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Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

1,159 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 1,159 | Ratings: 6,110
Photo of Bfarr
4.05/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Deep brown and tight brown head with good retention. Chocolate alcohol and oak. Rich chocolate and roasted balance with alcohol. Finishes with barrel aged rum, vanilla, and light peat with a rather high hop content. Thick robust and smooth.

Good balanced flavor with alcohol enhancing it. Roasted a little high and there are some nice notes but they are more at the end rather than throughout the beer. It’s extremely easy considering the beer with a great smooth flavor but, honestly, somewhat disappointing. My expectations were unfortunately high.

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

Poured into a Smuttynose Big Beer tulip

A: Beautiful brown two fingered head with a creamy black body. This is exactly how I want my stouts to look.

S: OH MY GOD. I can't stop smelling this beer. Chocolate, sweet tobacco, coffee and a slight smokiness. If they made air fresheners that could copy this, I'd buy them out. As the beer warms, the chocolate really comes out as the forward aroma.

T: As the beer warms, the taste gets better. Alcohol is very well hidden by the chocolate, dark fruit, and coffee flavors. As it warms the chocolate goes from sweet to bitter. I'm also getting some cherry that I assume is from the barrels.

M: Good body and carbonation considering the ABV. Nice and creamy.

O: This beer has ruined other Imperial Stouts for me. This is probably one of THE best stouts I've had. I can't wait to see how this beer develops over time.

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Photo of Ralphs66
4.12/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Candied bourbon...this is a great boozy RIS. Normally I struggle with an alcohol as apparent as this, but for some reason this works for me. The bourbon is prominent, but there are many other complexities here. Vanilla and some barleywine on the nose. Caramel and molasses on the palate. Sticky and sweet, and of course the booze. Very warming and a true pleasure to drink. This is a really fine liqueur, riding incognito as a beer.

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Photo of YouSkeete
4.37/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Very dark and deep brown, black appearance. Short dark tan head with some nice lacing on the finish of the pour.

S: Thick chocolate and coffee malts, molasses, bourbon and alcohol. Hints of coconut, vanilla bean and some more subtle notes of caramel and sugared fruits are present.

T/M: Big creamy mouthfeel with heavy and rich notes of chocolate and espresso on the initial sip. The coconut flavor is a beautiful touch. Bready malts and sweet vanilla go really well with the rest of the body. Maple and caramel sweetness are also some nice features. Burn of alcohol is not necessarily hidden, but not as intense as i would expect. Exceptionally smooth, rich and full overall body. Mild carbonation.

D: Fantastic. One of the most well-crafted beers i've had in a while. Easy drinkability for a very full bodied brew.

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Photo of chumba526
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appears pitch black with a small light brown head.

Smells strongly of caramel and toffee flavored malts, toasted bread and coconut. There is also a mild vanilla oak like element to the smell.

The beer has a strong delightful toasted coconut flavor to it. The coconut flavor adds a smoothness to the beer. I get undertones of coffee, chocolate and caramel to the beer as well. There is a mild vanilla like flavor as well. The beer is very smooth. It is sweet but it is not too sweet and it has a nice amount of balance to it.

There is a low carbonation and it has a smooth mouthfeel to it.

Overall a fantastically smooth Barrel aged imperial stout. It is not hot like many barrel age stouts yet it has a nice oaky and mild bourbon flavor.

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Photo of jlindros
4.6/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage. After lots of seeking, sleuthing, battling, and waiting, I'm finally gonna crack this one. It better be worth the hype and wait. Also gotta thank Visionaries and womencantsail for last year's vintage that I never ended up cracking.

Pours a fairly thick oil level viscosity midnight black syrupy looking beer, with a smaller 1/2 finger fizzy black head that fades fairly quickly, not one photon of light getting through.

Nose erupts with chocolate, baker's, dark, cocoa, hot chocolate, milk chocolate, etc. Some roast, light coffee, but not a ton of roasted malts, dark malts, fairly malty but lots of dark malt aromas, hints of caramel and dark crystal malts, hint of licorice and some oats. Then a light bourbon touch, some sweet candy bourbon, as well as a bit of a wood and barrel, with quite a bit of vanilla as well. Hints of booze waft out, and bring a very slight earthy hop kick.

taste starts creamy and luscious, dark malts just sit. It's fairly sweet from the loads of malts, balancing out the booze a bit that doesn't come on as strong as 12.5%, but you can tell is there with a bit of tingle and lots of warmth. Again loads of chocolate, some dark chocolate, baker's, hot cocoa and almost cocoa nib like addition, and creamy chocolate milk almost. Lots of oats as well bring a nice creamy thick almost gooey feel. The bourbon is there too, but not dominant, it plays a role in helping to round the heavy beer off, bringing more of the oak and wood, especially vanilla, but just a bit of the sweet molasses like bourbon. Then come the hops, it starts slightly bitter but gets more so the longer the sip goes and fades, bringing some big earthy hops, light spicy and chewy hops, a slight salty bitter hop quality. There is a slight touch of brine between the charred malts and earthy hops. As it fades, some caramel comes out with the vanilla, and a bit more of the bourbon, a big mouth coating that just blankets the mouth for minutes after, and still a bit sweet. But that all gives way fairly quickly to the bitterness and earthy hops that bring a bit more salty and earthy bitter tastes long after the sip is gone.

Mouth is big bodied, very big, thick and luscious, creamy, a bit velvety, and slightly syrupy and mouth coating, lower but decent for the style carbonation, and some hot booze.

Overall great, worthy the hype I think. not the best of the big Imperial Stouts around, but definitely a great Imperial Stout. Big and bold, great stout flavors, doesn't overpower with roasted malts or briny scorched malts, and doesn't overpower with booze or sweetness but definitely lets you know it has both. The oak, wood, and vanilla help round it some, but the bourbon is just an afterthought compared to the big malts, chocolate, and other big flavors. The nice creamy and lucious feel are great. And then when the big earthy spicy hops kick in it really brings it up to hype level of awesomeness. Can't wait to see how it ages.

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

Having another 8 bottles sitting around makes me feel extra special.

Appearance - It pours a very dark liquid, almost black with a very dark brown color noticeable on the edge. Very minimal head that dissipated quickly. Lacing was similar to a web of tree branches down the glass.

Aroma - Bourbon oak at first, then quickly came roasted coffee, chocolate, caramel, toasted malts, and finally molasses.

Taste - This is by far the best RIS I have ever had. Now on to the taste, roasted coffee, chocolate as well as molasses and eve some caramel. Just as the aroma implies. The bourbon barrel aging is clear in the finish of this lovely stout. The finish had me wanting for more and more.

Mouthfeel - Rich, somewhat oily, full-bodied, viscous and awesome. No other like it.

Overall - Complexity in a beer is always welcomed here. The first sip showed how complex and rich this one is. In that respect it wanted to let you know that you should savor this beast. The finish did not linger for long, so I was caught taking quicker sips than I should of to savor it.

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Photo of Manoftyr
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance-Pours a thick viscuous black with a whispy-thin brown head that quickly bubbles away, leaves some legs and dabs of lacing but not much. Looks good.

Aroma-Powerful but not overwhelming, I could smell it the instant I opened the bottle. Woodsy oak soaked in bourbon is the first and dominant scent to assail the nostrils, other aromas include black molasses, unsweetened chocolate, dark cherries and the faintest hint of smokey charcoal. The smell is warm and 'inviting' to say the least.

Taste-The flavor begins with the aforementioned black molasses noted in the aroma mingling with light charcoal before being joined by the bourbon. The bourbon, rather than dominating or obliterating the other flavors, mingles with the other flavors as an equal adding its own unique brand of sweetness as it in turn is joined by the woodsiness of the oak barrel itself. The flavors of bourbon and oak persist towards the end before being joined by semi-sweet chocolate and black earthy coffee. The flavor lingers for at least half a minute, gradually losing sweetness until fading into a final dry and palette cleansing note. Phenominal.

Mouthfeel-Rich, thick, viscuous; hits every note that a big barrel aged RIS should hit in terms of mouthfeel.

Overall/Drinkability-The complexity and strength demand this beer be sipped and savored but it's so addictively delicious and drinkable for its ABV that you may find yourself taking sips in rapid succession.

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

A: Deep, dark brown; almost black. Poured a 2 finger creamy mocha colored head that dissipated to a thick skim. Laced the glass in sheets than ran down to the surface.

S: Rich toasted malts; chocolate, coffee. A little bourbon and wet oak. Caramel and vanilla came out as the beer warmed and the significant alcohol aroma cleared.

T: Just like the nose. Mellow and flavorful up to a warming, dry finish. Malt characters evolved as the beer warmed. Delightful malt complexity.

M: Medium body. Low carbonation. Smooth, rich and creamy up to a warming dry finish.

O: Very good for the style. Lots of malt character. No session beer here; daunting ABV.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beautiful barrel-aged RIS, extraordinary blend from Firestone Walker that makes quite the sipper.

Presentation: 22 oz boxed brown capped bottle. Exposed cardboard box with the seal of the brewery presiding it and highlighting the name. Back box label notes history of the brewery, expertise aging brews in barrels, intent of ales and blending process, and Parabola overall release. Bottle offers a simple Firestone paper label with brewery branding and brew details, noting 2011 Reserve Series, O.G. 29.5, IBU 82, British Ale yeast, 167 SRM, a production of 3000 cases, and 12.5% Alc. by Vol. Served on a snifter.

A - Black pour with a short-lived creamy head, small surface memory and a couple of shy touches of lacing.

S - Nice nose that while never as long as expected is good and emerges nicely after a while with vanilla, chocolate, roasted malt and bourbon notes.

T - Long malty flavor, plenty of bourbon takes a front seat as the brew sit for a bit, bitter coffee touches coating a long chocolate range, vanilla, caramel, touches of dark fruits under the bourbon, charred touches with a hint of tobacco and oak.

M - Full body, with low and smooth carbonation, creamy stickiness with a nicely woven boozy touch that shines slowly as the brew makes its way.

O - Beautiful sipper, comes through perfectly as it settles in the mouth.

Notes: All hype is deserved. So far all the barrel aging, blending, and more I've been fortunate enough to try from Firestone Walker has been extraordinary and this one is right there. This might age beautifully, that is if one can resist keeping one set aside.

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

Have you ever had bourbon county or bourbon barrel aged Old Rasputin? Well, this beer tastes like it's in between the two. The bourbon is a little hidden in the smell, but it comes through in the taste. However, it isn't as dominating as in the bourbon county, allowing the dark fruits to make their tiny presence known. Overall, a very good example of why bourbon barrel aging should be done more often.

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Photo of Naugros
4.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Seven A+ ratings in a row?! Unheard of! Overhyped, right? Dunno yet. Gonna find out.

Burnt brown in color...wait. I'm looking at it in the glass and the aroma is tackling my olfactory senses, screaming to be heard. It demands the floor. Appearance can wait as the smell has commandeered my attention. I'll oblige.

Booze, coffee, chocolate and roast. Yeah, the typical Imp Stout nose, but the balance is something else. Roast driving the coffee sense, I'm used to that, but the chocolate and the booze coming together to make a chocolate liqueur smell...that's new. Eat your heart out Godiva! The alcohol is really strong in the nose, but not unwelcome. I'm getting just a little hint of oak and vanilla from the barrel-aging, but not much.

Back to the appearance...um, burnt brown color, right? Yep, covered that. As close to black that I've ever experienced in a beer. The head is a bit sad. It effervesces (like ginger ale) for a nonce and then gives up and acquiesces to the monster beneath. No lacing. I'm bummed about that, but all that booze may have killed the foam.

Holy Cramoly! This is one full-flavored and complex stout! The alcohol and the roasted malts really attack first. With a slight cherry essence and all that booze in there, one might think that kirsch was added. If you survive the twin attack of booze and burnt, the chocolate makes a reappearance and adds a little sweetness but it then gives way to roasted notes of coffee and burnt toast. The alcohol lasts into the aftertaste. I've only ever experienced that before with a Belgian strong dark, but if you let the beer really warm up the roasts take over in the aftertaste. Very interesting.

Ever get one of those chocolate-covered cherry cordials that has WAY too much liqueur in it so that you barely taste the cherry and even the chocolate is subdued, that is what I get here. Not a bad thing...not at all.

The body is silky smooth as it brushes along your tongue like crushed velvet...crushed velvet that's been soaked in alcohol. Yes, there is a lot of heat in this one, but nothing too much for you to handle. The sweetness of the chocolate notes and the bitter of the roasted malts do much to knock it back a little.

A handful of breweries are now starting to brew what they're calling Triple IPAs and I guess that means they're pushing for a new style. Fine! Let the hop heads have their superlatives. But if so, there needs to be a Triple Stout style as well. In that case, this would be the king of that category. Sorry DFH, WWS is too mondo sweet to take the crown.

I've looked at my scores and I don't think they'll keep the A+ rating going. Sorry. Maybe I should have finished half the bottle before I started to review. Maybe I'll come back after that and redo my scores. Nah. A phenomenal beer to be sure though and I will fight like a bride on a budget at a sale featuring designer wedding dresses at 90% off when it comes out again next year.

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Photo of bogus564
4.92/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

650ml, poured into a pint glass.

Getting ready to enjoy some leftover ribs (they're the best) with this offering from Firestone Walker Brewing Company. It's getting to the right temperature, so here goes...

A: It's beautiful! It's a boy, Mrs. Walker, it's a boy (100 points to anyone who gets the reference)... Dark brown, caramel colored head, 2cm high, really lasts. I'm ready to dive in with my nose.

S: It smells of chocolate, coffee and alcohol at first. Behind it, there's a citrus hop note, orange, and the actual hop smell. I'm praying that this is as good as it tastes...

T: Oh. My. God. This is a tremendous stout! All the flavors that I smelled are confirmed, and with the power of the Dark Side. This is a Sith Lord of beer, and I could not be happier right now.

M: Spectacular. Not a rating I give out a lot. Medium-bodied, chewy, well-carbonated, sweet finish, glides over the palate smoothly. I'm duly impressed.

O: This is a tremendous beer. I only wish that my beer store had (a) bought more; and (b) allowed us to purchase more than one bottle. Outstanding with my leftover ribs. Cheers!

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Photo of rowingbrewer
4.95/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark black with a nice sticky thick brown head. the smell is sweet bourbon roasted malts, hints of coffee and cocoa. the flavor follows suit with bourbon stealing the show. the roasted malts are present along with the coffee and cocoa notes. the mouthfeel is full, but not quite as full as I was expecting. overall this beer is amazing, and the best bourbon barrel aged stout I have had to date.

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Photo of rudzud
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Managed to get my hands on a half case of 2011. While its not an ideal night (incredibly humid) I dont want to wait anymore to crack this.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip a deep, deep brown almost black with brown hues on the edges. A very nice super dark mocha, almost milk chocolate, creamy head that fades to leave a nice mocha halo and good clouding. Very nice.

S - Very nice rich carmel, roasted malts, chocolate, slight vanila and barrel, along with light bourbon.

T - Wow, this is good. This is damn good. More of the carmel and chocolate. Great roasted malts and oak with smooth bourbon. All these flavors work together in perfect harmony. So smooth and mellow and wonderfully done. The aging did this beer wonders. Again, no heat from this big ABV.

M - Smooth and creamy. So this is silk on the tongue with a touch of velvet. Superb. Practicly no ABV on the mouth.

O - Overall, this beer was spectacular. My only qualm, which is pretty trivial, is the lack of long retention. Nose could also be slightly stronger. This is still a spectacular beer. Glad I have 5 more bottles to mess around with.

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Photo of Pahn
4.94/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to BA morningthief for picking this up for me in Boston. 2011 batch, 12.5% ABV, 82 IBUs.

Appearance: Free pour yields a 1.5 inch frothy tan head that dissipates slowly and leaves tight rings of lacing that don't last. Pours solid black. Big legs, no lacing.

Smell: Mostly a heavy caramel aroma, along with some roasted malt, chocolate, cookie dough, and a mild influence of oak and hops. Not enormously aromatic, but what's there is nice.

With some warmth, the aroma quickly opens up. The 12.5% ABV starts to show itself with some reasonably heavy booziness, but, as with many great high gravity beers, this deepens the other notes rather overshadowing them. The interplay of alcohol, hops, and deep pastry and dark fruit smelling malt (along with some restrained barrel influence) is very satisfying.

Some surprising, savory molasses comes out late in the bottle, urging me to push this score up to a 5.0. I'm sold; there's the beautiful, decadent dessert stout depth, but the savory molasses and roasted aromas take it all to another level. Exceptional.

Taste: Mellow and smooth up front, with cookie dough, caramel, and some mild oak, leading to a welcome bitter and somewhat highly carbonated finish. Long aftertaste in which the bold alcohol heat dances with roasted malt, chocolate, and caramel (I know "dances with" sounds a little precious, but the heat persists while different beautiful malt flavors make appearances through the long aftertaste).

The flavor integration in this beer is amazing. The caramel, cookie dough, oak, and mild roasted malt flavors up front are silky smooth, rich, and utterly devoid of alcohol heat. Then the back end has a big hop kick, tons of heat, and lots of deep roasty stout flavors. While "start" and "finish" are very distinct, the notes (especially in the start) are in such harmony that it's more artificial than usual to talk about distinct cookie dough, caramel, chocolate, (etc) flavors.

I hate to give out so many 5s, but this is a real "wow" beer. Virtually nothing left to improve upon here.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, very smooth and creamy, with a great bitterness and high carbonation apparent at the end that allows for the extremely rich flavor up front. Nice long aftertaste that tries its best to say "I know this beer is delicious and you want more, but take it slowwww...." Wouldn't change anything about it.

Overall: This is a stunning beer. I'd heard that Firestone Walker were barrel aging masters... and it seems they live up to their reputation.

For the first couple sips, I thought, "This is indeed a great beer, with nice dessert flavors balanced out by bitterness and heat; around a 4.5 in most categories." Then in all aspects the beer just kept getting better... if you want more out of a beer than Parabola delivers, you're probably asking too much or are confused. Seriously close to perfection.

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Photo of Aberration
4.79/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cracked a bottle of the 2011 today.

Strong nose of booze, licorice, candied sugar. Tastes strongly of alcohol, very hot. Licorice and caramel come out, little bourbon in the back and a good amount of wood. Slight ester taste. Very little lacing on glass, head doesn't last very long.

Delicious brew. Still very hot but in a year or two this one is going to shine.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review #500!

’10 Vintage. Served at cellar temperature. A million thank you’s to the incredibly generous Ryan for this wonderful treat!

Pours thick black with a one finger brown head that leaves some spots of lacing and holds a small creamy cap all the way to the bottom of the glass. Very inviting.

The incredibly potent aroma features strong bourbon notes, deep dark roasted malts, premium dark chocolate, coffee beans & espresso, vanilla & oak, a touch of smoke and some alcohol. Like many top-tier bourbon barrel aged stouts, this is a great "sniffer" as I get just as much enjoyment from the aroma as I do the flavor. Wonderful.

Flavor is like bourbon-soaked chocolate-covered raisins, bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, oak, premium coffee/espresso, some caramel, rich roasted malts, dark fruits, some molasses and anise, minimal hops, moderate alcohol but not bad at all for a 13% brew...well hidden for its size. Fairly sweet, one to sip and savor...a dessert in a glass! Super-tasty.

Mouthfeel is THICK and sticky, just the way I like it. I’ll put it this way...Ten FIDY is too thin for my tastes and Parabola is one of the heavier Imperial Stouts I’ve encountered. Soft carbonation. I’d score it a 6 if I could!

My goodness what a brew! I’m a sucker for bourbon barrel aged imperial stouts and this is top shelf stuff right here...right up there with KBS and BCBS. Saying this is amazing makes me feel like I’m selling it short...adjectives just cannot do it justice. Can’t thank Ryan enough for this one...wow!

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Photo of kaips1
4.1/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

the standard 22oz bottle from the 2011 batch poured into my sam a perfect pint glass

this is the fabled parabola, oh ya thanks Hank for this one. this poured a midnight black that had a very chocolate milk looking 1 finger head, that quickly dissolved into a dark ring of bubbles around the edge. the smell of chocolate and bourbon hit the nose first, kinda makes me think of cellared kbs, with hints of BBA 4D also in there. im looking forward to this first sip. definitely makes me think of BBA 4D with the first and second sip, i get the barrel aging, i can taste slight chocolate, a slight tang of malt and this lingering burnt aftertaste. the aftertaste im liking. this is a lively beer it has lots of dancing carbonation that leaves lots of tingle to the tongue. a nice wet finish to the sip and its off to the overall. man i could drink this more often, too bad its not in distro here. overall a good beer one that i would like to have at the end of a night, like i do with most of my imp stouts. This is an easy drinker for anyone that enjoys a good RIS and the flavors are very well paired and flow together nicely. Get one, at least one and youll be happy you did.

EDIT: the burnt flavor i was saying i liked earlier, well i dont like it so much now that its a lot warmer and closer to the bottom of the bottle, this taste is everlasting torture in your mouth unless you enjoy that ashy burnt carbonistic taste, pasted on your tongue. im not gonna change my score or rating or whatever but this is a bit irrattating

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Photo of beerman999999
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank at 55-60. Smells of dark chocolate. Pours a jet black color and has moderate lacing. Nice level of carbonation. Surprisingly light in body for such depth in flavor. Hints of bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate. Chocolatey aftertaste. Surprisingly alcoholic, sipped slowly. One of my favorite beers of the year for sure.

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

hoptuit and I live review of 2010 next to 2011

Look: Darkest brown, both almost identical, very thin lace, with a really nice viscosity. Not quite motor oil, but pushing the envelope.

Aroma: 2010- chocolate,roast,espresso,vanilla, really well blended with a hint of dark cherry/plum/raisiny scent. alcohol is present but not over powering.
2011- more of a dark roast, closely followed by chocolate,vanilla, less of a coffee smell. a very slight hint of dark fruit. Alchol is more prominent. more of a grassy hop scent as well.

Taste: 2010 - Very low carbonation, well balanced over the tongue. Smooth, easy drinking. All the aromas are present in the mouth with a fantastic blend. nothing over powering. Alcohol is present and well hidden.
2011 - Slightly more carbonated. Tastes are a little more definable. There seems to be a hop presence that fades in th e 2010.

Mouthfeel: Both excellent. As good as it gets in this style.

Overall: 2010 - wins by an ever so slight margin. These two beers side by side was an exceptional treat.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.12/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared this one with the girlfriend who mainly likes dark beer.
Poured out an oily black with some reddish highlights when held up to the light. Brownish head that was about half a finger but still stuck around for the whole beer. Nose is full and vibrant. Chocolate and coffee are big with cherry brandy and bourbon. Vanilla and roasted dark malts. Body is thick and warming. Flavor is a complex combination of layers. Chocolate and coffee, roasted dark malts, boozey bourbon and plum/raisin/cherry from the barrels. There is a definite alcohol finish that burns a little at your throat but it doesn't bother my palette because of the numerous flavors still lingering. I bought another bottle I plan on aging a couple years and at that point I'm sure the alcohol will smooth out and the many flavors will be meshed even better.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.52/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a vicious, thick, jet black with a medium tan head. Nice retention and soapy lacing.

The aroma is intense, full of stinging sweet bourbon, and oak. Hints of vanilla, and cocoa hide behind these fumes with rich roasted malts and coffee notes.

The taste is full of sweet bourbon and oak. Roasted malts,bakers chocolate, vanilla, toffee, and brown sugar make up the body. Earthy notes peek through to balance things out. Very complex and interesting blend. Nicely balanced but quite intense.

Super, silky smooth and creamy. An awesome beer, but definitely a sipper.

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Photo of ms11781
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. 12.5% ABV per bottle. 22oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Pours a solid black with a half finger of brown foam for a head. The head dissipates very quickly, leaving a thin tan ring around the glass. Tiny wisps of lacing stick to the glass with each sip and slowly slide back down. Pours pretty heavy and looks viscous as it hits the glass.

Nice aromas from the nose. Sweet at the beginning. Dark roasted malts, chocolately with some oak and vanilla. Some dark fruit is present but it's not as prominent as the other aromas. There is a nice bourbon note that is present throughout and it stings the nostrils when inhaled deeply. Really pleasant and complex.

The taste is extremely close to the nose. It's sweet, with some nice dark chocolate notes and some coffee, which wasn't in the nose. Roasted malt is here as in the nose. Dark fruit is stronger here but still in the background. Vanilla and oak notes are more prominent as well. The bourbon is again a nice complement. It is definitely strong enough to make itself known but stays in the background and allows the other flavors to play of it nicely. It does provide a pleasant warming feeling in the throat with each sip, which seems to be softened by a nice bitterness.

Huge, thick body with soft carbonation. Velvety, rich, silky and extremely smooth. There is a warming in the back of the throat from the alcohol but, as mentioned, there is a nice bitterness that evens it out.

This is really a fantastic beer. Huge and complex aromas and flavors, all playing off each other exceptionally. The aging in bourbon barrels seems to have imparted as much oak and vanilla as bourbon. Probably the most most balanced barrel aged stout I've had this fresh.

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Photo of depechemode1983
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours out an extremely dark brown, bordering black. The head on this looks great. Its thick, medium brown and with excellent retention. There is a good amount of lacing as well.

S - Roasted malts and tons of bourbon to start off with. There is also a good amount of smokiness. Undertones consist of vanilla, coffee and warming alcohol.

T - Taste is sweet. Lots of vanilla lots of cherries and again tons of bourbon this time with underlying oak flavors. Still getting the smokiness and the coffee seems to be playing a bigger part as well. Alcohol isn't as hidden in the finish and leaves a nice warm feeling.

M - Mouth feel is full bodied. Its thick, soft, silky and pleasant. Carbonation seems to be just right.

O - Amazing RIS. I'm so glad I got to try this. I Probably won't be getting another bottle of this some time soon so I' going to enjoy the hell out of this.

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Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,159 ratings.
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