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 wajacobs
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
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 -11.3%
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 -11%
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.


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Photo of denver10
3.55/5  rDev -11%
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 -11%
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 -11%
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 -11%
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 -10.8%
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 -10.8%
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 -10.8%
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 -10.8%
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 -10.5%
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 Jagen
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
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 -10.3%
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 -10.3%
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 -10.3%
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 -10.3%
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 -10%
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 -10%
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 -10%
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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Photo of bamadog
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to beerman207 for bringing this one back from the West coast. Review is from notes taken on 6/18/2011 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a nice dark brown with some ruby and burgundy highlights; starts with a 1/4 finger, light tan head that fades to nothing other than a faint wisp and thin ring around the surface; body is dark and nearly opaque, only a few spots of lacing are left hanging around.

Smell: Nice, dry powdery cocoa and a light, toasty maltiness. Smell isn't too big, but fitting of the style.

Taste: It's alright, but I don't know if it's as good as I've been told by others; It has a dry, cocoa powder flavor to it with some bittersweet chocolate; bit of an earthy coffee roastiness; really tastes like a lot of other Oatmeal Stouts out there and runs well with them, but doesn't really stand out.

Mouthfeel: A little thin, but again, it's pretty standard for the style in my estimation; nice carbonation that is prickly, but not too sharp; a thin and dry stickiness is left on the roof of the mouth.

Overall: Not bad, and I wouldn't mind having it again, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way for it. It's got a nice set of scents to it and matching flavors, but a thin and kind of boring body that doesn't really latch on to me; moderately low ABV certainly doesn't hurt it.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Velvet Merlin has a dark brown body that is mostly opaque and a light brown head that has decent retention and lacing.

The aroma has chocolate, coffee, and a bit of roast.

More of the same from the flavor. All malt with only the slightest hint of hops in the background. A great balance between chocolate, coffee and roasted malts.

Fantastic mouthfeel on this one, even for an oatmeal stout, which generally have a good feel. Thick, smooth and creamy.

Velvet Merlin has a great name and is a solid if unspectacular beer. I have to say that the mouthfeel might actually live up to the name.

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Photo of brian44556
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 12oz bottle into a Schlafly Pint Glass. No dating on the bottle.

Pours a dark black, but is somewhat translucent when held up to the light. A small, chocolate colored head forms and diminishes rather quickly. A good lacing is left on the sides of the glass. Smell notes of coffee, roasted malts, and small hint of chocolate. Taste roasted malts, peanuts, coffee, and small hint of caramel/chocolate mixture. Carbonation is good, but the mouthful seems a bit thin for my liking, but I think that is just the style. Overall a good Oatmeal Stout.

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Photo of StoneyPeaches
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Velvet Merlin pours dark w little head. I like to swirl half the unpoured stout before pouring the rest in the glass to give it more bang. Smells wonderful - coffee and chocolate dominate. Mouthfeel is rather thin - certainly not creamy or velvety. Tastes pretty good though, like how it smells. In addition to coffee and chocolate, there's a hint of caramel note and slight sweetness. Very easy to drink (2 bottles go down like water). Love it with dark chocolate covered pretzels. The stout tastes more complex after.

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Photo of azdback
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass. Black but not jet black. Some light gets through, brown highlights. Head is light brown, one finger and creamy looking. Lace is very nice

The smell is great. Lots of coffee. Dark malts. Kinda sweet. As it warms I'm getting the slightest of cocoa.

The taste has all the same components as the smell but much smaller doses. Kind of a little bitter but I don't think from hops. I think it's cherry on second thought.

The mouthfeel is a little bit of a let down. It is very hollow, watery, and dry. No creamyness or chew at all. More of a porter feel than an Oatmeal Stout.

This brew is probably not as bad as the score I have given it. I am a Stout (oatmeal, coffee, chocolate, milk, imperial...etc.) any style lover. So for this to come from such a great brewery was kind of a let down.... But still recommended.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 596 ratings.