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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 abuliarose
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a fluted pint, revealing blackish opaque body under a finger of somewhat thick crema head. Looks ok for an oatmeal stout; I'd have thought with the viscosity there would be more staying power for the head. Creamy-looking regardless. Smells clean and roasty with a nice dark malt presence. Some charred wood, slight milky sweetness.

Tastes light and clean with the signature touch of oat-y sweetness. Nice and roasted up front, fresh watery finish. Some slight bitterness with a roasted character. Very well-rounded for a plain oatmeal stout. Mouthfeel is that oatmeal creaminess with a carbonation that is a little too small-nucleating and tingly to add much to the body. Very drinkable otherwise, almost session-able.

Overall I quite like it. Maybe not my favorite oatmeal stout, but it is certainly an upstanding offering of the style.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 7th December 2010, delivered lovingly by FedEx thanks to largadeer, this has been a long time coming. Thank you, Chris.

Pouring a very dark brown, this beer has the deepest red highlights. A dense, dark brown head is present, receding to a disk leaving no lace. The nose is rather excellent. The oatmeal character is so fresh and so prominent, it smells like I've drizzled some granola with coffee. Rich, beautiful, oatmeal cereal with a little bit of raisin. The coffee isn't the richest or the best, but it works wonderfully well here, despite being rather instant coffee-like. Likewise, the palate opens with a blend of oatmeal, coffee and a little bit of fruit, a little raisin-like? There's also an underlying caramel sweetness that's light, working very well with the oatmeal. A balancing bitterness is provided by a little bit of coffee and a little bit of roast, and I also get a touch of Fuggles in the back, earthy and a little leafy. Drying and roasty on the finish with oatmeal and coffee, this beer is excellent. Medium-light in body with soft carbonation, this has a perfect level of carbonation. As for drinkability, well, I am trying to work on a presentation here, but I just cracked my second bottle of this. Suffice to say, this is one of the better oatmeal stouts I've had in a long time. This is breakfast in a glass with a dollop of happiness.

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

12 oz bottle, thanks Rich.

Appearance is as is expected for the style; opaque chocolate brown/black with a nice, retentive tan head. Lacing is minimal.

Aroma is dry, oat-y and roasted, with some mild chocolate and sweet malt.

Very easy drinking, with a slightly thin, medium body. Flavor is roasted, sweet with chocolate and coffee. Extremely well balanced and smooth. A little sweet for the style, but will definitely seek this out again.

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4.4/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this for the first time @ the LA Beer week closing ceremony.
Recently stocked up on some 6pks. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark as night but not too thick, good head.

S: Coffee, chocolate, mmm I need another to reflect upon.

T: Like dipping a chocolate oatmeal cookie into your spiked coffee & drinking the remains.

M: Liquid black velvet!

D: Goes down smooth, great to drink! Especially after drinking a few 10% ABV beers. Then you can drink it right out of the bottle & it still tastes good.

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Photo of stakem
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass this brew appears dark brown with a finger of brown head that quickly recedes to a thin lace across the top. When held to the light, this brew displays some lighter brown and deep ruby clarity through the body.

The aroma of this brew is a pleasant roasty scent reminiscent of coffee mixed with dark chocolate-like grains. The grain scent of this brew is very fresh and enjoyable which imparts a light sweetness through the nose. Once the brew warms up there is a light citrus hop indication in the back.

The taste of this brew is roasty grain that imparts a light sweetness through the body. It leaves a lingering taste similar to fresh coffee and light semi bitter chocolate. As this brew warms it picks up a light citrus hop influence.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. The oats in this brew imparts a silky smooth feel in the mouth which is exceptional for the style. The alcohol is perfectly hidden and overall this is a fine example of the style.

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Photo of scottfrie
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into 25oz snifter.

A: Pours a very dark chestnut brown, almost black, with a finger of dense light creamy-brown head that slowly faded into a thin film and collar that left spots of soapy lacing down the glass.
S: Strong notes of oats and grains with a good dose of coffee. Very oatmeal-y smelling, maybe a hint of raisin, no chocolate.
T: Pretty much follow the nose. Tastes like I'm eating oatmeal and sipping on a cup of weak coffee. Very rich and creamy all around. Finish is full of coffee and maybe a touch of sweet caramel, and the aftertaste leaves roasted flavors in my mouth with just a hint of bitterness.
M: Tingly carbonation over a full body with an all around soft mouthfeel. The beer does hit the palate a touch sharp at first though. Body falls a little thin in the finish.
D: A really easy drinking oatmeal stout full of mild, well balance flavors. Not my favorite beer, but it does the trick.

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Photo of jsanford
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip

A - Dark black with a thin, mocha-colored head that dissipates quickly to a thin ring and slight haze. Leaves a tiny bit of spotty lacing.
S - Dark roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, toasted oats and just a slight whiff of toasted marshmallow. Very nice.
T - More dark malt and dark chocolate, with a nice coffee bitterness in the finish. Very nicely balanced, not to overwhelmingly "roasty".
M - Incredibly (dare I say it?) velvety with a medium-heavy body and ample carbonation.
D - Having no problems drinking this one, the amazing mouthfeel helps a lot.

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Photo of Cinderbike
3.51/5  rDev -12%
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.

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Photo of whatthehull
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into a New Belgium snifter

A - Mud meets tar, with a tan light and fluffy head, trace lacing

S - Toasty 'o so toastedness, burned oak, grains, malt and a bit of sweetness

T - Toasty everything and burned oak. Nice hop finish, a bit malty and lots of earth tons, most of which were toasted

M - Medium/Heavy, fluffy carbonated and bitter toasted finish

D - Because of all the toastedness, it is a bit hard to just session this beer. It tends to end up room temp before you're done

Final thought - Nice, toasty. This is a great stout, not the best, but great

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Photo of leakyfaucet12
3.82/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a- Dark black body with a three finger head that seems go away pretty quickley.

s- You can smell dark roasted chocolate. You can also smell the malts and some bready notes.

t- This beer has a very bland flavor for a stout. I usually like my stouts to taste less like porters.

m- The mouthfeel of this one is really good. I really thought that velvet was a great name for this beer, because that was exactly what it reminded me of. By far the best thing about this beer.

d- Overall I think that this is a really interesting beer and being that it is my first from firestone walker I think I need to try more beer from them.

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Photo of Axic10
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours black with a finger of tan head.

Smell: Bold iced coffee, roasted malt and chocolate.

Taste: Bold coffee, coffee, roasted malt and a nice vanilla taste in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth.

Drinkability: I really enjoyed this beer and would definitely drink again. Firestone Walker continues to amaze me.

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Photo of Klsfgiants15
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured this beautiful beer into a Firestone Walker pint glass.

Appearance: You know it's a good bear when you hold it up to a light fixture, but can see anything. This beer is as black as my heart is sinful. But like my heart, it is redeemed. I think the brewmasters of Firestone Walker themselves atoned for this beer. I'm noticing a nice carbonation in this beer, but the head is not posing a problem to me getting this beer to my mouth as fast as possible.

Smell: I keep smelling it over and over. And it seems like a different smell overpowers my senses each time. The three recurring smells are chocolate, coffee, and oatmeal.

Taste: The beer continues to taste better as it warms. But the thing is, I loved the taste straight after the pour. So each time I take a sip I get more and more enthused with this beer. The smells and tastes are similar. But I'm tasting a good presence of malts along with the coffee, oatmeal, and chocolate.

I highly recommend this beer. I hope that Firestone starts to make this delicious drink year-round.

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Photo of atowle25
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours very dark, almost black, but not quite. Fairly decent carbonation is present.

S - Not a whole lot in the nose, some coffee, and roasted malts mainly. Some faint chocolate.

T - Chocolate, oatmeal, coffee. A good bit of bitterness at the end, followed by more chocolate. Tasty.

M - Plenty of carbonation, medium bodied. I'd prefer it if it was on the creamier side.

D - Very easy to drink. A perfect beer to have during the winter time while watching football.

Overall - Solid beer. Will I buy it again? Possibly. There are certainly bigger beers that offer a lot more, but this is an excellent oatmeal stout to have 2-3 of while watching you're favorite football team lose.

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Photo of CaseyK
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark brown with a nice tan head that sticks around a bit.
S: Oatmeal and fresh dark roast coffee. Smells full bodied and flavorful, like coffee you'd make in a french press.
T: Tastes of dark chocolate at first, then goes to coffee. The coffee taste is very clean and well done. Pleasant oatmeal taste as well. There is a slight bitterness at the end, but it's not too noticeable.
M: Nice and medium bodied, creamy with good carbonation.
D: This one goes down easily, I could drink a few of these.
O: The coffee element of the beer is great, and overall it is well done. Glad I got to try this.

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Photo of mothman
3.55/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours 1 finger of light tan head. Leaves some rings. Color is a dark copper brown.

Aroma: Rich espresso, chocolate, caramel, and a lot of malts. Some vanilla. Big roast.

Taste: More espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. A lot like the nose.

Mouthfeel: Massive roast, medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends pretty dry.

Overall, too roasted for me. Otherwise, it is pretty good. I got no bourbon or oak out of this beer.

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Photo of veinless
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with an average amount of whitish head that is gone before you know it.

Roasted coffee is the dominant aroma, with some chocolate and oatmeal sourness in there.

Taste is similar, with more of the oatmeal malt going with the coffee well. Earthy, with some dirt in both nose and taste. Carbonation is minimal but adequate.

Very solid mouthfeel feeds into the great finish of the malty coffee. Drinkability is excellent. Very good oatmeal stout.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnished walnut brown with burnt orange edges and a lack of opacity... which is no sin in beer of this style and ABV. The lovely looking lid of golden ecru colored foam that was created on the pour is becoming soft and creamy as it melts. Nice lace too.

A small percentage of bourbon barrel-aged Merlin was combined with non-bourbon barrel-aged Merlin to create Merlin. Make sense? There's almost no whiskey in the nose, just the usual roasted and chocolate notes of the style... but it's enough.

As always, my taste buds are more sensitive than my nose. Still, this is not beer that will scare away those who don't care for the taste of America's finest spirit. That particular characteristic is subtle, which is exactly what is needed in a 5.5% oatmeal stout that doesn't otherwise poleaxe your palate with malt flavor.

Specific flavors include bittersweet chocolate, charred coffee beans, burnt sugar, and a complementary tea leaf bitterness from U.S. Fuggles. Barely more than 3 months in the bottle ensures that this is still relatively balanced beer. More bourbon would've been a mistake.

The mouthfeel is the only (slight) disappointment. It's a fraction thin, doesn't hang on like it should, and the carbonation could add more lift and expansive creaminess. Not bad at all, it just doesn't keep pace with the other attributes.

Firestone Walker is a good-to-great craft brewery. Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout is closer to good than great, which is fine with me. Here's hoping this is a year-round release.

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Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally picked up a six pack of this. 12 oz into a tumbler.

Looks like a cup of straight coffee in the glass; the center is blackened, the edges slightly translucent. The head is dense and lasting, ultimately settling to a collar.

The nose is sublime, predominantly toasted malt and light roast coffee, with smatterings of chocolate and licorice.

Taste and mouthfeel are where this beer truly excels. A perfect balanced of toasted, lightly roasted malt, licorice and dark chocolate lead into a dry, coffee-like finish. It's mildly sweet up-front, and ends wonderfully smooth, just slightly bitter. Drinkability is through the roof; it's hard to not quaff the hell out of this beer and go back for another bottle.

So glad this was bottled, hands down the best beer Firestone has released in six packs.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Velvet Merlin has a dark brown body that is mostly opaque and a light brown head that has decent retention and lacing.

The aroma has chocolate, coffee, and a bit of roast.

More of the same from the flavor. All malt with only the slightest hint of hops in the background. A great balance between chocolate, coffee and roasted malts.

Fantastic mouthfeel on this one, even for an oatmeal stout, which generally have a good feel. Thick, smooth and creamy.

Velvet Merlin has a great name and is a solid if unspectacular beer. I have to say that the mouthfeel might actually live up to the name.

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Photo of kbutler1
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Picked up a six pack the other day while in San Diego to give it a try. Poured into a pint glass a dark brown color with a light tan head. Nice aroma in the nose of roasted coffee, slight chocolate, some vanilla, and a tad bit of leather. Nice and smooth medium mouthfeel. The creaminess of this is really its shining star, it just drinks so smooth for me. The flavors are a nice balance as well between sweet and roast bitterness. Starts with a nice sweetness of chocolate and vanilla that is nicely rounded out with some roast bitter flavors along with some subtle muted hops.

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Photo of cjer53
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 1/10/11, a bottle with Abby.

app- dark brown with hints of red/amber, very thin head swirling around it's alive!

smell- nutty, malty, brown sugar, molasses

taste- light body, crispy/sharp, slightly chewy, raisins, figs, pretzels, toasted nuts, spicy

overall a solid beer. perfect on those cold southern california days

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Photo of Tripphop
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A trade extra from Loki83. Heard good things about this beer, and it holds up well to its reputation. Color is a medium shade of brown with light gold edges, mead is fine and plenty at first, but doesnt hang around. Aromas are malty and firm, flavors match well, simple but well balanced. Pecan nut flavors linger with a grainy malt taste. Solid Oatmeal stout.

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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 pmccallum86
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown/black color with an enormous light cocoa head.

Smell is of light chocolate malts and oatmeal, nothing special here.

Taste of smooth creamy oatmeal and milk chocolates. Not bad, very easy drinking beer.

Mouthfeel is awesome, super silky smooth and creamy.

Great drinkability, good example of the style.

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Photo of maximum12
3.64/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to dgb3 & the artic air mass the currently inhabits Minnesota, this one was nice & cool, found on my doorstep about seven hours ago. Give it a little time to rise about 33 degrees, & here we go.

Pours black with a respectable little cap that falls quickly so as not to inhibit the drinking or tickle the nose. Black. Faintest dark red about the edges. Strongest oatmeal smell ever off a beer, extreme roast that borders on char & coffee. For an oatmeal stout, this is radical!

Velvet Merlin tastes more traditional. The oats are enough to make the Black Stallion happy, lending the brew a zippy bitterness & a glassy mouthfeel. Or are those hops? Either way. The roast is more subdued in the mouth, but is complemented by a creamy smoothness that outdoes most in its class.

Good beer that is notably for a smoothness even for an oatmeal stout & that strong, rabid nose.

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