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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
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 641
Hads: 2,871
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
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: 2,871
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 leantom
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to FW for brewing this. I finally found a stout that my Dad loves! He's a life-long European Pilsner drinker who typically prefers translucent yellow fizz water, but he agreed that this is a great beer. Here goes:

A: Splendid. Pours dark brown but with a massive tan head. Leaves a lot of lacing as well.

S: Not much on the oats and dark fruit; mostly chocolate and coffee. While there is some oatmeal in the background, the roasted notes predominate. I prefer these notes over the fruity ones in Russian Imperial stouts, but I was still somewhat surprised that the beer did not have a richer oatmeal character.

T: Good. Somewhat light, but it's still very tasteful and well-balanced. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and some oatmeal at the back of the palate (but it's not very lingering). Again, not very robust, but it's still incredibly flavorful.

F: Only mediocre part of the beer. Somewhat light, especially when using other beers of the style as reference, but this is to be expected given the ABV.

O: Great beer. Thank you, FW!

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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 beerthulhu
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

- duvel glass. Bot. 10.16.15. Consumed 12.12.15.

A: Dark cola pour sits a flat black in the vessel with a dark, creamy, walnut toned head of 0.5 inches. Thin, film lacing coats the glass well.

S: Beautiful freshly charred firewood, roasted oats, with a smokey chocolate finish of generally good proportions. Head retention is fair, lapsing to a whispy covering.

T: Beautiful smoky charred chocolate, firewood, and roasted oats, are, as the name suggests, velvety in nature. Smooth smoky pine bitterness, touches of burnt cookie dough sweetness, and chocolate licorice add highlights while finishing out with a smooth smokey charred finish.

M: Creamy mouthful, mid body offering, very smooth, velvety on the tongue, charred warmth lingers behind.

O: Overall a highly drinkable oatmeal stout, with a sooty, charred and a velvety nature. Drinks really big in nature for its modest abv%.

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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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Photo of rjd722
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Basically black with a thin one-finger tan foam head that dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing.

Aroma: Full of dark chocolate and light espresso. Also picking up some bread crust (the oats I'm sure) and raisins, pretty nice.

Taste: The bitter coffee hops and roasted malts hit at the end while the dark chocolate and oats lead up front. The oats also linger and compliment everything else.

Feel: Smooth and easy drinking, low carbonation and a mild roasted finish. Creamy up front and more dry towards the back.

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

Poured a solid black with great tan head.

The smell was slightly on the hoppy side with just a touch of roast.

Taste was good with a fairy sweet coffee like character to it. But where this beer comes through is the mouthfeel. Very light and the oatmeal give it a thicker creaminess to it.

With 5.5% ABV you could drink a few and enjoy every bit!

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a tap into a pint glass at KnB Wine Cellar’s in San Diego, Calif. Color was coffee black. Probably heavy on the head, but I missed the pour. Good looking beer, though.

First smell was coffee. Also some caramel, nuts, Nyquill and cough drops.

First taste was coffee, followed by a strong alcohol bite and then a chocolate finisher. Dark, but so smooth.

Mild carbonation. Some licorice and almost a liquor taste, like Bailey’s Irish Cream. The Nyquill/cough syrup kept coming in and was off-putting.

I really like this beer, but it was much better out of the bottle. I usually am a draft guy, but the taste specifically was better out of the bottle.

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

12 oz. bottle, reviewed 11/11/10. Pint glass.

A- The beer itself is an opaque black with maroon and brown highlights. Poured with around 1/2" of head that dissipated to a ring around the edge.

S- Roasted coffee, milk chocolate, dark roasted malts. Smells great, but could be stronger.

T- Roasted malt, dark coffee, mellow milk chocolate. I detected oatmeal a couple of times, but not much grain flavor. Slightly sweet.

M- Medium bodied and very smooth. Some prickly carbonation at first. Mild dry finish that coats the mouth. Body-wise, it finishes lighter than it feels.

D- High drinkability. The flavor is a bit mellow, but that works to its advantage with the smooth body. I really enjoyed the coffee flavors sweetened slightly by the milk chocolate. Very easy to drink a couple of these at a time.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at BC's Pizza and Beer

A: Pours dark brown with a slight ruby hue and mocha head that fades.

S: Dark roasted malt, a bit earthy, with light coffee.

T: Lots of dark roasted malt, some sweet cocoa, light coffee, a touch of vanilla, some earthy hop notes and a mild bitterness on the finish.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation, velvety smooth.

O: Flavorful brew that really hits the spot on a cold night.

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Photo of psuKinger
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Velvet Merlin

Bottle given to me by my buddy PVG, poured into my Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

A: Pours pitch black. Thin brown head that dissipated quickly. 3.5

S: Big roasty oatmeal notes come pouring out of the glass. A touch of chocolate and a hint of pine underneath. 4.5.

T: Taste follows the nose. Roasted barley and oatmeal dominate. I'm picking up on something reminiscent of the *char* you got out on the outer crust of a good seared steak. Struggling to find the chocolate on the tongue that I picked up in the nose, but the hint of pine is definitely present. 4

M: Lighter than I would have expected based on the pour. The 5.5% ABV is for real here. But not really in a bad way. It's smooth, and finishes with a nice dry hoppy stickiness. 4

D/O: Very drinkable, and certainly repeatable. 4.5

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Photo of DudMan
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a tan one finger head with decent lacing. Smells of dark chocolate and coffee. Tastes of bitter coffee and dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and nicely carbonated. Good body for a 5.5% abv stout. I'll buy this again.

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Photo of CruZnBrewZ
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pub style glass from 2 month old bottle.

Appearance: a nice dark black pour, yet thinner than expected. Slight lacing, low carbonation with about a finger's worth of head that decapitates quickly.

Smell: faint coffee and roasted malt aroma that does not linger. very nice, but not over the top.

Taste: I taste roasted oats, a hint of coffee, with a lingering sweetness

Mouthfeel: creamy but thin texture. goes down silky smooth. very pleasant.

Overall: a very enjoyable oatmeal stout. kudos on the taste and mouthfeel. Not the most impressive oatmeal stout I've ever had but up there. Great job!

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, Bruery tulip, bottled 12/7/10.

Nearly a black Stout; some purple highlights lurk near the bottom of the glass and a darker brown head towers above. The lacing is top notch.

Very nice nose for a seemingly humble Oatmeal Stout; ghostly bourbon'd wood, vanilla oak, wet earth, and cocoa powder. Complexly dry, earthy, and chocolatey.

Mineral ridden dark chocolate with sneaky bourbon flavors behind. The woody, earthy U.S. Fuggles are definitely here and probably supporting the small bourbon barrel aged character. A little acidic coffee plays but fortunately does not steal the show.

A little thin, but truly smooth. Moderate to low carbonation holding some bite. Could be a little more full to go with the silkiness.

I am finding lots of complexity to enjoy here, without the mammoth abv often associated with Stouts that are considered the best. Smooth and warming nonetheless.

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