Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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100
world-class
6,459 Ratings
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ParabolaParabola
BEER INFO

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
This Russian imperial oatmeal stout is aged for a full year in a blend of bourbon barrels from Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve, and Buļ¬€alo Trace.

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

BEER STATS
Ratings:
6,459
Reviews:
1,235
Avg:
4.54
pDev:
7.93%
 
 
Wants:
3,148
Gots:
3,707
For Trade:
281
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 6,459 |  Reviews: 1,235
Photo of parkingphi
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of Brew33
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of bennettj1087
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of SiegeSpitfire
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of hoppyboy69
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of dcoat
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of Jerryt0000
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of TaylorBrake
3/5  rDev -33.9%

Photo of Trulyamazing
3.03/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This beer confused me. All the hype I've read had me expecting something different. This is just too intense for me. Maybe years from now my pallet will develop to like this one. I love imperial stouts. In fact I prefer them, but there is something going on with this that I couldn't even finish it. Funny thing is, I think I'm the only one.

 341 characters

Photo of rm3
3.03/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of missings0n
3.08/5  rDev -32.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Photo of HoppyDazed
3.11/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

To start I am trying the 2014 vintage and I admit that stouts aren't my preferred style, but I do like trying new things and I do attempt to expand my horizons. That being said, I just didnt really care for this. I found it overwhelmingly sweet. My first sip I immediately get the bourbon, followed by chocolate. The oak and coffee begin to creep in after a couple of sips but sweetness is dominate. The mouth feel is a bit heavy for my preference, but not off-putting necessarily. I can appreciate the number of flavors and the balance of those flavors but this is just not for me. Kind of reminds me a little of a barley wine, maybe I'm way off on that, I dont know. I would say if you know you dont like this style but you are trying it because of the hype (like I did) then save your money and save the bottle for someone that will enjoy it.

 845 characters

Photo of bergaaron
3.12/5  rDev -31.3%

Photo of Desp59
3.19/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pretty smooth. It was 2015 so it might be better with a little age.

67 characters

Photo of obiwan_k3n00bi
3.25/5  rDev -28.4%

One of the first craft beers I ever had, and for some reason I kept one from that same time.

Genuinely bad idea, tasted like old salty raisons.

144 characters

Photo of Mikeluzzjr
3.25/5  rDev -28.4%

Photo of ImperialBrau
3.25/5  rDev -28.4%

Photo of Broden
3.25/5  rDev -28.4%

Photo of Hill4Hops
3.25/5  rDev -28.4%

Photo of groovejackson
3.32/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - What you would expect....complete black...looks good!

Smell - Not overpowering....some currents...some toffee.

Taste - The first and lasting impression is twizzlers. You could think of it as wine but It's a bit medicinal...not in a good way. Alcohol is nicely hidden. I do taste some vanilla and wood as well.

Mouthfeel - nice and smooth....luxurious.

Overal - I was so excited about this one but I have to say I'm disappointed. The synthetic fruit is overpowering and I think it is just not my cup of tea. I really prefer a more cocoa and coffee profile in my Imperial Stouts. I'm glad I tried it but I don't think I'll be getting it again.

 658 characters

Photo of tewaris
3.33/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Batch # 1 poured into a New Belgium balloon. Thanks Frank!

Jet black with a sheet of dark brown bubbles for the head. Hardly any lacing but the beer itself clings to the glass sip upon sip. Certainly "strong" looking.

Aroma is mostly vanilla and bourbon. Some alcohol here and there, nothing fusel though. Taste is signature -bal stout: slightly sweet with notes of vanilla, slightly acidic with a powerful roasty and woody finish and lingering roast on the palate. While not a coffee stout, the aftertaste is very close to chewing on a roasted coffee bean.

Certainly warming in its strength with a medium body among similar examples. The carbonation is too high for my liking. Another flaw, in my opinion, is the excessive wood. Whisky sits in a barrel to get mellow; the effect of barrels on this beer seems to be the exact opposite. Not that I mind an intense beer but Parabola sometimes feels like wood and vanilla, and nothing more.

4, 3.5, 3.5, 2.5, 3

 964 characters

Photo of pmccallum86
3.33/5  rDev -26.7%
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.

 668 characters

Photo of Jayli
3.35/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired from beerbeerbeerbeer so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!

Consumed 4/19
Poured in to my Portsmouth snifter

A: This beer pours an opaque deep brown with a one finger brown head. Head recedes quickly leaving small spots of lacing.

S: Nose is sweet, toffee, molasses, brown sugar and a bit of roast.

T: Taste starts with a sweet vanilla and toffee flavoring. Middle has a roastiness where a hefty dose of alcohol flavoring takes over. Helloooo bourbon! More oaked vanilla notes and bitter bakers chocolate are present in the background.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation, a bit thin and slightly prickly.

O: Goes down alright, somewhat tasty, somewhat filling, decent kick, ok representation of style. I was really looking forward to this beer, and although it's not undrinkable, I would opt for others of the style. Perhaps aging a bit would enhance this beer.

 878 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
3.35/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Revision on 11/5/2011: Batch 001 has simply fallen off a cliff. Less heat, but simpler flavors. I am no longer optimistic about Batch 002 improving. In fact, I'm disappointed: a recipe change that results in a beer I don't particularly enjoy fresh, and it doesn't age into something I enjoy later? Time to be honest with my score. I honestly don't plan to buy Batch 003.

---

Batch 002 review from 6/7/2011.

A: Pours a dark brown body (I'd call it an opaque black, but some light penetration at the edges makes it evident that that's not quite right). A finger of tan head leaves a nice collar on the edges. No lace.

S: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, earth, licorice, tobacco. Bourbon is muted. In reading over my comments for the previous batch, I'm surprised by how much the impressions are the same. They seem to have dialed in the recipe. It's a little hoppier than I remember from last time, though.

T: Dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and an earthy, borderline green hoppy bitterness (Willamette?). The flavors work fairly well together, but I've never been a huge fan of bitterness in my barrel-aged imperial stouts, and I confess that I find it a distraction here. Flavors of tobacco and charred oak only accentuate the bitterness. Bourbon, licorice, and a mild presence of dark fruits (plums) are pleasant, as is the vanilla on the finish, but those are all weaker elements. There's a light spicy bite in the aftertaste.

M: Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. It's creamy. Bitterness lingers on the palate. It's a little warm as far as ABV goes, with a bite to it.

O: It's merely good right now. I suspect it will become better with time as the bitterness fades, but truthfully, I'm not that enthused about it. I wish they would use the old keg recipe.

~~~

Old review of Batch 001: 4 / 4 / 4.5 / 4.0 / 4.0

Chilled bottle into a glass. Split with the girlfriend, who is becoming a connoisseur of expensive barrel-aged stouts.

A: Pours a dark, not fully opaque, black body in the glass, with a finger of short-lived mocha head. Edge penetration shows ruby colors.

S: Dark chocolate and roasted coffee in equal strengths, when cold. As it warms, the aroma gets more balanced brings out tobacco, earth, light anise, light bourbon, oak.

T: The taste is big, but balanced (or at least, not as overwhelmingly bourbony as so many other barrel-aged impy stouts). The base beer shines through first in dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavors. The barrel kicks in later with a contribution of bourbon, tobacco, charred oak, vanilla. I pick up anise at times, but it's very light. I pick up some dark fruits lingering faintly behind all this, but I can't tell what they are. There is an underlying earthy bitterness that works well with the tobacco and oak to counteract the sweet flavors; at no point do I feel this beer is cloying. Parabola actually reminds me a lot of the 50/50 Eclipse (Heaven Hill).

M: Full-bodied in flavor, though the body isn't uber-viscous. Low carbonation, giving it an overall coating, creamy presence.

D: I paid $16, which is a fair price for a stout of this caliber. I would go no higher, though. I think some of the tannic and bitter flavors could stand to be toned down a bit, but I'm sure if I wait a few months the beer will hit its sweet spot for me. Right now it's not in the top-tier of barrel-aged stouts, but it's just on the cusp.

 3,401 characters

Photo of Stevedore
3.39/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

22oz bottle of Batch #004 served chilled into an unlabeled snifter today, 8/22/2013. Have had this once before but since I'm at home enjoying it on my own, might as well write a complete review.

Pours a dark caramel brown colour, certainly not black but not far from it either. Its got a nice fluffy, bubbly light tan head that dissipates quickly into a bubbly collar, not much in way of film on the surface. Not much lacing to speak of which is fairly typical for a stout like this.

Its got a coconut and chocolate smell coming right out of the snifter. There's a kind of a sticky bourbon sweetness that reminds me of marshmallows, though that's not particularly strong here compared to say, BVDL or Rare. There's some deep flavours murking around here- maybe some toffee, a little bit of oak- but its kind of a mess right now where I can't really pick out one thing. There is a little bit of fusel here as well, unfortunately, which I am not a fan of.

Sipping this beer gives me a nice sweet twang straight up. It's that sweet bourbon. Its heavy on it. Then there's a bit of coconut, vanilla overlying it along with a bit of chocolate. But there really doesn't seem to be as much contribution from the base beer if that makes sense. I don't get the nice sugary chocolatey sweetness of Bourbon County or Black Note, nor is there that roast maltiness or the vanilla-ey creaminess of Assassin or Rare. It tastes like mellowed-out sweet bourbon with a splash of chocolate and tobacco, to be honest. Its not as complex as people make it out to be, in my opinion.

Disappointingly thinner body, on the medium body side. It doesn't have that creamy mouthfeel that you get with Bourbon County for example, but it is rather smooth. Carbonation is just right for the style and the aftertaste is of that sweet bourbon. A decent bit of booziness here, but not enough to deter me here. Its absolutely a sipper here.. not meant for pounding.

Overall, a very good barrel-aged imperial stout that's relatively readily available on the shelf at a solid price point. It showcases the bourbon, but not as well as a beer like Central Waters' Fifteen does.. but then again this is a shelf beer! I guess that "showcasing bourbon" thing is not enough to impress me these days.. plenty of BA stouts do a good job of that already. I just would like the base beer to stand out more in these types of beers. Otherwise, you might as well splash some bourbon in a non-BA stout. That being said, it's a good example of a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout so don't let my opinion prevent you from trying this beer. It's certainly worth drinking anytime.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,459 ratings.
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