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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

2,044 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,044
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 174
Gots: 220 | 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
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Ratings: 2,044 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of pwoods
4.5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to westcoastbeer for the nice extra.

12oz. stubby brown bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours pitch black, no light. Moderate light tan head on the pour with pretty good retention and decent lacing.

S: A healthy oat aroma with light coffee notes and a distinct mocha/latte aroma. Coffee is dry but not over done. Light chocolate. Some caramel and toffee notes as well. Complex and pleasing.

T/M: Flavor mimics the aroma nicely but with less of the mocha/latte, which is a bit disappointing but everything is still very nice. The oats stand out a bit more and play well with the light chocolate, caramel, and toffee notes. The coffee is still dry but even more rounded and smooth. Body is medium or so, not too heavy, and the carbonation is nice and smooth.

D: Very very drinkable. I could definitely session these all night.

pwoods, Jan 05, 2011
Photo of FosterJM
4.22/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

159th review on BA
Bottle to pint
12 oz bottle

After having a FW 14th Anny. I read all the beers they mixed in so I have been trying to get my hands on most of them. This was a 2 dollar single at Total Wine

App- Very nice looking dark stout without the traditional beer head was what I expected from the style.

Smell- Very light notes of coffee, cocoa nibs and roasty malts.

Taste- Much better taste than smell. It's a very nice oatmeal stout. Has the roasty taste you want but also mixes in some cocoa flavor and a little coffee bitter.

Mouth- Medium bodied with a low carb feel to give it that velvety richness.

Drink- For a 5.5 ABV this is a fine beer. It's as smooth as they come without a burn. Could have a ton of these on a cold night.

FosterJM, Jan 04, 2011
Photo of felipe2toes
3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a creamy thin head. Head recedes into some decent edging and crust.

Not much on the nose. Smells of raisins, chocolate, and roasted malt.

Tastes much better than it smells. Roasted coffee and oats, some caramel and molasses too.

Drinks really smooth and easy, lives up to its "velvet" name. Nice carbonation as well. Really approachable and drinkable as well.

felipe2toes, Jan 02, 2011
Photo of seeswo
4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark with a good sized head. Looks yummy.

Not too much going on in the nose. Smells roasty and appropriately like an oatmeal stout, with an excess of modesty.

The taste is superior to the nose, with big roast and creamy stout flavor. Really tasty beer that is one of the better oatmeal stouts I have had.

Medium body, good carbonation. Appropriate for the ABV (I have to remind myself not to compare this area to imperial stouts).

This beer is very drinkable. There is none of the residual bitterness or dryness from the hops/dark cocoa flavors that sometimes appear in stouts that makes a beer less drinkable to me. I could put down several of these without getting sick of it.

seeswo, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of wajacobs
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.

wajacobs, Dec 31, 2010
Photo of kflorence
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.

kflorence, Dec 30, 2010
Photo of koopa
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.

koopa, Dec 30, 2010
Photo of beagle75
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.

beagle75, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of nkersten
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.

nkersten, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of brewerburgundy
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.

brewerburgundy, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of abaer123
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.

abaer123, Dec 29, 2010
Photo of fsimcox
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.

fsimcox, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of Goldfish19
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. ~

Goldfish19, Dec 25, 2010
Photo of BeerManDan
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.

BeerManDan, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of Bfarr
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?

Bfarr, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of BarrytheBear
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.

BarrytheBear, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of Murchmac
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.

Murchmac, Dec 22, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
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!

TMoney2591, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of Vdubb86
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.

Vdubb86, Dec 21, 2010
Photo of arizcards
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!

arizcards, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of Metalmonk
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.

Metalmonk, Dec 19, 2010
Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
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.

AWolfAtTheDoor, Dec 18, 2010
Photo of jmperez
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.

jmperez, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of Ynot2
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.

Ynot2, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of weizenbob
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.

weizenbob, Dec 16, 2010
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,044 ratings.