Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

2,625 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 2,625
Reviews: 609
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 209
Gots: 429 | 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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Ratings: 2,625 | Reviews: 609
Photo of jellikit
4.25/5  rDev +6%

Bottle.
Appearance: dark, dark brown to black with a brownish, ruby hue when held to light. Clear. Thin head. Thin lacing that dissipates.
Smell: bread dough. Roasted cocoa nibs.
Taste: clean, slightly roasted, light coffee flavor.
Mouthfeel: medium-low carbonation. Medium to medium high body. Dry.
Overall: easy drinking stout. Balanced extremely well. Great gateway stout for non dark beer drinkers. Would buy again.

Photo of t420o
3.8/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Six pack from Bevmo for 7.99

A- Dark brown but not opaque. Tan head that is only about one finger with an aggressive pour. Head dissapate quickly and leaves little lacing.

S- Smoked oats, chocolate, coffee

T- At first it is very light and a but acidic. After only a could sips that quickly fades away into a pretty good oatmeal stout, yet not the best I've had by a long shot. Smoked oats, coffee, chocolate, and some creay goodness in there.

M- At first kind of thin, but begins to feel creamier (sp?) as I keep sipping. Maybe a little too much carbonation until it settles a little

D- I'd say excellent drinability. The creamy taste and feeling is like a Guinness but with different flavors going on. I easily killed the six pack I had.

I wouldn't seek it out but if it is on tap or around the same price I got it for (7.99) I'd give it a try. Its a good beer but I'd expect a little more from FW.

Photo of capra12
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed solo served out of a pint glass.

Appearance: Deep dark brown with a 1 finger head with spotty lacing.

Smell: This really got my off guard, I got a medium roasted iced coffee with roasted powdered chocolate.

Taste: Opens very with a dark malt profile with coffee and chocolate malts that meld together from the middle to end. Leaving a dark and malty stick aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Rather light bodied and moderately carbonated. Slightly sticky and drying finish.

Drinkability: I would definitely have this again and thanks to alexander for this bottle from Darkness day. I recommend this to those seeking a solid oatmeal stout with a ton of well balanced flavor.

Photo of VashonGuy
3.71/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

Photo of LiquidBread219
3.7/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- The blackest of black, but a little thin on the edges. A healthy tannish head forms, and retains for a bit. The beer laces quite nicely.

S- Rich and creamy, dark roasted malt and oatmeal. Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla notes as well.

T- It's a decent oatmeal stout, nothing too crazy. Primarily roasted malts. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate.

M- A little lighter than I like from a beer of this style.

D- It's drinkable, but not terribly memorable.

Photo of rjs246
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Firestone Walker has recently increased its footprint in the Richmond area and I couldn't be happier about it. This was yummy.

Photo of nkersten
4.17/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Kevin - Thanks! poured into a NB globe, black liquid with a tan head that quickly fades to a bubbly cap. Smells of dark roasted malts, some coffee, and spicy hops. Taste is very malty and a bit smokey from the roast. Hop flavor to start that fades into a nice balance of hops and roast finish. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Not as silky as most oatmeal stouts but a good beer regardless.

Photo of hagbergl
3.84/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A buddy of mine and I spotted this in six-packs at the local store and he decided to buy it for the Ravens-Patriots game. As a big fan of Firestone Walker's other beers, I was excited to try this. Served in a big old mug. Review is from notes.

Appearance (4.25/5): A moderately hard pour produces a huge, billowy khaki head. The luxuriant head sits atop a pitch black body of beer. Plenty of soapy residue lines the sides of the glass. Looks pretty great.

Smell (4/5): Very aromatic. Oats, grain, cereal, malty, light milk chocolate, black coffee, roasty. The oats give the aroma a slightly acidic twang. Basically everything you would expect from an oatmeal stout in terms of smell. One of the beer's stronger suits.

Taste (3.5/5): Black coffee, roasty, some nice dark chocolate notes arrive late and recede shortly thereafter, oats and grain. Dark maltiness borders on richness but doesn't quite cross the threshold–this is a fairly restrained and mild stout. While certainly flavorful, it doesn't approach the decadence of its bigger Russian Imperial and American Double cousins. I'm not enamored by the flavor here. While this is pretty good, there is nothing that stands out and 'wows' me–it features a fairly simple flavor profile and does it well.

Mouthfeel (4.25/5): In my opinion the best feature of this beer is its creamy smoothness. Velvet Merlin indeed. Very drinkable. Nice medium carbonation and medium body. These qualities almost make up for its shortfalls in the taste department.

Overall (4/5): Velvet Merlin is good, not great. Firestone has brewed a very drinkable, though simple and mild stout. I prefer my stouts to be a bit bolder. I know some people (weirdos, all) that would prefer this approach. But if you're an oatmeal stout aficionado, maybe you'll find virtues in Velvet Merlin my palate doesn't appreciate as well. My own stylistic preferences asides, I do think this is still a very respectable beer even if it's not by any means a show stopper.

Photo of lordofstarside
4.24/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Given a few minutes to warm up, 12oz (10/17/13) to a snifter. Rewarding myself for shoveling a bunch of snow

Pours a solid black (0% trans) with brown hues at the bottom when held to the light, with a half finger of mocha foam that's died down to a frothy ring. Mild carbonation, really good lacing. Not bad looking

Smells of roasted malty chocolate nibbs and coffee, followed by figs, cherries, and other dark fruits, finishing with a small touch of alcohol. Pretty simple, but still really good

Taste is with the nose, strong coffee on the front followed by a more subdued chocolate malt. Fruits come in next, cherries and figs followed by a hint of vanilla. A tiny bit of alcohol and more coffee notes on the end, everything blends nicely

Feel is a thick creamy body with a dry finish. Alcohol hard to pick up, very easy to sip on cold snowy days like these

Overall a pretty good stout, something to look forward to each year

Photo of jethrodium
3.93/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Pours a black which looks cola brown at the edges when held up to the light. Two finger light brown head which pretty good retention and leaves a very small amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is roasted coffee, light earthy hops, and light dark chocolate. A bit of vanilla and licorice comes out as it warms up. I wouldn't have guessed a portion of this was barrel aged, but when you are looking for those notes you can find them. Initial taste is roasted coffee going into light dark chocolate with some hints of vanilla and licorice. The finish has a slight tea-like bitterness. Don't really get any bourbon in the taste. Medium body. Low carbonation. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Pretty standard for an oatmeal stout. Pretty great beer, especially for the cost.

Photo of gregshead
3.65/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black with brown hues when you hold it to the light.

S: Roasted grain and something else I can't pick out. Good on the nose.

T: Taste is pretty predictable stout I can't find anything particularly specific about this one. Well made in every way.

M: Smooth feel, not much carbonation.

D: Good but not phenomenal. Will have again in six pack.

Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.42/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Staid pitch black and luminous brown undertones with a finger thick creamy tan head.

Smell: Oat, chocolate, blueberry, cafe espresso and chocolate moose. Slight bitterness

Taste: British hops, earthy and herbal. Granite charcoal malts. Coffee. Sweet fruit. Blackberry. Dry charcoal malt finish.

Mouthfeel: Beautifully balanced, smooth and tasty treat. Full flavored and not too heavy. Medium malt texture. Savory.

Overall: A great beer for the price. You can pick this one up on sale seasonally at Trader Joe's. About a $1.20 a beer. Drinkable. I only wish it was available year round.

Photo of fscottkey
3.77/5  rDev -6%
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.

Photo of phishsihq
3.96/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Velvety Smooth....

Firestone Walker Brewing Company was the 2011 GABF Mid-Size Brewery of the Year, as well as winning the award in 2003 & 2007, and at the World Beer Cup in 2004, 2006 & 2010. So, considering they won awards for being the best brewery their size in '03, '04, '06, '07, '10 & '11, it is safe to assume they know a thing or two about good beer, and it is good beer!

Velvet Merlin is an Oatmeal Stout that is partially aged in bourbon barrels and utilizes the always amazing Maris Otter malt. The beer pours an intensely dark brown (black?), with ruby highlights near the edges. Atop this dark brew sits one inch of beige colored head that dissipates slowly and leaves a curtain of lace. A BIG roasty nose leaps from the glass, with whispers of espresso and chocolate aromas as well. Sweet chocolate flavors quickly fade into roasted coffee tones on the pallet. Bold flavors and a delicate creaminess is due to the medium-full body and softer levels of carbonation. We enjoyed some of this with Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream, simply magical.

Cheers!

Photo of spacecake9
3.5/5  rDev -12.7%

Pours black. In a blind taste I would have called this a coffee porter. Thinner than I expected, more coffee flavor than I expected and more bitter than I expected. I was expected a thicker mouth feel and a sweeter flavor. A good beer but my rating will be lower than others.

Photo of IKR
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Very dark brown, looks black unless it's held up to a light. Has a generous light beige head.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee/roasted malt aroma. Nice aroma.

Taste: Chocolate, roasted malts and a faint oaky tannic presence. The finish is clean.

Mouth-feel: Light to medium bodied with a fair level of carbonation appropriate tor the style.

Overall: One of those beers that's tastes good, is priced well, and is reasonably accessible.

Photo of abuliarose
4.09/5  rDev +2%
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.

Photo of eclipse54
3.62/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from leschkie; thanks man! Review from notes taken on 07/19/2011.

Deep brown/red as it pours from the bottle, but appears black in the glass. A light khaki head rests atop, but fades quickly and leaves no lacing. Smells of oats, caramel, sugar, dark fruit, and roasted/charred malt. They blend together nicely in the nose, but are a bit more disconnected in the mouth. It tastes of sweet fruit (plum, date), sugar, oat, roasted malt, and alcohol. Mouth is thick, has medium carbonation, and finishes very dry. Overall, an enjoyable oatmeal stout, but there are some better options out there that are just as readily available.

Photo of ronniebruner
2.77/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Gotta say right off the bat I was disappointed in this brew as I have thoroughly enjoyed all the other Firestone beers I have had. It could just be a bad batch I presume, but it is hard to say. The beer is very black, almost too black to be enjoyable considering the horrid burnt wood taste. It is nowhere as thick as other stouts and it took me several weeks to finish this 6 pack off. Overall I have a very high opinion of Firestone Walker and would rate it as one of the top 3 breweries in the state of California, but I have to say this really was just not that great. Not terrible, but just not worth the time or money.

Photo of olmatty
3.88/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance-Pours a deep black color with a sticky tan head head.

Smell-Coffee and roasty almost burnt roast aroma, but not harsh or astringent and certainly not unpleasant.

Taste-Smooth balance of roast, burnt coffee grounds, chocolate, and a sour oaty finish that smooths out the whole thing. Hop bitterness hits the front of the tongue at the very end and lingers. fading gradually.

Mouthfeel-Creamy, smooth

Overall-A very nice oatmeal stout, perhaps one of the best. Why is this no longer Merkin?

Photo of infinitebruner
3.93/5  rDev -2%
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.

Photo of Xul
4.57/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours dark brown with ruby highlights around the edges, capped by one and a half fingers of foamy, mocha-colored head. Retention is moderate as it settles down to around a half finger and slowly recedes from there.

S: Strong aroma of oats up front with a touch of cereal, along with big coffee notes, cocoa, and moderate roastiness. Hint of vanilla in the background, very well integrated.

T: Opens up with oats and roasted malts, followed by big cocoa on the mid-palate. Coffee comes in right after the cocoa and leaves a light bitterness through the finish, although cocoa returns on the aftertaste for some balancing sweetness.

M: Medium bodied width light to moderate carbonation, could be a touch creamier but very smooth for a reasonably light beer.

D: This would be incredibly easy to drink all night.

Photo of TheJollyHop
3.58/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Blue Palms

Pours black with a light brown head.

Nose is dominated by roasted malt, cocoa, and a small amount of sweet toffee.

Taste pretty much parallels the aroma with the addition of oats. Bitterness exerts itself, but knows when to back off and only lingers briefly after the swallow. The alcohol is also well hidden.

Soft, creamy mouthfeel that is highly carbonated and mouth enveloping.

Very filling and enjoyable, however would have benefited more from a lower alcohol concentration.

Photo of tvv375ia
4.03/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass

A-dark brown with some ruby around the edges with about a finger of head that faded to a nice cap

S-some roasted coffee with a little chocolate

T-much like the smell starts with some dark roast coffee and a little bit of chocolate

M- good carbonation with a nice medium body

O-really good glad I got the chance to try this one if I am ever somewhere they have this I will pick some up

Photo of tony223366
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Fantastic head! Filled up my entire tulip. 3 fingers of tan, rocky head. Bubbles of all sizes and lacing is already apparent. Color is a deep, deep brown with the faintest hint of red. Clarity is good but no light can get through.

S: I'm getting tons of rich coffee aromas, some chocolate too. A little tobacco. Nice smokiness from the roasted malts.

T: Flavor mirrors the nose. Lots of rich roasted malts. That Earthy, almost tobacco flavor is here. Hops are much more present in a very lightly clean and citrusy way. I love that there's a nice bitter finish. Dark chocolate is always there. A really clean finish as well.

M: Can tell oatmeal is present, nice creaminess. Good carbonation. Maybe a smidge thin.

O: I love how drinkable this is. The aroma and body didn't knock me out but the clean, crisp flavors are incredibly attractive. Nice work from one of my favorite breweries.

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,625 ratings.