Parabola has become somewhat of a staple in the barrel aged stout category and saw it's first bottling in 2010. Back then, it was a big deal to find a bottle outside of California. Now with distribution across the country, Parabola makes an appearance on shelves annually, for a limited time. Next to Sucaba, Firestone Walker's barrel aged barleywine, Parabola is one of the flagship barrel aged beers made by the brewery and is used in some percentage in the blending of their anniversary release each year.

Being the day of the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers of 2014 (FoBAB), it only seemed fitting to open up one of the more recognized barrel aged stouts that has been on the market.

The aroma has a dry, musty smell that consists mainly of bitter cocoa, biscuit, raisin, some bourbon and a bit of coffee. As it opens up, some dark fruits start coming through a little but the cocoa becomes a little more emphasized as well. Not so much on the milk chocolate, but weighing heavily on roasted and chocolate grains. Still seems pretty complex with cocoa being the underlying characteristic.

The flavor is malt forward with most of the space being made up by the cocoa. There is a lot of grain character, both caramel and chocolate. The grains are so prevalent that it gives the beer a drier ending, almost as if you chewed on some of the dry malts. After the large push of cocoa up front, the taste gives way to some cocoa covered dark fruits and coffee at the end that lasts into the dry aftertaste.

This beer is far from being a chocolate bomb, but it is definitely malt-heavy. The bourbon barrel and large grain bill have definitely set this beer up to dry out over time, and once the host subside, it's all about the dark, roasted, chocolate grains. One thing is for sure, just as it usually is fresh, the alcohol is well hidden beneath the layers of grains and sugars. After recently tasting a 2011 vintage of this beer, I can safely say that the development of this beer is slow and doesn't change much after the 2 year mark.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on November 14, 2014 .