Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
100
world-class
6,467 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
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 Buļ¬€alo Trace.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

BEER STATS
Ratings:
6,467
Reviews:
1,235
Avg:
4.54
pDev:
7.93%
 
 
Wants:
3,147
Gots:
3,712
For Trade:
281
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 6,467 |  Reviews: 1,235
Photo of hop_junkie
4.43/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Hayley_86
4/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of DoctorEvil65
4.56/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of TheBeerdedCharmer
4.53/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

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

Photo of cd34
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Riff
4.35/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an inky black color with minimal light tan head that fades quickly to a ring around the rim of the glass. Smells of bourbon, coconut, and vanilla. Tastes of bourbon, milk chocolate, cherry, and toasted coconut. Has a little bourbon heat to it, not too much but enough to let you know it's present. Creamy, medium-heavy body. Surprisingly quick off the palette. Overall, solid and deserving of it's reputation.

 415 characters

Photo of ECOBOOSTINST
4.87/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a bit on the Cola side, and is a touch thin, but this brew is absolutely outstanding!!

92 characters

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

Photo of yasky
4.34/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of THANAT0PSIS
3.74/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Firestone Walker Parabola (2017)

A: This legendary barrel-aged imperial stout is one half of the duo that built one of the most highly-regarded barrel-aging programs in the country (Sucaba being the other half). Interestingly, Parabola pours a very dark brown like black coffee rather than the pitch black one associates with BA stouts. A khaki head of about a finger forms on a hard pour, but it does not hang around long. Lacing is spotty but alcohol legs are evident. Viscosity appears rather low for the style. This is not the picture one would find in the style guide next to "barrel-aged imperial stout." 3.25/5

A: The nose does not show much nuance, at least when cold. Bourbon dominates with sweetness, cherries, caramel, toasted coconut, and a fair bit of alcohol heat. Milk chocolate flecked with vanilla is the only real hint of the base beer initially. As it warms, the balance somehow becomes slightly worse, with the bourbon nearly edging the beer completely out of the picture. Spicy whiskey, oak, and again toasted coconut are prevalent. It is nice but shows little deftness or subtlety. 3.5/5

T: The taste does come close to saving this now-legendary beer, but it still does not totally deliver on the hype. There is more chocolate here along with a dark breadiness that is rare in stouts, but overall this is still a barrel showcase. There is a bit of brownie batter and elements of cocoa, as well as some smokiness that creeps in late. It is all well and good that spicy-sweet bourbon steals the show, highlighted by vanilla, toasted coconut, and surprising amounts of cherry, but at the expense of the base beer it is hardly laudable. Umami plays a tertiary role, which adds a bit of depth. The amount of fruity character is novel, pointing more towards Russian Imperial Stout than its American counterpart. BA RISs are surprisingly not all that common, so this is welcome in that respect, but the balance between barrel and beer is still a fair bit off the mark. 4.25/5

M: Here is perhaps the greatest misstep in the form of a rather thin body combined with very obvious heat. There is an oily slickness present as well, which does nothing to improve the situation. It is not thick enough to really impress, but it is not dry enough or low enough in alcohol to match the thinness. It is serviceable but not optimal in any sense. 3/5

O: While this was once a beer I held in high esteem, it seems that Parabola is no longer what I thought it was. Certainly it is a solid, even good beer, perhaps even very good, but it is a far cry from greatness. Little to nothing about this beer has not been eclipsed at this point, and though there is something to be said about the pillar of style that this beer is perceived as, it seems to be resting on its laurels. I do really enjoy the RIS aspects, but they are pushed so far to one side by the barrel that it is almost negligible. Bourbon County is still superior in every way to almost any BA stout, so Parabola should be given little leeway despite its historical significance and name recognition. It is enjoyable, certainly, but it does not deserve to be held up as a paragon of the style, and the mouthfeel is really a huge letdown. Pair with Dream Theater's "Octavarium," an album that many will cite as important, yet it broke next to no new ground and is easily eclipsed by contemporaries as well as those that came after. 3.5/5

 3,404 characters

Photo of kdivers
4.22/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Photo of Seeker_11
3.5/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was not impressed with this beer. Sure it was good but not worth the fuss

76 characters

Photo of runeatdrink
4.84/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Hoppy_Time
4.25/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown black, light passing through the edges in red and brown, one finger quickly dissipating off white head. Minimal lacing, some alcohol legs.

Aroma of roasted malt, coffee, whiskey, vanilla, dark fruit, almonds, chocolate. Roasty and nutty overall.

Tastes of roasted malt, light coffee, semi-sweet chocolate, whiskey, oak, almond, toffee, caramel, cola. Light sweetness, lingering char bitterness.

Feel is a bit thin for my liking and carbonation is a little low, warming alcohol, between sweet and dry.

Overall it's a tasty BA RIS, and smells great, but it's just too thin for its huge character, doesn't need to be sweet or syrupy just fuller. And it could use a boost in appearance as well.

 713 characters

Photo of Jacob17
4.9/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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

Photo of Keffa
4.34/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of cjohns73
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of hit728
4.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of AuntBea
3.98/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of mflamar
3.85/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jhfinn
4.05/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2017 vintage 14.5abv

20 characters

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,467 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More