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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

2,045 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,045
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 174
Gots: 220 | 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:
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 

(Beer added by: largadeer on 11-13-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,045 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours thickish black with a slow dissipating creamy head. The taste is akin to the St. Ambroise: highlighting the bitterness, bulked up mouthfeel. Though still good drinkability. Leaving a moderate dry and bitter coffee aftertaste. Malty and roast aroma.Trace of bourbon does not add but subtracts.

Sammy, Feb 26, 2012
Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

t0rin0, Sep 27, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark brown bordering on black with a 2 inch tan colored head. Lacing is spotty on the glass on the drink down. Smells of roasted malt, oatmeal, and weak coffee. Taste is of dark roasted malt and oats with a slight bitter coffee flavor. Bitterness is slight after each sip. Good carbonation with a medium body. Very easy to drink. A good dark sessionable beer clocking in at 5.5% ABV.

UCLABrewN84, Feb 25, 2011
Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -0.5%

djrn2, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

zestar, Jan 18, 2014
Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -0.5%

acurtis, Jan 02, 2012
Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a shade lighter than black, with a modest head that leaves splotches of lace before descending to become a collar

Smell: Wafts of roasty coffee and chocolate

Taste: Mocha and oatmeal, up front, with a growing earthy, chocolate bitterness that develops by mid-palate; after the swallow, the hops add a nice balancing effect to the flavor profile, though the lingering effect is of mocha sweetness; on the finish, the Bourbon adds a subtle complexity

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; lacks the creamy character I would expect from the style

Overall: Mouthfeel issues aside, I really like the flavor profile; the hint of Bourbon barrel adds just the right touch

Thanks, mrmiles, for the opportunity

brentk56, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

BuckeyeNation, Jan 14, 2011
Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev -0.5%

Texasfan549, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

completely opaque liquid coming forward in front of me. Rich dark brown notes, with a good sized head of maybe an inch in height coming over the top of it. Nice settling left behind a thin layer and a good amount of side glass lace.

The aroma was your typical oatmeal stout, though a touch more bitter then what I was expecting. Nice notes of lactose, chocolate and vinous hops. Some light grain notes as well in the finish. Rich, though not terribly filling. Lots of burnt and roasted malt flavors in here. Not as sweet as the aroma would have led me to believe it would have been, still though very solid in both bitterness and malt profile. Light notes of chocolate floating around, but again nothing terribly too swee

mikesgroove, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev -0.5%

kjkinsey, Jul 23, 2012
Photo of womencantsail
3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Blue Palms. I was really glad to see this one hadn't kicked yet.

A: A very nice looking black pour with a thin layer of tan foam on top.

S: A strong aroma of coffee with other scents such oatmeal, roasted malt, and chocolate joining the party.

T: The flavor is a bit disappointing. The coffee is once again the dominant sensation. The oatmeal is there, but surprisingly not a huge presence. There are also some hints of chocolate and roasted malt.

M: The beer has a nice smooth somewhat creamy mouthfeel. The body, however, isn't quite as full as I was expecting.

D: Certainly a very drinkable beer with very little alcohol presence. I was really excited to get to try this, but a bit let down by it.

womencantsail, Dec 31, 2009
Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -25.4%

ygtbsm94, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black; very nice thick, firm long lasting tan head. Lovely. One of the nicest looking stouts I've seen.

Nose is medium assertive simple sweet black chocolate. Nothing complex but a nice chocolate nose. Mouthfeel is medium creamy and pleasant. Tasted at room temperature which highlights characteristics in my opinion.

Mouthfeel at room temp is a nice half and half quality, creamy pleasant.

Flavors are simple, short and uneventful. Simple light roasted grain. A watery chocolate flavor - simple. "Velvety" smooth-a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that the smoothness would be attractive if it didn't have the curse of weak waterly flavors. Simple roasted grain; simple black chocolate. Light carbonation once you give it a swirl or two. Without the 2 or 3 swirls it had better carbonation and a better mouthfeel.

There is a very light elegant roasted character to this - nothing special whatsoever in my opinion. No need for me to try again.

GRG1313, Oct 09, 2010
Photo of spycow
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

spycow, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of jaydoc
3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

jaydoc, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of Knapp85
4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew I picked up just by chance, I have enjoyed several other Firestone Walker brews so I figured this one would be pretty good too. It poured out as a very dark black color with a nice looking creamy tan head on top. The lacing was very nice on this also. The aroma was lightly roasted but nothing too strong on the nose. The taste of the beer has a really nice, it has a soft roasted flavor to it with a creamy mouthfeel. Overall I can see myself getting this again. Worth trying for sure.

Knapp85, Feb 09, 2012
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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!

TMoney2591, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
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.

largadeer, Jan 12, 2011
Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev -0.5%

zeff80, May 17, 2014
Photo of biboergosum
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
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...

biboergosum, Sep 18, 2011
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.41/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout
12 oz. bottle, dated"01/08/13 12:01"
$3.50 @ The Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, PA

So what is it that makes an oatmeal stout, because just using oatmeal doesn't exactly do it?

Well, it's black in color with a long-lasting head of pillowy dark tan foam. When held to the light ruby highlights can be seen glimmering along the edges of the glass. Oddly, the lacing could be better as it only leaves spots and streaks behind.

The aroma displays graininess with both straightforward pale malt and a mild roastiness as well. There's a bit of yeasty fruitiness, and a suggestion of floral hops as well. They all work together, and although there's a bit of a sweet coffee aroma to it, it's not overly roasty or "harsh".

In the mouth is where oatmeal stouts seem to shine the brightest: it's medium-bodied and silky smooth with a fine bubbled median carbonation. As it warms it becomes nicely creamy across the palate.

Oatmeal stout is a derivative of the sweet stout style, and as such it should have a sweetish balance, offset by some delicate roastiness that conjures up flavors of milk chocolate, creamy coffee, toffee, and cocoa or fudge. Check, check, check! The bitterness is restrained, somewhere in the upper 20's, and there's just a subtle hint of underlying dark malt acidity that helps to balance it. Following that, there's a slight hint of floral and grassy hop flavor but it's quite restrained.

This is a beer that's about malt, and about drinkability - although it's generally more to be savored than gulped! It's flavorful without being aggressive, and it's complex but the components are very well woven together into one main fabric of flavor. Add to that a remarkable smoothness across the palate and a standard alcohol content, and you've got a remarkably enjoyable and drinkable stout.

It's not an easy beer to brew because the balance between malt sweetness, hop bitterness, and dark malt acidity is so important; yet Firestone Walker has pulled it off. Quite nice!

NeroFiddled, Apr 08, 2013
Photo of SocalKicks
4/5  rDev -0.5%

SocalKicks, Feb 01, 2013
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a pretty good oatmeal stout. There don't seem to be a lot of them out there to try really. Nice toasted and malty smoked tones that stay consistent. Been a while since I've gotten a nose like this that I can remember. Smooth, well constructed, even. I like it.

RblWthACoz, Jul 30, 2012
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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,045 ratings.