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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

641 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 641
Hads: 2,875
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 225
Gots: 554 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 641 | Hads: 2,875
Photo of jethrodium
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a black which looks cola brown at the edges when held up to the light. Two finger light brown head which pretty good retention and leaves a very small amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is roasted coffee, light earthy hops, and light dark chocolate. A bit of vanilla and licorice comes out as it warms up. I wouldn't have guessed a portion of this was barrel aged, but when you are looking for those notes you can find them. Initial taste is roasted coffee going into light dark chocolate with some hints of vanilla and licorice. The finish has a slight tea-like bitterness. Don't really get any bourbon in the taste. Medium body. Low carbonation. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Pretty standard for an oatmeal stout. Pretty great beer, especially for the cost.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks for this one Sean. Poured into a tulip. Pours a cola colored brown with about a finger of creaming light khaki head.

The aroma has hints of slight cocoa and hints of espresso. Pretty run of the mill but pleasing either way. The taste is pretty much what wone would expect from an oatmeal stout. A little roasty with hints of coffee and some fudgyness to it. Pretty tasty.

The feel is good, silky and smooth with subtle carbonation. Overall this is a well made beer. I just don't think this is the most exciting of styles.

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Photo of rangerred
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a medium tan head and just a little bit of head retention.

The aroma is slightly metallic but also has some vanilla and mocha notes.

The flavor is really the showstopper here as it just unleashes mocha, caramel and vanilla along with having a silky (or velvet) smooth mouthfeel. A great example of the style and a wonderful beer.

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Photo of RashyGrillCook
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed "live". Bottle dated 9/27/12 served in a Chimay 150th anniversary glass while watching "The Outlaw Josey Wales". A seemingly appropriate movie for an oatmeal stout.

A. Pours a very dark brown, though not completely opaque, allowing the ruby highlights to occasionally shine through. One finger bone colored head dissipates fairly rapidly, but leaves a long lasting ring and thin island like overlay dancing around in the middle .

s. Roasted malts are prevalent, some caramel malt sweetness, and whole wheat bread here.

t. Roasted malt and slight hop bitterness up front. Espresso notes on finish. Very smooth throughout the palate. No harsh notes on this one.

m. Very creamy and smooth coating the palate with incredible stride. This is where the beer excels in my opinion. Exactly the way an oatmeal stout should feel.

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Photo of quirkzoo
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark brown with minimal khaki head. Classic stout aroma with lots of roasted malt, chocolate and some coffee aromas. Taste is very nicely balanced a touch of sweetness from the malt and just enough bitterness. The mouthfeel is a touch thin. There is a little bit of the oatmeal body but I wanted to be just a bit heavier. Overall it is a very easy drinking well balanced stout.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark, dark red amber with a rim of foam and no lacing. Dark and roasted malt aroma. Starts rather thin, with dark, sweet and roasted malts. Finish is quite robust with malts and a nice coffee flavor. Way above average for a low ABV stout. Worth trying again.

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Photo of jibbyvonjibb
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Color pitch black.
S: Roasted coffee. Cocoa.
T: Strong chocolate malt toastiness. Like drinking dark-roast coffee with cream or maybe 80% chocolate. Finishes a bit acrid (maybe the American hops coming through?). I would prefer the earthiness of British hops here, like Kent Goldings.
M: Medium. Somewhat thin for the style. Some creaminess, but would have preferred a bit more to balance the bitterness of the roast.
O: I enjoyed it overall. However, it doesn't quite reach the level of sweetness and creaminess that I would expect from an oatmeal stout (my benchmark is Samuel Smith). That being said, disregarding style, it's a very pleasant session beer more focused on toasted bitterness than malty sweetness.

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Photo of hoppyweasel311
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Dark black color with tan head that doesn't last long.
Aroma- roasted malts, coffee, cocoa nibs
taste- Coffee bitterness, cocoa powder, dark roasted malts
mouthfeel- smooth and creamy... low carbonation.
This oatmeal stout is decent.. but I'm more partial to Mendocino Brewing co. oatmeal stout.

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Photo of YourMomDrinksBud
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 09/09/11.

A- Ink black pour with only the lightest highlights around the edges. One finger head fades fast giving way to a nice white cap.

S- Roasted malts, iced coffee, baker's chocolate. Hint of vanilla.

T- Tastes follows with coffee and chocolate battling it out for dominance. Very subtle oak vanilla note with a slight salinity. Well balanced.

M- Very smooth and easy drinking. On the lighter side of the style with a somewhat high level of carbonation.

O- Really enjoyed this one. I'll continue to seek it out while it's in season.

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Photo of cjer53
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 1/10/11, a bottle with Abby.

app- dark brown with hints of red/amber, very thin head swirling around it's alive!

smell- nutty, malty, brown sugar, molasses

taste- light body, crispy/sharp, slightly chewy, raisins, figs, pretzels, toasted nuts, spicy

overall a solid beer. perfect on those cold southern california days

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Photo of MacMalt
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into snifter glass. The color is a deep, deep brown, almost opaque, with a fairly thin, cafe au lait colored head and lacing. While the smell is not strong, it is aromatic: oatmeal, chocolate, burnt coffee, and malt. The taste features the oats and coffee, along with some dark chocolate. It is quite dry with a touch of hops at the finish. For a stout, it's rather thin. It lacks the thick creaminess I really enjoy. It is only mildly carbonated. On the plus side, at only 5.5% ABV, it is extremely easy drinking for a stout. "Session stout" is somewhat of an oxymoron but this comes close. I'd like to try it on draught. Overall, it is a good example of an oatmeal stout. I'm looking forward to trying the velvet merkin.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into tulip

A - Light tan head that dissipated quickly, lighter black with brown edging, minimal lacing

S - roasting coffee, molasses, chocolate, small vanilla

T - coffee! bittersweet chocolate, some raisin and vanilla, hint of grains. nice taste.

M - Fairly creamy, medium body as it's a bit thin.

D - Very easy drinker. The excellent balance and temperate taste makes this one easy to have a few of. Very good beer.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black, basically, with a smattering of white bubbles.

S: Strong roasted malt smell, with caramelized sugar and coffee. Nice mix of sweet with bitter roast.

T: Strong sweet creamed coffee at first, almost like a Parabola-lite. Bitterness of the roast comes in giving a bit of charcoal acridity to balance the sweetness. Good flavour, with light wood notes that always stay in the background.

M: Perhaps since I expected a bigger beer, the body seemed thin to me, though for the regular style it is solid across the board. Smooth and creamy.

D: Nice oatmeal stout from Firestone, it shows that they don't have to create a big beer when they barrel age stuff. Nice brew all around.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour, tan head, this is a looker. Plain aroma, roast, oats taming it down.

Taste, richly smooth, great work with the oatmeal here. Not harsh at all, a great session stout. All the harbingers of a good stout, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, none of them in your face, just mingling in the background. Easy to see why this was a component in the anniversary beer.

Beer provides a good coat for the gullet. Stays away from being anything extreme. A good, dry, sessionable oatmeal stout, nothing pretentious about it, does the job quite well, even if it might seem thin at times for peeps always looking for a RIS or a double/imperial stout. Just the right amount of hopping to keep it lively, but not be astringent or out of style parameters.

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Photo of BuckeyeOne
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Brouwers.

Poured a pitch black core with red highlight --- kinda like my wife's current hairstyle --- scary.

The smell was a little underwhelming --- roasted malt, a tiny bit of chocolate and burnt coffee.

The taste beat the smell. Tasted like roasted malted barley, milk chocolate and creamy espresso. Just the hint of dried fruit.

The mouthfeel was a bit thin. The oatmeal gave this a nice little smoothness. I was wanting, however.

This was a good price and I'll buy this again. But, there are better stouts out there at this price.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on nitro into a pint glass at Capones.

A- pours black with a two finger tan head. Yep.

S- aroma is very weak, with a little bit of chocolate coming through

T- taste is strongly of cocoa, with only a little bit of sweetness coming through. The bourbon is a very small aftertaste in this as well

M- mouthfeel is insane. Silky smooth, thick, and chewy

O- this beer is dangerously drinkable. Love it

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Photo of Dustin_Sallitt
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The nose isn't impressive, slight cocoa and hops, but almost lager like. The taste is much better, with a nice balance of cocoa and coffee roast that is just potent enough. Nice mouthfeel for the low alcohol percentage, leaves a nice roasted aftertaste as well. Solid beer.

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Photo of ISmith87
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - 3.75 - Pretty opaque brown/black beer with a minimal head that leaves a little lacing.

S - 4 - Pretty awesome smell with coffee and roasty notes. Maybe some chocolate in there too.

T - 4 - Taste is also a roasty/smokey coffee taste. Very nice.

M - 3.75 - Medium - thick mouthfeel. More thick than most oatmeal stouts. Alc covered. Aftertaste is roasty/coffee.

O - 3.75 - It's a good oatmeal stout. nothing I can complain about too much. If I could change it I'd want it a little bit stronger with a little thicker mouthfeel.

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Photo of Johnnyvelvet
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nitro Tap @ Toronado. Black appearance with nice tan head. Aroma of mild roast and dark coffee. Flavor of coffee and cream. Light roastiness with little oatmeal present. Medium-full body that is very slick.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)
Bottled 12/04/12
A- This beer pours a get black body with a thin wisp of tan head and a glowing walnut brown hue at the base.

S- The inky black malt aroma has some earthy tar notes and a deep coffee hint comes through. There are some nice graham notes that come through as it warms

T- The big black earthy inky roasted malt has an almost smoky quality it is so dark and some slightly sweet malt finish that is pretty clean in the aftertaste.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a slippery texture and no alcohol heat noticed

O- This big black malt flavor is nice with some inky qualities but the finish and body really get thin a lot as it opens up and there isn’t much to support that big malt flavor. It would be nice to have some alcohol or hops or sweetness to finish what the flavor starts.

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Photo of Greywulfken
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: just-short-of-black brown, light barely slipping through the edges; tower of pale mocha-colored bubbly foam left some lace arms down the glass

S: roasted dark malts suggested something like dry cocoa and coffee grounds; faint oat and molasses

T: follows the nose into the dark bitter roasted malts, slightly edged with char and sugar; earthy and roasty; hints of dark skinned nuts and bittersweet chocolate

M: smooth and light, faint buzz of carbonation, but very slick and creamy

O: easy-drinking but with a bitter char and a smooth body - not a style I go for often, but this is a great beer for the style.

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Photo of rand
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 12 oz bottle to pint

Pitch black in appearance, Velvet Merlin forms a relatively small off-tan head that dissipates quickly. Burnt toffee-malts and notes of earthy multi-grain bread make the somewhat faint nose, with a touch of lingering unsweetened chocolate. The flavors are more vibrant, as tastes of dry chocolate meet toasty malts. A stodgy yet 'velvety' smooth complexion yields coffee tones mid-sip, which play nicely against the brew's woody backdrop. A hint of berry-sweetness lingers somewhere back there in the distance, as the brew finishes dry and slightly bitter.

If you're wondering about the name change, Velvet Merlin WAS formally called Velvet Merkin. They got into some PR trouble (Google Merkin and you'll see why) so they avoided the hassle and changed it to Merlin. I was up at the brewpub in Paso Robles some weeks ago and they've named another beer Velvet Merkin, a sort-of 'big brother' to the Merlin (I think it was the Merlin, barrel-aged, but I could be wrong and I don't feel like looking it up right now). Whatever you want to call it, for a low ABV oatmeal stout, you could do a lot worse. This is widely available here in San Diego and it's become a sort of session-stout for me. Smooth and toasty and tasty.

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Photo of vicsju1991
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured 12 oz bottle into duvel snifter
A - poured dark black, solid two finger white head, good retention
S - sweet malts, coffee, chocolate
T - coffee, chocolate, sweet malts, follows the nose
M - the best mouth feel ever, so smooth and creamy and amazing
O - very amazingly drinkable beer, good taste, very good beer

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Black on the pour with what appears to be good clarity. Sandy colored head sputters out shortly with some lively snap, crackle, and pop. Spotty lacing. I would have expected better head formation and retention from an oatmeal stout.

S: Starchy, bittersweet chocolate, hints of cola and black molasses, woody roast. Brownies, vague whiff of fruit.

T: Blackstrap molasses, cola, brownie batter, woody roast, espresso, bittersweet dark chocolate, flash of blackberry, starchy. Hops kick in with a bitter bite and some citrusy orange peel flavors toward the back. The finish is all bakers chocolate and smokey roast.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied. Silky. Low, gentle carbonation. Great texture, but I find a part of myself wishing it had a bit more weight behind it.

O: Lighter in body and drier than I was expecting. It seems better suited to its warmer home climate than the dead of winter here in the northeast, where a more robust beer is often preferred. Still a good beer, and it offers enough complexity and nuance to keep it from feeling boring.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

120z bottle poured into a snifter

Pours an ink black with chestnut highlights. A small khaki colored cap rises and falls slowly. Some sheets of lace.

The aroma is clean. Roast, rolled oats, sweet milk chocolate, and some coffee undertones. Fairly straightforward, a little sweeter than most.

The flavor profile follows the nose. Milk chocolate lends a prevailing sweetness, borderline cloying, while dry oats and roast coming in mid-palate. The finish begins with bitter roast and mixes with sweet chocolate.

Medium body, soft, creamy, and, dare I say it, velvety. Low carbonation. Drinks extremely easy.

I can't get over how easy this drinks. A somewhat tame flavor profile, I'd like it to be a little more robust in spots, but it would take away some of the other good qualities.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 641 ratings.