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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: 2,754
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 497 | 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.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufa ... tube_gdata 
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 621 | Hads: 2,754
Photo of Halcyondays
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
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.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour, tan head, this is a looker. Plain aroma, roast, oats taming it down.

Taste, richly smooth, great work with the oatmeal here. Not harsh at all, a great session stout. All the harbingers of a good stout, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, none of them in your face, just mingling in the background. Easy to see why this was a component in the anniversary beer.

Beer provides a good coat for the gullet. Stays away from being anything extreme. A good, dry, sessionable oatmeal stout, nothing pretentious about it, does the job quite well, even if it might seem thin at times for peeps always looking for a RIS or a double/imperial stout. Just the right amount of hopping to keep it lively, but not be astringent or out of style parameters.

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Photo of BuckeyeOne
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Brouwers.

Poured a pitch black core with red highlight --- kinda like my wife's current hairstyle --- scary.

The smell was a little underwhelming --- roasted malt, a tiny bit of chocolate and burnt coffee.

The taste beat the smell. Tasted like roasted malted barley, milk chocolate and creamy espresso. Just the hint of dried fruit.

The mouthfeel was a bit thin. The oatmeal gave this a nice little smoothness. I was wanting, however.

This was a good price and I'll buy this again. But, there are better stouts out there at this price.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on nitro into a pint glass at Capones.

A- pours black with a two finger tan head. Yep.

S- aroma is very weak, with a little bit of chocolate coming through

T- taste is strongly of cocoa, with only a little bit of sweetness coming through. The bourbon is a very small aftertaste in this as well

M- mouthfeel is insane. Silky smooth, thick, and chewy

O- this beer is dangerously drinkable. Love it

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Photo of ISmith87
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - 3.75 - Pretty opaque brown/black beer with a minimal head that leaves a little lacing.

S - 4 - Pretty awesome smell with coffee and roasty notes. Maybe some chocolate in there too.

T - 4 - Taste is also a roasty/smokey coffee taste. Very nice.

M - 3.75 - Medium - thick mouthfeel. More thick than most oatmeal stouts. Alc covered. Aftertaste is roasty/coffee.

O - 3.75 - It's a good oatmeal stout. nothing I can complain about too much. If I could change it I'd want it a little bit stronger with a little thicker mouthfeel.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)
Bottled 12/04/12
A- This beer pours a get black body with a thin wisp of tan head and a glowing walnut brown hue at the base.

S- The inky black malt aroma has some earthy tar notes and a deep coffee hint comes through. There are some nice graham notes that come through as it warms

T- The big black earthy inky roasted malt has an almost smoky quality it is so dark and some slightly sweet malt finish that is pretty clean in the aftertaste.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a slippery texture and no alcohol heat noticed

O- This big black malt flavor is nice with some inky qualities but the finish and body really get thin a lot as it opens up and there isn’t much to support that big malt flavor. It would be nice to have some alcohol or hops or sweetness to finish what the flavor starts.

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Photo of Greywulfken
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: just-short-of-black brown, light barely slipping through the edges; tower of pale mocha-colored bubbly foam left some lace arms down the glass

S: roasted dark malts suggested something like dry cocoa and coffee grounds; faint oat and molasses

T: follows the nose into the dark bitter roasted malts, slightly edged with char and sugar; earthy and roasty; hints of dark skinned nuts and bittersweet chocolate

M: smooth and light, faint buzz of carbonation, but very slick and creamy

O: easy-drinking but with a bitter char and a smooth body - not a style I go for often, but this is a great beer for the style.

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Photo of rand
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 12 oz bottle to pint

Pitch black in appearance, Velvet Merlin forms a relatively small off-tan head that dissipates quickly. Burnt toffee-malts and notes of earthy multi-grain bread make the somewhat faint nose, with a touch of lingering unsweetened chocolate. The flavors are more vibrant, as tastes of dry chocolate meet toasty malts. A stodgy yet 'velvety' smooth complexion yields coffee tones mid-sip, which play nicely against the brew's woody backdrop. A hint of berry-sweetness lingers somewhere back there in the distance, as the brew finishes dry and slightly bitter.

If you're wondering about the name change, Velvet Merlin WAS formally called Velvet Merkin. They got into some PR trouble (Google Merkin and you'll see why) so they avoided the hassle and changed it to Merlin. I was up at the brewpub in Paso Robles some weeks ago and they've named another beer Velvet Merkin, a sort-of 'big brother' to the Merlin (I think it was the Merlin, barrel-aged, but I could be wrong and I don't feel like looking it up right now). Whatever you want to call it, for a low ABV oatmeal stout, you could do a lot worse. This is widely available here in San Diego and it's become a sort of session-stout for me. Smooth and toasty and tasty.

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Photo of vicsju1991
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured 12 oz bottle into duvel snifter
A - poured dark black, solid two finger white head, good retention
S - sweet malts, coffee, chocolate
T - coffee, chocolate, sweet malts, follows the nose
M - the best mouth feel ever, so smooth and creamy and amazing
O - very amazingly drinkable beer, good taste, very good beer

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Photo of ryan1788a5
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Black on the pour with what appears to be good clarity. Sandy colored head sputters out shortly with some lively snap, crackle, and pop. Spotty lacing. I would have expected better head formation and retention from an oatmeal stout.

S: Starchy, bittersweet chocolate, hints of cola and black molasses, woody roast. Brownies, vague whiff of fruit.

T: Blackstrap molasses, cola, brownie batter, woody roast, espresso, bittersweet dark chocolate, flash of blackberry, starchy. Hops kick in with a bitter bite and some citrusy orange peel flavors toward the back. The finish is all bakers chocolate and smokey roast.

M: On the lighter side of medium bodied. Silky. Low, gentle carbonation. Great texture, but I find a part of myself wishing it had a bit more weight behind it.

O: Lighter in body and drier than I was expecting. It seems better suited to its warmer home climate than the dead of winter here in the northeast, where a more robust beer is often preferred. Still a good beer, and it offers enough complexity and nuance to keep it from feeling boring.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

120z bottle poured into a snifter

Pours an ink black with chestnut highlights. A small khaki colored cap rises and falls slowly. Some sheets of lace.

The aroma is clean. Roast, rolled oats, sweet milk chocolate, and some coffee undertones. Fairly straightforward, a little sweeter than most.

The flavor profile follows the nose. Milk chocolate lends a prevailing sweetness, borderline cloying, while dry oats and roast coming in mid-palate. The finish begins with bitter roast and mixes with sweet chocolate.

Medium body, soft, creamy, and, dare I say it, velvety. Low carbonation. Drinks extremely easy.

I can't get over how easy this drinks. A somewhat tame flavor profile, I'd like it to be a little more robust in spots, but it would take away some of the other good qualities.

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Photo of atowle25
3.9/5  rDev -2%
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.

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Photo of dbl_delta
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle dated 10/6/15 into pint glass. Pours a dark ruby-black with just a slight hint of color at the edge. Tan head dissipates rapidly. Initial impression is mildly chocolate with a slightly sweet malt backbone. Moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is a little thin for an oatmeal stout. Very smooth, though. Perhaps not my favorite oatmeal stout, but well worth a try.

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Photo of HosP
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great extra from Scottfrie. Poured 12oz into snifter.

A- Pours not quite black. Some light creeps in around the edges. Nice one finger size head, down to thin cap halfway through the beer.

S- Mostly coffee in the nose. Very subtle hints of oatmeal type aroma. Reminded of a warm breakfast!

T- Coffee flavors up front, although not as strong as I'd hoped. Very smooth creamy drink. Roasted malts come through more at the end and leave some bitterness left with you.

M- Full body with light carbonation. Creamy mouth feel.

D- Very solid oatmeal stout. One of the better ones I've had. Could drink one, maybe two more. Flavors aren't overly spectacular, but still make for a very good beer. Thanks Scott for this nice winter's treat!

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Photo of Jeffsta1
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Nice dark color.

Bouquet is malty, a bit sour, kinda funky. Unique.

Taste is subtle, malt, cocoa, bitter.

Mouthfeel is moderately rich. Possibly light for a stout, more of a rich imperial porter.

Finish emphasizes the bitter notes, not quite as good as the rest of the beer.

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Photo of MikeWard
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a goblet. Bottled on 1/8/13, so 8 months old.

Poured jet black, with a little under 2 fingers of oatmeal colored head. In fact the head really looks like oatmeal pancakes on the griddle. Head dissipated rather quickly tp a thin covering and collar. Lacing was decent though.

Smell was mostly roasted malt and a little grain

On taking a mouthful, was immediately hit by the roasted malt around the edge of the tongue. But was was interesting to me was that it didn't linger to much, smoothed out quite quickly to a very pleasant and grainy aftertaste. (I'm not a big fan of the stouts whose heavily roasted malts stay with you for hours, so this was enjoyable)

My only real problem with this stout was the extremely thin, almost watery mouth. Would have been a much more enjoyable drink with a medium to full finish.

Overall, I would have it again, though likely won't be scouring the shelfs for it.

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Photo of Tele
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: 4.5 Looks nice. Pours almost black with a two-inch tan head that dissipates quickly.

S: 4.25 Roasted malt up front giving off coffee and bittersweet chocolate aromas. Faint hops.

T: 3.75 Similar to the nose, just a bit more toned down. Nice overall, bit it almost seems a little watery. Not bitter at all, actually a bit tart on the finish.

M: 3.5 Fairly thin for an oatmeal stout. Not a big beer, so I don’t think the mouth feel is too bad but could be a bit more rich.

O: 3.75 A nice drinking stout with good flavors, but there are better examples of the style out there. I’ll probably stick with my one six-pack per season.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Deep brown, looks black in the glass, but you can see through the edges. Almost no head and no lacing. I am unimpressed.

Smell - Wow, it smells great. The aroma is just as good as a much larger stout. Strong coffee aroma with chocolate a roasted malts. I am more optimistic now.

Taste - Coffee up front and chocolate in the finish. Slight hop bitterness in the finish makes the chocolate taste dark. Mmm. It's good. Surprisingly good, in fact.

Mouthfeel - Well, at 5.5%, it's tough to end up with a heavy stout. Creamy, but low in alcohol. It's a good combination to make it a good low ABV stout.

Overall - I edited this review because I didn't think it was great the first time. Now I think it's quite tasty. I'm beginning to appreciate low ABV stout. They pack a big flavor without being 15% and diabetically sweet.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

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Photo of mkotsayfan
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a dark black with a finger of light-mocha colored head. The aroma has roasted malts, oats, along with some licorice. The taste has some coffee and malts along with some chocolate and bitterness at the end. The mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth, along with being nice and light. It is medium-bodied with a decent amount of carbonation.

A very nice sessionable stout, a nice go-to to have during the winter months.

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Photo of matjack85
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A friend brought this back for me from her trip to San Diego (Thanks Nancy). It's a good thing she did since this beer is only distributed in 6 western states and I couldn't get it even if I wanted it here in Illinois. 12oz brown bottle with no freshness date, despite their website claim that they put bottled on dates on the neck labels of all their beers. My bottle had no date.

The beer poured out a dark brown color with a full 3 finger's worth of light brown head. Head retention was good, but it didn't leave much lacing.

The beer smelled like coffee and cocoa.

Tastes more like a coffee stout than an oatmeal one, but it's still good. Heavy roasted malt flavors along with a strong coffee taste. Unsweetened chocolate and a bit of oatmeal are also there. Not as sweet as most oatmeal stouts, and in fact it has a rather dry wood barrel finish to it. The fuggles hops only add mild bitterness.

Very smooth mouthfeel but way too light to be called creamy. Much thinner than most stouts and it has very low carbonation.

Another good offering from Firestone Walker. Well hidden alcohol and light enough to have more than one.

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Photo of gopens44
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pretty standard looking stout, dark as night with gently lacing thick brown head. Nose is tangy, earthy and a little spicey. Taste is very similar but it's got a touch of chocolate and a nice bitterness hanging out as well. Finish is a tad bitter, virtually no sweetness and aside from some tingly carbonation, it's pretty smooth.

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Photo of John_M
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at Max's today.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is a bit shy, but I still pick up some nice coffee, light vanilla and light bourbon and light chocolate. On the palate... you can tell this is a low alcohol beer, but damn does it deliver a lot of flavor. The flavor profile basically replicates the nose, but there's just more of everything. There's also a hint of tobacco, smoke and earthiness in the finish that I appreciate as well. It helps to dry out the modest sweetness in this beer. Mouthfeel is pretty good. The beer is soft and plush on the palate, though it's a bit thin as well (but at 5.5% abv., that's hardly a surprise).

While nothing earth shattering here, it's hard not to be impressed with a beer showing this much flavor with such low alcohol. Pretty impressive really...

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a RR snifter...

A - Pours black with a two finger light brown head. Head retention is good, and there is some slippery lacing to be had...

S - Roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and some sweet malt...

T - Starts bitter, but as beer warms a good amount of sweetness is revealed. Sweet caramel, toasted oats, roasted malts, and cocoa. Finishes with on lingering roast note with a little cocoa in the mix...

M - Has a good creamy feel, but still a tad light. On the higher end of medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation...

O - Solid Oatmeal Stout from a solid brewery. Definitely something I will be rivisiting in the future. FW has yet to let me down...


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Photo of mithrascruor
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Callahan's, San Diego.

Pours a solid black color with a patchy, dark tan head. Minimal but deep malt aroma. Smooth and full-bodied (but without being viscous) with light carbonation. Good malt flavor with some coffee - not too much "roasted" flavor, but that lets the cream and oat flavors through. A pretty nice and tasty oatmeal stout, with a fairly low ABV.

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