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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

621 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 621
Hads: 2,759
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 499 | 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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Reviews: 621 | Hads: 2,759
Photo of nlmartin
4.48/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Photo of Augustiner719
3.98/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Photo of pwoods
4.48/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.18/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of felipe2toes
3.78/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of seeswo
4.21/5  rDev +5.8%
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.

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Photo of wajacobs
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of kflorence
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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Photo of koopa
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Photo of beagle75
3.81/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of nkersten
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

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Photo of abaer123
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - I had this one out of the bottle, so hard to say what the actual appearance is. The carbonation is low, so I would think that there would not be much head on this one.

Smell - malty, rich, chocolaty. When I purchased this, I was going for a rich seasonal brew. I found that and more.

Taste - rich, creamy, coffee and cocoa without being too sweet.

Mouthfeel - rich and lacey. Not overly pwering like other more hoppy varieties I have been drinking lately. A nice contrast and comfort.

Drinkability - goes down way to easy! This is a luxurious brew that could be trouble at 5.5 after a few.

Overall, I am impressed by the Velvet Merkin. My hats off to Firestone for a delicious seasonal treat. Good work.

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Photo of fsimcox
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a sixer from BevMo for $6.99. Never had this one before.

Pours a deep, rich, black color. A thin, tan foamy head forms, but dissipates almost immediately. A little lacing, but not much.

Smells of roasted malt, strong coffee, and a hint of bitter chocolate. Roasted coffee beans stands out, but not overpowering.

Roasted malt, coffee and a hint of hop bitter. Full bodied, robust, with a sweet, roast coffee bean after taste. Some hints of bitter-sweet chocolate.

Mouthfeel is creamy, rich, full bodied and smooth. Some carbonation, and a hop bitter after taste. The coffee lingers.

A wonderful holiday beer. Robust, and full bodied. I love the roast coffee taste. I think I would enjoy this with smoked cheese.

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Photo of Goldfish19
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

~ 12 oz bottle purchased online.

This oatmeal stout pours dark brown in color with a thin tan head.

Velvet Merlin has a pleasant aroma. Roasted malt, oats, coffee and chocolate all make an appearance.

The taste is very similar. All the above are present, but I also detect some vanilla, which I couldn't initially pick out in the smell. It's not sweet, but from what I understand this was the brewer's intention.

The body is a little on the thin side, but no complaints here. It's smooth, creamy and at 5.5% it went down without a hitch.

Overall, this is a solid offering from Firestone. If anyone is on the lookout for a well-crafted oatmeal stout, give this a try - you will not be disappointed. ~

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Photo of BeerManDan
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very dark brown, with a little bit of tan foam and some lace on the side of the glass.
The smell of roasted malts and an aroma of chocolate coffee filled the nose with a pleasant soft aroma. The taste of this Oatmeal Stout was just what the smell and aroma was, but, without the usual bitterness of a stout. Nice balance of malts and all components involved. Soft, with a nice bitter/sweet finish on the palate.

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Photo of Bfarr
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a medium tan frothy and a bit foamy head with good retention but not much lacing as it slinks down the side of the glass. Smoky, peaty aroma. Chocolate, peat, and smoked malts wna sweet balance with a light bittersweet lactose linger. Silky mouthfeel yet chewy and anormally a velvet coating.

So smooth it goes down way too easy but if you hold on for a moment you're rewarded with a good amount of flavor. I don't know, is a Velvet Merlin like a Velvet Elvis?

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.06/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Ryan for filling a want and for being an awesome trader.

12 oz bottle in a tulip. Pours dark brown, with a deluge of tiny bubbles along the edges and a beige ring and spotty surface bubbles.

Molasses and coffee on the nose. Not nearly as pronounced as I'd hoped. In fact, it's lacking much complexity and for the style is a tad weak. There is a weird cooked plastic smell that ain't too groovy.

Taste and mouthfeel veer towards watery. Oats don't vibe with the beer well, leaving more of a coffee dark ale than a rich, roasty, full bodied oatmeal stout which I am after. A richer, more velvety mouthfeel and dialing down the carbonation might pick this beer up a notch. Crank up the oatmeal here!

Kind of a bummer. Granted I haven't had an inordinate amount of Firestone, but this is not up to the standard I expected from a great brewery. Plenty of other oatmeal stouts in the sea.

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Photo of Murchmac
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Been drinking this beer for years on tap as Merkin, I get the name change, glad the recipe didnt.

This is about the most perfect oatmeal stout you can buy. Worth trading for, worth buying, worth drinking.

Just delicious goodness in a pint glass. Roasty, chocolatey, thick mouthfeel, coffee all blended perfectly.

By Merlin Olsens beard, get this.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Half Acre shaker pint glass.

Thanks to whartontallboy for this bottle!

They shoulda kept it Merkin. Why not? Regardless, it pours a straight onyx topped by a finger of rather light ecru foam. The nose comprises smooth chocolate, roasted malts, molasses, and toasted oats. The taste focuses on the roasty and toasty notes, much to the benefit of all involved. (Side note: The racism involved in certain episodes of Peabody and Sherman is priceless. Here is all the proof you'll need that the children of that era grew up dumb as brix.) The body is a strong medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a smooth and nearly chewy feel. Overall, a quaff good enough to present to White's version of the titular soothsayer. Zounds!

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Photo of Vdubb86
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass

Thanks to TMoney2591 for this one

This beer pours a nice darkness with a beige head. The smell has some dark chocolate and roast coffee notes. The taste has the dark chocolate note to it mostly, but has some light fruity aftertaste. It's a pretty pleasant beer to drink, but I think velvet is a strong term for the mouthfeel. It's not bad, but it's not overall impressive. I don't think that I would ever have a problem having this if it were given to me.

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Photo of arizcards
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a sixer from Total Wine in late October for $8.49.

Beer poured black with a bubbly floating tan head.

Nose is sweet roasted malts and chocolate nibs.

Taste is a very nice blend of rosted malts, chocolate, with a well balanced dry hop finish.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, somewhat smooth but very satisfying.

Overall drinkability is very good. This is one of the best in class i have had this year. I hope to see more of it in the future!

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A modest and thin but lasting head of dirty white foam, sitting on top of an extremely dark liquid which is either super-dark brown or a lighter shade of black.

Subtle but welcoming aroma is very much par for the style, being grainy, earthy, toasted, a bit vinous and faint hints of cocoa nibs.

There's something quite wonderful about the taste of Velvet Merlin (and hey, great name!). It's got subtlety and class; its roastiness is right on the money while its deeper traits emerge slowly and politely. Still has the vinous and chocolate qualities from the nose, and some other dark fruits (fig, date) but these are merely supporting characteristics. It's really about the perfect roasty-toasty hot breakfast cereal vibe that is the centerpiece of this beer.

Feels soft and smooth, for the most part, while the carbonation is probably a little more pronounced than expected, considering the "velvet" in the name of this beer.

Velvet Merlin has a really satisfying, comforting kind of personality. It's a case of every ingredient working in harmony, everything balanced out perfectly.

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Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Giving this brewery another shot. I was thoroughly disappointed by the Double Barrel.

Pours dark, but when held up to a light, it's very very dark brown. Darkest brown I have ever seen, but not quite black. Interesting. Vigorous pour yielded a 1cm light brown head, which dissipated in no time. I give the lacing about a B- so far.

Lots of chocolate on the nose. Coffee appears later as it warms up. Some roasted malts as well.

Chocolatey taste. Bitter chocolate, just a hint of chalk. with some malts in there, hint of dark fruit as an after taste. Well balanced and tasty.

Pretty thick beer for 5.5%. Carbonation is pretty spot on for the style. Definitely wouldn't go any higher, but a little less wouldn't hurt.

Quite drinkable. I'm looking forward to finishing this 6 pack.

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Photo of jmperez
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

This was my first oatmeal stout, if all oatmeal stouts are half as good as this one, i would have found my new style.

Aromas of roasted malts, slight vanilla and chocolate, bit of hop

Taste had hints of coffee, chocolate, bit of hop bite in the end.

Ridiculously smooth, might i say velvety. This oat stout is extremly drinkable and at 5.5% abv i could easily drink a six pack.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 621 ratings.