Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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6,829 Ratings

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.70%

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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Ratings: 6,829 |  Reviews: 1,316
Photo of dvsbizzyb
4.47/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Beautiful pitch black pour with a tint of dark brown on the edges.

Smell - Powerful aromas fill the air as you sniff this. The symmetry is an imprecise sense of pleasing proportionality and balance.

Taste - With every sip the focus changes. Chocolate and coffee switches back and fourth. Then at it's vertex sweet vanilla and caramel comes in and gives a wonderful intense flavor.

Mouthfeel - Silky smooth.

Overall - Parabolas can open up, down, left, right, or in some other arbitrary direction.

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Photo of teamizm
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a RRBC tulip glass.

A - Dark brown, coffee like but opaque. Little to no head

S - Dark cocoa, vanilla, coffee roasts, bourbon

T - dark chocolate, vanilla, roastiness, bit of espresso. Bourbon comes through, but not as much as in the nose.

M - Love the mouthfeel on this one. Very velvety, smooth, like chocolate milk.

O - Love it, probably more so than prior years.

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Photo of aval89
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Boulders on Broadway.. review from notes.

A: black as night.. small brown head .. settles to thin cap..

S: vanilla, bourbon notes, dark espresso beans, darkest chocolate.. some woody notes..

T: upfront you get major bourbon notes.. sweet whiskey like flavors & vanilla..oak, black licorice, dark espresso beans.. bakers chocolate. Coffee bitterness lingers as well as bourbon notes.. dry woody finish.. some booze is present, but minimal for a 13%

Mf: thick, chewy, creamy.. some heat from alcohol

O: great brew! Absolutely world class!

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Photo of kerklein2
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Jet black with a creamy dark brown head that doesn't stick around forever.

S: I had a hint of cherry, but only after it was mentioned. Some of the alcohol comes through if you really pay attention.

T: Just like this beer should taste. Roasty malts with some caramel up front and then as I wait for it, the coffee bitterness really comes through and is great. Lots of malt complexity. Barrel flavors are good. God damn it's good.

M: Thick, obviously, but the carbonation is nice. The bitterness at the back end gives you that puckerness, but I like it.

O: Having this side by side with Abacus and damn these are two great beers. I said in my Abacus review I liked it better, but now I don't know. Kudos to FW.

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Photo of drummermattie02
4.6/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours absolutely black with a nice brown head, recedes to a ring quickly. Viscous, too -- sticks to the glass nicely.

Smell oddly reminds me of cherries, with a hint of vanilla. Roasted malts and coffee come through as well.

Taste and mouthfeel are so smooth. There is a bit of the roasted bite, but very well balanced with the barrel flavors. Chocolate is very pronounced, this is a perfect after dinner drink.

Overall a great beer, velvety smooth, flavors are all balanced, and very easy to drink.

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Photo of seeswo
4.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Batch 002. Pours pitch black with a very light cocoa head. The nose is chocolate, roasted malts, oak and a touch of booze. The taste is sweet vanilla, bourbon and oak, melded together against a dry chocolate and charred roasted malts. Also, just a touch of licorice. Comes together very nicely, but the finish is a bit dry and overly bitter, with a bit much in the way of oak tannins. It brings out an excess in the charred malt / chocolate flavor. This is really my only problem with it. Really fantastic mouthfeel - silky and full on the tongue. The barrel and the medium-low carbonation just round the mouthfeel out to smooth, smooth, smooth. Overall, this is a really good beer, particularly when it warms - the anise flavor blooms a touch more and some of the dryness and bitterness in the finish mellows. I think a few months might really bring this beer around. Once again, FW does some fantastic work with a barrel.

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Photo of baconsausage
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drinkin 2010 Parabola and rockin out to Chest Fever by The Band.

I know she's a tracker, any scarlet would back her
They say she's a chooser, but I just can't refuse her
She was just there, but then she can't be here no more
And as my mind unweaves, I feel the freeze down in my knees
But just before she leaves, she receives

Beautiful black pour with tan lacing ringing the cup. Complex nose yealds bourbon and wood, sweet toffee, coffee and a little spice. Flavors abound in this beauty as well. Robust sweet bourbon and chocolate are balaced by roast and little char, almost nutty flavors. Bitter coffee and vanilla play around the edges. A very faint vinous character emerges as the beer warms. Smooth and silky on the tounge, Parabola is a boozy sipper that will benifit from some age.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.27/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Parabola! Fancy boxed bottle bought at Whole Foods Bowery for $17.99 plus tax.

Appearance: Served in my Sierra snifter, looks great, super dark and thick with a good one finger of mocha-colored head that doesn't last long. No lacing or retention whatsoever, but good carbonation. Super black, with some mahogany tones when swirled.

Smell: Petroleum (gasoline), sharp booze, oil well. Lotta smoke, wood. A tad of dark fruit and vanilla. Hot chocolate, thick, European style. I also get a barnyard aroma that takes me back to the American Heartland. Native prairie on fire, or warm hearth inside a Galician palloza in the Ancares.

Taste: Carbonated and sharp, tingles and burns the tongue. Thick and spicy chocolate, the Aztec-Mexican kind. Bourbon, some distant sweetness at the end. Smoke and barrel, but above all, FIRE! :-) This reminds me of the artisanal "aguardiente" ("fiery water") made in my native Galicia. Some prune/smashed pickled cherry. Dry spicy finish with a hint of wood.

Surprisingly, a second bottle yielded a much creamier, smoother and chocolaty feel and taste, not as hot and brutal as the first taste.

Mouthfeel: Full body and flavor, no doubt. Sweet, heavy finish. Great carbonation. Starts out too hot, but it opens up like a fine wine and becomes balanced, complex, smooth, delicious. If anything, a little too dry!

Overall: A solid 4.5. Grows up on me, mellows out as it settles on the glass. A schizo beer- super drinkable, with the 12.25% (not 13% as the listing says) ABV nowhere in sight, but also hot and fiery. Would love to try this aged a further year (beyond the 12 months it already spent in a barrel). As it is, feels a little too young and green, but still so very delicious.

More balanced and less sweet than other barrel-aged stouts like Goose Island's, but also not as enticing. It lacks that "wow factor" that makes my knees weak.

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Photo of baybassboy
4.62/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at a tasting/bottle-share with a couple friends into my Stone Specialty Tating glass on 6/18/11. 2011 Vintage

A: Black. Pours, excuse the phrase, black as night. Extremely viscous coming out of the bottle and into the glass. There is a medium-small mocha head, maybe just under a finger. Great lacing, especially for a barrel aged beer. Obvious alcohol legs on swirl. I knew this was going to be a winner when the beer settled and a Happy Face appeared in the head

S: To put it simply, I will quote my friend who was at this tasting, "I want to make cologne of this!" Ya, it smells that amazing. The first thing that hits me is roast, followed by lots of chocolate and vanilla. I can also pick up some welcome oaky aromas. Can smell a light bit of alcohol, but it is the amount that seems to draw you in for more instead of forcing you away.

T: The first sip was amazing... i just wantd to savor it and not think of anything. Again, the roastiness is what hit me hard upfront, followed again by that chocolate vanilla mix. I know this fits more into mouthfeel, but it actually tastes velvety smooth. Has a great richness that is balanced from the barrel aging, and a good, medium alcohol burn that seems to only further enhance the overall tastes.

M: This is one viscous beer. It coats the mouth well, but not to the point that I would describe it as chewey. There is a great light carbonation. More than I would expect after aging. Again... velvety smooth.

O: I flat out LOVE THIS BEER. There is honestly not much else to say. I was afraid of it being overly complex and tough to decipher after reading some other reviews, but it was balanced near perfectly. To be honest, the only fault I can find with this beer is that it almost smells better than it tastes. Don't get me wrong, it tastes amazing, but if i had to put a number on both, I would put Smell at 98 and Taste at 96. I can't wait to open my next bottle, which I'm sure will be sooner than I had anticipated before tasting this one.

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Photo of oregone
4.03/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle (2011) into NB globe at cellar temp (55F):
A: Very nice.Dark brew, nearly black with only a little light showing through the edges when held up. Light brown head, about a fingers worth rises from a mildly gentle pour and settles back to persistent lacing.
S: Fudge and booze (bourbon. Some hot caramel and vanilla oak smells but definitly bourbon and chocolate dominant. Smells very good.
T: Chocolate and bourbon again dominant. Caramel, some dark bread flavors and licorice come in to play. Licorice and oak dominate the finish with some alcohol becoming apparent.
M: Rich, thick, smooth through the majority with some bite after it settles in a handful of seconds later. Some slightly apparent wood tannin on the finish and the alcohol spice again finds it's way in, but not incredibly strongly.
O: Very good but wish I'd set this aside much longer. Tried a few ounce sample of '10 and it had melded into something much richer and smoother. This was very good, but it lacks the harmony that settling for a year or more will bring. Definitly something I'm happy to wait on though quite good now.
This is better than my review would lead me to believe. However, all the components are in place for this to be a monster of a brew, devastatingly complex and delicious, with some time. Give it time.

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Photo of DCon
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on-tap @ the iTap House in Chesterfield, MO for $7. This was served during the Parabola event which was a huge success! Tapped from the Parabola Tap Handle into a 12oz Snifter glass and enjoyed over a good period of time.

Aroma- Starts off with a huge bourbon and vanilla aroma. Tons of roasted malts used, a hint of espresso, and strong. Perfect for the style! No flaws at all.

Appearance- Received with 1 finger of bubbly and dark brown head. It has an extremely dark brown body (almost black but can see brown in the light), Opaque, and lace is left all across the sides.

Flavor- Has an aged bourbon whiskey start and almost an oaken barrel of chocolate mousse. The finish has a warm feeling and notes of Merlot. Very rich, nice malts used (once again), and complexed beyond belief! Could grab more attributes but enjoyed too much to think about all of them.

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Thick as Motor Oil, Chewy, and actually leaves Spice behind on the palate with a hint of bourbon. Not sure what to think of this!

Overall Impression- Intense! This guy has some serious complexity and one of my favorite beers of the month! I bought 2 bottles of this from Lukas Liquor and am going to see how they age. Could/Would only want to enjoy one of these because of how strong it is. Had a nice buzz going after this beer. Will be promoting this beer!

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Photo of Viciousknishs
4.5/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours black as night motor oil. A finger of dark espresso crema colored head. The head recedes into a thin ring of tight bubbles. Dead sexy.

S- the aroma on this puppy is rediciously complex. Starts out with big fresh brewed espresso and decadent dark chocolate truffles. Perfectly intergrated oak barrels shine with notes of vanilla, caramel and aromatic high end bourbon. Finishs with pungent dark juicy cherries and warming heady booze. Only gets better and and more aromatic as it warms.

T- the flavor in this is just as rediculous as the aroma. Dark chocolate with cocoa notes begin the flavor. Italian coffee flavors with an espresso bean character. Big bourbon and soft oak flavors intertwine with notes of vanilla and a semi sweet caramel. Warming big but pleasent alcohol boosts the previous flavors instead of detering them. Finishs with a bittersweetness and a rich round bourbon aftertaste.

MF- rich full creamy mouthfeel that brings to mind gourmet hot cocoa. Full body with a soft low carbonation.

D- incredibly drinkable for the intensity of the beer. Smooth and Lucious.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.72/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A present from my awesome wife for Fathers Day...

2011 vintage

Poured from a bomber into an AleSmith Brewing imperial pint glass...

A - Pours black with a one finger brown head on a fairly passive pour. There is a good amount of head retention, but there is next to no lace to be had...

S - Coffee, chocolate, a hint of vanilla, and a good dose of bourbon. Smells a little hot, but still inviting...

T - Dark chocolate and coffee are the most prominate flavors up front. Vanilla is present along with some sweet caramel, and oak. Smooth bourbon comes through in the finish with some lingering valilla. For a 12.5 percenter this one is exceptionally smooth and balanced. Delicious...

M - Nice and creamy, with an above average amount of carbonation for the style. This one rides the line between being full/medium bodied...

O - Ridiculously drinkable considering the abv. The hype for this one was high, and it lived up to the praise. Firestone impresses again with another top notch brew...


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Photo of codynevels
4.4/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz Bomber Poured into a Rodenbach Grand Cru Tulip
Reviewed from Notes
Edit: 2011 Vintage

This beer pours a thick fully opaque black with a thin brown head, which faded quickly and left minimal lacing. The bottle label describes this beer a “Midnight Black”, which is accurate. The aroma is lot of chocolate and bourbon in the initial smell with dark chocolate, coffee, oak, vanilla, and raisins becoming more present as the beer warm close to room temperature. The taste to me seems vanilla, oak, chocolate, deep roasted malt, and toffee. This beer feels velvety with almost no alcohol heat. It drinks like a fine wine.

Overall this is a fantastic beer. Very much lived up to the hype for me.

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Photo of marqoid
4.62/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into Bruery tulip

A: Black as night with a thin dark brown head, low carbonation
S: Roasted malts, sweetness, and bourbon
T: Chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon, and a winey background favor that is really interesting at the end
M: Thinner than expected, but very pleasant. low carbonation
O: Excellent, there is a lot going on here and you can really pull out the individual flavors that come from the variety of barrels used. Drinks very easily for ~13%.

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Photo of bbkd3b
5/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After the Abacus, I immediately added this to my wish list for brews. Luckily, there were quite a few to be found in Columbia, though my frequented stores ran out rather rapidly. Still, I got a hold regardless, and let's see what this is all about:

The near-black body gives away this beer's nature immediately. A tan head swirls to life, but pulls away very slowly, leaving only a ring around the edges of the brew. I don't even need to lean in to get my first impressions - the smell hit me from a mile away. Regardless, the chocolate notes are unreal, along with a nice mixture of robust, roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, and just the slightest bitterness. Surreal, potent, powerful - these are what a beer should be.

Sipping it reveals the best this beer really is. First impressions are like drinking a mocha beverage. Clean, smooth, almost like a dessert in a glass! As the thick body warmed, it's harsher side slowly came to be. The bitterness started to attack the tongue, reminding you that this is a wholly American-style Imperial stout. Notes of coffee and vanilla formed at the front of the tongue. What amazes me is that there was absolutely no trace of alcohol to be found here. Astonishing brew.

Overall/notes - I didn't think it possible, but Firestone Walker topped Abacus on this one. It's like perfection bottled. I never thought I'd live to see the day I tasted what I feel is a perfect brew. This will forever be on my watch list. I just need to get some dark chocolate along for the ride next time I can find it. Seek this out and savor it. A true sipper.

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Photo of brotherloco
4.4/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber. 2011 Edition (No. 002). 12.5% ABV

Poured into tulip.

Color is absolute opaque black with an initial finger of light mocha foam, settles to a small ring. Very small amounts of lacing.

Aromas include coffee and chocolate, boozy port wine. The oaky/vanilla/wood notes are there, but are relatively subtle. A small sting of alcohol at the end of the draw. A lighter aroma than I was expecting, but it does improve as it warms.

Taste is initially super delicious, sweet chocolate malt with a quick to appear roasty bitterness. Again, the barrel presence is there, but it is restrained in a very good way. Melting vanilla-chocolate swirl ice cream middle. The booziness really emerges in the finish. It doesn't kill the experience by any means, but I like it less than the start of the flavor. Seems like a perfect candidate for the cellar (no surprise given the ABV).

Absolutely love the mouthfeel of this one. Soft and silky, but not overly cloying. Medium to slightly-full bodied with very appropriate medium-light carbonation for the style.

I could mention a bbal-aged stout that I like better than this, but it really is a great beer.

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Photo of jimmy82063
4.62/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Obtained from one of my frequent trips to Westchester. Poured into a Duvel Glass

A) Nice pour into the glass, no lacing of note.

S)Bourbon and Vanilla. One of the most unique beers that I have had regarding the smell. See below for the taste.

T) Dark Chocolate and then some, throw in some licorice as well. Prunes, figs vanilla, some mild coffee notes. Wow!

M) No carbonation. just a little hot.

O) Lives upto the hype!

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.52/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2011 vintage, and this is a quite a unique and tasty beer that meet my expectations from what I've heard and read about this beer before.

A: Jet black body with pretty good legs and some lacing, but not much. A nice tan head dies down rather quickly.

S: Smell has lots of charred malt and some savory bacon/rauch like notes which is interesting and intriguing. Charred oak, chocolate, vanilla bean, dark fruits, and a little bit of bourbon like a cherry on top rather than being a forerunner like BCBS or other like beers. Not too much heat and a nice compact full aroma.

T: Follows the smell with a huge peaty malt and smoke base to it which is again unique and unexpected, very nice. Fudge, some bourbon but not too much (a nice subtle addition), Charred black malt, berries, a little bit of alcohol but not nearly what I expected at 13%, bacon again , and even some nutty maybe chestnut like flavors. A very complex and unique bourbon aged stout both in that the bourbon is much more subtle and elegant than normal and the huge smoke flavors with a bittersweet chocolate back.

M: Very nice smoked burnt feel thats still dripping with flavor and a nice bitter dry yet flavorful lingering finish. Just the slightest bit of heat thats really hardly there. Nice thick feel.

Overall a nice beer that deserves good revues and stands out from the pack of most beers in this style. Excellent.

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Photo of Klym
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Night cap in another session with Cavery. Review from notes. 2011 Parabola. Poured into an oversized wine glass.

A: Black with no light penetration whatsoever besides a brown ring around the top. An initially generous head for an RIS, composed entirely of larger tan bubbles. Head dies quickly.

S: Terriyaki, baked seitan, chocolate, and hickory all in the nose. Sniffing with any extra intensity will likely get some alcohol burn in the nose, warning me right off it was likely going to be a little hot.

T: Brown sugar, bourbon, and a little roast hit on the initial taste, followed by a wave of creamy, melted chocolate that transitions into crem brulee with an emphasis on the burnt sugar. After the flavors mostly disappear your mouth feel and lingering taste is much like a while after you've had an awfully good piece of chocolate-- a little bitter, a little sweet, and even a little salty. Alcohol is a little too evident in the initial and middle taste, making aging seem promising. Overall, very nice flavors that like most RIS evolve with slight temperature changes.

M: Loved the mouthfeel on this, but it being just a nudge on the watery side in the mouthfeel kept me from giving it a 5.0. Carbonation and all else were excellent.

O: A really excellent RIS that blends its smokey and bitter notes better than perhaps any other RIS I've had. Some aging to tone down the hotness could perhaps make this my favorite RIS. Definitely a must if you have any love for RIS.

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

750ml 2011 vintage shared with Klym as a saturday night cap. Enjoyed in an oversized wine glass.

A: Black that slowly gives into a deep brown coffee rim. Looks as it should with deep brown bubbles. Looks like a fine dark chocolate dessert with the bubbles resembling fine dark chocolate shavings. Tons of small formed bubbles. Caviar in the glass. One finger head with a violent end pour (wasn't the soberest hand, I won't lie).

S: Strong chocolate almond milk laced with high quality vanilla. There is a sauciness to it that is suggestive of hazelnut butter with an alcohol finish that makes me think sherry. Amazing woody finish to complete a complex nose.

T: A soft and subtle introduction of woodiness. Middle is a deep dark chocolate covered wild raspberry, truly decadent. The nuttiness of the wood cuts through the bitter chocolate. This beer has very solid flavor transitions, a real thinker. There is a hidden spicy quality that sings of shaved chocolate, cocoa nibs, and flash torched brown/cane sugars. A buffet of dark digestives.

M: Light prickling carbonation dances around bitter chocolate in such a way that you believe you have something fancy in your mouth. A winner of a mouth, like a dark chocolate cotton candy that tingles as it goes. A truly wonderful sequence of slow evaporation. A wonderful fit to the medium-heavy body.

O: Worth the excitement, this beer has some real cascading flavors. I highly recommend sitting with this beer a bit colder, and letting it go its full flavor spectrum even beyond recommended serving temp. It remains a dessert beer throughout, featuring truly deep chocolates with a fancy alcohol pairing. Many in the style come off savory, even starting out in the realm of salty meats; but I would emphatically say that this beer came off as dessert even when a bit cold. The rolling flavors fought for my attention, and I tried to quell their excitement so that they all could be heard, "One at a time, not all at once!". This is a deep brew. It's like the first time you watch Mulholland Drive: You don't know what just happened, but you know that it was good. Would drink again, tomorrow or years later. Hold on to a few for yearly celebrations.

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Photo of BigB415
4.36/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

After waiting a month I was finally able to get my hands on 2 of these and the wait was worth it.

A: Pitch black with brown head. Heavy lacing.

S: Smells of bourbon and chocolate.

T: Tastes of bourbon, chocolate and fruit like plums and cherries. Alcohol burn too that lingers as you lick your lips and get more chocolate.

MF: The bourbon and chocolate notes linger on your palate and makes you want more which I wouldn't mind until the bottle is empty.

This is a great limited release stout. Even though it's aged in bourbon barrels it's very forward on the nose but very subtle on the palate. With some age on this the bourbon will probably be gone and the chocolate will be more pronounced but I will have to find that out myself.

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Photo of russwbeck
4.62/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 Vintage.

A: Very dark black pour with about a pinky of light brown head. Not a lot of retention and minimal lacing here.

S: Bourbon, oak, and vanilla noticed first and foremost. A bit of roastiness and other characteristics of a stout. Not a lot of the booze noted at all. The smell seems to be right on par with the other good Bourbon Barrel aged stouts.

T: The taste is everything I hoped it would be. Big bourbon and vanilla flavor, aided by some chocolate and hints of coffe, starts it off with some warming booziness following. This RIS has been aged on so many barrels I can't say much of a stout flavor remains, but the coffee finish is really very good. If only it retained some original hoppiness or stout flavors, this would be one of the best beers crafted today.

MF: Velvety smooth; creamy, and thick body. Plenty of carbonation and a flavor that keeps you coming back for more. The 13% ABV is essentially non-existant, which for a beer this good is nothing short of dangerous.

O: This was $15 per bomber and really hard to get. Every place I found it they had one case and was hidden in the back. Considering the amount of work Firestone Walker puts into this beer, I'm quite happy to taste the result. They really must know what they're doing. Probably the best barrel aged RIS I've had, but I'll review it below Kate the Great simply because Kate has a better RIS taste without the Bourbon, this is good, but I'm missing the stout characteristics mainly. Truly lives up to the hype.

2012 Vintage

A Black pour with a finger of dark brown head. The retention is great, lacing could be better. 4.5

S Big hit of bourbon with equally large dark fruits, molasses with an impressive chocolate body. Just a huge smell that is unlike any we've had so far. 5

T My word I forgot how good this beer was. Beautifully integrated bourbon, chocolate, roast, and molasses. The bourbon and chocolate is just outstanding. This is one of the best bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts on the market. 5

MF Thick, heavy body with a low carbonation. Hits of alcohol throughout. The drinkability is high because it's so delicious. 4.5

Pairing: This smokey cheese was actually quite good. It paired perfectly with the bourbon in the beer. Sweet, smokey,l cheese with wheat bread and this stout is very good. 5

O The highlight of the night. Delicious in every way. Balanced, delicious, and paired well. 4.5

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Photo of Smakawhat
4.38/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2011, poured into a large snifter.

A nice solid simple light brown, creamy head given to dark walnut black body. Nice whisps on the top of the drink with a good sheen. Some small leg action that's about it. Not much more I could say but it looks very impressive.

Bouquet is a one trick pony. But it is a good one, it is a giant creamy vanilla bomb... that's it, there is no sense of heat from the high mentioned abv at all.

Taste is once again vanilla dominant. It's everywhere, it's creamy as all get out. However it masks much of the flavor profiles of chocolate, coffee, that one would expect. I also strangely got a sensation of orange fruit on this a bit which was interesting. The beer is so big as well on its feel, but there is not even a hint of boozy alcohol what so ever, it's like a giant chocolate milk shake.

Overall stupidly addictive, but not my favorite I think. Still quite an exceptional product I must say. I wish the nose was more varied.

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Photo of Adrianized
4.27/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage, poured into a snifter.

Pours a thick pitch black with a one finger mocha head which settles to a ring.

On the nose I get roasted malt, roasted espresso, chocolate, molasses, prunes, fried plantains, and caramel... All very well balanced with bourbon and oak.  Smells amazing.

I predominately taste bitter dark chocolate, cocoa, and a shot of strong Italian espresso.  There's a deep complexity in the spices that I'm having trouble placing... cinnamon, cayenne pepper?  Hints of bourbon at the end, just enough to let you know it's there. EDIT: As it warms up, it's actually not teribbly complex at all. I'm mostly just getting bitter dark chocolate overload...

Mouthfeel is nothing like I've ever experienced before in a stout.  When it first hits your tongue, it tingles a bit... I can't tell if that's fine carbonation, spices, or alcohol burn.  Either way, I welcome it.  Otherwise, it's full-bodied and coats the palate with bourbon and bitterness.

Overall, I'd say this beer lives up to the hype.  It's probably the most complex stout I've had, the only thing it lacks is superior smoothness and drinkability... Something a little age will surely cure.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 6,829 ratings