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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding

1,733 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1733
Reviews: 506
rAvg: 4.02
pDev: 10.2%


Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  5.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes/Commercial Description:
Original name was "Velvet Merkin", but name was changed when it began to be bottled in 2010.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ufa ... tube_gdata 

(Beer added by: largadeer on 11-13-2008)
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Ratings: 1,733 | Reviews: 506 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of armock
armock

New York

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

On-tap @ The Princess Pub & Grille

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt with strong coffee scents

T - Follows the nose with roasted malt and coffee

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is the perfect beer right now with the cold weather it tastes very good and is easy drinking worth grabbing a pint if you see it around

Serving type: on-tap

11-29-2010 19:15:59 | More by armock
Photo of Night
Night

California

2.83/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a burgundy-black with hints of purple in the light. Relatively thin head, dies down quickly to an average bubbly layer; lacing is sparse. Aroma is fairly smooth and mellow, not astringent: rich molasses, bouillon, chocolate, raisins, maybe a hint of grassy scents. Mouthfeel is slightly silky, but a little on the watery side; not much in the way of carbonation or body. Flavor is at first smooth cocoa with vague hints of coffee, then mild burnt oat bitterness, a slight wash of hops, and warming alcoholic presence; finally a lingering grassy sourness. Aftertaste is flat and lightly bitter.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2010 05:55:38 | More by Night
Photo of SpdKilz
SpdKilz

Illinois

3.98/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at The Library Alehouse with my father in Santa Monica.

Appearance - Poured next to a glass of Old Rasputin. They look quite similar, though this is a hint lighter with a hint lighter head. Pours a dark chocolate with little light getting through, slight tan head that dissipates at a moderate pace, and leaves nice lacing.

Smell - Smokey oats, coffee, chocolate, brown sugar, and slight dark fruits.

Taste - The nose prepares me for the taste. Quite similar. Chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, and oats. Not amazing, however, not horrible. For the price, a pretty good oatmeal stout.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, relatively creamy/smooth, decent carbonation.

Drinkability - Quite high. It is a lower alcohol content, and drinking this next to Old Rasputin, this is definitely easier to drink. Now honestly, I don't think I'd pick this up in a six pack just because there are so many other stouts I'd rather drink (read OR). Still, glad I was able to try this.

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2010 04:29:48 | More by SpdKilz
Photo of dragonWhale
dragonWhale

New York

4.33/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2010 10:54:01 | More by dragonWhale
Photo of djbreezy
djbreezy

Washington

4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

appearance - dark opaque brown/black, medium tan head, moderate retention/lacing

smell - chocolate, roasty malts, oatmeal, grassy notes

taste - velvety chocolate, toasted malts, marshmallow, chocolate nibs/cocoa, light grassy notes/bitter in the finish

mouthfeel - puffy/carbonated, some carbonation bite, evenly medium body, some bitter dryness on the finish

drinkability - smooth and easy with a slight bite, unique notes for an oatmeal stout, very good and enjoyable

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2010 03:29:12 | More by djbreezy
Photo of jibbyvonjibb
jibbyvonjibb

California

3.93/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Color pitch black.
S: Roasted coffee. Cocoa.
T: Strong chocolate malt toastiness. Like drinking dark-roast coffee with cream or maybe 80% chocolate. Finishes a bit acrid (maybe the American hops coming through?). I would prefer the earthiness of British hops here, like Kent Goldings.
M: Medium. Somewhat thin for the style. Some creaminess, but would have preferred a bit more to balance the bitterness of the roast.
O: I enjoyed it overall. However, it doesn't quite reach the level of sweetness and creaminess that I would expect from an oatmeal stout (my benchmark is Samuel Smith). That being said, disregarding style, it's a very pleasant session beer more focused on toasted bitterness than malty sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

11-25-2010 03:21:41 | More by jibbyvonjibb
Photo of djeucalyptus
djeucalyptus

Oregon

4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2010 02:50:18 | More by djeucalyptus
Photo of 100floods
100floods

California

4.28/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2010 22:51:03 | More by 100floods
Photo of NegativeSpin
NegativeSpin

California

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

Being a fan of Oatmeal Stout, I came across this at BevMo and had to try it. I saw someone else say that they got a 6-Pack for $9.99, but I found it for $7.99... lucky me.

Perhaps it depends on the temperature, as another person claimed that pouring into a glass produced a generous (3.5 fingers) head, but I got very little out of this (bought off the shelf and chilled in the fridge for about 5 minutes only - I like to have my Stouts warmer).

Has a chocolaty smell to it... also, a hint of burnt coffee that I didn't really notice until I approached the bottom of the glass... hmm.

I hate to compare this to Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, but feel that Smith's is the one for others to attempt to measure up to... that being said, I was pleased to find that Firestone has produced one that is quite a bit different from Smith's, yet nearly as good. The major difference here definitely being drinkability. This beer is surprisingly light by comparison, and has a bit more of a potent taste that catches you off guard.

Do I like the heavier, smoother, sweeter taste of Sammy Smith's over Firestone's Oatmeal Stout? Perhaps, yes.

Will I be buying another 6-Pack of the Firestone version again anyway? Most definitely.

/Me opens a second one

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2010 22:21:02 | More by NegativeSpin
Photo of Foxtrot
Foxtrot

California

4.4/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So glad this is available in sixers! Got a six pack from BevMo for 9.99.

Pours a pretty nice jet black body with russet brown hues around the edges when held to the light. Head was light tan with slowly receding bubbles with some modest lacing. Just a little foam left around the edges throughout the entire session.

Nose presents a beautiful array of roasted malts, along with undertones of brown sugar, molasses, vanilla and just the slightest hint of oak. Perhaps this is due to the addition of the oats. This nose puts some IRS's to shame, and especially that since this brew has a modest ABV. Shaping up pretty good so far.

The initial taste begins with bitter chocolate and roast, and slowly moves to coffee and a nice hint of astringency mid palate the just really opens up this beer and then finishes with a creamy milkshake chocolate. It was nice to get some astringency in this brew, it opens up big and then even bigger mid palate making it a incredible tasting Oatmeal Stout. This Oatmeal Stout easily puts alot of stouts to shame. This a Porter Lovers Oatmeal Stout.

Mouthfeel is creamy and milkshake like. Edging on full, but just light enough to enjoy a few pours.

Drinkability is the apex of this beer. Great tasting with great complexity, and not to mention the big flavors for being a 5.5 ABV beer. That is just incredible.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2010 03:59:48 | More by Foxtrot
Photo of gford217
gford217

Georgia

3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle from rhertan poured into a tulip.

Pours deep, deep brown out of the bottle, sitting almost black in the glass. The head is small and tan, leaving streaks of lacing.

Aroma is mainly toasted chocolate malt and oatmeal. There are hints of coffee and cocoa powder as well.

Taste is more of the same and predominantly chocolate with bitter espresso and lactose with a healthy dose of oatmeal in finish.

The mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and feels a tad thin, though it is a low ABV stout.

This is a very drinkable if not very complex stout.

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2010 02:29:17 | More by gford217
Photo of benclimbs
benclimbs

California

3.75/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours black but with practically no head and not much lacing - looks tasty.

smell is nice, coffee, woody vanilla and roasty malts - good porter/stout smell.

taste is solid - basic but good, hints of chocolate, some bitter espresso subtleties and thats about it...finishes clean and smooth.

mouthfeel is very smooth, and thick but refreshing and light-bodied.

good beer - basic, but good...

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2010 00:23:22 | More by benclimbs
Photo of axeman9182
axeman9182

New Jersey

4.2/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, pouring it into my Duvel tulip was made possible by the awesome BA rmjavanut.

The beer pours total black, with a creamy three and a half finger tan crown. The head sticks around for a while, but doesn't leave much lacing behind. Nose is straightforward, but good. Heavy on cocoa, with a solid dose of vanilla present as well. The flavor kicks things up a bit. Chocolate still dominates, along with vanilla as the main supporting player, but now a bit of heavily roasted astringency creeps in. It's a nice substitute for a hop bite, and makes way for a slight oaky finish. Mouthfeel is great, but what I've come to expect from an oatmeal stout. Body is impressively rich, especially for a 5.5% beer, and ultra smooth thanks to the oats. Carbonation is picture perfect understated, it gets the job done but doesn't get in the way of all the malty flavors. Velvet Merlin is the second beer I've ever had from Firestone Walker, and it's almost as impressive as their Union Jack IPA. A very nice winter seasonal.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2010 03:18:09 | More by axeman9182
Photo of bohemiandonut
bohemiandonut

California

3.33/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a little thin but dark, with tan bubbly head.
Smells more like a porter to me than a stout. Lots of sweet roasty coffee, vanilla, and some dark fruit.
Tastes like this as well. Pretty good at first with a great mouthfeel and tasty balanced malts. Medium-low carbonation.
Finish is a little weak with a bitter tannic dryness taking over. Glad to be able to pick up a six-pack of this, but it's not my favorite style and doesn't really improve on Mr. Smith's variety. Not bad though.

Serving type: bottle

11-20-2010 03:01:28 | More by bohemiandonut
Photo of t420o
t420o

California

3.83/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Six pack from Bevmo for 7.99

A- Dark brown but not opaque. Tan head that is only about one finger with an aggressive pour. Head dissapate quickly and leaves little lacing.

S- Smoked oats, chocolate, coffee

T- At first it is very light and a but acidic. After only a could sips that quickly fades away into a pretty good oatmeal stout, yet not the best I've had by a long shot. Smoked oats, coffee, chocolate, and some creay goodness in there.

M- At first kind of thin, but begins to feel creamier (sp?) as I keep sipping. Maybe a little too much carbonation until it settles a little

D- I'd say excellent drinability. The creamy taste and feeling is like a Guinness but with different flavors going on. I easily killed the six pack I had.

I wouldn't seek it out but if it is on tap or around the same price I got it for (7.99) I'd give it a try. Its a good beer but I'd expect a little more from FW.

Serving type: bottle

11-19-2010 06:27:20 | More by t420o
Photo of blackc5
blackc5

Washington

3.6/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Somewhat surprised by the high reviews on this - I guess Firestone Walker's reputation supercedes sometimes, or perhaps I had a bottle from an off batch. Found this to be a pretty straightforward, adequate outmeal stout, but fairly disappointing as I generally enjoy FW's offerings. Both in taste and mouthfeel this came out watery for my taste, with little complexity or creaminess. A miss for FW.

Serving type: bottle

11-18-2010 07:42:49 | More by blackc5
Photo of BearsOnAcid
BearsOnAcid

Massachusetts

3.65/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear brown, small khaki head.
Nose has chocolate, coffee and some acidic roasted malt.
Very bitter roasted malts on the tongue but doesn't linger. I get a little bit of that acidic dark malt taste. Something I sometimes find in a schwarzbier. Easy to drink. Clean light bitter finish. Seems a little thin for an oatmeal stout though.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2010 18:54:23 | More by BearsOnAcid
Photo of trevorjn06
trevorjn06

Washington

4.13/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown and is almost black when held up to the light. No head really, just a thin layer of tan foam.

Aroma is roasty and toasty with chocolate, espresso, some fruits (plums and cherries) and light caramel.

Taste fairly smooth with caramels, rich chocolate and some coffee. There is a smooth, nutty oat flavor through the middle of this stout, it makes it very drinkable an delicious. The finish is sweet caramels, chocolate and roasted flavors.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a smooth feel to it and medium/low carbonation.

Overall a very smooth and drinkable stout with nice chocolate and malt flavors, I would drink this again.

Serving type: bottle

11-15-2010 02:42:59 | More by trevorjn06
Photo of Phelps
Phelps

Arizona

3.58/5  rDev -10.9%
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.

Serving type: cask

11-14-2010 23:21:55 | More by Phelps
Photo of djmichaelk
djmichaelk

Florida

3.68/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a perfect pint.

A - Pours a coffee color, with amber highlights in the light. Couple of fingers of light brown head that looks coarse at first, but settles into a finer-looking pillow of foam that sticks around for a long time. Bits of lacing, but it doesn't hang around.

S - Chocolate and cocoa, coffee, and roast. Nice but not extraordinary.

T - More of the same. The roast is certainly more forward in the finish. Sweeter than I would think; more milk chocolate than dark. More coffee in the front when it warms. Pretty good.

M - Chilled, creamy but thin. But the carbonation is very fine, so as it warms it starts to make me think of a nitro-stout, although I know this isn't. The creaminess helps to offset the initial thinness. Nearer to room temperature, it's definitely much better.

D - The sweetness kind of gets to me after a while, but the flavors are nice otherwise and the improved feel helps a lot. I could go for another.

O - Doesn't quite live up to the hype, but a good beer nonetheless. Worth getting a 6-pack and having once in a while.

Serving type: bottle

11-14-2010 09:50:28 | More by djmichaelk
Photo of misinformed
misinformed

California

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

12 oz. bottle, reviewed 11/11/10. Pint glass.

A- The beer itself is an opaque black with maroon and brown highlights. Poured with around 1/2" of head that dissipated to a ring around the edge.

S- Roasted coffee, milk chocolate, dark roasted malts. Smells great, but could be stronger.

T- Roasted malt, dark coffee, mellow milk chocolate. I detected oatmeal a couple of times, but not much grain flavor. Slightly sweet.

M- Medium bodied and very smooth. Some prickly carbonation at first. Mild dry finish that coats the mouth. Body-wise, it finishes lighter than it feels.

D- High drinkability. The flavor is a bit mellow, but that works to its advantage with the smooth body. I really enjoyed the coffee flavors sweetened slightly by the milk chocolate. Very easy to drink a couple of these at a time.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2010 09:23:02 | More by misinformed
Photo of gregshead
gregshead

California

3.63/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black with brown hues when you hold it to the light.

S: Roasted grain and something else I can't pick out. Good on the nose.

T: Taste is pretty predictable stout I can't find anything particularly specific about this one. Well made in every way.

M: Smooth feel, not much carbonation.

D: Good but not phenomenal. Will have again in six pack.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2010 06:13:32 | More by gregshead
Photo of grittybrews
grittybrews

Washington

4.47/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a deep brown-black into a tulip with two fingers of light khaki head (excellent retention). Strong and balanced roasty aroma of cocoa, coffee, toast, and vanilla.

Moderate carbonation and a full, ultra-creamy mouthfeel. Milk chocolate up front followed by toasted biscuit. Slightly bitter espresso on the finish with more hints of cocoa.

Excellent aroma, full-flavored and very smooth. None of the individual flavors bowled me over, but this is one balanced, easy-drinking stout!

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2010 05:34:02 | More by grittybrews
Photo of pumptrick
pumptrick

California

4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
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

Serving type: bottle

11-11-2010 00:45:12 | More by pumptrick
Photo of cswhitehorse
cswhitehorse

Oregon

4.25/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-10-2010 04:55:25 | More by cswhitehorse
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
90 out of 100 based on 1,733 ratings.