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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

596 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 596
Hads: 2,651
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 10.03%
Wants: 213
Gots: 448 | 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:
Beer added by: largadeer on 11-13-2008

A decadent oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin offers robust cocoa and espresso aromas with subtle American hop nuances. Rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor with a creamy mouth feel and wonderfully dry finish create the perfect balance in this full-bodied stout. Ideal for sipping in the winter months or at the end of a meal.

Original name was "Velvet Merkin", but name was changed when it began to be bottled in 2010.

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Reviews: 596 | Hads: 2,651
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

true to its name, this one if velvet and smooth, pours dark, smells boozy and roasty. mellow looking, with a one inch white head which only resides a little as it warms. taste is bold but mellow at the same time, burnt and bittersweet in the finish, october-like in the body, just right. like this one a lot better than their double jack, curious to try more beers from this crew...

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Photo of Brad007
3.81/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in a trade from dimce.

Velvet Merlin pours a pitch black with a nice, thick head into my glass.

Aromas consist of roasted malt with a touch of coffee and a creamy, silky texture.

Mouthfeel is dominated by the lingering silky texture courtesy of the oatmeal.It cradles the tongue.

A decent oatmeal stout. It hasn't broken any new ground though for the style.

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Photo of hoppyweasel311
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Dark black color with tan head that doesn't last long.
Aroma- roasted malts, coffee, cocoa nibs
taste- Coffee bitterness, cocoa powder, dark roasted malts
mouthfeel- smooth and creamy... low carbonation.
This oatmeal stout is decent.. but I'm more partial to Mendocino Brewing co. oatmeal stout.

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Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Staid pitch black and luminous brown undertones with a finger thick creamy tan head.

Smell: Oat, chocolate, blueberry, cafe espresso and chocolate moose. Slight bitterness

Taste: British hops, earthy and herbal. Granite charcoal malts. Coffee. Sweet fruit. Blackberry. Dry charcoal malt finish.

Mouthfeel: Beautifully balanced, smooth and tasty treat. Full flavored and not too heavy. Medium malt texture. Savory.

Overall: A great beer for the price. You can pick this one up on sale seasonally at Trader Joe's. About a $1.20 a beer. Drinkable. I only wish it was available year round.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wowsers! An unexpected treat, a gift from my son.

Big yellow-tan head, fades and leaves lovely lacing.

Smell is rich, chocolate, sweet. Mmmm.

Taste follows the smell: delightfully sweet-dry, with notes of dark fruits in the background. Limited hop presence. Nice bitter-burned malt.

Super easy to drink and extra smooth. Not as thick as I might wish.

Give it a try. Worth it.


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Photo of RocPorterFanatic
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Pitasoup for this bottle.

A - Deep, dark brow, almost black. Thick, creamy head, leaving almost no lacing down the glass.

S - Subtle hint of coffee and dutch cocoa. Very malty aroma, you can almost smell the mash.

T - Very dry. Roasty malts quickly sweetened by the oatmeal, taking the rough edge off. Subtle flavors here, ever so slightly tannic. Could use a touch more oatmeal to mute this.

M - Absolutely perfect for the beer. Creamy, with enough carbonation to keep it interesting.

O - Great beer!! This has been a top want for quite some time, and it didn't disappoint. Just a great beer.

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Photo of quirkzoo
3.92/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark brown with minimal khaki head. Classic stout aroma with lots of roasted malt, chocolate and some coffee aromas. Taste is very nicely balanced a touch of sweetness from the malt and just enough bitterness. The mouthfeel is a touch thin. There is a little bit of the oatmeal body but I wanted to be just a bit heavier. Overall it is a very easy drinking well balanced stout.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good to see this one on the shelf. It's an unassuming oatmeal stout, a quiet beast.

Black pour with cola-like edge. Head is off-white/brown with slick lacing. Would like to see a bigger head, maybe more dense...but still looks good.

Soft aroma of roasted cocoa, wet dark bread and black strap leather. hint of baked caramel. Not a powerful aroma, but damn nice.

Again, unassuming. Nothing here is going to scream to get attention. But the roastiness and baked stuff is really endearing. Cocoa powder, baked chocolate and caramel, fire-side pine on the end. hint of smoke. Very nice.

The softness of this beer really stands out. It's rich and drinkable without getting you plastered. Smooth and coating with a semi-dry finish. Darn good

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Photo of d1ucb4u
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I can see why Firestone Walker's reputation is good and improving. This is a good oatmeal stout. Simple, tasty, but not something I had to change my pants over. I bought a 6 pack, but I wish I would have only had to buy four. Especially with an oatmeal stout, I was looking for a bigger mouthfeel. Its an easy drinking beer, I'm glad I tried it, but I'll probably not get it again.

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Photo of jdense
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle from local bottle/bird shop, poured into shaker pint glass 10.10.11.

One finger light brown head, fairly quick dissipation with broken layer of head retained on top of dark brown nearly opaque body with red highlights when held up to light, no visible carbonation. Prominent Cocoa nibs, some coffee in nose, floral hops. Taste is pretty chocolaty, some dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, a bit of roast malt, caramel sweetness, hop profile hard to identify, floral with a bit of citrus? Medium mouthfeel, not a lot of effervescence, the oatmeal really dries out the finish, ultra smooth. Tasty stuff, but what else would you expect from the fertile mind of Matt Bryndelsen? Certainly one of America's best Oatmeal Stouts, really drinkable at this ABV. Recommended.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.79/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours much lighter than I expected, more a deep brown than a brown-black, and still letting light pass through rather easily. Head is yellowish beige, large-bubbled and frothy where agitated, but otherwise forming a thin film. Pretty good static carbonation when tilted, but overall, it just doesn't win me with its look.

Nose is dry but pleasantly roasted, with grainy cereal notes and a hint of coconut. It's rather mild in aroma, but the characters it has are very pleasant.

Taste is similar, and it has a really nice smoothness on the back palate that melds with the dark grain notes to almost give the suggestion of chocolate, even though there's absolutely minimal sweetness. Finish is quite dry, and with that mealy cereal character that suggests you have another sip. It's light on the palate, really, but it's pretty drinkable.

Certainly something I'd happily drink again, and something with plenty of dry roasty character that is eminently sessionable. No bad at all.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.45/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours cola brown with 1/4 inch of fizzy tan head. No lacing. Looks like there's no shortage of carbonation. Lots of tiny bubbles climbing the edges of the glass.

S-Oats, bittersweet chocolate, Hershey's chocolate syrup, a touch of roasted malts.

T/M-Mouthfeel is thin, with some dry hop bitterness on the back end.Carbonation is a bit higher than I'd like. This is significantly roastier than the nose indicated.Flavors of bitter dark chocolate and dry hop bitterness make up the majority of the flavor profile. Falls apart mid-palate, where the thinness of the body fails to sustain interest.

O-Did they change this from last year? I remembered it being a lot more bold and rich. This is alright, but I have a sneaking suspicion something is different with the current batch.

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Photo of kevanb
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Firestone Walker’s limited release oatmeal stout. It pours a nice black color with a single finger of caramel head that quickly dissipates into a thin layer of fizz along the top. It smells nice, toasted coffee, mild chocolate and some nice oak aromas round out the nose, not very bold but quite nice. The flavors are a bit more interesting, the wood is much stronger and compliments the strong coffee flavors well, but there is also a nice amount of blackcurrant flavors that go surprisingly well with the woody flavors. The beer is a bit thin though, but at 5.5% it is really easy to drink.

Verdict: Nicely done oatmeal stout, very palatable and easy to drink. I will admit that its not very exciting for a limited release, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled 9/9/11.

12oz bottle served at cellar temp (~55 degrees) into a pint glass.

The Velvet Merlin in a very dark brown color with good clarity seen as it's poured. The head is thick at first but eventually settles to just a thin layer on top.

Aroma is sweet and roasty. It reminds me of a milk stout in that way. A little bit of caramel and cashews too.

Flavor is surprisingly full flavored, despite being lower alcohol at only 5.5%, and a healthy dose of black malt is to blame (in a good way). Roasted malt bitterness is balanced by just enough sweetness. It definately doesn't come across as a milk stout at this point. A good strong, yet smooth, oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel is medium-plus in body, lowish carbonation, and smooth as oatmeal stouts tend to be.

Overall a really nice version of this classic style.

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Photo of JonathanG
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

A: Not quite a 2-finger khaki-colored head that sticks around for a minute or two, before receding to leave a sheet of fine bubbles floating on top of the dark coffee colored malty goodness.

S: Can't miss the oats here, joined by coffee and fairly dark cocoa notes. A little bit of charred barrel/smoky bourbon barrel as well.

T: A backbone of oatmeal, along with coffee on the midpalate, followed by dark cocoa, and a pretty dry and smoky/toasted bourbon barrel finish, with lingering bitterness. Oats and coffee dominate.

M: A sort of lean dryness on this medium-bodied oatmeal stout. Seems like you could drink several of these due to this factor, especially with a meal.

O: I think I'll have to stock up on this for the upcoming colder months of winter. Seems like this would be a nice choice sitting next to the fireplace, especially if you want something "seasonal", but not overly heavy or sweet, since this is on the drier side of things.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.93/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks for this one Sean. Poured into a tulip. Pours a cola colored brown with about a finger of creaming light khaki head.

The aroma has hints of slight cocoa and hints of espresso. Pretty run of the mill but pleasing either way. The taste is pretty much what wone would expect from an oatmeal stout. A little roasty with hints of coffee and some fudgyness to it. Pretty tasty.

The feel is good, silky and smooth with subtle carbonation. Overall this is a well made beer. I just don't think this is the most exciting of styles.

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Photo of denver10
3.55/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark with a light brown head that settles on the edge of the glass

S: Rich, full of oatiness and some roasted espresso and chocolate, and some roastiness.

Taste: matches the smell pretty well. Get the oatiness up front which is then followed with the espresso and closes out with some chocolate and hops. And don't forget the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: definitely creamy and some good body to it.

Overall: I know this is jedi mind tricks but not really a fan of this when I think about it as an oatmeal stout, but become quite a fan once I view it as an oatmeal porter. For me this drinks more like how I enjoy my porters.

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Photo of bfields4
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black body with a light brown hue around the edges. Nice mocha head laces the glass.

Aroma is very much oaty with a bit of espresso bit of roasty. Nice.

Flavor profile is similar to the aroma. Nice roasty oat flavor with an espresso finish. Nice dry chocolate/hop bitterness rounds the beer out nicely.

Velvet is right, the mouthfeel is very smooth. Nice creamy body with just a good bit of carbonation. This beer doesn't have big in your face interesting flavors, but the flavors it does have it absolutely nails.

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Photo of Kshock
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark deep brown color. Looks like black coffee. some lacing, but not much retention.

S- Roasted malts(toffee, coffee, bitter chocolate)

T- Dark roasted sweetness. Dries out very quickly; very nice finish.

M- light to med body. Feels very pleasant on the palate. light carbonation.

O- Very good example of the style, very pleasant to drink.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, from a visit to Belmont Station in Portland a few months ago. I was wondering about the name on the bottle I have, given its proximity to a certain crass, um, accoutrement of fame, but nice that BA has dispelled any questions I have in that respect.

This beer pours a very dark reddish-brown colour, practically black, the highlights the only thing giving it away, with one finger of thin foamy beige head, which leaves some sparse, random streaks of lace around the glass as it speedily abates. It smells of soft coffee, mild bitter chocolate, subtle sour black fruit, and moderately bitter earthy, leafy hops. The taste is very lightly roasted caramel malt, genial choco-tinted coffee, and stronger than expected (if I wasn't dreamin' 'bout Cali...) bitter earthy hops with a slight pine edginess. The carbonation is just south of average, the body a solid medium weight, with a nice silky smoothness that dabbles somewhat in creaminess. It finishes off-dry, the coffee caramel holding the fort in the midst of a feeble uptick in generic hop bitterness.

A well-rendered California oatmeal stout, the hops eschewed in favour of a good malty, bitter coffee beast, one that I would hope has displaced Guinness from at least a few central coast watering holes...

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Photo of brian44556
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12oz bottle into a Schlafly Pint Glass. No dating on the bottle.

Pours a dark black, but is somewhat translucent when held up to the light. A small, chocolate colored head forms and diminishes rather quickly. A good lacing is left on the sides of the glass. Smell notes of coffee, roasted malts, and small hint of chocolate. Taste roasted malts, peanuts, coffee, and small hint of caramel/chocolate mixture. Carbonation is good, but the mouthful seems a bit thin for my liking, but I think that is just the style. Overall a good Oatmeal Stout.

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Photo of jcartamdg
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark black with very little head in my ccb snifter. Very little head but lacing clings to the glass. Ara of coffee and sweet malts. Taste is smooth light with a coffee aftertaste. Mouth feel is surprisingly light and smooth, easy to drink and delicious

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Photo of MrKennedy
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle with huge thanks to nicks6217! Poured into a Tripel Karmeliet tulip style glass.

Looks jet black with a tan coloured head of foam that commenced at 2 fingers in height. Sat just above film for the duration. Spotty glass lacing.

Nice, complex and relatively big aromas. Coffee, chocolate, licorice, dark fruits as well. Very nice and intriguing.

Taste is nice and smooth and well done. Chocolate is first, coffee at the end and the oats in the middle of it.

Mouthfeel is a little thin early and continues to build and build in thickness. With all the chocolate in this, the finish isn't cloying, balanced out by the coffee and a touch of other bitterness.

Very good oatmeal stout, flavoursome, complex, well balanced.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

completely opaque liquid coming forward in front of me. Rich dark brown notes, with a good sized head of maybe an inch in height coming over the top of it. Nice settling left behind a thin layer and a good amount of side glass lace.

The aroma was your typical oatmeal stout, though a touch more bitter then what I was expecting. Nice notes of lactose, chocolate and vinous hops. Some light grain notes as well in the finish. Rich, though not terribly filling. Lots of burnt and roasted malt flavors in here. Not as sweet as the aroma would have led me to believe it would have been, still though very solid in both bitterness and malt profile. Light notes of chocolate floating around, but again nothing terribly too swee

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Photo of sendsilk
3.83/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have received several of these as extras in trade from my West Coast trade partners. Seems like the goto beer as an extra for stout lovers.

And rightfully so, it's a very solid, thick and delicious stout. I don't drink them too often but am always pleasantly reminded of how much I like this beer.

Nice and thicl and dark with touches of chocolate and vanilla. A perfect example of a solid, RELIABLE stout.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 596 ratings.