Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding

2,625 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 2,625
Reviews: 609
rAvg: 4.01
pDev: 9.98%
Wants: 209
Gots: 429 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,625 | Reviews: 609
Photo of rjs246
4.12/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Firestone Walker has recently increased its footprint in the Richmond area and I couldn't be happier about it. This was yummy.

Photo of SanFranJake
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I really liked this beer. Poured into a plain ass snifter and was great!
Beer buying (not yet drinking) a lot of their beer lately (five XVI's, Parabola and DDBA's as I find) and had to try.
Pours a deep dark brown with great head that slowly dissipates.
Usual aromas of coffee and chocolate as expected but suprisingly drinkable and not the least bit filling as I expect a stout to be.
Great aftertaste and overall, if I'm looking for a drinkable stout that isnt barrel aged or fancy, I think I've found it.

Photo of TheSixthRing
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - Pours a near black with a hint of auburn brown peeking through where light can penetrate. Head is tan, powder snow fluffy and 2 fingers thick, good retention and a decent lace.

Smell - Potent oatmeal stout aromas here: Classic, roasty chocolate and coffee.

Taste - Bold cocoa and roasty coffee malt backbone, complimented by a nice hoppy bitterness. Simple, but assertive.

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body, smooth and velvety. Goes down easy, despite the big flavor.

Overall - First time having this beer, and it's my favorite Firestone brew to date. Classic oatmeal stout flavors, but big, bold and beautifully balanced. Definitely a future buy.

Photo of Beerenauslese
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the San Francisco Beer Week Gala

Body is dark brown with a bit of transparency at the edge. Head dissipates quickly to a ring.

Aroma of dark malt, coffee, chocolate, and trace of bourbon.

Tastes pretty smooth. Roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, with some bourbon in the finish.

Body is medium with a good level of carbonation, but has a more fizzy than creamy mouthfeel.

I felt this was a good drinkable brew. Pretty smooth with good integration of flavor and a sessionable ABV.

Photo of jribeiro025
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Smells and tastes like cocoa and espresso. Very smooth, and thin. No bitterness.

Photo of match1112
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: pitch black body. half inch of mocha colored head quickly settles to a thin ring with spotty lacing.

s: milk chocolate and roasted coffee.

t: sweet chocolate quickly takes a back seat to the roastieness with a touch of oat on the backend.

m: kinda thin body for a oatmeal stout, feels and tastes more like a milk stout. decent carbonation. creamy with a bitter dark chocolate finish.

o: good stout, but to me is more like a milk than a oatmeal. none the less still worth trying.

Photo of blindtiger24
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Opaque with slight carbonation. Mocha head dissipates quickly.

S: Coco nibs, toffee, dark roasted coffee, and malty sweetness.

T: Gingerbread, dark bitter chocolate, and toasted malt with a slightly sweet finish.

M: Good mouthfeel with a bit of bitter pucker from the bitterness and still some sweetness from the malt.

O: Good flavors with some complexity, but nothing that amazes. Easy to drink and tasty, but not a flavor explosion like many others in this spectrum.

Photo of Overlord
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been looking forward to trying this for quite some time.

Pours black with dark brown edging and a two inch tan head. Smells like bitter roastiness, some oatmeal, but it's a fairly muted nose.

Taste is much more robust. A tad bit of vanilla, a bit of chocolate, but mostly a big bitter (hopped??) roasty coffee-ish oatmeal. MMMM... Reminded me a bit of Cadillac Mountain Stout for some reason. The oatmeal is nicely integrated and isn't overpowering.

A bit thin of a mouthfeel.

Good beer.

Photo of dcook11
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pencil thin head with minimal lacing . Coca-cola like look with medium carbonation. The beer itself is stout dark with a tinge of red around the edges. The smell is of chocolate, roasted malt, sweet malt, and vanilla. The taste is heavy on the coffee and chocolate excluding the vanilla almost completly. Mouthfeel is light bodied and drinkability is high.

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
4.13/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Split a growler with my roommate, JustinA1, last week. The following review is based on notes taken at that time.

Poured (repeatedly) into a New Belgium globe.

Appearance: A thick, light brown, layer of foam sits atop a pitch black body. Head shows excellent retention and drags thick, clumpy lacing. Light barely penetrates the outermost edges when directly back-lit; I'm willing to call this one opaque.

Smell: Oats, wholegrain bread, dark chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee. A touch of salt also appears in deeper whiffs. Although this version doesn't smell as complex as previous experiences, it boasts a hearty grainy/bready character that softens up the heavy roast aromas. I dig.

Taste: Dark chocolate, oats, wholegrain bread, coffee, roasted malt, and caramel. Very smooth and balanced; harmonious. Alcohol creeps in just a bit as it warms. Roast and oat flavors cling to the palate deep into the aftertaste. Well done.

Mouthfeel: Creamier and more full-bodied than most oatmeal stouts. Very smooth and soft with fine carbonation; velvety, as implied by the name. Long-lasting and enjoyable aftertaste.

Overall: Very tasty, smooth, and balanced - an excellent example of the style!

Photo of stakem
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass this brew appears dark brown with a finger of brown head that quickly recedes to a thin lace across the top. When held to the light, this brew displays some lighter brown and deep ruby clarity through the body.

The aroma of this brew is a pleasant roasty scent reminiscent of coffee mixed with dark chocolate-like grains. The grain scent of this brew is very fresh and enjoyable which imparts a light sweetness through the nose. Once the brew warms up there is a light citrus hop indication in the back.

The taste of this brew is roasty grain that imparts a light sweetness through the body. It leaves a lingering taste similar to fresh coffee and light semi bitter chocolate. As this brew warms it picks up a light citrus hop influence.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. The oats in this brew imparts a silky smooth feel in the mouth which is exceptional for the style. The alcohol is perfectly hidden and overall this is a fine example of the style.

Photo of Ethanol4one
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Froth fell flat soon after the pour, leaving a dark stout with a slight amber glow.
Aroma was well tuned, perfectly hopped.
Tasted overwhelmingly a dark roasted coffee and cocao without a lot of bitter hop aftertaste.
The texture was smooth, but not as thick as it could have been for a stout in the 5% range.

Overall-- a great stout that's a little too high gravity and under carbonated (my huntch is that nitro could make this a crazy stout).

.

Photo of TwoBeers
4.14/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Nice dark brown in color. Chocolaty head that settles quickly. Almost no lacing.

S: This beer smells great. Fantastic chocolate aroma, with a hint of cherries and maybe some fig. A nice malty, nutty aroma follows.

T: Almost as good as the nose, the taste follows a similar profile. Chocolate up front, nutty with a big malty, nutty finish. Was hoping more of the fruity smell would come through.

M: Like a stout should be. Thick and creamy. Little carbonation.

O: This is a very warming stout. Easy drinking and very enjoyable. Once again impressed by Firestone Walker.

Photo of glid02
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Jeremy – thanks!

Pours one shade from black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of smooth roasted malts with good amounts of sweet oats and light chocolate aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Lightly roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by moderate amounts of light chocolate flavors. Midway through the sip the flavors sweeten a bit with slight amounts of oak and hints of toffee. The sweetness fades out near the end of the sip, carrying through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It’s got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall there wasn’t anything that stood out about this beer besides the mouthfeel but everything worked well together and this is a smooth beer. This beer reminded me of their Reserve Porter but with a heavier mouthfeel and slightly sweeter. Well worth a shot.

Photo of timc100
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, dark, dark rich brown with a full ice cream dark beige colored head.
S: Fresh roasted coffee, bitter dark chocolate, big roasted malts.
T: Full of flavor - fresh roasted coffee, dark chocolate, subtle rich milk chocolate, roasted malts
P: Medium body, incredibly smooth - like silk
O: Wow, just a fantastic beer. Huge flavor and feel for a low abv beer.

Photo of kbanks13
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from Rake in a recent BIF, thanks!

Poured into my SA pint glass pitch black, darker than most oatmeal stouts I've encountered, with an inch or so of dense tan head. Smell is dominantly coffee with a nice fudgey chocolate background. Subtle hopping. The taste is like a mocha kind of flavor, nice french roast coffee sort of flavor with the semi-sweet dark chocolate fudge I smelled earlier. Kind of pick up on a chestnut flavor. Very smooth. Earthy roasted and nutty flavors are complimented nicely with slightly floral hops that aren't too bitter or resiny. The feel is a bit lighter than I expected at first, not very dense as the smell and flavors would suggest, but as it warmed up a bit it became thicker. Highly drinkable and very tasty beer, overall. So far, I have not been disappointed with Firestone Walker. Velvet Merlin just made its way into regular rotation with me.

Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this interesting looking one thanks to Ultraman9000.

Pours a fizzy 1 finger head that fades at a medium pace over pitch black beer.

Nose is exploding with oats before I even poured it, dark malts, a bit of roast and slight coffee, a touch of dark chocolate, caramel, and hints of vanilla milk chocolate. The oats really show through.

Taste brings plenty of dark malts, but nothing heavy, a bit of roast and chocolate, some caramel and vanilla, tons of oats again almost chewy with oats, smooth and creamy, a touch of milk chocolate. A slight bitterness comes through towards the end and more on the finish as it dries off quite a bit, with a bit of a toasty malt finish, and just a hint of peppermint (I think my mind is making that part up cause it seems like it should be a peppermint patty), bit of chocolate and vanilla lingering with lots of mouthy oats.

Mouth is very full bodied, not too heavy but very creamy, smooth, and silky even.

Drink is good, sessionable but a bit to rich and thick to be really sessionable, dries nicely, no real booze, goes down smooth.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Half Acre shaker pint glass.

Thanks to whartontallboy for this bottle!

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

Photo of tony223366
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Fantastic head! Filled up my entire tulip. 3 fingers of tan, rocky head. Bubbles of all sizes and lacing is already apparent. Color is a deep, deep brown with the faintest hint of red. Clarity is good but no light can get through.

S: I'm getting tons of rich coffee aromas, some chocolate too. A little tobacco. Nice smokiness from the roasted malts.

T: Flavor mirrors the nose. Lots of rich roasted malts. That Earthy, almost tobacco flavor is here. Hops are much more present in a very lightly clean and citrusy way. I love that there's a nice bitter finish. Dark chocolate is always there. A really clean finish as well.

M: Can tell oatmeal is present, nice creaminess. Good carbonation. Maybe a smidge thin.

O: I love how drinkable this is. The aroma and body didn't knock me out but the clean, crisp flavors are incredibly attractive. Nice work from one of my favorite breweries.

Photo of sisuspeed
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Goose Island pint glass. Nice black body with a fingers worth of creamy tan head. The head dies a little bit, but mostly maintains and leaves some good lacing.

Lots of well roasted malt and dark chocolate on the nose. A little earthy with a touch of oatmeal. Very pleasant for a regular stout.

Taste is dark chocolate and dark roasted malt, much like the nose. Slight bitterness with a touch of coffee and oatmeal. Not overly complex, but well done.

Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and rich. This has a really nice body for a 5% stout. Not watery at all and no hint of alcohol. Very smooth. The oatmeal really helps.

Drinkability is great. This is a very quaffable stout. I could easily put back a few pints of this. If this were on tap at my local bar, it would become a regular for me. A great go to stout. Nice work Firestone Walker.

Photo of dbmernin83
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - almost black with over an inch of very pale khaki head
S - roasted malts, sweet oat
T - roasted coffee, smoothed out by oats and a light sweetness
M - good carbonation with a great light sticky sweetness.
D - An excellent stout, with excellent use of the oats to create a smooth finishing, yet complex beer. this coul be a good go-to stout.

Photo of drummermattie02
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip, deep brown and lets very little light through; two finger head that quickly recedes to a ring.

Aroma of roasted malts and coffee, good complexity.

Taste mimics the smell, but some chocolate comes through that i didn't initially detect. Really great finish, too. Very smooth feel, although a bit on the watery side.

Very well done beer, particularly considering the lower ABV and drinkability.

Photo of bhyndthebottle
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Poured thick and foamy into a tulip glass.Color is a wonderfully rich deep brown/black, that cascaded into a quickly disappearing head that left some fine lacing bhynd.

Smell: This was the only part of this tasting that wasn't spectacular. Smelled rather bland and unimpressive, with a little whiff of caramel and chocolate. Could not detect any boozy impressions...which is perfect, seeing how this is only at 5.5% abv.

Taste: This is where this beer shines through. Amazing from the first hit on the tongue to the lasting impression on your palate. Wonderfully smooth and complex hints of chocolate and caramel, with virtually no bitterness at the end. This is a fine expression of an oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel: Just what a nice oatmeal stout should be. With a wonderful medium bodied mouthfeel that just rests on your palate long after it has departed.

Overall: This is a wonderfully great example of what I think an oatmeal stout should be. Not overpowering and boozy, with a nice lingering afterthought that tells you that you just enjoyed a fine beer. Can't wait to try the barrel aged Velvet Merkin. Thanks Firestone!

Photo of magictacosinus
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Label states that this was bottled on "09/27/12."

Color is a blackened, brownish shade that is surprisingly thick and full looking, to the point where barely any light shines through. Not too much of a head, to my disappointment. Smallish bubbles fade away at the top of the glass and a ring resembling the top of coffee remains, with slight lacy specks on top. This is really dark, but I can see bubbles occasionally go around the glass's edges. Good stuff.

The aroma contains various aspects that are found in oatmeal stouts - other than dark grains and oats, there are coffee grounds, vanilla, a fresh herby zest, and several notes of dark wood and earthiness. The first aroma is definitely on the malty side, but there's an immediate balance with the hops and oats that makes this rich and wholly enjoyable. My mouth is already watering.

With one sip, followed by a second, I can immediately label this as the most balanced beer I've had by FW to date. There's an initial strong flavor of lovely chocolate malts, richened oats, and smooth, subtle coffee bean notes, but there are quickly - just as in the aroma - aided by the hops and slight yeasty flavors to create enormous balance and enjoyability. The aftertaste is slightly warming, and also rather smoky. There's a slight astringency that remains even a minute or so afterwards, which is rather unpleasant but not the biggest problem.

A very good oatmeal stout by FW, especially for its budget offering. I could definitely have more of these due to its rich, full-bodied experience at such a good price. Great stuff by FW, and I could definitely have more.

Photo of barnzy78
4.15/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz, bottled 12/04/2012, pours dark brown topped with a foamy beige head that holds decent retention. Aromas and tastes are similar with oatmeal, chocolate, faint coffee, background toasted grain, roasted barley, kind of smells and tastes like how a bag of freshly cracked roasted barley smells. Mouth-feel is exceptionally smooth and creamy, while having a medium-to-full body. Overall, not a whole lot of complexity, but this brewery knows how to streamline a good, solid beer.

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 2,625 ratings.