Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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BA SCORE
89
very good

592 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 592
Hads: 2,631
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 211
Gots: 438 | 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: 592 | Hads: 2,631
Photo of BerkeleyBeerMan
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Staid pitch black and luminous brown undertones with a finger thick creamy tan head.

Smell: Oat, chocolate, blueberry, cafe espresso and chocolate moose. Slight bitterness

Taste: British hops, earthy and herbal. Granite charcoal malts. Coffee. Sweet fruit. Blackberry. Dry charcoal malt finish.

Mouthfeel: Beautifully balanced, smooth and tasty treat. Full flavored and not too heavy. Medium malt texture. Savory.

Overall: A great beer for the price. You can pick this one up on sale seasonally at Trader Joe's. About a $1.20 a beer. Drinkable. I only wish it was available year round. (601 characters)

Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A – Opaque dark-brown almost black, with a one-finger light brown creamy looking head which lasts a while. Lacing clings to glass and doesn’t want to give up.

S – Powerful aroma of roasted coffee beans, toffee, graham cracker, and a bit of beery, sweet malt. A chocolate chip cookie smell comes out as it warms. One of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.

T – Toffee, milk chocolate, coffee, a touch of caramel, a hint of charcoal. Just enough hop to bring balance, not enough to make any hop character a noticeable standout. Alcohol surprisingly detectable at 5.5% ABV. (This is a good thing if you ask me)

M – Full bodied and chewy. Prickly carbonation helps with the drinkability.

O - Outstanding. A well-balanced oatmeal stout that just comes together perfectly. You can taste the effort that went into making this. My new go-to, non-imperial stout. (889 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout
12 oz. bottle, dated"01/08/13 12:01"
$3.50 @ The Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, PA

So what is it that makes an oatmeal stout, because just using oatmeal doesn't exactly do it?

Well, it's black in color with a long-lasting head of pillowy dark tan foam. When held to the light ruby highlights can be seen glimmering along the edges of the glass. Oddly, the lacing could be better as it only leaves spots and streaks behind.

The aroma displays graininess with both straightforward pale malt and a mild roastiness as well. There's a bit of yeasty fruitiness, and a suggestion of floral hops as well. They all work together, and although there's a bit of a sweet coffee aroma to it, it's not overly roasty or "harsh".

In the mouth is where oatmeal stouts seem to shine the brightest: it's medium-bodied and silky smooth with a fine bubbled median carbonation. As it warms it becomes nicely creamy across the palate.

Oatmeal stout is a derivative of the sweet stout style, and as such it should have a sweetish balance, offset by some delicate roastiness that conjures up flavors of milk chocolate, creamy coffee, toffee, and cocoa or fudge. Check, check, check! The bitterness is restrained, somewhere in the upper 20's, and there's just a subtle hint of underlying dark malt acidity that helps to balance it. Following that, there's a slight hint of floral and grassy hop flavor but it's quite restrained.

This is a beer that's about malt, and about drinkability - although it's generally more to be savored than gulped! It's flavorful without being aggressive, and it's complex but the components are very well woven together into one main fabric of flavor. Add to that a remarkable smoothness across the palate and a standard alcohol content, and you've got a remarkably enjoyable and drinkable stout.

It's not an easy beer to brew because the balance between malt sweetness, hop bitterness, and dark malt acidity is so important; yet Firestone Walker has pulled it off. Quite nice! (2,027 characters)

Photo of MaltsOfGlory
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance is good, at first the head looked soda-ish, but now it has settled down and looks frothy and creamy. Body is pitch black. The smell is very interesting, all it says is that it is an oatmeal stout, but it smells more like an espresso stout, all I'm really getting on the smell is coffee and a big roasty malty smell. It smells good, just different. Taste is excellent though, man, this is freaking smooth. The taste is super smooth, super easy to drink, but at the same time it is very complex. You for sure get the coffee and the roasted malt taste, but the coffee isn't quite as present as I thought it would be. Along with those two flavors you also get some chocolate and a tiny tiny tiny bitterness at the end. Super good beer here. (747 characters)

Photo of SQUIDPORT
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this for the first time @ the LA Beer week closing ceremony.
Recently stocked up on some 6pks. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark as night but not too thick, good head.

S: Coffee, chocolate, mmm I need another to reflect upon.

T: Like dipping a chocolate oatmeal cookie into your spiked coffee & drinking the remains.

M: Liquid black velvet!

D: Goes down smooth, great to drink! Especially after drinking a few 10% ABV beers. Then you can drink it right out of the bottle & it still tastes good. (503 characters)

Photo of chugalug06
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Delicious. Nice off-white thick foamy head. Brew is black, very black. Nice lacing with good head buildability when swirled.

S - Oatey. Some small chocolate. Mildly smokey and heavily roasted. Some nice coffee scents too.

T - Very nice! Smooth as a baby.... Some gentle milk chocolate, nothing heavy. This brew is quite good.

M - Gentle on the tongue. Above average carbonation, dry and well-rounded.

O - What a great brew! I'm glad I picked this one up! Highly recommended. (484 characters)

Photo of JoshuaB
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Easily one of my favorite stouts, balancing mild bitterness and acidity with hints of sweetness, moderate gravity and alcohol percentage, perfect for a long, cold night.

It is very, very dark, as expected, although it doesn't have quite the epic head some stouts do.

The oatmeal flavor is present but not overly forward; the caramel maltiness is a much larger part of the character of both the taste and smell. Long aftertaste that again is more bittersweet than bitter. Coats your mouth, definitely on the creamier side. Has the feel of a higher alcohol beer, surprisingly.

Goes well with anything BBQ, though I mainly drink it alone. It's become my go-to beer for drinking by itself this winter.

Having not tried the Merkin, I can't compare yet. (751 characters)

Photo of MacQ32
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - almost motor oil black with a finger of chocolate heat, decent retention and lacing.

S - Tons of sweet chocolate, smokey/almost roasty aromas. Lots and lots of oats.

T - Sweet milk stout with tons of great oat flavor. Minimally rosary with minimal dark fruit flavors. Kind of simple but absolutely fantastic.

M - perfectly smooth. Minimal carbonation, thick, very warming combines with a great balanced flavor profile to form an incredibly nice drinking brew (465 characters)

Photo of hopfacebrew
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from updated bottle to pint glass. Pours a deep dark opaque brown, nearly black, with a fine 1 finger head with good retention and some lacing. The nose is that of roasty malts mixed with coffee and vanilla. Somewhat sweet and not much in terms of hop character. The flavor starts with a smooth roasted malt flavor mixed with the milder tones of coffee and vanilla and a residual sweetness. There is almost a subtle fruit flavor. Finishes extremely smooth with a hint of mild bitterness and slight woody flavor. Extremely well balanced and well crafted beer. The mouthfeel is like velvet, as the name implies, it's perfect. Very easy to drink, not over the top considering all the flavors. Medium to Thin bodied.

Overall, this is an excellent beer and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended. (804 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle had at the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay in Vegas, 12oz'er into a pint glass.

Pours an opaque black with a mocha brown head of a couple fingers. Quite thin in terms of head retention and only a snippet of lacing. Lovely nose for an oatmeal stout, some bitter chocolate, sweet caramel and hints of a sweeter/milkier chocolate. Good roastiness and a hint of molasses. Sweet and bitter in terms of taste, roasted malts, subtle caramel and molasses notes. Modest bitterness with a bit of coffee in the finish. Heavy medium body, with a medium carbonation. Chewy feel, with great flavour. An exceptional oatmeal stout with lots of subtle complexities. (652 characters)

Photo of Foxtrot
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
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. (1,349 characters)

Photo of RocPorterFanatic
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Pitasoup for this bottle.

A - Deep, dark brow, almost black. Thick, creamy head, leaving almost no lacing down the glass.

S - Subtle hint of coffee and dutch cocoa. Very malty aroma, you can almost smell the mash.

T - Very dry. Roasty malts quickly sweetened by the oatmeal, taking the rough edge off. Subtle flavors here, ever so slightly tannic. Could use a touch more oatmeal to mute this.

M - Absolutely perfect for the beer. Creamy, with enough carbonation to keep it interesting.

O - Great beer!! This has been a top want for quite some time, and it didn't disappoint. Just a great beer. (609 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Oliver's in Albany, NY.

Pours an opaque dark brown, almost black. One inch of mocha head forms, good lacing down the glass.

Smells like roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee.

Tastes strongly of roasted malt, with a silky smooth taste that signifies oats. Some bitter chocolate in there too, with a hint of coffee. Not very bitter.

Medium mouthfeel, silky smooth due to the rolled oats. Feels more full bodied than a 5.5% ABV beer would signify. Very drinkable.

A great beer from Firestone Walker that gets lost amongst their other bigger beers. Very sessionable, with tons of flavor. (606 characters)

Photo of Wetpaperbag
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
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. (465 characters)

Photo of kzoobrew
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The pour reveals a cola brown liquid exiting the glass, settling into the glass an opaque black color. One and a half finger fizzy malted milk colored head is set atop. The head recedes in a rather quick manner, leaving a rocky ring lingering on the outside. Moderate lacing clings to the walls of the glass.

The aroma is very pleasing, a bit more assertive than I imagined. A pleasant roasted character is prominent up front. The roasted aroma dances in between malt and coffee aromas. Warmth subdues the sweetness and really expands the aroma. Cocoa powder aroma really builds on what was picked up before. The roast somehow becomes more integrated.

The flavor comes in layers, displaying tremendous balance. Sweet chocolate and creme flavors roll across the tongue. A pleasant roasted malt and java develop just behind. There is a subtle caramel flavor which peaks its head out from below rounding out the flavor. As the beer sits and warms the sweet chocolate moves towards a bittersweet chocolate flavor, the medium roasted coffee flavor moves to a darker, fuller roast.

The mouthfeel is absolute perfection, I see no room for improvement here. Medium bodied Oatmeal Stout delivering a smooth, creamy, dare I say velvety texture.

We all have our preferences in beers and styles. I have a definite preference for the bigger stouts. The bodies are fuller, the flavors more intense, they simple appeal to me much more than their smaller counterparts. If their were more stouts like Velvet Merlin out there, I may change my mind. Flavors are bold and balanced, the body smooth and creamy. I find it hard to admit sometimes that another state makes a better stout than what is available in Michigan, at least a Kalamazoo boy is responsible for this one. Absolutely awesome beer, fantastic. Big thanks to KevSal for the bottle. (1,832 characters)

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

A - Dark brown color with a light tan head. The lace beads quickly and dissipates, not leaving rings.

S - A mild roast aroma, not overpowering but not weak

T - The roast comes through in the flavor with a slight sweetness of caramel

M - This beer is smooth and has a wonderful after taste, leaving a hint of oatmeal

D - This an excellent dessert beer. (355 characters)

Photo of lurpy1
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Cordova Casino in Rancho Cordova. It accompanied one of the shittiest meals I've had in eons, a nasty-ass chicken fettucine alfredo. I should have my head examined for having a stout with white sauce, but the mismatch isn't responsible for the Boyardee impression of the noodles. Anyway, this review is not about the noodles, it's about the beer. And what a beer it turned out to be. One of the best oatmeal stouts I've had. Roasty and subtle vanilla flavors, with a fantabulous sureally smooth consistency. Much better than FW's porter. Really makes me want to try Parabola. (589 characters)

Photo of Brackh
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a bottle from February while in Portland. Really excited to try anything from Firestone Walker. Good Stout. Pretty malty brew. Catch a hint of coffee. Pours super dark and thick with a good head. Could drink this on a regular basis.

Wife's Review: "Yum! I like it a lot. Great with chocolate." (304 characters)

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

Good to see this one on the shelf. It's an unassuming oatmeal stout, a quiet beast.

Black pour with cola-like edge. Head is off-white/brown with slick lacing. Would like to see a bigger head, maybe more dense...but still looks good.

Soft aroma of roasted cocoa, wet dark bread and black strap leather. hint of baked caramel. Not a powerful aroma, but damn nice.

Again, unassuming. Nothing here is going to scream to get attention. But the roastiness and baked stuff is really endearing. Cocoa powder, baked chocolate and caramel, fire-side pine on the end. hint of smoke. Very nice.

The softness of this beer really stands out. It's rich and drinkable without getting you plastered. Smooth and coating with a semi-dry finish. Darn good (742 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

4/3/2011

Drinking this beer in honor of my mother's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you appreciate what I'm doing for you. Poured into a snifter.

A: Deep brown with a creamy light brown head. Good retention.

S: Aroma shows a little coffee with a moderate roasted malt character. Nice soft oatmeal profile blends with chocolate and a mellow and well integrated bourbon element. There's a light biscuit note and a dash of nut character.

F: Flavor is dry with a blend of chocolate and coffee. Low level of earthy bitterness and a lower moderate roasted malt profile with a dash of toasted character. Bourbon is tame and goes very well with the chocolate and oatmeal. The balance of flavors is superb.

M: Excellent mouthfeel. Creamy and silky. Medium in body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic beer. Highly drinkable and enjoyable, and at a great price. (874 characters)

Photo of a0lbudman
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-black with a small brown head that faded fast and leaves no lace
S- you get many aromas at first, roasted, brown sugar, and a bitter chocolate aroma.
T-roasted taste with the caramel malt coming through, then you get a coco bitterness that sweetens up in the end
M-creamy silky smooth with low carbonation
O-great taste and nice balance of all flavors (353 characters)

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. (420 characters)

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

12oz bottle into mug.

Pours with of fairly rocky, brown head over deep brown body with just a hint of light on the edges.

Solid, roasty aromas... reminded me of Founders Imp Stout. Lots of bittersweet chocolate, charred log, oats, and some tire rubber.

Creamy on the palate. The roast continues into the flavor, but mellows out to a sweeter chocolate profile - think chocolate/chocolate chip ice cream. Light hop pull in the finish. Good body - this drinks bigger than a 5.5%. Nearly perfect carbonation. Light film on the tongue.

Awesome Oatmeal Stout. Smokey quality is the only thing holding me back from a couple 5's. (626 characters)

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

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass tumbler. Freshness date on bottle neck. Purchased at Zain's Liquors (San Francisco, CA).

A: Black with dark brown edges, soft, foamy 1-finger beige head with good retention and copious lacing.

S: Chocolate and dark maltiness are most prominent with some raisin, smoky malts, and light whiskey

T: The smoky bourbon flavor is delightful and really adds a delicate and unique touch that really moves this beer up a tier. The chocolate notes are sumptuous and the the caramel component, not really very obvious in the aroma, comes through to give a lightly fudgy finish.

M: Very smooth and lush with medium body and low carbonation.

O: A really well-styled oatmeal stout that I wish they distributed more widely. It is one of FW's best everyday beers. (803 characters)

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

A- Dark deep brown color. Looks like black coffee. some lacing, but not much retention.

S- Roasted malts(toffee, coffee, bitter chocolate)

T- Dark roasted sweetness. Dries out very quickly; very nice finish.

M- light to med body. Feels very pleasant on the palate. light carbonation.

O- Very good example of the style, very pleasant to drink. (346 characters)

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 592 ratings.