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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

641 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 641
Hads: 2,877
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 227
Gots: 556 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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: 641 | Hads: 2,877
Photo of gillagorilla
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip (02/17/14, not sure if that is best by or bottled on, best by makes sense since this is a fall beer)

A: Pitch black and pours a finger thick head that goes away quickly enough. Leaving just a slightly mocha island of bubbles.

S: I get a lot of coffee and chocolate, with that oatmeal background that smooths them all out and binds them together.

T: Very smooth from the oatmeal. Tastes like rye oat water. I was super excited for this, but maybe it would have been better had we gotten it in the fall. Nice bit of stout in there, but comes across as more of a porter.

M: Smooth, with just a bit of abrasiveness to it.

O: Not what I was expecting, but I was wanting more flavor. I guess I am spoiled by GD's Oatmeal Yeti.

p.s. Turns out this is a late spring/early summer release (at least here in MD). Still looking for some Easy Jack and Opal.

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Photo of DanJan
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark rich color. Very dark brown. Tan head. although not large or long lasting. Looks pretty delicious in the light.

S - Not much of a scent here. Basic. Slightly chocolatey, burnt and malty notes.

T - Basic stout. Described as an oatmeal stout which balances out the coffee and darker flavors. Little bit of dark chocolate. Little bit sweet. Easily drinkable.

M - Coats but doesn't last long. I prefer a stout that is a little stickier and thicker on the tongue. Carbonation is nice but quickly dissipates.

O - A decent offering from Firestone Walker. Pretty middle of the road stout but after it warms up and it gets chilly outside, not too bad at all.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Brooklyn Tulip. Very dark pour (almost black) with a nice tight 2-finger light brown head and good retention. Nose is subdued and has mostly roasty notes and some chocolate.

Lots of roasted malt in the flavor. It's medium-bodied and pretty dry. It's somewhat reminiscent of Samuel Smith's OS, but without the nice, creamy sweetness. Overall, it's not bad, but it's a bit dry for my palate and therefore is far from the best OS I've had. I expect more creaminess in this style.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear dark brown with ruby highlights at the edges. Big, average lasting mocha head. Little lacing.

S - Light dark sweet malts, little roast. Caramel. Light earthy hops.

F/M - Rich velvety smooth dark malts. Bready, toffee, caramel, little roast. Earthy/spicy hops with medium high bitterness. Clean, dry finish. Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D - Good. Clean, dry, full flavored and quite easy drinking.

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Photo of wajacobs
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've never been the biggest fan of Firestone Walker but picked up a sixer at BevMo when the store clerk said it was one of her favorites.

I typically like stronger stouts but must admit I really like this ale, its extremely smooth and but the flavor and aroma are dominated by roasted coffee and light caramel notes. It would be nice if it were a little stronger and provided a more warmth on the back end.

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Photo of SABERG
3.54/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle dated 11/21/14 into a modified tulip glass.
A - Translucent, pour light slips through with little effort, initially a big
carbonation charge, settles down, leaving a thin off white cap.
S - Milk chocolate, light brown sugar and raisins, Reminds me of breakfast.
Oatmeal with yes, raisins and a sprinkle of light brown sugar. As the beer warms,
more cocoa notes develop, buried way in the back hides a little fig to tease the senses.
T - Medium roast malt, a kiss of black paten, slightly sweet, with ever present light cocoa. A delicate touch of hops tilts to a crispness that is quite pleasant.
F - Thin in body, with the light carbonation combine to leave a lot of edges. Velvet it is not, as an oatmeal stout it could use a fuller feel IMO. The beginning is muted, the finish like a quite exit, with no calling card.
O - I fell like there is something missing in this oatmeal stout, with respect to FW who do some great things. There take on this style is a little short.
Cheer all

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Photo of Gfunk720
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, out of my Maudite Tulip. Thanks to David for this one.

A- The blackest of black, but a little thin on the edges. A healthy tannish head forms, and retains for a bit. The beer laces quite nicely.

S- Rich and creamy, dark roasted malt and oatmeal. Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla notes as well.

T- It's a decent oatmeal stout, nothing too crazy. Primarily roasted malts. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate.

M- A little lighter than I like from a beer of this style.

D- It's drinkable, but not terribly memorable.

D-

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Photo of denver10
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark with a light brown head that settles on the edge of the glass

S: Rich, full of oatiness and some roasted espresso and chocolate, and some roastiness.

Taste: matches the smell pretty well. Get the oatiness up front which is then followed with the espresso and closes out with some chocolate and hops. And don't forget the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: definitely creamy and some good body to it.

Overall: I know this is jedi mind tricks but not really a fan of this when I think about it as an oatmeal stout, but become quite a fan once I view it as an oatmeal porter. For me this drinks more like how I enjoy my porters.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – Pours a deep brown, nearly black color, with a one finger of tan colored head. The head fades rather rapidly, leaving a persistent foam head that eventually fades to leave only a light level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is rather light overall, consisting mainly of a roasted malt smell mixed with some coffee aromas. Along with these smells are some lighter notes of a oatmeal smell as well as a little bit of a woody smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt flavor mixed with a sweeter oat flavor with some caramel and oatmeal flavors. The oat and sweet flavors lose some ground as the taste advances, being replace by some coffee like flavors. The coffee grows stronger toward the end of the flavor really taking hold of the overall flavor profile. A little bit of an oaky taste as well as a slight increase in sweet, but a rather big increase in the bitter coffee, come at the very end leaving one with a slightly drier and bitter, but still quite pleasant, coffee flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average side in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is rather average. A slightly thicker body and lower carbonation would have likely been slightly better for the darker and coffee flavors of the brew, but overall for the 5.5 % abv, the feel was OK.

Overall – A rather decent oatmeal stout overall. Rather drinkable with a nice coffee flavor.

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Photo of mothman
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours 1 finger of light tan head. Leaves some rings. Color is a dark copper brown.

Aroma: Rich espresso, chocolate, caramel, and a lot of malts. Some vanilla. Big roast.

Taste: More espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. A lot like the nose.

Mouthfeel: Massive roast, medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends pretty dry.

Overall, too roasted for me. Otherwise, it is pretty good. I got no bourbon or oak out of this beer.

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Photo of arfenhouse
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Almost fully black and pours a decent tan head. Retention is a bit poor.

S: Aroma is a bit fleeting. A bit of coffee and chocolate mainly. A small amount of prune and grape.

T: Starts off with a bit of mocha sweetness. A bit of bittering roasted grains Aftertaste is of dark fruit and some bitter black coffee.

M: Light on the carbonation and feels medium-full. Has a pretty good creaminess to it. Definitely wet.

O: Decent oatmeal stout. Inexpensive and overall tasty.

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Photo of JoeAmerican77
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black like a tar moat with some nice tan one finger fluffies...Sweet cocoa and brown sugar dominate the nose a nice light roasty aroma. Smooth slippery slightly sweet and very roasty, chocolate malts, and and caramel work their way to the front. Creamy light body is easy to put down, feelings of a much larger body is due to the heavy small bubble carbonation.

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Photo of mcintire78
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

a: Pours deep brown to black. A very small amount of head that quickly dissipates and mild to moderate carbonation. Served out of a bottle and into a nonic pint glass.

s: A sweet, malty smell. Slightly of raisins.

t: Strong oatmeal taste up front, and ends up dry.

m: Little carbonation. A bit thin and dry on the end.

d: The low abv means you could drink more than one if you were so inclined. Not sure I'd be having more than one or two...

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Photo of rawfish
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark, garnet highlights with a quickly building two finger mocha head. Below average retention with hints of sticky lacing left on the glass.

Obvious cereal grains, husky and raw with burnt malt, spent coffee grounds and hints of chocolate sweetness and dried prunes.

Thin profile with some husky light grains, grape juice comes to mind as well as some burnt toast, ashy with hints of chocolate and coffee. Pleasantly bitter and drying on the finish though.

Not velvety smooth or creamy but definitely easy to drink. Lighter body and muted carbonation paired with nearly no alcohol.

Drinks like an oatmeal stout but ultimately disappointing, lots of burnt, ashy and raw grain flavors get collected on the palate before a nice coffee bitterness and drying take over. FW makes great beers but this is closer to the bottom of their list.

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Photo of DeepBrew
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter.

A: Dark mahogany color with some foam, that disappeared quickly. Little lacing.

S: Some hop smell initially, faded almost immediately.

T: Roasted malts and coffee with very discrete hops, but without the bitterness. Taste improves as it warms and the coffee lingers pleasantly.

M: Medium-low mouthfeel and carbonation.

O: Smooth and drinkable, muted but pleasant flavors.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Black bodied beer with thin white cap. Mild lacing noted on the glass.

Smell: Big time Oats and coffee. Toasty and roasty smell.

Taste: Mildly bitter coffee and mildly sweet chocolate notes. The oat is fairly strong and flavorful in this beer.

Mouthfeel: Disappointed here. Average at best. Way thinner than i expected and hoped for. Light end of a medium bodied stout and moderate carbonation.

Overall: better than average oatmeal stout, but I expected alot more from this brew.

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Photo of jmasher85
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Possibly the most oatmeal-smelling oatmeal stout I've ever smelled. Smell is straight-up breakfast. I'm almost tempted to pour some molasses on this so it's just the way Mom used to make it when I was little. A hint of sour bread and yeast too. Taste is similar - lots of oatmeal in this, with a bit of bitter, burnt flavor. No chocolate and very little coffee flavor often associated with stouts. Texture is nice, if a hint thin, both on body and carbonation - I was surprised to see the head dissipate that fast. Overall, a nice brew and good rendition of the style, but certainly not a great one.

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Photo of Jagen
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes taken 11/7/12. Nitro-tap at The Map Room in Chicago. 12 oz pour into an orval glass

A - 1 Finger light, white-brown head. Very black beer. Looks just about how a stout should look

S - Subtle oatmeal notes. Very weak smell. I like the smell but it is very weak...smells very sweet and inviting/

T - It tastes really delicious. Milk-chocolate. Late oatmeal taste. I don't taste any Bourbon at all. It tastes really good but isn't bold enough for the style.

M - Nitro-goodness. Kind of light. Smooth and silky. Surprisingly light for the style...maybe light due to the nitrotap? Enjoyed the feel, though.

O - A really tasty beer. I wonder if this was mid-advertised and is actually the 5% non-bourbon aged version? I would have liked this to be much more bold and the flavors to be much more prominent. I enjoyed it but it tasted like a watered-down version of what I expected. It was advertised as 'Velvet Merlin', 8.7%, bourbon aged...I think it was just the normal 5%-er that they bottle

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Photo of champ103
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours an ink black color. A one finger tan head forms and recedes to nothing after a minute. Light lace is left behind.
S: Big roasted malts up front. Coffee and chocolate apparent. Nice typical stout aromas. The coffee becomes a bit acrid and bitter as this warms.
T: Like the nose, big roasted, coffee, and chocolate flavors. Again the coffee becomes too bitter and acrid after a while.
M/D: A medium to full body. Moderate carbonation. Fairly viscous as well. Not the ultra smooth body I want for an Oatmeal Stout though. Not hard to drink. I have gone through a six pack without a problem over the last week.

A decent stout. Nothing special. The biggest downfall in the flavor department is the bitter and acrid finish. Not one of my favorite stouts and certainly not one of FW's better year rounds.

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Photo of Phelps
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Hand-pumped from the cask at Papago during a recent Firestone Walker promo. Served in an imperial pint.

A: pours the pervasive brown of dark chocolate with faint highlights of sunset orange visible at the edges. A foamy two-finger head the consistency of soap bubbles and the color of ground ginger sits atop, receding slowly but stopping the departure at about the one-finger mark. No lacing.

S: very chocolatey. Lots of cocoa powder and toasted crackers. Some coffee emerges as it warms. It's one-dimensional, but decent.

T: strangely, this seems way more coffee-forward than from the bottle. Flavors of cocoa powder and slightly acidic dark chocolate are also present.

M: medium-bodied with a lovely smoothness. Nearly flat, but that's to be expected. Not as full as from the bottle.

D: the brew goes down easily enough, but there's just none of the complexity or fullness I get from the bottle. Cask isn't a format that does Velvet Merkin any favors.

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Photo of TheJollyHop
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Blue Palms

Pours black with a light brown head.

Nose is dominated by roasted malt, cocoa, and a small amount of sweet toffee.

Taste pretty much parallels the aroma with the addition of oats. Bitterness exerts itself, but knows when to back off and only lingers briefly after the swallow. The alcohol is also well hidden.

Soft, creamy mouthfeel that is highly carbonated and mouth enveloping.

Very filling and enjoyable, however would have benefited more from a lower alcohol concentration.

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Photo of dubinsky
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice deep black with reddish highlights on the edges. An aggressive pour yielded a nice foamy three finger head which quickly receded leaving a band of lacing with decent retention visible.

S - Dark roasted malts, coffee and oatmeal dominate the forefront of this beer, with trails of milk chocolate and molasses on the tail end. Not very strong smelling which is not a negative by any means.

T - Taste follows smell. Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. I do get an oatmeal presence but its not in your face as the name of beer would suggest. Nice sweetness Slight wood smokiness as well.

M - Medium bodied and very smooth. Nice, light carbonation, just like i enjoy in this style. It has a mildly dry finish.

D- Highly drinkable. Its not my favorite in the style but it has a very easy, mellow flavor which makes it extremely quaff-able. I think FW did a great job blending the flavors in a way that didnt have any one ingredient slam you in the mouth. I will buy this beer again.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Firestone's Velvet Merlin, oatmeal stout. A light one, at 5.5% ABV.

A: A lot of head on this one; about two and a half fingers, and I didn't even manage to get all the beer in the glass. I almost over poured, too. Slightly fluffy, pancake-colored head. A bit of lacing. Pure black, with a golden brown in the dimple.

S: Dark, yet soft aroma. Dark coffee and char. Not getting much else. Maybe a touch of really dark chocolate. A hint of oat sweetness in the background.

T/MF: A lot of char on the palate, with a slight upturn of dark, powdered cocoa towards the end. A touch of sweet graphite. Soft, but not the typical velvety softness you get in a good oatmeal stout. Hint of black coffee on the finish.

I'm a bit disappointed with this one. Maybe it's just a bad year for Firestone's Velvet line, in general. I had heard a lot of good things about this one.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of Rayek
3.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Merlin pours pitch black, with a small cream cap. The head quickly falls to a patchy film and leaves bits of lace.

The beer starts out with a espresso like coffee and chocolate mix. A mild burnt bitterness follows. It finishes slightly acidic, with lingering burnt malt flavors. The body is dry and too tingly for my tastes.

A decent stout overall. Not the most complex example of the style, but pleasant enough.

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Photo of Foyle
3.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into nonic glass.
Appearance: pours a thin cream colored head which recedes quickly. Little or no lacing. Very dark reddish brown and opaque.
Aroma: pleasant aroma of coffee, caramel, chocolate and earthy hops.
Mouthfeel: medium to thick mouthfeel and creamy with dry and fairly bitter finish.
Flavor: chocolate and coffee along with caramel dominate the flavor, earthy hops add balance, the oats contribute a creamy aspect.
Overall: nicely crafted oatmeal stout. Well done.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 641 ratings.