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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: 2,761
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 221
Gots: 499 | FT: 6
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: 2,761
Photo of eclipse54
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from leschkie; thanks man! Review from notes taken on 07/19/2011.

Deep brown/red as it pours from the bottle, but appears black in the glass. A light khaki head rests atop, but fades quickly and leaves no lacing. Smells of oats, caramel, sugar, dark fruit, and roasted/charred malt. They blend together nicely in the nose, but are a bit more disconnected in the mouth. It tastes of sweet fruit (plum, date), sugar, oat, roasted malt, and alcohol. Mouth is thick, has medium carbonation, and finishes very dry. Overall, an enjoyable oatmeal stout, but there are some better options out there that are just as readily available.

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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 biga7346
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Foamy, big fluffy tannish head takes a while to dissipate, good lacing, brown chocolatey milky coloring.

N - Aromatic notes of dark roasted coffee beans, burnt vanilla; oakey, woody suggestions opens up a tinge of nutmeg or clove. Dense breadiness, rye bread, and a very fleeting touch of blue cheese.

T/M - Opens with a cloying lactic, velvety mouthfeel, vanilla bean, wet coffee grounds, creaminess and a sugary, grainy finish melts in the back of your palate. Noticeable suggestions of brown bread, golden raisins, rum cake. I can see this bordering on a sweet stout but is complimented nicely with oaky and charred notes. It is thin but very sessionable at 5.5 abv, set me up with good cheese, maybe pears and/or apricots and like 4-6 of these babies and I'll be all set.

D - My first sampling from Firestone-Walker, a great sessionable oatmeal stout, seems like this is slightly unique in that regard but it reminds me of English brown ales without the presence of dark fruits.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Town Hall snifter.

A- Two finger brown head, nice carbonation, moderate lacing, dark brown almost black color, orange brown hues on the bottom.
S- Nice oatmeal aroma roasted malts, coffee, slight chocolate aroma as well.
T- Really smooth, nice roasted oatmeal flavor, coffee, slight chocolate, bitter taste, really easy drinkability.
M- Medium mouth feel, well carbonated, thin, smooth drinking, with a crisp finish.
O- Solid beer, strong oatmeal flavor mixed with roasted coffee notes, really easy drinkability, enjoyable.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
2.92/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a snifter.

3.0 A: Black color. Two fingers of frothy light brown head that fizzes away a la Coca-Cola post haste.

3.5 S: Lots of oats and dry, dusty cocoa powder. Good bit of roastiness. Super dry overall.

3.0 T: The taste is really nice, but it has one major flaw. Again this is simple with a moderate roastiness, lots of oats, and cocoa powder. The flaw, which tastes a pretty damn good beer down to an average one is that this is as dry as the nose suggests. It's painfully dry and because of this, it comes off as quite watery.

2.0 M: Light body. Light body indeed. Way too light for the style. Never had one like this. Also, too much carbonation. Not creamy due to the body and not smooth due to the carbonation level.

2.5 D: Not impressed with this one. With some crystal malt, this would be a damn good beer as the flavors present are pleasant. However, what isn't there is more important.

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Photo of DarthKostrizer
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: Black in color with brown rings around the top and bottom. 1/4 inch head no retention and a spot of lacing here and there

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal

Taste: Coffee flavor right up front and it is in perfect balance with the roasted malt. Traces of bitter chocolate and oatmeal in the middle and finishes with hints of vanilla and more coffee delicious

Mouthfeel: Medium body and medium carbonation and some really nice buttery silkyness

Overall: This is one of if not my favorite oatmeal stout. It is almost perfect on every level. Just another fantastic beer from firestone

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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 AgentZero
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Believe Jason shared this one.

A - Black beer with a big layer of tan foam that left a nice amount of fat lace.

S - Coffee and oatmeal, with the grains being roasted and a little bitter. Smells relatively sweet as well, good meaning the oats haven't soured so much.

T - Slightly roasted with oats, sweet chocolate, somewhat depressed coffee, and a little bit of cream. It's not bad, but not as good as I would have thought from the nose.

M - Smooth and creamy, one of the better aspects of this beer.

O - Not bad, liked this one enough that I enjoyed drinking what I had and wouldn't have minded more. Good stuff for a 5.5% oatmeal stout.

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Photo of lnashsig
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Snosage22 for the chance to taste this one. I've been intrigued with Firestone Walker, and happy to have the chance to review one of their beers. Bottle dated 2-24-11. Poured into my dfh snifter, pours a light bodied consistency, pitch black color, nice off white head emerges, but recedes quickly and completely. Smell- chocolate, with a watery but enjoyable light scent. Definitely smell the oatmeal here. Light scent of coffee grind. its faint, but its there. taste- nice milk chocolate, met with immediate nice carbonation, and there is the coffee grind in the back. Mouthfeel- its pretty light bodied for an oatmeal stout, but it works well with the tight carbonation. Drinkability- for a 5% beer, this one packs a ton of flavor and is really enjoyable.

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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.

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Photo of doughanson78
3.17/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First Firestone Walker beer. 12oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Very dark, but not totally black. Light comes through around edges and bottom of glass. Kind of a dark redish tint where light comes through. Fluffy one finger head. Slightly off white with only small tight bubbles. Head dies down to thin layer but doesn't disappear. Fairly good lacing.

S: Not a big aroma at all. Smells like the inside of a Quaker oatmeal container. VERY light chocolate scent.

T: Nice roasted flavor. Light coffee. Mild sweet chocolate. Nice oaty finish. Very mild hop bitterness.

M: Medium bodied. Mild carbonation. Smooth but not Velvety.

O: Been hearing great things about Firestone Walker. Had a sip of their Double Jack and was impressed. Got a few of their brews, including the Parabola. Not super impressed with this one. It's decent but there's definitely many better.

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Photo of bamadog
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
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 drummermattie02
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip, deep brown and lets very little light through; two finger head that quickly recedes to a ring.

Aroma of roasted malts and coffee, good complexity.

Taste mimics the smell, but some chocolate comes through that i didn't initially detect. Really great finish, too. Very smooth feel, although a bit on the watery side.

Very well done beer, particularly considering the lower ABV and drinkability.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.02/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big shout out to my Cali trading partner Abecall98 for providing me with a couple bottles of the Velvet Merkin. (I refuse to call it by it’s toned down name)

The initial pour produces a classic 2 finger head of light tan foamy head. This lasts for a moment or two before collapsing into a thin cap of foam. Not much in the way of lacing. Deep dark brown, and all brown.. Not really a black color.

Aroma is of cocoa powder or even baked brownies sans most of the sweetness.

Firestone Walker really always delivers, don’t they? Nice beer. The cocoa theme continues here as the flavor is smooth and consistent from front to back. Not overly complex, but it works as you just relax and let it happen. Bitterness is fairly light and rises only to give you a sense that the cocoa powder is somewhat dark. Not dark roasty and I don’t get a lot of coffee here.

Mouth feel is soft, rounded and indeed a touch velvety. Really smooth with just a slight touch of carbonation.

A nice little beer. I mostly prefer Imperial Stouts if I am in this category, but from time to time, it’s nice to lighten up a stout a bit. While I don’t like the lactose qualities of Milk Stouts, I enjoy the mouth feel produced by introducing oats into the stout. This is no exception. Nice beer to relax with.

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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.

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Photo of Siggy125
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark cola brown, small head dissipated quickly. Almost no lacing

smell: roasted malts, mild hopiness, slight coffee bitterness

Taste. Nice roasted maltiness, a little bit of bitter baking chocolate. Very little to no ABV presence.

Mouthfeel: A little weak in the texture for an oatmeal stout, but very decent. Very smooth drinker.

Overall a good beer to enjoy if youre not in the mood for anything big.

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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 Haybeerman
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep, dark brown; no light comes through. Poured a 2 finger tan head with good retention to a thick skim. Sticky webs of lacing on the glass.

S: Big, toasted malts; chocolate and bitter coffee. Earthy and rich.

T: Big toasted malts consistent with aroma; lots of coffee and chocolate. Lightly bitter finish that's nice and mild.

M: Medium body. Low carbonation. Rich and creamy feel that's really smooth.

O: Good malt character. Nice feel, nice finish. A little filing, ABV good for style.

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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 Alieniloquium
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Appearance - Deep brown, looks black in the glass, but you can see through the edges. Almost no head and no lacing. I am unimpressed.

Smell - Wow, it smells great. The aroma is just as good as a much larger stout. Strong coffee aroma with chocolate a roasted malts. I am more optimistic now.

Taste - Coffee up front and chocolate in the finish. Slight hop bitterness in the finish makes the chocolate taste dark. Mmm. It's good. Surprisingly good, in fact.

Mouthfeel - Well, at 5.5%, it's tough to end up with a heavy stout. Creamy, but low in alcohol. It's a good combination to make it a good low ABV stout.

Overall - I edited this review because I didn't think it was great the first time. Now I think it's quite tasty. I'm beginning to appreciate low ABV stout. They pack a big flavor without being 15% and diabetically sweet.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz. stubby bottle poured into a Dogfish Head snifter glass. Served at room temperature.

Appearance: Dark brown, almost black, in color. A nice, two finger beige head and good retention.

Aroma: Coffee, milk chocolate, and a touch of caramel all in good balance. Nice combination of roasty and sweet.

Taste: A really nice, approachable flavor profile highlighted by nice coffee and chocolate notes. Again, the balance of sweetness from the caramel and chocolate pairs great with the coffee. Some small earthy hop notes underneath as well. Very well done and to style.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy. Coats the mouth nicely.

Overall, a really pleasant and balanced oatmeal stout. All the flavors are in good balance. A really nice oatmeal stout.

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Photo of LiquidBread219
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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 Offa
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Basically black with med-big tan head slowly shirnking to a foamy ring and some nice lace.

Aroma is rich coffee/mocha, roasted malt, dark, rich toast, hint of molasses-gingerbread, some fermented winey prune joining later.

Taste is nice, smooth & mellow but flavourful and balanced. It has fermented prunes, rasiiny bread up front with light oatmeal sourness behind, dry roastiness, hints of coffee and choclate, woody-peppery spicy light bitterness. It has a little complexity and good, solid depth of character, and is highly drinkable.

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Photo of Bennettrox
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Pitch black aggressive pour, didn't leave much of a head. Half finger tan.

S - Oatmeal, roasted malts, a little bittersweet chocolate

T - Very tasty. Follows the nose with roasted malts, oatmeal, and a sweetness to follow. Not picking up the coffee as much as others, I'm just fine with that.

M - Creamy and delicious. This one has a full body with moderate carbonation. Goes down very easy and feels good in the mouth.

O - Enjoyable oatmeal stout. Pretty good example of this style all around, would have no problem putting several of these down.

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Photo of nickshep7
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a 3 finger light tan head. The smell is a combination of fresh roasted coffee and dark malts. Some chocolate now coming through. Initial taste is all coffee and finishes with a decent amount of bitterness from the hops. Mouthfeel is good though I wish it was a bit thicker. Overall, a solid brew.

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