The 2013 Vintage of Parabola brewed by Firestone Walker Brewing Company - Paso Robles,
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. “This is the best Parabola we’ve ever made,” Brynildson says.
The 2013 vintage marks the fourth release of Parabola, which belongs to
Firestone Walker’s Proprietor’s Reserve series, and which was originally
developed as a component of the brewery’s annual Anniversary Ale blend.
The 2013 Parabola is limited to 3,500 cases of 22-ounce bottles. Parabola
currently ranks ninth on the Beer Advocate’s list of top 250 beers worldwide
rated by users, and has an overall score of 100 on RateBeer.
Below are additional
details on the brewing, barrel aging and tasting profile of the 2013 Parabola:
The Cookie Monster
Brewing an imperial stout is one thing, but incorporating oats adds another
layer of technical difficulty for the brew crew.
“The oats turn into this thick gelatinous pain in the ass,” Brynildson says. “By
the time we get to lautering, we’re dealing with this big cookie. It takes a lot
of attention, effort and patience to get Parabola through the brewhouse without
crashing the proverbial plane into the side of the mountain.”
Why bother? “The oats just lend this cool full-bodied texture and mouthfeel that
I think pairs really well with imperial stout,” Brynildson says. “It’s worth the
For the first time, Parabola features batches aged in barrels from Four Roses
Distillery in Kentucky. “The Four Roses barrels layer in yet another interesting
note to the complexity of the beer that differentiates it from previous years,”
The Four Roses barrels were acquired through Ryan Ashley, one of the
distillery's production managers. “Ryan was a brewer at Mickey Finn’s on the
north side of Chicago back when I was a brewer out there," Brynildson says.
“We've been using a lot of barrels from Elijah Craig, and some from Van Winkle,
and those impart this deep boozy bourbon quality along with that dank, deep
Kentucky cellar component. The Four Roses barrels now layer in this well
refined, rich and pure oak aspect.”
“But it’s not all about the barrels,” Brynildson says. “It’s about making a well
articulated imperial stout that's got enough bourbon and oak character to make
it interesting. We haven't changed the recipe at all—but it has become this
massive 30 Plato stout that really mellows after a year in the barrel, and that
is both drinkable and ageworthy upon release.”
2013 Parabola Tasting Notes
Bold espresso and dark chocolate coupled with fresh tobacco and bourbon-soaked
dark fruit greet the nose. Rich port wine texture full of roasted malts,
molasses and charred oak flavors flowing into barrel-driven vanilla, dark
caramel and toasted marshmallow notes. A remarkably complex brew that offers a
transcendental drinking experience – enjoy with good company.
ABV: 13% IBU: 82 Color: 167SRM
Malts: Crisp Maris Otter Pale, Munich, Cara-hell, Carafa, Dark & Light Crystal,
Chocolate, Oats, Roasted Barley
Hops: Zeus (bittering) Hallertau (late kettle)
Aging: Barrel aged for one year on average in retired spirits barrels
Production: 3,500 cases (22-ounce bottles)
Retail: $16.99 (22-ounce bottle). Available while supplies last in CA, NV, OR,
WA, AZ, CO, MO, Chicago, MA, NJ, NY, VA, PA, DC, and MD.
History of Firestone Walker Brewing Company
It began innocently enough: a couple of brothers-in-law sitting around debating
the subject of good and bad beer. Instead, their search for a decent ale to led
them to brew their own. Given Mr. Firestone’s winemaking bias and Mr. Walker’s
complete lack of fermentation experience, they believed 60-gallon oak barrels
were the appropriate vehicle in which to create their perfect elixir.
OK, so initial attempts were forgettable. But like so many great ideas, out of
that disaster was born a handy invention – the Firestone Union. Based on classic
brewing traditions from Burton-Upon Trent, this bizarre and unlikely system of
linked barrels has the ability to produce rich and complex ales. In 1996 the
accidental duo shelved their endless discussion on better beers and settled for
building a world-class brewery that bore their names on California’s Central
Coast……the debate was now over..
Firestone Walker Brewing Company continues to grow as the palates of Americans
migrate to craft beer. Our brew staff have picked up “Mid Size Brewery of the
Year” at the World Beer Cup an unmatched three times.