Parabola Clone Review

Over a year ago, I took a shot at brewing a clone of Firestone Walker’s Parabola. According to Firestone Walker, Parabola is characterized by:

Bold bourbon, tobacco and espresso aromas and a hint of American oak greet the nose. Rich, chewy roasted malts, charred oak and bourbon-like vanilla fill the palate and create a seamless finish.

The recipe was derived from a combination of information compiled from Firestone Walker’s website, and my own tasting notes. Unfortunately, my beer missed the spec pretty badly in terms of fermentability. That said, it is still a pretty nice beer.

Tasting Notes:

Judged as a BJCP Category 22C. Wood Aged Beer.

Half of the batch was aged with Larceny (wheated bourbon) soaked oak. Half of the batch was aged with Rittenhouse Rye soaked oak.

Half of the batch was aged with Larceny (wheated bourbon) soaked oak with the rest aged on Rittenhouse Rye soaked oak. The overall differences between the two batches were extremely subtle with the Larceny exhibiting slightly more caramelly notes, and the Rye version showcasing a subtle background spicy note.

Aroma (8/12):
Initially there is a impression of sweet vanilla oakiness. Additionally there is a mellow roasty character with notes of bittersweet cocoa  and a slight hint of coffee. Roasty impression increases as the beer warms in the glass. Under the roast is a caramelly toffee malt character. A slight hint of oxidized malt (dried cherry, fig) gives a hint to the beer’s age. Below the vanilla oakiness is an aroma of raw sawdust that hints at the oak cubes which were used. Some warm alcohol is apparent.

Appearance (3/3):
Jet black with a low tan head consisting of tight bubbles that persist. Beer pours with a readily apparent viscosity.

Flavor (10/20):
Flavors are round and fill the mouth with intensity. Heavy amounts of roasted coffee are apparent as is a substantial amount of chocolatey roast malt. Creamy and smooth with only a hint of hot alcohol. Bitterness is high but balanced against a high level of residual sweetness. There are some pleasant burnt sugar toffee flavors on the finish. A bit too sweet and filling to be drinkable in any quantity more than 8-10 ounces.

Mouthfeel (2/5):
This is a huge beer with a luscious mouth-coating viscosity. Carbonation is medium. Roast character is slightly astringent.

Overall Impression (5/10):
This is a massive beer that falls short in terms of balance compared to its inspiration, Parabola. The bourbon and oak character in Parabola is much more integrated and rich, whereas the oak in this beer comes off a bit artificial tasting. This beer is like a  big, rich chocolate milkshake – luscious, but only consumable in restrained quantities. Additional attenuation would be a welcome addition to this beer.

(28/50) – Good


Firestone Walker Parabola Clone Attempt

My Parabola clone fermenting side-by-side my King Henry clone.

My Parabola clone explosively fermenting away.

One of the greatest things about homebrewing is that it enables you to dissect commercial beers and make your own attempts at brewing beers of a similar nature. Precise replication is rare, even when you’re working from a proven recipe, but the exercise in itself is enjoyable, and the beers typically turn out quite tasty.

Back in 2011, I was inspired to take a shot at cloning Firestone Walker’s Parabola, and posted a quickly cobbled together recipe on HomebrewTalk. Now, a couple years later I’ve finally gotten around to taking a shot at it.

The recipe below was put together while carefully tasting the commercial beer and reading through the information published on both bottles of Parabola and on Firestone Walker’s website. The information that is out there indicates a very complex malt bill; something that makes determining the precise percentages of each malt somewhat of a shot in the dark. That being said, I’ve based the recipe on typical uses of those grains and what I’ve been able to taste in the commercial beer. The actual brewday was quite uneventful, and the beer is happily fermenting away. My plan is to transfer it onto oak in secondary and to let it rest until next April, which happens to coincide with the annual commercial release of Parabola. Stay tuned for future posts reviewing the beer and indicating how close this recipe replicates the commercial beer.


Size: 2.74 gal
Efficiency: 60%
Attenuation: 73.0%

Original Gravity: 1.127 SG
Terminal Gravity: 1.034 SG (projected)
Color: 53.12 SRM
Alcohol: 12.42% ABV
Bitterness: 79.6 IBUs

10.5 lb (64.1%) Maris Otter (Crisp)
1.75 lb (10.7%) Munich TYPE II (Weyermann)
14 oz (5.3%) Chocolate (Crisp)
8 oz (3.1%) Roast Barley (Crisp)
8 oz (3.1%) Carafa Special® TYPE III (Weyermann)
12 oz (4.6%) Flaked Oats (Briess)
8 oz (3.1%) Carahell® (Weyermann)
8 oz (3.1%) Crystal 120 (Crisp)
8 oz (3.1%) Crystal 45 (Crisp)

22 g Columbus (15.0% AA) – boiled 60 m
1/2 tablet Whirlfloc – boiled 15 m
0.5 tsp Wyeast Nutrient – boiled 10 m
1 oz Hallertauer Hersbrucker (4.5% AA) – Whirlpool Rest 15m

Fermentis Safale US-05

148 °F – 60m
170.0 °F – 10m

1. Chill to 62°F and keep at 64°F until activity slows
2. Raise temp to 72°F 3 days
3. Crash to 32°F 3 days

Split into 1-gallon vessels with oak soaked in bourbon.

Vessel 1: 0.25 oz. American Heavy Toast + 2oz. Larceny Wheated Bourbon
Vessel 2: 0.25 oz. American Heavy Toast + 2oz. Rittenhouse Rye 101


The beer has unfortunately stopped fermenting at 1.044. The taste is quite nice and is by no means cloying. The high gravity however makes me slightly nervous as my eventual plan is to bottle condition the beer. I pulled a sample and preformed a force ferment test on it. The force ferment test confirms that there is no residual fermentable sugars left in the beer. Next round, I will likely lower the mash temperature and decrease the crystal malts to achieve a more fermentable wort. In the mean time, this beer tastes quite good and is aging on bourbon soaked oak cubes.