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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: 6,111
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.

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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.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | 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
T - Super smooth, chocolate, coffee, bourbon, oak, smokiness, roasted malts, nice barrel flavors, caramel, coconut. 
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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Jaycase
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage

Pours black with virtually no head. Aroma of marshmallow, chocolate & oak. Tastes like liquid chocolate with a nice boozy burn on the backend. Mouthfeel is just about perfect. First time having Parabola and it's a good one. One of the better BA stouts I've had that's for certain. Incredibly smooth & surprisingly mellow for a 14% beer, although cumulatively the ABV will still beat you like it did me. Maybe the one year mellowed it some. Will have to try a bottle fresh some time.

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Photo of EagleAgedStout
4.89/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This Imperial Stout is without a doubt a staple in barrel aged giants. 1 year in the bottle transforms this into one of smoothest, tastiest beers ever made! A must try for any beer enthusiast

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

2015 Release

-pours the darkest of brown with no light coming through and a tiny,quickly dissipating head
-coffee,roasty,sweet chocolate,bourbonvanilla,syrup,molasses,caramel,toffee,medicinal,licorice
-toasty and dry finish
-low to medium carbonation
-medium to full body
An absolute flavour Bomb.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.8/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter glass. It pours a dark mahogany - nearly black, with a very thin khaki colored head and virtually no lacing. The smell is of rich, dark chocolate, coffee, oak, and, of course, bourbon. The taste is absolutely amazing; one of very few "5's" I've ever given. All the flavors are evident and they blend exquisitely: dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, molasses, and black cherry. I'm not sure I can even discern all the wonderful flavors. You really taste the bourbon at the end but considering the ABV is 14%, there really isn't a strong alcohol burn, which is amazing to me. This stout is moderately thick, not nearly as chewy as some, and it is lightly carbonated. While it is absolutely a sipper, it is an easy one. Overall, Parabola actually exceeds its hype. It is positively decadent. Russian Imperial Stout is my favorite style and I simply haven't had one better than this. I just wish I could find more of it!

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Photo of spacecake9
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got this in a trade and saved for Christmas.
A - Pours a brown black with very little head.
S - The aroma is first dark chocolate and then booze.
T - The flavor follows the nose. And this is without a doubt the best tasting dark chocolate in beer I have ever had. The alcohol comes in at the very end and finishes perfectly.
M - Not as thick and chewy as you might expect. Low carbonation.
O - My latest WOW beer. Perfectly balanced, perfectly done. Just outstanding. Wish I had more.

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Photo of Dustin_Sallitt
4.87/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow. Nose is all bourbon. First sip unveils tons of chocolate, sweet vanilla and oak notes, and smooth bourbon. A second wave of flavors comes on with dark fruits, some fantastic coconut notes, and a tasty roasted coffee finish

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Photo of gcasher
4.26/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at buellton barrel works. No bottles available. Bourbon dominates with oak over stout flavors, but very tasty and viscous mouthfeel is great. Pitch black, strong alcohol, a great sipper.

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

This is one that I will generally buy several bottles of each year, and it never disappoints. Rich with dark fruit fudge like characteristics with just enough bitter to balance everything out. I actually prefer this fresh, rather than with some age on it.

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Photo of CNoj012
4.73/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Been saving this beer for a special occasion. Beer #300 on BA qualifies right? This beer pours a beautiful jet black with slight highlights of amber when held up directly to the light. The head is a nice fluffy light brown that eventually disappears into just a ring around the outside of the glass. There are also nice sheets of lacing. Smell is fantasic and complex. Bourbon, oak, chocolate, coffee, and a hint of vanilla are most prominent to me. Taste is the same, and although there is a good amount of bourbon flavor, it does not come across as too boozy. Feel is rich and full bodied, a bit slick. Overall this beer is outstanding, fantastic, amazing and any other synonym you can come up with. Need to trade for more ASAP.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.61/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours rich, velvety dark chocolate and appears black in a Tap and Mallet snifter. A half-inch, creamy chestnut head lasts five minutes, leaving spotty lace and a viscous film.

Rich, dark fruit fills the aroma of luscious malt. Specific notes of molasses, fresh pumpernickel bread, chocolate syrup, cherry, light cognac, figs, and dates. The depth and layers of character are amazing and become more pronounced with warmth.

The flavor opens with charred malt and espresso, balanced against modest bitter-sweetness. The focus is on malt and fruit, but oak and espresso are clearly present throughout. As with the aroma, warmth helps to develop the flavor characteristics. Alcohol becomes more pronounced in a modest but lingering malt-centric finish.

Parabola has a dense, chewy body with warming alcohol. Carbonation is modest and cleansing of a creamy velvet texture that leaves residual sugar on the lips.

This is a sipping beer, unquestionably well paired with reading or a cigar while seated in soft leather chairs and surrounded by books.

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Photo of XBeerBellyT
4.55/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: I would say medium body. Not pitch black like other BA beers but pretty dark, can see some brown come through in the light.

S: Balanced. Get a small hint of booze, chocolate, roasty characters

F: Medium body. A slight carbonation to it, not thick.

T: Booze and chocoalte. Definitely get the heat from the bourbon barrel but complemented with a slight sweetness. Roasty character not too overwhelming on this beer.

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

22 ounce bottle into a snifter, 2014 edition.

Pours a very dark and opaque brown, small head, some foamy cling. Smell is lots of bourbon, roasted malts, oak, vanilla, some chocolate and molasses. Smells great. Taste pretty much follows with lots of bourbon, roasted malts- but not as heavily as many for the style, more vanilla and chocolate than the nose, oak, molasses, a little coffee, light alcohol. Some bitterness on the back end, not much. Smooth, full bodied, a real tongue coater, taste lingers.

Truly one of my favorites, a classic that everyone should try, if they can. Full, rich, flavor, expertly blended. Still pretty hot after a year, as well.

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Photo of barreldawg
4.8/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I've had the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. This beer begs to be aged... at least 2 years (if you can keep it that long). I had the 2012 back in 2013 and at that time, the 2013 seemed a tick better. I saved one bottle of 2012 that I opened in the summer of 2014 and it really improved. Unfortunately, I drank all my 2013 as well. I do have a couple 2014 and 2015 bottles that I won't touch until at least next spring or summer.

Parabola and Bourbon County (Goose Island) are the best that I've had and it's tough to rate one better than the other.

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Photo of SGerrard
4.84/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed draft pour into an aluminum cup at the Brash Brewing opening party. My kind of stout - inky black, rich mouthfeel, balanced chocolate, touch of vanilla, and sweet but not cloying. Lovely!

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Photo of DaverCS
4.81/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage, split between 2 people for my graduation party.

Aroma is of strong molasses, tobacco, dark chocolate, and an alcohol heat.

Taste is very thick and rich. Beautiful molasses, dark chocolate, vanilla, and pipe tobacco marry together initiatially. This lasts for half the sip, then a slight hop bitterness plays through. It's surprisingly bitter, but it isn't unwelcomed as it prevents the beer from being too sweet. It sucks the saliva right out of the mouth. The finale is a cumulation of the bitterness, molasses, and alcohol heat.

Overall, this is a great beer. I like bcbs a little better. I think the beer has a little too much bitterness, but it is still fantastic. I reccomend drinking this beer plain, as to prevent mixing of flavors; it deserves it. It gets a 96/100.

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Photo of bennyman12
4.52/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle.

Appears and smells like it should: Black, bourbony, barrelly.
The taste: hot! Whoa! The bourbon is quality, though, and does that coconut to banana finish that pappy does that I just love. And there are stout flavors too, locked in carnal embrace with the bourbon. Downright pornograpic, this beer.
The body isn't super thick, but I don't mind that too much. The carb is fine enough to give it a creaminess.

Overall a very sexy beer. in fact, my favorite ba stout. Boom!

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

Poured from a 2014 bottle into a tulip:

Appearance: Pours somewhere between black as hell and as black as it can get. Thin, dark-brown head that dissipates quickly into a ring around the edge of the glass. Small specks of lacing left behind.

Smell: TONS of bourbon, along with lots of roasty coffee and cocoa. Smell gets better and better as the beer warms. Incredibly decadent and pungent.

Taste: Layer upon layer of sweet chocolate and bitter nibs, along with lots of espresso-coffee flavors. Very little heat for a BBA stout at 14%. Smooth, complex, and delicious.

Feel: heavy-bodied, with a thick, fudgy mouthfeel. Taste leaves dark chocolate lingering for a LOOOOOONG time.

Overall: It's one of the best BA stouts on the market, and is worth seeking out/trading for if you haven't had it.

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Photo of SoCal_Matt
4.67/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage served in a Teku.

Pours a very dark brown with minimal head. Bourbon, coffee, and chocolate on the nose. The taste is dominated by dark chocolate with a bit of vanilla. The barrel comes through nicely on the finish. Having had this on draft and from the bottle, I found the bottle to be far superior. This is definitely a top notch BA RIS.

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Photo of 303beer
4.84/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

O.G. 32.74
IBU 82
British Ale Yeast
No. 006
Pours black. The nose is light barrel and stout. It has a thin tan head that turns into a ring. The first sip has coffee characteristics. Then I get some hint of cherry at the backend. Looking forward to the next sip. Still has lots of coffee flavors going on. Then a bit of slight bitter. This is really complex. The texture is smooth and silky. The third sip has more chocolate notes. This is so awesome. I have had the pleasure of some sours that change flavors as you work down through the bottle but never a stout like this. This is the second special beer i have had from firestone walker. Both were so amazing. This company is known for ipa's but not to me. Not anymore.

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

POURS a deep brown with average head and decent lading. Aromas of toasted coconut, malt and bourbon dominate this one. Flavor similar to aroma with lots of coconut, toasted malts, bourbon and oak coming through. Mouthfeel is heavy, yet pleasing and the balance is spectacular, with all so many flavors coming through to make this beer so, so awesome !!!!

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