Firestone Walker – 2011 Parabola

Tasting: August 14, 2011
Style: Imperial Stout

Adam Firestone may have a link to fame via his great-grandfather, Harvey Firestone (of tire fame), but Adam a few years ago carved out some notoriety for himself as the Bachelor on the ABC television series. In a more serious vein, he was also the president of the Firestone Vineyard until the family sold the vineyard in 2007. Adam and his brother-in-law David Walker are taking on the world of craft beer and their Firestone Walker Brewery has been cranking out craft beers for fifteen years.

I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed in their 14th Anniversary Ale and Double Jack — don’t get me wrong, they were both good beers but the hype led me to expect so much more. This one has the similar hype. The distributor I was talking to at Stew Leonards said that he and many others thought this blew away Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Wow, that’s some gutsy comparison.

I’m a little off on the name Parabola. My memory of distant high school math can only recall that a parabola was part of geometry. Admittedly, I had to look it up on-line. It is a “conic section” — to me, it just looks like an arc shape.

This one is packaged in a natural-tone cardboard box. There were only 3,000 cases of this stout produced and noted that this is No. 002 in the reserve series. The label gives some quick stats: aged one year in the barrel; SRM of 167 (color midnight black); British ale yeast. It also lists an OG of 29.5 degrees plato – as mentioned in other blogs, an OG of 1.080 would be considered a dense beer and 29.5 rougly translates to 1.180 — wow. Also worth noting is the IBU of 82. Many associate IBU with bittering hops — but the roasted grains and coffees used in stouts also lend a bitter quality that can be measured in IBU — and 82 is quite high for a stout.

Their website describes the predominant flavors as bourbon, coffee and tobacco. The site also notes that Parabola has been a key ingredient in past anniversary ales. It does pour black as night and the nose easily gives up the vanilla notes I’d attribute to bourbon. My first impression is that this stout has a crazy thick and rich mouthfeel. Only two sips and my lips are sticky. I get the bourbon up front, some dark chocolate, mellow coffee then a tidal wave of warming alcohol. It does have a lingering bitterness. I can’t say I pick up the tobacco they describe – but I’m loving this one just the same. My only minor knocks are that alcohol can be a bit much but with the OG what it is — that can only be expected. and at $15.99 for a 22 oz bomber it is the most expensive bomber I’ve ever bought to date. I still like it enough to call it a 97.

To read my review of Firestone Walker Double Jack click here

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