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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

621 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 621
Hads: 2,753
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 494 | 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: 621 | Hads: 2,753
Photo of Sammy
3.7/5  rDev -7%
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.

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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.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.02/5  rDev -24.1%
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.

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Photo of metter98
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is very close to being jet black in color—only slight traces of dark brown are visible near the edge of the glass. It poured with a quarter finger high dark beige head that died down.
S: Light to moderate aromas of oatmeal, dark malts, and roasted malts are present in the nose.
T: Similar to the smell, the taste has flavors of dark and roasted malts along with notes of oatmeal and slight bits of sweetness towards the finish. Some hints of coffee beans are also perceptible.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and very smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. Faint amounts of dryness are also noticeable.
O: For a lighter oatmeal stout, this beer still offers some complexities in the taste that makes it interesting to drink.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

true to its name, this one if velvet and smooth, pours dark, smells boozy and roasty. mellow looking, with a one inch white head which only resides a little as it warms. taste is bold but mellow at the same time, burnt and bittersweet in the finish, october-like in the body, just right. like this one a lot better than their double jack, curious to try more beers from this crew...

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Photo of Knapp85
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
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

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Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
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 biboergosum
4.22/5  rDev +6%
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 BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
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 mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
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

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Photo of womencantsail
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this interesting looking one thanks to Ultraman9000.

Pours a fizzy 1 finger head that fades at a medium pace over pitch black beer.

Nose is exploding with oats before I even poured it, dark malts, a bit of roast and slight coffee, a touch of dark chocolate, caramel, and hints of vanilla milk chocolate. The oats really show through.

Taste brings plenty of dark malts, but nothing heavy, a bit of roast and chocolate, some caramel and vanilla, tons of oats again almost chewy with oats, smooth and creamy, a touch of milk chocolate. A slight bitterness comes through towards the end and more on the finish as it dries off quite a bit, with a bit of a toasty malt finish, and just a hint of peppermint (I think my mind is making that part up cause it seems like it should be a peppermint patty), bit of chocolate and vanilla lingering with lots of mouthy oats.

Mouth is very full bodied, not too heavy but very creamy, smooth, and silky even.

Drink is good, sessionable but a bit to rich and thick to be really sessionable, dries nicely, no real booze, goes down smooth.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep brown (some ruby highlights come out across the bottom), with a finger of smooth light mocha colored head. This maintains a thin foaminess that skims the top of the glass, leaving back a rich cascade of spotty lacing that dots the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of sweet oatmeal notes up front, before giving away to an underlying mix of cocoa, roast, and a good bit of green citrus flavor. The oatmeal is really standing out to me here in the nose and I’m digging it.

The taste is similar to the nose, with a smooth smelling mélange of flaked oatmeal and chocolate that then leads into a leafy citrus profile across the back. Some light roasted character sits underneath and combos with the hops to finish this a bit bitter with an extra smidge of burnt toast on the tail end. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and initially prickly on the tongue, which helps draw out some of that hops and roast, but there is also an easy feeling silkiness on the edges of this, courtesy of that oatmeal, which gives this an overall crisp slickness in the mouth that works.

This was quite a robust and easy drinking Oatmeal Stout, with a good bit of well balanced flavor that didn’t skimp on the oatmeal character one bit. I’m not sure if this one is making distribution yet on the East Coast but it’s definitely one that I’m going to keep an eye out for.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
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!

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
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!

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Photo of mactrail
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pronounced cereal, grainy flavor. Big dose of charred malt with that touch of sourness. Hops are pretty much in the background. Decent head on the black-brown pour. Very light body with appropriate carbonation for a refreshing mouthfeel. Fairly dry but there is a touch of caramel. Spicy in the back of the throat. Just a slight nose of roast grain.

Pleasant drinkable average stout. Not quite the "velvet" one might hope for.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle served into a N'ice Chouffe stem-goblet in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are pretty high; I love stouts.

A: Pours a one finger head of good cream, good thickness, and pretty good retention - though the ABV is merely average. Colour is a nontransparent dark brown-black.

Sm: Chocolate, heavy oats, caramel, and light nuts. Very appealing. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Oats are dominant, with notes of chocolate, caramel, and light nuts atop. Complex and balanced. Quite nicely built. It's not layered, but it has a depth of flavour I don't usually experience in oatmeal stouts. Often, oats are there just to smooth things out, but here, they're a dominant flavour and it suits the profile quite nicely. Bravo.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but not too thick or thin. Suits the flavour quite well.

Dr: Very drinkable. I quite fancy it. I'd love to try this on draught. Quite a nice flavorful brew. Give her a spin, lads.

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color medium beige head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains coffee, oats, roasted malts, some chocolate and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of coffee, molasses and chocolate. Then some mild smokiness comes in along with toasted oats and a hearty malt character. The hops presence is very mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is a bit dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is a solid beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for the style.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from Capone's, Norristown, PA

Poured a dark brown-black, nearly opaque, with a small cap of off-white head that receded to a patchy layer and left a bit of lacing on the glass. Aroma was heavy with roast: coffee, dark malts, underlying cocoa. More roast on the taste, oatmeal and toasted grains, coffee, cocoa, roasty bitterness, with a definite sugary sweetness in the background. Medium-bodied, creamy, but still a bit on the light/watery side for the style, and not as completely balanced as it should be. Still very good though, and quite drinkable overall.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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

Got in a trade with swingracex. 12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 2/21/2013. Pours fairly crystal clear almost opaque dark brown color with a 1 finger fairly dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of milk chocolate, cocoa, roasted malt, oats, toast, brown bread, light coffee, floral, and roasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of roasted malt notes with oats and light hops. Taste of milk chocolate, cocoa, oats, roasted malt, toast, brown bread, light coffee, floral, and roasted earthiness. Slight earthy roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, oats, roasted malt, light coffee, toast, and light earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance of roasted/bready malt flavors with oats and light hops; with nice robustness and zero cloying flavors after the finish; moderately dry on the finish as well. Medium carbonation and body; with a moderately creamy, smooth, and crisp mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with hardly any warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice oatmeal stout. All around nice flavor balance and robustness; and extremely smooth and crisp to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%

12 oz bottle consumed in Redwoods Park.

Opaque black-brown; good tan head that leaves layered lacing.

Aroma: dark bread with hints of molasses and dark fruits

Flavor: Follows the promise of the aroma. Moderate level of dark roasted malts flavor. Faint coffee in the aftertaste.

Feel: soft medium carbonation. Medium-light body.

O: good for style.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Received as an extra from barleywinefiend, thanks Josh!

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, color with one finger of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of oatmeal, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, light coffee, and light bready malts.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, light oat, light coffee, toffee, and bready malts. A step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, pretty smooth and creamy. Pretty good mouthfeel.

d - A good oatmeal stout full of chocolate and roasted malts mostly. A little bit bitter but I liked it a lot. Would certainly have again.

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Photo of mothman
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
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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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 621 ratings.