Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

1,196 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: 1,196 | Ratings: 6,314
Photo of stevoj
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Sampled at Boise’s Imperial Stout get together, over 120 bottles to choose from. Going with the flow on this rating. Sampled again at Alefort, 2015 vintage.Very smooth and silky, chocolate, molasses, wood and mild burn. Extremely tasty.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.57/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The deepest darkest black with a head that is brown and red like cherry cola. Aroma was bourbon for sure, oak, vanilla, roast, chocolate malt.

A great blend of taste, easily covers alcohol. Everything in moderation, no one aspect of the beer dominates too hard. Super chewy. Never hot, harsh or boozy, very well balanced. At this price and distribution level, this is an elite 1st tier bourbon barrel beer.

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Photo of Gambyt20
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow absolutely amazingly! Can't even nit pick much here. So complex yet so well balanced. Every flavor, tone, ingredient shines thru without overtaking another. So much depth in flavor as it sits. So smooth and velvet.

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Photo of user-951
4.33/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap, last pour (perhaps why it slightly underwhelmed). No vintage so 2016?

Beautiful black pour with espresso head. Smelled great, whiskey and a sweet stout. Picked up some subtleties but no notes so not sure what.
First few tastes were wonderful but became a bit sweet afterwards. Still well above average but not something to seek out.

That said, since it was the last pour of the keg I would like to try it again as the FW barrel aged beers have generally been among my favorites. And of course it was in no way bad. Way to easy to drink at 14%

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2015 Vintage on tap @ Blue Monkey - NJ

Look - Pitch black with a solid two finger mocha head. Looks so good in the glass
Smell - Bourbon, vanilla, coconut, chocolate, coffee
Taste - A wonderful amount of bourbon, toasted coconut, vanilla, oak, coffee, milk chocolate, hints of booze on the back end
Feel - Not as thick as lets say BCBS, but has a lovely mouthfeel in it's own right. Mouth coating, medium plus body, oily

Overall - Not only a top notch BA stout but has moved its way into one of my top beers overall spots. Simply amazing.

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Photo of jcflorian
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage poured into snifter.

Look- Jet black, very little carbonation, nice lacing on the glass with noticeable alcohol legs.
Smell- chocolate, vanilla, oak.
Taste- Incredible smooth, velvety taste lingering on pallet. Top notch.
Feel- suitable for style.
Overall- One of the top 5 Russian Imperial Stouts I have ever had.

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Photo of pbgnar
4.86/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2015 vintage on tap

Perfect blend of coffee and bourbon flavor. Lots of flavors on both ends but they combine to create a very sweet and smooth flavor

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Photo of reds2harleys
4.27/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Nice stout, pours dark like a stout should. Has the proper look and feel of a stout. A little over boozy but not bad for a 14 ABV. I enjoyed this brew but not as much as I hoped and for me there are many better stouts out there. Would I drink it again - sure - but will I seek it out - not really.

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Photo of Tiburon
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'11, in a snifter. Tastes a lot like brandywine initially. Something of a prune taste to it, which I normally would reject. Very mellow, creeps up on you. Somewhat acidic aftertaste as it warms up. Overall, outstanding

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

Pours dark brown. Delightful scent. Minimal heat. If I'd have tried this before Bourbon County 2014/15, I'd have been blown away, but as it was it was a,ittle thinner, a little less complex, but also a little less sweet.

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Photo of Biggtriksta
4.83/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Exceptional beer. I split a bomber of this one with a buddy after we found one for $20 a couple of years ago in upstate NY. Such a dark, robust flavor with a smooth, creamy, rich mouthfeel and incredible warmth on the way down. Highly recommended to all as it is one of my favorites.

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

Very dark ruby pour, with a tan head with good retention. Rich smell of bourbon, milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, dark cherries, roasted malts and vanilla. Very well balanced taste, with notes of bourbon that do not overwhelm, followed by dark cherries, milk chocolate, vanilla and cocoa. Silky smooth texture and a very well balanced taste, not too sweet, not too bitter and not too boozy.

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Photo of HopHunter19
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - dark brown black with mocha head that fades quick (high ABV), looks like motor oil. 
S - bourbon, oak, smoke, dark chocolate, espresso, vanilla, toffee, caramel, toasted coconut, big roasted malts
T - Super smooth, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, smokiness, tobacco, leather, roasted malts, nice barrel flavors, caramel, coconut, burnt marshmallow
M - super thick, alc covered, aftertaste is coffee, bourbon, roasted malts, smoke, and oak barrel flavors. 
O - I've heard this is the best of all the batches so far. I can't argue with that. Probably THE best barrel aged imperial stout that I've had. Hands down amazing. Have had on tap twice and out of the bottle twice and it never dissapoints.

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Photo of LouZ
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Opened the 2014 vintage on 1/4/16. Much more impressive compared to previous tasting. Poured with a finger of short-lived head. Aroma was amazing - vanilla, caramel, bourbon, oak. Taste characteristics matched, balancing sweetness with the dark, roasty notes of a good stout. This is very smooth. Feel is medium tending toward a bit full body and a little hot at first. Feels like a sip of good, straight bourbon with warmth in the back of your throat. But as the beer warms to room temperature, the booziness evens out. Overall, an excellent BA stout and worth it's lofty status.

Had the 2013 version from a cellared bomber; label read No. 004. Poured black with no head so I had to knock the look score a bit. Scent was kinda like a wet dog, I hate to say. Taste was better; you really got the smokey oak presence, which was nice. It was a little boozy, but not overwhelming. Mouthfeel was good; not flat, as I feared, but moderate carbonation. Overall, it was a good strong stout that got better as it warmed up; didn't really blow me away as hype had me expecting. Looking forward to trying my 2014 to compare.

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Photo of WillDavis707
4.96/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

One of my all time favorite. I try to scoop up as many bottles as i can when it's around.

Pours pitch black with a nice dark head. Aromas of bourbon, chocolate and tobacco. Taste like the perfect balance of bourbon and imperial stout, just boozy enough, but not overpowering.

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Photo of Jaycase
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage

Pours black with virtually no head. Aroma of marshmallow, chocolate & oak. Tastes like liquid chocolate with a nice boozy burn on the backend. Mouthfeel is just about perfect. First time having Parabola and it's a good one. One of the better BA stouts I've had that's for certain. Incredibly smooth & surprisingly mellow for a 14% beer, although cumulatively the ABV will still beat you like it did me. Maybe the one year mellowed it some. Will have to try a bottle fresh some time.

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Photo of EagleAgedStout
4.89/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This Imperial Stout is without a doubt a staple in barrel aged giants. 1 year in the bottle transforms this into one of smoothest, tastiest beers ever made! A must try for any beer enthusiast

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Photo of drmeto
4.92/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2015 Release

-pours the darkest of brown with no light coming through and a tiny,quickly dissipating head
-coffee,roasty,sweet chocolate,bourbonvanilla,syrup,molasses,caramel,toffee,medicinal,licorice
-toasty and dry finish
-low to medium carbonation
-medium to full body
An absolute flavour Bomb.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.8/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter glass. It pours a dark mahogany - nearly black, with a very thin khaki colored head and virtually no lacing. The smell is of rich, dark chocolate, coffee, oak, and, of course, bourbon. The taste is absolutely amazing; one of very few "5's" I've ever given. All the flavors are evident and they blend exquisitely: dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, molasses, and black cherry. I'm not sure I can even discern all the wonderful flavors. You really taste the bourbon at the end but considering the ABV is 14%, there really isn't a strong alcohol burn, which is amazing to me. This stout is moderately thick, not nearly as chewy as some, and it is lightly carbonated. While it is absolutely a sipper, it is an easy one. Overall, Parabola actually exceeds its hype. It is positively decadent. Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style and I simply haven't had one better than this. I just wish I could find more of it!

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Photo of spacecake9
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade and saved for Christmas.
A - Pours a brown black with very little head.
S - The aroma is first dark chocolate and then booze.
T - The flavor follows the nose. And this is without a doubt the best tasting dark chocolate in beer I have ever had. The alcohol comes in at the very end and finishes perfectly.
M - Not as thick and chewy as you might expect. Low carbonation.
O - My latest WOW beer. Perfectly balanced, perfectly done. Just outstanding. Wish I had more.

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

Wow. Nose is all bourbon. First sip unveils tons of chocolate, sweet vanilla and oak notes, and smooth bourbon. A second wave of flavors comes on with dark fruits, some fantastic coconut notes, and a tasty roasted coffee finish

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Photo of gcasher
4.26/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at buellton barrel works. No bottles available. Bourbon dominates with oak over stout flavors, but very tasty and viscous mouthfeel is great. Pitch black, strong alcohol, a great sipper.

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

This is one that I will generally buy several bottles of each year, and it never disappoints. Rich with dark fruit fudge like characteristics with just enough bitter to balance everything out. I actually prefer this fresh, rather than with some age on it.

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Photo of CNoj012
4.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Been saving this beer for a special occasion. Beer #300 on BA qualifies right? This beer pours a beautiful jet black with slight highlights of amber when held up directly to the light. The head is a nice fluffy light brown that eventually disappears into just a ring around the outside of the glass. There are also nice sheets of lacing. Smell is fantasic and complex. Bourbon, oak, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of vanilla are most prominent to me. Taste is the same, and although there is a good amount of bourbon flavor, it does not come across as too boozy. Feel is rich and full bodied, a bit slick. Overall this beer is outstanding, fantastic, amazing and any other synonym you can come up with. Need to trade for more ASAP.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.61/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours rich, velvety dark chocolate and appears black in a Tap and Mallet snifter. A half-inch, creamy chestnut head lasts five minutes, leaving spotty lace and a viscous film.

Rich, dark fruit fills the aroma of luscious malt. Specific notes of molasses, fresh pumpernickel bread, chocolate syrup, cherry, light cognac, figs, and dates. The depth and layers of character are amazing and become more pronounced with warmth.

The flavor opens with charred malt and espresso, balanced against modest bitter-sweetness. The focus is on malt and fruit, but oak and espresso are clearly present throughout. As with the aroma, warmth helps to develop the flavor characteristics. Alcohol becomes more pronounced in a modest but lingering malt-centric finish.

Parabola has a dense, chewy body with warming alcohol. Carbonation is modest and cleansing of a creamy velvet texture that leaves residual sugar on the lips.

This is a sipping beer, unquestionably well paired with reading or a cigar while seated in soft leather chairs and surrounded by books.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,314 ratings.
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