1. Extreme Beer Fest tickets go on sale Sat, Sep 27 @ Noon EDT.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. 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

2,048 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,048
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 175
Gots: 222 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Original name was "Velvet Merkin", but name was changed when it began to be bottled in 2010.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufa ... tube_gdata 

(Beer added by: largadeer on 11-13-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,048 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Bennettrox
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.

Bennettrox, May 17, 2011
Photo of nickshep7
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.

nickshep7, May 15, 2011
Photo of badboyrsl84
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.

badboyrsl84, May 12, 2011
Photo of olmatty
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?

olmatty, May 05, 2011
Photo of HopHead84
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.

HopHead84, May 05, 2011
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
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.

Beerandraiderfan, May 04, 2011
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
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!

ThreeWiseMen, May 04, 2011
Photo of HotHands
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - pours jet black with a nice tan head.

S - chocolate and burned, roasty malt.

T - A fairy dry interpretation of the style. Malty and roasty up front with a nice bitterness that lingers quite a while. Finish is long and coffee-like. I like that the hops here are well-integrated. Sometimes in stouts they just get in the way but this feels like a fluid transition from malt to hop.

M - good carbonation and a bit of a silky feel from the oatmeal.

Overall - a very nice interpretation of the style. I tend to prefer single stouts and porters over the big boys except on really special occasions so this was right up my alley.

HotHands, May 03, 2011
Photo of birchstick
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - pours a black color with huge head with a taupe head

S - smells of sweet grainy malts with a touch of burnt malt and a lot of sweet chocolate

T / M- starts off with the chocolate and grain malts that goes down silky and smoothly. Next up is a burst of grapefruit hops with a bit of burnt malts / coffee. Very rich and smooth for the style. Very good stuff.

D - pretty solid oatmeal stout. I really enjoyed this the more it warmed. Very rich for what it is. Big thanks extended to BarrytheBear for sending this extra my way!

birchstick, Apr 30, 2011
Photo of Urbancaver
4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful black with a lot of nice thick creamy head. Smells very chocolatey. A nice solid sweetness that couples with a touch of dryness. Very smooth and rich on the tongue. A wonderful light chocolatey flavor that is very solid. Overall the mouthfeel is just wonderful. A very solid brew

Urbancaver, Apr 27, 2011
Photo of PintOHops
3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glass - Tulip

A - Nice dark black color with basically no transparency. It produced a 2-finger tan head that held decently. A bit of a ring held atop my beer but no lacing was left.

S - Rich roasted coffee notes and dark chocolate. A very rich malt aroma here, I can pick up soft leafy hop notes but that's about it. As it warmed a bit I got some toffee notes in there.

T - Upfront a get a bit of tartness that reminds me of the acidity in coffee. Flavors unfold to dark chocolate and very roasty coffee notes. It finishes with a bit of leafy hop flavors but mild, and lingering dark chocolate notes. Bitterness is very very mild here.

M - Soft crispness with a bit of a creamy feel and a lite-medium body.

O - Overall I really liked this beer. It reminded me of lots of other great oatmeal stouts Ive had in the past. I think I would have liked a creamy texture but that's just a picky thought I just had. Very very drinkable and a wonderful flavor profile. I'd definitely buy this one again and I recommend this fine brew to any stout and porter lover. Cheers!

PintOHops, Apr 22, 2011
Photo of JosiahS
4/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

glass: Tulip

Black colored body. Rich 2-finger mocha colored head.

Dark chocolate, light cherry, a nuttiness and faint airy/milky aroma that may be indeed from the oatmeal. A little toffy and caramel.

A pillow of rich malt flavor. It's creamy and light yet has a sting from the carbonation. Rich dark chocolate, mocha and a touch of toffee. tart cherry through the middle. A dry floral flavor that may be from the hops and alcohol (although ABV is pretty low).

Such an easy drinking outmeal stout. I like it.

JosiahS, Apr 22, 2011
Photo of glid02
4.15/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Jeremy – thanks!

Pours one shade from black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of smooth roasted malts with good amounts of sweet oats and light chocolate aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Lightly roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by moderate amounts of light chocolate flavors. Midway through the sip the flavors sweeten a bit with slight amounts of oak and hints of toffee. The sweetness fades out near the end of the sip, carrying through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It’s got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall there wasn’t anything that stood out about this beer besides the mouthfeel but everything worked well together and this is a smooth beer. This beer reminded me of their Reserve Porter but with a heavier mouthfeel and slightly sweeter. Well worth a shot.

glid02, Apr 21, 2011
Photo of Schmittymack
3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Dan for this one. Poured a near black with minimal head. No lacing whatsoever. Picked up some coffee and chocolate on the nose. Taste was coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and a nice hop finish that wasn't too harsh. Quite quaffable; I'd do this one again.

Schmittymack, Apr 17, 2011
Photo of jera1350
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jesse (arniepnminne) for another great trade beer.

The body pours thinner, but in the glass it is solid black with a creamy tan head that leaves very little lacing on the glass.

The nose is a little light, but what it does offer up is rich malt and oats with some nice sweetness. Light roast on the nose as well.

Quite flavorful for the style. Roasty malt, coffee bean, cocoa and dark chocolate. Light oatmeal sweetness. Toasty aftertaste.

The body feels a little thin, but the carbonation is creamy and soft. A lightly sticky finish.

Overall, a nice beer for the style. One of the top ones I'd say. It's not mind blowing, but does stand out in the crowd. Drinks quite nicely as well.

jera1350, Apr 14, 2011
Photo of billab914
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured dark brown in color with a frothy, creamy, tan head to it. The head faded to a thin, bubbly layer rather quickly, and clung to the edges of the glass.

The aroma shows some darker, bitter-sweet chocolate to it along with the creamy, oatmeal flavor. A little bit of vanilla and coffee peek through as well. Very nice aroma, the oats are well represented and very nice.

The taste starts off with some of the creamy oatmeal and sweeter chocolate flavors to it. Midway it starts to get a little roastier, with a little coffee like flavor to it. I get a little more of the bitter-sweet chocolate in the finish. Very nice flavors overall.

The mouthfeel is nice and creamy, with carbonation being moderate. Overall it was a very nice beer, It had some great flavors to it and was very easy drinking. The oats came through nicely and gave it a nice creamy and smooth mouthfeel. Very nice beer overall.

The taste

billab914, Apr 08, 2011
Photo of dcook11
4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pencil thin head with minimal lacing . Coca-cola like look with medium carbonation. The beer itself is stout dark with a tinge of red around the edges. The smell is of chocolate, roasted malt, sweet malt, and vanilla. The taste is heavy on the coffee and chocolate excluding the vanilla almost completly. Mouthfeel is light bodied and drinkability is high.

dcook11, Apr 04, 2011
Photo of GallowsThief
4.08/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in trade from HeadyHops81 (much thanks!!).

Poured out of 12 oz. bottle into my tulip.

A - Pours a deep black with a nice two inch tannish brown head. Trace of lacing left behind.

S - Oatmeal, coffee, dark chocolate. mocha. Just a bit sweet.

T - Very nice roasted oats flavor. Chocolate and coffee flavor much like the smell. Well balanced flavors. Has a touch of sweetness followed by a bitterness that is very subtle.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. It's just a bit thinner then I expected.

D - High. Very high. Nice stout. Cant go wrong here if you can find this one.

GallowsThief, Apr 03, 2011
Photo of jethrodium
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

jethrodium, Apr 02, 2011
Photo of thagr81us
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to womencantsail for picking this one up and sending it to me with my Cali haul! Served from bottle into a Warsteiner mug. Poured a deep dark brown with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a half finger slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, cream, dark chocoalte, and subtle coffee. The flavor was of sweet malt, coffee, cream, roasted malt, dark chocolate, and dark fruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was excellent. This one went down very smoothly (almost like velvet) on the palate. My only complaint would be that none of the flavors or aroma were very robust, but that is just me being picky. Definitely worth trying and if you're lucky you might get it as an extra in a trade.

thagr81us, Apr 01, 2011
Photo of notchucknorris
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pretty much black with a thin light brown head that shows good retention. The head lasts pretty much the entire beer.

S: I'm getting cocoa powder, roasted malt and a little bit of cinnamon. Pretty nice.

T: Lightly roasted coffee, dark chocolate and some roasted oats. There's a hint of sweetness, but it's hidden behind a lot of coffee/dark chocolate bitterness. The mouthfeel is a little thin for me but there's a nice creaminess to this beer that lets me know I'm drinking an oatmeal stout. Pretty good example of the style.

notchucknorris, Apr 01, 2011
Photo of GarthDanielson
3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, the beer is jet black with deep brown highlights under light. A thick, foamy, light tan colored 2 inch head. This looks tasty. Aromas of coffee and chocolate are released from this beer. Flavors are rich and creamy on a smooth and creamy body, and tastes are rich of mocha and milk chocolate. The finish is quick and a bit dry, and the aftertaste is chocolaty. Very smooth and easy to drink beer, but lighter than I am used to with Oatmeal Stouts. Tasty brew!

GarthDanielson, Mar 30, 2011
Photo of xnicknj
3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into large snifter glass

Pours a decent blacked out color with a nice frothy beige head. Retains pretty well with plenty of filmy clouds and some patchy lacing on the glass.

Scents of roasted oats followed by coffee beans and some softer sweetness. A touch of dark chocolate and toffee as well.

Some hop bitterness right up front, followed by sweeter chocolate tones. Slightly bittersweet, with caramel and roasted oats. Dark malts are heavy with an almost charred edge lying underneath the softer sweet attributes. Finishes a bit dry with some lingering dark chocolate.

Fuller medium body, a bit higher carbonation, dry and tingly on the palate, chewy as well. Pretty solid flavor and the body is pretty full, especially with the lower ABV. If this was available here I'd definitely drink it again.

xnicknj, Mar 26, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Smell: Wafts of roasty coffee and chocolate

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

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

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

Thanks, mrmiles, for the opportunity

brentk56, Mar 25, 2011
Photo of capra12
4.1/5  rDev +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.

capra12, Mar 22, 2011
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,048 ratings.