Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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BA SCORE
89
very good

592 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 592
Hads: 2,630
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 211
Gots: 435 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: largadeer on 11-13-2008

A decadent oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin offers robust cocoa and espresso aromas with subtle American hop nuances. Rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor with a creamy mouth feel and wonderfully dry finish create the perfect balance in this full-bodied stout. Ideal for sipping in the winter months or at the end of a meal.

Original name was "Velvet Merkin", but name was changed when it began to be bottled in 2010.

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Reviews: 592 | Hads: 2,630
Photo of pkalix
4.92/5  rDev +23.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

wow! what a nice smell!! pours a thick milkshake-like head, with an almost transparent dark brown body similar to, but less thick than, a samuel smiths....
super awesome taste. a little sweet, kind of roasty malts, dark fudge (as the last guy said), vanilla and honey (as another guy said), milk chocolate... what an awesome taste! a little tang on the finish, but that is utterly in significant considering all the wonderful flavors going on with this brew. I am really surprised at how much I like this brew. I had the merkin and the sucaba and anniversary, etc.... but never felt I wanted to try this one and I regret not trying it sooner! this is a world class beer! I thought it was labeled a porter but it says stout(?). I have to give this one high marks for every category. I wish I had another one to follow this one up RIGHT NOW!!!! (842 characters)

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.82/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

32 oz growler, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color, with a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic, with tons of earthy, rich roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly toasted dark bread, freshly ground espresso beans, a touch of smoke and tons of brown sugar. Delicious!

Taste: Just as delicious as the beer’s aroma! Tons of roasted malt up front, imparting flavors of toasted oats, a touch of coffee, lots of brown sugar and dark molasses-like sweetness, and a touch of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied to slightly chewy and very, very smooth, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 5.5%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is an excellent oatmeal stout! Tasty, smooth, very quaffable, and highly recommended! (917 characters)

Photo of TotallyGomer
4.79/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

S: bottle to Pilsner glass

A: Beautiful, simply beautiful. A near perfect example of a stout. Nearly pitch black with a finger or so of tan head that stays throughout. Very light lacing is the only area that seems to lack.

S: Rich roasted malts, dark chocolate, light grains, light hops.

T: Similar to the nose. Rich flavors of espresso, dark chocolate, breads, very light bitter late bite. Chocolate cake in a glass. More than enjoyable.

M: Creamy, rich, light carbonation. In short, the way I expect a stout to feel.

O: I love it. I'm partial to stouts, especially oatmeal stouts, so the numbers may be slightly skewed, but if it weren't a good stout I would rate it low, so take it at as it is. Because of the coffee/espresso notes, I would consider this a great dessert beer. Who am kidding, this would be great for breakfast or anytime. (846 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
4.77/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Chilled bottle into a glass. I've had this before on tap, but I'm curious to see how the bottle holds up. Turns out, quite well.

A: Pours a dark brown body with ruby translucence at the edges. It is capped with a light beige head. No sticky lace, but there is a nice wash of foam that accompanies each sip from my snifter.

S: Medium-roast coffee, milk chocolate (with an associated lactic touch to it), vanilla, grain (specifically, toasted multi-grain bread). This smells like a nice breakfast. I'm impressed that they got so much depth out of the ingredients. It isn't in the same league as FBS, but it show remarkable complexity for something that [presumably] wasn't brewed with adjuncts.

T: The taste doesn't disappoint. Absolutely top-notch for an oatmeal stout, with rich washes of milk chocolate, toast, grain, vanilla, and medium- (or even light) roast coffee. As noted in the nose, there's a light lactic presence, and if I'm sipping carefully, it's suggestive of anise. There's no bitterness to be found, but it's not sweet, either. Well attenuated and approaching dry, this beer has a phenomenal balance.

M: Creamy, with lush, low carbonation as befits the style. I don't think you can really screw up an oatmeal stout's mouthfeel, so I'm not sure how to grade this here. It's not watery, it's flavorful for such a low ABV, and it has a bountiful flavor delivery up front with a relatively clean finish (just some lingering roast).

D: Really, really good stuff. Oatmeal stouts aren't a hyped category, but if you're looking for the best of the style, this should be in the conversation. (1,607 characters)

Photo of tastyville
4.77/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I had this nearly three times a week in the winter when I was living in Atascadero. I was working at the California Valley Solar Ranch in Santa Margarita from December 2011 to July 2012. This review is being written for Velvet Merlin on nitro tap from the Firestone Brewery. This is by far one of my very favorite beers of all time!
This doesn't get a perfect score because I believe a good stout should have a bit higher ABV. 8% like Board Meeting would be perfect. A 5.5% ABV is like a session beer and stouts don't make very good session beers since they are very filling.
I always sit in a position at the bar where I can get a perfect view of this one betting poured. I love the tan head not as dark and sexy as KBS but it is just right. There is something about this beer that takes me back to my childhood when I used to eat half-melted ice cream with a spork from the paleta man. I often imagine myself eating Velvet Merlin with a spork. The aroma is not immediately prominent until you take a drink. That thick head keeps it all in. You inhale slightly when you drink too, right? Of course you do. I enjoy the aroma and the taste very close together with this one. Almost at once. It is nutty, chocolatey, caramely, roasty, and malty and all in a perfect balance. Not one exceeding the other. Like a group of sexy women walking abreast towards you in slow motion. For me? Fuggles is a funny name for hops. I get taken to another place when I'm enjoying this outstanding beer. It is unfortunate that it is not available year round. See you again in the fall! (1,566 characters)

Photo of Danishboy59
4.76/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Came in a sampler pack, so glad it did!

A - Light does not penetrate this truly dark stout, poured in a pint glass, almost no head.

S - Coffee, toasty malt, something almost like garlic in a good way

T&M - Huge coffee up front, toasty malt, some pine, just the right amount of hops on the end, thinner than most stouts, warming alcohol, just enough tingle in the carbonation, and some nice caramel on the long and winding finish. Velvet is the proper term for this one.

The smoothest stout with big flavor that I've ever had, the only stout I like better than Obsidian. This beer is all about balance, It is exceptional. Buy all you can find... (649 characters)

Photo of BierJager89
4.72/5  rDev +18.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bottle into a tulip or a small snifter.

A: Pitch black with a nice mocha head.

S: Coffee, roasted malt, toffee and a hint of chocolate in the nose.

T: Chocolatey delicious, with coffee, toffee, roasted malt, all those good roasty flavors you want out of a stout. Pleasantly bitter.

M: Perhaps the smoothest beer I've ever had (that wasn't flat), creamy, velvety goodness. Deserving of it's name, and a paragon of oatmeal stouts, at least in terms of mouthfeel. This beer displays exactly how much the addition of oatmeal to the mash can do to a stout.

O: I compensated a bit with the taste score, because this beer should get a 100... out of 5... on the mouthfeel, and I can't do that. One of my top 20, and maybe the best value in that respect. I can get six of these for less than a quarter of the price of some of the others I've tried that are better. Get a six pack when it's available if you like smooth oatmeal stouts. This is the best of it's style (well, the bourbon barrel aged version, Velvet Merkin, is a little better). (1,051 characters)

Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Black in color with brown rings around the top and bottom. 1/4 inch head no retention and a spot of lacing here and there

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal

Taste: Coffee flavor right up front and it is in perfect balance with the roasted malt. Traces of bitter chocolate and oatmeal in the middle and finishes with hints of vanilla and more coffee delicious

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation and some really nice buttery silkyness

Overall: This is one of if not my favorite oatmeal stout. It is almost perfect on every level. Just another fantastic beer from firestone (609 characters)

Photo of jmperez
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

This was my first oatmeal stout, if all oatmeal stouts are half as good as this one, i would have found my new style.

Aromas of roasted malts, slight vanilla and chocolate, bit of hop

Taste had hints of coffee, chocolate, bit of hop bite in the end.

Ridiculously smooth, might i say velvety. This oat stout is extremly drinkable and at 5.5% abv i could easily drink a six pack. (421 characters)

Photo of intensify
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured a finger head with good retention. Dark like body which represents a good stout. Roasted malts and vanilla on the nose as well as some hoppy aroma lingering around. The palate was almost identical to the smell. Strong taste of roasted malts which do not overpower the beer at all. The vanilla seems to sweeten it out and give it a nice balanced taste. Not a complex oatmeal stout, but a very well brewed and tasting one indeed. Oily thick mouthfeel is as pleasing as they get for this style.
If you happen to come across this limited edition stout I would grab a few. This is definately worth having and cannot find one reason why this should not be a big contender. (674 characters)

Photo of weatherdog
4.67/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

Pours a deep black, mocha dense head dies down to a thin layer of bubbles. Minimal lacing.

The aroma is of grains. Like freshly mashed dark grains it's inviting and roasty but not over done with just a little back end sweetness and vanilla. Its simple and to the point.

Taste is just outstanding. Roasted barley in the forefront, a mild coffee bean flavor and then it finishes with just the smallest amount of plum fruit. The finish has a lingering bitter /roast that is welcomed. Mouthfeel is medium light but the oats give it a silky impression that makes it feel fuller bodied without knocking down the drinkability.

This is seriously a great beer. One of the best simple no frills stouts that I've ever had. Truely impressed. (772 characters)

Photo of hopsbreath
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Looks like I'm the first to review this from the bottle. Bottled 9/20/2010.

Poured into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with deep plum edging. A few fingers of cappuccino head recedes to a spotty cap with a wispy ring on the edges. No lacing evident.

There's some deep roasted coffee on the nose. Some sweet malts, vanilla, soy sauce, and a little prune make this smell oh so good!

Tons of coffee, bakers cocoa, and roasty goodness are the most prolific flavors on the palate. No harsh bitterness or acrid flavors rear their ugly heads. The sharp edges have been knocked off this and it is wonderfully round. I love this stuff!

Oatmeal stouts have wonderful mouthfeel when done right and this bad boy is no exception! Creamy and smooth, I really like this more and more with each passing bottle. For the record I went through 4 of these with ease.

All too easily, Velvet Merlin disappears faster than free corn bread at a hoe down! Highly recommended regardless, of the name, get some now! (996 characters)

Photo of Catracho5
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce bottle poured into a shaker pint

Appearance: Pretty dark, some light penetrates when held up, nice creamy tan head that does not live long but there is some incredible lacing.

Aroma: Roasted malts, chocolate, some coffee, no alcohol on the nose, nice roasted chocolate coffee aroma

Taste: Up front, roasted chocolate malts, some coffee notes, some bitterness and alcohol on the backend, dry finish, nice roasted aftertaste, very smooth flavors.

Mouthfeel: Creamy smooth mouthfeel, lots of carbonation, dry finish, very smooth, get a slight alcohol burn, but very slight.

Overall: I'm a huge oatmeal stout fan and this has to be one of my favorites. It has it all, smooth roasted, chocolate, coffee flavors, smooth creamy mouthfeel, most of all is the roasted malt flavors and aromas that stand out, great oatmeal stout and one of my winter favorites. (864 characters)

Photo of TaySuth
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown with a minimal head and moderate lacing.

Smell: Amazing smell with hints of chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, and caramel. Absolutely excellent.

Taste: Great balance between the chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, and caramel flavors. Good amount of bitterness. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Just the right amount of carbonation. Solid body without feeling too thick. Smooth finish.

Overall: Very pleased with this beer. Great balance, smooth finish, and a delicious taste. (478 characters)

Photo of Klsfgiants15
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured this beautiful beer into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

Appearance: You know it's a good bear when you hold it up to a light fixture, but can see anything. This beer is as black as my heart is sinful. But like my heart, it is redeemed. I think the brewmasters of Firestone Walker themselves atoned for this beer. I'm noticing a nice carbonation in this beer, but the head is not posing a problem to me getting this beer to my mouth as fast as possible.

Smell: I keep smelling it over and over. And it seems like a different smell overpowers my senses each time. The three recurring smells are chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal.

Taste: The beer continues to taste better as it warms. But the thing is, I loved the taste straight after the pour. So each time I take a sip I get more and more enthused with this beer. The smells and tastes are similar. But I'm tasting a good presence of malts along with the coffee, oatmeal, and chocolate.

I highly recommend this beer. I hope that Firestone starts to make this delicious drink year-round. (1,049 characters)

Photo of Maurod4d
4.6/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer was one of the reasons I became a stout drinker. Last evening yet again I came to know just why I love this beer. It taste toward the front is a sharp espresso coffee taste and finishes with hints of chocolate malt and cream. One of the best ways to enjoy beer on a winters evening is with a stout like this in your hand. (331 characters)

Photo of yemenmocha
4.6/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on draft in San Francisco at 21st Amendment brewpub as guest tap.

Draft version more robust flavors and nose was more assertive. Otherwise very similar to bottled version.

Pours a very dark brown to almost black color. Nose is rich with roasted malts and wet robusta coffee grounds. On the palate the roasty flavors take center stage, with a bit of sweetness that is present as well. Some gentle woody components are noted, but subtle. The roasty character carries nicely into the finish. Medium bodied and very, very drinkable. Nice session stout. (559 characters)

Photo of Beertracker
4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

FW's Velvet Merkin pours up with an incredible effervescence which creates a cascading tannish-brown colored head above the deep mahogany-jet black body. The head retention is phenomenal with lots of wonderful lacing that clings to the side of the glass. The aroma is very complex for a "smaller" beer with notes of cocoa roasted almonds, bread pudding, hot chocolate, cordial cherries, marzipan, mocha, rumcake, toasted coconut & warm vanilla wafers. Really great stuff! There's maybe just a touch of spiciness from a late hop addition? The flavor starts off with a fresh coffee character sustained by a lovely roastiness followed by a touch of nuttiness (almond/hazelnut) complimented by some caramel sweetness which is superbly balanced by a moderate bitterness which creates an off-dry, bittersweet & somewhat fruity (blackberry, cherry) finish. The overall flavor isn't quite as complex as the aroma, but still very good for its strength. The body is medium-light with a mouthfeel that's as smooth as a baby's bottom. I'm admittingly not a huge 'stoutfan' but this is one terrific oatmeal stout and definitely worth seeking out for any stout lover!

CHEERS! Beertracker (1,174 characters)

Photo of Xul
4.57/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours dark brown with ruby highlights around the edges, capped by one and a half fingers of foamy, mocha-colored head. Retention is moderate as it settles down to around a half finger and slowly recedes from there.

S: Strong aroma of oats up front with a touch of cereal, along with big coffee notes, cocoa, and moderate roastiness. Hint of vanilla in the background, very well integrated.

T: Opens up with oats and roasted malts, followed by big cocoa on the mid-palate. Coffee comes in right after the cocoa and leaves a light bitterness through the finish, although cocoa returns on the aftertaste for some balancing sweetness.

M: Medium bodied width light to moderate carbonation, could be a touch creamier but very smooth for a reasonably light beer.

D: This would be incredibly easy to drink all night. (815 characters)

Photo of bfields4
4.57/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black body with a light brown hue around the edges. Nice mocha head laces the glass.

Aroma is very much oaty with a bit of espresso bit of roasty. Nice.

Flavor profile is similar to the aroma. Nice roasty oat flavor with an espresso finish. Nice dry chocolate/hop bitterness rounds the beer out nicely.

Velvet is right, the mouthfeel is very smooth. Nice creamy body with just a good bit of carbonation. This beer doesn't have big in your face interesting flavors, but the flavors it does have it absolutely nails. (518 characters)

Photo of gbontrag
4.56/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

what a great, well-made beer. Partially aged in bourbon barrels, but this doesn't define the beer. So, it really still reviews as an oatmeal stout. The bourbon barrel adds some depth to the nose, and blends seamlessly in the flavor. There's some barrel char and sweetness in the finish. Maybe a little buttery, but this is all perfectly wedded to the yeast.

Velvet Merlin presents a black body with tan foam, and walnut wood highlights when back lit. The finish is so delicious, and long: Caramel and char take turns on the palate with ripe apple core in the retronasal. That's only part of the story. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and like a stout-flavored chapstick on the lips. It's well carbonated, and the carbonation holds in this thick ass beer. This beer has back!

15% of the grist is oats! Sucking crawdad heads gives you the real mud bug experience; drinking Velvet Merlin is the real oatmeal stout experience. The oats are palpable in this velvet beer, and they're not polite. They are oily, thick, slightly astringent and grainy, and omnipresent here. Bring it on! This is one of those beers that make me say, hell yah, from recipe to regal pour. (1,163 characters)

Photo of ely2000k
4.55/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nearly black in color when you pour it into a pint glass. Not too much head or lacing. Looks very appetizing however. Smell of oatmeal chocolate, vague raisin bread perhaps, and a wee bit of molasses? Great smell. The taste is slightly underwhelming at first but as the beer warms, the complexity begins to come out more, and it's almost like the perfect combo between a cream stout and chocolate stout. And the best part of the beer is the mouthfeel. It lives up to the name, feels very velvet, goes down smooth and full, leaving you satisfied. Overall this is a beer I will absolutely come back to again each year around winter. (630 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Ultraman9000 for throwing this as an extra in to a box from a recent trade.

Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Poured black with one finger of espresso coloured head.

S - Roasted malts, coffee, caramel. Some bitterness and a slight smokiness. A very nice profile for a regular stout.

T - Roasted malts, lots of smoke, coffee, chocolate and a slight overall sweetness.

M - Medium body; lightly carbonated.

D - A very good stout. (444 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

completely opaque liquid coming forward in front of me. Rich dark brown notes, with a good sized head of maybe an inch in height coming over the top of it. Nice settling left behind a thin layer and a good amount of side glass lace.

The aroma was your typical oatmeal stout, though a touch more bitter then what I was expecting. Nice notes of lactose, chocolate and vinous hops. Some light grain notes as well in the finish. Rich, though not terribly filling. Lots of burnt and roasted malt flavors in here. Not as sweet as the aroma would have led me to believe it would have been, still though very solid in both bitterness and malt profile. Light notes of chocolate floating around, but again nothing terribly too swee (722 characters)

Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally picked up a six pack of this. 12 oz into a tumbler.

Looks like a cup of straight coffee in the glass; the center is blackened, the edges slightly translucent. The head is dense and lasting, ultimately settling to a collar.

The nose is sublime, predominantly toasted malt and light roast coffee, with smatterings of chocolate and licorice.

Taste and mouthfeel are where this beer truly excels. A perfect balanced of toasted, lightly roasted malt, licorice and dark chocolate lead into a dry, coffee-like finish. It's mildly sweet up-front, and ends wonderfully smooth, just slightly bitter. Drinkability is through the roof; it's hard to not quaff the hell out of this beer and go back for another bottle.

So glad this was bottled, hands down the best beer Firestone has released in six packs. (804 characters)

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 592 ratings.