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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,952 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,952
Reviews: 527
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 9.95%
Wants: 173
Gots: 205 | 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: 1,952 | Reviews: 527 | Display Reviews Only:
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
Photo of TheJollyHop


3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Blue Palms

Pours black with a light brown head.

Nose is dominated by roasted malt, cocoa, and a small amount of sweet toffee.

Taste pretty much parallels the aroma with the addition of oats. Bitterness exerts itself, but knows when to back off and only lingers briefly after the swallow. The alcohol is also well hidden.

Soft, creamy mouthfeel that is highly carbonated and mouth enveloping.

Very filling and enjoyable, however would have benefited more from a lower alcohol concentration.

Serving type: on-tap

01-01-2010 15:55:19 | More by TheJollyHop
Photo of womencantsail


3.8/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Blue Palms. I was really glad to see this one hadn't kicked yet.

A: A very nice looking black pour with a thin layer of tan foam on top.

S: A strong aroma of coffee with other scents such oatmeal, roasted malt, and chocolate joining the party.

T: The flavor is a bit disappointing. The coffee is once again the dominant sensation. The oatmeal is there, but surprisingly not a huge presence. There are also some hints of chocolate and roasted malt.

M: The beer has a nice smooth somewhat creamy mouthfeel. The body, however, isn't quite as full as I was expecting.

D: Certainly a very drinkable beer with very little alcohol presence. I was really excited to get to try this, but a bit let down by it.

Serving type: on-tap

12-31-2009 01:35:11 | More by womencantsail
Photo of augustgarage


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

On-tap at Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood. Served in a generic wide-mouth tulip.

Opaque seal brown body topped by a small desert sand head which recedes to a dense custardy collar and a thin layer of film punctuated by milkshake-like bubbles. Thin sticky lacing lines the edge of the glass.

Smells like pancakes, crackers, nutella, light grain, and mild roast malt.

The roast level and hops merge to contribute equally to a pleasant low-level bitterness. Toast and a slight fruit note mid-palate. Finishes dry with a hints of Ovaltine and Postum. Decent flavor profile, but not terribly exciting on its own.

Smooth medium-light body with prickly carbonation and faint astringency. ABV is concealed well.

Quite mild...with less alcohol this could be a "session" beer.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2009 17:42:14 | More by augustgarage
Photo of vacax


3.88/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ a few weeks ago at the Firestone 13 party. Review from notes. Poured into a goblet, very dark brown with red highlights. About one centimeter of tan head, high retention, fair lacing. Aroma is bready with oats, toasty, biscuity, fruity, and pops with some chocolate malts to it. Tastes of estery chocolate malts, robust levels of oats, biscuit and dough. Finish is roasty, bready, and cookielike. Feels thick and silky. Good oatmeal stout, better than average, but do not expect anything more than a regular oatmeal stout.

Serving type: on-tap

12-24-2009 09:00:04 | More by vacax
Photo of slayer3604


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

a-rich creamy tan head on dark brown body with cedar colored rim. retention gone to film in about 3 minutes.

S-cocoa butter, cherry, molassses and vanilla.

T-espresso, definately can taste the oat, firm chunky mouthfeel, chocolate and almond.

M-full bodied, lively, clean and ample coffee finish.

D-"Velvet" smooth, with no residual alcoholic burn, long lasting finish.

Serving type: on-tap

12-09-2009 23:21:37 | More by slayer3604
Photo of cbarrett4


3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with slight head fading rapidly to little or no lacing. Displays a great dark nose with lots of malts and roasted notes. Zesty yet rich on the palate, more dark flavors backing up the nose. In the mouth it is very effervescent and light, lacks stuffing. The finish is lingering, tart and slightly bitter but well integrated. For a stout, it is rather light but with good flavor and aromas.

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2009 08:55:44 | More by cbarrett4
Photo of ThirstyBird


3.33/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Beachwood BBQ - from notes.
Appears opaque black. Cappuccino colored head that lasts.
Smells of Espresso and toasted malt.
Taste is of toasted/ burnt malt, licorice. A little chalky.
The mouthfeel on this beer is wonderful. So smooth, mildly carbonated. Medium body.
Nice sipper - one is enough - the bitter burnt flavor is intense.

Serving type: on-tap

12-04-2009 22:32:03 | More by ThirstyBird
Photo of MisterClean


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

Had the purple pubic wig at Sac Brew.

A - Pours a dark brown, with 1.5 fingers mocha colored head. Dissipates fast and leaves no lacing.

S/T - Oats, raisin, medium roast coffee, and lots of chocolate.

M - Full bodied, malt dominated and very smooth. No taste of alcohol either.

D - Great overall, would love to have again and again.

Serving type: on-tap

02-28-2009 16:44:44 | More by MisterClean
Photo of JoeySchlitz


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

Have had this at multiple locations, most recently at the Firestone Night of the Ales, across from the Toronado. It pours a midnight black with no head - some lacing around the edges. The initial smell is of coffee and roasted malt; some chocolate undertones reveal themselves after further sniffing. Overall it is decent oatmeal stout but nothing too remarkable - and considering some of the other FW beers this one falls into the category of 'session beers' but not 'savory beers', like the anniversary and other limited releases in my opinion.

Serving type: on-tap

02-13-2009 07:32:24 | More by JoeySchlitz
Photo of MiScusi


3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Toronado in San Diego. Poured a blackish with no head at all. I could not even generate more than a little tiny bit of tan fizz after major swirling. There was absolutely no aroma on this beer at first smell. I even had friends check to make sure my nose wasn't messed up and they didn't get any smell either. After drinking about half the glass I could get a slight bit of roastiness out of it. The taste was much better though, real mellow overall. A tiny bit of chocolate but mostly a roasted barley type of coffee flavor. Had a pretty good silky mouthfeel. Despite the lame appearance and smell it was still a pretty good beer, and fairly sessionable I would say.

Serving type: on-tap

01-13-2009 01:38:10 | More by MiScusi
Photo of DoubleJ


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

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ, on to the beer:

Ummm....it's black in appearance, the beer leaves some amount of lacing on the glass. What we have here is a very sweet stout. Semi-sweet chocolate all around, rolled oats...what else? A little thinner than I was expecting, but overall, this is a good oatmeal stout.

Serving type: on-tap

01-03-2009 00:41:18 | More by DoubleJ
Photo of ccrida


3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Henry's, served in a shaker pint, Velvet Merkin is black with a small, very creamy light tan head leaving light, scattered lace.

Smell is roasted malt and oats, served cold, it's rather muted with all chocolate and toffee coming out a bit as it warms.

Taste is well balanced to the point of almost bland, just a bit of coffee and chocolate really.

Mouthfeel is the strong point here, really creamy and smooth.

Drinkability is pretty good, it goes down very easily due to rounded flavors and smoothness. On the other hand, it's rather boring and lacking depth, and I didn't feel like having another.

Serving type: on-tap

12-30-2008 22:21:20 | More by ccrida
Photo of Halcyondays


3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black, basically, with a smattering of white bubbles.

S: Strong roasted malt smell, with caramelized sugar and coffee. Nice mix of sweet with bitter roast.

T: Strong sweet creamed coffee at first, almost like a Parabola-lite. Bitterness of the roast comes in giving a bit of charcoal acridity to balance the sweetness. Good flavour, with light wood notes that always stay in the background.

M: Perhaps since I expected a bigger beer, the body seemed thin to me, though for the regular style it is solid across the board. Smooth and creamy.

D: Nice oatmeal stout from Firestone, it shows that they don't have to create a big beer when they barrel age stuff. Nice brew all around.

Serving type: on-tap

12-28-2008 23:26:03 | More by Halcyondays
Photo of charlzm


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

Consumed 12/17/08 at Blue Palms, Hollywood, CA.

Very dark brown beer with mahogany highlights. A fine tan foam head.

Sweet malts and a little smoke in the aroma.

A bit thinner than expected in the mouth.

Flavorful, this one. It starts with a dark roasted maltiness, vaguely sweet, then moves into the oatmeal. Also present are a pronounced chocolate (almost syrupy), a roasted nuttiness and some bitterness appearing on the palate after swallowing.

Evaporative flavor on the slightly dry finish. Not especially complex despite what is written, but very enjoyable to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

12-20-2008 02:51:37 | More by charlzm
Photo of errantnight


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

On tap at the Blue Palms in LA (originally as part of Xmas v. Hanukkah... not sure what this has to do with either, but hey!)

A creamy dense pitch black brew with a little bit of head with tenacity. Love the color.

Aroma is a gentle roastedness with a bit of biscuity malt. Subtle, simple, a little sweet. Really nice.

Tastes creamy smooth, nice medium full velvety texture carrying exactly what the aroma promises... a nice textured sweetness along a backbone of easy roastiness.

Really couldn't have a better structure, which makes this incredibly drinkable... but the flavor didn't blow me away. Pound for pound I'd still go Sammy Smith.

That said... the incredible bourbon barrel aged version had a few weeks ago was a different beast entirely. Perfect subtle vanilla and bourbon notes and the extra tannins all worked together for a phenomenal brew that didn't sacrifice the easy drinking experience but added nuances of flavor.

Certainly a tasty brew and fans of Firestone Walker will of course love to seek this out... and the should.

Serving type: on-tap

12-18-2008 18:20:28 | More by errantnight
Photo of magictrokini


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

Tap @ O'Brien's. Pours dark brown with a medium tan head. Nestle Quik cocoa, malted milk balls, leather, vanilla, and roasted coffee in the nose. More malted chocolate and oatmeal in the taste, with a strong cherry pop towards the finish. The cherry sweetness came out of nowhere, was out of character for the beer, but kind of nice. Almost like a German chocolate cake taste. Good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2008 22:53:03 | More by magictrokini
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,952 ratings.