Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 1,274 | Reviews: 175 | Display Reviews Only:
3.53/5 rDev -17.7%
Served on tap at City Beer Store in San Francisco.
I don't know anything about this beer besides a vague awareness of some internet hype, and for some reason, the store listed the abv as 10%, which I'm very glad to see is incorrect. I would like to try the non-barrel aged version for a point of comparison and highly recommend seeking out a cask version. I can imagine thoroughly enjoying the beer served from a cask, but on tap, something was off for me. The beer pours an opaque dark-brown with highlighting along the edges of the glass. For a decidedly unhelpful point of comparison, it was nearly a dead-on match for 21st Amendment's Back in Black. The aroma, unlike the flavor, was fantastic. There are notes of chocolate, coffee, roasty malt, dry oak and a well-balanced bourbon flavor that meshed very well unlike some bourbon barrel-aged beers. The taste had all of these flavors, but they were far more muted. The bourbon flavor became almost watery. The feel may have been the real culprit. It was much too thin for a stout, much less a barrel-aged stout. A cask would likely bring out the creamy lush mouthfeel of the oatmeal stout. At any rate, it was still a good beer, and they get points for not overwhelming a relatively small stout with bourbon barrel-aging. So, seek it out in a cask if you can.
05-31-2009 02:56:26 | More by popery
3.54/5 rDev -17.5%
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.
01-12-2014 23:37:37 | More by greenhorn
3.55/5 rDev -17.2%
Had on tap at Varga during Philly Beer Week in a 10oz chimay glass. Not at all what I expected but not necessarily a bad thing. My friend described it best, close your eyes and sip this beer and you meet think you were drinking a not so hoppy IPA. This stout was quite hoppy, bitter and a bit on the warm side--perhaps from being aged in e bourbon barrels. However, I did not taste any bourbon or traditional notes of coffee or chocolate usually found in a stout.
Overall a decent beer, although a bit of a let down (wish i would have tried the Parabola) and definitely not to be drank as a dessert or nightcap.
06-04-2012 04:04:20 | More by BeerForHokie
3.6/5 rDev -16.1%
Thanks to analogchainsaw for the first of two rapid-fire trades that brought sunny California to Minnesota (without, y'know, the sun, warmth, ocean...OK, just the beer...OK, just a couple of them). Popping this to celebrate the arrival of box #2 tomorrow. 22 oz. bottle, batch #1, split with my wife.
The pour is you-are-dead black, with appropriate minimal carbonation. Bringing the blessed liquid close to two of the openings in my face. Smells like whiskey & sweet malts. Enough of this crap, let's drink.
Velvet Merkin hits the first word dead-on, but I'll have to look up the second. First impression is the smooothness. Smoother than my chest fresh from waxing, the beer creates almost no friction in the throat. The beer needs to warm; cold, it's tame & lifeless. Warming, it delivers classic oatmeal stout, grainy, smoooth (did I say that?), nice vanilla, touch of bourbon. A little thin; I know of 8.5% beers that hold their barrel well, this one doesn't quite perfect that.
I've come to expect the world from Firestone barrel-aged beers, & this one didn't turn my crank quite so hard. A good beer, but not as dead-center as pretty much everything else they do.
11-09-2013 04:55:39 | More by maximum12
3.61/5 rDev -15.9%
A: Poured a deep, deep brown, nearly black with great carbonation yielding a nice tannish cap, a nice frothy one with pretty good retention. Lacing was minimal though.
S: Roasted coffee, a blend of bitter and milk chocolate, some oats and bourbon with a very minute hint of vanilla
T: A nice blend of roasted malts, oats and chocolate upfront. A nice, light bourbon tinge meets the taste buds as well and persists throughout the finish. The barrel provides some backseat vanilla. The taste itself is sordove muddy in my opinion and not really all that complex. The finish is sordove dry, light sweetness, light booze and sordove effervescent even
M: Medium bodied, well carbonated, a light creaminess. It feels thin, yes, but this is a single stout not a an imperial so it's not going to be as full and hearty as say a Parabola.
O: Not bad. I'm really not a fan of bourbon barrel againg every stout, especialy single stouts. I believe the body feels thin because it is thin compared to other barrel aged or imperial stouts. Not a bad beer but not sure I would drop cash on case of this as I would other FW offerings.
10-03-2013 14:52:23 | More by barleywinefiend
3.65/5 rDev -14.9%
Appearance- Pours up a finger or two of head but it dissipates rather quickly. The head is a dark beige/ mocha while the body is a dark chocolate black. A few spots of lacing. Repours show substantial sheeting above the brim.
Nose- A little disappointing. I guess that this is typical of an oatmeal stout but after drinking KBS, I want more delicious scents. Slight caramel and chocolate from the bottle. Faint hint of smoke and roasted malts but this is so faint I feel like I'm making it up.
Taste- Fortunately, this is much richer than anything that the nose indicated. Bourbon and oak hits you first. It would seem that an oatmeal stout is too plain a canvas to bourbon barrel age; it seems dominated at this point. Heavy notes of oak and vanilla. Some coffee notes but they seem to be more an expression of the oak more than anything else. I wish there were more alcohol in the actual beer to press up against the bourbon presence. Hints of tobacco. Some chocolate but it seems to be overwhelmed by the vanilla and oak. I do appreciate that this is not an oak bomb but the barrel aging seems to disrupt the sublimity of the oatmeal stout style. This seems to be more reminiscent of DDBA rather than Abacus, Parabola, and the Anniversary beers. Some licorice and cinnamon. If you're going to use an oatmeal stout for this type of beer, I think you need a bigger malt bill. And I almost never crave a bigger malt bill. In each drink, I'm trying to search for more depth, for an inkling of the oatmeal stout that it once was- oh, Velvet Merlin, what have they done to you? I think I would rather have that beer. The deep bourbon and oak only make me wish that I was drinking the real thing. Or the easygoing Merlin. Still a good beer and a solid beer but in no way, a 15 dollar beer. I don't think Parabola or Abacus cost that much. Why should this? It does mellow a bit and reveal a slight cherry note. Starts to show some raisin.
Mouthfeel- Medium bodied but a little thin for the style. Some grittiness but really not enough.
Drinkability- Lots of bourbon. The patinage of alcohol makes this a little more formidable than some of its higher gravity semblables. But even if it were 20 percent and had this flavor profile, I would still want my money back. It's at 40 percent where the money worries seem to dissolve. I could almost buy a bottle of Bulleit for this price, however.
Overall- Good, solid beer but in reality, this is a failure. I appreciate the fact that FW has to charge this price because it's been on barrels for x amount of time. What I don't appreciate is the fact that they didn't choose a beer robust enough to stand up to the treatment. My complaint is measured though- my enjoyment of their beers surpass my slight disappointment with this beer and DDBA. I will still buy their next barrel aged. Unless it's a pilsner. Fuck that. (Although I do wonder what a barrel aged imperial pilsner/IPL might taste like. Oh, oak. Yeah, I get it now.)
10-05-2013 06:17:19 | More by artoolemomo
3.68/5 rDev -14.2%
Served on-draught into a snifter at Firestone Walker's taproom (NOT tasting room) in Paso Robles on its grand opening day. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average given the brewery's reputation.
A: Pours a one finger head of dark milk-white colour, nice cream, good thickness, and great retention for the ABV. Colour is a nontransparent solid black.
Sm: Roast, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. A mild strength aroma.
T: Roast, coconut, milk, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of cherry. No bourbon comes through - not even as a tone. It'd be better with more black cherry. Nicely balanced. Great cream is present as an undertone. Well built. Complex enough, wuth some limited subtlety.
Mf: Smooth and wet. Silky. Nicely creamy. Near perfect thickness. More a porter than a stout (even considering the smoothening factor of the oats). Should be more dry and coarse.
Dr: Very drinkable for the ABV. I'd have it again. Why isn't it on nitro? A lovely oatmeal stout - maybe the best Firestone Walker beer I've had so far (including Abacus - which I found mundane).
03-23-2012 04:05:32 | More by kojevergas
3.73/5 rDev -13.1%
First had: on tap at Capone's
Dark brown pour, slightly translucent around the rim, with a small beige ringlet. Aroma of roasty dark malts, toasted bread, bourbon and spiced rum, notes of chocolate and vanilla. More dark malt roastiness in the taste, notes of dark berries, coconut, bourbon-soaked oak, vegetal vanilla, bakers' chocolate. Mouthfeel was on the thin side, surprising for an oatmeal stout, body was about medium; boozy presence was felt, but it was pretty smooth and not hot at all. A decent brew overall.
12-04-2013 23:05:38 | More by Rifugium
3.74/5 rDev -12.8%
Poured from a bottle into a snifter.
A - Pours an opaque dark-brown with a one-finger head of fluffy khaki foam, with large and small bubbles. Impressive patches of lacing.
S - Medium strength aroma of wood, bourbon, burnt cocoa, a little dark fruit comes out as it warms.
T - Toasted oats, smoke, pipe tobacco, prunes, and oak. Extremely smooth. Not as rich or robust as I was expecting, as a it seems like a lot of the chocolate/sweet aspects in the base beer (Velvet Merlin) have been lost in the aging process.
M - Thin body with very low carbonation. Could use a little thicker body, in my opinion.
O - A very smooth barrel aged beer and obviously well made but lacked pizazz. Personally my tastes tend toward the sweeter and more decadent stouts, and I feel a richer base beer would have added a little more balance to the bitterness from the wood aging. Still a decent product.
10-22-2013 05:09:11 | More by TempeBeerMan
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,274 ratings.