dry roasted malt and some vanilla and light bourbon notes. Taste is definitely quite complex and not as dry as expected with quite a bit of residual sugar coming through. Body is full with a really nice creamy texture and some good carbonation with no apparent alcohol. I can’t find many fault in this beer except that that bourbon could bit a bit more pronounced.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 6,598 ratings
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