Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,959 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 1,959
Reviews: 281
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 355
Gots: 768 | FT: 129
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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,959 | Reviews: 281
Photo of CJNAPS
4.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I love the creamy texture of this beer...and I'm a big Bourbon fan so I picked up on that goodness right away.

Photo of BIll_Currie
4.96/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

my first oatmeal bourbon barrel. outstanding!

Photo of Barnoloid
4.21/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rating of the 2013 vintage.This is a fine barrel aged stout. There is a little smoke and cocoa on the nose. Mouthfeel is fairly light, with the accent of the bourbon coming through fairly pertinently. A little dark fruit comes in on the back end. A fine sipping beer.

Photo of Harrgain1
4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wonderful beer. Very smooth and the bourbon aroma works well. Was drunk as a celebration beer and the experience was well worth the wait.

Photo of Bigculp2000
5/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Amazing overall ! A must have beer in the colder weather

Photo of antott0523
3.56/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

$13.99 at Fanwood Liquors in Fanwood, NJ

A: Opaque dark brown with a light brown head that settles to a thin layer with a fair amount of lacing. No visible carbonation.

S: Great nose with notes of vanilla and toffee. Freshly ground cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Sweet, smooth bourbon. A bit of roasted malts.

T: Semi sweet flavor profile with notes of cocoa, with faint notes of vanilla and bourbon. Semi dry finish with a mild amount of bitterness and a touch of black licorice.

M: Well carbonated and relatively thin.

D: The great nose has left me yearning for a bit more. Yes, the beer is highly drinkable. The 8.5% is imperceivable by any sense. However, the lack of flavor complexity and body leaves me wanting more.

Photo of LordofWord
3.45/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

"Creamy"? "Smooth"? Definitely. This beer is what it is. But based on the $15 price tag, I will only make the mistake once. Never again. Solid but unspectacular. There just isn't enough improvement over the base oatmeal stout to warrant the cost.

Photo of snaotheus
4.13/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014-12-28
12oz bottle poured into four disparate samplers.

Pours very dark -- but not opaque. Small creamy head. Very little carbonation. Smell is smokey, coffee. A little chocolate and vanilla.

Taste is mild compared to Bourbon County Brand Stout. No alcohol bite. Smooth, and surprisingly drinkable. Creamy. Like a super milk stout. Slight bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Overall, very good.

Photo of spykespnoypbg
2.54/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2014 Vintage. Disappointed, expected more flavor, body was very thin. Would not spend the $ for this again.

Photo of Harvest06
4.66/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reaches its peak 6 months after release date. Fresh too tight & rough at 1 year the oak has faded.

Photo of WesMantooth
3.64/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Some other people have already touched on this, but this is a very thin, watery stout. If you really like bourbon, you will probably enjoy it, but it squashes almost all flavors. Very disappointing compared to the other Firestone offerings. Not undrinkable, but I would not seek it out again unless it was fresh. I had a 2013 version. Maybe it does not hold up well.

Photo of FLima
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition.
Deep black color with a huge thick light caramel head with great retention.
Aroma with predominating notes of Bourbon backed by cocoa powder, coffee and vanilla.
Likewise, flavor with notes of bourbon, cola and dark chocolate all predominating. Also, creamy espresso, some spices, earthy and mild citrusy hops, roasted malt and very light smoke. Increasingly dry aftertaste with the Bourbon further revealing itself.
Velvet body with appropriate carbonation. Alcohol of 8.5% abv is absent.
Excellent brew with good complexity. Bourbon predominates elegantly and it is far from cloying. Remember this is an Oatmeal Stout don’t compare this to any hoppy imperial.

Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -13.5%
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...)

Photo of thirstyturtle
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

silky smooth oatmeal stout goodness

Photo of larryi86
4.23/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle poured into a teku

A- Black with a three finger light mocha head.

S- Bourbon, some vanilla, oak, cocoa powder, slightly metallic, some coffee, and sweet oats. Metallic notes are kind of off putting, if they weren't there I would rate the smell at least 4.25.

T- Mild bourbon, hints of oak and vanilla, cocoa powder, fairly sweet, some coffee, some nice oat quality, nicely balanced, no hint of alcohol at all.

M- Smooth, creamy, medium body.

O- Bose throw me off but the taste is great. Didn't feel it would be great to age, but I really enjoy how it tastes fresh, can't wait to get more next year. Bourbon is a nice added flavor but not a big flavor in this beer.

Photo of themind
2.92/5  rDev -32.1%
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.

Photo of pmangold
4.58/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -4%
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.

Photo of LouZ
4.6/5  rDev +7%
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.

Photo of jonathanjones27
3.28/5  rDev -23.7%
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.

Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev -7%

Pours engine oil black with a small tan head.

Nose consists of wood, chocolate, bourbon.

Upfront the taste reminds me of dark chocolate brownies followed by a hint of bourbon, oak and vanilla.
I was hoping the beer would feature a bit bigger mouthfeel. That's the one drawback for me. Can't justify the price of this when I can get six packs of Merlin for under $10 and do my own experimenting with vanilla beans and whiskey.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.6/5  rDev -16.3%

Pour is black with a light brown head. Nose is bourbon, light wood. Assertive malt of brownie and bakers chocolate. Taste falls a little short on the richness. It tastes as it smells but a bit watered down. It has the bourbon and wood up front, some fudge notes with some sweet malt berry sweetness. Body is a touch light and thins in the back. The finish had some roasty barrel notes but a hint empty.

Photo of Brabander
4/5  rDev -7%

A bit too thin but the taste is great!

Photo of CaliforniaJohnson
5/5  rDev +16.3%

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

APPEARANCE
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.

SMELL
Vanilla, Irish creme, cocoa.

TASTE
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.

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

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

Photo of Kinsman
4.54/5  rDev +5.6%
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.

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,959 ratings.