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Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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1,174 Reviews
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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: 1,174 | Ratings: 6,197
Photo of Lapalou
3.97/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 vintage poured into a snifter. Jose is great, silky bourbon. Taste is bourbon notes on top of a standard stout. Mouthfeel is lacking, it's pretty highly carbed for an imperial stout that has been ages in barrels this long. It's solid but not spectacular and certainly doesn't live up to some of the ratings here compared to its peers. They did a great job with the barrel but the base beer lacks creaminess and or any other complimentary flavors, no chocolate or deep malt here. It's truly just a conduit for the bourbon. Good beer, not great and certainly doesn't belong with its peers in this category.

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Photo of SteveB3014
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First time trying this and I have to say it might be my favorite beer I've ever had. Drank a 2016 Vintage poured into a Teku glass. Pours out a deep burnt toffee color that evolves into a black pool into the glass. Some head develops, but not much. The head slowly lowers, but a minimal amount remains for the remainder of the drink. I'm amazed at the smoothness of this 13.1% ABV beer despite virtually no age on it, and yet, a wonderful booze still floats in the background the entire glass. Aromas of Vanilla, Bourbon, smoked wood, caramel, black licorice, and dark chocolate escape from the glass. Each sip reveals layers of burnt caramel, vanilla bean, bourbon, black licorice, and fresh roasted coffee. The balance and complexity of this beer is rivaled by few beers that I have had. This was somewhat transcendental to drink. Some beers live short of their hype, other beers live up to their hype. This exceeded its hype, which should say enough. Definitely a euphoric drinking experience. I have another bottle that I plan to age for 2 years. I am ecstatic to see what happens.

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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 Zoomslowik
4.62/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

L- Pitch black, not a lot of head or lacing. Some carb bubbles on initial poor.

S- Bourbon, sweet smell with dark fruit. Some vanilla.

T- A lot going on. Fruity on initial taste, plum and a little dark cherry. A little bitter-sweet with dark chocolate, coffee and caramel. Definitely some bourbon and something else I can't quite place (coconut?). Well blended.

F- Luxurious feel that coats the mouth. I would like it to be slightly thicker though.

0- Really good. A lot of interesting flavors, but nothing is overpowering. Doesn't feel like 13% either. I would try to track this down again, but I fear I won't be as lucky.

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

I love this beer. When I finally got a bottle to open, I was nervous because I usually don't follow hype and it mostly disappoints if I do. This though.... Parabola really shot up to the top ranks of my list with every sip. I remember sharing with my roommate and we were both just amazed by it. Definitely try to get one of these if you haven't yet. Simply awesome.

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Photo of W_Des
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours black from the body. Nice medium notes of bourbon, chocolate and roast. Nice viscous mouthfeel, almost chewy and drinks very smooth with a subdued heat and nice light sweetness.

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Photo of MizterJawsh
4.13/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 vintage poured into a tulip glass after chilling and warming slightly. Black as the night sky in color, followed by a slight lacing on top. Fruit flavors abundant upfront, a blast of bourbon with chocolate undertones, and finishing off with a hint of coconut. Overall this a super quality beer, maybe not quite what I expected given the hype however I still extremely enjoyed it. Have another 2016 sitting on my shelf until 2017 so I can rotate, perhaps with age it will blow my mind.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.9/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 Vintage - No. 007 - 13.1% abv

Pours burgundy black with a creamy dark beige colored head. Smells really sweet and boozy, kind of like dark bread and fudge brownies with dried dark fruits, big bourbon, vanilla, toffee, caramel, coconut, chocolate, coffee roast, charred oak, and mild earthy grass. Tastes very bittersweet with bourbon, toffee, caramel, mild coconut, vanilla, dark roast coffee, rich dark chocolate, fudge, some dried black cherries and fig, brown bread, some charred oak, with mild earthy grass. Feels thick, medium-full bodied, creamy with low carbonation. Overall a really great bourbon barrel aged imperial oatmeal stout.

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

I had the 2014 and the 2015. Firestone makes a great stout. the 15 was a bit more boozy than the 14 but probably my favorite out of their stouts. Parabola is a really good beer for one that isn't impossible to find.

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Photo of Ready4aHeady
4.31/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 vintage
thin for a stout but nose and taste is spot on... a complex mix of dark fruit, raisins, and coconut... sweet but not cloyingly so, with a mildly bitter dry finish.... very pleasant.

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Photo of nerdboy19
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look : Very dark black and brownish tan head. - 4/5
Aroma : A little bit like soy-sauce, licorice, very vanilla and bourbon, black malts, a little bit of roasted / burnt, chocolate, coffee. - 8/10
Mouthfeel : Huge body and low carbonation. Now overwhelming and incredibly smooth and easy to drink. - 5/5
Taste : Lots of bourbon-ish vanilla, chocolate, coffee, pretty sweet like dessert, satisfying bitter finish. - 10/10
Overall : I can't Imagine a better beer than this. This is soooooo good and it lived up the hype.

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Photo of MOVERTON1284
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Did a 3 year vertical of this at a share (2013-2015). I felt the 2014-2015 were both the best and pretty even to each other. This beer is very thin for a stout, and with age it gets more thin it seems. I would definately drink these fresh or just a little age. They don't age gracefully.

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Photo of d3brewing
4.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2016 review. This was an excellent year but did have a few complaints.
Taste was near perfect, burbon, chocolate ans black malt, no bitterness or burnt flavors. I did think it was a little hot compared to other years and will sit on a few and try them with the next batches.
My biggest complaint was the mouthfeel, way to thin for a BA stout. Compared it side by side with an Alesmith BA Speedway and the Speedway won hands down on mouthfeel. Actually the concensus was BA Speedway was all round better beer this year.

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

This beer delivers. Was lucky enough to get included in a tasting of 3 years of this beer (14, 15, and 16) and this rating is based off the 2016 new release which I found to be slightly better than 2015 and equal but slightly different than 2014. Three great beers, but I think 2014 with a scoop of french vanilla ice cream would be five 5's using the Beer Advocate rating system.

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Photo of Buck89
4.54/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fun to pour with a viscosity like motor oil. Jet black with hints of brown around the glass edges and capped with a modest tan foamy cap. Smells like a bourbon barrel covered with caramel. Rich taste with toffee, caramel, vanilla, cocoa, oak, bourbon, and plum. For me, the large feel is the best part. Like butter. Just beautiful.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.86/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2016 vintage served cold in a wine glass

Appearance: poured an oily black with a thick and chewy roasted coffee colored head.

Nose: massive Barrel character, char, coffee, bourbon, vanilla, coconut, toasted, marshmallow, chocolate, slight dark fruits

Taste: follows the nose perfectly. The barrel character really shines here and is the dominant free in the glass. Coconut, char, bourbon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, dark fruits, marshmallow. Does not drink like a 13% beer; seems like half that. Mouthfeel is medium-heavy to heavy but with a nice creamy fudge quality.

Overall: clear winner of the night. Paired perfectly with homemade coconut coffee ice cream.

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

Draft. Pours a pitch black with a full two fingers of tan fluffy head. Looks beautiful. The head slowly melts into the body of the beer with nice lacing throughout the drink. Smells of a conglomeration of everything you want in a stout: chocolate, toffee, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, etc. However, I'm slightly disappointed thereafter. It's good but not great. Not off the charts great on draft. I'm finding I like beers like this aged at least 6 months on a bottle lately. You get the abv booze rush and ask the flavors above but it's just too young. They haven't melted together as I would have thought. However, these mixture beers are always this way to me unless they have sat on a shelf for some time. Had a bitter subtle kick to it at the end. MORE.watery than I could have possibly expected. Lots of abv burn. Need to try it properly aged at least a year and then revisit it.

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Photo of RacerX5k
5/5  rDev +10.1%
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 jjyom
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 release. Pours a deep dark brown with little to no opacity. Thick and chewy with strong bourbon, chocolate, coffee and cherry backbone. Complex taste with a huge variety of flavor from beginning to end. For 13% it doesn't taste boozey or hot at all. Overall a really great strong beer, very heavy in both taste and alcohol content- definitely made for sipping. Not sure how it compares to previous vintages.

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Photo of Kenmac19
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 release. L- Pours a beautiful pitch black with a thin quickly disappating coffee brown head. A- Bourbon, espresso, vanilla, chocolate & a hint of smoked oak. T- Bourbon is definitely present but allows the coffee, burnt brown sugar, vanilla and an ever so slight hint of licorice to shine through. F- Medium carbonation and great chewy mouth feel. Alcohol is there but not hot or overpowering. O-Exceptionally balanced blend of flavours that shine through the 14% ABV. Best BBA Stout I've had so far.

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Photo of Karnivool1
3.73/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Kind of a letdown. Was expecting a way more dark and thick brew. The bourbon amount was perfect, but this looks and feels more like a porter than a stout. A good beer, but way overhyped. My mouthfeel wanted more after each sip. Good, yes. Great, not close.

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

I was really looking forward to this beer, what with all the hype. It is indeed a great beer which packs a very strong punch! The taste was just was subtle but just right!

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.49/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


2016 Edition

A: Rich complex deep grain roast and malt. The roast is reminiscent of coffee and dark chocolate. There is a light malt sweetness, with noticeable bourbon barrel presence.

A: Jet black color, totally opaque with a moderate tan mostly-smooth head that has adequate retention.

T: Deep grain roast; the malt flavor is coffee/dark chocolate-like with a slight sweetness. The beer has a moderately prominent bourbon barrel character with a dry finish.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. There is a bit of an alcoholic warmth that is slightly sharp from the bourbon barrel. However, the beer has a luscious texture (from the oats) and really coats the tongue.

O: Delicious; this beer has a really complex aroma and flavor. The full bodied, deep grain roast is really complimented by the mixture of bourbon barrels used for aging.

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Photo of bentnorton
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 Poured from a bomber into 2 snifters (split with my wife).
Look - Pitch black, minimal head. Completely dissipated within a few seconds.
Smell - Very sweet. Lots of big malts, caramel, a bit of vanilla. I didn't get much bourbon at first until it started to warm up.
Taste - pretty much exactly like it smells. The malt character really dominates. It took a while for the additional flavors to come out. I would definitely recommend drinking this beer pretty close to room temperature.
Feel - Great, very creamy.
Overall- still very good, but not quite as good as last year in my opinion. As stated above, I would definitely recommend drinking this beer pretty close to room temperature. The fridge was set to 55 degrees, but it still improved immensely with some additional time on the counter.

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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.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,197 ratings.
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