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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.

298 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 298
Hads: 2,127
Avg: 4.24
pDev: 9.67%
Wants: 383
Gots: 921 | FT: 140
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.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 298 | Hads: 2,127
Reviews by zhanson88:
Photo of zhanson88
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Was excited to pick one of these up.

Appearance: Pours a thin-ish bodied dark brown color with about 1" of khaki colored head. Retention is good, and lacing is nice as well. Pretty nice looking beer, just a bit thin for the style.

Smell: Dusty cocoa and bitter dark chocolate scents come to mind immediately. Underneath that, a bit of barrel shows as well. A bit of woodiness, a bit of vanilla, and even less of a hint of bourbon. Nothing too crazy or overbearing, just very nice balance.

Taste: Tastes akin to a brownie in many ways. Cocoa and milk chocolate sweetness, with dark chocolate and perhaps a bit of coffee bitterness. Also, something that I did not catch on the nose in a hint of dark fruits. Again, the barrel is understated, with hints of barrel, vanilla and bourbon.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is really my only gripe. Can't really describe it any other way than thin, with pretty high carbonation. I think this beer gets exponentially better with a bigger body. Overall, a really enjoyable beer that does not drink near its 8.5% ABV. Nice balanced flavors, with an appropriate amount of barrel that complements the beer nicely. Again, a heavier body would really bump my review score on this, but as is, a pretty nice beer that is certainly worth a try.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of Kinsman
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of prior2two
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
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.

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Photo of crob3888
4.75/5  rDev +12%
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.

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of themind
2.92/5  rDev -31.1%
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.

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Photo of brandonwnw
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Very good BA beer, but I understand the mixed reviews. The relatively high carbonation is the biggest fault here. My best description is a lite BA RIS, which is still great, but falls short of the full bodied wonder that is Parabola. However, I will say that the lower ABV makes this a beer I'll revisit if I want solid BA taste, but don't want to share. - Cheers

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Photo of Taylor_Madison
4.76/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Unique oatmeal stout with a strong outmeal influence that quickly dissipates with little aftertaste. I tasted more coffee than chocolate which differed from the other tasters I was with. Has a very smooth feel and a light nose that has a slight bourbon aroma. Super easy to drink!

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Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
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...)

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of CaliforniaJohnson
5/5  rDev +17.9%

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

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.

Vanilla, Irish creme, cocoa.

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.

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

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

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Photo of jonathanjones27
3.28/5  rDev -22.6%
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.

115 characters

Photo of mr-jj
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

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Photo of ttp86
2.38/5  rDev -43.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

Opened a 2014 bottle and it was way over carbonated and thin, there was a constant 2 inch head in the bottle. Even with the issue the beer still tasted pretty good. Hoping to try a good bottle next time.

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Photo of kaseydad
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 1 2013

Pours a nice black ale with a decent sized brown foamy head with ok lacing. Turns rather quickly to a ring around the glass and then nothing but a flat cola.

Aroma still has some nice bourbon kicking through with some roastiness, espresso, leather, char, rubber, and subtle chocolate.

Taste is a bit spicy with more espresso tones and boozy elements. Each sip gives a bit of a bite. Hoppy. Dark chocolate.

Much too thin. Was hoppy for something creamy ala the oatmeal experience.

Overall this was a nice but lacking in that big "it" factor. The thin body was much too noticeable on each sip. Still it is Firestone and therefore is always worthy of a try.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.96/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of DavyJones
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of t2grogan
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of abeerdude
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of cjn40277
3.8/5  rDev -10.4%

Photo of SanFranJake
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of jose_alehouseSD
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of Ben7773
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of tjumfrid
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 298 ratings.