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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: 2,751
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 493 | 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: 621 | Hads: 2,751
Photo of Eriktheipaman
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a solid black with great tan head.

The smell was slightly on the hoppy side with just a touch of roast.

Taste was good with a fairy sweet coffee like character to it. But where this beer comes through is the mouthfeel. Very light and the oatmeal give it a thicker creaminess to it.

With 5.5% ABV you could drink a few and enjoy every bit!

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a tap into a pint glass at KnB Wine Cellar’s in San Diego, Calif. Color was coffee black. Probably heavy on the head, but I missed the pour. Good looking beer, though.

First smell was coffee. Also some caramel, nuts, Nyquill and cough drops.

First taste was coffee, followed by a strong alcohol bite and then a chocolate finisher. Dark, but so smooth.

Mild carbonation. Some licorice and almost a liquor taste, like Bailey’s Irish Cream. The Nyquill/cough syrup kept coming in and was off-putting.

I really like this beer, but it was much better out of the bottle. I usually am a draft guy, but the taste specifically was better out of the bottle.

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Photo of misinformed
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, reviewed 11/11/10. Pint glass.

A- The beer itself is an opaque black with maroon and brown highlights. Poured with around 1/2" of head that dissipated to a ring around the edge.

S- Roasted coffee, milk chocolate, dark roasted malts. Smells great, but could be stronger.

T- Roasted malt, dark coffee, mellow milk chocolate. I detected oatmeal a couple of times, but not much grain flavor. Slightly sweet.

M- Medium bodied and very smooth. Some prickly carbonation at first. Mild dry finish that coats the mouth. Body-wise, it finishes lighter than it feels.

D- High drinkability. The flavor is a bit mellow, but that works to its advantage with the smooth body. I really enjoyed the coffee flavors sweetened slightly by the milk chocolate. Very easy to drink a couple of these at a time.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at BC's Pizza and Beer

A: Pours dark brown with a slight ruby hue and mocha head that fades.

S: Dark roasted malt, a bit earthy, with light coffee.

T: Lots of dark roasted malt, some sweet cocoa, light coffee, a touch of vanilla, some earthy hop notes and a mild bitterness on the finish.

M: Medium body with moderate carbonation, velvety smooth.

O: Flavorful brew that really hits the spot on a cold night.

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Photo of psuKinger
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Velvet Merlin

Bottle given to me by my buddy PVG, poured into my Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

A: Pours pitch black. Thin brown head that dissipated quickly. 3.5

S: Big roasty oatmeal notes come pouring out of the glass. A touch of chocolate and a hint of pine underneath. 4.5.

T: Taste follows the nose. Roasted barley and oatmeal dominate. I'm picking up on something reminiscent of the *char* you got out on the outer crust of a good seared steak. Struggling to find the chocolate on the tongue that I picked up in the nose, but the hint of pine is definitely present. 4

M: Lighter than I would have expected based on the pour. The 5.5% ABV is for real here. But not really in a bad way. It's smooth, and finishes with a nice dry hoppy stickiness. 4

D/O: Very drinkable, and certainly repeatable. 4.5

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Photo of CruZnBrewZ
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pub style glass from 2 month old bottle.

Appearance: a nice dark black pour, yet thinner than expected. Slight lacing, low carbonation with about a finger's worth of head that decapitates quickly.

Smell: faint coffee and roasted malt aroma that does not linger. very nice, but not over the top.

Taste: I taste roasted oats, a hint of coffee, with a lingering sweetness

Mouthfeel: creamy but thin texture. goes down silky smooth. very pleasant.

Overall: a very enjoyable oatmeal stout. kudos on the taste and mouthfeel. Not the most impressive oatmeal stout I've ever had but up there. Great job!

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Photo of brewerburgundy
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, Bruery tulip, bottled 12/7/10.

Nearly a black Stout; some purple highlights lurk near the bottom of the glass and a darker brown head towers above. The lacing is top notch.

Very nice nose for a seemingly humble Oatmeal Stout; ghostly bourbon'd wood, vanilla oak, wet earth, and cocoa powder. Complexly dry, earthy, and chocolatey.

Mineral ridden dark chocolate with sneaky bourbon flavors behind. The woody, earthy U.S. Fuggles are definitely here and probably supporting the small bourbon barrel aged character. A little acidic coffee plays but fortunately does not steal the show.

A little thin, but truly smooth. Moderate to low carbonation holding some bite. Could be a little more full to go with the silkiness.

I am finding lots of complexity to enjoy here, without the mammoth abv often associated with Stouts that are considered the best. Smooth and warming nonetheless.

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Photo of errantnight
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Blue Palms in LA (originally as part of Xmas v. Hanukkah... not sure what this has to do with either, but hey!)

A creamy dense pitch black brew with a little bit of head with tenacity. Love the color.

Aroma is a gentle roastedness with a bit of biscuity malt. Subtle, simple, a little sweet. Really nice.

Tastes creamy smooth, nice medium full velvety texture carrying exactly what the aroma promises... a nice textured sweetness along a backbone of easy roastiness.

Really couldn't have a better structure, which makes this incredibly drinkable... but the flavor didn't blow me away. Pound for pound I'd still go Sammy Smith.

That said... the incredible bourbon barrel aged version had a few weeks ago was a different beast entirely. Perfect subtle vanilla and bourbon notes and the extra tannins all worked together for a phenomenal brew that didn't sacrifice the easy drinking experience but added nuances of flavor.

Certainly a tasty brew and fans of Firestone Walker will of course love to seek this out... and the should.

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Photo of huntley101888
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%

Aroma - smells sweet with notes of coffee and toffee maybe a bit of chocolate, but mostly the first two. 11/12

Appearance - Inky black color. No light is getting through this thing. Half a finger of tan head dissapated very quickly to a thin ring of foam around the surface of the glass. 3/3

Flavor - The obvious flavors are coffee and bitter chocolate up front. Those lead to the oaty sweetness that you'd expect in an oatmeal stout. I'm going to sound crazy here, but the sweetness taste reminds me of the smell of pumpkin puree. Please don't interpret that as this is a pumpkin beer, but that's what's in my brain. 18/20

Mouthfeel - lightly carbed, which is appropriate for style. Creamy mouthfeel - not too heavy but not too thin. 5/5

Overall - This is a very good oatmeal stout and is true to style. If you're looking for a good stout, try this one. 9/10

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Photo of Redneckwine
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 bottle into pint glass

Appearance - Dark, dark ruby brown, almost black, no clarity. Didn't produce much head off the pour, maybe a finger. Spotty lacing, minimal retention.

Smell - Nice big aroma of roasted coffee, big time bitterweet chocolate, faint earthy/grassy playing a support role

Feel/Taste - Light carbonation creates a mega-creamy smooth medium body, could use more of it perhaps. Flavor follows nose very nicely with clean roasty grains, dark chocolate notes, slight dark fruit, earthy roasted coffee. A touch of roasty bitterness and semi-sweetness on the finish.

Overall - Probably the best overall oatmeal stout I've had so far; very well put together, and really easy to knock back a few. Firestone seems to rarely disappoint!

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Photo of DaverCS
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured little to no head. Moderate carbonation. Not too much lacing.

I get a very nice nose on this beer. I get tons of roasted coffee and intense dark chocolate ... Almost like pure coco powder. Heavy malts also present on the nose.

Taste doesn't match the richness of the nose. The intensity of the flavor is pretty flat and watery. Up front I get carbonation and wateriness followed by mild malt, mild coffee, and mild chocolate. Touch of hops at the finish.

Overall not worth the time. Pretty watery and not too much flavor despite the deceiving nose. I would pair it with smoked brisket or a porcini mushroom rubbed hangar steak. I give it a 83.5/100

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A black beer here with a fairly tall tan head. The head is dense and mousse like. Nice contrast.
Aroma of rich roasted malts and coffee and chocolate. I didn't pickup any oak barrels or whiskey in the nose.
Roasted malts are dominate in the taste not overpowering but just the first thing you taste upon first sip. Accent flavors includes coffee and bittersweet chocolate and suggestive hints of oak and spirits. Fuggle hops lend just a light bittering to this stoudt.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a stout but none the less it's smooth and easy drinking. An excellent well made stout smooth and creamy with layers of flavor.
That being said, I would like to see the carbos pumped up a bit as well as an increase in head size for appearance purposes. I also think it's a bit thin giving a washed down feel. As stated previous, I would drink this beer many more times... and with glee

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Photo of beergod1
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a 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, with a healthy dose of oatmeal in finish to make it very creamy. The mouth feel is light to medium bodied and feels a tad thin, though it is a low ABV stout. This is a very drinkable. I wish I wouldn't have threw in my other one as an extra in a trade.

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Photo of Dope
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

11/21/14 bottling date.

A: Nice black pour with a frothy light brown head. Retention is decent with some little smatterings of lacing here and there.

S: Nice roasty aroma with some obvious oatmeal graininess/sweetness. Light chocolate.

T: Yup. Nice smooth oatmeal stout. Lightly roasty up front and then the oatmeal kicks in. Smooth, creamy flavors from the oatmeal. Light cocoa and bitter coffee from the roasted malt. Good combination. Smooth and sweet.

M: Medium bodied, exceptionally smooth and creamy.

O: Pretty much perfect for an oatmeal stout. Light bitter roastiness with some nice coffee and chocolate. Oatmeal to smooth it out and sweeten it up. Super drinkable. SUPER drinkable. Cannot be overstated. Up there with Sam Smith for drinkable oatmeal stouts.

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Photo of Marty30
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Azurescens for this extra.12 oz bottle dated 2-24-11.Poured into a Founders snifter and fridge temp allowed to warm up for about 15 minutes.

A. Black body when held up to the light appears to be dark brown. Leaves about a 1 finger offwhite creamy head.leaves behind good lacing.

S. Big milk chocolate notes followed up with coffee,dried oats and granola.

T. Dark chocolate and coffee and a little bit of roasted flavor.Very nice flavor of oats.Good hop bitterness.

M. Good medium feel for this,nice carbonation.Smooth very drinkable.

Overall I thought this beer was excellent,maybe my favorite oatmeal stout to date.Firestone Walker just keeps moving up my list.

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Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chocolate brown color with faint mahogany edges and a pillowy two finger beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Larges streaks and chunks of soapy lacing left behind.

Robust, roasted malt aroma that never becomes acrid or burnt. Slightly smokey with hints of toast, dark chocolate, coffee bean, caramel, toffee and of course, oatmeal. There's also a slight lactic cream presence adding complexity to the nose.

Chewy, full body with a deeply roasted dark malt character that's nicely countered by a subtle earthy hop presence. Very similar to the aroma with lots of roasted malt flavor that never becomes overpowering or burnt tasting. Strong dark chocolate, oatmeal and coffee bean presence along with some caramel, toffee and lactic cream. Very complex and even though it's full bodied, it's very well balanced resulting in an extremely quaffable beer.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A-dark black with a lack of head

S-dark chocolate, very sweet. Sugary caramels. Medium strength

T-great flavor of roasted grains and very sweet chocolate. The ingredients are all of high quality and very raw tasting. Tastes like a real beer. Matching after-taste

M-medium carbonation with a semi dry finish.

O-it's a great flavor. I wish it was a bit creamier though and less dry. I think it'd be perfect via nitro. Definitely something I'd recommend anyone to try

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a dark brown-black with a finger of frothy khaki-chocolate colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted milk chocolate with some oats, coffee, and a hint of vanilla.

T - Starts off with roasted milk chocolate with a bit of vanilla. Through the middle, some coffee comes through alongside a bit more vanilla. The finish is a mix of roasted milk chocolate with some coffee and vanilla.

M - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth and a bit creamy with a sweet and lightly roasted finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nicely balanced with a really good smooth mouthfeel.

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Photo of Mississipping
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown that settles to an almost complete black with just a hint of ruby highlights when held to light.  A one-finger caramel-color head rises and falls quickly leaving a patchy film and thin ring behind.  Very modest legs and lacing on the edges of the glass. 

S: Chocolatey, slightly smokey, and oats with a touch of maple and raisin.  Nicely balanced and a pretty nice complexity that is really refreshing.

T: Starts out with some slightly bitter chocolate, hops, and a touch of coffee.  The bitterness is not very strong and is quite pleasant on the palate.  It transitions to a sweeter chocolatey flavor with some sweet dark fruit.  Finishes between the two with a great balance on the finish. 

M: Medium-bodied with a pretty good level of carbonation.  Starts out slightly bitter and ends a little on the sweeter side.  Nice transition from start to finish, with a touch of drying at the end. No hint of the modest amount of booze.  A nice little oatmeal stout. 

D: I really enjoyed this for a year-round stout that isn't barrel-aged.  Tasty and complex enough with a good balance and nice finish.  I wish I could get this on a regular basis. 

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at FW Taproom

Poured a deep brown almost black and it had a small white head. Nose had some hints of toffee, oatmeal and cocoa. Went down smooth and the ABV was around 5. Taste was smooth with not as much taste up front but through the middle and mouthfeel is where this beer is strongest i thought. Lots of smoothness, oats, cocoa, maybe a light coffee feel and creamy, roasted malts. Very smooth and highly drinkable. Best Oatmeal Stout I have had next to BORIS.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Pours dark brown with a finger of tan head. After a few minutes the head is a fairly thick ring on top of the beer. Good for the style.

S: A mixture of roast, milk chocolate, and very light hops. Nothing overpowering and in very good balance.

T: A significant roast character with milk chocolate and light hop bitterness on the background. Extremely drinkable.

M: Full bodied with good carbonation.

O: Fairly straightforward, very well balanced, a great oatmeal stout.

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Photo of jera1350
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jesse (arniepnminne) for another great trade beer.

The body pours thinner, but in the glass it is solid black with a creamy tan head that leaves very little lacing on the glass.

The nose is a little light, but what it does offer up is rich malt and oats with some nice sweetness. Light roast on the nose as well.

Quite flavorful for the style. Roasty malt, coffee bean, cocoa and dark chocolate. Light oatmeal sweetness. Toasty aftertaste.

The body feels a little thin, but the carbonation is creamy and soft. A lightly sticky finish.

Overall, a nice beer for the style. One of the top ones I'd say. It's not mind blowing, but does stand out in the crowd. Drinks quite nicely as well.

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Photo of Goldfish19
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

~ 12 oz bottle purchased online.

This oatmeal stout pours dark brown in color with a thin tan head.

Velvet Merlin has a pleasant aroma. Roasted malt, oats, coffee and chocolate all make an appearance.

The taste is very similar. All the above are present, but I also detect some vanilla, which I couldn't initially pick out in the smell. It's not sweet, but from what I understand this was the brewer's intention.

The body is a little on the thin side, but no complaints here. It's smooth, creamy and at 5.5% it went down without a hitch.

Overall, this is a solid offering from Firestone. If anyone is on the lookout for a well-crafted oatmeal stout, give this a try - you will not be disappointed. ~

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Photo of DM1293
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Seasonal Sample from the Lazy Dog Cafe.

Its pretty good. Appears a reddish brown to the light, but then again the light was kinda dim.

A bit less smooth than other oatmeal stouts, being up-front with the bitter smokiness and coffee notes, but it falls into a semi-rich chocolate finish, which I find strangely decedent of a beer. So the finish does balance out the beer quite well.

A very unimposing, tasty stout.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin
12oz, bottled 9.18.14

Dark garnet with a one-finger tan head. Lacing/retention average. (3.5)

Aroma has a lot of toasted malt with a hint of earthy hop. Some roast. Clean. (3.5)

Flavor is complex and smooth. Molasses, coffee, date, dark fruit and other crystal malt flavors. Roast is restrained. Herbal hop is subtle. Finish is pretty dry for style, but mouthfeel is huge and, well, velvety. Oats playing a big role here. Carbonation is medium-low. (4.5, 4.5)

A very nice stout. Soft, smooth and balanced. Not a bitter roast bomb at all. Highly drinkable and satisfying. Merlin strikes again! (4.5)

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