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Velvet Merlin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

620 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 620
Hads: 2,746
Avg: 3.98
pDev: 21.11%
Wants: 220
Gots: 490 | 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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 620 | Hads: 2,746
Photo of mothman
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
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 stakem
4.14/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass this brew appears dark brown with a finger of brown head that quickly recedes to a thin lace across the top. When held to the light, this brew displays some lighter brown and deep ruby clarity through the body.

The aroma of this brew is a pleasant roasty scent reminiscent of coffee mixed with dark chocolate-like grains. The grain scent of this brew is very fresh and enjoyable which imparts a light sweetness through the nose. Once the brew warms up there is a light citrus hop indication in the back.

The taste of this brew is roasty grain that imparts a light sweetness through the body. It leaves a lingering taste similar to fresh coffee and light semi bitter chocolate. As this brew warms it picks up a light citrus hop influence.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. The oats in this brew imparts a silky smooth feel in the mouth which is exceptional for the style. The alcohol is perfectly hidden and overall this is a fine example of the style.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by RussianDragon. Thanks Dave!

The beer is near black with a half inch of beige head. Scents of bread, roast, chocolate. Smooth on the palate. Flavors include char, roast, chocolate, and a hint of coffee beans. Easy drinking and overall, a solid example of the style.

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Photo of billab914
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured dark brown in color with a frothy, creamy, tan head to it. The head faded to a thin, bubbly layer rather quickly, and clung to the edges of the glass.

The aroma shows some darker, bitter-sweet chocolate to it along with the creamy, oatmeal flavor. A little bit of vanilla and coffee peek through as well. Very nice aroma, the oats are well represented and very nice.

The taste starts off with some of the creamy oatmeal and sweeter chocolate flavors to it. Midway it starts to get a little roastier, with a little coffee like flavor to it. I get a little more of the bitter-sweet chocolate in the finish. Very nice flavors overall.

The mouthfeel is nice and creamy, with carbonation being moderate. Overall it was a very nice beer, It had some great flavors to it and was very easy drinking. The oats came through nicely and gave it a nice creamy and smooth mouthfeel. Very nice beer overall.

The taste

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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.

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Photo of Billolick
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout

12 oz. bottle ,Bottled on dating ( "01/09/14") etched onto the neck of the bottle.

Pours near black, mocha head, stays nicely and leaves low sheeting and thicker strands of lace.

Chocolate and some vanilla on the nose.

Thick and flavorful, with more milk chocolate and smooth dark malt notes. Dry finish but maintains a quite moderate hop presence. Nicely done and well worth a try if ya see this available in your local area.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Single bottle into two glasses with oglmcdgl, an extra in a recent trade. Hopefully six packs make it over here some day.

A- Out of the bottle Merkin looks a dirty brown bordering on black. Once it's all together it has a black appearance but up to light it has brown and reddish spots. A steady pour yielded a frothy milkshake like head with great retention, minor stick.

S- A very deep creamy appeal to this one as im getting a lot of chocolate as well as the advertised oatmeal. A bunch of roasted malt is a strong contender as well. A very small amount of coffee.

T- This is a very nice oatmeal stout with a huge creaminess, perhaps the most I've had from this style. A bunch of oatmeal & chocolate with slight burnt coffee. A nice amount of hops to balance all those dark flavors. Great flavor from this very fresh bottle

M- Medium to slightly thick in the mouth which I was not expecting from the look of the pour. Creamy as hell, smooth as silk. Carbed up without being bitey at all, yet a small bitterness from the roast coffee.

D- At 5.5% this is quite drinkable and with the robust flavors I could drink a few without getting bored. One of the better examples of an oatmeal stout that I've had. I enjoy everything I have had from this brewery.

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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 Gueuzedude
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A vigorous pour into my New Belgium globe glass produces a fat-two-finger thick, brown stained, dark tan colored head. The beer is a rich black color that shows some clear, brown hues around the edges if it is held up directly to the light. The nose smells of roasted grain, well browned, quite toasted whole grain bread, touches of roasted coffee and just a generally, ample dark / roasted malt character. I like that the nose escapes being sharp or acrid from the roast malt focus. There is a touch of roundness and perhaps subtle sweetness towards the finish of the aroma; this accentuates touches of chocolate and perhaps some sweet coffee ice-cream like aromatics. As the beer warms up it picks up more of a roasted nutty like character.

Light bodied and dry up front, as the beer moves across the palate it picks up a touch of perceived, and perhaps even actual sweetness. The sweetness is brought out by a very soft, subtle Bourbon barrel influence that leans towards toasted coconut and vanillin and perhaps a hint of Bourbon / oak spiciness. The barrel influence is really quite subtle, and if I didn’t know it was here, I might not have really picked it up. Ample cold coffee roast flavors are here, there is a full, whole grain toasted character here, as well as a touch of complexly browned, barley husk like notes; this last is quite smooth and integrated and adds a sort of whole grain spiciness to this brew. The body has a certain creaminess to it, my vigorous pour knocked out much of the carbonation; this is definitely light and quaffable, but I like that it has a touch of fullness to it. The finish has a lingering, slightly bitter, burnt roast character to it; this is accentuated by a light, prickly effervescence from the carbonation.

The Bourbon barrel influence is quite subtle in the aroma, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of Bourbon character here, but it is definitely quite reduced from Velvet Merkin. In the flavor it is soft, but it is also noticeable; I do like that it was kept at a very low level here, but I almost feel like it could use a touch more as I almost feel like it is too subtle. That can be a dangerous thing though, as I definitely prefer that the barrel character be kept fairly low. Still, this is a fantastic beer and is something I am quite happy to have a 6-pack of (the $6.99 price doesn’t hurt either); the extra boost of smooth complexity from the Bourbon barrel really adds something to this beer.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ, on to the beer:

Ummm....it's black in appearance, the beer leaves some amount of lacing on the glass. What we have here is a very sweet stout. Semi-sweet chocolate all around, rolled oats...what else? A little thinner than I was expecting, but overall, this is a good oatmeal stout.

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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

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Photo of johnnnniee
4/5  rDev +0.5%

Bottle from Bert's
Solid dark brown black color with a decent sized tan head that shows moderate retention. Aromas of creamed coffee and chocolate dominate. Light earthy hop, cereal grain, and a faint pitted fruit round out the aroma nicely. The flavor is rich mocha with just a touch of vanilla. Light earth and fruit for posterity. Medium body with a creamy silky mouthfeel and a light level of carbonation. I could drink the hell out of these given half a chance.

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black, basically, with a smattering of white bubbles.

S: Strong roasted malt smell, with caramelized sugar and coffee. Nice mix of sweet with bitter roast.

T: Strong sweet creamed coffee at first, almost like a Parabola-lite. Bitterness of the roast comes in giving a bit of charcoal acridity to balance the sweetness. Good flavour, with light wood notes that always stay in the background.

M: Perhaps since I expected a bigger beer, the body seemed thin to me, though for the regular style it is solid across the board. Smooth and creamy.

D: Nice oatmeal stout from Firestone, it shows that they don't have to create a big beer when they barrel age stuff. Nice brew all around.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle, thanks Rich.

Appearance is as is expected for the style; opaque chocolate brown/black with a nice, retentive tan head. Lacing is minimal.

Aroma is dry, oat-y and roasted, with some mild chocolate and sweet malt.

Very easy drinking, with a slightly thin, medium body. Flavor is roasted, sweet with chocolate and coffee. Extremely well balanced and smooth. A little sweet for the style, but will definitely seek this out again.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, the beer is jet black with deep brown highlights under light. A thick, foamy, light tan colored 2 inch head. This looks tasty. Aromas of coffee and chocolate are released from this beer. Flavors are rich and creamy on a smooth and creamy body, and tastes are rich of mocha and milk chocolate. The finish is quick and a bit dry, and the aftertaste is chocolaty. Very smooth and easy to drink beer, but lighter than I am used to with Oatmeal Stouts. Tasty brew!

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Photo of liamt07
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle had at the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay in Vegas, 12oz'er into a pint glass.

Pours an opaque black with a mocha brown head of a couple fingers. Quite thin in terms of head retention and only a snippet of lacing. Lovely nose for an oatmeal stout, some bitter chocolate, sweet caramel and hints of a sweeter/milkier chocolate. Good roastiness and a hint of molasses. Sweet and bitter in terms of taste, roasted malts, subtle caramel and molasses notes. Modest bitterness with a bit of coffee in the finish. Heavy medium body, with a medium carbonation. Chewy feel, with great flavour. An exceptional oatmeal stout with lots of subtle complexities.

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Photo of Zorro
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear black colored beer with a smallish light brown colored head.

Smells strongly of chocolate. Scents of oak and vanilla with a little chocolate. Little bit of toasted bread aroma and a slight menthol and carrot scent from the hops.

Starts out mildly sweet and roasted grains with the distinctive Firestone oak barrel taste. Bittersweet taste with a bit of vanilla and caramel.

Mouthfeel is good.

Not a bad beer at all. A little disappointing though, Firestone normally hits home runs; this is more of a Double.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured a very dark brown in color with brown highlights that had a thin head and left a little lacing sticking to the glass.

S: the nose was pretty roasty with coffee bean notes, chocolate malts, and had milky character to the aroma.

T: the oatmeal grain was not to apparent on the nose or the taste but had a little soapy flavor, chocolate malts, coffee beans, some roastiness, and a touch of cinnamon.

M: the brew was medium in body with a low amount of carbonation which had a sweet, roasty, malty, spice, and creamy finish.

D: it drank good but to me the oatmeal qualities didn't really shine or pop out; Really tasty beer though.

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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.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Ultraman9000 for throwing this as an extra in to a box from a recent trade.

Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Poured black with one finger of espresso coloured head.

S - Roasted malts, coffee, caramel. Some bitterness and a slight smokiness. A very nice profile for a regular stout.

T - Roasted malts, lots of smoke, coffee, chocolate and a slight overall sweetness.

M - Medium body; lightly carbonated.

D - A very good stout.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to G311 for this brew.

Pours a nice black color, nice carbonation, small fizzy off-white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with a nice touch of chocolate/toffee. The taste is sweet, malty, with some chocolate/toffee. Medium Body. Drinkable, this is a very tasty brew. I wish it was available in Utah.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.79/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours much lighter than I expected, more a deep brown than a brown-black, and still letting light pass through rather easily. Head is yellowish beige, large-bubbled and frothy where agitated, but otherwise forming a thin film. Pretty good static carbonation when tilted, but overall, it just doesn't win me with its look.

Nose is dry but pleasantly roasted, with grainy cereal notes and a hint of coconut. It's rather mild in aroma, but the characters it has are very pleasant.

Taste is similar, and it has a really nice smoothness on the back palate that melds with the dark grain notes to almost give the suggestion of chocolate, even though there's absolutely minimal sweetness. Finish is quite dry, and with that mealy cereal character that suggests you have another sip. It's light on the palate, really, but it's pretty drinkable.

Certainly something I'd happily drink again, and something with plenty of dry roasty character that is eminently sessionable. No bad at all.

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Photo of John_M
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at Max's today.

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. The nose is a bit shy, but I still pick up some nice coffee, light vanilla and light bourbon and light chocolate. On the palate... you can tell this is a low alcohol beer, but damn does it deliver a lot of flavor. The flavor profile basically replicates the nose, but there's just more of everything. There's also a hint of tobacco, smoke and earthiness in the finish that I appreciate as well. It helps to dry out the modest sweetness in this beer. Mouthfeel is pretty good. The beer is soft and plush on the palate, though it's a bit thin as well (but at 5.5% abv., that's hardly a surprise).

While nothing earth shattering here, it's hard not to be impressed with a beer showing this much flavor with such low alcohol. Pretty impressive really...

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Firestone Wqalker Velvet Stout is good. The beer pours an opaque dark with thin, almost non-existent hear that is leaving a very spotty lace. The smell carries waffs of coffee/espresso. The taste carry a nice bitter burst with good coffee and roast. The mouthfeel is medium in body with good carbonation. Overall it is a great session stout. Perfect for a winter tailgate.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

On tap at FW Taproom

Poured a deep brown almost black and it had a small white head. Nose had some hints of toffee, oatmeal and cocoa. Went down smooth and the ABV was around 5. Taste was smooth with not as much taste up front but through the middle and mouthfeel is where this beer is strongest i thought. Lots of smoothness, oats, cocoa, maybe a light coffee feel and creamy, roasted malts. Very smooth and highly drinkable. Best Oatmeal Stout I have had next to BORIS.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
89 out of 100 based on 620 ratings.