Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

253 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 253
Hads: 1,980
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 3.33%
Wants: 361
Gots: 773 | FT: 130
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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Reviews: 253 | Hads: 1,980
Photo of Mersh
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%

This BBA oatmeal stout lives up to the hype and more. Hints of vanilla, bourbon and roasted malt flow throughout the nose and taste. An exquisite pleasure to drink. Not overly boozy at all. Creamy and smooth. Love the mouthfeel on this. Wish I had a case. Firestone Walker are the masters of stouts and barrels. I highly recommend searching this out. I was lucky enough to get 2 on trade from the bottle release. It develops even more as it warms up. Cheers to an almost perfect oatmeal stout. (493 characters)

Photo of mfnmbvp
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. I bought the very first bottle from my local beer store, just minutes after they unloaded it off the truck. The blurb on the back of the box made my mouth water with anticipation. "Aged for a full year in seasoned bourbon barrels". Yeah, needless to say, I am exponentially stoked to have this bottle.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter glass.

A - Pours a solid opaque black with maybe just the faintest hint of brown-red highlights. Two fluffy creamy fingers of tan mocha head. Beautiful lacing.

S - Ahh yes, this thing smells like heaven. Chocolate, oatmeal, some raisins, figs, dates, smooth creamy vanilla, and earthy oak bourbon barrels.

T - Oh my. Truly lovely. Decadent. Delicious. Smooth "velvety" chocolate, coffee bean roast, oatmeal, creamy vanilla, & some warming bourbon presence. This beer is truly amazing.

M - This is one dangerously smooth, creamy, and "velvety" beer, that's for sure. Perfect low lying carbonation, and an almost nonexistent alcohol presence. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and stickiness on the palate, and a hint of booze warmth.

Overall, this is pretty much everything I could ask for in a bourbon barrel aged stout. I don't see how it could get much more amazing than this. Firestone Walker has truly wowed me with this one; it will be hard for them to top this. Highly recommended; trample innocent women and children to get this if you have to.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin ---4.5/5 (1,493 characters)

Photo of derftron
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had on Tap at APEX in Portland - 2 Glasses

Appearance - Black with a little carmel head

Smell - Outstanding. Like bourbon chocolate oatmeal.

mouthfeel - not too thick on the tongue, but not "thin" either as some have said. just right

taste - wow. just what I was hoping for. a perfect execution of what bourbon barrel aging can do for a beer. The bourbon taste is right up front, and this beer is beyond smooth. for 8.6%, I could drink these all day. Chocolate, oats, and bourbon dominate for me.

Overall - outstanding beer. one of my favorites. as soon as some bottles hit the shops, I will definitely pick up 3-4. This is not a 13% imperial stout that pours like oil, so get that out of your head. But again, this is a wonderful marriage of a great beer and bourbon barrel aging and Firestone has done it again. Had it next to '12 Parbola and it just reinforced my admiration for the quality of beers that they produce. bravo (932 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Pours a very, very dark brown with only minimal light penetration. The head is a thin accumulation of sand colored bubbles and foam. Dots and waves of lace.

S-Interesting! I find it to be noticeably nutty. Almost like a nut flavored coffee. Toasted coconuts, too. A respectable and well set bourbon aroma. I notice coconuts more and more and I love that. Bits of vanilla and even some tobacco leaves. Almond chocolate bars!

T-The flavor is also delicious. I like how the bourbon isn't the main flavor, it merely accentuates the other flavors. Coconut milk chocolate. Roasted oats. Medium roast almond/hazelnut coffee. Chocolate chips. Vanilla and oak. Light tobacco. Then the whiskey kicks back in on the backside. Very tasty.

M-Body is thinner than expected but it seems to fit the beer's ABV. I actually enjoy its lack of viscosity. Tantalizing bubbles. A bit creamy and spicy/hot from the bourbon. Drinks too easily.

O/D-Firestone Walker barrel aged brews are an automatic. This one may be one of the best in my opinion. Not as huge as the others but it's complexity is unmatched. This beer tastes like it was made just for me and my taste buds. I really, really enjoyed this beer. Instant classic. (1,208 characters)

Photo of RichD
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep black with a small light tan had that is reduced to a mere ring around my glass. There is also some lacing left in the glass as I drink.

S: Smells of chocolate and vanilla almost exclusively. The smell is quite faint. I also pick up some bourbon sweetness. It's definitely very pleasant, but if the smell was more prominent I would give this a higher score.

T: Whoa! Immediate bourbon sweetness that consists of vanilla and some oak. The chocolate and roasted malts give a light coffee-like flavor. I also pick up some oats before the flavor transforms into a strong caramel flavor that takes my taste buds for a ride. Some warmness is also coming through at the end. The flavors mesh so incredibly well that I have a hard time setting each flavor aside.

M: I've read that some don't like the mouthfeel on this. I absolutely love it. It's remarkable that even with the bourbon barrel treatment that this beer retains the smoothness of an oatmeal stout. This is truly a one of the best mouthfeels I've ever had with a barrel aged beer. The 8% is almost nonexistent which is even better.

Overall: This beer is awesome. Firestone Walker really might have the best barrel aging program out there. Between this and the 3 other offerings that FW has, I'm having a hard time figuring out which is my favorite. This beer will be on my purchase list every year and I'm already anticipating when I can buy it again even though I still have half the bottle left. (1,504 characters)

Photo of Gatch
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

Edit: Updated from another experience with this beer on May 2nd, 2012 at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ. A special event with David Walker and Adam Firestone in attendance. Picked up a bottle of 2012 Parabola and the new Wookey Jack with both being signed by the two main men! Very exciting.

A: Deep, dark black with a light brown, very bubbly head that fades quickly. No lace and no head retention. Massive legs on this brew.

S: Buttery, boozy bourbon. Heavy wood. Some stout comes through a bit in the background. So alluring.

T: Like sucking on a piece of the barrel. Bourbon-soaked oak. Seriously fantastic and I'm not a bourbon-barrel-aged kinda guy. Roasty and smoky malt comes through to remind you it's still a stout.

M: Smooth but boozy. Huge bourbon and wood. Easy and enjoyable to drink and blows my mind how balanced it is.

O: I've been waiting a long time to drink this because I'm such a huge fan of Velvet Merlin. David Walker was at Taste of Tops for an Arizona Beer Week event and was signing stuff and chatting it up with everyone. Great guy. He had high praise for this beer and I have the same praise. Incredible beer. (1,184 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.66/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light proof black colored beer with a medium sized brown colored head.

One sniff and this smells like Canadian Whiskey! Not at all shy about letting you know this has been sitting in a bourbon barrel for a while. Strong vanilla, coconut and caramel scents. Smells sweet with some faint scents of tobacco leaf, ash and tanned leather. Simply lovely I could sniff this glass all day, pity they don't market this smell as an air freshener.

Starts out mildly sweet with a vanilla, coconut and chocolate flavor. Slight butter and stronger toffee candy flavors. A little sweet but not as much as the scent suggests. Mild bitterness. Strong Canadian Whiskey flavor. Oak and a little wood ash really coats the mouth like a milkshake. I can even taste a little sugar cookie in this, complex with a Capital C.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall one of the best things I have tasted all year. I may have tasted a better beer but there are few beers than can beat this. A lot of the beers that might be infinitesimally better are other Firestone Bourbon Barrel aged beers. (1,056 characters)

Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Bottle.
Appearance: coca cola with a foamy, tan head. Sticky lacing.
Smell: figs, raisins, light bourbon, light oak.
Taste: see above. Plus a little cola. Yum.
Mouthfeel: light carbonation.light body. Slightly sweet.
Overall: great beer. Worth the $17. Almost like having a whiskey/coke with a great stout backer. (328 characters)

Photo of Catracho5
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Serving Type: 22 ounce bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Pours black, pitch black. No ruby on the edges.

Smell: Big bourbon on the nose, roasted chocolate, dark fruits, lovely aroma.

Taste: Bourbon up front, some roasted chocolate, some dark fruits, cherries, some bitterness, really smooth, the flavors flow very nice. Some alcohol. Flavors become prevalent as beer warms up.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, some bitterness on the tongue, the alcohol has a warming effect on the palate, but nice smooth, silky mouthfeel, not too thick like an imperial stout, but thickness is present.

Overall: World class beer, lovely aroma, great flavor, not overwhelming, the bourbon dominates on the front end but some great flavors smoothly flow in the beer. There is bitterness that I did not expect with an oatmeal stout, but overall, world class beer. I wish I would have picked up a few more to cellar. This is the 2013 edition that I tasted in June 2014. Definitely worth a try when available. (1,001 characters)

Photo of whatthehull
4.64/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Tulip/Wine/Snifter

A - B E A Utiful velvety (no pun intended) black/blood red, one finger deep chocolate colored head and some sticky lacing

S - vanilla, caramelized raisins, brown sugar, very delicate anise, homemade molasses, kona style coffee note, baking yeast, sugar, plums, cherries, chocolate covered blueberries, toasted grains, woody whiskey booze note and awesomeness

T - chocolate covered berries, whiskey, sweet rich aromatic coffee, aged whiskey/bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, anise, sarsaparilla, molasses, floral like hoppy note, roasted toastiness and a milk like smoothness

M - full bodied, nearly perfect balance and complexity, medium minus acidity and a very nice chocolate berry vanilla booze party in your mouth finish

D/O - Very lovely stout. I mean well freaking done. Refreshing, smooth, sexy, flavorful and leaves you wanting nothing but more! If you like stouts, love stouts or beer/ale in general, this one is worth a go or 12.

Final thoughts - Price is very high at $14 - 20 a bottle and the abv is nice, but I like a little more at 8.5%, still worth a try or a million. (1,120 characters)

Photo of TruePerception
4.63/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone's Velvet Merkin (2013), Bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout. 8.5% ABV.

And, bourbon I do smell!

Appearance: Black, with just the slimmest dark brown at the bottom, in the light. Slightly tan head. Half a finger, dissipates quickly to almost nothing.

Smell: It's definitely got some caramel-sweet, yet dark, bourbon scents to it. Charred oak. Bittersweet chocolate. Blackened oats. Maybe some sweet coffee sludge. A little vanilla in the background. Nicely complex nose! Bottom's up!

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow! First off, it's silky smooth, yet still has a nicely textured carbonation! It has a very distinct vanilla and chocolate coffee taste (as if you hit up a gas station and added those creamer cups), yet has a very present sweetness that is not quite sugary (lactose, perhaps?). At the same time you get a nice oatmeal flavor, and some great medium-dark caramel notes. It makes me want a coffee, and I don't even like coffee! This will suffice nicely, I think! There's a touch of Bourbon towards the end. A nice warmth is sitting on my chest, a few minutes afterwards. From the Bourbon, I'm guessing.

At $15, it was a hefty purchase, but one that should be made, if at all possible.

And, just a heads up, I've yet to try the Velvet Merlin, so I don't know the difference between the two. After trying this one, though, I will definitely pick up a pack this year!

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass. (1,429 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage No.001

India ink black body with a smooth, creamy, off-white head. Light coffee, vanilla, chocolate and cocoa aromas. Deeply rich and soothing malt sugar flavors, favoring the darker malts. Heavy body yet velvety smooth.

A very noticeable oak-bourbon scent right off the top strongly suggests what the rest of the tasting experience may be like. Silky sweet taste and feel, mostly comprised of a deeply rich yet zesty chocolate tone. Mint chocolate quality overall, adding a very tasty and appealing sweetness and zing to things. An exquisitely well-balanced and complex dark ale. Deep and engrossing and near-perfect. (633 characters)

Photo of Fcolle2
4.61/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage

Pours dark thick black letting little to no light through. Head is thin tan and fades to a tan ring around the glass that's retains nicely.

Smell is great. Rich dark chocolate malt along with creamy oat aromas are balanced nicely with a light barrel and bourbon aromas. Notes of semi sweet chocolate truffle, cookie dough and raisins.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. Rich semi sweet chocolate malt is forward and so incredibly rich and creamy that it is almost like desert in a glass. Some faint dark ripe blackberry fruity esters follow along with a more prevalent oak barrel and lighter bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick, creamy great body. Mild carbonation leaves this a great sipping beer, perfect for a bitter cold night.

Incredible beer, I'm glad I have another to cellar. (812 characters)

Photo of newsage
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best Beer Ever! Silky smooth, milk chocolate, coffee bean, oak and bourbon are all present. The best beer i ever had. Too bad it's not bottled or sold to take home. WTF you can only drink it at the brewery when they have it there but it always runs out. (253 characters)

Photo of LouZ
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Draft. Pours dark with a slight red hue. Smell is coffee and caramel - love the smell of this beer. You can taste the bourbon, but it's not overwhelming; balanced with coffee and sweet malts. A great, drinkable barrel-aged beer. (228 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Midnight brown with ruby highlights. Nice yellowed paper head has nice retention and lace.

S - Awesome nose. Huge toasted oatmeal aroma. Bread crust, touch of dark roast coffee beans, rum raisin.

T - Vanilla, cream, porridge, caramel, cognac, marzipan, woody booze, birch beer.

M - Soft, medium-full frame.

O - A stellar oatmeal beer. Firestone walker is tough to beat. (378 characters)

Photo of bnelson997
4.59/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a 22 oz bomber into a Firestone Walker Barrelworks Teku glass.

Appearance - black as pitch with a 1 1/2 finger cream head that quickly dissipated to a ring around the glass. Small amounts of lacing.

Aroma - Smooth oak and vanilla notes. The touch of barrel is very nice.

Taste - Smooth milk chocolate and vanilla right up front, middle and finish remind me of a slightly underdone in the middle brownie. Liquid brownie has a nice ring to it eh? ;-) Middle also has more of the oak barrel and slight bourbon notes.

Mouthfeel - despite the thin look of it, very medium bodied and creamy mouthfeel from the oatmeal

Overall - this beer is the easiest to drink of all the barrel aged Proprietor's Series offerings from Firestone Walker. I like to call this one "Parabola Light", as it is definitely the baby brother of that fantastic beer. You just can't go wrong when FW puts anything in a barrel then bottles it. Definitely a fantastic BA oatmeal stout. (967 characters)

Photo of macher0
4.59/5  rDev +9.3%

Here we go.

Pours dark brown, thin, and coarse frothy head that has an amber hue. The nose indicates this is a sweet ale that builds from a strong oatmeal presence in the form of brown sugar instant oatmeal. Strong bourbon on the nose. The taste is not at all sweet with a highly noticeable bourbon affect. The taste has notes of bourbon soaked oak, oats, brown sugar, melted butter, canned sweet potato syrup, and vanilla. Very thin feel, moderate carbonation, and lighter body than most stouts.

I was very pleased with this. I can easily get over how thin this stout is because of the excellent flavors from the oatmeal and bourbon barrel. (643 characters)

Photo of imperialbeerdude
4.58/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had this months ago when it first came out and I hate to age beers, but this is a case where some age has really done the beer some good. I feel the additional time helped integrate the flavor more. I'm picking up much more coconut and vanilla in this bee, not much if any of the bourbon barrel. This is exactly what I want though, the bourbon to give some extra sweetness, vanilla and coconut. Don't drink this expecting big barrel character, instead expect a well integrated beer. (484 characters)

Photo of pmangold
4.58/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage - poured into a snifter. jet black appearance with a thin khaki head. the aroma was bourbon with sweet notes. The taste was very elaborate with bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, oak and even toffee. This was a thinner BA stout but I believe that was the intention since it's a lower abv oatmeal stout. I will be seeking out more of these. (351 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.57/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Oakquinox

Dark brown pour with a small tan head. The aroma reminds me of chocolate milk with a little bit of vanilla added to it. Minimal roast and coffee notes, just an overwhelming chocolate/vanilla blend. Great barrel and bourbon flavor with even more of the chocolate and vanilla going on. Moderate roast and a hint of coffee. Nicely sweet from some toffee malt flavors. So damn good. (399 characters)

Photo of bpasquini
4.56/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Nice slightly oily black appearance to it, poured heavy and leaves a small light tan head that leaves little lacing around the glass, wish it had a thicker darker appearance to it though, can slightly see into the glass

S: The smell isn't strong at all, it is very hard to find many flavors in it but you can find a few, but what you can pick up smells good. I get some oatmeal, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and of course the bourbon barrels, predominately bourbon barrels, wish the smell was a lot stronger

T: Based of the smell I expected the flavor to not be very existent, but it is the complete opposite! Loads of oatmeal upfront, then the bourbon barrels kick in, followed with a nice chocolate coffee flavor blend and finishes with a nice slight vanilla caramel blend with an ever so slight bitterness which is fantastic! Very slight alcohol presence is noticed when the bourbon flavors kicks in, the presence definitely compliments the flavor

M: Very thick but it feels light and creamy, I have got to say that this beer sits very well on the palate and probably has one of the best feels to it I've had so far, finishes a little dry leaving you begging for more!

O: An outstanding beer! Definitely search for this beer! It is easily my new favorite stout, at first it was hard to think about getting more with the price tag on it, but after drinking it the price doesn't matter anymore because it's that good, FW is going to make me go broke with this beer! (1,473 characters)

Photo of Mahlik
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap on at the 2011 Holiday Ale Fest in Portland. Poured into the plastic souvenir mug.

* This is the 100% Bourbon Barrel Aged version. The ABV is listed as 8.6%.

A - Pours an opaque dark brown with a one-finger creamy, brown head. Head retention was average. Good lacing.

S - An amazing aroma of milk chocolate and coconut. Almost like a Mounds bar. Roasted malts are mixed in. I also really like what the additional barrel-aging did for this beer. The bourbon and oak notes really round out the aroma.

T - The smooth candy bar-like flavors of milk chocolate and coconut are complimented by roasted malts, vanilla and a touch of coffee. The bourbon wraps everything up to create a well balanced taste. Not overly complex but everything works to perfection.

M - This is the true standout for me. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. The creaminess is so inviting and only makes me want to take any other sip. Medium-to-thick bodied with moderate carbonation. I had no problem downing my mug.

O - This was the standout beer for me at the Holiday Ale Fest. I'm pretty sure a lot of our people would agreed since it was consistently one of the longest lines at the fest. I ended up get a couple mugs of this. I wish the 100% barrel-aged version was always available. (1,271 characters)

Photo of Kinsman
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
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. (715 characters)

Photo of Matonika
4.54/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What I love about this beer is that it has big flavors with out being overly sweet and overly boozy. It has the complexity of bourbon which is awesome. What would make this beer better is if had a 10-15 price range not the 19.99 I paid. (237 characters)

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 253 ratings.