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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

2,001 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,001
Reviews: 530
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 172
Gots: 212 | 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: 2,001 | Reviews: 530 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of djeucalyptus


4.2/5  rDev +4.5%

pours a beautiful rich dark carob hue with cocoa powder brown tinges at the edge. A touch of sediment and a bit of haze. A dark chocolate milky head of a finger fades and leaves behind meager lacing. Better lacing and this one might be a 5.

Aroma is pungently bittersweet cocoa, roasted coffee, burnt coffee, and a bit of rough malt. toffee and caramel increase as it warms.

Taste is surprisingly similar to the aroma. Roasted malt base accentuated by powerful chocolate, cocoa nibs and roasted coffee beans. Reminds me of chewing on dark chocolate covered coffee beans. A bit one-dimensional, but I'm loving the flavor profile of that dimension. As it warms, a bit more of the hops show through. Definitely digging this one.

Mouth is solid. perfect level of carbonation and the richness from the oatmeal makes it creamy without being too much. a good bit of lingering bitterness that I'm not generally used to in the oatmeal stout realm, but it's certainly not off-putting.

All in all, I have to say I'm impressed. I'm not a big fan of FW brews in general, but this one certainly makes me reconsider my opinion. Definitely highly drinkable, a great session brew with plenty of flavor and a touch of heat. Definitely worth trying. I'm right on the edge of 4/4.5 with taste, and mouth, but something's just not quite perfect. that being said, this is probably going to end up being one of my primary six-pack purchases this season.

11-24-2010 02:50:18 | More by djeucalyptus
Photo of 100floods


4.28/5  rDev +6.5%

Pours dark, black you could say. No head. Amazing crushed coffee bean/toffee aroma. It reminds of almost of a chocolate covered coffee bean, which is probably one of my favorite aromas. Extremely smooth texture. There's a touch of carbonation and a very smooth finish. The sweetness from the sugars seems to result in a smooth texture, one of the reasons I love this beer. Very nice caramel malt notes. There are notes of roasted malts, but they are very subtle. The roasted malts kind seem to be in a battle with the carbonation. Every sip I take I can taste it, but the bubbles cut through at times, you get just enough to know it's there. The carbonation makes this beer feel thinner than it really is. The funny thing is, there's not that much. This is a very gentle beer; however, I would have liked some more of the aromatics to come through in the taste, it's too much of a tease. This schools Anderson Valley's Oatmeal Stout anyway.

11-22-2010 22:51:03 | More by 100floods
Photo of NegativeSpin


4.22/5  rDev +5%

Being a fan of Oatmeal Stout, I came across this at BevMo and had to try it. I saw someone else say that they got a 6-Pack for $9.99, but I found it for $7.99... lucky me.

Perhaps it depends on the temperature, as another person claimed that pouring into a glass produced a generous (3.5 fingers) head, but I got very little out of this (bought off the shelf and chilled in the fridge for about 5 minutes only - I like to have my Stouts warmer).

Has a chocolaty smell to it... also, a hint of burnt coffee that I didn't really notice until I approached the bottom of the glass... hmm.

I hate to compare this to Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, but feel that Smith's is the one for others to attempt to measure up to... that being said, I was pleased to find that Firestone has produced one that is quite a bit different from Smith's, yet nearly as good. The major difference here definitely being drinkability. This beer is surprisingly light by comparison, and has a bit more of a potent taste that catches you off guard.

Do I like the heavier, smoother, sweeter taste of Sammy Smith's over Firestone's Oatmeal Stout? Perhaps, yes.

Will I be buying another 6-Pack of the Firestone version again anyway? Most definitely.

/Me opens a second one

11-22-2010 22:21:02 | More by NegativeSpin
Photo of Foxtrot


4.4/5  rDev +9.5%

So glad this is available in sixers! Got a six pack from BevMo for 9.99.

Pours a pretty nice jet black body with russet brown hues around the edges when held to the light. Head was light tan with slowly receding bubbles with some modest lacing. Just a little foam left around the edges throughout the entire session.

Nose presents a beautiful array of roasted malts, along with undertones of brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and just the slightest hint of oak. Perhaps this is due to the addition of the oats. This nose puts some IRS's to shame, and especially that since this brew has a modest ABV. Shaping up pretty good so far.

The initial taste begins with bitter chocolate and roast, and slowly moves to coffee and a nice hint of astringency mid palate the just really opens up this beer and then finishes with a creamy milkshake chocolate. It was nice to get some astringency in this brew, it opens up big and then even bigger mid palate making it a incredible tasting Oatmeal Stout. This Oatmeal Stout easily puts alot of stouts to shame. This a Porter Lovers Oatmeal Stout.

Mouthfeel is creamy and milkshake like. Edging on full, but just light enough to enjoy a few pours.

Drinkability is the apex of this beer. Great tasting with great complexity, and not to mention the big flavors for being a 5.5 ABV beer. That is just incredible.

11-22-2010 03:59:48 | More by Foxtrot
Photo of gford217


3.83/5  rDev -4.7%

12oz bottle from rhertan poured into a tulip.

Pours deep, deep brown out of the bottle, sitting almost black in the glass. The head is small and tan, leaving streaks of lacing.

Aroma is mainly toasted chocolate malt and oatmeal. There are hints of coffee and cocoa powder as well.

Taste is more of the same and predominantly chocolate with bitter espresso and lactose with a healthy dose of oatmeal in finish.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and feels a tad thin, though it is a low ABV stout.

This is a very drinkable if not very complex stout.

11-22-2010 02:29:17 | More by gford217
Photo of benclimbs


3.75/5  rDev -6.7%

pours black but with practically no head and not much lacing - looks tasty.

smell is nice, coffee, woody vanilla and roasty malts - good porter/stout smell.

taste is solid - basic but good, hints of chocolate, some bitter espresso subtleties and thats about it...finishes clean and smooth.

mouthfeel is very smooth, and thick but refreshing and light-bodied.

good beer - basic, but good...

11-22-2010 00:23:22 | More by benclimbs
Photo of axeman9182

New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +4.5%

12oz bottle, pouring it into my Duvel tulip was made possible by the awesome BA rmjavanut.

The beer pours total black, with a creamy three and a half finger tan crown. The head sticks around for a while, but doesn't leave much lacing behind. Nose is straightforward, but good. Heavy on cocoa, with a solid dose of vanilla present as well. The flavor kicks things up a bit. Chocolate still dominates, along with vanilla as the main supporting player, but now a bit of heavily roasted astringency creeps in. It's a nice substitute for a hop bite, and makes way for a slight oaky finish. Mouthfeel is great, but what I've come to expect from an oatmeal stout. Body is impressively rich, especially for a 5.5% beer, and ultra smooth thanks to the oats. Carbonation is picture perfect understated, it gets the job done but doesn't get in the way of all the malty flavors. Velvet Merlin is the second beer I've ever had from Firestone Walker, and it's almost as impressive as their Union Jack IPA. A very nice winter seasonal.

11-21-2010 03:18:09 | More by axeman9182
Photo of bohemiandonut


3.33/5  rDev -17.2%

Pours a little thin but dark, with tan bubbly head.
Smells more like a porter to me than a stout. Lots of sweet roasty coffee, vanilla, and some dark fruit.
Tastes like this as well. Pretty good at first with a great mouthfeel and tasty balanced malts. Medium-low carbonation.
Finish is a little weak with a bitter tannic dryness taking over. Glad to be able to pick up a six-pack of this, but it's not my favorite style and doesn't really improve on Mr. Smith's variety. Not bad though.

11-20-2010 03:01:28 | More by bohemiandonut
Photo of t420o


3.83/5  rDev -4.7%

Six pack from Bevmo for 7.99

A- Dark brown but not opaque. Tan head that is only about one finger with an aggressive pour. Head dissapate quickly and leaves little lacing.

S- Smoked oats, chocolate, coffee

T- At first it is very light and a but acidic. After only a could sips that quickly fades away into a pretty good oatmeal stout, yet not the best I've had by a long shot. Smoked oats, coffee, chocolate, and some creay goodness in there.

M- At first kind of thin, but begins to feel creamier (sp?) as I keep sipping. Maybe a little too much carbonation until it settles a little

D- I'd say excellent drinability. The creamy taste and feeling is like a Guinness but with different flavors going on. I easily killed the six pack I had.

I wouldn't seek it out but if it is on tap or around the same price I got it for (7.99) I'd give it a try. Its a good beer but I'd expect a little more from FW.

11-19-2010 06:27:20 | More by t420o
Photo of blackc5


3.6/5  rDev -10.4%

Somewhat surprised by the high reviews on this - I guess Firestone Walker's reputation supercedes sometimes, or perhaps I had a bottle from an off batch. Found this to be a pretty straightforward, adequate outmeal stout, but fairly disappointing as I generally enjoy FW's offerings. Both in taste and mouthfeel this came out watery for my taste, with little complexity or creaminess. A miss for FW.

11-18-2010 07:42:49 | More by blackc5
Photo of BearsOnAcid


3.65/5  rDev -9.2%

Clear brown, small khaki head.
Nose has chocolate, coffee and some acidic roasted malt.
Very bitter roasted malts on the tongue but doesn't linger. I get a little bit of that acidic dark malt taste. Something I sometimes find in a schwarzbier. Easy to drink. Clean light bitter finish. Seems a little thin for an oatmeal stout though.

11-17-2010 18:54:23 | More by BearsOnAcid
Photo of trevorjn06


4.13/5  rDev +2.7%

Pours a dark brown and is almost black when held up to the light. No head really, just a thin layer of tan foam.

Aroma is roasty and toasty with chocolate, espresso, some fruits (plums and cherries) and light caramel.

Taste fairly smooth with caramels, rich chocolate and some coffee. There is a smooth, nutty oat flavor through the middle of this stout, it makes it very drinkable an delicious. The finish is sweet caramels, chocolate and roasted flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth feel to it and medium/low carbonation.

Overall a very smooth and drinkable stout with nice chocolate and malt flavors, I would drink this again.

11-15-2010 02:42:59 | More by trevorjn06
Photo of Phelps


3.58/5  rDev -10.9%

Hand-pumped from the cask at Papago during a recent Firestone Walker promo. Served in an imperial pint.

A: pours the pervasive brown of dark chocolate with faint highlights of sunset orange visible at the edges. A foamy two-finger head the consistency of soap bubbles and the color of ground ginger sits atop, receding slowly but stopping the departure at about the one-finger mark. No lacing.

S: very chocolatey. Lots of cocoa powder and toasted crackers. Some coffee emerges as it warms. It's one-dimensional, but decent.

T: strangely, this seems way more coffee-forward than from the bottle. Flavors of cocoa powder and slightly acidic dark chocolate are also present.

M: medium-bodied with a lovely smoothness. Nearly flat, but that's to be expected. Not as full as from the bottle.

D: the brew goes down easily enough, but there's just none of the complexity or fullness I get from the bottle. Cask isn't a format that does Velvet Merkin any favors.

11-14-2010 23:21:55 | More by Phelps
Photo of djmichaelk


3.68/5  rDev -8.5%

12oz bottle into a perfect pint.

A - Pours a coffee color, with amber highlights in the light. Couple of fingers of light brown head that looks coarse at first, but settles into a finer-looking pillow of foam that sticks around for a long time. Bits of lacing, but it doesn't hang around.

S - Chocolate and cocoa, coffee, and roast. Nice but not extraordinary.

T - More of the same. The roast is certainly more forward in the finish. Sweeter than I would think; more milk chocolate than dark. More coffee in the front when it warms. Pretty good.

M - Chilled, creamy but thin. But the carbonation is very fine, so as it warms it starts to make me think of a nitro-stout, although I know this isn't. The creaminess helps to offset the initial thinness. Nearer to room temperature, it's definitely much better.

D - The sweetness kind of gets to me after a while, but the flavors are nice otherwise and the improved feel helps a lot. I could go for another.

O - Doesn't quite live up to the hype, but a good beer nonetheless. Worth getting a 6-pack and having once in a while.

11-14-2010 09:50:28 | More by djmichaelk
Photo of misinformed


4.22/5  rDev +5%

12 oz. bottle, reviewed 11/11/10. Pint glass.

A- The beer itself is an opaque black with maroon and brown highlights. Poured with around 1/2" of head that dissipated to a ring around the edge.

S- Roasted coffee, milk chocolate, dark roasted malts. Smells great, but could be stronger.

T- Roasted malt, dark coffee, mellow milk chocolate. I detected oatmeal a couple of times, but not much grain flavor. Slightly sweet.

M- Medium bodied and very smooth. Some prickly carbonation at first. Mild dry finish that coats the mouth. Body-wise, it finishes lighter than it feels.

D- High drinkability. The flavor is a bit mellow, but that works to its advantage with the smooth body. I really enjoyed the coffee flavors sweetened slightly by the milk chocolate. Very easy to drink a couple of these at a time.

11-13-2010 09:23:02 | More by misinformed
Photo of gregshead


3.63/5  rDev -9.7%

A: Black with brown hues when you hold it to the light.

S: Roasted grain and something else I can't pick out. Good on the nose.

T: Taste is pretty predictable stout I can't find anything particularly specific about this one. Well made in every way.

M: Smooth feel, not much carbonation.

D: Good but not phenomenal. Will have again in six pack.

11-12-2010 06:13:32 | More by gregshead
Photo of grittybrews


4.47/5  rDev +11.2%

Poured a deep brown-black into a tulip with two fingers of light khaki head (excellent retention). Strong and balanced roasty aroma of cocoa, coffee, toast, and vanilla.

Moderate carbonation and a full, ultra-creamy mouthfeel. Milk chocolate up front followed by toasted biscuit. Slightly bitter espresso on the finish with more hints of cocoa.

Excellent aroma, full-flavored and very smooth. None of the individual flavors bowled me over, but this is one balanced, easy-drinking stout!

11-12-2010 05:34:02 | More by grittybrews
Photo of pumptrick


4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

Poured hard into pint glass, 1 and 1/2 inch head light brown in color. Beer is dark in color not quite black. Smells of chocolate and malt. Tastes a bit the same with a little coffee lingering, towards the end a little bitterness which was unexpected yet overall a little sweet. Little bit of carbonation in there at the end for a surpise. Could be a sessionable beer easily. Not at all what I expected, not generally a oatmeal guy, but enjoy myself Firestone as a daily drink so I figured I would try. Not at all disappointed but not enough to make me want to search out every oatmeal on the planet. All in all nice work as per usual FS. Cheers

11-11-2010 00:45:12 | More by pumptrick
Photo of cswhitehorse


4.25/5  rDev +5.7%

The Velvet Merlin was warmed up a tad on the counter to come to a nice temperature. Then it was poured into the English style pint glass. The dark appearance was expected and the head was pillowish and retention was moderate.

Smell was of bitter chocolate and hints of licorice. It was a semi dry with a nice oatmeal stout bitterness. It had milk chocolate light grain on the dark side and a smooth finish. It was a very solid effort and would buy more of this if it was available up here.

11-10-2010 04:55:25 | More by cswhitehorse
Photo of Arbitrator


4.8/5  rDev +19.4%

Chilled bottle into a glass. I've had this before on tap, but I'm curious to see how the bottle holds up. Turns out, quite well.

A: Pours a dark brown body with ruby translucence at the edges. It is capped with a light beige head. No sticky lace, but there is a nice wash of foam that accompanies each sip from my snifter.

S: Medium-roast coffee, milk chocolate (with an associated lactic touch to it), vanilla, grain (specifically, toasted multi-grain bread). This smells like a nice breakfast. I'm impressed that they got so much depth out of the ingredients. It isn't in the same league as FBS, but it show remarkable complexity for something that [presumably] wasn't brewed with adjuncts.

T: The taste doesn't disappoint. Absolutely top-notch for an oatmeal stout, with rich washes of milk chocolate, toast, grain, vanilla, and medium- (or even light) roast coffee. As noted in the nose, there's a light lactic presence, and if I'm sipping carefully, it's suggestive of anise. There's no bitterness to be found, but it's not sweet, either. Well attenuated and approaching dry, this beer has a phenomenal balance.

M: Creamy, with lush, low carbonation as befits the style. I don't think you can really screw up an oatmeal stout's mouthfeel, so I'm not sure how to grade this here. It's not watery, it's flavorful for such a low ABV, and it has a bountiful flavor delivery up front with a relatively clean finish (just some lingering roast).

D: Really, really good stuff. Oatmeal stouts aren't a hyped category, but if you're looking for the best of the style, this should be in the conversation.

11-09-2010 07:03:53 | More by Arbitrator
Photo of billshmeinke


4.5/5  rDev +11.9%

12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint.

Dark brown almost black body. Light beige one finger head that dies down to a layer of foam on top leaving nice lacing behind.

Smells of roast, oak, and a slight hint of char. A touch of brown sugar too.

Taste follows smell. Roasty malt, oak, vanilla, rolled oats and brown sugar. Not very sweet though.

The mouthfeel is quite rich and full bodied. Luscious in fact. A nice balance between slight sweetness and dryness with a slightly roasty/bitter finish.

A really session-able and awesome beer for the alcohol content. It tastes like a much bigger beer than it really is. Not in terms of tasting alcoholic, but in terms of being full of flavor.

11-09-2010 05:38:08 | More by billshmeinke
Photo of dwilson01


4.28/5  rDev +6.5%

poured from a 12oz into my new belgium tulip, creamy brown mocha head tops the brew, solid retention and lacing, even dissipation. Dark brown to black color of the body, I would say this looks like an oatmeal stout should look like to the T.

The scent is dominated by the malt as it should be, I actually get a small amount of oatmeal in there but this is definitely topped by a roasted malt coffee smell. Very sweet on the nose as well, a fluffier creamy type of smell wafts from the top.

The flavor is awesome, I really like the complexity they get in here. Dark roasted malts impart a freshly brewed coffee taste which is sweetened right in balance with a sugary impartation of creamy chocolate.

Bottom like this oatmeal stout is right on the money, dark to the eyes, roasted coffee, chocolate, smooth creamy mouthfeel, and the drinkability of the best of em.

11-05-2010 04:55:42 | More by dwilson01
Photo of drabmuh


4.15/5  rDev +3.2%

Another California oddity I drank on my trip. Beer was black with a tan head that leaves some lacing on the glass. Bubbles are small and carbonation is moderate to low.

Aroma is roasty and has some oatmeal notes to it. It smells really nice.

Beer tastes like coffee and oatmeal. It has a medium to full body and the sweetness of the stout coats my mouth. Drinkability suffers slightly for me due to the overall weight of the beer but its really good. I would definitely have this again.

11-02-2010 16:51:20 | More by drabmuh
Photo of JamisonM


4.47/5  rDev +11.2%

A: black body, Tan head

S: creamy oatmeal and coffee a very nice roasted note as well

T: Roasted malt and coffee very smooth finish super full beer for only 5.5 % ABV and a very nice sweetness in this beer

M: med mouth med carbonation

D: very drinkable!

Overall: one of the best stouts I have ever had a great beer man!

11-02-2010 01:10:28 | More by JamisonM
Photo of yemenmocha


4.6/5  rDev +14.4%

Enjoyed on draft in San Francisco at 21st Amendment brewpub as guest tap.

Draft version more robust flavors and nose was more assertive. Otherwise very similar to bottled version.

Pours a very dark brown to almost black color. Nose is rich with roasted malts and wet robusta coffee grounds. On the palate the roasty flavors take center stage, with a bit of sweetness that is present as well. Some gentle woody components are noted, but subtle. The roasty character carries nicely into the finish. Medium bodied and very, very drinkable. Nice session stout.

11-01-2010 04:58:01 | More by yemenmocha
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,001 ratings.