Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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very good

596 Reviews
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Reviews: 596
Hads: 2,651
Avg: 3.99
pDev: 10.03%
Wants: 212
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. ... tube_gdata 
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Reviews: 596 | Hads: 2,651
Photo of mkotsayfan
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
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 -2.8%
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 John_M
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
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 -2.8%
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 -2.8%
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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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A vigorous pour into my New Belgium globe glass produces a fat-two-finger thick, brown stained, dark tan colored head. The beer is a rich black color that shows some clear, brown hues around the edges if it is held up directly to the light. The nose smells of roasted grain, well browned, quite toasted whole grain bread, touches of roasted coffee and just a generally, ample dark / roasted malt character. I like that the nose escapes being sharp or acrid from the roast malt focus. There is a touch of roundness and perhaps subtle sweetness towards the finish of the aroma; this accentuates touches of chocolate and perhaps some sweet coffee ice-cream like aromatics. As the beer warms up it picks up more of a roasted nutty like character.

Light bodied and dry up front, as the beer moves across the palate it picks up a touch of perceived, and perhaps even actual sweetness. The sweetness is brought out by a very soft, subtle Bourbon barrel influence that leans towards toasted coconut and vanillin and perhaps a hint of Bourbon / oak spiciness. The barrel influence is really quite subtle, and if I didn’t know it was here, I might not have really picked it up. Ample cold coffee roast flavors are here, there is a full, whole grain toasted character here, as well as a touch of complexly browned, barley husk like notes; this last is quite smooth and integrated and adds a sort of whole grain spiciness to this brew. The body has a certain creaminess to it, my vigorous pour knocked out much of the carbonation; this is definitely light and quaffable, but I like that it has a touch of fullness to it. The finish has a lingering, slightly bitter, burnt roast character to it; this is accentuated by a light, prickly effervescence from the carbonation.

The Bourbon barrel influence is quite subtle in the aroma, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of Bourbon character here, but it is definitely quite reduced from Velvet Merkin. In the flavor it is soft, but it is also noticeable; I do like that it was kept at a very low level here, but I almost feel like it could use a touch more as I almost feel like it is too subtle. That can be a dangerous thing though, as I definitely prefer that the barrel character be kept fairly low. Still, this is a fantastic beer and is something I am quite happy to have a 6-pack of (the $6.99 price doesn’t hurt either); the extra boost of smooth complexity from the Bourbon barrel really adds something to this beer.

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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 Sarlacc83
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle

A: Pours an opaque mahogany with carbonation speckling the sides of the glass. Creamy head dissipates quickly.

N: Grass, leafy hops, and milk chocolate. Light roasted malt and mild coffee. Oatmeal is prevalent in nose.

T: A fine balnace leaning a shade to the malty sweet side. Hops add a nice roundness and the oatmeal adds some pleasant grain. Lots of chocolate notes.

M: carbonated and feeling; drinks like a heavier beer. Quite smooth.

O: A perfect 'summer' stout. Easy to sip and a pleasure to drink while grilling.

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

Appearance-Pours a deep black color with a sticky tan head head.

Smell-Coffee and roasty almost burnt roast aroma, but not harsh or astringent and certainly not unpleasant.

Taste-Smooth balance of roast, burnt coffee grounds, chocolate, and a sour oaty finish that smooths out the whole thing. Hop bitterness hits the front of the tongue at the very end and lingers. fading gradually.

Mouthfeel-Creamy, smooth

Overall-A very nice oatmeal stout, perhaps one of the best. Why is this no longer Merkin?

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Photo of seedsofchaos
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received this bottle in a trade with Sirk. No date indicators but I'm fairly certain it was produced last year (2010). Opened on February 12th, 2011.

Poured into a brandy snifter, this beer is rather impervious to light. Extremely dark fudge brown in color, we're really talking black. A 1/2 inch khaki head rises slowly with the pour and then falls quickly. Highlights are of ruby and blood reds which shine from the surface in the light. Little to no lacing. Big and roasty in the nose with plenty of roasted barley for my nostrils pleasure. Coffee and oatmeal are prominent as expected. The bouquet is creamy, fairly simple and inviting.

Coffee like roast continues in the taste with a touch of bitter from it. Creamy enough but a little yeasty. Definite flavors of oats mingle in with smooth roasted malts. Nothing overpowering here. This beer is very simple as I would expect an oatmeal stout to be.

This is a great morning / early afternoon beer. I would be happy to call this a breakfast stout. With its clean mouthfeel, this beer could definitely pair well with waffles and syrup. Finishes dry but not overly so, I would definitely enjoy washing down my breakfast with Velvet Merlin.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, bottled 11/27/2013; the freshest I've ever seen it. Poured into a clear plastic cup today, 1/9/2014.

Pours a dark mocha brown body, could be nearly black; with a very well-formed head that takes quite a while to recede. It's on the verge of being overcarbonated. The head is tan coloured; and there is a good bit of lacing that reminds me of espresso. Solid stoutish looking beer.

Smells very roasty, with a nice nuttiness and bitter espresso flavours to it. Not particularly earthy or hoppy, but the nuttiness stands out in the nose. Fairly strong and aromatic nose.

Tastes a bit thin; like the notes in the nose except quite a bit more muted. Mostly a wateriness up front, with a fairly roasty, nutty middle and a bitter coffee backend. Not the most complex, but certainly presents a decently drinkable flavour profile.

Medium bodied, very creamy and well carbonated. Very slick and viscous on the tongue- Firestone Walker has nailed the mouthfeel on this one for sure. Very creamy and smooth. Aftertaste is a mild espresso bitterness that does have some staying power.

Solid oatmeal stout, for the style it's got an exceptional nose and mouthfeel. The flavour profile doesn't quite live up to the rest of the beer, but it's a solid seasonal six-pack from Firestone Walker. Probably the first one from them I've actually enjoyed.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle stamped 09/25/14. Sampled on December 24, 2014.

It pours a deep dark charcoal black with ruby red hues and a modest, short lived tan head.

The aroma is of dark malts, oatmeal, and coffee.

The body is better than medium but I would not call it bold and heavy.

The taste has a nice coffee and dark malt character with that oatmeal and the bitterness is mild at the end. It is quite easy to drink.

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Photo of philbe311
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - A standard pour yields two fingers worth of active audibly fizzy rapidly fading medium brown colored head... The minimal at best retention gives way to an uneven splotchy veil of lacing and a thin collar... Mostly still with some stray sluggish carbonation streaks deep within... The color is an opaque black that splits the difference between flat and shiny... Not a bad looking beer by any means...

S - Big enticing aroma... Sweet milk chocolate... Lightly roasted coffee beans... A slight lactose component... Perhaps some raisins and dark fruits... Everything one should expect in an Oatmeal Stout in wonderful balance with nice layers of depth and complexity...

T - The lightly roasted coffee is first to the party... Then a slightly sweet lactose component... The milk chocolate takes a slightly distant back seat... A hint of roasted malt... The dark fruit notes are buried way beneath the surface, but still noticeable... There is a nice dark chocolate component on the deep finish...

M - On the fuller side of medium bodied... A limited bit of sharp crisp carbonation... Slightly sleek... Slightly smooth... A touch of creaminess...

D - A rock solid Oatmeal Stout (which shouldn't be a surprise coming from Firestone Walker who does everything)... Not world class, but way better than average... Highly enjoyable... Loaded with character and complexity... All with a 5.5% ABV bow wrapped around... All components work well together and the end result is a brew that seems to be a bit more than the sum of its parts... Nicely done...

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Photo of vacax
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ a few weeks ago at the Firestone 13 party. Review from notes. Poured into a goblet, very dark brown with red highlights. About one centimeter of tan head, high retention, fair lacing. Aroma is bready with oats, toasty, biscuity, fruity, and pops with some chocolate malts to it. Tastes of estery chocolate malts, robust levels of oats, biscuit and dough. Finish is roasty, bready, and cookielike. Feels thick and silky. Good oatmeal stout, better than average, but do not expect anything more than a regular oatmeal stout.

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Photo of tbern007
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown/black, gigantic head, very good lacing.
Scent is lighter than I expect- coffee, mild chocolate, roasted malt, slight sweetness of the chocolate.
Taste is of primarily coffee, mild chocolate.
Very light- less carbonated, not as creamy as I would have liked.
Overall good- the mouthfeel is a little disappointing.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Pours black. I'm not seeing much besides black I. The body. Head is initially a bigger, plop of doughy, tan foam. Then is settles down but it leaves thick lacing.

S-Sweet chocolate and cocoa. Oats and some roastiness. Even some dark fruitiness. I think the chocolate is nice; it's got some dark and milk chocolate notes.

T-Milk chocolate and light roast coffee and burnt oats. Good flavor but fairly tame. A little bit of cola. Some vanilla as well.

M-The flavor isn't as rich as some other Oatmeal Stouts but it's supremely drinkable. I will have no problem gulping through this six pack.

O/D-I have always wanted to try this beer. I was a bit disappointed, especially having Velvet Merkin first. It's a nice, very drinkable Oatmeal Stout. That's it, though.

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Photo of spoony
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From a 355 ml bottle (dated January 8, 2013) into a globe.

A-An aggressive pour fails to produce any head. The beer is slightly thin and watery looking. Color is dark, dark brown with ruby highlights. No bubbles visible.

S-The smell is a pleasant mixture of roasted malts, creamy oats, milk chocolate (lots of chocolate) with a touch of char and old coffee bitterness.

T-The taste is on the sweet side with milky chocolate and oats. I found it a little tight at first (45-50 degrees), but it opened up nicely as it neared room temperature. The chocolate came out along with some roasted malty flavors.

M-The feel is on the thin side with a fine, prickly carbonation.

O-This is a decent smelling and tasting brew, but I feel let down by the completely lackluster appearance and mediocre feel. Perhaps I got a bad bottle, but thin and watery is not how I prefer my oatmeal stouts. I am also surprised by how this beer's flavor profile blossomed at 65 degrees. In other words, this beer is something of an enigma for me.

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Photo of pmccallum86
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

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

Clear black colored beer with a smallish light brown colored head.

Smells strongly of chocolate. Scents of oak and vanilla with a little chocolate. Little bit of toasted bread aroma and a slight menthol and carrot scent from the hops.

Starts out mildly sweet and roasted grains with the distinctive Firestone oak barrel taste. Bittersweet taste with a bit of vanilla and caramel.

Mouthfeel is good.

Not a bad beer at all. A little disappointing though, Firestone normally hits home runs; this is more of a Double.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

64oz growler from Top Hops. Pours a dark blackish brown with a small amount of head. Minimal lacing. The aroma is vanilla, caramel, chocolate chip cookies, and hints of light and sweet coffee. The taste is roasted malts and vanilla upfront. Caramel, chocolate, and sweet coffee. Vanilla and caramel finish. A bit light. Moderate amount of carbonation. Overall, decent Oatmeal Stout I'd buy every once in awhile.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, the beer is jet black with deep brown highlights under light. A thick, foamy, light tan colored 2 inch head. This looks tasty. Aromas of coffee and chocolate are released from this beer. Flavors are rich and creamy on a smooth and creamy body, and tastes are rich of mocha and milk chocolate. The finish is quick and a bit dry, and the aftertaste is chocolaty. Very smooth and easy to drink beer, but lighter than I am used to with Oatmeal Stouts. Tasty brew!

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: deep brown color, nearly black, with a ruby tinge when held up to the light. Head cascaded into a three-finger monstrosity of tan froth. Great.

Smell: rich, creamy, roasty aroma of chocolate and coffee. That's what I come to an oatmeal stout to get.

Taste: roasty chocolate flavor with a fair amount of astringent acidity; more than I like in an oatmeal stout. Finish is OK but, overall, the flavor is a bit milder than I'd have hoped.

Mouthfeel: bodaciously creamy, silky texture. Body is huge and, although the carbonation doesn't seem like a whole lot, it is more than enough to make this thing feel like a champion.

Overall: I like this beer. It has some flavor flaws which are rather minor, and its mouthfeel is awesome, even for a stout like this. Good stuff.

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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 AWolfAtTheDoor
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
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 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.