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.


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