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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

593 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 593
Hads: 2,641
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 211
Gots: 443 | 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.

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Reviews: 593 | Hads: 2,641
Photo of mverity
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of a BA trade. Pours inky black with tan colored head that went away almost immediately. Good legs, okay lacing. Aroma is faint. I'm only getting deep malt with a touch of brown sugar. Taste is much different, still the heavy malt character, interesting oat flavor, faint hop earthiness, brown sugar/caramel. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin. Not nearly as syrupy as I was hoping for from a oatmeal centered stout. I'm surprised this beer becomes so damn tasty in the barrels. Merkin is considerably better. Maybe I shouldn't have aged this one. Who knows? (570 characters)

Photo of blakelive784
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours the darkest shade of brown, with a disappointingly thin, tan, one finger head. Retention is fair.

S - Light roasted barley, faint cream and light coffee. Mild strength and generally appealing.

T - Medium roasted barley foundation opens to a sweet, creamy body. It's really simple; I actually don't get too many more notes off it. It's balanced extremely well, though, and plays well off of its simplicity.

M - Medium bodied, a bit coarse and a bit off an odd dry finish. I don't mind it but could be more smooth.

D - Not a bad beer overall, but doesn't have a whole lot going for it. (653 characters)

Photo of bohemiandonut
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a little thin but dark, with tan bubbly head.
Smells more like a porter to me than a stout. Lots of sweet roasty coffee, vanilla, and some dark fruit.
Tastes like this as well. Pretty good at first with a great mouthfeel and tasty balanced malts. Medium-low carbonation.
Finish is a little weak with a bitter tannic dryness taking over. Glad to be able to pick up a six-pack of this, but it's not my favorite style and doesn't really improve on Mr. Smith's variety. Not bad though. (487 characters)

Photo of srandycarter
3.33/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Very dark, I would say black. Light tan head, tight bead, leaves to ring fast. TONS of lace.

S - Harsh roast up front, light hop underneath. Not much else.

T - Watered coffee. Sorry, can't give it much more.

M - Medium body, coffee, light cocoa, light malt. Light hops.. LIGHT.

D -GOOD to try. (301 characters)

Photo of SirRuss
3.34/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Archetypal charcoal body, but retention is fleeting at best, and the lacing unimpressive. Having just glanced at the label - which sports a silky smooth, three fingered head - Firestone should probably thank their litigation stars that they have not yet been sued for false advertising

S - The pour alone wafts a dark chocolate breeze with enough presence to evoke surprise and intrigue. Unfortunately the chocolate notes within the glass are somehow less intense, and are accompanied by prominent notes of diner coffee pot. On the plus side, a dirty earthiness envelops the malt tones to lend an interesting foundation.

T - Very disappointing. It's almost as if the beer has been rapidly degrading from the moment the cap was cracked. All the expression from the nose is present on the palate, but its form is now diluted and scatty. The coffee aspect fairs best, although a watery genealogy confirms its Denny's lineage. The decadent chocolate promised by the pour is a wash out, and the deep earthiness is all but lost. In its favor, a twist of toastiness is imparted, and the roasted malt bitterness prevails in conjunction with the modest hopping. Unfortunately the redeeming features are far from capable of filling the emptiness of the profile, and a lot is left to be desired.

M - It's clear that the composition of this beer is capable of the velvety smoothness professed by the label. However, commercial soda style carbonation detracts from the texture this brew could otherwise boast, and the final effect is a prickly affair.

D - This is in no way offensive, or excessive in any attribute other than its determination to nullify itself into a disappointingly lackluster experience. (1,704 characters)

Photo of ThirstyBird
3.36/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Beachwood BBQ - from notes.
Appears opaque black. Cappuccino colored head that lasts.
Smells of Espresso and toasted malt.
Taste is of toasted/ burnt malt, licorice. A little chalky.
The mouthfeel on this beer is wonderful. So smooth, mildly carbonated. Medium body.
Nice sipper - one is enough - the bitter burnt flavor is intense. (353 characters)

Photo of Beaver13
3.38/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. Pours dark brown with a big creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass a little.

The aroma is roasted malt, oatmeal and some coffee.

The flavor is a little on the mild side - some sweet chocolate and caramel malts with some earthy coffee notes. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly watery.

Overall, a decent oatmeal stout, but a little on the mild and sweet side. I slightly preferred the Slow Elk by Big Sky which is very similar. (469 characters)

Photo of MaximalC
3.38/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.25

Pours seal brown with an ample head of khaki foam. Cola-like carbonation can be seen clinging to the bottom of the glass before ascending to the top, where it emits an audible effervescence. Aroma smells of dark chocolate, toffee, and oatmeal. The flavor is of roasted malt, mild toffee, some oats, and faint coffee and milk chocolate. Hop presence is negligible, if existent at all. Some mild coffee bitterness comes through in the finish, though.

The flavor profile is acceptable, if unremarkable. The problem lies in the exceedingly thin mouthfeel and excessive carbonation, both of which go contrary to everything I look for in a stout. It's almost like drinking a stout-flavored soft drink, and I say this as one who has great respect for Firestone Walker and had high expectations for this brew. It's drinkable, but far from what I was hoping for. Light and thin does not an oatmeal stout make... (903 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pronounced cereal, grainy flavor. Big dose of charred malt with that touch of sourness. Hops are pretty much in the background. Decent head on the black-brown pour. Very light body with appropriate carbonation for a refreshing mouthfeel. Fairly dry but there is a touch of caramel. Spicy in the back of the throat. Just a slight nose of roast grain.

Pleasant drinkable average stout. Not quite the "velvet" one might hope for. (427 characters)

Photo of DaveHS
3.45/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours cola brown with 1/4 inch of fizzy tan head. No lacing. Looks like there's no shortage of carbonation. Lots of tiny bubbles climbing the edges of the glass.

S-Oats, bittersweet chocolate, Hershey's chocolate syrup, a touch of roasted malts.

T/M-Mouthfeel is thin, with some dry hop bitterness on the back end.Carbonation is a bit higher than I'd like. This is significantly roastier than the nose indicated.Flavors of bitter dark chocolate and dry hop bitterness make up the majority of the flavor profile. Falls apart mid-palate, where the thinness of the body fails to sustain interest.

O-Did they change this from last year? I remembered it being a lot more bold and rich. This is alright, but I have a sneaking suspicion something is different with the current batch. (782 characters)

Photo of jmdrpi
3.47/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, no date.

Appears opaque black, with small off-white head that hangs around. Aroma is quite toasty and acidic. In the taste, slight sweetness gives way to dry bitter finish. Heavy roasted coffeish flavors. Medium body, mild to moderate carbonation, about right. Could be thicker.

Overall- decent, not sure why such a high average score. (351 characters)

Photo of Gmann
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A. Pours near pitch black color with a short but dense head. Some lacing on the glass.

S. the aroma has light chocolate notes quite nutty. Light overall roast.

T. The taste is of a chalky chocolate. Good roasted nut flavor. A bit of an herbal bark flavor going on. Smooth from the oat but an odd flavor going on.

The feel is quite dry and chalky. Too chalky. The roast is light and flavorful. Meh.

O. A bit disappointed in this way too dry. Decent flavor. Both this and the bourbon barrel aged version didn't really do it for me. Too chalky. (546 characters)

Photo of Ynot2
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pint glass. A nice dark brown to black with a tan one finger head. The head faded to a thick lace.

Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee aromas come out pretty heavy almost immediately.

The initial taste was coffee and a bitter chocolate. A slight bitter aftertaste lingers in the mouth.

Mouth is really light for a stout, would have preferred a little more.

Drinkability was decent, not great, not bad. I would have another one. (461 characters)

Photo of spacecake9
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%

Pours black. In a blind taste I would have called this a coffee porter. Thinner than I expected, more coffee flavor than I expected and more bitter than I expected. I was expected a thicker mouth feel and a sweeter flavor. A good beer but my rating will be lower than others. (279 characters)

Photo of TheFlern
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Very dark brown, not black. Off white head. Dissipates to a thing head covering the surface. Minimal lacing.

Smell: Light burnt notes. Small amounts of roastiness. Light oat aroma. hearty

Taste: follows the nose, not as thick tasting as it smelling.

Mouthfeel: pretty average. good carbonation. slightly bitter from the malt.

Overall: this isn't bad but it isn't anything worth seeking out. If you haven't tried it and you want to give it a shot I wouldn't dissuade you but I wouldn't persuade you to try this beer over another oatmeal stout of the same quality and price. Meh. (594 characters)

Photo of jcartamdg
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black with very little head in my ccb snifter. Very little head but lacing clings to the glass. Ara of coffee and sweet malts. Taste is smooth light with a coffee aftertaste. Mouth feel is surprisingly light and smooth, easy to drink and delicious (252 characters)

Photo of Nerudamann
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

Look – dark brown with a light tan colored foam.

Smell – typical sweet, but dark roasted type of smell that you would get from any oatmeal stout.

Taste – more bitter than I would have expected from this type of brew, but the usual caramelized type of taste you would normally expect from a stout does come out, but more toward the middle. The bitterness looms in the beginning and end. The aftertaste feels a bit smoky.

Mouthfeel – not extremely so, but definitely more on the creamy side.

Overall – fairly interesting brew to think about while tasting, and a decent taste in and of itself. (645 characters)

Photo of craytonic
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black and opaque, perhaps with a hint of mahogany brown. Small off-white head.

Smell: Roasted malts dominates, with some bitter/burnt/acridic coffee notes

Taste: Bitter roast at the forefront, followed by some oak, tofee and bitter chocolate

Mouthfeel: Seems a bit thin and light

Drinkability: Split three or four ways and didn't regret it; I guess it has the elements of a bigger beer so I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't; the qualities it showed do not translate well to a lighter style (510 characters)

Photo of Zaplt
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2-14-11

My friend Dave told me I needed to step up to the plate on BA so here I am.

Appearance - Very dark, black as expected. Pours a nice light tan head that has almost no retention nor lacing.

Aroma - Yummy roasty toasty maltiness, not very complex or strong. Not too many flavors in the aroma, slightly weak for a stout.

Taste - Washes down the palette smoothly and almost a bit thin, but then there is a wash of flavor - vanilla, a certain nuttiness that reminds me of hazelnut, raosted coffee and chocolate, slight woody aspects with just enough of a resiny hoppy finish to please the drinker.

Overall - This is a decent beer, although I did have some issues with it. It's a bit too thin for my taste and there seems to be a lack of punch in the malt. Seems a little weak in the taste and aroma but for a standard stout I think that they did a good job. (867 characters)

Photo of Cinderbike
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle on a rainy afternoon. Velvet Merlin pours a dark brown with minimal head and lacing. Carbonation and mouthfeel to style, with that distinct oatmeal slickness.

Aroma is earthy with some toasty/biscuit notes, and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Flavor: burnt toast, coffee, coffee, coffee. More coffee. This is not a session beer. Flavor is much more complex when it warms.

I am glad this was not a bomber, but it is a good oatmeal stout. (455 characters)

Photo of kflorence
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at BevMo! a week before Christmas; $7 for a sick pack (what a steal).

A: Pours an opaque, black with a nice frothy layer of tan foam. Not much lacing around the glass as you drink. When held up to a light, carbonation looks good. Looks inviting, if perhaps a little bit light as far as body goes.

S: As advertised, the roasted coffee comes through prominently. Also prominent are roasted malts, chocolate and some cloying caramel. The aroma suggests this beer will be very malty with some underlying sweetness and perhaps some astringency.

T: Wow, this one is truly roasted, almost overpoweringly so. Roasted malts and roasted coffee dominate the flavor; hops are rather subdued, almost indistinguishable. Not much of the cloying sweetness that was detected in the aroma was present, but it is there right after the initial roasts hit the tongue, and right before the lingering barbecue flavor. A tad bit astringent, which I guess is to be expected from a highly prominent coffee presence. Oatmeal is strangely absent as well.

M: For an oatmeal stout, I would consider this medium bodied. I was hoping it would be a bit more on the creamy side, maybe even with some chewiness. Carbonation levels are perfect and it does have body, just expected it to be a bit thicker.

D: Overall this is a pleasant beer and I have absolutely no complaints for the price tag. This is a solid stout that's simplicity and body make it very easy to drink. That said, I think this brew was a little overly roasted for me which made it seem a bit imbalanced. It also had almost no detectable oatmeal flavors, was a bit astringent due to the coffee and was not as creamy as I expected. There are much better oatmeal stouts out there, but this one definitely was on the above average side. I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again, but I probably wouldn't seek it out. (1,856 characters)

Photo of gillagorilla
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip (02/17/14, not sure if that is best by or bottled on, best by makes sense since this is a fall beer)

A: Pitch black and pours a finger thick head that goes away quickly enough. Leaving just a slightly mocha island of bubbles.

S: I get a lot of coffee and chocolate, with that oatmeal background that smooths them all out and binds them together.

T: Very smooth from the oatmeal. Tastes like rye oat water. I was super excited for this, but maybe it would have been better had we gotten it in the fall. Nice bit of stout in there, but comes across as more of a porter.

M: Smooth, with just a bit of abrasiveness to it.

O: Not what I was expecting, but I was wanting more flavor. I guess I am spoiled by GD's Oatmeal Yeti.

p.s. Turns out this is a late spring/early summer release (at least here in MD). Still looking for some Easy Jack and Opal. (891 characters)

Photo of DanJan
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark rich color. Very dark brown. Tan head. although not large or long lasting. Looks pretty delicious in the light.

S - Not much of a scent here. Basic. Slightly chocolatey, burnt and malty notes.

T - Basic stout. Described as an oatmeal stout which balances out the coffee and darker flavors. Little bit of dark chocolate. Little bit sweet. Easily drinkable.

M - Coats but doesn't last long. I prefer a stout that is a little stickier and thicker on the tongue. Carbonation is nice but quickly dissipates.

O - A decent offering from Firestone Walker. Pretty middle of the road stout but after it warms up and it gets chilly outside, not too bad at all. (664 characters)

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Brooklyn Tulip. Very dark pour (almost black) with a nice tight 2-finger light brown head and good retention. Nose is subdued and has mostly roasty notes and some chocolate.

Lots of roasted malt in the flavor. It's medium-bodied and pretty dry. It's somewhat reminiscent of Samuel Smith's OS, but without the nice, creamy sweetness. Overall, it's not bad, but it's a bit dry for my palate and therefore is far from the best OS I've had. I expect more creaminess in this style. (505 characters)

Photo of domtronzero
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear dark brown with ruby highlights at the edges. Big, average lasting mocha head. Little lacing.

S - Light dark sweet malts, little roast. Caramel. Light earthy hops.

F/M - Rich velvety smooth dark malts. Bready, toffee, caramel, little roast. Earthy/spicy hops with medium high bitterness. Clean, dry finish. Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D - Good. Clean, dry, full flavored and quite easy drinking. (419 characters)

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 593 ratings.