Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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6,775 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: 6,775 |  Reviews: 1,302
Photo of BarrytheBear
4.35/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 model

Stouty looking stout

Smells of roast, wood, vanilla, and bourbon: rather inviting.

Bourbon has mellowed in the year since I last had this, but plays wonderfully over the base stout. Barrel imparts smoke, rich vanilla, light woodiness, and milk chocolate covered cherry.

Mouthfeel is medium thick and lowly carbonated, making this is nice, enjoyable, should be sipper, that I chose rather to injest in swatchbuckling sized gulps.

Time has been kind to ye old Parabola. 13% my foot!

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Photo of ottovon
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: a dark brown almost black with a brown head.

S: i get a lot of chocolate and bourbon. there is vanilla and some oak. caramel, roast malt, and hints of coffee and toffee.

T: i get bitter dark chocolate, bourbon, oak. i get some burnt malt and toffee, with hints of coffee. there is dark fruit and molasses. there is a touch of sweetness and brown sugar.

M: it has a thick body with medium-low carb.

O: a great beer. I would never pass this beer up.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.92/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter glass.

A - Motor oil black with a tan head forming only at the edges.

S - Booze, oak, chocolate, and coffee.

T - The flavors roll onto the tongue in the same order, and are very pronounced. Booze, oak, chocolate, coffee.

D - A slightly bitter finish, but I was surprised by how balanced the mouthfeel was.

O - A complex RIS, very nice and warming.

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Photo of arizcards
4.59/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up 2 bombers in mid-June 2010 from BevMo for $15.99 each. I know the adage of trying one fresh and aging one but i sat both of them in my wine cooler given my experience with Goose Island Bourbon Stout (too hot).

Beer poured black as night with a brown head that dissapated quickly.

Nose is chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and charred oak. It does not get any better than that.

Taste is big on dark chocolate, bourbon is definitely treading lightly in the background. Notes of vanilla and hops balance the sweetness quite well.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and very smooth.

Overall drinkability is very good. This is definitely a world class brew. Viscosity is not quite what i had hoped but very good nonetheless. Definitely one to pursue for impy stout lovers!

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

I enjoyed this beer last week at the Savor.

Pours a very deep black with a nice light brown head that fades slowly into a ring, light lacing.

Aroma of bourbon, smoke, vanilla and chocolate.

Taste was smoky, roasty, woody, strong bourbon, with a mix of vanilla, toffee and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel was full to medium body, very smooth and boozy. A very nice bourbon ending.

Overall this is an outstanding Imperial Stout, there is a nice bourbon flavor, not the alcohol taste you get with the majority of bourbon barrel stouts. Great job.

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Photo of Sebowski
4.59/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks good. Nice cooper bubbles.
Smell is all chocolate bourbon and barrel. Love it.
Tastes like awesome. First taste if barrel smoothness. Followed by a nice roast with some oak and a little bit of rare in the bite. Aftertaste gets you the bourbon I'm after when I drink a bourbon barrel stout.
Mouthfeel is as it should be. Nice aggressive after taste. perfect consistency.
Overall I am really looking this brew. Much better than I remember it from last year, though I didn't have it very often last year.

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Photo of stupac2
4.42/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Pours a dark black with a couple fingers of light brown head. Smell is strongly vanilla, delicious bourbon vanilla. Mouthfeel is warm, the booziness coming through. Tastes magnificent, I love the vanilla, also roasty flavors coming through strongly. The main detractor (for me, at least) is the booziness, at 13% I'd expect it to be coming through somewhat less, actually. But I'm cellaring a few bottles, and I anticipate that age will mellow this and make it even better.

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

Pours a rich black with dark brown head. Nose is rich with vanilla woody components, toffee, & creme de brûlée. Palate offers a rich combo of roasty flavors, vanilla wood bourbon elements again, and finishes delightfully boozy. Full bodied. Simply a hedonic delight.

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Photo of pumptrick
4.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured hard into my Reidel snifter which rendered a beautiful 2 finger head.

A- Pitch black with a wonderful brown head

S- Bourbon smoke vanilla chocalate and fruit

T- Bourbon roast barly vanilla booze and some dark fruit with the booze lingering

M- all over coater and lingerer if thats a word. this thing hangs on for minutes

O- outstanding overall but would love for the price to be more along the lines of stone brews. That being said I bought several and will enjoy every sip.

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

Staring into the depths of the sea at night. This beer smells like bourbon, chocolate, and coffee with the latter two struggling to persevere over the bourbon. The taste follows the nose with alcohol being prevalent but not overbearing; aftertaste of hops, dark chocolatiness, and bourbon. Light carbonation, nice creamy mouthfeel, and some heat from the 13% abv. Overall an awesome impy stout that sneaks up on you and won't let you go.

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Photo of Jazzcrop
4.67/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tastes are smoke, a humidor, cigars, dark chocolate, hops, wood fire, British crystal, bourbon, oak, oats, dark fruits, (alotta) booze, fastly-warming heat, a little milk sugar/lactose, menthol, vanilla beans -- strong, caramel-covered apples, tea leaves and silk.

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

poured from a bottle to a 17oz brandy snifter which was perfect for smelling the amazing aroma this beer puts off.

A- black, 2cm head with excited pour

S- bourbon and barrel with some maltiness

T- very smooth bourbon up front followed by oak and sweetness, vanilla finishes it up and leaves a sweet taste in your mustache/flavor saver. the alcohol heat is perfect for a big RIS like this. Firestone sure has their barrel aging down to an art.

M- this was fairly soft on the tongue very drinkable, i was hoping for a bit heavier but i dont think that is firestones style

O- Firestone has a very respectable stout here. i'm glad i bought a few bottles of this to age

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Photo of Allpe45
4.57/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at The Hungry Monk
Appears black, no head but I blame the pour. Little to no lace either.
Smells delightful, dark bitter chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, smokey bourbon and a bit of booze.
Extremely well balanced for what it is. This is the the most balanced "fresh" barrel aged beer I've had. Starts out roasty and chocolatey with hints of vanilla, in the middle it takes a complex dark fruity turn, with dark wine varietals and a bit of tartness. Bourbon flavor and a slight bitterness in the finish. along with some heat that is to be expected from a 13% barrel aged beer. Still this beer is incredibly smooth and balanced compared to other "fresh" barrel aged imperial stouts.
This is way too drinkable for what it is. Medium-heavy bodied with low carbonation, incredibly smooth, not too chewy but on par for the style.
This is my second time having it on tap and I look forward to having it again if there is any left tomorrow. Be sure to let it warm up before imbibing.

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Photo of bigbelcher
4.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage on tap.

Color is dark brown, almost black. Aroma was intense boubon, vanilla and caramel, no hop aroma. Taste was fantastic as expected. Huge alcohol beer that reeally needs to warm up to be fully appreciated. Flavors of oak, biurbon, vanilla and chocolate malt. The beer is extremely well balanced and complex. Mouthfeel was light for such a big beer. Bought a bottle to let age a good while.

Great beer.

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

Had this on tap at the taproom In Buelton

Look: Extremely dark purple color to the point where no light can pass through it the beer had very little head maybe because it was poured to the very top of the 6oz snifter and had very little lacing

Smell: Spicy bourbon notes and alcohol are the front runners on this beer and are back up with hints of roasted coffee and chocolate

Taste: Much of the same as the smell. This beer can be alittle over powering on the power and the 13% abv is definately noticeable. When you get past that it has a very nice flavor profile with hints of burnt oak, coffee, chocolate and bourbon

Mouthfeel: It has a very silky smooth feel on the palate with alittle bit of heat from the bourbon and abv

Overall: This beer is good now but will be great with at least 1yr of aging most likely 2 just to dumb down the alcohol punch that it gives you and lets the true flavors really come through. So buy several like I did and forget about them

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Photo of kayalla
3.58/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this numerous time, both batch 1 and batch 2. This is my first review though I've been scouring this site for some time and going out of my way to collect bottles. On the the beer...from a batch 1 bottle. Pours black in the glass with a small brown head. Aroma was molasses, roasted grains, chocolate, hot bourbon. Really pronounced flavors, a lot of that molasses I got with dark chocolate, maybe some raisins. As a BA stout it's all right, not my favorite. Mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Kind of messy and really sweet overall. I guess this would fall into the "over rated" camp in my book.

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Photo of snpub540
4.66/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep black with hints of brown at thee bottom and when held up to light. A vigorous pour yielded a one finger head that was a coffee brown and quickly turned into a very small ring of bubbles.

Aroma was slightly faint I thought for sucbh a big beer. Aromas of oak, coffee, roasted malts and a hint of the alcohol held within were present.

The flavors during my first sip were incredible. A complex mix of coffee, vanilla, roasted malt, dark fruit, and black licorice. As it warmed the roasted malts and coffe got stronger and so did the bitterness. With all that going on, there was hardly a notice of the alcohol content unless I took a really big gulp.

The mouthfeel was pretty much perfection. Smooth and thick like velvet. It was pretty much like drinking off of cask. Drinkability was great for such a big beer, but next time I'll probably spli the bottle with someone. This was outstanding and I'm glad I got a few more to put down.

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

Nearly black body with a brown head. Aroma and taste consist of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, caramel. Exceedingly smooth taste - perhaps the most expertly bourbon barrel aged beer I've had yet. Mouthfeel is thick with appropriate carbonation.

Really a top notch -bal aged stout. Exceedingly good and smooth.

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

A - Very dark brown, nearly opaque with a short lived, dense mocha head. Little lacing.

S - Dark fruits, vanilla, chocolate and a little roast. Very inviting.

F/M - Very similar to nose with a nice bourbony dark malt backbone. Vanilla and warm dark fruits. Full bodied with moderate carbonation. Nice semi-dry finish making me want another sip.

O - Another outstanding -bal from FW. Tasty, rich and quite enjoyable. Too bad it's in such limited quantities.

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Photo of claybeerman
4.3/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was really thrilled with this beer. A very enjoyable Imperial Stout.

Firestone Walker Brewing Co. is becoming one of my favorite breweries. And lucky for me it is only 45 minutes away from my house. So whenever they have something fun on tap or realeasing, I try to stop by and see what's going on. I had one of those opportunities last month when Firestone Released their Parabola in bottles at the tasting room in Paso Robles, Ca.

Serving type:
on-tap poured into a 6oz snifter and 22oz bottle poured into a large wine glass.

It is quite dark. I held it up to the light in a large wine glass and even at the edges it was hard to see any light coming through.

Much more fragrant in the large wine glass than in the snifter. My buddy and I would just sit and smell it over the course of the half hour it took us to finish the 22. It is almost as enjoyable to smell as it is to drink.

Compared to:
My other favorite in the imperial stout category would be Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout which I would say is quite similar. There is definitely much less of an alcohol taste with Parabola. I would say that when it comes to flavor, they are right on par with each other. It would be hard to name a favorite.

With Parabola now in bottles (and $15 for a 22 at the taproom), I am very happy that an amazing Imperial Stout will be accessible now. Way to go again Firestone!

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Photo of cb462
4.47/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle, poured into a Spiegelau (classic pilsner) tulip.

A-Poured dark as night with a full one inch creamy mocha head, which dissipates to a lasting film. Beautiful lacing.

S-Oak tannins, vanilla, caramel, all aspects of the bourbon blending in nicely. Bitter chocolate and roasted malt intermingling underneath the sweet bourbon aroma. Just a hint of bourbon soaked dark fruit.

T-Vanilla and caramel are the key players here. Again, bitter chocolate and oak coating the mouth. Light fig/date sweetness. Ass end leaves a lasting rich caramel/vanilla bourbon warmth. Delicious. Leaves you salivating for the next sip.

M-Spot on. Not to thick, not too thin. Carbonation is just right. Again, a really inviting bitterness coats your mouth.

O-A really nice BA stout. In my eyes, it doesn't tackle Silva, but is up there with a lot of other great examples of the style. I did a lot of leg work to track down bottles of this in the greater San Diego area. Firestone seems to spread our limited release allotment pretty thin, but I was glad to pick up several of these. I think a year or so would do interesting things to this, but its going to be hard not to crack into more.

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Photo of nataku00
4.53/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2010 release on tap at Public House poured into a tulip glass. Poured a very dark brown / black with a half a finger of creamy mocha colored head. Head dissipated after several minutes to a thin collar at the edge with some nice lacing. Swirling reformed a finger of quickly dissipating head and showed a bit of alcohol legs.

Nose was very nice, rich dark chocolate, smoothly brewed coffee, dried dark fruits plums and raisins, molasses, red wine like fruit and a tinge of astringency, charred oak, and light vanilla. Really opens up as the beer further warms to room temperature.

Follows the nose. All of fruitiness gets richer as it warmed, along with the charred oak and vanilla. Very nice chocolate, coffee and cherry notes throughout. Delicious.

Full bodied, rich and creamy. Smooth small bubble carbonation further contributes to it. No alcohol detected for this year old keg.

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Photo of illidurit
4.65/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 batch shared at the May Santa Cruz tasting. Pours darkest brown, nearly black, with a coffee colored head. Aromas of sugary coffee, dark chocolate, graham crackers, and roasted malt. Flavor is punishingly strong coffee, dark bitter chocolate, immense roastiness, eternal black coffee bitterness, smoldering oak. Just an obliterating beer.

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Photo of beertunes
3.47/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I know that this is a highly rated and sought after beer, but for me, it just didn't meet the hype. It was the expected black, but had no head. The aroma was subdued to the point of blandness. Some grainy malt, a whisper of roast and a solid alcohol scent.

The flavors weren't any bolder or more well-defined. The body was decent although much thinner than typical, which did help with drinkability. Overall, a good but not great beer. A relative disappointment from FW, a brewery I think very highly of.

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Photo of alexhahn82
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured pitch black like Vin Diesel into over sized "Balloon" wine glasses, 1 finger head that dissipates at a medium pace.

S. Coffee, Toffee, Vanilla, Chocolate.

T/M - Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, Chocolate, Toffee, slight vanilla, almost no hint of bourbon flavor on its own, though you can tell its in there. Thick and rich bodied, reminded me of Black Gold BBL.

Overall - I am not sure about the hype on this one, don't get me wrong its good, and should age very well. I prefer a bit more presence of bourbon on something aged in bourbon barrels.

PP (Price Point) -- I paid a $5 premium on the bottle, it should have been around $15 but I paid $20 and snagged 3 bottles. I will probably get a few more for trading but as I said didn't really live up to the hype to me, though it was an excellent beer, only slightly above average for the style.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 6,775 ratings