1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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

1,966 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,966
Reviews: 527
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 173
Gots: 208 | 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)
View: Beers (73) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,966 | Reviews: 527 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DarthKostrizer
DarthKostrizer

California

4.72/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Black in color with brown rings around the top and bottom. 1/4 inch head no retention and a spot of lacing here and there

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal

Taste: Coffee flavor right up front and it is in perfect balance with the roasted malt. Traces of bitter chocolate and oatmeal in the middle and finishes with hints of vanilla and more coffee delicious

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation and some really nice buttery silkyness

Overall: This is one of if not my favorite oatmeal stout. It is almost perfect on every level. Just another fantastic beer from firestone

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2011 01:57:16 | More by DarthKostrizer
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4DAloveofSTOUT

Illinois

3.55/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Black bodied beer with thin white cap. Mild lacing noted on the glass.

Smell: Big time Oats and coffee. Toasty and roasty smell.

Taste: Mildly bitter coffee and mildly sweet chocolate notes. The oat is fairly strong and flavorful in this beer.

Mouthfeel: Disappointed here. Average at best. Way thinner than i expected and hoped for. Light end of a medium bodied stout and moderate carbonation.

Overall: better than average oatmeal stout, but I expected alot more from this brew.

Serving type: bottle

07-15-2011 16:47:51 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
Photo of AgentZero
AgentZero

Illinois

3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Believe Jason shared this one.

A - Black beer with a big layer of tan foam that left a nice amount of fat lace.

S - Coffee and oatmeal, with the grains being roasted and a little bitter. Smells relatively sweet as well, good meaning the oats haven't soured so much.

T - Slightly roasted with oats, sweet chocolate, somewhat depressed coffee, and a little bit of cream. It's not bad, but not as good as I would have thought from the nose.

M - Smooth and creamy, one of the better aspects of this beer.

O - Not bad, liked this one enough that I enjoyed drinking what I had and wouldn't have minded more. Good stuff for a 5.5% oatmeal stout.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2011 21:16:32 | More by AgentZero
Photo of lnashsig
lnashsig

Texas

4.43/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Snosage22 for the chance to taste this one. I've been intrigued with Firestone Walker, and happy to have the chance to review one of their beers. Bottle dated 2-24-11. Poured into my dfh snifter, pours a light bodied consistency, pitch black color, nice off white head emerges, but recedes quickly and completely. Smell- chocolate, with a watery but enjoyable light scent. Definitely smell the oatmeal here. Light scent of coffee grind. its faint, but its there. taste- nice milk chocolate, met with immediate nice carbonation, and there is the coffee grind in the back. Mouthfeel- its pretty light bodied for an oatmeal stout, but it works well with the tight carbonation. Drinkability- for a 5% beer, this one packs a ton of flavor and is really enjoyable.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2011 01:25:40 | More by lnashsig
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to LuvMtdew420 for sending me this beer. Dark inky black, tan head, looks like a stout should. Smell is oats, stout, chocolate, mmmm. The taste is very rich oats and chocolate, silky almost and really impressive. I really, really wish I could buy sixers of this because it's probably the best low alcohol stout I've tasted so far. Good job FW.

Serving type: bottle

07-09-2011 20:28:46 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of doughanson78
doughanson78

Washington

3.23/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First Firestone Walker beer. 12oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Very dark, but not totally black. Light comes through around edges and bottom of glass. Kind of a dark redish tint where light comes through. Fluffy one finger head. Slightly off white with only small tight bubbles. Head dies down to thin layer but doesn't disappear. Fairly good lacing.

S: Not a big aroma at all. Smells like the inside of a Quaker oatmeal container. VERY light chocolate scent.

T: Nice roasted flavor. Light coffee. Mild sweet chocolate. Nice oaty finish. Very mild hop bitterness.

M: Medium bodied. Mild carbonation. Smooth but not Velvety.

O: Been hearing great things about Firestone Walker. Had a sip of their Double Jack and was impressed. Got a few of their brews, including the Parabola. Not super impressed with this one. It's decent but there's definitely many better.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2011 07:51:11 | More by doughanson78
Photo of bamadog
bamadog

Kentucky

3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to beerman207 for bringing this one back from the West coast. Review is from notes taken on 6/18/2011 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a nice dark brown with some ruby and burgundy highlights; starts with a 1/4 finger, light tan head that fades to nothing other than a faint wisp and thin ring around the surface; body is dark and nearly opaque, only a few spots of lacing are left hanging around.

Smell: Nice, dry powdery cocoa and a light, toasty maltiness. Smell isn't too big, but fitting of the style.

Taste: It's alright, but I don't know if it's as good as I've been told by others; It has a dry, cocoa powder flavor to it with some bittersweet chocolate; bit of an earthy coffee roastiness; really tastes like a lot of other Oatmeal Stouts out there and runs well with them, but doesn't really stand out.

Mouthfeel: A little thin, but again, it's pretty standard for the style in my estimation; nice carbonation that is prickly, but not too sharp; a thin and dry stickiness is left on the roof of the mouth.

Overall: Not bad, and I wouldn't mind having it again, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way for it. It's got a nice set of scents to it and matching flavors, but a thin and kind of boring body that doesn't really latch on to me; moderately low ABV certainly doesn't hurt it.

Serving type: bottle

06-23-2011 01:25:04 | More by bamadog
Photo of drummermattie02
drummermattie02

Texas

4.18/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip, deep brown and lets very little light through; two finger head that quickly recedes to a ring.

Aroma of roasted malts and coffee, good complexity.

Taste mimics the smell, but some chocolate comes through that i didn't initially detect. Really great finish, too. Very smooth feel, although a bit on the watery side.

Very well done beer, particularly considering the lower ABV and drinkability.

Serving type: bottle

06-18-2011 02:42:21 | More by drummermattie02
Photo of Reagan1984
Reagan1984

Massachusetts

4.03/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big shout out to my Cali trading partner Abecall98 for providing me with a couple bottles of the Velvet Merkin. (I refuse to call it by it’s toned down name)

The initial pour produces a classic 2 finger head of light tan foamy head. This lasts for a moment or two before collapsing into a thin cap of foam. Not much in the way of lacing. Deep dark brown, and all brown.. Not really a black color.

Aroma is of cocoa powder or even baked brownies sans most of the sweetness.

Firestone Walker really always delivers, don’t they? Nice beer. The cocoa theme continues here as the flavor is smooth and consistent from front to back. Not overly complex, but it works as you just relax and let it happen. Bitterness is fairly light and rises only to give you a sense that the cocoa powder is somewhat dark. Not dark roasty and I don’t get a lot of coffee here.

Mouth feel is soft, rounded and indeed a touch velvety. Really smooth with just a slight touch of carbonation.

A nice little beer. I mostly prefer Imperial Stouts if I am in this category, but from time to time, it’s nice to lighten up a stout a bit. While I don’t like the lactose qualities of Milk Stouts, I enjoy the mouth feel produced by introducing oats into the stout. This is no exception. Nice beer to relax with.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2011 22:27:05 | More by Reagan1984
Photo of nhindian
nhindian

Pennsylvania

4.3/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a Surly Darkness glass. Bottle provided by jodan I believe, thanks Jordan!

A - Pours a chocolate brown with tints of black in the widest part of the glass. It settles into a soft, matte black color. The head is a pillowy, light tan color, about a finger tall with fairly low retention. Lacing is sticky at first, but quickly falls back to the comfort of the liquid. There's some carbonation on the edges of the glass as well.

S - The nose on this is almost all malt. The oat is a big part of the aroma, leading the way but still going strong by the end as well. The chocolate is rich and bittersweet, like dark cacao. There's some espresso here as well, but it mainly serves to add some roast to it rather than any noticeable coffee smells. Hanging beneath everything is a subtle bourbon quality, which adds some vibrant fruits and a slight alcohol feeling.

T - The taste brings a concise version of the nose to the palate. Immediately I'm getting a lot of oatmeal here, giving the beginning a creamy jumping-off point for the rest of the flavors to follow. Again, the chocolate is the main component after the oats, giving off flavors of baker's chocolate and some bitter notes. The flavor is slightly more roasty than the nose, with a lasting impression lingering long after drinking. Thankfully, the bourbon quality in the nose returns as well, playing cheerfully in the background of the beer but still imparting it's tastiness. The finish even brings a slightly cola-like flavor.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately light-bodied with high carbonation. This beer is really smooth, but perhaps the carbonation is a tinge too high as it sort of clashes with the smoothness. I found myself instinctively swirling this between tastes in order to cut that a little. Lasting impression are oats, roastiness, and dark fruits from the bourbon.

D/O - Drinkability is high. Oatmeal stouts are one of my favorite styles if done correctly, but if not they can come off as uninspired. Firestone Walker produces a fine representation here, and the quasi-bourbon notes in here only do that much for this offering. This is a beer that I nearly finished before completing this review, as I just wanted to keep drinking it. If this ever comes to Pittsburgh, it will be a staple in my fridge.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2011 17:21:50 | More by nhindian
Photo of Siggy125
Siggy125

California

3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark cola brown, small head dissipated quickly. Almost no lacing

smell: roasted malts, mild hopiness, slight coffee bitterness

Taste. Nice roasted maltiness, a little bit of bitter baking chocolate. Very little to no ABV presence.

Mouthfeel: A little weak in the texture for an oatmeal stout, but very decent. Very smooth drinker.

Overall a good beer to enjoy if youre not in the mood for anything big.

Serving type: bottle

06-15-2011 01:39:43 | More by Siggy125
Photo of Marty30
Marty30

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Azurescens for this extra.12 oz bottle dated 2-24-11.Poured into a Founders snifter and fridge temp allowed to warm up for about 15 minutes.

A. Black body when held up to the light appears to be dark brown. Leaves about a 1 finger offwhite creamy head.leaves behind good lacing.

S. Big milk chocolate notes followed up with coffee,dried oats and granola.

T. Dark chocolate and coffee and a little bit of roasted flavor.Very nice flavor of oats.Good hop bitterness.

M. Good medium feel for this,nice carbonation.Smooth very drinkable.

Overall I thought this beer was excellent,maybe my favorite oatmeal stout to date.Firestone Walker just keeps moving up my list.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2011 01:11:07 | More by Marty30
Photo of Haybeerman
Haybeerman

Colorado

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep, dark brown; no light comes through. Poured a 2 finger tan head with good retention to a thick skim. Sticky webs of lacing on the glass.

S: Big, toasted malts; chocolate and bitter coffee. Earthy and rich.

T: Big toasted malts consistent with aroma; lots of coffee and chocolate. Lightly bitter finish that's nice and mild.

M: Medium body. Low carbonation. Rich and creamy feel that's really smooth.

O: Good malt character. Nice feel, nice finish. A little filing, ABV good for style.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2011 21:40:07 | More by Haybeerman
Photo of HuskyinPDX
HuskyinPDX

Washington

4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Taken from notes on 3.17.11

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a motor oil blackish-brown with a dark brown, thin head that quickly moves to the edges.

S - Smells of coffee, oatmeal, and a slight vanilla.

T - Tastes very similar to the smells, but with more of an impact, or tingle on the tongue.

D - Interesting tingle feel on the tongue, but low carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 23:03:14 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium

Florida

3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Deep brown, looks black in the glass, but you can see through the edges. Almost no head and no lacing. I am unimpressed.

Smell - Wow, it smells great. The aroma is just as good as a much larger stout. Strong coffee aroma with chocolate a roasted malts. I am more optimistic now.

Taste - Coffee up front and chocolate in the finish. Slight hop bitterness in the finish makes the chocolate taste dark. Mmm. It's good. Surprisingly good, in fact.

Mouthfeel - Well, at 5.5%, it's tough to end up with a heavy stout. Creamy, but low in alcohol. It's a good combination to make it a good low ABV stout.

Overall - I edited this review because I didn't think it was great the first time. Now I think it's quite tasty. I'm beginning to appreciate low ABV stout. They pack a big flavor without being 15% and diabetically sweet.

Serving type: bottle

05-30-2011 17:05:50 | More by Alieniloquium
Photo of Gosox8787
Gosox8787

New Hampshire

4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. stubby bottle poured into a Dogfish Head snifter glass. Served at room temperature.

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black, in color. A nice, two finger beige head and good retention.

Aroma: Coffee, milk chocolate, and a touch of caramel all in good balance. Nice combination of roasty and sweet.

Taste: A really nice, approachable flavor profile highlighted by nice coffee and chocolate notes. Again, the balance of sweetness from the caramel and chocolate pairs great with the coffee. Some small earthy hop notes underneath as well. Very well done and to style.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy. Coats the mouth nicely.

Overall, a really pleasant and balanced oatmeal stout. All the flavors are in good balance. A really nice oatmeal stout.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2011 21:02:34 | More by Gosox8787
Photo of LiquidBread219
LiquidBread219

Indiana

3.73/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-21-2011 17:53:25 | More by LiquidBread219
Photo of Offa
Offa

California

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Basically black with med-big tan head slowly shirnking to a foamy ring and some nice lace.

Aroma is rich coffee/mocha, roasted malt, dark, rich toast, hint of molasses-gingerbread, some fermented winey prune joining later.

Taste is nice, smooth & mellow but flavourful and balanced. It has fermented prunes, rasiiny bread up front with light oatmeal sourness behind, dry roastiness, hints of coffee and choclate, woody-peppery spicy light bitterness. It has a little complexity and good, solid depth of character, and is highly drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2011 19:42:52 | More by Offa
Photo of Bennettrox
Bennettrox

Tennessee

3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pitch black aggressive pour, didn't leave much of a head. Half finger tan.

S - Oatmeal, roasted malts, a little bittersweet chocolate

T - Very tasty. Follows the nose with roasted malts, oatmeal, and a sweetness to follow. Not picking up the coffee as much as others, I'm just fine with that.

M - Creamy and delicious. This one has a full body with moderate carbonation. Goes down very easy and feels good in the mouth.

O - Enjoyable oatmeal stout. Pretty good example of this style all around, would have no problem putting several of these down.

Serving type: bottle

05-17-2011 16:34:19 | More by Bennettrox
Photo of nickshep7
nickshep7

Maryland

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a 3 finger light tan head. The smell is a combination of fresh roasted coffee and dark malts. Some chocolate now coming through. Initial taste is all coffee and finishes with a decent amount of bitterness from the hops. Mouthfeel is good though I wish it was a bit thicker. Overall, a solid brew.

Serving type: bottle

05-15-2011 00:58:29 | More by nickshep7
Photo of badboyrsl84
badboyrsl84

California

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours Jet black with tan/white 2 inch head that laces the glass as it fades

Smell - I get lots and lots of roasted oats and malt. A hint chocolate (Both sweet and burnt). there is no hop character.

Taste - Very smooth taste! Follows the nose really well. it starts out with a toasty oats and burnt chocolate and and with more sweet chocolate and an oaty finish. I get some chocolate in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Its super smooth and easy to drink. Nothing really overpowers you but the flavors work together like a championship team to bring you a win in the flavor department.

Overall - I can't complain and can easily see myself drinking more than one in a session. Beautiful.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2011 04:32:01 | More by badboyrsl84
Photo of olmatty
olmatty

Oregon

3.9/5  rDev -3%
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?

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2011 07:06:19 | More by olmatty
Photo of HopHead84
HopHead84

California

4.38/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

4/3/2011

Drinking this beer in honor of my mother's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you appreciate what I'm doing for you. Poured into a snifter.

A: Deep brown with a creamy light brown head. Good retention.

S: Aroma shows a little coffee with a moderate roasted malt character. Nice soft oatmeal profile blends with chocolate and a mellow and well integrated bourbon element. There's a light biscuit note and a dash of nut character.

F: Flavor is dry with a blend of chocolate and coffee. Low level of earthy bitterness and a lower moderate roasted malt profile with a dash of toasted character. Bourbon is tame and goes very well with the chocolate and oatmeal. The balance of flavors is superb.

M: Excellent mouthfeel. Creamy and silky. Medium in body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic beer. Highly drinkable and enjoyable, and at a great price.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2011 04:51:55 | More by HopHead84
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
Beerandraiderfan

Nevada

3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour, tan head, this is a looker. Plain aroma, roast, oats taming it down.

Taste, richly smooth, great work with the oatmeal here. Not harsh at all, a great session stout. All the harbingers of a good stout, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, none of them in your face, just mingling in the background. Easy to see why this was a component in the anniversary beer.

Beer provides a good coat for the gullet. Stays away from being anything extreme. A good, dry, sessionable oatmeal stout, nothing pretentious about it, does the job quite well, even if it might seem thin at times for peeps always looking for a RIS or a double/imperial stout. Just the right amount of hopping to keep it lively, but not be astringent or out of style parameters.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2011 18:24:11 | More by Beerandraiderfan
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
ThreeWiseMen

California

4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Split a growler with my roommate, JustinA1, last week. The following review is based on notes taken at that time.

Poured (repeatedly) into a New Belgium globe.

Appearance: A thick, light brown, layer of foam sits atop a pitch black body. Head shows excellent retention and drags thick, clumpy lacing. Light barely penetrates the outermost edges when directly back-lit; I'm willing to call this one opaque.

Smell: Oats, wholegrain bread, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee. A touch of salt also appears in deeper whiffs. Although this version doesn't smell as complex as previous experiences, it boasts a hearty grainy/bready character that softens up the heavy roast aromas. I dig.

Taste: Dark chocolate, oats, wholegrain bread, coffee, roasted malt, and caramel. Very smooth and balanced; harmonious. Alcohol creeps in just a bit as it warms. Roast and oat flavors cling to the palate deep into the aftertaste. Well done.

Mouthfeel: Creamier and more full-bodied than most oatmeal stouts. Very smooth and soft with fine carbonation; velvety, as implied by the name. Long-lasting and enjoyable aftertaste.

Overall: Very tasty, smooth, and balanced - an excellent example of the style!

Serving type: growler

05-04-2011 17:56:54 | More by ThreeWiseMen
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,966 ratings.