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Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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6,600 Ratings

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

Bros Score:
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,600 |  Reviews: 1,257
Photo of jayhunter357
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Denzo
4.75/5  rDev +3%

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.

 1,121 characters

Photo of Thedanielcraig
4.25/5  rDev -7.8%

Photo of 2013beer101
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of BG24
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Claytonbrewsby
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Bonesaw
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of Abbbp
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of belgbeerdrinker
4.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of likemike
5/5  rDev +8.5%

Photo of UHCougar12
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Alron
4.75/5  rDev +3%

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

Firestone's Parabola, Bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout. 14% ABV.

A: Just a little tan head. Fades quickly. Pours a rich brown. Pitch black in the glass, with a root beer meniscus. More rich brown in the dimple, with a bright caramel edge. Some very fine lacing. Thin ring of head stays the course.

S: Bourbon apparent as soon as the bottle is cracked! Very nice blend of bourbon and chocolate. Burnt caramel, toffee, dry cocoa/dark chocolate. Not as complex as I was expecting, but a very nice overall aroma!

T/MF: Feels very thick! Creamy. Very deep, dark flavor profile. Very strong, sweet Bourbon flavor up front. Even deeper burnt caramel, bordering on tar or tobacco. Sweet dark chocolate towards the back. Some sweet char, with almost graphite-like notes. Faintest hint of licorice.

I still like the Velvet Merlin better, but certainly a strong beer! Biggest Bourbon presence I've had yet, I think. This seems like a beer that demands rich food accompaniment! ...Speaking of which, I have some salted caramel gelato in the freezer, and it is about dessert time!

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.


Firestone's Parabola 2016, Bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. 13.1% ABV.

A: About a finger of chocolate milk colored head. Black in the glass. Dark honey/light root beer in the dimple. Decent lacing, but it slides right off. Slight sheeting.

S: Dark cocoa and toffee up front. Light char just behind. Oak and vanilla. I'm not noticing any coffee or heat.

T/MF: Rich, bittersweet chocolate dominates. Finishes out with a very light coffee edge. Very dark toffee with just a touch of char. A hint of oak and just a smidge of graphite, edging on licorice. A touch of vanilla and some kind of baking spice at the very end. Very rich and flavorful, with plenty of nice complexity. If I get the chance, I'll have to grab another for aging.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

Upped score to reflect current opinion.


Firestone Parabola, Bourbon barrel aged Imperial stout. 14.5% ABV.

A: Two fingers of tan head; a bit light for a stout... Still black in the glass, but in the dimple, it's honey brown. Solid, clear sheeting. Thinner, yet very sticky lacing.

S: Dark, oaky toffee, bordering on char. Semisweet chocolate, approaching that rich chocolate cake, but not quite. Browned caramel.

T/MF: Okay, that is way too boozy right now. I don't get a burn, but it tastes like I have to wade through the alcohol before the flavors hit. Dark, rich char follows, with a touch of toffee. A bit of bittersweet chocolate, but I really should be getting more out of this... Wow, this is a real big let down. It does seem like it will be good after enough time, but I don't know if I want to buy another bottle just to sit on to see, though.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

 2,860 characters

Photo of ChristopherWIU-UTPA
4.37/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This is an outstanding beer, that's brewed in small batches, and has a high alcohol content. I pours dark brown, medium sized mocha head, and vivacious carbonation. It has a taste of Kentucky bourbon, Tabaco, and the finest roasted coffee beans. It has a strong edge, with an aftertaste of chocolate and bourbon, and leaves you wanting another sip. This is one to enjoy....

 373 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.91/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into Fremont and Reuben's Brew small snifters. A long awaited mini vertical of the original bottling (2010) and the fresh 2014 vintage. The older bottle was properly cellar aged. Both were similar in appearance: a very dark mahogany brown, appearing nearly opaque in the glass with a thin, patchy light brown head, slightly more foam on the newer bottle.
2010: Aroma dominated by bourbon and oak, with vanilla, dark malt, dark dried fruit. Flavor is sweet dark toasted malt with a hint of char, chocolate, vanilla, dark dried fruit; finishes with the most amazing cocoa aftertaste similar to finishing a spiked glass of hot chocolate, bourbon. Remarkable and warming. Medium creamy bodied. The initial flavor is beautifully balanced between the chocolate flavors, malt and bourbon, but the bourbon and chocolate eventually dominate the finish. Delicious.

2014: Aroma of toffee, vanilla, bourbon soaked dried dark fruit, faint dark malt. Flavor follows, dominated by toffee, vanilla and bourbon, supported by dark toasted malt and dark dried fruit flavors, finishing boozy with caramel bourbon. Medium bodied with creaminess. Quite a different flavor profile from the aged one, the older version really emphasizing chocolate and whiskey (not quite as identifiable and bourbon) and the newer one brighter with toffee, vanilla and lighter fruit as well as the dark dried fruit. The newer one is slightly less sweet.

The aged Parabola has virtually no signs of oxidation at all, which in my experience is unusual with stouts, and one of the reasons I'm aging fewer stouts in favor of barley wines these days. Except for the wonderful balance and integration of flavors, it is not possible for me to tell this is 4 years old, it has aged wonderfully. I deeply regret not aging more of these now and with this very tough to find on the market now, it appears to be unlikely that it will be easy to find additional bottles for the cellar any more.

This is a stout that completely lives up to its hype. Excellent and very different fresh. Apparently with many, many years left for aging. A masterpiece.

 2,108 characters

Photo of JohnnyNicks
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of BeerZombies1
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Parabola - Firestone Walker
Russian Imperial Stout
14% ABV

APPEARANCE: Pours a deep shadow black from a bright sunny day. Slight dark chocolate rim variation. With a pillowy, creamy mocha head.

AROMA: Ginger bread pudding topped with coconut ice cream drizzled with a bourbon caramel sauce. Hints of raisins, and heat from the high ABV.

TASTE: Sexy and seducing layers that evolve in your mouth. Chocolate, leather, tobacco amazingly balanced with raisins molasses and bright oaky flavors. So delicious, just letting it roll back and forth getting more and more flavors each second.

MOUTHFEEL: medium body with vivacious and enthusiastic carbonation that dances in your mouth. Some heat from the 14% ABV, that ends with a nice long finish that leaves the mouth coated in a oily sweetness.

OVERALL: Very easy drinking and amazing flavor profile. Up until now the bcs has been the top of my stout list, this may have just knocked it off!

RATING: 5/5 Zombie Heads!

 972 characters

Photo of JimmyAloysius
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of R_J_FearNoBeer
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of freshflesh
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of BigBlueShep
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of beernazi
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%

Photo of Nayr
4.75/5  rDev +3%

Photo of Keananmichael5
4.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 6,600 ratings
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