Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Parabola | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,179 Reviews
no score
Send samples

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Rotating

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

Added by largadeer on 03-26-2008

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,179 | Ratings: 6,228
Photo of Karnivool1
3.73/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Kind of a letdown. Was expecting a way more dark and thick brew. The bourbon amount was perfect, but this looks and feels more like a porter than a stout. A good beer, but way overhyped. My mouthfeel wanted more after each sip. Good, yes. Great, not close.

 262 characters

Photo of Barracudas
4.6/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was really looking forward to this beer, what with all the hype. It is indeed a great beer which packs a very strong punch! The taste was just was subtle but just right!

 171 characters

Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.49/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


2016 Edition

A: Rich complex deep grain roast and malt. The roast is reminiscent of coffee and dark chocolate. There is a light malt sweetness, with noticeable bourbon barrel presence.

A: Jet black color, totally opaque with a moderate tan mostly-smooth head that has adequate retention.

T: Deep grain roast; the malt flavor is coffee/dark chocolate-like with a slight sweetness. The beer has a moderately prominent bourbon barrel character with a dry finish.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. There is a bit of an alcoholic warmth that is slightly sharp from the bourbon barrel. However, the beer has a luscious texture (from the oats) and really coats the tongue.

O: Delicious; this beer has a really complex aroma and flavor. The full bodied, deep grain roast is really complimented by the mixture of bourbon barrels used for aging.

 861 characters

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

2016 Poured from a bomber into 2 snifters (split with my wife).
Look - Pitch black, minimal head. Completely dissipated within a few seconds.
Smell - Very sweet. Lots of big malts, caramel, a bit of vanilla. I didn't get much bourbon at first until it started to warm up.
Taste - pretty much exactly like it smells. The malt character really dominates. It took a while for the additional flavors to come out. I would definitely recommend drinking this beer pretty close to room temperature.
Feel - Great, very creamy.
Overall- still very good, but not quite as good as last year in my opinion. As stated above, I would definitely recommend drinking this beer pretty close to room temperature. The fridge was set to 55 degrees, but it still improved immensely with some additional time on the counter.

 804 characters

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

Delicious Delicious Delicious. Smells of Vanilla, Chocolate, and a little bit of coffee. One of the best smelling beers I've had. Viscosity is perfect. Not too syrupy. Definitely strong hints of Oak in the taste. Strong Coffee flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel. Simply F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C. Had the 2016 vintage. Saving one of them to be aged for a couple of years. Can't wait to see how it tastes later.

 408 characters

Photo of Brandenlisea
4.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is world class for a reason. At almost 14% it is well balanced with little booziness. IBU's are high to balance the sweetness of cherry burnt oak. not to much bourbon on the finish. All around a great beer at a great price.

 233 characters

Photo of Shermski
4.82/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A+, 2015 version, just drinking after the 2016 release. I don't even recognize this beer from even when having it fresh a year ago. Holy cow only one year did this good. I was on the fence about about parabola as it tasted like warm syrupy butter with excessive booze heat when I had it first. The one year old age bottle is absurdly good. My mind is boggled what more age could do, good thing I have several more from the last few years. Just have to find that sweet spot.

 474 characters

Photo of nawpnawp
4.61/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2016 Vintage poured into a snifter.

Definitely a great balance between the base beer and the bourbon. The brew is very similar to KBS, but quite a bit sweeter, which I like. There is absolutely no booze in the taste, but the burn is there on the swallow.

Highly recommended if you can find a bottle. It has jumped to #2 on my list of favorite BA stouts.

 358 characters

Photo of MikeCat
4.83/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Sampled 2016 Release at Buellton Barrelworks.
L-Jet black with a small brown head.
S-Dark fruit, molasses, chocolate, and of course, bourbon.
T-Follows the aroma with added notes of oak and vaniila.
M-Rich, smooth, and full-bodied.
O-Another excellent addition to the Parabola family. As it warms, it even becomes more complex. Slightly boozy on the back end but will mellow with aging.
Thank you Matt.

 405 characters

Photo of CraigP83
4.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black, real thin mocha head dissipates to a thin ring around the edges. Smell is lots of barrel presence, burnt sugar. Sweet tasting stout, marshmallow notes, charred and carmelized. Really good but not my favorite

 214 characters

Photo of stevoj
4.45/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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

 238 characters

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

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

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

 412 characters

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

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

 218 characters

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

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

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

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

 559 characters

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

2015 Vintage on tap @ Blue Monkey - NJ

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

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

 542 characters

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

2014 vintage poured into snifter.

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

 339 characters

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

2015 vintage on tap

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

 151 characters

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

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

 300 characters

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

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

 220 characters

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

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

 220 characters

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

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

 283 characters

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

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

 388 characters

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

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

 702 characters

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

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

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

 1,117 characters

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

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

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

 276 characters

Parabola from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.54 out of 5 based on 6,228 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!