Parabola Exploration

Yesterday, I joined Firestone Walker brewers Jordan Ziegler and Sam Tierney, to see the “many faces Parabola can take on through adjuncts..” There were over seven tastes of new experimental variants of the imperial stout, some only available for very short times.


This event at The Propgator brought together members of the Brewmasters Collective, an enthusiastic group of Firestone fans ready to taste Parabola in its newest incarnation as well as learn about the nuts and bolts of adjuncts in an imperial stout.

It starts with an inspiration. New Orleans offered Ziegler ideas as did the plane ride when the snack was a Stroop Waffle cookie. Then it goes to small bench tests where you try adding adjuncts and seeing what works and doesn’t. Fig was fine in tests but really called for an accompaniment so Ancho Chili was brought in to make a duet.

From there, it becomes how best to get a flavor punch. Thai bananas are good but lacked that Cavendish appeal. (sorry) The way you toast coconut and then deciding if circulating the beer through it or steeping it in the beer is a better preparation.

Mix in that Parabola is aged in differing bourbon barrels from super wet Elijah Craig to reliable Heaven Hill just adds another level of complexity. Then you have to make sure the resulting beer has a Firestone house taste to it as well.

For me, the plain 2014 Parabola was the best. You got a nice bourbon and oak note on top of a luxurious stout but the real action was deciding what of the flavored beers ranked highest. To me it was the Thai Bananas Foster. The interplay of fruit and stout just worked. Second was Coconut closely followed by the Peanut Butter (really peanut flour) with the Fig and Stroop Waffle in a lower tier of interesting and Mixed Berry bringing up the far back.

Oh and another plus, we got a taste of the newly reformulated XPA as well which I thought was a bright and hoppy addition to the line-up.

If you needed a temptation to join the Brewmasters Collective, this type of event would fit the bill.

A Parabola of Elijah Craig

First off, do not sleep on Firestone Walker’s Parabola but I want to talk about 20 years and the Parabola variant, Paraboloid. 

P-loid was “aged in a special selection of premium 20-year-old Elijah Craig bourbon barrels.”  From my medium low bourbon knowledge, bourbons over 10 years don’t necessarily translate into better than younger than 10 years. I do like “regular” Elijah Craig so, maybe, the 20 will be really good and will add the scrumptious sounding flavors that the brewery describes, “mellow hints of oak, fudge and chocolate brownie.”


Firestone Walker has variant-ed Parabola, their barrel-aged stout in fancy boxes and 12oz bottles but now they have gone in another direction by toning it down and creating a possible new line of inquiry with Parabolita.

The first offering being a salted caramel stout in a silver 16oz can.  Parabola is blended with Velvet Merkin and then infused with Madagascar vanilla beans, cocoa nibs and sea salt.

This takes FW into a direction away from their cocktail beer creations and has a slew of possible concoctions that could be made.

Double Double Review Day – Paraboloid and Royal Street from Firestone Walker

Our next double are big barrel-aged beers from Firestone Walker that I have posted about earlier…

Royal Street – I often wonder when blenders think too many barrels has been achieved. Cognac, Rye, Bitters AND Absinthe. That is a serious flavor overload. Box reading aside, how does RS taste? It is quite bubbly. Getting cola and licorice in equal measure. Lemon acidity cuts through as a minor creek. As it warms, I am getting a major amount of honey. If I was handed this as a cocktail, I would be fooled for a bit.

Paraboloid – The newest Parabola variant. Has that Firestone Walker bourbon smell. After enough vintages, you can sense their signature barrel style. This is chocolate and cherry to me. Has a See’s Candy hit to it. More bubbly than expected and less Bourbon than expected but it is a dreamy beer to me.

Royal was an experiment that didn’t fire on all cylinders but the Parabola, damn, that is good stuff.

Do Not Avoid the -Loid

You should be excited by the 2022 release of Parabola from Firestone Walker but your excitement should be heightened by Paraboloid, “a limited small-batch spinoff aged in an equal selection of rare older-stock barrels from premium spirits producers—specifically 14-year-old Old Fitzgerald bourbon barrels and 18-year-old Sazerac rye whiskey barrels.”

More info from barrel meister Eric Ponce, “These barrels complemented Parabola’s classic flavor profile by imparting hints of stone fruits, fudge, leather and peppery spice. Additionally, the beer was aged for a full two years prior to blending and bottling.”

Triple Beer Review – Angel City

Angel City sent a nice care package with a nice variety of beers so let’s taste through this trio and see which is victorious….

Pinot Grisette pours a bright yellow color.  Has that hybrid beer / wine flavor nailed down. I certainly get white grape flavor but not in that fakey candy way.  The Belgian yeast is working hard here. Lots of esters on the nose and palate. This is a substantial beer for something so refreshing. 

B.O.S.S. beer is a pretty orange color. A lot of ingredients listed on the can and the Saison part is a bit buried but I like the flavor profile overall. Citrus leads but there is a little spice and a rough edge to it.  

Dollarydoo Aussie IPA has pine up front on the nose. This is kinda aggressive. No juicy notes that I can find. More old school hoppiness here. The hops stick to the palate. Some menthol notes for me. The label is very well done has a currency look to it. 

FWIBF – From Napa

When I was at the Venice locale of Firestone Walker, I noticed this poster…

I was immediately drawn to the bottle on the left, seeing as how not to many Saisons come our way from Firestone Walker. I am sure that many more are drooling over the Parabola with aging on wine barrels.

Up From the Cellar – 2011 Parabola from Firestone Walker


The theme for Up From the Cellar for July is a year. 2011 to be specific. Also Imperial Stouts. A favorite style amongst beer geeks and snobs alike.  And we start with a barrel-aged Imperial from Firestone Walker.

This 12.5 stout pours jet black with a beautiful espresso rim of foam. That foam quickly dissipates and you are left with impenetrable darkness. The aroma is incredible. This decidedly falls into the camp of beers that you can smell and be satisfied without ever taking a sip. Though you will want to.

This beer spent 12 months in barrels before I even thought about cellaring it. And it shows. Big bourbon and rum notes intermingle. Some coffee bitterness is in the background as well but this is a barrel show.

There is some serious warming here as well. Each sip brings a flare of heat. But it fades quickly allowing for the bourbon and late flavor addition of chocolate and tobacco notes to power through. You cheeks will warm. But they won’t be red.  Even when another warming spice sensation emerges as the beer warms up.

The Verdict? – Parabola in all it’s yearly versions, tastes fantastic.  The fact that sitting for an additional three years hasn’t changed that, is almost a moot point.  Of course it’s gonna taste great.  It’s a barrel-aged stout from Firestone Walker.  I don’t think that even a rank amateur cellarman could do any appreciable damage to this beer.



Parabola 2013

Earlier today, I gave you a shopping list with three excellent choices to take to your local beer shoppe, and now here is a fourth that you had better pick up from Firestone-Walker….

our_beers_PARABOLA 2013

I can only parrot back this quote that I found on the press release from the brewery, ““This is the best Parabola we’ve ever made,” Brynildson says.”

What else do you need?  Seriously?  Buy two or three if you are on a limited beer budget because these will age beautifully.  Or find a tap house that is hosting Firestone-Walker and get there when they open.

Here is the description if you need more impetus to buy it, “As always, brewing this massive barrel-aged Russian imperial oatmeal stout continues to be a challenge—“It’s like extracting liquid from a big oatmeal cookie,” says Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. The recipe is unchanged, but the 2013 vintage comes with a fresh twist on the barrel-aging front, specifically the incorporation of retired bourbon barrels from Four Roses Distillery in Kentucky.”