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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

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 596
Hads: 2,651
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 10.03%
Wants: 211
Gots: 446 | 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 Ynot2
3.48/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into pint glass. A nice dark brown to black with a tan one finger head. The head faded to a thick lace.

Roasted malts, chocolate and coffee aromas come out pretty heavy almost immediately.

The initial taste was coffee and a bitter chocolate. A slight bitter aftertaste lingers in the mouth.

Mouth is really light for a stout, would have preferred a little more.

Drinkability was decent, not great, not bad. I would have another one.

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Photo of weizenbob
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle received in a trade with RichBeer. Thanks Rich! Poured into a pint glass, two fingers of frothy tan head mounts a brew that's just a couple of shades from black. Head retention is good and heavy lacing lines the glass.

Pleasant aromas of chocolate and roasted malt waft off the brew, as well as the faint scent of coffee. There's also the distant notion of floral hops on the nose.

Sweet roasted malt leads the flavor profile. There is a strange but pleasant snap pea flavor that sounds strange but actually works. A little caramelized sugar lines the palate. The finish is dark chocolate with a lingering earthy aftertaste. Chocolate becomes more apparent as the brew warms. Alcohol is not perceived. It's a pretty straightforward brew, but well done none the less.

The mouthfeel is well-balanced. It's substantial but not too thick. The carbonation level is on the high end of medium and helps this stout seem lighter than it is.

All of this adds up to an oatmeal stout that is pretty drinkable. It has enough flavor and body to satisfy the stout lover in me without overwhelming me in any category. The 5.5% ABV is well hidden but it's a bitter enough brew that you're probably not going to drink them too fast. I could drink a couple of them back to back with relative ease. In a scene where it seems like brewers are trying to out-stout each other, Velvet Merlin is a pleasantly sturdy brew and a nice change of pace.

The Two Schlitz Scale: (see my profile for an explanation)
I give a solid Schlitz for this stout. I'd revisit Velvet Merlin.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass. Received as an extra from barleywinefiend, thanks Josh!

a - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, color with one finger of off white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of oatmeal, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, light coffee, and light bready malts.

t - Tastes of roasted malts, bitter chocolate, light oat, light coffee, toffee, and bready malts. A step up from the nose.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation, pretty smooth and creamy. Pretty good mouthfeel.

d - A good oatmeal stout full of chocolate and roasted malts mostly. A little bit bitter but I liked it a lot. Would certainly have again.

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Photo of marikoangel
3.78/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass at Amsterdam

A: Very black, I can't see through it at all. There was a little tan head that dissipated into a thin tan covering over the top of the beer.

S: Nice roasted malts, oats, there's a funky, musty, wet earthiness to it, I can pick up coffee notes, and maybe something that reminds me of cigars.

T: I can definitely get a nice roasted coffee right off the bat. A very light bitter, but also a light sweet that balance each other out to the point where you notice them, but you almost don't. The finish is a bit bittersweet. The flavors are lighter than I expected, and there is a quality to it that reminds me of drinking a glass of milk.

M: Crisp but not carbonated. Creamy with a medium thin mouthfeel. It looks like it would be a thicker beer, and from the name I just assumed it would be, but it's not. It has a drier finish.

D: It's a nice beer, very drinkable, but not my all time favorite. I would drink it again though, but wouldn't seek it out.

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

Pours dark brown/black with a half-inch light tan colored head. The head dissipates quickly and leaves very little lacing.

Smell is loaded with roasted malts, chocolate, oats, and some hints of coffee.

Taste follows the nose with roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, and some coffee. A slight hoppy bitterness appears on the tail end.

Very smooth and creamy. Medium body. This actually has some characteristics that remind me of a porter. The low ABV makes this very drinkable. Overall, a solid oatmeal stout.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.06/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz extra given to my Craytonic, served in a Bruery tulip...A dark brown pour with a brilliant light tan head. At least six fingers of head rises and stays forever, tightly compact bubbles on this are great. Unbelievably thick lacing. This is a looker...A fairly muted aroma, lots of oatmeal, a little roast and bitter, pretty sweet. A little alcohol and the sweetness bring my score down a touch, not balanced enough...The taste is pretty muted as well, disappointed. Light roast, oatmeal, a little sweet chocolate cake. Better balanced, just not strong enough. The more I drink it the more I like it as its so easy to drink, yet flavorful. A nice full feel.

Above average oatmeal, worth a shot.

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Photo of greygooose
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - poured a dark dark brown (almost black) with some visible reddish highlights a good one inch khaki tan head

S - a bouquet of oats, malt, chocolate, grains

T - bready, toasted nuts, cookies, with a touch of sweetness

M - good carbonation, creamy smoothness, medium body with a lighter than expected finish for a "stout"

D - a well-balanced, super easy to drink stout that'll having you reaching for a second in no time. speaking of which...

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Photo of cadaugherty
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Generous extra from nicks6217.

Appearance- Dark black with a thin off-white head that fades quickly.

Aroma- Roasted malts and dark coffee

Taste- Mainly roasted malts, some coffee notes and a hint of chocolate. A bit bitter.

Mouth- Fine, not too thick or thin but lacking in carbonation.

Drink- Pretty easy drinking for a stout but more carbonation really would have helped this.

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

Appearance: Black and opaque, perhaps with a hint of mahogany brown. Small off-white head.

Smell: Roasted malts dominates, with some bitter/burnt/acridic coffee notes

Taste: Bitter roast at the forefront, followed by some oak, tofee and bitter chocolate

Mouthfeel: Seems a bit thin and light

Drinkability: Split three or four ways and didn't regret it; I guess it has the elements of a bigger beer so I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't; the qualities it showed do not translate well to a lighter style

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Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.37/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Dark brown, almost black liquid with a tan thick head. This pours very thick almost like an imperial stout.

S- Smell of chocolate, vanilla, rum, tobacco, cherry, woody notes and earthy malts.

T- This tastes very good, malty with a good chocolate roastyness. This has some slight porter characteristics, yet the thickness and sweetness of a stout.

M- Thick, but it works well for the tastes.

D- Very drinkable, I wish I nabbed a six pack instead of a single.

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Photo of gwguest
4.47/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle rec'd from romwarrior into a Duvel Tulip

A: Pours a nearly opaque black with dark reddish-brown highlights on the edges when held almost directly in front of the light. A thin beige foam holds for a bit and then fades.

S: Roasted malts with distinct french roast coffee and bittersweet chocolate notes. Grain-y malt character also comes through in the smell. No hop aroma to speak of.

T: A crisp roast leads the way while all of coffee and bittersweet chocolate flavors from the aroma follow along and last through the finish. A very nice medley of roasted flavors without being harsh. A very slight sweetness mingles, but this is a roast show. A quite enjoyable one at that. Hop bitterness and flavor is a bit player.

M: Spot on for an Oatmeal Stout. Smooth and silky; the body helps keep the finish from being too dry, but with just enough carbonation so that it doesn't coat your mouth. It's just short of being creamy. Smooth with a light drying sensation from the roasted barley. I just keep wanting to drink more.

D: Fantastic. While the body is silkier than a dry irish stout, it's not heavy. The roast level is perfect and leaves me wanting more after the beer is in my belly. At 5.5%, it's a nice relatively lightweight beer. It's perfect for a chilly day

O: An outstanding beer that I would buy in bulk to have until springtime. I wouldn't change a thing.

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

A: Poured a very dark brown in color with brown highlights that had a thin head and left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: the nose was pretty roasty with coffee bean notes, chocolate malts, and had milky character to the aroma.

T: the oatmeal grain was not to apparent on the nose or the taste but had a little soapy flavor, chocolate malts, coffee beans, some roastiness, and a touch of cinnamon.

M: the brew was medium in body with a low amount of carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, malty, spice, and creamy finish.

D: it drank good but to me the oatmeal qualities didn't really shine or pop out; Really tasty beer though.

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

12oz bottle poured into tulip

A - Light tan head that dissipated quickly, lighter black with brown edging, minimal lacing

S - roasting coffee, molasses, chocolate, small vanilla

T - coffee! bittersweet chocolate, some raisin and vanilla, hint of grains. nice taste.

M - Fairly creamy, medium body as it's a bit thin.

D - Very easy drinker. The excellent balance and temperate taste makes this one easy to have a few of. Very good beer.

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Photo of dubinsky
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice deep black with reddish highlights on the edges. An aggressive pour yielded a nice foamy three finger head which quickly receded leaving a band of lacing with decent retention visible.

S - Dark roasted malts, coffee and oatmeal dominate the forefront of this beer, with trails of milk chocolate and molasses on the tail end. Not very strong smelling which is not a negative by any means.

T - Taste follows smell. Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. I do get an oatmeal presence but its not in your face as the name of beer would suggest. Nice sweetness Slight wood smokiness as well.

M - Medium bodied and very smooth. Nice, light carbonation, just like i enjoy in this style. It has a mildly dry finish.

D- Highly drinkable. Its not my favorite in the style but it has a very easy, mellow flavor which makes it extremely quaff-able. I think FW did a great job blending the flavors in a way that didnt have any one ingredient slam you in the mouth. I will buy this beer again.

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

On-tap @ The Princess Pub & Grille

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt with strong coffee scents

T - Follows the nose with roasted malt and coffee

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is the perfect beer right now with the cold weather it tastes very good and is easy drinking worth grabbing a pint if you see it around

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Photo of Night
2.88/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a burgundy-black with hints of purple in the light. Relatively thin head, dies down quickly to an average bubbly layer; lacing is sparse. Aroma is fairly smooth and mellow, not astringent: rich molasses, bouillon, chocolate, raisins, maybe a hint of grassy scents. Mouthfeel is slightly silky, but a little on the watery side; not much in the way of carbonation or body. Flavor is at first smooth cocoa with vague hints of coffee, then mild burnt oat bitterness, a slight wash of hops, and warming alcoholic presence; finally a lingering grassy sourness. Aftertaste is flat and lightly bitter.

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Photo of SpdKilz
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at The Library Alehouse with my father in Santa Monica.

Appearance - Poured next to a glass of Old Rasputin. They look quite similar, though this is a hint lighter with a hint lighter head. Pours a dark chocolate with little light getting through, slight tan head that dissipates at a moderate pace, and leaves nice lacing.

Smell - Smokey oats, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, and slight dark fruits.

Taste - The nose prepares me for the taste. Quite similar. Chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, and oats. Not amazing, however, not horrible. For the price, a pretty good oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, relatively creamy/smooth, decent carbonation.

Drinkability - Quite high. It is a lower alcohol content, and drinking this next to Old Rasputin, this is definitely easier to drink. Now honestly, I don't think I'd pick this up in a six pack just because there are so many other stouts I'd rather drink (read OR). Still, glad I was able to try this.

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Photo of dragonWhale
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

black and beautiful, with a receding hairline. oatmeal is big, with some roast and tannins.
a quick bitter hop flavor accompanying the black malt burnt coffee flavor. oat sweetness and some chocolate to admonish the bitterness. the finish is long and sweet with waves of astringency.
glad to have this available in the bottle, one of the nicer oatmeal stouts.

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Photo of djbreezy
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance - dark opaque brown/black, medium tan head, moderate retention/lacing

smell - chocolate, roasty malts, oatmeal, grassy notes

taste - velvety chocolate, toasted malts, marshmallow, chocolate nibs/cocoa, light grassy notes/bitter in the finish

mouthfeel - puffy/carbonated, some carbonation bite, evenly medium body, some bitter dryness on the finish

drinkability - smooth and easy with a slight bite, unique notes for an oatmeal stout, very good and enjoyable

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

A: Color pitch black.
S: Roasted coffee. Cocoa.
T: Strong chocolate malt toastiness. Like drinking dark-roast coffee with cream or maybe 80% chocolate. Finishes a bit acrid (maybe the American hops coming through?). I would prefer the earthiness of British hops here, like Kent Goldings.
M: Medium. Somewhat thin for the style. Some creaminess, but would have preferred a bit more to balance the bitterness of the roast.
O: I enjoyed it overall. However, it doesn't quite reach the level of sweetness and creaminess that I would expect from an oatmeal stout (my benchmark is Samuel Smith). That being said, disregarding style, it's a very pleasant session beer more focused on toasted bitterness than malty sweetness.

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

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Photo of 100floods
4.31/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of NegativeSpin
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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

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Photo of Foxtrot
4.39/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of gford217
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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