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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,968 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,968
Reviews: 527
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 173
Gots: 209 | 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: 1,968 | Reviews: 527 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ManuelHerrera


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

Ahhh Velvet Merlin, your name is as silky as your flavor.

After a somewhat disappointing summer seasonal from the Central Cali based brewery, I'm pleased that they've bounced back with this winter addition to their canon. And the company that has a "passion for the pale" clearly knows how to do stouts as well!

The beer pours dark with a modest head. I didn't pick up too much of an aroma on this occasion except for the light coffee aroma. The beer fills the palate with a chocolate and espresso laced malty flavor. The beer is lightly carbonated to offset the heavy nature of the stout.

Overall it's a pleasant oatmeal stout, great for these rainy California winters.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2010 00:58:22 | More by ManuelHerrera
Photo of beertunes


3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in Imperial pint. The beer poured black, with a thin tan head that had OK retention and lace.

The aroma was nicely roast malts and very well blended. The flavors were very similar, full, well-rounded malt and grain. The body was full, smooth and well-rounded. Drinkability was very good, I could easily have several of these.

Overall, a very good beer that borders on excellent. Worth seeking out.

Serving type: on-tap

10-20-2010 19:46:46 | More by beertunes
Photo of Dlish


4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-nothing amazing little bit of head, but dies quickly i guess normal for a stout

S- Prob the biggest let down of this beer, is it smell or lack of it. I get a bit of coffee and dark malts, maybe a hint of oak.

T- Now this is really good. Very up front cream, a very smooth malt profile. Coffee and bit of chocolates. Also get like a whole grain oat flavor. probably from the oatmeal

M- Great the creaminess works well with carbonation.

D- This is great, I love the low alcohol percent and the great flavors. I will be buying this 6 pack a lot this winter.

Serving type: bottle

10-20-2010 03:32:23 | More by Dlish
Photo of domtronzero


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

A - Clear dark brown with ruby highlights at the edges. Big, average lasting mocha head. Little lacing.

S - Light dark sweet malts, little roast. Caramel. Light earthy hops.

F/M - Rich velvety smooth dark malts. Bready, toffee, caramel, little roast. Earthy/spicy hops with medium high bitterness. Clean, dry finish. Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D - Good. Clean, dry, full flavored and quite easy drinking.

Serving type: bottle

10-19-2010 05:19:27 | More by domtronzero
Photo of jpmclaug

South Carolina

3.7/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Received this want in an extremely generous BIF box from domtronzero. Thank you!

A - Black body with a small off white head on top. A little brown on the edges when held up to the light but not much. Head is real small.

S - Light roast notes mixed with the smooth oatmeal smell typical of the style. Not especially pungent, a pretty standard aroma for the style.

T - Light roasted notes mingle with notes of dark chocolate and coffee. Real smooth flavor. Not too strong of a beer.

M - Goes down real easy. Smooth body typical of the style.

D - Pretty drinkable. This is a good beer and nails the style perfectly. That being said I prefer most other styles of stout over this one. I'm really glad I got to try this one though. I wouldn't mind drinking this again but I'm not gonna seek it out.

Serving type: bottle

10-17-2010 02:46:00 | More by jpmclaug
Photo of ocelot2500


4.1/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown almost black color with garnet highlights. Tight light brown head that leaves enough lacing.

Smells of deep roasted notes. Mostly a coffee smell with some brown sugar.

Tastes of the strong roasted malts. Coffee and semi-sweet chocolate come through. Brown sugar and caramel as well. Roasted bitterness adds on at the end. Oats are evident and add the typical smoothness.

Mouthfeel is medium-full with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2010 01:43:32 | More by ocelot2500
Photo of DovaliHops


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

Pours a VERY dark brown with a thick creamy off-white/tan head. Scent is very roasty with hints of coffee and oats. Very pleasant scent. Taste is just as it smells. This beer has so much flavor for a regular oatmeal stout. I've had imperial oatmeal stouts that didn't taste this good. The coffee, roasted oats, and light hoppiness blend together so well. Very balanced. Mouthfeel is creamy and "velvety." Again, was expecting this to be a bit on the watery side due to not being imperial and having this somewhat low ABV, but I was wrong. Even some reviewers before me said this was a bit on the watery side, but I beg to differ. Drinkability is HIGH! I'm very glad they bottled this delicious oatmeal stout!

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2010 06:25:44 | More by DovaliHops
Photo of EgadBananas


3.95/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown, almost black. Coffee-esque half finger of head. Dissipates to a bubbly ring around the glass.

Aroma is great. Oats first come to mind if you can imagine that. There is a strong coffee aroma, with a bit of backing chocolate and roasted malts.

Lot's of bitter coffee hits you upfront. Theres a hint of bitter chocolate too. Oatmeal is definitely there, lending a little breadiness. Roasted malts wrap this thing up. There's lots going on, some better than others, but as a whole the taste is pretty nice!

Body is light-medium, but light as a whole a tad thin and has this sort of cloying dryness about it....

Feel aside, this looks, smells and tastes great. I wouldn't let the dry aspect keep me from seeking this out again.

Serving type: bottle

10-15-2010 00:46:17 | More by EgadBananas
Photo of GRG1313


3.03/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black; very nice thick, firm long lasting tan head. Lovely. One of the nicest looking stouts I've seen.

Nose is medium assertive simple sweet black chocolate. Nothing complex but a nice chocolate nose. Mouthfeel is medium creamy and pleasant. Tasted at room temperature which highlights characteristics in my opinion.

Mouthfeel at room temp is a nice half and half quality, creamy pleasant.

Flavors are simple, short and uneventful. Simple light roasted grain. A watery chocolate flavor - simple. "Velvety" smooth-a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that the smoothness would be attractive if it didn't have the curse of weak waterly flavors. Simple roasted grain; simple black chocolate. Light carbonation once you give it a swirl or two. Without the 2 or 3 swirls it had better carbonation and a better mouthfeel.

There is a very light elegant roasted character to this - nothing special whatsoever in my opinion. No need for me to try again.

Serving type: bottle

10-09-2010 02:25:21 | More by GRG1313
Photo of Xul


4.58/5  rDev +13.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2010 03:41:56 | More by Xul
Photo of vkv822


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

12oz bottle into tulip.

The beer pours black with deep brown highlights and a light toffee colored head that dissipates fairly quickly. There is some rising carbonation visible.

The aroma is of wonderful roasty coffee notes with very pleasant hints of sweet malts and cocoa.

The flavor is an incredibly smooth blend of roasted coffee malts upfront. There are very faint notes of vanilla and cocoa, with just a hint of bitterness to the finish.

The mouthfeel is quite smooth and creamy, with a medium body, though I would have liked a bit less carbonation.

This is a very drinkable beer, and I definitely plan on picking up some more of this while I can.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2010 03:24:24 | More by vkv822
Photo of hopsbreath


4.7/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Looks like I'm the first to review this from the bottle. Bottled 9/20/2010.

Poured into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with deep plum edging. A few fingers of cappuccino head recedes to a spotty cap with a wispy ring on the edges. No lacing evident.

There's some deep roasted coffee on the nose. Some sweet malts, vanilla, soy sauce, and a little prune make this smell oh so good!

Tons of coffee, bakers cocoa, and roasty goodness are the most prolific flavors on the palate. No harsh bitterness or acrid flavors rear their ugly heads. The sharp edges have been knocked off this and it is wonderfully round. I love this stuff!

Oatmeal stouts have wonderful mouthfeel when done right and this bad boy is no exception! Creamy and smooth, I really like this more and more with each passing bottle. For the record I went through 4 of these with ease.

All too easily, Velvet Merlin disappears faster than free corn bread at a hoe down! Highly recommended regardless, of the name, get some now!

Serving type: bottle

09-28-2010 03:00:48 | More by hopsbreath
Photo of weazal


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

On tap at Blue Palms Firestone event

SMELL: Good, strong aroma of dark coffee with some bitter dark chocolate towards the end.

TASTE: Instantly complex and delicious. A little sharp and bitter upfront which carried through at near full force all the way to the end.

Serving type: on-tap

06-29-2010 01:39:30 | More by weazal
Photo of washburnkid

New York

4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Davis Graduate. Reviewed from notes.

A: One finger of froth of tan head dissipates within a minute or so. The body is dark with rich brown edges in the light. Not much retention or lacing.
S: Aromas are lightly roasted coffee bean and sweet chocolate.
T: Flavors are light on the acidity (almost non-existent, really), and heavy on the sweet malt profile. Coffee and chocolate dominating, with very little bitterness to speak of.
M/D: Body is a little light on the palate but there's nice carbonation. Smooth as velvet but still a tad thin. Flavors are toned down...I wished so badly to just taste "more". But this beer was still enjoyable!

Serving type: on-tap

04-26-2010 02:29:50 | More by washburnkid
Photo of flexabull


4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Happy to see this at the Alehouse in Redding.

Pours a dark brown color with a faint off white head.

Aromas are of roasted malts, some cocoa, and vanilla.

Taste is clean and smooth. Some chocolate, light coffee, and a creamy sweetness. Finish has a slight pine hop bitter note.

Mouthfeel is great. Very smooth.

Drinkability is this beers strong suit. A tasty oatmeal stout that goes down easy and is not to heavy.

Serving type: on-tap

04-25-2010 15:59:33 | More by flexabull
Photo of pants678


3.05/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The Merkin is thick and it is opaque. Like so black it's blue black. There's a thin bubbly head that doesn't last long.

Looks similar to LA's Ten Commandments so I expected figs, something dark and sweet, but I got your usuals: roasted coffee and dark chocolate.

There is a serious hop finish on the end of the chocolate and vanilla body. Not quite chocolate though, I think it's closer to cocoa. That finish, though, gives a taste of syrup sweetness underneath if you can swish it around and get at it.

The name suggests how smooth it is. I guess you can't ask for more carbonation when Velvet's the trademark.

Serving type: on-tap

04-18-2010 07:56:45 | More by pants678
Photo of jminsc76


3.78/5  rDev -6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Haven's Gastropub in Orange.

Pours a decent head that dissipates quickly, with what is left sitting atop an impenetrable black body.

Aromas include plenty of roasty breadiness, with slight whiffs of either molasses, coffee, and cocoa in the nose. A wonderful bouquet.

The flavor profile exhibits some bite, with espresso bitterness and mild carob washing across the palate. It's decent, though it lacks a certain level of the oomph! I have tasted in other quality oatmeal stouts such as Barney Flats.

The mouthfeel is velvety indeed, very full upon swishing, and does not disappoint.

Overall, my initial impression is the aromas and mouthfeel are the saving grace of this beer; however, I have had it at other locations since Haven's and the flavors are better than what I initially experienced. It's a very good oatmeal stout - exhibiting an excellent balance - but still needs a little more to make it a classic. As of now, it's a good session brew, for me.

Serving type: on-tap

04-14-2010 05:07:44 | More by jminsc76
Photo of barleywinefiend


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

On tap at FW Taproom

Poured a deep brown almost black and it had a small white head. Nose had some hints of toffee, oatmeal and cocoa. Went down smooth and the ABV was around 5. Taste was smooth with not as much taste up front but through the middle and mouthfeel is where this beer is strongest i thought. Lots of smoothness, oats, cocoa, maybe a light coffee feel and creamy, roasted malts. Very smooth and highly drinkable. Best Oatmeal Stout I have had next to BORIS.

Serving type: on-tap

02-22-2010 04:04:58 | More by barleywinefiend
Photo of nickd717


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

On tap at Rose & Crown in Palo Alto.

Pours about as black as can be with a well-retained average-sized tan head.

Aroma is nice and pretty much as expected for an oatmeal stout, with coffee, chocolate, and roast. Ever so slightly metallic.

Flavor is really great and gets better as the beer warms (was served too cold originally). Coffee, chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, oatmeal. No booze at all. Was this -bal aged? I thought I heard it was, but it doesn't taste like it.

Fairly full and really smooth on the palate, like "velvet" even, as the name would imply.

Good drinkability, and a great beer overall.

Serving type: on-tap

02-20-2010 22:26:35 | More by nickd717
Photo of Overlord


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

Been looking forward to trying this for quite some time.

Pours black with dark brown edging and a two inch tan head. Smells like bitter roastiness, some oatmeal, but it's a fairly muted nose.

Taste is much more robust. A tad bit of vanilla, a bit of chocolate, but mostly a big bitter (hopped??) roasty coffee-ish oatmeal. MMMM... Reminded me a bit of Cadillac Mountain Stout for some reason. The oatmeal is nicely integrated and isn't overpowering.

A bit thin of a mouthfeel.

Good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

01-28-2010 09:34:06 | More by Overlord
Photo of BretSikkink


3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Darkest brown color with few bar-lit highlights. Served in a dimpled mug with a good inch of frothy cafe au lait-colored head. Good stick and legs on this one.

The nose is a little disappointing, as the roasted malt bill doesn't bring the heat. Some chocolate and coffee notes, hints of ripe dark fruit, but nothing that draws you in. The flavor is similarly under-done, with a slightly watery mouthfeel. There's not quite enough carbonation to take off the acrid taste, and the flavors are too evenly balanced to be terribly interesting.

I'm not a hater of even-handed beers, but I thought this was very run of the mill for stouts, and I tend to expect a little better from F.W. The brewers can take that as a compliment to their other beers.

Serving type: on-tap

01-21-2010 04:29:08 | More by BretSikkink
Photo of froghop


3.85/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

oatmeal stout on tap at coronado brewing company.

pours black with a small khaki head, and very good lacing.

smell of cocoa, coffee, and a touch of roasted malt.

taste is of dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, some coffee, and malt in the back, ends dry and somewhat bitter.

Serving type: on-tap

01-10-2010 00:40:37 | More by froghop
Photo of HalfFull


3.9/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a tulip glass. Pours nearly black in color, with just a hint of ruby highlights. Half an inch of tan head offers decent retention and yields some random lacing. Mid glass a surface film can be regenerated without much effort.

Nose of baker's chocolate and a hint of coffee through the foam. Slightly darker chocolate and roasted malts between swirls, thin at times.

Taste carries forward the roasted malts, a bit of chocolate and a nice oat flavor and body. Smooth feel with a nice texture. Easy drinking for the ABV which is mostly disguised in the structure of the beer. Carbonation is somewhat light yet quite appropriate for the beverage. Worth a try.

Serving type: on-tap

01-09-2010 07:45:21 | More by HalfFull
Photo of mjl21


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

On tap at the Blue Palms in LA. Poured into a tulip glass. No abv info is given.

A-Based on the lighting, it pours black with a one and three quarter finger sandy head that has some nice staying power. The residual head results in some nice swaths of lace.

S-Lot of dark roast malt aroma. It reminded me of a mocha that didn't have a whole lot of chocolate pumped into the glass.

T-Roast malt followed by a touch of sweetness. There is definite coffee flavor and the oats used are noticeable. It has a roasted aftertaste and leaves a little pinch of vanilla and marshmallow at the end.

M-Creamy and velvety smooth.

D-The abv is extremely well hidden. Seemed to sip this faster than most stouts.

This is always a great brew from FW. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a well crafted oatmeal stout.

Serving type: on-tap

01-03-2010 23:19:51 | More by mjl21
Photo of ETF5000


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

On tap from O'Briens Pub in San Diego.

A- Poured a dark brown, opaque looking with about a fingers head. The head quickly disappears leaving only the dark brown beer.

S- dark roasted malt comes up front with a vengeance. Somewhere in the mix comes the mealy oats, not too upfront , but nicely nestled within classic beer smells. A hint of his rounds out the nose. Nice

T- caramel malt, as with the nose comes up front. Further back comes the smoothness if the oats. Unfortunately, for an oatmeal stout, it left me wanting a bit more on the oat side. Hops round out the finish. Nothing too bitter, but they complete the trio

M- not too carbonated, but certainly not flat. No complaints here.

D- an easy drinker, I would get this beet again yo introduce people to the style, but it's really nothing too complex.

Serving type: on-tap

01-02-2010 23:45:48 | More by ETF5000
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,968 ratings.