Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

2,627 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 2,627
Reviews: 609
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 209
Gots: 431 | FT: 6
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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Ratings: 2,627 | Reviews: 609
Photo of atowle25
3.9/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - pours very dark, almost black, but not quite. Fairly decent carbonation is present.

S - Not a whole lot in the nose, some coffee, and roasted malts mainly. Some faint chocolate.

T - Chocolate, oatmeal, coffee. A good bit of bitterness at the end, followed by more chocolate. Tasty.

M - Plenty of carbonation, medium bodied. I'd prefer it if it was on the creamier side.

D - Very easy to drink. A perfect beer to have during the winter time while watching football.

Overall - Solid beer. Will I buy it again? Possibly. There are certainly bigger beers that offer a lot more, but this is an excellent oatmeal stout to have 2-3 of while watching you're favorite football team lose.

Photo of CaseyK
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours dark brown with a nice tan head that sticks around a bit.
S: Oatmeal and fresh dark roast coffee. Smells full bodied and flavorful, like coffee you'd make in a french press.
T: Tastes of dark chocolate at first, then goes to coffee. The coffee taste is very clean and well done. Pleasant oatmeal taste as well. There is a slight bitterness at the end, but it's not too noticeable.
M: Nice and medium bodied, creamy with good carbonation.
D: This one goes down easily, I could drink a few of these.
O: The coffee element of the beer is great, and overall it is well done. Glad I got to try this.

Photo of mothman
3.55/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours 1 finger of light tan head. Leaves some rings. Color is a dark copper brown.

Aroma: Rich espresso, chocolate, caramel, and a lot of malts. Some vanilla. Big roast.

Taste: More espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. A lot like the nose.

Mouthfeel: Massive roast, medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends pretty dry.

Overall, too roasted for me. Otherwise, it is pretty good. I got no bourbon or oak out of this beer.

Photo of veinless
4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown with an average amount of whitish head that is gone before you know it.

Roasted coffee is the dominant aroma, with some chocolate and oatmeal sourness in there.

Taste is similar, with more of the oatmeal malt going with the coffee well. Earthy, with some dirt in both nose and taste. Carbonation is minimal but adequate.

Very solid mouthfeel feeds into the great finish of the malty coffee. Drinkability is excellent. Very good oatmeal stout.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.95/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Burnished walnut brown with burnt orange edges and a lack of opacity... which is no sin in beer of this style and ABV. The lovely looking lid of golden ecru colored foam that was created on the pour is becoming soft and creamy as it melts. Nice lace too.

A small percentage of bourbon barrel-aged Merlin was combined with non-bourbon barrel-aged Merlin to create Merlin. Make sense? There's almost no whiskey in the nose, just the usual roasted and chocolate notes of the style... but it's enough.

As always, my taste buds are more sensitive than my nose. Still, this is not beer that will scare away those who don't care for the taste of America's finest spirit. That particular characteristic is subtle, which is exactly what is needed in a 5.5% oatmeal stout that doesn't otherwise poleaxe your palate with malt flavor.

Specific flavors include bittersweet chocolate, charred coffee beans, burnt sugar, and a complementary tea leaf bitterness from U.S. Fuggles. Barely more than 3 months in the bottle ensures that this is still relatively balanced beer. More bourbon would've been a mistake.

The mouthfeel is the only (slight) disappointment. It's a fraction thin, doesn't hang on like it should, and the carbonation could add more lift and expansive creaminess. Not bad at all, it just doesn't keep pace with the other attributes.

Firestone Walker is a good-to-great craft brewery. Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout is closer to good than great, which is fine with me. Here's hoping this is a year-round release.

Photo of largadeer
4.5/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally picked up a six pack of this. 12 oz into a tumbler.

Looks like a cup of straight coffee in the glass; the center is blackened, the edges slightly translucent. The head is dense and lasting, ultimately settling to a collar.

The nose is sublime, predominantly toasted malt and light roast coffee, with smatterings of chocolate and licorice.

Taste and mouthfeel are where this beer truly excels. A perfect balanced of toasted, lightly roasted malt, licorice and dark chocolate lead into a dry, coffee-like finish. It's mildly sweet up-front, and ends wonderfully smooth, just slightly bitter. Drinkability is through the roof; it's hard to not quaff the hell out of this beer and go back for another bottle.

So glad this was bottled, hands down the best beer Firestone has released in six packs.

Photo of Hojaminbag
3.6/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Velvet Merlin has a dark brown body that is mostly opaque and a light brown head that has decent retention and lacing.

The aroma has chocolate, coffee, and a bit of roast.

More of the same from the flavor. All malt with only the slightest hint of hops in the background. A great balance between chocolate, coffee and roasted malts.

Fantastic mouthfeel on this one, even for an oatmeal stout, which generally have a good feel. Thick, smooth and creamy.

Velvet Merlin has a great name and is a solid if unspectacular beer. I have to say that the mouthfeel might actually live up to the name.

Photo of kbutler1
4.1/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle. Picked up a six pack the other day while in San Diego to give it a try. Poured into a pint glass a dark brown color with a light tan head. Nice aroma in the nose of roasted coffee, slight chocolate, some vanilla, and a tad bit of leather. Nice and smooth medium mouthfeel. The creaminess of this is really its shining star, it just drinks so smooth for me. The flavors are a nice balance as well between sweet and roast bitterness. Starts with a nice sweetness of chocolate and vanilla that is nicely rounded out with some roast bitter flavors along with some subtle muted hops.

Photo of cjer53
3.92/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 1/10/11, a bottle with Abby.

app- dark brown with hints of red/amber, very thin head swirling around it's alive!

smell- nutty, malty, brown sugar, molasses

taste- light body, crispy/sharp, slightly chewy, raisins, figs, pretzels, toasted nuts, spicy

overall a solid beer. perfect on those cold southern california days

Photo of Tripphop
3.77/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A trade extra from Loki83. Heard good things about this beer, and it holds up well to its reputation. Color is a medium shade of brown with light gold edges, mead is fine and plenty at first, but doesnt hang around. Aromas are malty and firm, flavors match well, simple but well balanced. Pecan nut flavors linger with a grainy malt taste. Solid Oatmeal stout.

Photo of kaseydad
4.22/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally found this at a local Bevmo and excited I did. Poured into a snifter and I am met with a black ale and a beige foamy head that dissolves to a thin layer. The aroma is of roasted malts, semi-sweet chocolate, tobacco and leather. The taste gives a good dose of chocolate followed by a slight coffee character coming through and then a solid chocolate/cocoa finish. A little spicy on the swallow. Mouthfeel is pretty full though there a little too much carbonation for my liking. Wish it was a tad creamier. Drinkability is still high. At only 5.5% this is very drinkable. Finding it is another story.

Photo of pmccallum86
3.86/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown/black color with an enormous light cocoa head.

Smell is of light chocolate malts and oatmeal, nothing special here.

Taste of smooth creamy oatmeal and milk chocolates. Not bad, very easy drinking beer.

Mouthfeel is awesome, super silky smooth and creamy.

Great drinkability, good example of the style.

Photo of maximum12
3.64/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to dgb3 & the artic air mass the currently inhabits Minnesota, this one was nice & cool, found on my doorstep about seven hours ago. Give it a little time to rise about 33 degrees, & here we go.

Pours black with a respectable little cap that falls quickly so as not to inhibit the drinking or tickle the nose. Black. Faintest dark red about the edges. Strongest oatmeal smell ever off a beer, extreme roast that borders on char & coffee. For an oatmeal stout, this is radical!

Velvet Merlin tastes more traditional. The oats are enough to make the Black Stallion happy, lending the brew a zippy bitterness & a glassy mouthfeel. Or are those hops? Either way. The roast is more subdued in the mouth, but is complemented by a creamy smoothness that outdoes most in its class.

Good beer that is notably for a smoothness even for an oatmeal stout & that strong, rabid nose.

Photo of nlmartin
4.48/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This came as an extra from a recent trade with romwarrior. Thank you this is a fantastic beer. The beer was served lightly chilled in an imperial pint glass.

Appearance: The body of the beer is black with a hint of ruby highlight when held to the light. The head of the beer is a nice dark tan. Nice head retention and actually stands up to my mustache. Lacing sort of speckles the side of my glass. Looks good in my glass.

Smell: The aroma is of lightly roasted coffee. This combines well with a bit of cocoa. A whiff of nuttyness and a brief flash of smoke.

Taste: A major delivery on the aroma. The lightly roasted coffee flavors are very well paired semi sweet chocolate and caramel. Nice dried out finish on the end of the flavor.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The body of the beer is medium and very smooth. Carbonation levels are low but perfect for this beer. In all honesty I could drink this beer all night long. A straight forward beer that will not bore you during a long night.

Photo of Augustiner719
3.98/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

opened this one up tonight thanks to a very generous, but still not confirmed (probably overlord) BA who sent me a random package tonight.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours a really nice deep dark brownish black color with an off white 1 finger head that leaves behind a ring of foam as the drinking session progresses. there is a very distinct raisin aroma coming through on this that reminds me of having oatmeal with syrup and raisins on top. really nice roasted malty aromas coming through as well. the flavor is nice and balanced. really has a good upfront sweetness that lends itself to a balanced, and even slightly dry finish. some astringent dryness on the backend, but the transition from front to mid to back palate is flawless and really gives a nice experience. the mouthfeel is nice as well. nothing crazy and i would have liked it a bit less carbonated. near perfect body on this, not overly thin even for the low abv. Drinkability is right up there with the best. has a nice low abv, sorta, and really easy to go down. perfect for this time of the year and I would love to get my hands on some more. Worth seeking out.

Photo of pwoods
4.48/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

Photo of FosterJM
4.18/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

Photo of felipe2toes
3.78/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

Photo of seeswo
4.21/5  rDev +5%
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.

Photo of wajacobs
3.53/5  rDev -12%
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.

Photo of kflorence
3.51/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

Photo of koopa
4.04/5  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.

Photo of beagle75
3.81/5  rDev -5%
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.

Photo of nkersten
4.17/5  rDev +4%
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.

Photo of brewerburgundy
4.2/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,627 ratings.