Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Paso Robles, CA
Parabola Barrel-aged Imperial Stout (2012)
Velvet Merlin wasn’t the only Firestone Walker stout that’s recently come into my possession. No, I recently became the proud owner of 22 delicious ounces of Parabola, the annually released barrel-aged imperial stout that’s part of the brewery’s Proprietor’s Reserve Series.
This is one of those stouts that people kill to get their hands on. Released once a year, Parabola is aged for a year in a variety of spirit barrels and then blended back together. If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, you’re probably dead. You should check on that.
The beer pours like your standard imperial stout. It’s motor oil thick and is like a black hole with absolutely no light getting through it. A finger of a bubbly brownish head settled really quickly as you’d expect for a 12% beer. There’s not a lot of lacing but a ton of strong alcohol legs that leave this huge watery film along the edges.
There’s no hiding the bourbon flavors in this thing. It erupted out of the bottle as soon as I popped the cap. The nose is equally as amazing. Huge vanilla and chocolate notes, the sweetness of raisins, a lot of sticky tobacco and a big punch of espresso beans. What really surprised me is how well the alcohol is masked. You only get a very slight hint of it. It’s dangerous.
After my first sip, I had to just sit for a second and contemplate just how phenomenal this beer is. It is insanely, amazingly good. There’s just a very small nip of a roasted bitterness on the front of the tongue. Across the palate, it’s one of the smoothest and slickest beers I’ve had. And the flavors are equally as amazing. There’s the vanilla, the dark chocolate, the espresso beans, the sweetness of bourbon. Along with that are hints of raisins, a little coconut, dark cherries, chocolate milk. And even with all those flavors, there’s not even a hint of fatigue on the palate. They work so perfectly together. And again, the alcohol is totally masked. You don’t taste it at all.
No parsing words with this one: It’s one of the best stouts I’ve ever had.