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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

593 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 593
Hads: 2,640
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 211
Gots: 443 | 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: 593 | Hads: 2,640
Photo of OneDropSoup
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint: Deep black body under two fingers of cappuccino head with drops to form some nice lumps.

Smells niiice. Toasty, brown, muffiny oatmeal & malt note, sweetly baked but with a thick graininess, like buckwheat pancakes. Or even baked corn, in a very good way. Some light roast coffee develops - good stuff!

Combo of many "dark" flavors in the taste: acidic dark fruit skins, coffee, that bready character again, with more oomph from the roasty bitterness in the finish, a little astringent but just pleasantly so.

Medium-full-bodied & nicely chewy, with a mild acidity & astringency that helps to balance things out.

Nice little number here! Feels like moderate ABV stouts are becoming less & less visible, & glad to see a full-flavored, well-composed oatmeal stout. Wish we got this in my area more regularly. (837 characters)

Photo of nhindian
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a Surly Darkness glass. Bottle provided by jodan I believe, thanks Jordan!

A - Pours a chocolate brown with tints of black in the widest part of the glass. It settles into a soft, matte black color. The head is a pillowy, light tan color, about a finger tall with fairly low retention. Lacing is sticky at first, but quickly falls back to the comfort of the liquid. There's some carbonation on the edges of the glass as well.

S - The nose on this is almost all malt. The oat is a big part of the aroma, leading the way but still going strong by the end as well. The chocolate is rich and bittersweet, like dark cacao. There's some espresso here as well, but it mainly serves to add some roast to it rather than any noticeable coffee smells. Hanging beneath everything is a subtle bourbon quality, which adds some vibrant fruits and a slight alcohol feeling.

T - The taste brings a concise version of the nose to the palate. Immediately I'm getting a lot of oatmeal here, giving the beginning a creamy jumping-off point for the rest of the flavors to follow. Again, the chocolate is the main component after the oats, giving off flavors of baker's chocolate and some bitter notes. The flavor is slightly more roasty than the nose, with a lasting impression lingering long after drinking. Thankfully, the bourbon quality in the nose returns as well, playing cheerfully in the background of the beer but still imparting it's tastiness. The finish even brings a slightly cola-like flavor.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately light-bodied with high carbonation. This beer is really smooth, but perhaps the carbonation is a tinge too high as it sort of clashes with the smoothness. I found myself instinctively swirling this between tastes in order to cut that a little. Lasting impression are oats, roastiness, and dark fruits from the bourbon.

D/O - Drinkability is high. Oatmeal stouts are one of my favorite styles if done correctly, but if not they can come off as uninspired. Firestone Walker produces a fine representation here, and the quasi-bourbon notes in here only do that much for this offering. This is a beer that I nearly finished before completing this review, as I just wanted to keep drinking it. If this ever comes to Pittsburgh, it will be a staple in my fridge. (2,298 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle.

Very dark root beer brown body. Pinkie finger of dense, light to washed out brown head. Some lacing. Appetizing nose, highlighted by rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee, caramelized fruits, and light peat.

Tinny, roasted barley and coffee bitterness up front. Palate fills in with semi-sweet chocolate, hearty soda bread, licorice, peat, wood, and a hint of vanilla. Finish features lingering chocolate sweetness, with minor notes of espresso and cream (think latte). Medium-full body with a nice creamy feel. Very nice. (537 characters)

Photo of C3likesbeer
4.29/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Nice mahogany almost black with a nice creamy beige head that dissipates relatively quickly.

S- Rich, thick roasty malts with chocolate and coffee. Some smoke in there as well. t

T- Nice rich dark chocolate with a smokey espresso shot. Surprisingly refreshing finish that's rounded off with an alcohol warmth.

O- My favorite oatmeal stou. Firestone makes good beer and this may be one of my favorites. This can be consumed in the summer or winter. I could drink one on a cold rainy night in a pub or on the beach at a barbecue. Nice all around beer. (556 characters)

Photo of srhoadsy
4.29/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served slightly chilled into a snifter.

Pours as dark brown as you can get without being black. Half an inch of dark tan head that quickly recedes leaving light surface layer and lacing.

I can't say enough about the aroma of this beer. Coffee, chocolate and roasted nuts with just a hint of smoke.

Flavors follow through the aroma. Reminds of Ferrero Roche chocolates or Nutella spread. Chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, coffee with cream.

Medium bodied with a sweet, creamy finish and moderate carbonation. Mild aftertaste of bitter coffee.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beer, will most definitely get again. (609 characters)

Photo of abaer123
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - I had this one out of the bottle, so hard to say what the actual appearance is. The carbonation is low, so I would think that there would not be much head on this one.

Smell - malty, rich, chocolaty. When I purchased this, I was going for a rich seasonal brew. I found that and more.

Taste - rich, creamy, coffee and cocoa without being too sweet.

Mouthfeel - rich and lacey. Not overly pwering like other more hoppy varieties I have been drinking lately. A nice contrast and comfort.

Drinkability - goes down way to easy! This is a luxurious brew that could be trouble at 5.5 after a few.

Overall, I am impressed by the Velvet Merkin. My hats off to Firestone for a delicious seasonal treat. Good work. (726 characters)

Photo of jmarsh123
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown almost black with no head at all. Some slight lacing down the glass.

Sharp roasted notes leap at the nose. A little bit of chocolate and earthiness as well.

Flavor follows the nose. Huge bitter roasted coffee maltiness with some chocolate background. Bold flavors.

Not quite as velvety as I'd like, but still very solid mouthfeel. Got a little creamier as it warmed.

Very tasty beer especially if you like lots of roastiness. One of the stronger roast presence in this style I've had. (507 characters)

Photo of sommersb
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks go out to nickd717 for this one.
12 oz. brown bottle with a date stamp of 12-07-10
Served in a tulip pint glass

A: Black, clear beer, with red highlights on the edges of the glass when held to light. The head is tan and frothy with 3 fingers of height. Good lacing throughout

S: Dark roasted malt aromas dominate, with some chocolate too. Bready, earthy smell with perhaps a slight smokiness.

T: Smooth and creamy, this is a tasty stout! Toasted malts, with some coffee bitterness. Also tastes of dark chocolate with a little sweetness and carries a bit of alcohol warmth.

M: Medium carbonation and a nice full body. Creamy with a roasted bitter aftertaste, but its done just right so as not to be overpowering.

D: Excellent beer that I enjoyed greatly. I wish I had more! (785 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to LuvMtdew420 for sending me this beer. Dark inky black, tan head, looks like a stout should. Smell is oats, stout, chocolate, mmmm. The taste is very rich oats and chocolate, silky almost and really impressive. I really, really wish I could buy sixers of this because it's probably the best low alcohol stout I've tasted so far. Good job FW. (355 characters)

Photo of dragonWhale
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

black and beautiful, with a receding hairline. oatmeal is big, with some roast and tannins.
a quick bitter hop flavor accompanying the black malt burnt coffee flavor. oat sweetness and some chocolate to admonish the bitterness. the finish is long and sweet with waves of astringency.
glad to have this available in the bottle, one of the nicer oatmeal stouts. (361 characters)

Photo of 100floods
4.31/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark, black you could say. No head. Amazing crushed coffee bean/toffee aroma. It reminds of almost of a chocolate covered coffee bean, which is probably one of my favorite aromas. Extremely smooth texture. There's a touch of carbonation and a very smooth finish. The sweetness from the sugars seems to result in a smooth texture, one of the reasons I love this beer. Very nice caramel malt notes. There are notes of roasted malts, but they are very subtle. The roasted malts kind seem to be in a battle with the carbonation. Every sip I take I can taste it, but the bubbles cut through at times, you get just enough to know it's there. The carbonation makes this beer feel thinner than it really is. The funny thing is, there's not that much. This is a very gentle beer; however, I would have liked some more of the aromatics to come through in the taste, it's too much of a tease. This schools Anderson Valley's Oatmeal Stout anyway. (940 characters)

Photo of reebtaerG
4.31/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured bottle dated 2/7/14 into New Belgium globe

A-Pours a beautiful black with a one finger tan head that dissipates to a ring. Decent lacing.

S-Aromas of milk chocolate, roast, espresso.

T-Great flavor of chocolatey malt sweetness initially, roasty malt bitterness, hops seem less prevalent.

M-Mouthfeel gives a medium bodied, mild carbonation and a hint of bitterness.

O-Overall another great brew from FW will buy some more. (436 characters)

Photo of newsage
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

velvet merlin 5.5% one of the better oatmeal stouts out there other than the velvet merkin 8.6% which is only served at the brewery. The difference is merkin is age longer in bourbon barrels which gives it an higher ABV, silky smooth mouthfeel and great oak bourbon smell. (272 characters)

Photo of rawla
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served a 5 week old 12 bottle into a 14 oz beer mason jar.

Pours a dark, velvety chocolate pour with solid carbonation off the bottle. Creamy, tan/coffee head with a 2 inch retention. Good lacing on the sides.

S: Mmmm... Chocolate, charred marsh mellow, and freshly pulled espresso shots. A very truly welcoming bouquet of aromas.

T: French pressed coffee, toffee, sweet chocolate milk, and toasted oats. Small bite toward the end that smoothes out the delicate, sweet, chocolate and coffee flavors. Well done.

M: Silky smooth; feels like a thai iced coffee. Wow.

o: An amazing take on an oatmeal stout. Only thing that keeps me from giving this a higher overall rating is it's limited yearly release. Otherwise, a fantastic brew.

(742 characters)

Photo of Khazadum
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Tight creamy head develops, easily two fingers, sticky lacing, mountains of froth stick to the edges and just layer on each other like grandma's famouse yellow cake. A cola brown color and an off-white toasted froth.

S- Chocolate, like a cocoa and milk chocolate infusion. Roasted grains, toasted malts, a charred barrel nature. There is a back end oxidized malt character betraying the age on this. Still, even if its aged a bit it is very enjoyable.

T- Roasty... Its truly an example of smooth, creamy, roast. It opens like a nice crust of bread, then it flows into a light burnt edge. Like you bit into the wrong end of the loaf. After that a sweetness comes to dominate. Minorly caramel, mostly just bright. Finishes grainy, oats, and a bit of cardboard from oxidized malt.

M- Super creamy, a bright and crisp middle that flows around and helps disrupt the creamy nature so it isn't syrupy or gross. The carbonation sometimes breaks things up too much. Full bodied. Finish is a good amount of sticky. Nothing bothersome. Great texture. (1,047 characters)

Photo of VanillaHeat
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this one on-tap at The Skeptical Chymist in Scottsdale on two separate nights. I first saw it in an ad while visiting the restroom and thought i would try it. Thursday nights is special Firestone Walker nights at the Skeptical Chymist so I recommend trying it then or Tuesday when all pints are $2 off.

The beer is a dark color Oatmeal Stout with a small head. A bit of a tobacco or coffee flavor was the one thing that stood out to me. I love dark beer and the taste was pleasing. The signs claim Firestone is 3x brewery of the year. I can see why - this one I was unfamiliar with but Velvet Merlin instantly appeared in my top 5 favorites. (648 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
4.34/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Bottled Feb 17th 2014, going for this sucker!

Bright light tan head. Surprising head appearance in a creamy but almost bleached bright tan color. About three fingers with a small settling one finger cap. Body color is very dark. Deep midnight black and maybe even a little bit red strangely. Up to the light there is some clarity. Pretty nice.

Great nose on this guy. Deep roasted and toasty notes, and lots of creamy tones. The grain just rips on this supper husky and crackling. Light notes of soft roast and small vanilla. A big sense of depth it would seem coming. Loving this.

Real nice flavors, but a very faint hint of acridity and faint sour tinge on the finish. Palate fills though with a light bodied chewy cookie quality. Dark crackling roast and soft malt mouthfeel on the palate, nearly silky. Some small vanilla.

Wonderful oatmeal stout, with a sense of chewy depth, and big aromas. Would like to grab this guy in the style often, but it's never around these parts. Glad to finally get my hands on this one. (1,074 characters)

Photo of Hygmod
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark brown color with a light tan head. The lace beads quickly and dissipates, not leaving rings.

S - A mild roast aroma, not overpowering but not weak

T - The roast comes through in the flavor with a slight sweetness of caramel

M - This beer is smooth and has a wonderful after taste, leaving a hint of oatmeal

D - This an excellent dessert beer. (355 characters)

Photo of lurpy1
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Cordova Casino in Rancho Cordova. It accompanied one of the shittiest meals I've had in eons, a nasty-ass chicken fettucine alfredo. I should have my head examined for having a stout with white sauce, but the mismatch isn't responsible for the Boyardee impression of the noodles. Anyway, this review is not about the noodles, it's about the beer. And what a beer it turned out to be. One of the best oatmeal stouts I've had. Roasty and subtle vanilla flavors, with a fantabulous sureally smooth consistency. Much better than FW's porter. Really makes me want to try Parabola. (589 characters)

Photo of Brackh
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked up a bottle from February while in Portland. Really excited to try anything from Firestone Walker. Good Stout. Pretty malty brew. Catch a hint of coffee. Pours super dark and thick with a good head. Could drink this on a regular basis.

Wife's Review: "Yum! I like it a lot. Great with chocolate." (304 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good to see this one on the shelf. It's an unassuming oatmeal stout, a quiet beast.

Black pour with cola-like edge. Head is off-white/brown with slick lacing. Would like to see a bigger head, maybe more dense...but still looks good.

Soft aroma of roasted cocoa, wet dark bread and black strap leather. hint of baked caramel. Not a powerful aroma, but damn nice.

Again, unassuming. Nothing here is going to scream to get attention. But the roastiness and baked stuff is really endearing. Cocoa powder, baked chocolate and caramel, fire-side pine on the end. hint of smoke. Very nice.

The softness of this beer really stands out. It's rich and drinkable without getting you plastered. Smooth and coating with a semi-dry finish. Darn good (742 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Drinking this beer in honor of my mother's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope you appreciate what I'm doing for you. Poured into a snifter.

A: Deep brown with a creamy light brown head. Good retention.

S: Aroma shows a little coffee with a moderate roasted malt character. Nice soft oatmeal profile blends with chocolate and a mellow and well integrated bourbon element. There's a light biscuit note and a dash of nut character.

F: Flavor is dry with a blend of chocolate and coffee. Low level of earthy bitterness and a lower moderate roasted malt profile with a dash of toasted character. Bourbon is tame and goes very well with the chocolate and oatmeal. The balance of flavors is superb.

M: Excellent mouthfeel. Creamy and silky. Medium in body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic beer. Highly drinkable and enjoyable, and at a great price. (874 characters)

Photo of a0lbudman
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-black with a small brown head that faded fast and leaves no lace
S- you get many aromas at first, roasted, brown sugar, and a bitter chocolate aroma.
T-roasted taste with the caramel malt coming through, then you get a coco bitterness that sweetens up in the end
M-creamy silky smooth with low carbonation
O-great taste and nice balance of all flavors (353 characters)

Photo of BeerManDan
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a very dark brown, with a little bit of tan foam and some lace on the side of the glass.
The smell of roasted malts and an aroma of chocolate coffee filled the nose with a pleasant soft aroma. The taste of this Oatmeal Stout was just what the smell and aroma was, but, without the usual bitterness of a stout. Nice balance of malts and all components involved. Soft, with a nice bitter/sweet finish on the palate. (420 characters)

Photo of BeerImmediately
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into mug.

Pours with of fairly rocky, brown head over deep brown body with just a hint of light on the edges.

Solid, roasty aromas... reminded me of Founders Imp Stout. Lots of bittersweet chocolate, charred log, oats, and some tire rubber.

Creamy on the palate. The roast continues into the flavor, but mellows out to a sweeter chocolate profile - think chocolate/chocolate chip ice cream. Light hop pull in the finish. Good body - this drinks bigger than a 5.5%. Nearly perfect carbonation. Light film on the tongue.

Awesome Oatmeal Stout. Smokey quality is the only thing holding me back from a couple 5's. (626 characters)

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 593 ratings.