Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,963 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 1,963
Reviews: 282
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 356
Gots: 768 | FT: 128
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: t0rin0 on 11-20-2008

Our decadent Oatmeal Stout lovingly aged in Bourbon barrels. Beautiful chocolate, espresso and vanilla-bourbon aromas hold your nose hostage. Rich dark chocolate truffle, bourbon and espresso create a dangerously smooth and incredibly drinkable barrel aged Oatmeal Stout. Hoarding tendencies may occur.
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Ratings: 1,963 | Reviews: 282
Reviews by partisan:
More User Reviews:
Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from the Parabola release in May

Pours deep brown black with thin ring of tan head.

Relatively subtle aromas of bourbon, chocolate and roasted malt.

Interesting addition of borrbon to an oatmeal stout. Maintains the character of an oatmeal while adding bourbon and a nice amount of vanilla.

Very creamy mouthfeel. Feels like on nitro but I don’t think it is. Slightly thin.

Easy drinking flavorful barrel-aged oatmeal. Glad I got to try this.

Photo of Kinsman
4.54/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

As the label suggests, this beer fills the glass as black as Newgate's knocker. Capped with a dark mocha colored head, albeit it is a bit short-lived without and aggressive pour.

Rich and sweet vanilla notes hit you right up front. Oak and spice notes play along as well. Some coffee and roasted barley notes round it all out.

First sip is not quite as sweet as the aroma would have suggested, but nicely balanced between sweet vanilla and fruit notes and more bitter roasted flavors. Bourbon flavors add a little heat and a nice bit of woodiness to it all. Rich and creamy mouthfeel helps carry all this flavor. Overall, Firestone has one the best barrel games in the business, and this one does not disappoint.

Photo of prior2two
3.84/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A - Black like night, with a head that dissapates quickly. It pours beautifly.

S- smells of oak and bourbon and roasted malt. Super aromatic

T- I was underwhelmed. For an oatmeal stout, it wasn't as creamy as I had hoped, and it was a little too astringent. Maybe a little over carbed or too much hop? Either way, I didn't feel the body held up very well. Had a "cola" flavor that I couldn't shake. The oak and bourbon came through nicely.

M - See Above. I thought it was a little too thin. Its only 8.5%, but I expected a little more body and creaminess from an oatmeal stout.

O - I enjoyed it. I wouldn't buy it again though. FW does some great stuff, but this wasn't a must have for me. Still, it's better than so many things out there.

Photo of crob3888
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark brown, nearly totally black and opaque. Some light shines through around the edges. A tan head forms, but eventually settles and disappears entirely.

S: Notice the smell during the pour. Vanilla bourbon notes dominated the sweet aroma, with dark chocolate as well. A good nose.

T: This is where the beer shines, as it should. The vanilla bourbon blends with rich dark chocolate truffle, and a hint of velvety espresso rounds it out. This is a brilliant bourbon aged beer.

F: Velvety smooth, as the name implies. Medium-full body, slightly chewy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin is one of my all-time favorite oatmeal stouts and Velvet Merkin is now an all-time favorite of the BBA variety. Firestone, as usual, knocks it out of the park.

Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4.25

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. 2014 vintage with no obvious bottle date.

A: You know when you hear the description of some BBA stouts as pouring like "thick motor oil"? Ya, this isn't that. Pours more like Coca-Cola. Once it's in the glass, though, it's not too bad. Dark brown-black body, minimal tan head.

S: Very nice aroma. Hit with the bourbon right up front. Very clean, lots of vanilla, some almond nuttiness. Just a hint of chocolate in the background. Fair amount of oak and barrel character.

T: A little underwhelming. Soft notes of vanilla, oak, flourless chocolate. A hint of toffee near the back end. Whiskey comes through strongly in the finish, but it's nicely balanced.

M: Disappointingly thin. Very, very watery for a BA stout.

O: So my expectations for Merkin were low because I wasn't a huge fan of Merlin. I thought the base beer was unimpressive, very thin and watery, and weak in flavor. So I wasn't sure how barrel-aging would help that. For the most part, it's an improvement. Wonderful flavors of vanilla, oak, almond all come through and the beer is very balanced and drinkable. The bourbon character is very nicely wrapped around this beer. However, a thin base beer leads to a thin BBA beer and the look and mouthfeel are just so unimpressive and leave a lot to be desired.

Recommendation: Not a must-try if you don't care for Velvet Merlin, but definitely still worth seeking out just for the fact that FW is so good at barrel-aging beers.

Photo of themind
2.92/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

a 96??? after having BCBS, Devils Due, Backwoods Basterd and a host of other BB beers recently, this beer is truly a disappointment. The aroma is weak, the carbonation is fizzy and the taste is below par for the standard these days. A thin mouth feel just adds to the many short comings of this beer. I am shocked as this beer to me gets smoked by many so called " shelf turds " out there. If your seeking this out, save your money. The only redeeming factor of this beer is the ABV is hidden, but it's not very hard at 8.5%

Bottom Line: Not buying this again.

Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Yeah, the complaints about the mouthfeel are pretty accurate. Much thinner than one would expect. Flavors are fine, but not exceptional. The weakest of FW's special releases (which is almost an unfair comparison, since the others are all world-beaters, or close to it...)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.31/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a globe.

A: The room is dimly lit, but it appears to be a nice sheening black color. Two fingers of khaki colored head retain well. Spotty lacing.

S: Barrel aromas waft from the glass. Dusty oak, vanilla, rye whiskey. Caramel. Chocolate truffles. Coffee with cream. Oatmeal with brown sugar. Subtle whiff of alcohol. Sugar dates and black currants.

T: Starchy oats, chocolate truffles, sugar cookies, brown sugar, caramel. Iced coffee with two creams. Walnuts. The barrel is a focal point. Dusty oak, runny caramel, vanilla, corny sweet bourbon, mild barrel char. Oaky vanilla finish with lingering coffe and cream.

M: Medium-thick body. Smooth as silk. Creamy and luscious, slick and chewy. Low tingling carbonation.

O: Delicious. Effortless grace and balance. The barrel character is front and center, but never overbearing. Everything melds together nicely. Is it possible for a liquid to melt in your mouth? Because that's what it feels like. Firestone Walker's barrel aged beers are incomparable.

Photo of CaliforniaJohnson
5/5  rDev +16.3%

poured into a tulip glass from a 650mL bottle.'
Pour Date: Nov 29, 2014

APPEARANCE
Jet black with brown hue. Head 1-inch, light-caramel brown. Head retention shows inhomogenious lacing with a ring around the surface. The low effervescence during the pour suggests a creamy beer.

SMELL
Vanilla, Irish creme, cocoa.

TASTE
Bright and lively grains really hit the roof of the mouth, quickly overcome by creamy, marshmallowy, chocolatey, smoky goodness. You can really taste the roasted grains with the aftertaste. The flavors really work in harmony on this one; the ABV is masked.

FEEL
Although the taste is very creamy, the feel isn't so cream-like; it's pretty bubbly and pleasant.

OVERALL
This beer has everything I look for in a stout -- every aspect lacks nothing.

Photo of jonathanjones27
3.28/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

It seriously fell short of my expectation. Mouthfeel just was thin, flavor was light bodied and dissipated quickly.

Photo of mr-jj
3.72/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle split between four samplers. Notes from 12/28/14.

Color is dark brown, almost black with a tan head. Aroma is bourbon with some cocoa and vanilla. Flavor is roasted malt with traces of cocoa and vanilla. Bourbon flavor is not as strong as I expected from the nose. Body is light/medium - much lighter than I expected - with minimal carbonation and a creamy texture.

Overall, I tried this in a tasting with BCBS and Fremont KDS and it was very mild and lacking in flavor against those offerings. But it is still a very good beer.

Photo of mverity
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at FIrestone Walker in Paso Robles! Great taproom! Nice tan head with fair lacing. Color is opaque black. Aroma is heavily of vanilla and bourbon. Maple and brown sugar is also present. Taste is a bit different from the aroma. Sweet bourbon and earthy coffee is what I get at the front, toasty oats and charred oak on the tail end. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for an aged stout. Creamy, and a great finish. Wonderful beer!

Photo of ElSid
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Beers of California

#96

Bottled Date: 2013

A: Deep black with a head of khaki foam. The variable sized bubbles slowly fade to a net of lace cling on the glass

S: Bourbon warmth, smooth hot cocoa sweetness, and earthy, woody textures. The admixture is balanced, smooth and stimulating resulting in the perfect nose.

T: Behind the medium bourbon booziness comes strong currents of toasted grain, cocoa nibs, raisin and brown sugar sweetness, along with wood and tobacco qualities. There are also hints of vanilla and marshmallow stickiness .

M: Medium bodied and velvety smooth with moderate carbonation.

O: This little of brother of Parabola is able to marry complexity with smooth drinkability. The Firestone barrel program succeeds again.

Photo of tigg924
4.38/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap at New World Tavern.

Appearance: low carbonation, 1/4 inch head, opaque, black in color

Smell: dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon

Taste: Deep bourbon taste, dark and milk chocolate, with touch of vanilla

Mouthfeel: sweet, oaky, and roasty, heavy body, moderate carbonation

Overall: Wow. Every barrel aged beer FireStone Walker has done has been lights out amazing and worth every penny. This one is no different. I love the depth of the barrel aging and yet this still has a lot of stout to it. One of the best beers I have had in a while.

Photo of buyyourfreedom
3.31/5  rDev -23%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was really looking forward to this beer but came away underwhelmed. I felt the flavors were too subtle, particularly since it is barrel-aged. Also, it was entirely too thin for my taste.

Photo of 01001111
4.79/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: A dark but not opaque chestnut color with little-to-no head and some oil slick patterns.

S: Wood, roast, oats, vanilla, pipe tobacco, and a slight bourbon bite.

T: Chocolate, hazelnuts and walnuts, vanilla, a hint of coconut. The bourbon character comes through as it warms in the mouth. The finish is very bold and roasted; not bitter at all.

M: Velvety, but a bit thin with some syrupy character, more like a nut brown ale in body, but the robust flavor boosts the mouthfeel. The alcohol heat appears mostly in the back of the throat.

O: I'm quite impressed. Velvet Merlin is a great oatmeal stout but the other reviews had me worried about this one. While not the most amazing barrel-aged stout, this is an excellent brew.

Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev -7%

Pours engine oil black with a small tan head.

Nose consists of wood, chocolate, bourbon.

Upfront the taste reminds me of dark chocolate brownies followed by a hint of bourbon, oak and vanilla.
I was hoping the beer would feature a bit bigger mouthfeel. That's the one drawback for me. Can't justify the price of this when I can get six packs of Merlin for under $10 and do my own experimenting with vanilla beans and whiskey.

Photo of timc100
4.29/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cola coffee dark brown, yields a substantial creamy dark beige head - really great looking beer. Aroma of oak vanilla, milk chocolate, bitter dark chocolate, and a wonderful graham cracker and toasted coconut. Taste is much of the same but with less vibrancy. Outrageously creamy smooth mouthfeel. Another great firestone barrel malt concoction.

Photo of AdamF625
4.17/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A- dark muddy brown pour with a two finger khaki head, settles black with a milky lacing
S- toasted oats, bourbon, honey, vanilla, hot cacao, bit of brown sugar
T- milk chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla, honey, oats
M- medium body and carbonation, tilts towards the creamy side, dry on the finish.
O- very smooth and drinkable for a bourbon barrel aged beer. Take it for what's it worth, an oatmeal stout. Lacks complexity but doesn't need it.

Photo of McD0uche
4.2/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap (tulip glass) at Firestone Brewery on Feb-04-2012.

A: Thick black with a good, frothy, two-finger head of coppery brown bubbles. No lacing to speak of. Retention is excellent.

S: Roasted malts up front with coffee and oat notes. Maybe a hint of dark fruits.

T: Massively huge roasted malt flavor, and the coffee and oats play in the background. The bourbon is present and distinguishable. Excellent.

M: Light carbonation, heavier body. Finishes light and a little wet. Compliments the style.

O: I really enjoyed the Velvet Merkin. It's a shame they don't let you take some away in a growler or else I would have been all over this one.

Photo of joeseppy
4.34/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just missed on tap by thiiis much. Hate when work gets in the way of my personal time. Scored a few bottles though.

Dark cola pour with decent cap and lacing.

Aromas of cereal, chocolate, lite bourbon and a hint of vanilla. I must state that all aromas are muted for me.

Taste steals the show. Complex yet so simple. Got chocolate, chocolate with espresso. Bourbon and coke going on extenuating the vanilla and caramel malts. Not over powering and ever so sessionable.

Velvety mouthfeel. Medium body and quite frankly-who really gives a truck. Carbonation substantiated and body is sticky.

What I want is taste, taste, taste-did I mention taste. If you love chocolate it's here. Old Fitzgerald has been my choice of everyday bourbon though the price tag fools most looking for thee "name brand". Fantastic bourbon priced for the working class-I'm not surprised Firestone went this route. This is incredibly drinkable, expensively sessionable and drinking great Now!

Photo of greenhorn
3.51/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage, poured into oversized wine glass. Nice head on this one, more black than brown. Not much of an aroma - what’s there is almost off putting. Creamy taste but very little coffee and bourbon presence. I do get the chocolate and vanilla. Body is lighter than I expected and wish it was a little thicker. Overall, I expected more from this one but still a tasty offering.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.86/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Poured into a snifter to reveal a blackened color with cola brown edging when held to light. The head is light tan and peaks at about a half a finger in width, then quickly dies down to form a webbing of surface suds and a thin ring around the edge. Lacing is small and spotty with decent stick.

Smell - At first crack I get hints of Black roast, chocolate and notes of deep, rich caramel. I could live off that caramel. As the brew warms hints of vanilla and bourbon sweetness begin to peek through, then strengthen. Strong toffee notes once the beer is fairly warmed.

Taste - Lighter in flavor than what the nose leads on. Touches on toffee, chocolate, bourbon and vanilla. Sweet with hints of heat. Light roastiness. Flavor nearly falls off the map in the finish, but leaves ghostly traces of chocolate and bourbon in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Eh. Pretty thin, even for a barrel-aged brew. Low carbonation. A bit watery in the finish. Easily the weakest aspect of the brew.

Overall - Had this on tap last year and thought it was fairly disappointing. I'm not sure if this batch is any better or it's that my expectations aren't as high, but I'm not quite as down on it this time around, though that doesn't mean I'm still not underwhelmed. The aroma is amazing, but unfortunately the flavor and body don't live up to expectations. At $15 per bottle, this is one Firestone BA brew that I won't be buying a 2nd bottle of which to age. In fact I'm not even sure what aging could possibly do for this beer. There simply isn't enough here.

Photo of GilGarp
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

2014 vintage served at cellar temp into a goblet.

Velvet Merkin is a dark brown color with good clarity seen during the pour. The head is lightly off white in color, thin, and short-lived.

Aroma is more boozy than I expected with a big hit of bourbon barrel, vanilla, and caramel pudding.

Flavor is big and intense leading off with malty sweetness, vanilla, and chocolate. It then gets more bitter with some coffee and dark roasted malt. The final layer of flavor is the bourbon which is well judged and not too boozy or hot.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy smooth like a good oatmeal stout should be. Carbonation is low which helps keep the creaminess.

Overall a very good barrel aged stout and would likely stand up well to aging.

Photo of Roguer
4.36/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Jet black brew, thin tan head, OK retention, decent lacing.

Chocolate malts and a hint of bourbon through the nose. Fairly understated aroma.

Noticeable bourbon, vanilla, and oak, balanced against dark cocoa and oatmeal.
Complex, balanced, sweet, and delicious.

Smooth and chewy. No burn, but the alcohol is present. This is a big bodied beer.

Fantastic beer. Super smooth and understated, very drinkable, and low ABV for the style.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,963 ratings.