I realized it had been awhile since I received the PR bottle of Parabola, Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged Imperial Stout (the first time bottled, no less), and while I knew I was behind on a review (at least, in my mind I was behind), I will admit that the thought of drinking a 13%, 22-ounce bottle of Imperial Stout with the weather warming up was a bit daunting. At the same time, I was quite looking forward to it so I finally steeled my liver and opened it up.
And boy, am I glad I did. This is one terrific beer, and I’m only sorry that it was such a limited run; I’d happily buy several more bottles to lay down for special occasions.
To recap, this isn’t the first time Firestone Walker has brewed Parabola, but it was the first time they released a limited bottling run (only 1000 cases). According to their notes it’s a “multiple vintage blend aged in oak barrels” though I don’t know if they were used (whiskey, etc.) or new barrels.
Appearance: Motor-oil black and opaque, pours fairly still but a small dirty-brown head forms gradually.
Smell: Dark chocolate, sweet black coffee, whiskey-barrel alcohol notes. Very rich and sweet. Molasses, hints of black licorice, nice touch of wood char.
Taste: Wow—amazingly syrupy sweet but more dark chocolate or coffee liqueur sweet rather than cloying. Decadent—this is dessert, a double chocolate cake soaked in brandy with a coffee sauce. Pretty amazing, there are a lot of layers of flavor but all are remarkably well-balanced: Turkish coffee, very dark chocolate, a hint of smoke and tobacco, ganache, burnt caramel, much more.
Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy, full-bodied, sticky with a full, flavorful finish.
Overall: Simply amazing; easily one of the best Imperial Stouts I’ve ever had. Is it because of the barrel aging? Possibly; it’s also one of the most balanced barrel aged beers I’ve had.