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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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View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 621 | Hads: 2,761
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

(Served in a snifter)
Bottled 12/04/12
A- This beer pours a get black body with a thin wisp of tan head and a glowing walnut brown hue at the base.

S- The inky black malt aroma has some earthy tar notes and a deep coffee hint comes through. There are some nice graham notes that come through as it warms

T- The big black earthy inky roasted malt has an almost smoky quality it is so dark and some slightly sweet malt finish that is pretty clean in the aftertaste.

M- The medium mouthfeel has a slippery texture and no alcohol heat noticed

O- This big black malt flavor is nice with some inky qualities but the finish and body really get thin a lot as it opens up and there isn’t much to support that big malt flavor. It would be nice to have some alcohol or hops or sweetness to finish what the flavor starts.

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

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark, dark red amber with a rim of foam and no lacing. Dark and roasted malt aroma. Starts rather thin, with dark, sweet and roasted malts. Finish is quite robust with malts and a nice coffee flavor. Way above average for a low ABV stout. Worth trying again.

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Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chocolate brown color with faint mahogany edges and a pillowy two finger beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Larges streaks and chunks of soapy lacing left behind.

Robust, roasted malt aroma that never becomes acrid or burnt. Slightly smokey with hints of toast, dark chocolate, coffee bean, caramel, toffee and of course, oatmeal. There's also a slight lactic cream presence adding complexity to the nose.

Chewy, full body with a deeply roasted dark malt character that's nicely countered by a subtle earthy hop presence. Very similar to the aroma with lots of roasted malt flavor that never becomes overpowering or burnt tasting. Strong dark chocolate, oatmeal and coffee bean presence along with some caramel, toffee and lactic cream. Very complex and even though it's full bodied, it's very well balanced resulting in an extremely quaffable beer.

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Photo of flagmantho
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: deep brown color, nearly black, with a ruby tinge when held up to the light. Head cascaded into a three-finger monstrosity of tan froth. Great.

Smell: rich, creamy, roasty aroma of chocolate and coffee. That's what I come to an oatmeal stout to get.

Taste: roasty chocolate flavor with a fair amount of astringent acidity; more than I like in an oatmeal stout. Finish is OK but, overall, the flavor is a bit milder than I'd have hoped.

Mouthfeel: bodaciously creamy, silky texture. Body is huge and, although the carbonation doesn't seem like a whole lot, it is more than enough to make this thing feel like a champion.

Overall: I like this beer. It has some flavor flaws which are rather minor, and its mouthfeel is awesome, even for a stout like this. Good stuff.

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

Finally got to try this one while on the west coast over Christmas. We only get a handful of FW beers on the east coast at the moment, which is a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed them all and I’d buy this one on a regular basis if I could.

This is a tasty and very easy drinking beer. Pours dark brown, almost black, with a smallish head and minimal lacing. Opaque. A roasty aroma of coffee and vanilla, a touch of sweetness and a bit of a bitter note.

The flavor is all of those things: roasted, with coffee and vanilla, plus a touch of cherry, perhaps, and a general gentle sweetness, finishing with a lightly hopped bitterness. Subtle fruitiness. I’d describe this almost as a porter with coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and cherry. Bourbon and wood make an appearance as well. All of these flavors are here but they’re well balanced and none of them are all that strong despite being rather distinctive. This is not a big beer, just a very tasty one with more subtle flavor notes than one might expect. It really opens up to reveal them as it sits a bit.

The medium to thin body and lively, but not prickly, carbonation also put me more in mind of a porter than an oatmeal stout, although the creaminess of the body is fitting to the style. I really enjoyed this one, it’s definitely right up my alley, and would find a regular spot in my fridge along side Union Jack if it made it to stores over here.

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

Served in Imperial pint. The beer poured black, with a thin tan head that had OK retention and lace.

The aroma was nicely roast malts and very well blended. The flavors were very similar, full, well-rounded malt and grain. The body was full, smooth and well-rounded. Drinkability was very good, I could easily have several of these.

Overall, a very good beer that borders on excellent. Worth seeking out.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle stamped 09/25/14. Sampled on December 24, 2014.

It pours a deep dark charcoal black with ruby red hues and a modest, short lived tan head.

The aroma is of dark malts, oatmeal, and coffee.

The body is better than medium but I would not call it bold and heavy.

The taste has a nice coffee and dark malt character with that oatmeal and the bitterness is mild at the end. It is quite easy to drink.

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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 Beerandraiderfan
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown pour, tan head, this is a looker. Plain aroma, roast, oats taming it down.

Taste, richly smooth, great work with the oatmeal here. Not harsh at all, a great session stout. All the harbingers of a good stout, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, none of them in your face, just mingling in the background. Easy to see why this was a component in the anniversary beer.

Beer provides a good coat for the gullet. Stays away from being anything extreme. A good, dry, sessionable oatmeal stout, nothing pretentious about it, does the job quite well, even if it might seem thin at times for peeps always looking for a RIS or a double/imperial stout. Just the right amount of hopping to keep it lively, but not be astringent or out of style parameters.

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Photo of spinrsx
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Whole Foods Las Vegas for 1.99$

Appearance - Dark brown colour with a large size frothy light brown head. I can't make out the amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for over 5 minutes.

Smell - Malts, chocolate, oatmeal

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal. There was also a touch of smoke and a bit of a cola flavour. It ends with a grainy chocolate aftertaste with a hint of lingering smoke.

Overall - The appearance of this beer once poured was really great. A beautiful fluffy/rocky/foamy head. Oh ya, it tasted pretty good too. Although there are better oatmeal stouts available to me locally.

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Photo of Brad007
3.81/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received in a trade from dimce.

Velvet Merlin pours a pitch black with a nice, thick head into my glass.

Aromas consist of roasted malt with a touch of coffee and a creamy, silky texture.

Mouthfeel is dominated by the lingering silky texture courtesy of the oatmeal.It cradles the tongue.

A decent oatmeal stout. It hasn't broken any new ground though for the style.

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

This was an extra from Huadog (thanks Russ!). It pours a dark reddish brown, not quite opaque, with a few fingers of tan foam that settle to a stable ring. The aroma is nice, lots of roasted malt and maybe a hint of bourbon? Really rich smelling, especially as it warms.

It tastes sweet, malty sweet up front with a lingering bitterness that seems to be related to roast more than hops. No discernable bourbon in the taste, just the smell. Creamy mouthfeel, this went down easily and quickly.

This was a fantastic oatmeal stout, a style I'm sort of neutral on. But I'd take it again any time.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a almost black body with khaki head that left some pace patches. Smell is of roasted and sweet malts, akin to some coffee and chocolate with possible nuts (hazel) or toffee, maybe caramel. The oatmeal is noticeable as it smoothes down a light bodied beer (light for a stout) and helps balance a light coffee/roasted malt edge with some minor chocolate and toffee like sweetness. Little bit of woodiness on this beer as well and at times there seems to be a boozy, dry finish.

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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 glid02
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Jeremy – thanks!

Pours one shade from black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of smooth roasted malts with good amounts of sweet oats and light chocolate aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Lightly roasted malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by moderate amounts of light chocolate flavors. Midway through the sip the flavors sweeten a bit with slight amounts of oak and hints of toffee. The sweetness fades out near the end of the sip, carrying through to a moderately bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It’s got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is also very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall there wasn’t anything that stood out about this beer besides the mouthfeel but everything worked well together and this is a smooth beer. This beer reminded me of their Reserve Porter but with a heavier mouthfeel and slightly sweeter. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz extra given to my Craytonic, served in a Bruery tulip...A dark brown pour with a brilliant light tan head. At least six fingers of head rises and stays forever, tightly compact bubbles on this are great. Unbelievably thick lacing. This is a looker...A fairly muted aroma, lots of oatmeal, a little roast and bitter, pretty sweet. A little alcohol and the sweetness bring my score down a touch, not balanced enough...The taste is pretty muted as well, disappointed. Light roast, oatmeal, a little sweet chocolate cake. Better balanced, just not strong enough. The more I drink it the more I like it as its so easy to drink, yet flavorful. A nice full feel.

Above average oatmeal, worth a shot.

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Photo of barczar
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big cocoa and coffee presence in aroma. In flavor, coffee dominates, and there's a bit of a harsh bitterness. I'm not a huge coffee drinker, so I'd prefer more chocolate.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Oliver's in Albany, NY.

Pours an opaque dark brown, almost black. One inch of mocha head forms, good lacing down the glass.

Smells like roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee.

Tastes strongly of roasted malt, with a silky smooth taste that signifies oats. Some bitter chocolate in there too, with a hint of coffee. Not very bitter.

Medium mouthfeel, silky smooth due to the rolled oats. Feels more full bodied than a 5.5% ABV beer would signify. Very drinkable.

A great beer from Firestone Walker that gets lost amongst their other bigger beers. Very sessionable, with tons of flavor.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Pours black. I'm not seeing much besides black I. The body. Head is initially a bigger, plop of doughy, tan foam. Then is settles down but it leaves thick lacing.

S-Sweet chocolate and cocoa. Oats and some roastiness. Even some dark fruitiness. I think the chocolate is nice; it's got some dark and milk chocolate notes.

T-Milk chocolate and light roast coffee and burnt oats. Good flavor but fairly tame. A little bit of cola. Some vanilla as well.

M-The flavor isn't as rich as some other Oatmeal Stouts but it's supremely drinkable. I will have no problem gulping through this six pack.

O/D-I have always wanted to try this beer. I was a bit disappointed, especially having Velvet Merkin first. It's a nice, very drinkable Oatmeal Stout. That's it, though.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 7th December 2010, delivered lovingly by FedEx thanks to largadeer, this has been a long time coming. Thank you, Chris.

Pouring a very dark brown, this beer has the deepest red highlights. A dense, dark brown head is present, receding to a disk leaving no lace. The nose is rather excellent. The oatmeal character is so fresh and so prominent, it smells like I've drizzled some granola with coffee. Rich, beautiful, oatmeal cereal with a little bit of raisin. The coffee isn't the richest or the best, but it works wonderfully well here, despite being rather instant coffee-like. Likewise, the palate opens with a blend of oatmeal, coffee and a little bit of fruit, a little raisin-like? There's also an underlying caramel sweetness that's light, working very well with the oatmeal. A balancing bitterness is provided by a little bit of coffee and a little bit of roast, and I also get a touch of Fuggles in the back, earthy and a little leafy. Drying and roasty on the finish with oatmeal and coffee, this beer is excellent. Medium-light in body with soft carbonation, this has a perfect level of carbonation. As for drinkability, well, I am trying to work on a presentation here, but I just cracked my second bottle of this. Suffice to say, this is one of the better oatmeal stouts I've had in a long time. This is breakfast in a glass with a dollop of happiness.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz, bottled 12/04/2012, pours dark brown topped with a foamy beige head that holds decent retention. Aromas and tastes are similar with oatmeal, chocolate, faint coffee, background toasted grain, roasted barley, kind of smells and tastes like how a bag of freshly cracked roasted barley smells. Mouth-feel is exceptionally smooth and creamy, while having a medium-to-full body. Overall, not a whole lot of complexity, but this brewery knows how to streamline a good, solid beer.

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Photo of ccrida
3.63/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Henry's, served in a shaker pint, Velvet Merkin is black with a small, very creamy light tan head leaving light, scattered lace.

Smell is roasted malt and oats, served cold, it's rather muted with all chocolate and toffee coming out a bit as it warms.

Taste is well balanced to the point of almost bland, just a bit of coffee and chocolate really.

Mouthfeel is the strong point here, really creamy and smooth.

Drinkability is pretty good, it goes down very easily due to rounded flavors and smoothness. On the other hand, it's rather boring and lacking depth, and I didn't feel like having another.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz. bottle served in a shaker pint. 11/13/14 printed on the label. Pours an inky black with a loose, quarter inch, tan-colored head that sizzles and pops and slowly dissipates towards the shoulders. Nose expresses roast, cocoa and a suggestion of artificial sweetener. Taste follows nose - coffee notes are somewhat reminiscent of coffee syrup. There's also some flaked outs in there; however, the flavor profile all comes off a bit thin. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (but closer to light) with a water texture and a prickly carbonation. Overall, a decent oatmeal stout but I was expecting a bit more. I wouldn't mind giving this one a shot on nitro.

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