Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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BA SCORE
89
very good

592 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 592
Hads: 2,630
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 211
Gots: 435 | FT: 6
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: 592 | Hads: 2,630
Photo of GarrettB
3.64/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Date unknown, but I've had this quite a lot over the years, and almost perfectly correlated to when it is in stock at Trader Joe's. They sell some good beer, but the Velvet Merlin is at the top of the list at each shopping trip. The color is, noticeably, dark, with a soft, foamy head. With a little alcohol you might try petting it, though that's not where the velvet hides. The aroma is pretty straight with a burnt charcoal smell, but the taste is where this sessionable treat sits. And when I say sessionable I don't mean that this is a low ABV beer. What I mean is that this is a drinkable brew with a normal ABV, but it's light, tasty and approachable. Over the course of a board game night you will sip this aggressively, and go through sone serious glass. Why? the flavor is dark and chocolatey, but perfectly battered, sweet and slightly burnt, like the interior of a pan of brownies. And the aftertaste is the final treat, saved for last. Deep, supple chocolate all the way to the bottom, and every molecule is worth considering. It's an awesome brew, not for it's depth, but the clear delivery of great flavor without excessive additions in any dimension. (1,166 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

11/21/14 bottling date.

A: Nice black pour with a frothy light brown head. Retention is decent with some little smatterings of lacing here and there.

S: Nice roasty aroma with some obvious oatmeal graininess/sweetness. Light chocolate.

T: Yup. Nice smooth oatmeal stout. Lightly roasty up front and then the oatmeal kicks in. Smooth, creamy flavors from the oatmeal. Light cocoa and bitter coffee from the roasted malt. Good combination. Smooth and sweet.

M: Medium bodied, exceptionally smooth and creamy.

O: Pretty much perfect for an oatmeal stout. Light bitter roastiness with some nice coffee and chocolate. Oatmeal to smooth it out and sweeten it up. Super drinkable. SUPER drinkable. Cannot be overstated. Up there with Sam Smith for drinkable oatmeal stouts. (772 characters)

Photo of Jeffreysan
4.82/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

32 oz growler, poured into a goblet

Appearance: Pours a beautiful, completely opaque, pitch-black color, with a finger of white-colored head that quickly dissolved away into a thin halo of foam that gripped the sides of the glass.

Aroma: Wow! Very aromatic, with tons of earthy, rich roasted malt, imparting notes of freshly toasted dark bread, freshly ground espresso beans, a touch of smoke and tons of brown sugar. Delicious!

Taste: Just as delicious as the beer’s aroma! Tons of roasted malt up front, imparting flavors of toasted oats, a touch of coffee, lots of brown sugar and dark molasses-like sweetness, and a touch of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied to slightly chewy and very, very smooth, as there is no carbonation what-so-ever. With an ABV of 5.5%, there is no alcohol on the palate.

Overall: This is an excellent oatmeal stout! Tasty, smooth, very quaffable, and highly recommended! (917 characters)

Photo of fscottkey
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A: [4.50] Beer is dark brown and forms a 1 1/2 finger head when poured. The head is a creamy tan color. The head dissipates pretty quickly. The bottle lists the ABV (5.5%) and REALLY clearly has a born on date (10/24/14)

S: [4.25] I get a crusty baguette smell. Then coffee and roasted malts. The nose is pretty strong. It filled the air when I cracked the bottle.

T: [3.50] The taste is subdued. I get roasted malts and maybe a hint of cocoa.

M: [3.25] A little thin and watery. The is a twang of carbonation. There are no lingering flavors.

O: [3.75] This is a decent stout. I didn't get the creamy feel I'd expect on an oatmeal stout. Blindfolded I'd call this a lower ABV porter. The beer is 7 months old - so it may have lost a little bit of character. That being said it still holds up. It is not my favorite in the style - but I'd drink more. (871 characters)

Photo of Pegasus
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Huge, coarse dark tan head crowns a body as black as night. The head retention is quite good, Thin, scattered lacing adorns the glass walls.

Aroma: Roasted malt utterly dominates the aroma, although cold coffee and some bitter cocoa are present as well.

Taste: Opens with roasted malt, cocoa, and bitter coffee. As the taste progresses, the roasted malt, cocoa, and coffee meld together, with the oatmeal serving to remove any harsh edges from the taste. Finishes with a long, lingering note of semi-sweet cocoa.

Mouth feel: Very soft and gracious on the palate, silky and smooth, with only a hint of carbonation, it is well-named.

Drinkability/notes: Very well-done, an illustration of what a skilled brewer can do with this style.

Presentation: Packaged in a short twelve-ounce brown glass bottle, sealed with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice. Production date, per the label, was '12/02/14 11:13'. Purchased on 04/24/2015 in Texas. (975 characters)

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. (335 characters)

Photo of jjboesen
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The initial pour results in a glass filled with beige froth, which subsides into a dark ruby body; the extant head is minimal, along with lacing.
There is a subtle nose of Cheerio cereal; the palate is nipped with sweet maltiness that contains bits of bread, grain and plum. The balance is superb and this, along with the manageable 5.5 abv, makes for one great sessional quaff. Is there anything Firestone Walker cannot do? Alas, if this brew were more readily available to us East Coast schlubs. (498 characters)

Photo of ElJacobian
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Head dissipates immediately- color has a hint of ruby, like a chocolate cherry Dr. Pepper. I wish the smell had more oatmeal but the taste is very balanced. Not too malty, not too chocolatey, and the aftertaste is very pleasant. Chocolate and coffee linger for a while. (269 characters)

Photo of ajsinyvr
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Smoky cocao nibs at the start and a chocolatey finish. Mouthfeel was spot on, round and full. 1 finger head when poured in to a round bottom glass.
Slight hop presence and good roasted malts throughout. (204 characters)

Photo of 57md
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown with ruby edges. Some roast on the nose. Decent roast in the flavor profile is accompanied by a touch of chocolate. The finish is dry and bitter. The body is spot on but it's more fizzy than I might have expected. (227 characters)

Photo of dar482
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On cask.

The beer hits of cocoa, light roasted malt, powdery chocolate and a creamy/almost lactose flavor. A good amount of flavor throughout of creamy chocolate and coffee, but in general a medium beer for the style. (218 characters)

Photo of rangerred
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a medium tan head and just a little bit of head retention.

The aroma is slightly metallic but also has some vanilla and mocha notes.

The flavor is really the showstopper here as it just unleashes mocha, caramel and vanilla along with having a silky (or velvet) smooth mouthfeel. A great example of the style and a wonderful beer. (354 characters)

Photo of IPAGeorge
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint

A. Very dark brown. 95% opaque. Cappuccino colored 2 finger foamy head that recedes kinda quickly. Lasts a minute. Very little lacing.

S. Roasted malts. Slight hop resin. Slight metallic aroma.

T. Flavor is roasted malts, some bakers chocolate, mild burnt coffee or espresso. It's a light flavored stout. No alcohol flavor but at 5.5% that's expected. Some grassy aftertaste.

M. 6 out of 10 on body thickness. Decent carbonation for a stout. Creamy. Feels a little more like a porter. But they can be similar.

O. Nice if your in the mood for a stout and don't wanna reach for the 11%abv+. Flavor is kinda mild. Smells was turning me off a lil at first but the flavor didn't carry some of the deficiencies. Could be a good french press guinea pig to try different flavors. I'd have to be in the mood to reach for this one but that being said it does have it's place. (941 characters)

Photo of CoffeePorter
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black with a thick white head.
Smells milky and sweet.
Tastes milky/creamy, very sweet with little bitterness. Mild notes of chocolate.
Very creamy mouthfeel, mild carbonation.
Very easy to drink and a good creamy stout option. (227 characters)

Photo of arvidkoval
4.22/5  rDev +6%
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! (378 characters)

Photo of SierraFlight
3.66/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Bottle poured into tulip during #bottlecherwednesdays at Beachwood BBQ Seal Beach. Appearance is clear, dark brown with two-finger tan head that leaves patchy lacing. Aroma is roasted malt, coffee, cereal, slight chocolate. Taste is similar with balancing herbal bitterness in the finish from the fuggles. Medium body, texture on the thin side, average to soft carbonation, and mildly bitter finish. (399 characters)

Photo of i4ourgot
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great beer super creamy makes its almost feel like a nitro beer. Lots of great rich dark flavors nice coffee/ chocolate with some sweetness that is well balanced with a subtle bitterness. No over powering flavors just a really enjoyable beer where everything comes together nicely. The aroma while not strong is very pleasant. (326 characters)

Photo of VashonGuy
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A very enjoyable stout that falls short of the best stouts in my opinion.
Appearance is good, but head is pretty thin.
Aroma is roasted malts.
Taste is fairly typical, but finishes just a little bit tart.
Mouthfeel is thinner than expected for an oatmeal stout.

Hey, I like this beer, I just don't go over the moon for it. (323 characters)

Photo of infinitebruner
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

February 11, 2015

12 oz bottle, snifter

A – Jet black, a thin layer of light tan foam forms and then disappears quickly. Some lacing sits on top of the beer.

S – Baking chocolate, lightly roasted coffee. Some light vanilla, perhaps some honey. A bit of fruity ester presence in the background, and light, earthy hops.

T – Mostly chocolate and moderate nuttiness, very light roasted component. Maybe a drop of vanilla. Hops are very low in flavor, herbal and earthy, but contributing moderate bitterness.

M – Moderate carbonation, very little sweetness, roast component and hop bitterness are medium-high. Finish is somewhat dry. Body is medium-full, with a touch of creamy smoothness.

O – Very pleasant, traditional version of an oatmeal stout. Smooth, nutty, a touch of roast… it’s well made and that is certainly worth saying. (857 characters)

Photo of snickering
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Dark and thick but clear when held up to the light

S - Very nice grainy malt smell, like a whole grain bread

T - Nicely balanced, not overly sweet or bitter, just enough to bring out the flavor.

F - Creamy

O - Real nice wintertime beer. (243 characters)

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. (191 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big cocoa and coffee presence in aroma. In flavor, coffee dominates, and there's a bit of a harsh bitterness. I'm not a huge coffee drinker, so I'd prefer more chocolate. (170 characters)

Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark brown body, mostly translucent but only partially transparent, light tan head, some lacing.

S - The main smell is roasted malts, bready and slightly suggestive of toast. Grass and floral elements presumably come from the hops, and there is a salted caramel aspect, too.

T - Following the nose, with molasses and dough mingling with chocolate and coffee elements. A bit of soy in the middle, closing out with mild bitterness.

M - The oatmeal adds a bit of heft, giving this more body, but this remains fairly light for a stout. Quite drinkable, as the mild drying in the close keeps this from getting too burdensome.

O - A very nice, balanced stout, and a very easy drinker that will not knock you out after just one. A rich range of flavors built into a beautiful, cohesive whole. (802 characters)

Photo of jngrizzaffi
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a brown, 2 finger width foamy head. Head retention and lacing are decent. Has an oatmeal and coffee aroma predominantly. The roasted malts are not that strong as other stouts. There is a hint of chocolate. On taste, coffee predominates. The roasted malts are not as strong, but can detect a lighter taste, perhaps the oatmeal. Slight chocolate aftertaste. Overall a very good beer but doesn't stack up to many Imperial Stouts I have had. It is smooth. (483 characters)

Photo of DaverCS
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured little to no head. Moderate carbonation. Not too much lacing.

I get a very nice nose on this beer. I get tons of roasted coffee and intense dark chocolate ... Almost like pure coco powder. Heavy malts also present on the nose.

Taste doesn't match the richness of the nose. The intensity of the flavor is pretty flat and watery. Up front I get carbonation and wateriness followed by mild malt, mild coffee, and mild chocolate. Touch of hops at the finish.

Overall not worth the time. Pretty watery and not too much flavor despite the deceiving nose. I would pair it with smoked brisket or a porcini mushroom rubbed hangar steak. I give it a 83.5/100 (658 characters)

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 592 ratings.