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Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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6,597 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

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Ratings: 6,597 |  Reviews: 1,257
Photo of MexicanSkittel
4.22/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

13% ? Yah you can certainly feel the heat in the after taste of this little gem. But the sweet port like upfront taste is a good balance to the Alc.
When I received this glass last night I noticed the very light cream colored head floating on an over powering DARK brown with highlights of black.
The nose was pleasant notes of coffee grounds, burbon, chocolate, and a subtle oak lingering.
Along with the smells I tasted each of those in this beer, along with a sweetness of port, which I think better described as Burbon in cherrywood casks.
I was preparing my mouth for a more viscous beer from the color, but it was a little lighter in texture, but it made up for that in the Alc. Then having a lasting finish of an irish coffee made from sweet american burbon, without the cream.
Quite a drinkable beer, but make it an after dinner sipper, or pair with bacon pancakes for a sunday brunch to get your day started.
Another yummy beer from the Firestone Walker.

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4.28/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My wife picked this up for me a while ago.

Appearance- black color, thin head

Smell- chocolate, roasted malt, bourbon

Taste- strong flavor of bourbon, vanilla,oak, bitter aftertaste,, very interesting

Mouthfeel- full bodied

Drinkability- really good, I would like to get another one to share with my friend who is into stouts.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.55/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review #700


Pours forth from the bottle with a viscosity so great that a rheologist would marvel at it. It appears ebony, with a huge light brown head, excellent retention, and scattered lacing.

The nose exhibits a great blend of caramel, roasted malt, and chocolate. The roast is of a moderate strength, and a dash of coffee is evident. There's a nice level of booze heat and a well integrated bourbon character. Do I detect cream? A wonderfully complex and balanced nose.

The taste is earthy bitterness up front with big chocolate and caramel notes, accompanied by a moderate roast and a light astringency. Again, bourbon is well integrated, and quite delicious. The beer finishes with a moderate bitterness, a touch of astringency, and just the right amount of booze heat, with a lingering bourbon-chocolate-caramel character.

The mouthfeel is incredible...full, creamy yet viscous, and sticky, with a lower moderate level of carbonation.

All around, this is an exceptional barrel aged RIS at a reasonable price for the style.

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

Yet another great bottle provided by Sugit - thanks! Shared this (at least a little) with the wife on a lazy 4th of July.

A - Very little head on a vigorous pour - what little there is was a deep brown that faded quickly. Dark, but appears water with no lacing.

S - Not a lot of anything at first, but as it warms there is plenty of bourbon here. Strong, but not harsh.

T&M - VERY mellow, and a ton of flavor. Just a small sip yields tons of flavor. Mostly that same mellow bourbon from the nose, but also plenty of well balanced sweetness and just a bit of alcohol heat. The mouthfeel is thin, with the bourbon component slicing through the thickness of the malts, and carbonation is low. This detracts for me a bit, but it does work for the style. It could be flat and still dance on the tongue with all of the flavor that is present.

D - This is very much a sipper as the flavors linger forever even in small quantities. However, the ABV is almost invisible, which is astounding.

Great beer that lives up to the hype!

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Photo of emerge077
4.49/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Wil for busting this out at the Ludachris summer bbq. Never thought i'd ever see a bottle of this! Review is from notes.

Pours placidly with little activity, inky black with a glassy surface. Some sticky mocha foam flecks to the edges, forming a ring with some spotty lace too. As the glass is tilted, traces of tiny carb bubbles slowly creep upwards.

Woody tobacco and mellow roasted coffee in the aroma. Just a hint of the barrel, but it's masterfully integrated.

Rich dark chocolate smudged with oak, with a well integrated taste of mellow bourbon that lingers in the end. Traces of vanilla and coconut blend easily with a mellow bitterness. Though there's little indication of heat, it's still a mellow sipper best shared. I'm most impressed with how seamlessly Parabola is put together, nice work from the team at Firestone Walker...

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.75/5  rDev +3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally! Time to open one of my bottles. Pours a very dark dark obsidian black with a perfect tan/brown head. There's no light getting through this beer. The aromas from Parabola just flow up to my nostrils after opening the bottle. This smells amazing! Huge wooden(oak) scents with tons of chocolate and vanilla. When holding my nose into the glass, I get a nice amount of bourbon blended very well with chocolate, oak, and vanilla. The taste is huge on this thing! This beer is very rich and creamy with amazing complexity. I just get all sorts of flavors that make my palate very happy. The strongest flavors would be the chocolate and vanilla, followed very nearby by the wood and bourbon. I also get some great espresso notes and sweet candy sugar. Amazing taste. The mouthfeel is very rich and thick. This beer is definitely a dessert in itself. For how rich it is, I'm very surprised by the fairly high drinkability. This beer was a real treat that I think everyone should try before they die.

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Photo of pmccallum86
3.33/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a super deep and dark black color with a small bubbly cocoa colored head. The color here is very dark, this beer looks awesome.

Smell is very woody, almost like a campfire. Looks of dark and bitter chocolate aromas as well.

Taste is unlike any other beer I have ever had, very big, rich, and woody. Lots of barrel flavors come through here with a light bourbon burn on the finish. This beer seems a little messy right now, it is very dry, it tastes like I am sucking on wood.

Big, full, and rich mouthfeel. Medium carbonation, a little hot on the finish. Very dry, something seems off.

Overall kind of a disappointing beer. I won't be seeking it out again.

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Photo of jbone78
4.64/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When I first poured this beer, I thought it was flat. No real head and black. I tell my drinking buddy, " I hope this was worth the money"? First smell is coffee, a lot of coffee. Tastes of vanilla, bourbon and chocolate. The flavors blend to perfection. Not a question in my mind that this beer is worth the money. If anyone wants to do a trade, I am in...Because I will never see this beer in Florida.

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

Ok, so I drank half a Parabola the other night and I have to say that the alcohol was well hidden for 13% abv. It was a little chalky but it was also quite well done. I will say that I think this beer does work better as a blend for their anniversary beers but it was still cool. The barrel is not as easy to notice as in the anniversary beers.

update 11/24/10

This was a little better this time, very rich and had a strong barrel/spirit flavor going on. Nice. Its probably way to much to drink a whole bomber by yourself.

update 09/07/11

2011 vintage. Fantastic smell like coconut and cake, wonderful overall. Need more.

update 09/22/12

2012 vintage. This might be the best RIS I have tasted, coconut, chocolate, rich, spirits. It's almost like a boozy German chocolate cake, wow.

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Photo of Krevee
4.45/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Drank: 24 June, 2010 @ My Home
Serving Type / Glass: 22oz bottle / Bruery tulip
Vintage: N/A
Price: $ 15
From Notes: Y

A -Small brown head with light beautiful lacing. Super dark brown almost black in color. Also has a moderate amount of lacing.

S - Roasted malts, dark chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla and bourbon make up the aroma of this beer. Very complex even in smell. The smell is not strong but not light either.

T - Similar to smell. Has a bit of bitterness in the middle and smooths out in the end. Very complex flavor and all the flavors mentioned in the smell are present and blend together very nicely with none of flavors overpowering another.

M - Light carbonation. Super silky and smooth in the mouth and is full-bodied but not over bearing.

D - This is a big beer but it really isn't very hot for the ABV. And is quite easy to drink.

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

Received in the WW3 BIF.

A - Inky black with minimal mocha head after vigorous pour.

S - Bourbon, oak, vanilla, roasted malts, and molasses. Everything you want from a BA RIS.

T - Roasted malts, vanilla, oak, and little booze, and a lingering chocolate aftertaste.

M/D - Low carbonation and viscous means it's oily and coats your mouth. I think it works great for the beer and keeps me sipping it as it warms. I made sure to split the bottle into 3 separate servings so I could enjoy it longer.

Move over Abyss, I have a new favorite BA RIS.

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Photo of DwnTwnBwn
4.58/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoying a bottle with the little lady (side note; she must have and affinity for F.W. yeast because she seems to enjoy all of there beers)

A- Pours a beep black, no light passes through. Had to pour a bit more vigorous towards the end to pull out a decent head. The beer is viscous, coast teh glass after a swirl.

S - Big a sweet, touches of bourbon and dark chocolate. On deeper inhales roasted barley comes through.

T- Very good beer. Eminence flavor. Sweet roasted barley up front that moves quickly to a complex bourbon finish. Bitter dark chocolate notes as well as plenty of vanilla notes round out the flavor profile.

M - A touch flat for an RIS in my opinion, the feel is silky smooth, pleasant taste on the tongue after each sip.

O- Love this beer, its a big sweet RIS with no major drawbacks and all the right flavors.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.32/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had at Lukafer's going away tasting. Forgot who brought this amazing bottle. Review from phone notes...

A- Pour a deep dark black color. One and a half finger tan head that has really good retention for the ABV. Some spotty lacing on the sides of the glass but nothing much other than that.

S- Roasted malts in the front of this give way to a vanilla aroma. Bourbon-y flavors with light oak in the middle. Some alcohol hotness which tingles the nose. Brown sugar and light bitter chocolate.

T- Big roasted malts in the front end of this. Some chocolate malt undertones which also shows a good vanilla backing. Oaky notes soaked in a bourbon like alcohol take over everything for a short while before coming back with a coffee bite to it.

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation was good for the style but a little light for me personally. Roasted malts with vanilla backing left on the palate with a coffee bourbon aftertaste. Flavors were well blended but shined individually. Very drying for me on the palate. Clean flavors overall.

D- A wonderful beer overall by Firestone Walker. This beer I can tell will only get better with age or at least a couple more years on it. I am going to be looking for a few bottles for the cellar. Well worth the praise in every way.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.63/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a - pours a deep, viscous-looking, black color, two-finger cappuccino colored head, great retention and lacing, especially at this high abv

s - deep toasty malt, cherry cola and dark fruit, graham cracker, bourbon boozy note along with a considerable toasty oak note

t - very well integrated flavors with no much harshness at all, big dark chocolate, brown sugar, light caramel notes up front, midpalate has a dose of cherry and plum flavors mixed in with the toasted oak and vanilla, finish is a little hot with bourbon woven in with more vanilla and oak, pretty dry finish that just lasts forever, incredibly complex overall

m - very full-bodied but not as viscous as some Imperial Stouts such as Dark Lord, moderate carbonation, very nice alcohol warming on the palate and in the throat, really coats the palate nicely and lingers

d - definitely not something you're going to take down huge quantities of, but I'm having no problem putting away the bomber currently, and no issues have a few nice sized pours when I had it on tap at the Rose & Crown a month ago, the complexity just begs you to keep on drinking to figure out all the flavors, the alcohol is certainly noticeable, but not overwhelming on the palate, even at 13%, overall, above average in this category for the style

I really liked this on-tap a month ago, and I absolutely love this stuff now out of the bottle. To my palate, I think this may eclipse the bottles of FW 12 and 13 I've had recently. Between this, Abacus and the anniversary series, FW has shown they are masters of big -bal aged beers.

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Photo of andyfrancis
4.12/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black with a thin brown head that fizzled out immediately. hits of red on the edges when held to light.Looks nice in a snifter.

Getting some vanilla, dark chocolate, and booze on the nose.

First taste on my tongue is the wood. Booze is pretty well hidden, though there is a little ting on the tongue.

Slightly chewy, yet clean finishing.

There was a lot of hype around the bottling of this beer, and I'd say it just lives up to it. Not over, not under, but right there. Very tasty.

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Photo of augustgarage
4.38/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Blue Palms Brewhouse - served in a generic snifter.

Bistre/seal brown body, opaque, crowned by a finger of creamy tan foam which recedes to a thin but persistent collar and slick. Rich sticky lacing, light viscous tears.

Brown sugar, molasses, demerara rum, and faint barrel notes in the nose. It takes some time for the aromas to develop at this chilled draught temperature.

Super-intense but masterfully balanced array of roast malt, dark bread crust, vanilla, bourbon, hops, earth, pepper, anise, and more. The profile really blossoms as the ale warms.

Thick, chewy, viscous, but rather sticky. Very slight astringency.

Barrel-aged to perfection, while Firestone gives tremendous attention to their blending, the base beers (especially Parabola and Abacus) are remarkable on their own. ABV is well integrated into the whole - while the stout base isn't as remarkable as the best examples as the style, the subtleties from the barrel are unique to this brewer. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of GarrettMD
4.48/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Jet black with a half finger dark tan head that dissipates very quickly. Good lacing.

S - Malty chocolate scent. Noticeable alcohol aroma in the background. Not as strong as an aroma as I expected for this beer.

T - Very good chocolate/coffee taste working together nicely, hints of oak and vanilla. Some caramel undertones as well.

M - Very smooth rich beer. Not at all thick for an imperial stout either. Faint alcohol burn on the finish.

D - Extremely drinkable. With the chocolate/coffee dominance overpowering the alcohol burn, coupled with its fairly light body, this is an easily drinkable beer.

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Photo of Ineedabeerhere
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for the chance to try this! From notes, split the bottle on 6.18.

Pours black with a small dark brown head into a wine glass. Small dark brown head, fades to ring with some dotted lace, but not much.

Wow, initially I was surprised by how vinous this was. Big fruity cherry/berry notes combining with charred woodsiness. But after the first few sips and as the glass warmed, these flavors were better integrated. Lots of rich malts, great complexity. Good amount of booze, a definite sipper, but this is just massive with great charred wood flavor and chocolate. A bit oily, but great mouthfeel as well. Sipped on my share of the bottle for almost an hour, it is rich and the 13% is warming. Another masterful beer from the FW guys, chooo choooo.

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Photo of vertigelt1
4.83/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served on tap at Blue Palms in Hollywood. At David Walkers suggestion, I tried it with a Garrotxa Sant Gil D'ibio Spanish semi-hard goat cheese. Perfection.

A: midnight black stout, thin kalua-coloured halo of head ringing the snifter.

S: slightly malty, very toasty. A bit of vanillin, tobacco and coca tinged with alcohol.

T: perfect blend of the above, plus notes of chocolate, boysenberry, and anise. Not as mnd bowing as the Avery Black Tot, but damn good.

M: substantial, milky but not thick. noticeable but light carbonation. Perfectly compliments the flavour and the alcohol.

D: glad I got this in a 10 oz. snifter, but I could easily drink three of these in a row, despite the alcohol. Definitely a sipper that gets better as it warms, but over a long session, I could keep going with this all night.

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Photo of maximum12
4.92/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to mrbubbler & my #1 West Coast dealer, cloudskipper, for two bottles of this much-anticipated brew. Firestone is one of two breweries (Founders being the other) that have magic in their barrels.

Pours lightless into a pair of stylin' Selin's Grove goblets; quick, still, & beautiful, as long as it's not spilled in the Gulf. The smell is what the urine of Hades might smell like: divine. Sweet, barrelly, insanely deep malts, coupling with some pretty chocolates.

The taste...Parabola doesn't disappoint. Hype? Screw hype, this is a great beer. Slap a BMC label on it & I'd buy it by the case. Honestly, I don't even know where to start describing the tastiness of this fire-breather. 93 varieties of malts, all complementing one another like a consultant at a convention? Check. Subtle, quiet, but powerful beads of bourbon coating my mouth like WD-40? Check. Blended chocolate, dry oakiness, vanilla, check. But the English language doesn't do it justice, nor would Spanish, or French. As with any superior beer, or puzzle, or good relationship, it's the way the pieces fit together that really matters. And this is a masterpiece.

And also the rare barrel-aged beer where my first, questing sip turned into a long swallow, & I consciously had to remove my lips from glass. A serious beer, but not heavy or cloying, & the barrel aging sets up & plays off everything else.

Masterpiece. So glad I have one more bottle, & I might need another to age down the road. Though I might need to bury this one to keep from having the other bottle tomorrow night.

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Photo of squaremile
4.31/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful packaging for this thing with the box and nice old school label. Pours a true black with a one finger head at first that lowers to bubbles around the edge of the glass. Smell is disappointing with dark fruits and alcohol up front, and vanilla and burn taking a backseat. Flavor is goood. Great synthesis of chocolate, espresso, dark fruits, vanilla, and a tiny alcohol bite that is lower than would be expected after the nose. Pretty dry finish considering the body is medium thick. Mouthfeel is world class. EXCEPTIONALLY SMOOTH. Overall for this being young it is very good. In two years this might be a legend.

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Photo of pixieskid
4/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

From notes; 6/9/10.

Pours a rich dark brown into my trusty snifter.

Med full body with a creamy mouth-feel, with mild carbonation.

Solid chocolate notes up front with a rich malt presence and slight alcohol bite.

Strong notes of oak, coffee bitterness, milky chocolate, with undertones of licorice.

Finishes with a velvet like mouth-feel, milk chocolate and a tingly alcoholic bite.

Overall amazing balance, great mouth-feel, and well blended notes of wood and chocolate.

Not as impressive as the Oak Aged Espresso Yeti I had the night before, but a great Impy stout.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.87/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Special Thanks to Abecall98 for sending me this bottle of Parabola. Abel is a great guy and BA... Trade with him if you have the chance.

Sorry, I love the bottle. Classy, just love it.

Pours with a tan head that stays just for a short visit then vanishes.
Deep dark brown, but not black. Slight light in at the edges. Not much in the lacing department.

Aroma is really nice and thick in your nostrils. Dark chocolate, like brownies... (we'll come back to that), vanilla a bit of alcohol and vanilla. Great aroma.

In the end, here's how I describe the flavor. Rich caramel sauce drizzled over a warm undercooked brownie with a touch of vanilla ice cream. I know that's weird, but those are the flavors I get in the end. Deep rich chocolate, thick caramel and then some vanilla. In fact, some vanilla extract. Only after reading the box do I think I can detect what they mean by cherry, but I would have never picked that up. Very deep and inviting...

My God, this is a thick, full bodied beer. Lays thick on your tongue, slightly oily and with little carbonation. Wonderful and rich.

I loved this. I had a feeling I would and I did. This is the base for the Firestone Anniversary beers and those are among my favorite ever. Now I see why... Just awesome.

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Photo of kirok1999
4.1/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to mcallister (a continuing theme in my reviews) for sharing more beer than Obama shares other people's money.
Pours a nice black with just a hint of off white head. No apparent carbonation.
Smells of mild coffee with a hint of vanilla and chocolate mixed in. Nicely sweet with wisps of dark fruit.
Taste is a mild mix of chocolate and coffee, both fighting for dominance. Not at all overpowering or viscous. The sweetness mixes well with the dark notes in the brew and the dark fruit in the nose really doesn't come through that much.
Rich mouthfeel but not at all dense or cloying. Very nice sipper and this is its best point. Its lack of anything overpowering makes it an excellent sipping beer for those occasions when you don't want to be slammed by a great tasting beer. The alcohol is very well hidden.

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

The one and only Parabola, on-tap at 38 Degrees. The final beer of the night, on to the beer:

Oh my, another darker than black imperial stout! The lacing on this one is actually quite solid for the style. Now in this beer, the barrel qualities are noticable, but are more subtle than the Rasputin XII I had earlier. The aroma is very mellow, with a little oak, and succulent cocoa.

While not as complex, it's still very tasty. There's chocolate, boysenberry(!), licorice, and a little touch of oak. That sounds, good, don't you think? And they're blended and balanced together with the craftsmanship of FW. It's thick and rich, yet never overbeaing or harsh on the palate.

Do I need to say that this is delicous beer? A bomber of this may be a little much for me, but I'd certainly be happy to split one with somebody in the future...or be lucky and find Parabola on-tap again.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 6,597 ratings
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