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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

621 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 621
Hads: 2,757
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 498 | FT: 7
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.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufa ... tube_gdata 
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Reviews: 621 | Hads: 2,757
Photo of part-time-alcoholic
1.1/5  rDev -72.4%

After coming here for a few years I made an account specifically to comment on this brew. I hate to trash a beer from a brewery I love but wow this is bad. Watery mouth-feel, caustic scent, absolutely bitter taste with zero other qualities. I don;t think I've ever seen a BA Score (90, currently) I disagree with more. Maybe I just got a bad batch?

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Photo of bball208
1.56/5  rDev -60.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.25

I am extremely disappointed in Firestone for this one. The brewery that I thought never failed to make only supreme beers has fallen very short of that mark for this beer.

Poured a dark, coca-cola-like appearance. foam dissipates just like it would for coke. There was nothing velvety about this beer in its appearance or taste.

Taste was very one dimensional and flat. I got nothing but roasted bitter notes of coffee. And that was it. It was not accompanied by any sort of sweetness like chocolate or malt, it was just coffee water residue. I clearly must have gotten a dud because I see this is rated a 90, unless I'm crazy or the world is crazy, this was not a good beer and I actually poured it down the drain after about 10 sips. I tried!

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Photo of jbertsch
2.56/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.5

no sign of oats used. The beer is much too crisp, thin, and refreshing for an oatmeal stout. Those are attributes I want in other beer styles, not an oatmeal stout.

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Photo of ronniebruner
2.77/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Gotta say right off the bat I was disappointed in this brew as I have thoroughly enjoyed all the other Firestone beers I have had. It could just be a bad batch I presume, but it is hard to say. The beer is very black, almost too black to be enjoyable considering the horrid burnt wood taste. It is nowhere as thick as other stouts and it took me several weeks to finish this 6 pack off. Overall I have a very high opinion of Firestone Walker and would rate it as one of the top 3 breweries in the state of California, but I have to say this really was just not that great. Not terrible, but just not worth the time or money.

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Photo of Chris_Huston
2.83/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I don't know if this is a bad bottle, or just how bad they can conceivably get, but this was a huge disappointment. Nothing wrong on the eyes -- classic, unsurprising stout look and pour, very healthy. But very weak, roasted aroma, same on the taste, and little other scents or flavors. Body is more like a porter, too watery for a stout. Not horrible, but just very bland compared to other entries in this competitive category, and definitely way below FW standards. I'll try it again eventually just to verify my findings, but won't rush for another.

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Photo of Philousa
2.85/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Imbibed on tap at Wine Affairs on 3/4/13.

Very dark, but a clear cola color against the light with a thin tan head with decent retention. Lots of chocolate in the nose with a slight roasted coffee tinge. Caramel also plays a vital role. Flavor is very chocolatey also, but dry like baker's chocolate, and bitter as well. Caramel and somewhat sweet like chocolate milk, this finishes with earthy hop bitterness. Feel is somewhat creamy (would like more cream) ad thin, finish is very dry. Interesting, but wouldn't buy a sixer. Then again, I'm not one to enjoy most oatmeal stouts. Could fit the profile better.

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Photo of Night
2.88/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a burgundy-black with hints of purple in the light. Relatively thin head, dies down quickly to an average bubbly layer; lacing is sparse. Aroma is fairly smooth and mellow, not astringent: rich molasses, bouillon, chocolate, raisins, maybe a hint of grassy scents. Mouthfeel is slightly silky, but a little on the watery side; not much in the way of carbonation or body. Flavor is at first smooth cocoa with vague hints of coffee, then mild burnt oat bitterness, a slight wash of hops, and warming alcoholic presence; finally a lingering grassy sourness. Aftertaste is flat and lightly bitter.

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Photo of Sludgeman
2.89/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured into a wine glass (that's all I had, I was in a hotel room). Bottled on 12-4-12

A - Pours black, one finger light brown head, which quickly dissapates, some minimal lacing

A - Toffee and a little metalic

T - Roasted malts, dark chocolate, a little bit of coffee, very little hoppiness, some bitterness from the roasted malt.

MF - Netural, not thin, but not chewy or creamy

O - Balanced but generally unimpressive for Firestone. No particular flavor is overwhelming present. Not velvety smooth as I would expect an oatmeal stout to be.

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Photo of BeerRefugee
2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 1.75 | overall: 2.75

Pours a hazy dark brown. Thick tan head that dissipates very quickly. Mild aroma of roast grain and cocoa. Flavor is stronger but similar, with moderate roastiness and cocoa powder. Very thin (for a stout) mouthfeel and dry finish. The beer doesn't taste bad but I was very disappointed by the thin mouthfeel.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.92/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter.

3.0 A: Black color. Two fingers of frothy light brown head that fizzes away a la Coca-Cola post haste.

3.5 S: Lots of oats and dry, dusty cocoa powder. Good bit of roastiness. Super dry overall.

3.0 T: The taste is really nice, but it has one major flaw. Again this is simple with a moderate roastiness, lots of oats, and cocoa powder. The flaw, which tastes a pretty damn good beer down to an average one is that this is as dry as the nose suggests. It's painfully dry and because of this, it comes off as quite watery.

2.0 M: Light body. Light body indeed. Way too light for the style. Never had one like this. Also, too much carbonation. Not creamy due to the body and not smooth due to the carbonation level.

2.5 D: Not impressed with this one. With some crystal malt, this would be a damn good beer as the flavors present are pleasant. However, what isn't there is more important.

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Photo of Mike_Moe
3/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark chocolate color with a brown short lasting head.
Aroma: Medium coffee aroma
Flavor: Medium bodied with a coffee flavor.
Overall: This stout does not have much flavor. It’s some what harsh, but does try to end with a smooth mouth expected of an oatmeal stout

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Photo of The_Kings_Quart
3.01/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a slick, oily blackish brown. 3 fingers of pale tan head that doesn't linger. Nice, frothy lacing.

Smell: Toasty malts, maple syrup, slight coffee notes, raisins (?).

Taste: Robust malts that fall away too fast. Interesting combination of spices leading to a burnt sugar/diner coffee finish. Thick and clingy. Disappointing.

Mouthfeel: Heavy, heavy carbonation that makes it unpleasant to savor. Like someone brewed up some malted soda pop.

Overall: I like Firestone, and this was a decent attempt, but the brew lacks the follow through I feel it ought to have. I don't see myself getting up for another bottle.

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Photo of anarchia
3.01/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

First review on here, though far from my first beer... Pours pitch black with a thin, off-white head that doesn't linger. Roasty and subtle chocolate aroma. Significantly thinner body than other Oatmeal Stouts I've experienced. Heavy roasted malt flavor, not much sweetness, weak coffee aftertaste. Bitterness from hops is very noticeable, but no hop aroma. Odd, bubbly finish. If you like roasty stouts this may be your thing but sadly it's not mine.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.02/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black; very nice thick, firm long lasting tan head. Lovely. One of the nicest looking stouts I've seen.

Nose is medium assertive simple sweet black chocolate. Nothing complex but a nice chocolate nose. Mouthfeel is medium creamy and pleasant. Tasted at room temperature which highlights characteristics in my opinion.

Mouthfeel at room temp is a nice half and half quality, creamy pleasant.

Flavors are simple, short and uneventful. Simple light roasted grain. A watery chocolate flavor - simple. "Velvety" smooth-a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that the smoothness would be attractive if it didn't have the curse of weak waterly flavors. Simple roasted grain; simple black chocolate. Light carbonation once you give it a swirl or two. Without the 2 or 3 swirls it had better carbonation and a better mouthfeel.

There is a very light elegant roasted character to this - nothing special whatsoever in my opinion. No need for me to try again.

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Photo of Mann0101
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer looks and smells like it should, but the taste falls flat. It starts off nicely, but has a burnt finish that overpowers this otherwise pleasant beer. I'll drink it if you're buying.

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Photo of ajm5108
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very watery mouthfeel, which seems to be an issue with certain FW beers. Has no real mouthfeel at all. Aroma is also pretty tame for a stout, you get some toasted malt, but like you were smelling the mash, again with lots of water. Flavor wise there isn't much happening outside your standard roasted malt. Very disappointing beer.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.06/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan for filling a want and for being an awesome trader.

12 oz bottle in a tulip. Pours dark brown, with a deluge of tiny bubbles along the edges and a beige ring and spotty surface bubbles.

Molasses and coffee on the nose. Not nearly as pronounced as I'd hoped. In fact, it's lacking much complexity and for the style is a tad weak. There is a weird cooked plastic smell that ain't too groovy.

Taste and mouthfeel veer towards watery. Oats don't vibe with the beer well, leaving more of a coffee dark ale than a rich, roasty, full bodied oatmeal stout which I am after. A richer, more velvety mouthfeel and dialing down the carbonation might pick this beer up a notch. Crank up the oatmeal here!

Kind of a bummer. Granted I haven't had an inordinate amount of Firestone, but this is not up to the standard I expected from a great brewery. Plenty of other oatmeal stouts in the sea.

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Photo of pants678
3.09/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The Merkin is thick and it is opaque. Like so black it's blue black. There's a thin bubbly head that doesn't last long.

Looks similar to LA's Ten Commandments so I expected figs, something dark and sweet, but I got your usuals: roasted coffee and dark chocolate.

There is a serious hop finish on the end of the chocolate and vanilla body. Not quite chocolate though, I think it's closer to cocoa. That finish, though, gives a taste of syrup sweetness underneath if you can swish it around and get at it.

The name suggests how smooth it is. I guess you can't ask for more carbonation when Velvet's the trademark.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
3.15/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Thick and dark brown with minimal head and some slight lacing.

S: Getting some coffee flavoring, and Molasses.

T:Taste like a weak stout, or perhaps even a porter. Bold flavors fade quickly in the mouth. Oatmeal flavor comes in the finish, esp after a big swig.

M: Medium bodied

O: It's decent, I'm definitely a little disappointed as FS usually delivers. It's not bad but not great.

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Photo of doughanson78
3.17/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First Firestone Walker beer. 12oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Very dark, but not totally black. Light comes through around edges and bottom of glass. Kind of a dark redish tint where light comes through. Fluffy one finger head. Slightly off white with only small tight bubbles. Head dies down to thin layer but doesn't disappear. Fairly good lacing.

S: Not a big aroma at all. Smells like the inside of a Quaker oatmeal container. VERY light chocolate scent.

T: Nice roasted flavor. Light coffee. Mild sweet chocolate. Nice oaty finish. Very mild hop bitterness.

M: Medium bodied. Mild carbonation. Smooth but not Velvety.

O: Been hearing great things about Firestone Walker. Had a sip of their Double Jack and was impressed. Got a few of their brews, including the Parabola. Not super impressed with this one. It's decent but there's definitely many better.

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Photo of Eisen
3.21/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a dirty, but rinsed, Delirium glass. medium black with brown head that fades into very light light brown lacing and dissipates medium/soon. Tastes like an old shoe in a good way. Dark, aged fruit (dates, burnt grain) with a high drinkability factor. Alcohol factors too prevalent, considering the only 5.5% and thus cuts down on mouth and taste. Smooth and balanced, but not too excitable. If one was to drink dark ales for hours and hours, this would be the beer. Goes well with tobacco and chocolate, though the flavors are unremarkable on their own. Firestone makes very solid beer, and this is no exception. But, considering, it could be much better.

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Photo of Auracom
3.21/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Single 12 oz. purchase from MSCM. All 12 oz. poured into a FFF Rastal on February 8th, 2013.

A - Pours a deep black color, with lovely depth. Medium khaki head with plentiful foam and retention.

S - Straight mocha - Nesquik blended with black coffee beans. Soft honey malts and darker cocoa hints underneath.

T - Espresso transitions into almost pure effervescence. Touch of Chocolate powder at the back end, But nothing lingers.

M - High carbonation (overly so), light medium body, lightly dry finish.

D - The drinkability is pretty underwhelming compared to the nose. Too much carbonation and not nearly enough flavor.

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Photo of itsratso
3.21/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

a - pours a dark chocolate brown, tan head that doesn't last or lace.
s - i get that sweet/burnt chocolate that is common for the style, but not a lot of it.
t - i love FW. it is one of my favorite go to beers for IPA's. and although i haven't had it, their parabola is legendary. but i have tried this, and their robust reserve porter, and... they are just rather unimpressive to me? not bad by any stretch. just not very impactful. some sweetness up front, a little chocolate, a little roast coffee. very smooth, almost sessionable. this reminds me very much (as the robust porter did) of a stout for people that don't like stouts.
m - creamy as an oatmeal should be, but thinner than say a sam smith (IMO the measuring stick for oatmeal stouts).
o - not bad. actually well made and good. just not very memorable.

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Photo of SmashAdams
3.25/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Really nice stout. Super smooth and easy drinking and nice low abv. The smell is light toasty malts and oats with some chocolate. The taste is similar. I see why they call it velvet. yb

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Photo of ikantspel
3.27/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12oz served into a sam adams glass

Pours a dark coffee color with a small head. Small ammount of lacing

Heavy roasted malts, coffee beans, dark chocolate

Espresso flavor, black coffee, and roastiness

If anything i wish you could taste more alcohol. A bit too sweet.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 621 ratings.