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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

1,965 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,965
Reviews: 527
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 172
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)
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Ratings: 1,965 | Reviews: 527 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of wajacobs
wajacobs

California

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

I've never been the biggest fan of Firestone Walker but picked up a sixer at BevMo when the store clerk said it was one of her favorites.

I typically like stronger stouts but must admit I really like this ale, its extremely smooth and but the flavor and aroma are dominated by roasted coffee and light caramel notes. It would be nice if it were a little stronger and provided a more warmth on the back end.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2010 04:05:21 | More by wajacobs
Photo of kflorence
kflorence

California

3.53/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at BevMo! a week before Christmas; $7 for a sick pack (what a steal).

A: Pours an opaque, black with a nice frothy layer of tan foam. Not much lacing around the glass as you drink. When held up to a light, carbonation looks good. Looks inviting, if perhaps a little bit light as far as body goes.

S: As advertised, the roasted coffee comes through prominently. Also prominent are roasted malts, chocolate and some cloying caramel. The aroma suggests this beer will be very malty with some underlying sweetness and perhaps some astringency.

T: Wow, this one is truly roasted, almost overpoweringly so. Roasted malts and roasted coffee dominate the flavor; hops are rather subdued, almost indistinguishable. Not much of the cloying sweetness that was detected in the aroma was present, but it is there right after the initial roasts hit the tongue, and right before the lingering barbecue flavor. A tad bit astringent, which I guess is to be expected from a highly prominent coffee presence. Oatmeal is strangely absent as well.

M: For an oatmeal stout, I would consider this medium bodied. I was hoping it would be a bit more on the creamy side, maybe even with some chewiness. Carbonation levels are perfect and it does have body, just expected it to be a bit thicker.

D: Overall this is a pleasant beer and I have absolutely no complaints for the price tag. This is a solid stout that's simplicity and body make it very easy to drink. That said, I think this brew was a little overly roasted for me which made it seem a bit imbalanced. It also had almost no detectable oatmeal flavors, was a bit astringent due to the coffee and was not as creamy as I expected. There are much better oatmeal stouts out there, but this one definitely was on the above average side. I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again, but I probably wouldn't seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2010 05:20:23 | More by kflorence
Photo of koopa
koopa

New Jersey

4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle received as an extra in a trade with a generous BA thanks!

Appearance: Pours black and opaque with minimal crown, retention, or lace.

Smell: Toasted oats, roast malt, and chocolate malt.

Taste: Same as nose.

Mouthfeel: Smooth (as an oatmeal stout should be) with a medium body.

Drinkability: Highly drinkable.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2010 01:52:48 | More by koopa
Photo of beagle75
beagle75

Iowa

3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a shaker pint glass.

A: Opaque black color with one finger of beige foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Dark roasted malt displays a dominating coffee smell initially, but does not change or develop into anything more interesting as the beer warms.

T: Begins off-dry, with milk chocolate, roasted grain, and slight dark fruit (plums and dates). Graininess persists in the middle as other flavors fade and generally dry out. The finish features strong coffee grounds, mild bitterness, and a mineral snap.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, slick on the palate, with low carbonation.

D: A fine oatmeal stout, neither challenging nor boring. Despite the one-note smell of coffee, the flavor manages to surprise and impress by being more multi-layered. A nod to Firestone-Walker for packaging this beer in 6-packs; there are few California stouts from anywhere south of the Bay Area being marketed in that format.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2010 18:29:28 | More by beagle75
Photo of nkersten
nkersten

Illinois

4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2010 05:00:00 | More by nkersten
Photo of brewerburgundy
brewerburgundy

California

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

12oz bottle, Bruery tulip, bottled 12/7/10.

Nearly a black Stout; some purple highlights lurk near the bottom of the glass and a darker brown head towers above. The lacing is top notch.

Very nice nose for a seemingly humble Oatmeal Stout; ghostly bourbon'd wood, vanilla oak, wet earth, and cocoa powder. Complexly dry, earthy, and chocolatey.

Mineral ridden dark chocolate with sneaky bourbon flavors behind. The woody, earthy U.S. Fuggles are definitely here and probably supporting the small bourbon barrel aged character. A little acidic coffee plays but fortunately does not steal the show.

A little thin, but truly smooth. Moderate to low carbonation holding some bite. Could be a little more full to go with the silkiness.

I am finding lots of complexity to enjoy here, without the mammoth abv often associated with Stouts that are considered the best. Smooth and warming nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2010 03:06:14 | More by brewerburgundy
Photo of abaer123
abaer123

California

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

Appearance - I had this one out of the bottle, so hard to say what the actual appearance is. The carbonation is low, so I would think that there would not be much head on this one.

Smell - malty, rich, chocolaty. When I purchased this, I was going for a rich seasonal brew. I found that and more.

Taste - rich, creamy, coffee and cocoa without being too sweet.

Mouthfeel - rich and lacey. Not overly pwering like other more hoppy varieties I have been drinking lately. A nice contrast and comfort.

Drinkability - goes down way to easy! This is a luxurious brew that could be trouble at 5.5 after a few.

Overall, I am impressed by the Velvet Merkin. My hats off to Firestone for a delicious seasonal treat. Good work.

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2010 00:18:46 | More by abaer123
Photo of fsimcox
fsimcox

California

3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer from BevMo for $6.99. Never had this one before.

Pours a deep, rich, black color. A thin, tan foamy head forms, but dissipates almost immediately. A little lacing, but not much.

Smells of roasted malt, strong coffee, and a hint of bitter chocolate. Roasted coffee beans stands out, but not overpowering.

Roasted malt, coffee and a hint of hop bitter. Full bodied, robust, with a sweet, roast coffee bean after taste. Some hints of bitter-sweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel is creamy, rich, full bodied and smooth. Some carbonation, and a hop bitter after taste. The coffee lingers.

A wonderful holiday beer. Robust, and full bodied. I love the roast coffee taste. I think I would enjoy this with smoked cheese.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2010 22:50:34 | More by fsimcox
Photo of Goldfish19
Goldfish19

New York

4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

~ 12 oz bottle purchased online.

This oatmeal stout pours dark brown in color with a thin tan head.

Velvet Merlin has a pleasant aroma. Roasted malt, oats, coffee and chocolate all make an appearance.

The taste is very similar. All the above are present, but I also detect some vanilla, which I couldn't initially pick out in the smell. It's not sweet, but from what I understand this was the brewer's intention.

The body is a little on the thin side, but no complaints here. It's smooth, creamy and at 5.5% it went down without a hitch.

Overall, this is a solid offering from Firestone. If anyone is on the lookout for a well-crafted oatmeal stout, give this a try - you will not be disappointed. ~

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2010 03:07:23 | More by Goldfish19
Photo of BeerManDan
BeerManDan

California

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

Poured a very dark brown, with a little bit of tan foam and some lace on the side of the glass.
The smell of roasted malts and an aroma of chocolate coffee filled the nose with a pleasant soft aroma. The taste of this Oatmeal Stout was just what the smell and aroma was, but, without the usual bitterness of a stout. Nice balance of malts and all components involved. Soft, with a nice bitter/sweet finish on the palate.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2010 23:40:00 | More by BeerManDan
Photo of Bfarr
Bfarr

Washington

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a medium tan frothy and a bit foamy head with good retention but not much lacing as it slinks down the side of the glass. Smoky, peaty aroma. Chocolate, peat, and smoked malts wna sweet balance with a light bittersweet lactose linger. Silky mouthfeel yet chewy and anormally a velvet coating.

So smooth it goes down way too easy but if you hold on for a moment you're rewarded with a good amount of flavor. I don't know, is a Velvet Merlin like a Velvet Elvis?

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2010 23:38:18 | More by Bfarr
Photo of BarrytheBear
BarrytheBear

Wisconsin

3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan for filling a want and for being an awesome trader.

12 oz bottle in a tulip. Pours dark brown, with a deluge of tiny bubbles along the edges and a beige ring and spotty surface bubbles.

Molasses and coffee on the nose. Not nearly as pronounced as I'd hoped. In fact, it's lacking much complexity and for the style is a tad weak. There is a weird cooked plastic smell that ain't too groovy.

Taste and mouthfeel veer towards watery. Oats don't vibe with the beer well, leaving more of a coffee dark ale than a rich, roasty, full bodied oatmeal stout which I am after. A richer, more velvety mouthfeel and dialing down the carbonation might pick this beer up a notch. Crank up the oatmeal here!

Kind of a bummer. Granted I haven't had an inordinate amount of Firestone, but this is not up to the standard I expected from a great brewery. Plenty of other oatmeal stouts in the sea.

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2010 01:51:26 | More by BarrytheBear
Photo of Murchmac
Murchmac

California

4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Been drinking this beer for years on tap as Merkin, I get the name change, glad the recipe didnt.

This is about the most perfect oatmeal stout you can buy. Worth trading for, worth buying, worth drinking.

Just delicious goodness in a pint glass. Roasty, chocolatey, thick mouthfeel, coffee all blended perfectly.

By Merlin Olsens beard, get this.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2010 22:56:41 | More by Murchmac
Photo of TMoney2591
TMoney2591

Illinois

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!

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2010 08:13:22 | More by TMoney2591
Photo of Vdubb86
Vdubb86

Illinois

4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

Thanks to TMoney2591 for this one

This beer pours a nice darkness with a beige head. The smell has some dark chocolate and roast coffee notes. The taste has the dark chocolate note to it mostly, but has some light fruity aftertaste. It's a pretty pleasant beer to drink, but I think velvet is a strong term for the mouthfeel. It's not bad, but it's not overall impressive. I don't think that I would ever have a problem having this if it were given to me.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2010 07:51:45 | More by Vdubb86
Photo of arizcards
arizcards

Arizona

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

Picked up a sixer from Total Wine in late October for $8.49.

Beer poured black with a bubbly floating tan head.

Nose is sweet roasted malts and chocolate nibs.

Taste is a very nice blend of rosted malts, chocolate, with a well balanced dry hop finish.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, somewhat smooth but very satisfying.

Overall drinkability is very good. This is one of the best in class i have had this year. I hope to see more of it in the future!

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2010 23:11:22 | More by arizcards
Photo of Metalmonk
Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A modest and thin but lasting head of dirty white foam, sitting on top of an extremely dark liquid which is either super-dark brown or a lighter shade of black.

Subtle but welcoming aroma is very much par for the style, being grainy, earthy, toasted, a bit vinous and faint hints of cocoa nibs.

There's something quite wonderful about the taste of Velvet Merlin (and hey, great name!). It's got subtlety and class; its roastiness is right on the money while its deeper traits emerge slowly and politely. Still has the vinous and chocolate qualities from the nose, and some other dark fruits (fig, date) but these are merely supporting characteristics. It's really about the perfect roasty-toasty hot breakfast cereal vibe that is the centerpiece of this beer.

Feels soft and smooth, for the most part, while the carbonation is probably a little more pronounced than expected, considering the "velvet" in the name of this beer.

Velvet Merlin has a really satisfying, comforting kind of personality. It's a case of every ingredient working in harmony, everything balanced out perfectly.

Serving type: bottle

12-19-2010 16:22:22 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
AWolfAtTheDoor

California

3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Giving this brewery another shot. I was thoroughly disappointed by the Double Barrel.

Pours dark, but when held up to a light, it's very very dark brown. Darkest brown I have ever seen, but not quite black. Interesting. Vigorous pour yielded a 1cm light brown head, which dissipated in no time. I give the lacing about a B- so far.

Lots of chocolate on the nose. Coffee appears later as it warms up. Some roasted malts as well.

Chocolatey taste. Bitter chocolate, just a hint of chalk. with some malts in there, hint of dark fruit as an after taste. Well balanced and tasty.

Pretty thick beer for 5.5%. Carbonation is pretty spot on for the style. Definitely wouldn't go any higher, but a little less wouldn't hurt.

Quite drinkable. I'm looking forward to finishing this 6 pack.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2010 07:57:48 | More by AWolfAtTheDoor
Photo of jmperez
jmperez

California

4.75/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

This was my first oatmeal stout, if all oatmeal stouts are half as good as this one, i would have found my new style.

Aromas of roasted malts, slight vanilla and chocolate, bit of hop

Taste had hints of coffee, chocolate, bit of hop bite in the end.

Ridiculously smooth, might i say velvety. This oat stout is extremly drinkable and at 5.5% abv i could easily drink a six pack.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2010 04:57:02 | More by jmperez
Photo of Ynot2
Ynot2

California

3.48/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pint glass. A nice dark brown to black with a tan one finger head. The head faded to a thick lace.

Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee aromas come out pretty heavy almost immediately.

The initial taste was coffee and a bitter chocolate. A slight bitter aftertaste lingers in the mouth.

Mouth is really light for a stout, would have preferred a little more.

Drinkability was decent, not great, not bad. I would have another one.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2010 04:41:58 | More by Ynot2
Photo of weizenbob
weizenbob

Michigan

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

12 ounce bottle received in a trade with RichBeer. Thanks Rich! Poured into a pint glass, two fingers of frothy tan head mounts a brew that's just a couple of shades from black. Head retention is good and heavy lacing lines the glass.

Pleasant aromas of chocolate and roasted malt waft off the brew, as well as the faint scent of coffee. There's also the distant notion of floral hops on the nose.

Sweet roasted malt leads the flavor profile. There is a strange but pleasant snap pea flavor that sounds strange but actually works. A little caramelized sugar lines the palate. The finish is dark chocolate with a lingering earthy aftertaste. Chocolate becomes more apparent as the brew warms. Alcohol is not perceived. It's a pretty straightforward brew, but well done none the less.

The mouthfeel is well-balanced. It's substantial but not too thick. The carbonation level is on the high end of medium and helps this stout seem lighter than it is.

All of this adds up to an oatmeal stout that is pretty drinkable. It has enough flavor and body to satisfy the stout lover in me without overwhelming me in any category. The 5.5% ABV is well hidden but it's a bitter enough brew that you're probably not going to drink them too fast. I could drink a couple of them back to back with relative ease. In a scene where it seems like brewers are trying to out-stout each other, Velvet Merlin is a pleasantly sturdy brew and a nice change of pace.

The Two Schlitz Scale: (see my profile for an explanation)
I give a solid Schlitz for this stout. I'd revisit Velvet Merlin.

Serving type: bottle

12-16-2010 01:10:20 | More by weizenbob
Photo of mdfb79
mdfb79

New York

3.9/5  rDev -3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-15-2010 23:34:03 | More by mdfb79
Photo of marikoangel
marikoangel

California

3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass at Amsterdam

A: Very black, I can't see through it at all. There was a little tan head that dissipated into a thin tan covering over the top of the beer.

S: Nice roasted malts, oats, there's a funky, musty, wet earthiness to it, I can pick up coffee notes, and maybe something that reminds me of cigars.

T: I can definitely get a nice roasted coffee right off the bat. A very light bitter, but also a light sweet that balance each other out to the point where you notice them, but you almost don't. The finish is a bit bittersweet. The flavors are lighter than I expected, and there is a quality to it that reminds me of drinking a glass of milk.

M: Crisp but not carbonated. Creamy with a medium thin mouthfeel. It looks like it would be a thicker beer, and from the name I just assumed it would be, but it's not. It has a drier finish.

D: It's a nice beer, very drinkable, but not my all time favorite. I would drink it again though, but wouldn't seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

12-14-2010 00:06:41 | More by marikoangel
Photo of ratedz
ratedz

Kansas

4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown/black with a half-inch light tan colored head. The head dissipates quickly and leaves very little lacing.

Smell is loaded with roasted malts, chocolate, oats, and some hints of coffee.

Taste follows the nose with roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, and some coffee. A slight hoppy bitterness appears on the tail end.

Very smooth and creamy. Medium body. This actually has some characteristics that remind me of a porter. The low ABV makes this very drinkable. Overall, a solid oatmeal stout.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2010 02:24:17 | More by ratedz
Photo of jrallen34
jrallen34

Illinois

4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz extra given to my Craytonic, served in a Bruery tulip...A dark brown pour with a brilliant light tan head. At least six fingers of head rises and stays forever, tightly compact bubbles on this are great. Unbelievably thick lacing. This is a looker...A fairly muted aroma, lots of oatmeal, a little roast and bitter, pretty sweet. A little alcohol and the sweetness bring my score down a touch, not balanced enough...The taste is pretty muted as well, disappointed. Light roast, oatmeal, a little sweet chocolate cake. Better balanced, just not strong enough. The more I drink it the more I like it as its so easy to drink, yet flavorful. A nice full feel.

Above average oatmeal, worth a shot.

Serving type: bottle

12-10-2010 23:30:45 | More by jrallen34
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,965 ratings.