Posts filled under: Firestone Walker

Firestone Walker Parabola, 2012

Firestone Walker Parabola, 2012
Oak-aged Imperial Stout
12.5 % ABV
82 IBU

Another review, another Firestone Walker beer. As a fan of imperial stouts, especially huge ones, I had been anticipating the release of this beer for quite some time, so when my store finally got some in I made sure to buy a bottle. Then another for aging after someone and his friend snatched nine of the twelve bottles. Once only used for blends and not bottled, Parabola has generated enough interest to warrant distribution by itself, albeit in very limited quantities (3000 cases). Firestone says of the beer:

Parabola has been a major component of past anniversary blends and is one of our most aggressive offerings. This beer features bold bourbon and tobacco aromas and a rich dark chocolate, charred oak flavor. Parabola is best enjoyed in moderation and is a perfect beer to pair with those chocolate dessert favs.

Parabola is very likely one of the darkest beers I have ever seen. Pours, as the bottle says, midnight black. 167 SRM, to be exact, which is pretty astronomical. I can’t really get into the science behind SRM values, but I will put it this way: held directly in front of my halogen desk lamp, I did not see any light coming through whatsoever. This beer is an abyss (that is not light going through the beer in my photo, but instead just reflections off the glass). The head is rather thin and khaki-colored.

The typical imperial stout aromas are present in Parabola, and in huge quantity. This is not a bad thing. Tons of ultra-roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, oak… oh, man. A little bit of dark fruits come into the mix, but it’s mostly the aforementioned.

And, yes—this beer is amazing. Chocolate, coffee, some smoked oak flavor in the background. I’m not going to disagree with any claims of tobacco taste, though I cannot exactly confirm/deny that. Bitterness in the finish, though I cannot pinpoint whether it’s from the roasted malts, hops, or oak. Regardless, this is extraordinarily delicious. Wow! This certainly is no subtle beer, but it is an amazing one.

As expected, the mouthfeel of this beer is thick. “Really really thick,” as per my notes. The carbonation is light and foamy and gives it a velvety texture. More or less perfect.

Basically, my verdict is as follows: If you like stouts—big stouts—this is a must, if you can find it. Buy as many bottles as you can afford and store the rest. It does not come particularly cheap, but it’s well worth the cost. I can only imagine what some aging will do to this beer and I eagerly await that time, whenever it may come. Though having drunk this bottle myself, it must be said that its thickness and strength was a force to be reckoned with—by the end of it I didn’t want to see another stout for who knows how long. It’s an immense beer. Still, it’s up there as one of the best stouts I’ve ever had. Highest recommendation.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
Black Rye IPA
8.5% ABV
60 IBU

Despite generally hearing wonderful things about Firestone Walker’s beers, I have never drunk one. I bought their barleywine, §ucaba (a.k.a. Abacus prior to some weird legal nonsense I don’t understand), but I have left that to age in my basement before I’m going to touch it. I have consistently been tempted by their Double Jack, but a relatively high price and the fact that they for the longest time didn’t date their bottles turned me off (they have since started dating their bottles—other breweries please take note). I had been anticipating this one for a while, though, so the moment my store received it I was sure to buy a bottle. Relatively reasonable in price, too—much more so than Double Jack. Having loved both rye IPAs I have tried, Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye and He’brew’s Bittersweet Lenny R.I.P.A., I had great expectations for this beer.

Of Wookey Jack, Firestone Walker says:

Wookey Jack is our first foray into the dark outer world of black IPAs.  Rich dark malts and spicy rye careen into bold citrus laden hops creating a new dimension in IPA flavor.  This brew has been left unfiltered and unfined to retain all of its texture and character.  At 60 IBUs, Wookey Jack is gnarly on the outside yet complex and refined on the inside.

Wookey Jack pours exactly as it claims—black. Not as dark as, e.g., an imperial stout or anything, but of course. The tan-colored head is relatively thin, but its retention excellent. Very appealing beer.

Semi-surprisingly, there is actually very little rye smell to this beer, at least not to my nose. Make no mistake: Wookey Jack is first and foremost an IPA. Citrusy, grapefruit hops abound. I suppose this came as a slight disappointment to me, the lack of rye, but who am I kidding—this beer smells delicious nevertheless.

The taste follows the smell. Hops upfront. Nice, citrusy hops. Exceptionally tasty. I sensed a faint rye taste or spiciness in the background, but overall the taste was still very overwhelmingly “IPA” or “DIPA”. A customer had told me that the rye gave the beer a slightly rustic taste, which is indeed a very vague description of flavor, but one that I must agree with anyway. Wookey Jack ends with a nice bitter finish. It is a very well-rounded beer; it is neither too bitter nor too sweet.

The mouthfeel is great: a little bit sticky and a lot of smoothness. Carbonation is very nicely in the middle. Lots of lingering bitterness even after the beer has long left your mouth.

In summation, this is an exceptional beer. To be quite honest, however, if I were blindfolded while drinking this beer (and had no prior knowledge of what it was), I don’t believe that I would have guessed that it is both a rye-based and black IPA. Depending on one’s perspective, this may be either a blessing or a slight disappointment. In my case, it’s slightly more a disappointment, as I loved the strong rye flavors in Ruthless Rye and was hoping for more of that in this beer, but it’s hard to be disappointed for very long at a beer this good. I highly recommend seeking it out.

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