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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

596 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 596
Hads: 2,651
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 10.03%
Wants: 211
Gots: 446 | 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: 596 | Hads: 2,651
Photo of jera1350
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jesse (arniepnminne) for another great trade beer.

The body pours thinner, but in the glass it is solid black with a creamy tan head that leaves very little lacing on the glass.

The nose is a little light, but what it does offer up is rich malt and oats with some nice sweetness. Light roast on the nose as well.

Quite flavorful for the style. Roasty malt, coffee bean, cocoa and dark chocolate. Light oatmeal sweetness. Toasty aftertaste.

The body feels a little thin, but the carbonation is creamy and soft. A lightly sticky finish.

Overall, a nice beer for the style. One of the top ones I'd say. It's not mind blowing, but does stand out in the crowd. Drinks quite nicely as well.

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Photo of Goldfish19
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

~ 12 oz bottle purchased online.

This oatmeal stout pours dark brown in color with a thin tan head.

Velvet Merlin has a pleasant aroma. Roasted malt, oats, coffee and chocolate all make an appearance.

The taste is very similar. All the above are present, but I also detect some vanilla, which I couldn't initially pick out in the smell. It's not sweet, but from what I understand this was the brewer's intention.

The body is a little on the thin side, but no complaints here. It's smooth, creamy and at 5.5% it went down without a hitch.

Overall, this is a solid offering from Firestone. If anyone is on the lookout for a well-crafted oatmeal stout, give this a try - you will not be disappointed. ~

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Photo of DM1293
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Seasonal Sample from the Lazy Dog Cafe.

Its pretty good. Appears a reddish brown to the light, but then again the light was kinda dim.

A bit less smooth than other oatmeal stouts, being up-front with the bitter smokiness and coffee notes, but it falls into a semi-rich chocolate finish, which I find strangely decedent of a beer. So the finish does balance out the beer quite well.

A very unimposing, tasty stout.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin
12oz, bottled 9.18.14

Dark garnet with a one-finger tan head. Lacing/retention average. (3.5)

Aroma has a lot of toasted malt with a hint of earthy hop. Some roast. Clean. (3.5)

Flavor is complex and smooth. Molasses, coffee, date, dark fruit and other crystal malt flavors. Roast is restrained. Herbal hop is subtle. Finish is pretty dry for style, but mouthfeel is huge and, well, velvety. Oats playing a big role here. Carbonation is medium-low. (4.5, 4.5)

A very nice stout. Soft, smooth and balanced. Not a bitter roast bomb at all. Highly drinkable and satisfying. Merlin strikes again! (4.5)

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Photo of ManuelHerrera
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ahhh Velvet Merlin, your name is as silky as your flavor.

After a somewhat disappointing summer seasonal from the Central Cali based brewery, I'm pleased that they've bounced back with this winter addition to their canon. And the company that has a "passion for the pale" clearly knows how to do stouts as well!

The beer pours dark with a modest head. I didn't pick up too much of an aroma on this occasion except for the light coffee aroma. The beer fills the palate with a chocolate and espresso laced malty flavor. The beer is lightly carbonated to offset the heavy nature of the stout.

Overall it's a pleasant oatmeal stout, great for these rainy California winters.

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Photo of JonathanG
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Not quite a 2-finger khaki-colored head that sticks around for a minute or two, before receding to leave a sheet of fine bubbles floating on top of the dark coffee colored malty goodness.

S: Can't miss the oats here, joined by coffee and fairly dark cocoa notes. A little bit of charred barrel/smoky bourbon barrel as well.

T: A backbone of oatmeal, along with coffee on the midpalate, followed by dark cocoa, and a pretty dry and smoky/toasted bourbon barrel finish, with lingering bitterness. Oats and coffee dominate.

M: A sort of lean dryness on this medium-bodied oatmeal stout. Seems like you could drink several of these due to this factor, especially with a meal.

O: I think I'll have to stock up on this for the upcoming colder months of winter. Seems like this would be a nice choice sitting next to the fireplace, especially if you want something "seasonal", but not overly heavy or sweet, since this is on the drier side of things.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

$7 for 14 oz at Meadhall, Cambridge MA

Dark browny black with a thin, quick to dissipate head.

Smells smooth. I know that's not a scent but it does. Mushy brownie batter or moist chocolate trifle with more and more char emerging as VM warms.

Features the usual chocolate and roast malt flavors but the mix and creamy mouthfeel just makes this a better tasting oatmeal stout. Mild something in the back - orange mint? Bigger body than 5.5%.

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Photo of seeswo
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark with a good sized head. Looks yummy.

Not too much going on in the nose. Smells roasty and appropriately like an oatmeal stout, with an excess of modesty.

The taste is superior to the nose, with big roast and creamy stout flavor. Really tasty beer that is one of the better oatmeal stouts I have had.

Medium body, good carbonation. Appropriate for the ABV (I have to remind myself not to compare this area to imperial stouts).

This beer is very drinkable. There is none of the residual bitterness or dryness from the hops/dark cocoa flavors that sometimes appear in stouts that makes a beer less drinkable to me. I could put down several of these without getting sick of it.

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Photo of SolipsismalCat
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark black with two-finger, tan, creamy head that lasted a long time. Great lacing.

S: Deep roasted malt. Coffee. Wonderful.

T: Light to moderate sweetness and light bitterness. Wonderful roasted malt flavor. Coffee, oats, milk.

M: Medium bodied with soft carbonation. Very smooth and slightly warm going down.

O: Delicious Oatmeal stout. Very roasted. Looks and feels fantastic.

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Photo of tsauce2
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

P: 12 fl oz bottle poured in to a Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

A: SRM is nearly black. Light cream colored head, 1/2 in, dissipates to the rim of the glass. Light carbonation. Medium lacing.

S: Oat, dark roast malt, chocolate.

T: Follows smell. Nice big oats and a good dose of chocolate dark roasted malt. Aftertaste is oats.

M: Medium body. Oats add a nice profile to feel. Semi-dry finish.

O: Great beer overall. Very impressed. Wish we got this in my home market.

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Photo of falloutsnow
4.21/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

From: Binny's, Bloomingdale, IL
Date: Bottled 12/21/2012
Glass: Tulip

Velvet Merlin is a delicious oatmeal stout, fairly rich in body and quite pronounced in aroma and flavor. Not priced inappropriately, and of high quality: this is a brewery that does things right.

Pours a 1.5cm tall head of light tan foam, made up of tightly packed, small bubbles. Retention is above average, lasting over two minutes. Leaves significant lacing along sides of the glass. Beer has a dark brown to black body, opaque, with light bringing out slight amber hues around the edges. Carbonation is only visible as it moves upwards along the side of the glass.

Aroma is of rich, bitter baker's chocolate, somewhat of acrid roasted coffee, burnt toast, yet balanced by a caramelized sugar sweetness.

The dominant flavors are varying degrees and types of roasted malt, contributing a variety of dark chocolate and roasted coffee bean flavors, with support from tastes similar to caramel and burnt toast. Front of palate notices blackened malt sweetness, with light chocolate and coffee flavors in the mix as well. Mid-palate finds heavy dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, faint caramel, and hints of burnt toast flavors, all blended excellently. Back of palate picks up roasted malt, dark chocolate, charred toast, thick caramel sweetness, and slight cherry esters. Aftertaste of roasted malt sweetness and acridity, dark chocolate syrup, espresso roast coffee beans, and mild caramel malt.

Beer is medium-bodied with the thickness and smooth flow that one expects from an oatmeal stout. Carbonation is of medium to medium-low intensity, resulting in a gently foamy, slightly medium-heavy overall mouthfeel, well suited for the beer and the style. Closes quite dry, with substantial stickiness lingering upon the palate and lips.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, from a visit to Belmont Station in Portland a few months ago. I was wondering about the name on the bottle I have, given its proximity to a certain crass, um, accoutrement of fame, but nice that BA has dispelled any questions I have in that respect.

This beer pours a very dark reddish-brown colour, practically black, the highlights the only thing giving it away, with one finger of thin foamy beige head, which leaves some sparse, random streaks of lace around the glass as it speedily abates. It smells of soft coffee, mild bitter chocolate, subtle sour black fruit, and moderately bitter earthy, leafy hops. The taste is very lightly roasted caramel malt, genial choco-tinted coffee, and stronger than expected (if I wasn't dreamin' 'bout Cali...) bitter earthy hops with a slight pine edginess. The carbonation is just south of average, the body a solid medium weight, with a nice silky smoothness that dabbles somewhat in creaminess. It finishes off-dry, the coffee caramel holding the fort in the midst of a feeble uptick in generic hop bitterness.

A well-rendered California oatmeal stout, the hops eschewed in favour of a good malty, bitter coffee beast, one that I would hope has displaced Guinness from at least a few central coast watering holes...

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Photo of pumptrick
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured hard into pint glass, 1 and 1/2 inch head light brown in color. Beer is dark in color not quite black. Smells of chocolate and malt. Tastes a bit the same with a little coffee lingering, towards the end a little bitterness which was unexpected yet overall a little sweet. Little bit of carbonation in there at the end for a surpise. Could be a sessionable beer easily. Not at all what I expected, not generally a oatmeal guy, but enjoy myself Firestone as a daily drink so I figured I would try. Not at all disappointed but not enough to make me want to search out every oatmeal on the planet. All in all nice work as per usual FS. Cheers

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Photo of scootpolute
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12ozs. bottle into a pint, 'cone' glass.

A - Pitch black with 1.5 fingers light tan creamy head. Head retention is good, with OK lacing.

S - Smokey roasted malts are at the forefront. Chocolate is well defined in the background.

T - Chocolate and roasted malts now dominate while the smokiness is still present it was mostly in the aroma. Some coffee and hints of dark fruit are present on the back of the tongue. Overall a balanced flavor, but not overly complex.

M - Medium-heavy bodied, a little thin for an oatmeal stout. Very creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is definitely noticeable, but expecting more. Finish is slightly drying with lots of roasted malts, here the smoke comes back again.

D - Very Chocolaty (like having a large bite of your favorite chocolate ice cream...you can mention your's, mine is Ben & Jerry's!!), yummy beer...Well rounded, starts out dominating with the smokiness and finishes the same way. No complex flavors but definitely a very good beer...just a bit flat in parts, but other than that GREAT!

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Photo of djeucalyptus
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a beautiful rich dark carob hue with cocoa powder brown tinges at the edge. A touch of sediment and a bit of haze. A dark chocolate milky head of a finger fades and leaves behind meager lacing. Better lacing and this one might be a 5.

Aroma is pungently bittersweet cocoa, roasted coffee, burnt coffee, and a bit of rough malt. toffee and caramel increase as it warms.

Taste is surprisingly similar to the aroma. Roasted malt base accentuated by powerful chocolate, cocoa nibs and roasted coffee beans. Reminds me of chewing on dark chocolate covered coffee beans. A bit one-dimensional, but I'm loving the flavor profile of that dimension. As it warms, a bit more of the hops show through. Definitely digging this one.

Mouth is solid. perfect level of carbonation and the richness from the oatmeal makes it creamy without being too much. a good bit of lingering bitterness that I'm not generally used to in the oatmeal stout realm, but it's certainly not off-putting.

All in all, I have to say I'm impressed. I'm not a big fan of FW brews in general, but this one certainly makes me reconsider my opinion. Definitely highly drinkable, a great session brew with plenty of flavor and a touch of heat. Definitely worth trying. I'm right on the edge of 4/4.5 with taste, and mouth, but something's just not quite perfect. that being said, this is probably going to end up being one of my primary six-pack purchases this season.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It is dark, dark brown with some ruby highlights. It is topped with an inch of tan head.

S - The smell contains roasted malt, cocoa, and dark chocolate.

T - The taste leads with dark chocolate. There is a slight bitterness on the finish. Some cocoa and roasted malt comes through.

M - Full and slick.

O - This is a great oatmeal stout. I would put it right up there with any that I have tried so far.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Taken from notes on 3.17.11

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a motor oil blackish-brown with a dark brown, thin head that quickly moves to the edges.

S - Smells of coffee, oatmeal, and a slight vanilla.

T - Tastes very similar to the smells, but with more of an impact, or tingle on the tongue.

D - Interesting tingle feel on the tongue, but low carbonation.

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Photo of CasanovaCummins
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Just yum. Silky smooth chocolate coco puffs in liquid form.

This is an everyday kind of pour that you just don't get tired of. The dram you go back to again and again. Great texture. Great consistently deep flavors. Lots of warm darkness.

This is a jazzy Morgana King type of beer. Velvety and soft-spoken, yet deeply sexy. More to the traditional side. All polish and depth.

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Photo of slayer3604
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a-rich creamy tan head on dark brown body with cedar colored rim. retention gone to film in about 3 minutes.

S-cocoa butter, cherry, molassses and vanilla.

T-espresso, definately can taste the oat, firm chunky mouthfeel, chocolate and almond.

M-full bodied, lively, clean and ample coffee finish.

D-"Velvet" smooth, with no residual alcoholic burn, long lasting finish.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally found this at a local Bevmo and excited I did. Poured into a snifter and I am met with a black ale and a beige foamy head that dissolves to a thin layer. The aroma is of roasted malts, semi-sweet chocolate, tobacco and leather. The taste gives a good dose of chocolate followed by a slight coffee character coming through and then a solid chocolate/cocoa finish. A little spicy on the swallow. Mouthfeel is pretty full though there a little too much carbonation for my liking. Wish it was a tad creamier. Drinkability is still high. At only 5.5% this is very drinkable. Finding it is another story.

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Photo of arvidkoval
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L- Black, but lets some red through. Tan head that dissipates quickly.

S- Smells of roasted malts and chocolate.

T- Follows the nose but with some coffee and a dry finish without overpowering the mild sweetness. Well balanced.

F- Lives up to the name, very velvet like, but I wouldn't mind it being thicker.

O- Very well put together oat stout! Probably my favorite!

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Photo of ratedz
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown/black with a half-inch light tan colored head. The head dissipates quickly and leaves very little lacing.

Smell is loaded with roasted malts, chocolate, oats, and some hints of coffee.

Taste follows the nose with roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, and some coffee. A slight hoppy bitterness appears on the tail end.

Very smooth and creamy. Medium body. This actually has some characteristics that remind me of a porter. The low ABV makes this very drinkable. Overall, a solid oatmeal stout.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to womencantsail for picking this one up and sending it to me with my Cali haul! Served from bottle into a Warsteiner mug. Poured a deep dark brown with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a half finger slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, cream, dark chocoalte, and subtle coffee. The flavor was of sweet malt, coffee, cream, roasted malt, dark chocolate, and dark fruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was excellent. This one went down very smoothly (almost like velvet) on the palate. My only complaint would be that none of the flavors or aroma were very robust, but that is just me being picky. Definitely worth trying and if you're lucky you might get it as an extra in a trade.

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Photo of fox227
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer takes on typical stout form: black with tan head, which doesn't retain, to describe it more, I have no claim. Smell is fairly faint in the form of the following facets: coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt; however, these characteristics are quite bold, and is best served not too cold. Mouthfeel is creamy and rich; Velvet Merlin seems full bodied, but by alcohol volume it's nary as such. I would imagine quite a night, drinking six of these, and not dehydrate, or overindulge; Velvet Merlin, a single strength stout, I can easily afford.

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Photo of cswhitehorse
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Velvet Merlin was warmed up a tad on the counter to come to a nice temperature. Then it was poured into the English style pint glass. The dark appearance was expected and the head was pillowish and retention was moderate.

Smell was of bitter chocolate and hints of licorice. It was a semi dry with a nice oatmeal stout bitterness. It had milk chocolate light grain on the dark side and a smooth finish. It was a very solid effort and would buy more of this if it was available up here.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 596 ratings.