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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: 2,749
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 492 | 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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 621 | Hads: 2,749
Photo of Ethanol4one
4.14/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Froth fell flat soon after the pour, leaving a dark stout with a slight amber glow.
Aroma was well tuned, perfectly hopped.
Tasted overwhelmingly a dark roasted coffee and cocao without a lot of bitter hop aftertaste.
The texture was smooth, but not as thick as it could have been for a stout in the 5% range.

Overall-- a great stout that's a little too high gravity and under carbonated (my huntch is that nitro could make this a crazy stout).


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Photo of TwoBeers
4.14/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Nice dark brown in color. Chocolaty head that settles quickly. Almost no lacing.

S: This beer smells great. Fantastic chocolate aroma, with a hint of cherries and maybe some fig. A nice malty, nutty aroma follows.

T: Almost as good as the nose, the taste follows a similar profile. Chocolate up front, nutty with a big malty, nutty finish. Was hoping more of the fruity smell would come through.

M: Like a stout should be. Thick and creamy. Little carbonation.

O: This is a very warming stout. Easy drinking and very enjoyable. Once again impressed by Firestone Walker.

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Photo of glid02
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Jeremy – thanks!

Pours one shade from black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of smooth roasted malts with good amounts of sweet oats and light chocolate aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Lightly roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by moderate amounts of light chocolate flavors. Midway through the sip the flavors sweeten a bit with slight amounts of oak and hints of toffee. The sweetness fades out near the end of the sip, carrying through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It’s got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall there wasn’t anything that stood out about this beer besides the mouthfeel but everything worked well together and this is a smooth beer. This beer reminded me of their Reserve Porter but with a heavier mouthfeel and slightly sweeter. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of timc100
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, dark, dark rich brown with a full ice cream dark beige colored head.
S: Fresh roasted coffee, bitter dark chocolate, big roasted malts.
T: Full of flavor - fresh roasted coffee, dark chocolate, subtle rich milk chocolate, roasted malts
P: Medium body, incredibly smooth - like silk
O: Wow, just a fantastic beer. Huge flavor and feel for a low abv beer.

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Photo of kbanks13
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from Rake in a recent BIF, thanks!

Poured into my SA pint glass pitch black, darker than most oatmeal stouts I've encountered, with an inch or so of dense tan head. Smell is dominantly coffee with a nice fudgey chocolate background. Subtle hopping. The taste is like a mocha kind of flavor, nice french roast coffee sort of flavor with the semi-sweet dark chocolate fudge I smelled earlier. Kind of pick up on a chestnut flavor. Very smooth. Earthy roasted and nutty flavors are complimented nicely with slightly floral hops that aren't too bitter or resiny. The feel is a bit lighter than I expected at first, not very dense as the smell and flavors would suggest, but as it warmed up a bit it became thicker. Highly drinkable and very tasty beer, overall. So far, I have not been disappointed with Firestone Walker. Velvet Merlin just made its way into regular rotation with me.

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Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this interesting looking one thanks to Ultraman9000.

Pours a fizzy 1 finger head that fades at a medium pace over pitch black beer.

Nose is exploding with oats before I even poured it, dark malts, a bit of roast and slight coffee, a touch of dark chocolate, caramel, and hints of vanilla milk chocolate. The oats really show through.

Taste brings plenty of dark malts, but nothing heavy, a bit of roast and chocolate, some caramel and vanilla, tons of oats again almost chewy with oats, smooth and creamy, a touch of milk chocolate. A slight bitterness comes through towards the end and more on the finish as it dries off quite a bit, with a bit of a toasty malt finish, and just a hint of peppermint (I think my mind is making that part up cause it seems like it should be a peppermint patty), bit of chocolate and vanilla lingering with lots of mouthy oats.

Mouth is very full bodied, not too heavy but very creamy, smooth, and silky even.

Drink is good, sessionable but a bit to rich and thick to be really sessionable, dries nicely, no real booze, goes down smooth.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Half Acre shaker pint glass.

Thanks to whartontallboy for this bottle!

They shoulda kept it Merkin. Why not? Regardless, it pours a straight onyx topped by a finger of rather light ecru foam. The nose comprises smooth chocolate, roasted malts, molasses, and toasted oats. The taste focuses on the roasty and toasty notes, much to the benefit of all involved. (Side note: The racism involved in certain episodes of Peabody and Sherman is priceless. Here is all the proof you'll need that the children of that era grew up dumb as brix.) The body is a strong medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a smooth and nearly chewy feel. Overall, a quaff good enough to present to White's version of the titular soothsayer. Zounds!

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Photo of tony223366
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Fantastic head! Filled up my entire tulip. 3 fingers of tan, rocky head. Bubbles of all sizes and lacing is already apparent. Color is a deep, deep brown with the faintest hint of red. Clarity is good but no light can get through.

S: I'm getting tons of rich coffee aromas, some chocolate too. A little tobacco. Nice smokiness from the roasted malts.

T: Flavor mirrors the nose. Lots of rich roasted malts. That Earthy, almost tobacco flavor is here. Hops are much more present in a very lightly clean and citrusy way. I love that there's a nice bitter finish. Dark chocolate is always there. A really clean finish as well.

M: Can tell oatmeal is present, nice creaminess. Good carbonation. Maybe a smidge thin.

O: I love how drinkable this is. The aroma and body didn't knock me out but the clean, crisp flavors are incredibly attractive. Nice work from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Goose Island pint glass. Nice black body with a fingers worth of creamy tan head. The head dies a little bit, but mostly maintains and leaves some good lacing.

Lots of well roasted malt and dark chocolate on the nose. A little earthy with a touch of oatmeal. Very pleasant for a regular stout.

Taste is dark chocolate and dark roasted malt, much like the nose. Slight bitterness with a touch of coffee and oatmeal. Not overly complex, but well done.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and rich. This has a really nice body for a 5% stout. Not watery at all and no hint of alcohol. Very smooth. The oatmeal really helps.

Drinkability is great. This is a very quaffable stout. I could easily put back a few pints of this. If this were on tap at my local bar, it would become a regular for me. A great go to stout. Nice work Firestone Walker.

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Photo of dbmernin83
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - almost black with over an inch of very pale khaki head
S - roasted malts, sweet oat
T - roasted coffee, smoothed out by oats and a light sweetness
M - good carbonation with a great light sticky sweetness.
D - An excellent stout, with excellent use of the oats to create a smooth finishing, yet complex beer. this coul be a good go-to stout.

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Photo of drummermattie02
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip, deep brown and lets very little light through; two finger head that quickly recedes to a ring.

Aroma of roasted malts and coffee, good complexity.

Taste mimics the smell, but some chocolate comes through that i didn't initially detect. Really great finish, too. Very smooth feel, although a bit on the watery side.

Very well done beer, particularly considering the lower ABV and drinkability.

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Photo of bhyndthebottle
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Poured thick and foamy into a tulip glass.Color is a wonderfully rich deep brown/black, that cascaded into a quickly disappearing head that left some fine lacing bhynd.

Smell: This was the only part of this tasting that wasn't spectacular. Smelled rather bland and unimpressive, with a little whiff of caramel and chocolate. Could not detect any boozy impressions...which is perfect, seeing how this is only at 5.5% abv.

Taste: This is where this beer shines through. Amazing from the first hit on the tongue to the lasting impression on your palate. Wonderfully smooth and complex hints of chocolate and caramel, with virtually no bitterness at the end. This is a fine expression of an oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel: Just what a nice oatmeal stout should be. With a wonderful medium bodied mouthfeel that just rests on your palate long after it has departed.

Overall: This is a wonderfully great example of what I think an oatmeal stout should be. Not overpowering and boozy, with a nice lingering afterthought that tells you that you just enjoyed a fine beer. Can't wait to try the barrel aged Velvet Merkin. Thanks Firestone!

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Label states that this was bottled on "09/27/12."

Color is a blackened, brownish shade that is surprisingly thick and full looking, to the point where barely any light shines through. Not too much of a head, to my disappointment. Smallish bubbles fade away at the top of the glass and a ring resembling the top of coffee remains, with slight lacy specks on top. This is really dark, but I can see bubbles occasionally go around the glass's edges. Good stuff.

The aroma contains various aspects that are found in oatmeal stouts - other than dark grains and oats, there are coffee grounds, vanilla, a fresh herby zest, and several notes of dark wood and earthiness. The first aroma is definitely on the malty side, but there's an immediate balance with the hops and oats that makes this rich and wholly enjoyable. My mouth is already watering.

With one sip, followed by a second, I can immediately label this as the most balanced beer I've had by FW to date. There's an initial strong flavor of lovely chocolate malts, richened oats, and smooth, subtle coffee bean notes, but there are quickly - just as in the aroma - aided by the hops and slight yeasty flavors to create enormous balance and enjoyability. The aftertaste is slightly warming, and also rather smoky. There's a slight astringency that remains even a minute or so afterwards, which is rather unpleasant but not the biggest problem.

A very good oatmeal stout by FW, especially for its budget offering. I could definitely have more of these due to its rich, full-bodied experience at such a good price. Great stuff by FW, and I could definitely have more.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz, bottled 12/04/2012, pours dark brown topped with a foamy beige head that holds decent retention. Aromas and tastes are similar with oatmeal, chocolate, faint coffee, background toasted grain, roasted barley, kind of smells and tastes like how a bag of freshly cracked roasted barley smells. Mouth-feel is exceptionally smooth and creamy, while having a medium-to-full body. Overall, not a whole lot of complexity, but this brewery knows how to streamline a good, solid beer.

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Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep dark mahogany bordering on black with a coffee colored head that quickly dissipates.

Smells of coffee, chocolate, whole grain bread, caramel, and fig.

Taste is nice bitter coffee and chocolate notes followed by malty bread notes and fig and plumb. It has a thick mouthfeel (full bodied) with a creamy smoothness balanced by the dry bitter finish.

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Photo of NegativeSpin
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Being a fan of Oatmeal Stout, I came across this at BevMo and had to try it. I saw someone else say that they got a 6-Pack for $9.99, but I found it for $7.99... lucky me.

Perhaps it depends on the temperature, as another person claimed that pouring into a glass produced a generous (3.5 fingers) head, but I got very little out of this (bought off the shelf and chilled in the fridge for about 5 minutes only - I like to have my Stouts warmer).

Has a chocolaty smell to it... also, a hint of burnt coffee that I didn't really notice until I approached the bottom of the glass... hmm.

I hate to compare this to Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, but feel that Smith's is the one for others to attempt to measure up to... that being said, I was pleased to find that Firestone has produced one that is quite a bit different from Smith's, yet nearly as good. The major difference here definitely being drinkability. This beer is surprisingly light by comparison, and has a bit more of a potent taste that catches you off guard.

Do I like the heavier, smoother, sweeter taste of Sammy Smith's over Firestone's Oatmeal Stout? Perhaps, yes.

Will I be buying another 6-Pack of the Firestone version again anyway? Most definitely.

/Me opens a second one

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Photo of nkersten
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Kevin - Thanks! poured into a NB globe, black liquid with a tan head that quickly fades to a bubbly cap. Smells of dark roasted malts, some coffee, and spicy hops. Taste is very malty and a bit smokey from the roast. Hop flavor to start that fades into a nice balance of hops and roast finish. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Not as silky as most oatmeal stouts but a good beer regardless.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to drummrboy22 for sending this one as an extra.

A: pours deep dark brown with white-ish brown head, not much retention, no lacing, opaque

S: nose is chock full of roasted barley with chocolate and coffee around the edges

T: tastes starts off with bold malts and a touch of sweetness, this develops into an increasingly roasted profile and a finish of all roasted barley. This brew elevates the specialty malts very well.

MF: smooth creamy texture, slightly high carbonation

O: this is a great Oatmeal stout. Very representative of the style, I love the use of roasted barley and chocolate malt, the flavors really stand out.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Another California oddity I drank on my trip. Beer was black with a tan head that leaves some lacing on the glass. Bubbles are small and carbonation is moderate to low.

Aroma is roasty and has some oatmeal notes to it. It smells really nice.

Beer tastes like coffee and oatmeal. It has a medium to full body and the sweetness of the stout coats my mouth. Drinkability suffers slightly for me due to the overall weight of the beer but its really good. I would definitely have this again.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, pouring it into my Duvel tulip was made possible by the awesome BA rmjavanut.

The beer pours total black, with a creamy three and a half finger tan crown. The head sticks around for a while, but doesn't leave much lacing behind. Nose is straightforward, but good. Heavy on cocoa, with a solid dose of vanilla present as well. The flavor kicks things up a bit. Chocolate still dominates, along with vanilla as the main supporting player, but now a bit of heavily roasted astringency creeps in. It's a nice substitute for a hop bite, and makes way for a slight oaky finish. Mouthfeel is great, but what I've come to expect from an oatmeal stout. Body is impressively rich, especially for a 5.5% beer, and ultra smooth thanks to the oats. Carbonation is picture perfect understated, it gets the job done but doesn't get in the way of all the malty flavors. Velvet Merlin is the second beer I've ever had from Firestone Walker, and it's almost as impressive as their Union Jack IPA. A very nice winter seasonal.

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Photo of washburnkid
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Davis Graduate. Reviewed from notes.

A: One finger of froth of tan head dissipates within a minute or so. The body is dark with rich brown edges in the light. Not much retention or lacing.
S: Aromas are lightly roasted coffee bean and sweet chocolate.
T: Flavors are light on the acidity (almost non-existent, really), and heavy on the sweet malt profile. Coffee and chocolate dominating, with very little bitterness to speak of.
M/D: Body is a little light on the palate but there's nice carbonation. Smooth as velvet but still a tad thin. Flavors are toned down...I wished so badly to just taste "more". But this beer was still enjoyable!

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Photo of Treyliff
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 1/8/13, poured in a snifter

A- pours pitch black with a two-finger light tan head that reduces to a small layer that floats on top, leaving short lasting lace

S- nice roasted notes with some sweet oats, sharp nutty aroma with a bt if smoke, smooth chocolate rounds it out with a touch of coffee

T- smooth and sweet oaty flavors are balanced out by a slightly smoky maltiness with flavors of raisin, roasted nuts, milk chocolate and light hazelnut coffee.

M- immensely smooth mouthfeel from the oats compliments a medium body with light carbonation. Silky smooth finish goes down way too easy. The only flaw is that I would prefer a slightly heavier mouthfeel

O- this is the definition if a sessionable oatmeal stout, packed with flavor but so very well balanced. I could drink 6 of these in a given night. Another solid beer from FW

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Photo of Reidrover
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz mug at f-stop Fitzgeralds in Salem. $3.00 Black as a moonless night with a small but persistent off white head. Great toasty roasty oat aromas..comforting Taste is mainnly roasted oats,dark chocolate and esspresso coffee..the bitter ness lingers. Great mouthfeel and even better aftertaste that goes on for some time after the beer is done. Great beer at a great [price

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 11-21-11
*12ozer to Nonic – Best damn 6er out there!!!

A: Pours a really dark brown color with a thin rosewood edge to it. Tight half finger cap of a light brown sugar head that fizzed away quick just leaving some spotty lace. Although more aggressive pours have yielded much livelier head in my experience.

S: Smells of dark roasted grains. Some chocolate and that distinct earthy F-W oaky/wood note.

T: Taste is just an awesome blend of chocolate, toasted grains, and dry roast coffee flavors. A bit of earthy wood notes and some herbal/spice hops that provide a nice subdued bitter charge towards the end. Very light with just a touch of sweetness. Quite refreshing.

M: Super creamy mouthfeel. It is most excellent. Very light in body. A bit thin for a stout actually but then again this is only 5.5% ABV. Nice dry finish.

D: This is a great American Stout. Nice layers of chocolate and coffee with a lighter body provides for a fantastic session. Creamier texture provided by the oats. Perfect hoppy balance. A must try!

Excellent candidate for beer engine.

Superb balance. A perfect cozy beer for these colder months.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

159th review on BA
Bottle to pint
12 oz bottle

After having a FW 14th Anny. I read all the beers they mixed in so I have been trying to get my hands on most of them. This was a 2 dollar single at Total Wine

App- Very nice looking dark stout without the traditional beer head was what I expected from the style.

Smell- Very light notes of coffee, cocoa nibs and roasty malts.

Taste- Much better taste than smell. It's a very nice oatmeal stout. Has the roasty taste you want but also mixes in some cocoa flavor and a little coffee bitter.

Mouth- Medium bodied with a low carb feel to give it that velvety richness.

Drink- For a 5.5 ABV this is a fine beer. It's as smooth as they come without a burn. Could have a ton of these on a cold night.

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