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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

641 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 641
Hads: 2,875
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 225
Gots: 555 | 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: 2,875
Photo of biboergosum
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, from a visit to Belmont Station in Portland a few months ago. I was wondering about the name on the bottle I have, given its proximity to a certain crass, um, accoutrement of fame, but nice that BA has dispelled any questions I have in that respect.

This beer pours a very dark reddish-brown colour, practically black, the highlights the only thing giving it away, with one finger of thin foamy beige head, which leaves some sparse, random streaks of lace around the glass as it speedily abates. It smells of soft coffee, mild bitter chocolate, subtle sour black fruit, and moderately bitter earthy, leafy hops. The taste is very lightly roasted caramel malt, genial choco-tinted coffee, and stronger than expected (if I wasn't dreamin' 'bout Cali...) bitter earthy hops with a slight pine edginess. The carbonation is just south of average, the body a solid medium weight, with a nice silky smoothness that dabbles somewhat in creaminess. It finishes off-dry, the coffee caramel holding the fort in the midst of a feeble uptick in generic hop bitterness.

A well-rendered California oatmeal stout, the hops eschewed in favour of a good malty, bitter coffee beast, one that I would hope has displaced Guinness from at least a few central coast watering holes...

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Photo of pumptrick
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured hard into pint glass, 1 and 1/2 inch head light brown in color. Beer is dark in color not quite black. Smells of chocolate and malt. Tastes a bit the same with a little coffee lingering, towards the end a little bitterness which was unexpected yet overall a little sweet. Little bit of carbonation in there at the end for a surpise. Could be a sessionable beer easily. Not at all what I expected, not generally a oatmeal guy, but enjoy myself Firestone as a daily drink so I figured I would try. Not at all disappointed but not enough to make me want to search out every oatmeal on the planet. All in all nice work as per usual FS. Cheers

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Photo of scootpolute
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12ozs. bottle into a pint, 'cone' glass.

A - Pitch black with 1.5 fingers light tan creamy head. Head retention is good, with OK lacing.

S - Smokey roasted malts are at the forefront. Chocolate is well defined in the background.

T - Chocolate and roasted malts now dominate while the smokiness is still present it was mostly in the aroma. Some coffee and hints of dark fruit are present on the back of the tongue. Overall a balanced flavor, but not overly complex.

M - Medium-heavy bodied, a little thin for an oatmeal stout. Very creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is definitely noticeable, but expecting more. Finish is slightly drying with lots of roasted malts, here the smoke comes back again.

D - Very Chocolaty (like having a large bite of your favorite chocolate ice cream...you can mention your's, mine is Ben & Jerry's!!), yummy beer...Well rounded, starts out dominating with the smokiness and finishes the same way. No complex flavors but definitely a very good beer...just a bit flat in parts, but other than that GREAT!

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Photo of djeucalyptus
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a beautiful rich dark carob hue with cocoa powder brown tinges at the edge. A touch of sediment and a bit of haze. A dark chocolate milky head of a finger fades and leaves behind meager lacing. Better lacing and this one might be a 5.

Aroma is pungently bittersweet cocoa, roasted coffee, burnt coffee, and a bit of rough malt. toffee and caramel increase as it warms.

Taste is surprisingly similar to the aroma. Roasted malt base accentuated by powerful chocolate, cocoa nibs and roasted coffee beans. Reminds me of chewing on dark chocolate covered coffee beans. A bit one-dimensional, but I'm loving the flavor profile of that dimension. As it warms, a bit more of the hops show through. Definitely digging this one.

Mouth is solid. perfect level of carbonation and the richness from the oatmeal makes it creamy without being too much. a good bit of lingering bitterness that I'm not generally used to in the oatmeal stout realm, but it's certainly not off-putting.

All in all, I have to say I'm impressed. I'm not a big fan of FW brews in general, but this one certainly makes me reconsider my opinion. Definitely highly drinkable, a great session brew with plenty of flavor and a touch of heat. Definitely worth trying. I'm right on the edge of 4/4.5 with taste, and mouth, but something's just not quite perfect. that being said, this is probably going to end up being one of my primary six-pack purchases this season.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a perfect pint glass

A - It is dark, dark brown with some ruby highlights. It is topped with an inch of tan head.

S - The smell contains roasted malt, cocoa, and dark chocolate.

T - The taste leads with dark chocolate. There is a slight bitterness on the finish. Some cocoa and roasted malt comes through.

M - Full and slick.

O - This is a great oatmeal stout. I would put it right up there with any that I have tried so far.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Taken from notes on 3.17.11

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a motor oil blackish-brown with a dark brown, thin head that quickly moves to the edges.

S - Smells of coffee, oatmeal, and a slight vanilla.

T - Tastes very similar to the smells, but with more of an impact, or tingle on the tongue.

D - Interesting tingle feel on the tongue, but low carbonation.

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Photo of CasanovaCummins
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Just yum. Silky smooth chocolate coco puffs in liquid form.

This is an everyday kind of pour that you just don't get tired of. The dram you go back to again and again. Great texture. Great consistently deep flavors. Lots of warm darkness.

This is a jazzy Morgana King type of beer. Velvety and soft-spoken, yet deeply sexy. More to the traditional side. All polish and depth.

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Photo of BbyDigital
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A lighter oatmeal stout with a little extra carbonation. Very drinkable and almost refreshing in a malty sweet kind of way. Loved the whole 6 pack and I'm thinking I'm buying a second relatively soon.

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Photo of slayer3604
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a-rich creamy tan head on dark brown body with cedar colored rim. retention gone to film in about 3 minutes.

S-cocoa butter, cherry, molassses and vanilla.

T-espresso, definately can taste the oat, firm chunky mouthfeel, chocolate and almond.

M-full bodied, lively, clean and ample coffee finish.

D-"Velvet" smooth, with no residual alcoholic burn, long lasting finish.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally found this at a local Bevmo and excited I did. Poured into a snifter and I am met with a black ale and a beige foamy head that dissolves to a thin layer. The aroma is of roasted malts, semi-sweet chocolate, tobacco and leather. The taste gives a good dose of chocolate followed by a slight coffee character coming through and then a solid chocolate/cocoa finish. A little spicy on the swallow. Mouthfeel is pretty full though there a little too much carbonation for my liking. Wish it was a tad creamier. Drinkability is still high. At only 5.5% this is very drinkable. Finding it is another story.

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Photo of arvidkoval
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L- Black, but lets some red through. Tan head that dissipates quickly.

S- Smells of roasted malts and chocolate.

T- Follows the nose but with some coffee and a dry finish without overpowering the mild sweetness. Well balanced.

F- Lives up to the name, very velvet like, but I wouldn't mind it being thicker.

O- Very well put together oat stout! Probably my favorite!

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Photo of ratedz
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown/black with a half-inch light tan colored head. The head dissipates quickly and leaves very little lacing.

Smell is loaded with roasted malts, chocolate, oats, and some hints of coffee.

Taste follows the nose with roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, and some coffee. A slight hoppy bitterness appears on the tail end.

Very smooth and creamy. Medium body. This actually has some characteristics that remind me of a porter. The low ABV makes this very drinkable. Overall, a solid oatmeal stout.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to womencantsail for picking this one up and sending it to me with my Cali haul! Served from bottle into a Warsteiner mug. Poured a deep dark brown with a one finger off-white head that subsided to a half finger slowly. Maintained phenomenal lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, cream, dark chocoalte, and subtle coffee. The flavor was of sweet malt, coffee, cream, roasted malt, dark chocolate, and dark fruit. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium-high carbonation. Overall this was excellent. This one went down very smoothly (almost like velvet) on the palate. My only complaint would be that none of the flavors or aroma were very robust, but that is just me being picky. Definitely worth trying and if you're lucky you might get it as an extra in a trade.

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

pours black with slight ruby tones at the bottom of the glass. solid white head as well.

smells very sweet, like cream-milk.

taste is very sweet with a creamy dry finish, if that makes sense. goes down smooth but the cream-flavored finish is a bit off.

overall a pretty good beer but nothing spectacular. there are other stouts/porters that i would drink over this. not bad at all but far from great in my book.

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Photo of fox227
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beer takes on typical stout form: black with tan head, which doesn't retain, to describe it more, I have no claim. Smell is fairly faint in the form of the following facets: coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt; however, these characteristics are quite bold, and is best served not too cold. Mouthfeel is creamy and rich; Velvet Merlin seems full bodied, but by alcohol volume it's nary as such. I would imagine quite a night, drinking six of these, and not dehydrate, or overindulge; Velvet Merlin, a single strength stout, I can easily afford.

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Photo of cswhitehorse
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Velvet Merlin was warmed up a tad on the counter to come to a nice temperature. Then it was poured into the English style pint glass. The dark appearance was expected and the head was pillowish and retention was moderate.

Smell was of bitter chocolate and hints of licorice. It was a semi dry with a nice oatmeal stout bitterness. It had milk chocolate light grain on the dark side and a smooth finish. It was a very solid effort and would buy more of this if it was available up here.

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Photo of T100Mark
4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Cask on tap, at Churchill's, in San Marcos, CA (eat your heart out suckers).

Appearance - Pitch black with a thick, lush head. The head dissipates rather quickly but it leaves plenty of stickage. Beautiful.

Smell - Faint sweet nose. Toasted malt. A slight whiff of alcohol.

Taste - Sweet, toasted malt. Mild alcohol flavor. Dry, herbal finish. Smooth, subtle, and delicious.

Mouth - Smooth. Buttery. Only a cask conditioned ale can offer this kind of experience.

Overall - A local, cask conditioned Stout in Southern California? What a treat! If this beer had a bit more character, I would have given it fives across the board.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Paid the price for this single, $3.50 at the house of 1,000 beers. Bottled 1/8/13 so its 5 months old.

A - A very good amount of head just a 1/4 inch from a soft pour that pulls back to a mocha lined lace ring that sticks around. Color is almost pitch black with a tiny bit of ruby hue at the base.
S - Very good roasty mixed with some chocolate malts and some oats. Smells a bit of smoke but not overwhelming
T - A very pronounced dark chocolate malt, borderline sweet but not overly so. Then a nice kiss of smokey ash and a finish of some mild coffee grounds. Damn tasty.
M - Medium bodied, very creamy and silky.

Overall I am impressed it drinks better than my all time favorite "Anderson Valley oatmeal stout" yet its around the same ABV. If I ever get the chance at a case I will be sure to pick it up.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look - normal stout look
Smell - coffee cocoa smell.
Taste - great toasty cocoa taste
Feel - full body with medium carbonation. Fantastic creamy feel.
Overall - incredible oatmeal stout!

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Photo of ajsinyvr
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Smoky cocao nibs at the start and a chocolatey finish. Mouthfeel was spot on, round and full. 1 finger head when poured in to a round bottom glass.
Slight hop presence and good roasted malts throughout.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Very dark brown body, mostly translucent but only partially transparent, light tan head, some lacing.

S - The main smell is roasted malts, bready and slightly suggestive of toast. Grass and floral elements presumably come from the hops, and there is a salted caramel aspect, too.

T - Following the nose, with molasses and dough mingling with chocolate and coffee elements. A bit of soy in the middle, closing out with mild bitterness.

M - The oatmeal adds a bit of heft, giving this more body, but this remains fairly light for a stout. Quite drinkable, as the mild drying in the close keeps this from getting too burdensome.

O - A very nice, balanced stout, and a very easy drinker that will not knock you out after just one. A rich range of flavors built into a beautiful, cohesive whole.

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Photo of DenverHopHead
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle with a bottled on date of 1/25/14; into a pint glass.
Appearance - very black, but the bottom of the pint glass reveals a mahogany glare. Some carbonation bubbles are noticeable as it builds a creamy, egg shell white head. Lacing was relatively weak for the style.
Smell - dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee and graham crackers!
Taste - pleasantly surprising rich, robust flavors! Taste mirrors the nose, very nice!
Feel - creamy mouthfeel, with some bitterness from the robust coffee and dark chocolate flavor.
Overall - an easy drinking stout that reminds me more of a rich, coffee stout, as opposed to an oatmeal stout.

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Photo of jjboesen
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The initial pour results in a glass filled with beige froth, which subsides into a dark ruby body; the extant head is minimal, along with lacing.
There is a subtle nose of Cheerio cereal; the palate is nipped with sweet maltiness that contains bits of bread, grain and plum. The balance is superb and this, along with the manageable 5.5 abv, makes for one great sessional quaff. Is there anything Firestone Walker cannot do? Alas, if this brew were more readily available to us East Coast schlubs.

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Photo of lordofstarside
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Given a few minutes to warm up, 12oz (10/17/13) to a snifter. Rewarding myself for shoveling a bunch of snow

Pours a solid black (0% trans) with brown hues at the bottom when held to the light, with a half finger of mocha foam that's died down to a frothy ring. Mild carbonation, really good lacing. Not bad looking

Smells of roasted malty chocolate nibbs and coffee, followed by figs, cherries, and other dark fruits, finishing with a small touch of alcohol. Pretty simple, but still really good

Taste is with the nose, strong coffee on the front followed by a more subdued chocolate malt. Fruits come in next, cherries and figs followed by a hint of vanilla. A tiny bit of alcohol and more coffee notes on the end, everything blends nicely

Feel is a thick creamy body with a dry finish. Alcohol hard to pick up, very easy to sip on cold snowy days like these

Overall a pretty good stout, something to look forward to each year

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Photo of jellikit
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%

Appearance: dark, dark brown to black with a brownish, ruby hue when held to light. Clear. Thin head. Thin lacing that dissipates.
Smell: bread dough. Roasted cocoa nibs.
Taste: clean, slightly roasted, light coffee flavor.
Mouthfeel: medium-low carbonation. Medium to medium high body. Dry.
Overall: easy drinking stout. Balanced extremely well. Great gateway stout for non dark beer drinkers. Would buy again.

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