When it comes to Firestone Walker beers, there isn’t much to complain about. From their Double Barrel Ale to their Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout, the brewery produces hits. But every once in a while the brewery creates something unique as a reminder that they haven’t lost their creative touch.
Stalkers, you’ve been informed, Parabola is coming back and they have made some changes.
Making a change this year the brewery that makes this imperial “big oatmeal cookie” has chosen to age their beer in Four Roses Distillery barrels. But put down the pitchforks and step away from Untapped, Ratebeer, and Beeradocate. In fact head brewer Matt Brynildson has said… “This is the best Parabola we’ve ever made”,
Oh yeah about the change to Four Roses bourbon barrels.
“The Four Roses barrels layer in yet another interesting note to the complexity of the beer that differentiates it from previous years,” Brynildson says.
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 thisdeep 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.”
More on the “big oatmeal cookie”
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 extra work.”
Need further incentive? How about some tasting notes from some of the most respected palates in the industry.
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.
Beer Geek Specifications
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
Bottled up in 22 ounce bottles and limited to 3,500 cases; Parabola is a must have beer for 2013. Heck, why not buy one for now and one for later. As always you can look for this beer wherever Firestone Walker beers are sold. And if you can’t find it there, ask your server or grocer to buy some!