Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Day 43 (9/5/2011): Parabola by Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
43 days into this "A Beer a Day" experiment and I've had some really good beers. I've awarded a fair number of A's and an even larger number of A-'s and B+'s, all of which were very enjoyable beers. The A's were great beers, but lacked that extra "oomph" to absolutely blow me away. Some were on the verge, but none did it until now.
I got a bottle of Firestone Walker's Parabola through a friend a couple months back and was saving it for a special occasion. While in DC last week, I found a whole shelf full of them at Connecticut Avenue Wine and Liquor Deli and picked one up to bring back home. I could have my cake and eat (or drink) it, too. I had a bottle to try whenever I wanted and still had one put away to share on a special day. And thank goodness for that.
Parabola is a big beer. You don't even need to taste or smell it to find that out. At 12.5%, it's not even eligible to be sold in Ohio even if FW decided to distribute here. It spends twelve months barrel aging, which gives it an amazing, balanced complexity.
It is a pitch black beer with a very small mocha head that is gone almost immediately after the pouring stops. There's not much lacing; only small marks where carbonation flung small bubbles onto the side of the glass. The barrel aging is immediately evident on the nose, lending bourbon and vanilla notes. You also get a lot of bittersweet chocolate and figs/raisins. Alot of times a barrel aged beer can be overwhelmed by what was in the barrel before the beer, but in this case the bourbon melds perfectly with the other aspects of the smell. Amazingly, there is very little booziness to the scent. Strangely enough, it almost smells meaty. I'm not sure how to describe it in a way that's not disgusting, but it wasn't at all.
The taste is sweet, creamy milk chocolate balanced against a significant, but not overdone roastiness. The bourbon and oak is here again, adding vanilla and caramel, but like the nose it is masterfully blended with the other tastes. There is a bit of hops on the finish, but nothing that distracts from the pure awesomeness of the rest of the flavors. This is an absolutely terrific tasting beer.
The mouthfeel is thick and almost syrupy, which is to be expected with this large of a beer. It is most certainly a sipper and you would probably be wiser than I to split a bottle with a good friend. The carbonation is low, but present and suits it perfectly.
This is easily the best stout I have ever had the pleasure to drink before and I'm not certain that it's not the best beer overall that I've tried. This is a big, bold beer, but everything manages to remain balanced in it. This is definitely a beer to savor and think about while you're drinking. There is so much going on with it that you'll want to drink it slowly and let it warm up a bit to get a full appreciation of its smell and flavor. I can not even begin to explain how happy I am to have another bottle of this stashed away. I'll be in DC again next week and just might have to go grab another if they're still stocked. It's just that good. I give Parabola by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. an A+ and my highest recommendations.
Style: Russian imperial stout
Beer Advocate: A
Purchased at Connecticut Avenue Wine and Liquor Deli (Washington, DC) for $16.99 a bomber.