Firestone Walker Parabola

Parabola: Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, California. 13% ABV

Parabola by Firestone Walker is truly one of the craft beer heavy hitters. It is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Russian Stout limited release from Firestone’s Reserve Series.

Parabola pours opaque black with a dark tan/mocha head that clears fairly rapidly but leaves a significant ring that remains through most of the serving. The aroma is vanilla, bourbon, oak, dark chocolate and alcohol (yes, you can smell the alcohol – it’s 13% ABV after all).

The flavor is dark chocolate with coffee undertones. There is no hop or grain bitterness noted. Carbonation is low (true to style) and the mouthfeel is thick, silky/velvety. After swallowing, a nice mellow coffee flavor is detected, but it is still sweet. At this point, the alcohol is noted (it’s not hot or unpleasant, however). The booziness then fades to a very pleasant bourbon/vanilla taste.

Parabola is sweet and thick, but not cloying or syrupy. For a 13% beer, the alcohol is remarkably subdued. I prefer it to Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (previously reviewed). It is a great desert beer, or, as in this case, an excellent celebration beer. In my opinion, this is second only to The Bruery’s Black Tuesday in the beer universe.

I bought this bottle in April at Total Wine ($14.99) and saved it for a special occasion. I drank it (a 22 oz bomber) today, January 20, 2014, in celebration of the birth of my second grandson, Luke Ryan Vanderpool, who was born at 7:25 this morning. Welcome, Luke, to our world!

I”m not sure when Parabola (the 2014 vintage) will be available again, but will definitely buy it if I can find it. This is wonderful – too bad it’s not more readily available.


Rogue Voodoo Doughnut & Firestone Walker Double DBA

I’ve got a lot to report on Mac’s Brew. I’ve been busy since mid-October with pub projects and brewing. I will update you on those activities shortly. For now, here are a couple of beer reviews.

Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry and Chocolate Ale: Rogue Ales, Newport Or. 6.7% ABV.
Another offering from Rogue Ales in the Voodoo Doughnut series. So how do you get a beer to taste like a pretzel, raspberry and chocolate doughnut? I’m not sure, because I’ve never tasted a pretzel, raspberry, chocolate doughnut, but this beer definitely has the raspberry and chocolate going on. I never got the pretzel flavor, but pretzels are listed as one of the ingredients.

It pours dark brown with a thick creamy, light tan head that has some real staying power. The aroma is sweet chocolate with some raspberry notes. The flavor is sweet chocolate; the raspberry is not so noticeable. This one is well carbonated.

After describing the flavor as sweet, I must add that it is not overly so. In fact, it is well balanced (especially considering that this beer is patterned after a doughnut). The aftertaste is surprisingly neutral, then a slight sweetness sneaks up on you, followed by a lingering slight bitterness. This is not a hoppy bitterness, but grainy and carbonation bitterness. As it warms, the raspberry flavor increases, but not the sweetness. The chocolate aroma also increases as it warms.

Overall, I think this is a delightful and very quaffable beer. It is sold in 750 ML “Pepto Bismol” pink bottles (like all of the other Voodoo Doughnut ales). It is currently available for $12.99 at Total Wine. I plan to buy one more bottle before they run out.

Double DBA (Double Barrel Ale): Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, California. 12% ABV.

This is a limited release from the Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s Reserve Series. It’s a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Special Bitter. Ok, so what does that mean? Well, Firestone’s flagship brew is Double Barrel Ale (DBA) – a British style bitter Ale. Don’t’ let the “bitter” connotation fool you, it is anything but bitter compared to modern American style IPA’s (a bit of a beer geek lesson – this style was considered bitter compared to the sweet stouts and porters that were popular at the time in Great Britain). Double DBA is basically an imperial version of their DBA (double the ingredients to drastically boost the alcohol and flavor) aged in bourbon barrels.

This brew pours a beautiful copper color with very little head (and even what little there is fades rapidly; it left no lacing on the glass). The aroma is sweet, sweeet, sweeeet vanilla/bourbon. It’s not surprising then that the flavor is also sweet, with a very pleasant bourbon quality. There are no hops noted in the taste, especially as it warms. There is a nice fruity aftertaste, but nothing like a Belgian style ale.

I would describe this as more like a barley wine rather than an English bitter. It’s very sweet, and all about the bourbon barrel aging. It is not well balanced, but is very good beer. It comes in a 22 oz bomber, and by my second glass, I was tired of the sweetness. It is syrupy and quite heavy, especially at 60°+F. I would get this again (not sure when it comes out, but this was from the 2013 release) but would not drink it alone – I’ll share it with someone who likes barrel aged ales.

I don’t remember how much this bottle cost (I had it for several months before I consumed it last week), but it was fairly expensive. If you like big, heavy barley wine style ales, you will like this brew.