Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #6
Ranked #123
4.55 | pDev: 6.15%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: Parabajava ia an ongoing series exploring the infusion of coffee into our Parabola Barrel Aged Imperial Series. This first offering is a collaboration with the famed Intelligentsia Coffee Company, utilizing their El Diablo espresso blend. This beer was crated for our June 16th Father’s Day brunch at Lot 213 in L.A. The coffee brings intense coffee house espress aroma - roasty carmel, toffee, molasses and fresh ground coffee notes. The flavor melds well with the big rich character of the stout - complementary roasty flavors, dark baker’s chocolate, and more caramel which pairs well with Parabola’s rich malt and smokey oak bourbon notes. The finish is amazingly smooth and integrated.
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Reviews: 116 | Ratings: 902 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jakecattleco
4.71/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle of 2019.

Coffee so well done as complimentary accent. Nose was far more dynamic on the bottle, and the taste was exquisite. More coffee presence than the previous batch. Loved it!

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jakecattleco from California, Jan 22, 2020
Photo of Barettes
4.57/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this 2018 version on draft. Super smoooth. Coffee flavor in just the right amount, dark chocolate, roasty malts, woody notes, a touch of dark fruit and caramel. High ABV hidden by the rich flavors. Excellent imperial stout, 96.

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Barettes from Washington, Dec 29, 2019
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.09/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottled October 2015; drank 1/9/16 @ Harvest Hop Haus.

Brown/black appearance.

Minimal tan head; minimal lace.

Burnt brown sugar, cream & oak notes in the nose.

Thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Cream, oak & brown sugar flavors up front; bakers chocolate bite on the finish.

Tasty, but not an improvement on the original.

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GuyFawkes from Illinois, Jul 06, 2019
Photo of Rristow
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Tasted from bottle. Pours black with thin white head. Aroma of coffee,molasses and cocoa. Thick, sweet and sticky on the mouth. Coffee, cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, caramel flavors. Awesome stout.

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Photo of Sandis
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 version poured from a 22oz. bottle. Yet another FW beer I love. The coffee is not strong which I prefer. The barrel provides just the right amount of sweetness. Medium low carbonation. Thick.

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Sandis from Minnesota, Feb 28, 2019
Photo of BucannonXC5
4.47/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Rip Current 8-oz. beer glass
From: Barrelworks in Buellton, Calif.
Price: $10.99
Purchased: Jan. 4, 2019
Consumed: Jan. 17, 2019
Reviewed as: Russian Imperial Stout
Misc.: 2018 release; No bottled on date

Picked this up along with a Mole Merkin on a quick trip to Barrelworks while waiting to head over to the winery. Had it once before (4.25 on Untappd at the 2017 Firestone Invitational, but that was at the end of the day), but this was the first time I’d seen it in a brewery (or store). Firestone’s website had this as, “Firestone Walker's legendary Parabola barrel-aged imperial stout gets an infusion of fresh-roasted coffee in this limited-edition variant known as Parabajava. The cold-infused coffee melds seamlessly with Parabola's signature dark mocha and bourbon vanilla notes, adding layers of roasted coffee, toasted cashew and baker's chocolate. This beer represents a special selection of Parabola that was aged for one year in bourbon barrels, then cold infused with dark roast Brazil Oberon coffee grounds from Spearhead Coffee in Paso Robles.”

Poured a pitch black color with two fingers of khaki-tan frothy head. Slow moving bubbles creeping up along the sides of the glass. Decent spotty lacing. Excellent foamy retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled dark mocha, dark roasted chocolate, dark cacao nibs, toasted oak, sharp, but smooth bourbon, char wood, fudge with walnut, baker’s chocolate and vanilla. Some added notes of pecan and maple from the bottle. (Smell - 4.50)

Tasted just as good as the nose. In order got dark mocha, smooth bourbon, toasted oak, cacao nibs, baker’s chocolate, fudge with walnut, vanilla and pecan. (Taste - 4.50)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth, warming finish. (Feel - 4.50)

Just a terrific beer. That coffee addition was something else. (Overall - 4.50)

4.47 | 99 | A

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BucannonXC5 from California, Feb 20, 2019
Photo of OompaMentor
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle of Parabajava 2015 opened on 1/9/2019; A unicorn was found and did not disappoint! Great MF and very well balanced. Some things just get better with age....

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Dark body is somewhat thin, but has a heavy feel. Tan ring hangs out as the beer goes down...

Coffee is still pretty rich for being 2 years old. However, the base beer and bourbon barrel really dominate

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Photo of Zach_Attack
4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

06/2014 - espresso, cocoa, wee toffee aromas; mild hops, coffee, more chocolate, roasted malty all over the palate; the finish is pretty astringent and the mouthfeel is thinner than I'd like.

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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts, Oct 03, 2018
Photo of Vidblain
3.99/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Parabajava 2016 has, quite sadly, fallen off very badly. Friends and I opened a 2016 side by side with a Parabola 2018... and, surprisingly, the Parabola was the superior of the two. The Parabajava had very little coffee left to brag of, unfortunately - mostly just a lingering acidic taste with a strange umami and vegetal taste. I was tremendously disappointed, after having traded for this bottle.

I'm still a very big fan of Firestone Walker beers and do not blame them for a moment. Some beers age well, and others do not. I surely hope that we see a fresh release of this beer some time in the near future for a more favorable review. Fingers crossed.

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Vidblain from Minnesota, Apr 22, 2018
Photo of q33jeff
4.7/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75


2016 vintage on tap at Isaac Newton's. Tasting vs. 2017 Parabola also on tap here.

Look: dark black, small light brown head. Fades quickly, poor retention.
Aroma: coffee stands out compared to parabola, though not overpowering other stout/whiskey smells.
Taste: smooth fudge, bourbon, JAVA. Vanilla, burnt sugar.
Feel: super smooth, thick body. Goes down so easy for a thick and high abv brew.

Loving this beer. Super tasty and smooth. I don't think that it is necessarily the coffee addition that is making me enjoy this more than the Parabola. Probably just a great vintage at a great age. Hits the Spot.


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q33jeff from New Jersey, Apr 21, 2018
Photo of StonedTrippin
4.01/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

this review comes with an asterisk, which is that i must have had a somewhat off experience with this one, in that there is no way the whole world loves this so much and i found it unremarkable. i have wanted to try this for a long long time and was so stoked to finally get the chance, but i suspect a distributor or an account or even the brewery held on to this keg for way too long, knowing they had something special here and wanting to save it for just the right moment. well, to me it tastes like that moment had long passed by the time this one was flowing, the coffee tastes and smells stale, and it has seemingly broken down some of the body that makes this base beer so monumental. what i can appreciate is what its supposed to be, a rich espresso layer over one of the most flavorful and interesting stouts to ever exist, an unnecessary but fancy layer, a little green peppery now, and a little acidic and thinning, but probably absurdly appealing in its prime. the alcohol is somehow really well hidden, maybe one benefit of its apparent age, cant believe its as strong as it is. some nice dark chocolate and char to this, still plenty of barrel on it too, faint vanilla and tobacco as well, lots happening but wonderful integration at the same time. i enjoyed this still a lot, impossible not to, but in this instance certainly not one of the best beers in the world. i know what it can be though, and i cant wait to try it under more idea conditions... until next time!

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Photo of RyanK252
4.35/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Kuni Sama

A: Pours dark brown, nearly black with a khaki head that settles to a thin layer and leaves a little spotty lacing.

S: Traditional FW barrel nose to start, lots of dark sugar, toffee, smooth bourbon, a little vanilla, roasted malt, a touch of coffee, and faint dark fruit.

T: Balanced, peppery spice, roasted malt, dark chocolate, smooth bourbon, dark sugar, vanilla, oak, coffee is somewhat subtle, but adds another nice dimension.

M: Full body, moderate carbonation, just a touch of warmth.

O: I've had some barrel aged coffee imperial stout where the coffee ran the show. This is quite different. It more just adds another layer to an already great beer. I think they could have added in a bit more, though the bitterness could always throw off the balance.

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RyanK252 from California, Apr 14, 2018
Photo of Treyliff
4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage
22oz bottle poured into a teku

A- pours a deep black color with a creamy khaki colored head that has short retention before settling into a ring around the edge

S- fresh espresso on the nose up front, along with caramel & toffee, mocha cream, molasses, fresh ground coffee beans and mocha fudge brownies

T- fresh espresso follows the nose up front, giving flavors of herbal coffee, mocha, caramel & toffee. Mid-palate brings out the classic Parabola sweet malty notes of molasses, dark chocolate, anise and brown sugar. The finish brings out the barrel notes of woody oak, vanilla & more coconut. More espresso on the linger

M- medium heavy body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a silky, velvety warming finish

O- the espresso additional cuts a bit of the sweetness that typically comes from this beer, making it very well balanced. An awesome Parabola variant

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Treyliff from West Virginia, Apr 08, 2018
Photo of jcflorian
4.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Acquired via trade. Whale I have been seeking for long time. Did not disappoint.

Pour is deep black with lingering alcohol legs and mocha minimal head.

I don’t get coffee aroma but this is 2016 bottle so I am not surprised. Get light bourbon and little barrel.

Taste is where this beer shines. Super smooth. Nice oily finish and coffee does come in late with nice finish. Like this better than parabola which I really enjoy.

Mouthfeel is fantastic . Not thin like I had heard. Medium body and oily finish.

I have to say this is a great beer. I have wanted this for a long time

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jcflorian from Connecticut, Feb 24, 2018
Photo of jlindros
4.11/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

Somehow missed reviewing this. 2015 vintage.

Pours a mild fizzy darker head that fades semi quickly, a touch of lacing but long legs, very dark beer but some brown light coming through the thin parts and the pour

Nose is like an aged bourbon barrel stout, lots of dark chocolate, cocoa, roasted malts but softer aged roasted, some roasted coffee but not a ton, roasted earthy coffee, a bit of char, nutty coffee and or beer, caramel toffee and sweet malts, a bit of aged complex soft malts but dark malts, mild vanilla barrel and some sweet bourbon, a little toasted biscuity malts

Taste brings bitter roasted malts and a bit of char, roasted coffee beans but not a ton, roasted malts bringing bitterness and a bit of char, some cocoa and dark chocolate, baker's bitter chocolate, a bit creamy as well, a little burnt caramel and toffee, fudgey a bit, almost like cocoa nibs, a bit of alcohol but not a lot, mild vanilla barrel notes and a touch of sweet bourbon, not much, a bit of candy and some soft aged malt feels. Finishes sweet but not really sticky, a bit of tingly alcohol, plenty of dark chocolate, some roasted malts and coffee, bitterness from roast.

Mouth is fuller bod but not very rich and thick, decent carb, some tingly warming alcohol

Overall mixed, some nice big beer characters, decent coffee although it obviously fell off, although I think there would have been too much roast and acrid that seems to have died off, alcohol is still prevalent, barrel seems to have tapered off or was not much to begin with, although it added a nice soft aged complex malt, mouth was def too thin as I expected a nice rich chew thick mouth. Need to try it fresh to compare someday.

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jlindros from Massachusetts, Feb 03, 2018
Photo of rypkr
4.05/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

L - 2016 tell poor. Extremely thin and extremely light for a big stout. Not what I expected. Head is just barely off white, and very frothy and pillowy - very nice here.

S - muted parabola and ZERO coffee. I have nothing else to add.

T - Thankfully there's some coffee here, very strong, dark coffee too. The sweet parabola base balances the bitter coffee elequontly.

M - nice, oily and creamy. Not huge, but all around just nice.

Overall - this was one of my MOST looked forward to beers that I traded for in the last year and a half. Sadly, while solid, it's nothing great and comes as a pretty big letdown for the stature it's known for.

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rypkr from Pennsylvania, Jan 06, 2018
Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.41/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- very dark, looks a bit thinner than other stouts, no real head to speak of.

S-all those usual FW Barrelwork notes at work, caramel, booze, wood and coffee.

T- chocolate, molasses, vanilla, coffee and wood again but excellently blended, as you would expect from FW

M- Again a tad thin for a stout but I'm nit picking.

O- excellent, glad I finally got to try this one as it's very hard to come by in NY

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Photo of andrewh995
4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with a tan head. Smells of bourbon, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. Tastes of bourbon, oak wood, toffee, caramel, roasted malts, dark roasted coffee, cream, cocoa, and blackstrap molasses. Medium-heavy creamy body with medium-light carbonation. Overall a stellar RIS.

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andrewh995 from Arizona, Nov 18, 2017
Photo of maximum12
4.2/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Big hip-bump to ficklenicholas for this bottle, which arrived recently with 11 friends in the best BIF box I’ve received in a long & distinguished career. A long time want, 22 oz. 2016 bottle split with my wife.

The pour is Parabola black – the coffee beans do not seem to have lightened the brew into a blond barleywine or anything. My wife reports she can smell the coffee from several feet away; the rest of the smell is wild & I hope foreshadows how my tongue will be feeling shortly. Huge coffee, chocolate, vanilla, with the barrel a late, light entry.

I can’t imagine how coffee-forward Parabajava must have been 18 months ago. Even now it’s a java blast to the mouth-skin, but it’s of the smoother variety: less roast, smoothness, integrated tightly into the bourbon barrel, sanding all the rough edges off of both. Bourbon is a long, slow burn mid-palate. Vanilla, slightly scorched wood, soft chocolate & oh, there’s the roast! Not much, but right on the finish. Moderate body & zero alcohol, both of which seem less than likely. Drinkable. Wow. I’m sucking this like it’s coming off of nice teat.

Excellent beer, but next time I order, I’ll ask the house to hold the coffee & just bring me my Parabola black. Still. Not complaining.

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maximum12 from Minnesota, Oct 25, 2017
4.34/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2016 Vintage on Draft

FW BEERS always look more like a porter than a stout. I tend to like the base beer more than this variant, but this is nothing to scoff at. A very tasty brew indeed!!

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Photo of BEER88
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

If you like parabola then you'll like this! Coffee, bourbon, chocolate, viscous, and layered with flavor all the way through! Jet black with a thin tan head! Bravo!

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BEER88 from Bahrain, Sep 05, 2017
Photo of bnes09
4.08/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown, just a tad darker than milk chocolate. Forms a nice ring of cream colored head around the glass with some lace spots. Aroma of balanced malt, fruit, wood and coffee. To be fair, this beer is over a year old and the coffee has most likely fallen off some. Very nice wood and bourbon character. Sweet, boozy and vanilla tones. Medium to full body but slightly low carbonation and watery, thin finish. Still very good overall thanks to wood and bourbon. I would recommend drinking fresh however as the coffee flavor was fairly subdued.

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bnes09 from Illinois, Sep 04, 2017
Photo of Tiburon
4.27/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a 8oz glass, very mild coffee smell. Prunish choco w a bit of molasses. Not boozy at all. More prunes or dates as it warms up. Easy sipper, I like it. very mild for a 15%, this could sneak up on you very easily.

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Tiburon from Wisconsin, Aug 25, 2017
Photo of amano_h
4.49/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Despite the unsavory rumors that had been circulating about this vintage, Parabajava was picture-perfect both in terms of its strengths and its flaws:

Dark chocolate, sweet figs, and jammy dates dominate the initial impression on the nose. The coffee note on this brew reminds me of sniffing cold espresso stains; there's unmistakably a hint of intensity at first, but it doesn't linger long enough to leave a clear impression. Unlike previous iterations of FW's barrel-aged offerings, the bourbon is more of a pleasant accentuation rather than an all-enveloping force majeur.

The nose is well-matched on the palate, with sweet notes of chocolate, figs, and a hint of molasses leading the initial flavor advance. The coffee intervenes forcefully yet briefly toward the end to neutralize some of the sugar overload, before the oaky bourbon steps in to sprinkle the finishing touches.

The biggest surprise for me was the mouthfeel; unlike its non-coffee infused cousin, Parabajava sports a respectable body, imparting a tiny hint of stickiness on the lips between sips. There's little-to-no carbonation, as expected from the style, and the 14% ABV is hidden very dangerously without a trace of heat / booze burn.

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amano_h from Oregon, Jul 10, 2017
Parabajava from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 902 ratings