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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,018 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1018
Reviews: 160
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 9.58%


Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Oatmeal stout aged in a >10 year old Heaven Hill bourbon barrel.

(Beer added by: t0rin0 on 11-20-2008)
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Ratings: 1,018 | Reviews: 160 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of Scotchboy
Scotchboy

Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Review/Rating No. 800, celebrated with Batch 001 of Velvet Merkin in celebration of the birth of my first son. Split with my brother into pint glasses.

A: Nearly opaque with tan head and lace. Decent retention and lacing.

S&T: Sweet whiskey and vanilla...chocolate, some burnt barley, and oak. Toasted sugars from front to back, caramel? Definitely some toasted coconut and some almonds and hazelnuts. Coffee as it warms. Warmth on the finish but no booze really. This is a lighter body and bourbon presence than I was expecting.

MF: Medium-full bodied, but lighter than I thought it would be. Definitely smooth, but the oats aren't as apparent as I thought/hoped they'd be.

O: A good beer that didn't quite live up to the hype for me. Firestone Walker has ridiculous expectations set on their barrel-aged beers, and rightfully so as most of them are near perfect. This one, for me, was missing body and lower on aromas/flavors of bourbon than I wanted. Still an excellent BA oatmeal stout that is lower in ABV.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2014 14:33:57 | More by Scotchboy
Photo of 01001111
01001111

California

4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-12-2014 00:05:41 | More by 01001111
Photo of tigg924
tigg924

Massachusetts

4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

02-28-2014 19:58:15 | More by tigg924
Photo of plaid75
plaid75

New York

4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured roasted malts a d a touch of charcoal.

The flavor was likewise roasted with a touch of sweetness and a hint of black licorice.

The mouthfeel was toward tge fuller side of the style.

Overall a tasty oatmeal stout.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2014 22:35:03 | More by plaid75
Photo of dar482
dar482

New York

4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer has a good oak and aggressive bourbon note in the front. Sweet vanilla and chocolate. It then calms onto notes of the beer with roasted malt and slightly bitter chocolate clean up the beer on the finish.

Obviously not too packed with dark sweet notes nor a really bold drippy body at its ABV.

A well crafted barrel aged beer with good amount of flavor and a beautiful finish working against the bourbon notes.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2014 04:38:07 | More by dar482
Photo of Clints1991
Clints1991

Colorado

4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had from a 22oz bottle in a snifter. It pours a darkish brown, black color. It has a nice tan head that lasts for awhile. It has a strong nose, of oak, bourbon, sweetness, On the taste, I got some oak, the sweetness of a bourbon, some oats, vanilla and some caramel. It has a medium/full bodied mouthfeel, with a nice dry but sweet finish. Overall this is one of the nicest bourbon barrel aged beers I have had. Firestone definitely does an amazing job!!

Serving type: bottle

02-10-2014 05:14:23 | More by Clints1991
Photo of fox227
fox227

California

4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Velvet Merkin poured into my mini snifter with about a half-inch of tan head with mostly fine bubbles and some large. The black liquid underneath is very dark as expected. The beer smells of oak, bourbon, possibly sherry, and milk chocolate. The first sip revealed mostly bourbon and unsweetened cola, but as the beer warmed, milk chocolate, oats, and the rest of the nose are revealed to this drinker. Each component seemed in proper balance, as the bourbon does not dominate. Sweetness is lacking, which is fine, and the mouthfeel is medium/full bodied with a bit of a dry finish.

Overall: this is yet another bourbon barrel beer in what seems to be an endless selection of these days, but Firestone, as to be expected, deliver the goods with a nearly spectacular beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-05-2014 00:56:21 | More by fox227
Photo of RandomExile
RandomExile

Maryland

3.33/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

A: opaque black; no head; gothic spiderweb lacing
S: sweet, sharp bourbon barrel, tobacco
T: decided oatmeal on larger pulls, a sweet bourbony flavor reminding me of a candy from my childhood I can't quite place ... I understand why others are citing coconut and vanilla, but disagree that they overshadow the bourbon.
M: Medium-light for a bourbon, dry side of sweet
O: Fine for a bourbon barrel. Not my variety, but this has no dischordant notes, has that decidedly sweet/caramel flavor people are looking for in this style, and can easily stand up to the richest of soups or meats.

12oz / Tulip Glass / VGP, MD

Serving type: on-tap

02-04-2014 03:13:16 | More by RandomExile
Photo of imperialbeerdude
imperialbeerdude

Colorado

4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-30-2014 08:27:19 | More by imperialbeerdude
Photo of KFBR392
KFBR392

Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage bottled on 8/23/13

Appearance: Pours with a medium brown color yet sits black in the glass. The head was light on the pour and is only present in a slightly off white ring around the edges of the glass. Very little active carbonation in the glass while drinking.

Smell: Big heavy bourbon front. Filled with vanilla, cherries, coffee, roasted malt, molasses, and medium bodied chocolate. Behind the booze is a wonderful base of rich creamy oatmeal that gives this aroma some serious legs. I love the big bourbon accents yet they are done perfectly to allow so much more to shine through.

Taste: A mesh of flavors hit the palate first. Some oats, vanilla, chocolate, and bourbon all come together to make a unique taste and start this beer off. The body opens up with a potent oatmeal taste that is brought out by the bourbon accents. The finish is a an earthy, grainy, malt, and of course some booze finish that tingles on the palate for long after drinking.

Mouthfeel: A thickness covers the palate yet not overwhelmed and still allows many of the flavors to come through while drinking. Bourbon brings some dryness on the finish but is primarily sweet and delicious.

Overall: Was in the mood for a delicious BA stout and this one did just fine. Not as heavy since it's an oatmeal stout but a ton of complexity. I'm a big bourbon fan so I loved the barrel character and how potent it was. Firestone Walker doesn't mess around with this series.

Serving type: bottle

01-28-2014 02:13:29 | More by KFBR392
Photo of gcamparone
gcamparone

Rhode Island

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz boxed bottled into an innis & gunn tulip glass. Purchased in Attleboro, MA. Thanks Eric for putting this aside for me.

A- Pours a pretty deep brown body with a generous 3 finger, fast rising light mocha head that reduces slowly to leave some thick white lacing.

S- Smells quite sweet with vanilla, butterscotch, honey, and caramel notes, the bourbon comes through quite nicely. Light coffee and chocolate.

T- Creamy, smooth, slightly sweet milk chocolate, toasted oats, caramel are the first things to show up. The barrel is present here and adds vanilla and bourbon notes. The finish is roasty and leaves a nice toasted malt flavor on the tongue.

M- Somewhat light on the tongue, could use more body.. light carbonation.

A nicely done oatmeal stout.. barrel aging is unique with an oatmeal stout.. usually it's reserved for the heavier styles like Russian Imperials or double stouts, but it worked here.

Serving type: bottle

01-21-2014 02:04:07 | More by gcamparone
Photo of BMMillsy
BMMillsy

Florida

4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Bottle from Tim. Thanks so much! Pours dark brown to black in my FW Barrelworks Teku with a one finger mocha head. Aroma is big oats and chocolate, vanilla, whiskey, graham cracker, toasted nuts. Flavor is chocolate up front with some big time vanilla tones on top of graham crackers. Followed by a punch of strong whiskey and long lasting oaky vanilla. The lasting finish is the real highlight of this beer. Palate is velvety smooth up front and while not a super thick beer, I see no reason to complain about thin body here. Plenty of body, especially for the ABV, and medium carbonation. This was a winner for me with just the right amount of barrel character, rather than the in your face whiskey shot I get with lower ABV stouts and porters aged in barrels. As usual, Firestone Walker kicks ass.

Serving type: bottle

01-20-2014 00:33:34 | More by BMMillsy
Photo of PicoPapa
PicoPapa

Connecticut

3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Top Hops. Pours a very dark brown with a 1/4 inch of head. Some lacing. Sweet aroma of vanilla, caramel, chocolate and some coffee. The taste is sweet caramel and chocolate with some vanilla as well. Some bitter dark chocolate towards the end. Boozey. Vanilla and caramel at the finish. Slick mouthfeel with a medium amount of carbonation. One of the boozier Oatmeal Stouts I've had. Overall, I'd get it again.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2014 19:09:11 | More by PicoPapa
Photo of Pahn
Pahn

New York

4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

22oz bottle split 2 ways between myself and morningthief. Poured into wine glasses.

Appearance: Very dark red brown. Tan lace wall.

Smell: Nice sweet stout, with a hefty bit of vanilla oak around it. Restrained and well put together. Speaks of a good beer...

Taste: As usual with Firestone Walker, delivers. It's Velvet Merlin, a nice, unassuming, creamy oatmeal stout, elevated by several fully discernible oak-influenced notes.

Firestone Walker really knows how to make a complete beer. This flavor is beautiful; not over the top in any respect, with the barrel honoring rather than masking the base beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, high carbonation. Normally this carbonation level would bother me, but it puts me in mind of a very lively porter, and is just the right stage for these flavors to play out their little play. Some dryness would bring out the roasted flavors--I love what's here, but I think some husky dryness would make it even better.

Overall: Greater than the sum of its parts. Firestone Walker is a brewery of masters... Others may make showier (and excellent) beers, but Firestone perfects a recipe and then shares their brilliant work with its fans. Wonderful beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2014 02:19:26 | More by Pahn
Photo of greenhorn
greenhorn

Arizona

3.54/5  rDev -17.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2014 23:37:37 | More by greenhorn
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

3.5/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013, batch 01

When a FW brew comes in a box, you expect great things - aroma of toasted oats, touch of chocolate, some malt. Very light bodied - thin flavor profile - oats, cocoa, some hops. For FW, this is terribly disappointing and downright boring

Serving type: bottle

01-11-2014 04:13:52 | More by dirtylou
Photo of Dope
Dope

Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 batch (001)

A: Pours black with a tall and fluffy medium brown head. Head fades out slowly with great retention. Moderate but big and fluffy chunks of lacing.

S: Heavy on the bourbon. Caramel and toasted sugars primarily with some oak. Quite a bit of smooth milk chocolate hiding behind it. Get that notable, smooth and creamy oatmeal character as well. Very nice.

T: Again with the bourbon up front. Oaky, quite oaky with some toffee, a little coconut and caramel. Creamy oatmeal in the middle with just a hint of milk chocolate. Oatmeal turns a little bit grainy and the chocolate a little bittersweet in the finish. A dry, oaky finish with more hints of bourbon lingering in the aftertaste.

M: Medium-heavy, smooth and creamy.

O: Not often you find a barrel aged oatmeal stout. Not a huge fan of the bourbon in this one but it still works pretty nicely. Oatmeal, as always, provides a nice layer of creaminess and smooths the whole thing out. Well balanced, not overly complex or hot for that matter either. Very nice.

Serving type: bottle

01-09-2014 04:02:28 | More by Dope
Photo of twiggamortis420
twiggamortis420

Texas

3.84/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle courtesy of BeerHatesRob pours a rich black color with a frothy tan head. Nice lacing and decent retention.

Nose is half chocolate milkshake and half roasty stout. Very nice.

Taste shows some bold barrel character to go along with a lactose-y sweet milk stout. Its smooth and creamy but I could actually use a little more chocolate and malt depth. Its not quite as good as I was hoping, the barrel seems to overpower the malt character of the beer.

Serving type: bottle

01-07-2014 00:22:12 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of Fcolle2
Fcolle2

Illinois

4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 edition

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. Smells semi sweet and incredibly rich.

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2014 01:58:49 | More by Fcolle2
Photo of rjp217
rjp217

Massachusetts

4.69/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 edition poured from the bottle into two HF tulip glasses....

A - Dark, dark brown, half finger head that dissipates quickly. Not much lace left

S - Bourbon, molasses, malt, oatmeal, chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla

T - Exactly the same as the nose, in that order. The bourbon hits you upfront and then a mix of awesome favors come together with a vanilla oatmeal finish. It's like my palate is able to pass through the nose flavors and detect each one along the way, amazing! Tastes a little thin but fits the 8.5%

M - Smooth, velvet smooth, rolls off the tongue. Almost perfect

O - Outstanding! Reminds me of BCBS but in a lighter form. The ABV is perfect. I love the feel. Impressed with all the flavor that got packed into it. If this was a readily available beer I'd be broke. So glad I got the opportunity. Almost a standard bearer for me. Another barrel aged beast from FW. Bravo!

Serving type: bottle

01-06-2014 00:23:49 | More by rjp217
Photo of whatthehull
whatthehull

California

4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2014 06:18:40 | More by whatthehull
Photo of Outlandishbrew
Outlandishbrew

California

4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served at 45 degrees in a Firestone tulip.

A - Pours nearly opaque with a 1 inch light tan head

S - This is my favorite part of this beer. I absolutely love the combo of caramel, chocolate, raisins, vanilla... oh, and bourbon! its very complex and pleasant.

T - Don't get me wrong, I love this beer but when I was trying to describe the taste, I took a sip with my nose plugged and I honestly thought of soda. like Dr. Pepper mixed with coke and a shot of bourbon. I don't mean that in a bad way because it wasn't a bad flavor, I just think that the aroma of this beer definitely carries the flavors a lot. It also finishes surprisingly drier then expected from the aroma.

M - The only stipulation on the dry finish is the silkyness left from the oats (I assume). Halfway through the bottle you'll notice a slickness between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. I guess I would say this is a medium bodied beer.

O - Definitely an awesome beer that I would prolly turn tricks for. That makes me pretty whorey I guess because pretty much anything that Brynildson brews up makes my panties wet. I look forward to trying this beer again with some age. But after tasting it fresh I wouldn't recommend aging this bad boy for too long (3-5 years at most). I have a feeling that the slightest hint of paper/cardboard mixed with the lightish body and silky mouthfeel would be a poopy combo.

Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

12-29-2013 04:13:16 | More by Outlandishbrew
Photo of ThickNStout
ThickNStout

Georgia

4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black foil sealed 22oz bottle from j47paco (thanks Juan!). No bottling date but this is the 2013 release from a few months ago. Served in a Three Floyds teku.

Pours deep, dark, near-black brown with two fingers of tan head. Maintains a nice, frothy cap for quite a while, leaving lots of lace.

Smells of bourbon, vanilla, roast malts and a little cocoa. Sweet and inviting.

Taste follows the nose but adds much more depth. Smooth, sweet bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, oak, oats, caramel, toasted malts, mild dark fruit and a wisp of alcohol. Very easy to drink with nice layers of flavor all wrapped up in a soft, complementary blanket of bourbon.

Creamy medium body with moderate carbonation. Bourbon, chocolate and toasted oat finish.

An outstanding oatmeal stout. The bourbon is in near perfect balance with the creamy base. This is worth seeking out to give a try.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2013 02:28:49 | More by ThickNStout
Photo of rlee1390
rlee1390

Indiana

4.16/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, clear brown around the edges, one finger brown head.

S-Bourbon, chocolate, oats, roasted malt.

T-Starts with some bourbon, mild oats, good deal of chocolate, some bitterness.

M-Heavier, creamy with some carbonation.

O-Need to try this one again, it was a good beer, but compared to the Utopias that night it couldn't compare.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 17:08:45 | More by rlee1390
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin brown head that dissipates to a ring around the glass with light slippery lacing.Aroma of chocolate, sweet dark toasted malt, bourbon and vanilla. Flavor is vanilla, mild toasted malt, cocoa, lactose. A touch of coffee, coconut and bourbon. Light to medium bodied. A nice stout with complex flavor and a deft touch of bourbon from the barrel. Surprisingly thin bodied for an oatmeal stout, perhaps the lightest I've ever had; I would never have identified this as having oatmeal in it in a blind taste. Still tasty different. Can't help but think that this would have been outstanding with a bit heavier malt body.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 04:45:58 | More by LiquidAmber
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,018 ratings.