For over a decade now, Firestone Walker has offered an impressive variety of barrel-aged beers as part of its Proprietor’s Vintage Series, and all of those brews were available exclusively in glass bottles. But not anymore. For 2022, the California-based brewery has released its first-ever canned Vintage beer, Parabolita. As the name suggests, this beer is built around Firestone’s beloved Parabola, which aged for one year in ex-bourbon barrels before being married with a portion of Velvet Merkin milk stout and infused with Madagascar vanilla beans, cocoa nib, and sea salt. Let’s pop the tab on this one and check it out.
The beer pours a characteristic pitch black but with a more generous, coffee-hued head than I’ve encountered in most bottled Proprietor’s releases. All that carbonation recedes in time to reveal a decadent aroma dripping with notes of fudgy dark chocolate, chewy caramel, sticky vanilla bean, and a kiss of sea salt. True to its name, this thing smells exactly like a salt-topped, chocolate-covered caramel, fresh out of the fancy box. The palate is less rich than the nose suggests, which is probably for the best, with the Velvet Merkin clearly adding texture to the body but also helping to scale back the booze. It’s creamy with a malty bite on the front of the palate that nicely complements notes of dark baking chocolate, cocoa, and buttery caramel as they evolve across the sip. The finish is light but lingers with a bit of café au lait, drinking chocolate, and chicory. I’ve never argued that Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged beers are too boozy, but many of them toe that line with impunity. Parabolita, however, is about as balanced a dessert stout as you’ll find, offering barrel-aged brew fans plenty to love even at the slightly lower abv. While the can makes for easier transport (and shotgunning, if that’s your thing), the real selling point here should be the extra four ounces you’re getting over the bottled offerings.
A / $7 per 16 oz. can / firestonebeer.com