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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.

297 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 297
Hads: 2,121
Avg: 4.24
pDev: 25.71%
Wants: 384
Gots: 916 | 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: 297 | Hads: 2,121
Photo of IKR
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage

Appearance: Very dark brown bordering on black with a modest beige head that slowly fades. Good looking stout.

Smell: Moderate brown sugar, vanilla, coffee/roasted malt aromas, and some mild oak notes.

Taste: A fairly balanced palate of Bourbon notes, roast malts, vanilla, and oak. The flavors are all there but they aren't as forward as some beers. The finish is fairly dry with some roast malt notes, vanilla, and oak notes. No real alcohol presence to speak of.

Mouth-feel: On the light side of medium-bodied with a good level of carbonation, especially considering the bal-aging. Though the 2015 vintage blends in some Lactose Stout to enhance the body this is still fairly thin bodied. Velvet Merlin has a good body for it's ABV so maybe it's the bal-aging in Velvet Merkin.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer. It has a fairly restrained taste profile in comparison to the other Firestone walker bal-aged beers but I like it.

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Photo of JOldewurtel
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This review probably isn't going to be a fair one. I made the mistake of trying this beer AFTER trying the 17th and 18th Anniversary Ale. And I had decided after drinking the 18th Anniversary, that that was probably the best beer of the almost 550 different beers that I had tried.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.56/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Like the Merlin, it looks a little thin, the finish is also slightly thin, but they are the only small negatives about this beer.Smell is great, taste is of chocolate, oatmeal, slight vanilla with a very subtle barrel presence.an excellent stout

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Photo of Thirstygoat
4.29/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 2014 bottle into a FW Barrelworks glass. I guess I am celebrating XIX day along with Halloween, Breeder's Cup, the World Series and falling backwards.
Lot's of mocha head that remains with a bit of lacing as long as it takes to finish.
Smells of coffee, vanilla, wood, chocolate
Taste all those, with the wood a bit more prominent
Not exactly thin on the mouth, but a bit light for all that's going on
I was looking forward to trying this and thought I'd be giving even higher marks. I might revisit this review after drinking a 2015.

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Photo of gopens44
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not the most picturesque beer nor does it go much deeper than the bourbon on the nose, but the complexity in taste make up the difference. Bourbon opens up into the vanilla and coffee masterfully before a thin bitterness rides out.

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Photo of MattLev
4.74/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours dark, almost black with a small non frothy head
S: Bourbon and Chocolate, with hints of hazelnut and coffee
T: Wonderful, very light for a barrel aged beer, though obviously not an imperial. Superbly balanced.
F: Smooth and rich, it goes down smooth.
O: A wonderful intro to a bourbon barrel aged stout that non cask lovers can also enjoy. Scary how easy it goes down.

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Photo of Jr1982
3.06/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

2015 bottling. 22 oz. bomber

When I open a bourbon barrel aged stout I expect something thick and juicy. I'm looking for a "meat and potatoes" beer that will stick to your ribs. Velvet merkin did not meet my expectations at all.

It pours a nice dark (though not as dark as you'd expect from a barrel aged stout) coffe brown with a weak head that dissipates about as quickly as any mass produced light beer. No lacing.

It has all the notes you'd expect in the aroma and flavor but they're weak and anemic. Slight hints of coffee, oak, bruised apple, and bourbon but not enough. Amazingly, the alcohol was very prominent, very surprising since it's 8.5 abv. The mouthfeel is thin and watery, like someone snuck in and stole a few drinks and topped the bottle off with tap water.

Not impressed with this beer at all. This isn't the first beer I've had from Firestone Walker but it's the first time I've been disappointed. Maybe next years batch will be better but at $16 a pop there's a chance I won't find out.

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Photo of pagriley
3.96/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2015 fresh into snifter.
Pours almost black but translucent at edges - a bit watery looking
Smell of coffee and barrel with roast malt lurking in the background
Taste is coffee forward, but integrated into the barrel and base beer
A bit light and thin for a barrel aged stout - was expecting more body from the oats

Overall a bit of a let down. A fine beer, but not on the same level as the rest of the firestone boxed beers.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle from the 2015 release. Tasted 24 October 2015.

Pours dark brown, nearly black in the glass. One finger of medium tan head, okay retention and good lacing.

Smell is sweet and heavy on the bourbon. Brown sugar, molasses, and something like plums. The oats provide a solid base, most support than is typical.

Taste is delightful. It's restrained and sophisticated, which is an unusual combination for a barrel-aged stout. Rather than slamming you over the head with every flavor in the book, the details come through in subtle waves. I get roasty notes, sweet candy, some charry bitterness. Each one flows through, allowing the next phase to come to the fore.

Feel is lovely. Smooth and luscious, though lighter than many BA stouts. Fluffy carbonation. Excellent.

I really like this beer. It's light for a barrel-aged stout, but the oats give it body and full flavors that would otherwise be lacking. Yummy.

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Photo of TjMosby
4.83/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

22oz. bomber poured into snifter
Vintage 2015

Appearance - Thick black opaqueness with a slight reddish brown at the top.

Smell - A remarkably sweet bourbon. Chocolate, espresso, oak.

Taste - Chocolate cream and espresso. With a very impressive bourbon finish.

Feel - I think this is exactly what an oatmeal stout is supposed to be in texture. It balances nicely in the mouth and finishes even better.

Overall- If there is any bourbon aged stout that should be considered top class, it is without a doubt this one. It has an overwhelming bourbon scent that is slightly misleading in the incredibly smooth pour. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of Motleydrunk56
4.81/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bomber poured into a Firetone glass.Smell is chocolate with a hint of vanilla and coffee in the background.Maybe a touch of coconut.Very nice and smooth stout.The taste is chocolate up front with vanilla and coffee in the background.Great mix of flavors.ABV is 8.5 but you can`t taste it until it warms up and then a hint of bourbon comes thru.This one is a must try for all stout fans.Even if stouts are not your favorite,try it it`s that good.

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Photo of mothman
4.02/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Light tan head. Black color but nearing brown.

Definitely a porter. Thin compared to a stout. Lots of bourbon and vanilla. Oaky. Caramel and chocolate. A little heat. Fairly smooth. Some roast.

Good porter. I'd have this one again.

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

2015 Vintage
22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Deep chestnut brown (near black) with a short head that dissipates quickly. Some light penetrates around the rim of the glass.

Bourbon, fudge, dark chocolate, peanut, wood, coconut, and vanilla.

Semi-sweet chocolate, caramel, toffee, and peanut. Smooth bourbon, vanilla ice cream, and oak. Hints of fudge and toasted coconut.

Medium-light bodied, slick, smooth, and warming.

Smooth, warming, and decadent. While still a great Oatmeal Stout, this seems to be the least complex of the Firestone Walker barrel aged beers that I’ve had. I expect a little more for the $20 price point on this.

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Photo of LADaveBN
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 vintage. Pours dark with a tiny mocha head that dissipates quickly. Nose is roasty malt, bourbon, vanilla, coffee, chocolate. Front of palette I get toasted oats, subtle chocolate. Finish is quite dry, light, with a touch of coffee bitterness. Feel is lighter than expected. Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. It's much easier drinking than most of the Proprietor Vintage series.

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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 Ryancthomas7
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2015 Vintage
Tasty beer, but I am underwhelmed with the aroma/flavor. I was hoping to get more barrel notes, but that is just not the case. Carbonation level seems a bit high for the style as well.

Overall, this is an enjoyable beer, but I do not think it is worth the price point for me.

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Photo of sittinggc
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage poured into Teku glass.

Look: Dark, however not as thick and black as an RIS. Translucent as poured into glass. Small khaki head which dissipates quickly.
Smell: Chocolate, oats and coffee.
Taste: Very much like the aroma. Lots of oats and chocolate. Also get some nice vanilla notes and sweetness from the bourbon...though bourbon presence is minimal. Also get nice coffee roastiness on the tail end. As the beer warms, I get more bourbon notes...and some whiskey ones which is kinda weird lol.
Feel: Very smooth and easy drinking. Not as chewy or hot as a BA RIS but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. As it warms it seems to get thinner.

Overall: I really like this beer. Really tasty and easy to drink. Only problem I have with it is the price...other than that I will very likely buy more and see what some age does to it. Cheers!

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Photo of Tele
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Serving Type: Bottle (2015)
Consumed: 10.2.15

A: 4.5 Pours a very dark brown with a small, khaki head. The head only lasts a minute and doesn’t’ leave much lace.

S: 4.5 The aromas one this beer are terrific. Unlike most BA stouts, the base beer is the dominant aroma. Dark coffee, roasted malt, marshmallows, cocoa powder, and fudge are the main things going on, like a really nice porter. There’s still good barrel presence though, bringing vanilla and caramel elements.

T: 4.25 Flavors are very similar to what the nose suggests, but dialed back a bit. There’s moderate sweetness, vanilla, raisins, and bourbon mixing in with light bitterness and roasted malt flavors. The finish is very smooth with a touch of bourbon heat and sweetness lingering.

M: 4.25 People bash the mouthfeel on this beer for being too thin, but (while that’s true to a certain extent) it’s also incredibly drinkable and the excellent carbonation almost makes it a non-issue.

O: 4.25 This is a really terrific and unique beer; it fills the gap between everyday stouts and huge BA imperials. It’s great for what it is, even though it may not push all the same buttons as something like Parabola or BCBS.

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Photo of CHickman
4.82/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Sapsuckers, 2014 batch pours pitch black color with a small tan head that faded and left good spotty lacing. This brew's looks were fortunately the least impressive part, as it was all uphill from here.

Smells of ash, charred wood, burnt grains, coffee grinds, vanilla, burnt coffee, oak barrel, tree bark, cocoa powder, wheat bread toast, oatmeal and dark chocolate. Smells like bourbon barrel aged stout with a lot of char, grains and delicious chocolate. Pretty much the apex of an oatmeal stout.

This is an oatmeal stout on steroids, ridiculously flavorful and packed with oaky notes, earthy accents, and lots of chocolate and coffee. Taste shows off the burnt coffee, cocoa powder, light vanilla, charred wood, molasses, bakers chocolate, roasted malt, touches of syrup, tea leaf, light floral hops, tobacco, light booze which is a cross between rum and bourbon, toasted coconut and some toasted buttery wheat bread; it then trails off with more char and cocoa. As it warms the bourbon comes out and is so woody and oaky that it's like an actual bourbon with a lot of peat moss. Outstanding tasting, exceptional.

Mouthfeel is thin and smooth, but par for the course for the style; light to medium bodied with very little to no carbonation and the greatest if ease to drink. So smooth, so easy and so delicious, for a beer with this much flavor it should not be this easy to drink but it is. Overall an unbelievably great beer.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Vintage 2015.

Deep walnut brown and some nice ruby red highlights. Quite clear but due to it's dark colors not easy of course to see through. Very light tan head, with a creamy top, and almost icing cake looking. Dissolves with little retention, manages a simple whispy top, and fine to a mix of small bubbles in the collar. A nice looking brew in the realm.

Real complex, diverse, and exciting aroma. Big malt whoppers candy, and a deep brown bread and cake like fluffy flavor. Hints of light brownie chocolate and excellent cereal grains. Sense of light and whispy like malts, taking away some of the barrel roundness but leaving a real distinct flavor. Sweetness is noticeable but not really large which is even better. Big count Chocula quality going on here with a cereal grain quality and husky density.

Palate goes for a little bit simpler quality, but memorable and unique flavors. Tannic mild wood but also a bit wet with not much body in malt to really push the flavors high. Mid palate though fills with an airy chocolate and mild sweetness of malt, and almost some tobacco sweetness to keep it interesting. The oats on this are really being pushed over board, with large cereal qualities becoming evident but without much chewy texture. Real mild sweetness as well, but lacking some complexity in the flavors. Much of expected barrel tones and particularly feel are really sort of lost here also.

This is a real interesting take and brew in the Firestone realm, there's much to improve here which would also though take away from it's easy drinkability.

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Photo of lochraneg
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L: dark molasses with creme head that dissipates quickly
S: chocolate, bourbon, raisins
F: thick body that is mellow but hangs around on the palate
T: malt, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla
O: had the '14 and let it sit for about 4 months-- great

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Photo of lafoodie8808
3.4/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This beer is a whisky bomb when cold, but that improves as it warms. Unfortunately not enough to make this a winner. Not a bad beer, but doesn't live up to how amazing the rest of this series is.

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Photo of SaulFox
4.77/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage
Deep black, khaki head
Coffee, slight bourbon with signature woodiness
The taste is what makes this beer!
Vanilla, chocolate, molasses, coffee, bourbon.
Great mouthfeel despite lower alcohol content.
Just beautiful! Looking forward to popping this year's vintage....

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Photo of ChrisP802
4.73/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pour - dark molasses, small dark beige head
Smell - chocolate, espresso, bourbon come right out
Taste - definitely taste the chocolate and espresso, bourbon was subtle but there
Overall - amazing brew, too bad it's so hard to find in Vermont

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Photo of Beer_Line
4.89/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2015 Bottle

Appearance: Dark with khaki head

Aroma: a little bourbon, chocolate and Malts or oats

Taste: Incredible. This years is really similar to KBS. Light bourbon up front with oaty chocolate taste following. and the dark chocolate lingers on palate after swallowing.

Mouthfeel: Ultra smooth, too smooth, good thing this is not 15% abv.

Overall: 2015 vintage has bumped this brew into the world class ranks for me (due to the addition of the milk stout to the formula). The addition of the milk stout smoothed the brew out and really bumped up the mouthfeel. So dang good.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 297 ratings.