Review: Firestone Walker Parabola (2020)
In recent years, we’ve reviewed several offerings from Firetsone Walker’s Proprietor’s Vintage Series (Helldorado, Sucaba, Stickee Monkey, and Velvet Merkin among others). There’s been a glaring omission, however, in the absence of their iconic Russian Imperial Stout, Parabola; although we did review the limited release of Napa Parabola last year. We correct that mistake today with a look at the 2020 vintage release. This Imperial Stout is brewed with nine malts as well as Zeus and hallertau hops and then barrel-aged for a year in a mix of premium Kentucky bourbon barrels (even Pappy van Winkle!). Now in its twelfth year, Parabola continues to be a fan-favorite of the boozy beer-loving masses. Let’s see what all that fuss is about, shall we?
This one pours jet black with minimal carbonation and a thin cocoa head. The nose is classic barrel-aged stout with a balance of Belgian dark chocolate, light roast coffee, and toasty malts. The barrel is nicely folded into the mix with an airy, marshmallow sweet whiskey-infused aroma that brings with it notes of brandied cherry, vanilla fudge, and some caramel sauce. On the palate, it’s just as balanced but lighter than I was expecting. Some Imperial Stouts are syrupy from beginning to end, but this beer is initially quite silky, only really sticking to the palate as the finish approaches. It allows a diversity of brighter flavors to stand out but all of which are still in line with your typical barrel-aged stout. The coffee notes are a bit cold-brewed and the chocolate notes are more milk than dark. Caramel candies, vanilla ice cream, and a bit of spice cabinet make this an almost refreshing barrel-aged stout. Barrel notes arrive on the finish along with a subtle baking chocolate bitterness that lingers. Yep. It’s a winner.
A- / $15 / firestonebeer.com