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97 Rating – Firestone Walker Brewing Co. – Parabola

Firestone Walker head brewer Matt Brynildson.
Firestone Walker head brewer Matt Brynildson.

BC: Who came up with this beer’s recipe?
Parabola is a 10-year-old recipe that was one of my creations. It was one of the first barrel-aged beers we brewed at Firestone Walker and it was originally created to be just a blending component for our very first Anniversary beer, which is always a blend we make with local wine makers.

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
I'm a huge fan of stouts and Parabola is a huge Imperial Stout. The roasty, espresso, chocolate flavors of the stout pair perfectly with the bourbon barrels that we have selected to age the beer in. After a year in the barrel, all of the sharp edges fade away, beautiful vanilla and coconut flavors start to emerge and the roasty dark chocolate notes turn into milk chocolate goodness. We focus on clean barrel expression and try to limit the sherry and heavy oxidation notes that can come along with warm-cellar barrel programs.

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from? 
Parabola is an interesting word that seems to encapsulate the size and feel of the beer and a brewing project like this. Remember that we built the Vintage Barrel aging program over 10 years ago and we were trying to make a mark in a relatively new frontier in craft brewing. We are close friends with the folks at Three Floyds, Bell's and Goose Island so they were big inspirations when conceiving this beer. I was also listening to and seeing a lot of heavy metal shows at the time so that comes into play as well.

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
Oh no way -- Parabola is my ultimate dessert beer and certainly not my desert island beer. Pivo would be the desert island beer. 

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
Massively gorgeous. Huge, roasty malt married with American bourbon oak.

BC: Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
This beer has been known to challenge even the best brewers. It is not easy to make in any way, shape or form. Most of the stories about this beer involve long nights and excessive overtime of impossible lautering sessions and temperamental barrel-racking, which leads to excessive bourbon drinking and sore backs.

BC: What's a good food pairing for this beer?
All things chocolate and rich. I love pairing Parabola with a simple dark chocolate like a Vosges sea salt, bacon- or chili-infused dark chocolate bar. Pairs well with Elijah Craig 12 year Bourbon (on a single rock) as well.

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Photo Credit: Little Films