Oh man the new 2013 Parabola is a black licorice bomb and baby palates are about to be shook. In a world where glucophiles measure stout quality on the Robitussin scale, leaning hard into Good and Plenties is glorious.
To be clear, I really enjoyed this but I suspect A1C ballers will not. This is an icy page straight out of the Scandinavian playbook. Midwest and Floridian brewers hardly touch black patent malt and barely know what a sharpie smells like. Firestone pushes it so far English that is goes straight into Narke DUNDERSALT territory.
I like to imagine Matt Brynildson standing in front of the massive automated HAL brewsystem trying to input the parameters for what americans want out of a stout:
“Ok computer, the FG should be around 22 plato”
“ERROR: you have input the starting gravity”
“COMPUTER, remove pastry safety”
“ERROR: you will be creating batter not safe for human consumption”
Matt: “DID I STUTTER”
Parabola since its inception has been on the lighter bodied side of things in the current climate. However, this is such an intense blast of roast, fennel, wormwood, and anise. Instead of the brownie and chocolate the label touts, we are whisked away into a land of tarragon and this minty chill of camphor. The cask is gentle and structures this all lovingly.
In the car industry there’s this idea of “homologation car” where you have to build 2,500 street legal examples for sale to make a race car version. Parabola increasingly feels like their homologation car. It isn’t chasing some hype, it is widespread, probably made in Missouri under some other Duvel brand, and can be blended to create any manner of profiles with the endless number of stocks they can pull from. But this, this is intentional.
For every Dreamwood and insane Firestone component blend, Parabola is the old standby ripe for crazy modification. The Corolla GR of the stout world. Not the craziest in the lineup but furtively waiting for enhancement.
Most baby palates will get rocked by this vintage but it is a true licorice canary in the coalmine for who truly has that UK palate.