Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

253 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 253
Hads: 1,982
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 9.29%
Wants: 360
Gots: 778 | 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.
View: Beers (84) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 253 | Hads: 1,982
Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
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. (1,492 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 samtrillo
4/5  rDev -4.8%

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. (430 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%

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. (409 characters)

Photo of CaliforniaJohnson
5/5  rDev +19%

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. (773 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 MjBrewhouse
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

Poured into tulip glass. Black with dark head which dissipates quickly. Smell is of Vanilla, Carmel, coffee and bourbon.Taste is smooth almost too smooth, I'm looking for some finish to it, but it's not there, it kind of dies in my mouth. Lite carbonation and mouth feel is Lite for an Oatmeal stout. Taste is mild, Bourbon is there but the Bourbon aging seems to have eclipsed the other flavors.Over all I think I like the Velvet Merlin better. (445 characters)

Photo of GilGarp
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

2014 vintage served at cellar temp into a goblet.

Velvet Merkin is a dark brown color with good clarity seen during the pour. The head is lightly off white in color, thin, and short-lived.

Aroma is more boozy than I expected with a big hit of bourbon barrel, vanilla, and caramel pudding.

Flavor is big and intense leading off with malty sweetness, vanilla, and chocolate. It then gets more bitter with some coffee and dark roasted malt. The final layer of flavor is the bourbon which is well judged and not too boozy or hot.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and creamy smooth like a good oatmeal stout should be. Carbonation is low which helps keep the creaminess.

Overall a very good barrel aged stout and would likely stand up well to aging. (743 characters)

Photo of thebigredone
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

I believe this beer suffered in comparison to the rest of the stouts we were drinking last night. Tasted a bit thin and harsh after the likes of Assassin, three BCBS variants, etc. I'm sure if I'm able to retry it at a later time the score may improve. (253 characters)

Photo of Flight317
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

I was quite satisfied with this brew. It's an oatmeal stout not a Russian imperial or American double. Those that say it feels a bit thin should rethink what it is they are drinking. I've had their regular oatmeal stout and it is one of the creamiest mouthfeels I can remember. This one follows suit with the bourbon barrel love. Oak, vanilla, booze, chocolate, a bit of a coffee taste and all around luxury. I rate my beers based off of the best I've had of the style and how much I enjoy it. This may be the only bourbon oatmeal stout I've had and it's great so 4.5 it is. Don't stack this one up beside parabola and judge it, drink it for what it is, what it was meant to be, and enjoy! (689 characters)

Photo of KevinA107
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

Enjoyed my first 2013 Velvet Merkin today.

The Velvet in the name should also be the description. If you are one to enjoy a Bourbon Barrel aged Beer, get some of this. Can't compare it to other Bourbon Barrel aged beers as this is in a class of it's own. Bourbon Country, BRRRRR and other highly scored beers are all part of the pilgrimage towards getting your hands on this. (376 characters)

Photo of unitypunk
5/5  rDev +19%

Awesome Beer, pours dark, with a nice head smells like liquor, tastes like it minus the bite of alcohol super solid beer dont miss it! worth the price! 9$ 9oz was worth it! (174 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 barnzy78
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2014 Vintage, 8.5% ABV
A 4 - near black with a creamy tan head that holds decent retention, some lacing is left on the glass as it fades
S 4.25 - boozy bourbon whiskey, vanilla, and oak dominate the nose
T 4.25 - the bourbon continues to dominate with the oaky vanilla here too, notes of chocolate, roasted barley, oat, and earthy hops do come through just enough to remind you that you are drinking a beer
M 3.5 - seems thin for body; elusive might be the word - this is not a viscous imperial stout, even though it seems like that's what it should be. It is, however, creamy and smooth, medium-ish, while finishing with the bourbony oak lingering on the palate
O 4 - really easy to drink, well balanced, and good, but not worth the $15.99 and hassle to hunt it down. Glad I tried it, but won't buy it again in the future. (836 characters)

Photo of dahlen22
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

I had this last night so I am going to try to get this right.

Appearance: Dark and syrupy with a slight brown head.

Aroma: Good stuff going on here. Coffee, Bourbon, Vanilla, Smokiness.

Taste: Smooth and velvety going down. Explosion of flavors here, including those in the nose and some dark chocolate. Easy drinking for the style.

Overall: Excellent beer here. Not a true oatmeal stout that many who like the style would expect, but an interesting melody of flavors and styles. What really came through were the vanilla and bourbon you would expect from barrel aged beer. Pricy, but very tasty. Cheers!! (624 characters)

Photo of n2185
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

A: Pours black with two fingers of light tan head that fades into a frothy ring with a little lacing.

S: roasted malts with sweet chocolate, vanilla, a bit of oak, and bourbon. Simple, but nice.

T: Roasted malts here as well with semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. There are some light oak flavors before a slightly boozy finish.

M: Medium-thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is slightly watery but still quite very drinkable.

O: Quite a good beer, overall. The body is a bit lacking, but otherwise is great. (540 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 10/2013, enjoyed 10/2014.
What difference does a year make? That I cannot speak to, at least as far as this beer is concerned. But in my life a lot has changed over the course of a year. More on that another time, perhaps over a beer.
This pours a luscious black with cottony foam that quickly dies into a cocoa colored ring of surf. There’s an incredible aroma with some dark chocolate and sweet espresso notes, and an underlying rum scent. I get a lot of nuance: toasted coconut, some orange peel, a hint of vanilla, a little oak, and it only gets better as it warms and opens.
There’s a big bitterness and a mighty roast on this, but it’s offset by a creamy, albeit surprisingly thin, consistency. The oatmeal in the oatmeal stout? Plus the masterful blending that FW is known for? I still get some barrel-aged notes, vanilla and coconut and dark chocolate and a touch of rum, but I find myself wishing for just a tad more.. more body, more booze, a touch more heat to contrast on the end. Still delicious, and definitely memorable. I saved this for a reason and it did not disappoint. (1,107 characters)

Photo of BenwayPHD
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a thin half finger, mocha colored head. The smell is very well balanced between the bourbon and the oatmeal malt. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, slight booze. Actually quite a delicious nose. The flavor is predominantly the bourbon and the wood. The stout it self gets somewhat buried. Maybe a bigger, higher abv, stout would hold up better to this barrel. The mouthfeel is also slightly thin. Overall, this is quite a good beer, however, the complex nose is more intriguing than the flavor. (534 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a nearly pitch black color with a thick and creamy tan colored head. The head has a fantastic level of retention, slowly fading and leaving behind a sticky looking lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is big of a sweet oatmeal smell with a good showing of a woody and bourbon boozy smell. Along with these aromas comes smells of caramel and vanilla as well as a little bit of a more toasted malt and somewhat grainy smell giving a very nice warningly dark and sweet smell

Taste- The taste begins with a big sweet oatmeal flavor with a good and heavy flavor of oats and caramel as well as a bit of vanilla and some nice woody and bourbon flavors upfront. There is a decent showing of a more roasted and chocolate flavor upfront, but these pale in comparison to the sweeter oat. As the taste advances the woody flavors lessen a bit, but the sweeter flavors grow even more intense with quite a bit more vanilla and caramel coming to the tongue. All the while the more roasted flavors really start picking up steam more toward the end surpassing the oat flavor of the brew. While at 8.5 % abv., the alcohol is very well concealed and with the mix of flavors that is left at the end, a nice roasted and sweet, lightly woody and moderately oatmeal like flavor is left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel-The body of the beer is on the thinner side for a oatmeal stout of 8.5% abv with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. A thicker body and lower carbonation would have been much better for the oatmeal and sweeter roasted flavors of the brew, really giving support to these rich flavors.

Overall- A rather tasty oatmeal stout overall with a nice hit of woody bourbon flavor without a whole lot of heavy and hot booziness. A nice, oatmeal, semi-sweet roasty brew. (1,871 characters)

Photo of santomark
3/5  rDev -28.6%

A - Pours a coca cola colored body. Mild off white head, about a nickels worth. Hues of brown.

S - Maple syrup, toffee, coffee, malt, fig, dates, darker fruits, splash of that classic bourbon taste.

T - light coffee up front, that watered down mocha, that iced latte taste. This empty presence in the middle. Finish with that bourbon taste.

M - Very light, silky, smooth.

O - I'm not buying another beer from this company again. No offense, but at $16 a bottle, I'd expect this to have a bigger profile. Moreover, the body is too weak for the bourbon characteristics. At times, this taste like the last few sips of a jack and coke, with a breathe of coffee to come back up. This is so weak, words cannot tell you how disappointed I am with this brew. I'm debating regurgitating what I swallowed, putting it back in the bottle, and asking for a refund. It's not bad, it's just absolutely disappointing. (905 characters)

Photo of TheBrewo
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

We peel the foil and pop the top on a bottle of 2013 stock. We pour a beer of burnt chestnut brown into our Founders snifters. A one and a half finger tall head of oily chocolate milk colored bubbles. This dissipates on the quicker side, settling into an oil slick across the top of the liquid. Lacing is specked, but highly mobile and truly formless. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be active. The nose is beautifully warming and rich, even when at the coldest of fridge temperature. We meet notes of raw licorice, vanilla-rubbed woodiness, sweet but intensely buttery diacetyls, dark chocolate sugars, black pepper spice, chocolate covered espresso beans, light balsamic vinaigrette acidity, toasted oats and black malts, chemical bite of nail polish, aluminum foil, ashed cigarette tobacco, and buttercream cheesecake frosting. The taste follows the nose very nicely, but gives up a little robustness that we had hoped would carry through. Coming through is a clean blend of soured and acidic oak, soft and melty mallo sugars and milk chocolates, warming bourbon wash, dried raisins and black cherries, vanilla milk shake, light vodka boozy kick, cinnamon and crushed Graham cracker crumble, light bubblegum esters, medicinal phenol spice, watered charcoal, mildly bitter cocoa, and dusty basement muskiness. The body is the lightest shade of medium, and the carbonation is more solidly medium. The liquid moves easily around the mouth, leaving a cooling and lightly palpable coating of sugary stickiness. Slurp, smack, cream, froth, glug, and pop each contribute nicely. The abv is appropriate, and the beer drinks back nicely, although due to its whale status, you want to take your time.

Overall, best…name…ever. Oh so seductive!! Actually, that last part is a true statement about the aroma. It floats out of the bottle, and just like the smell lines of a pie will lift any cartoon character right off their feet, pulls you firmly in. The bourbon is delicate but expertly represented, giving all of the essence without any of the nasty. This blends with the oddity of the malt base, which is oat, setting the stage for a markedly complex presentation. Things are going great at this point. Then, you sip. It would be a crime to say that the beer takes a wrong turn here, but, it just isn’t quite what we were expecting. Remember, this is an oatmeal stout. This is NOT your typical hulked-up American imperial. This is velvet. The flavoring comes across, due in part to the sweetness of grain, wood, and chocolate, much like a milk/sweet stout, with high residual sugars. Once you accept this fact, you will have a much better time, and you’ll enjoy the beer much more. We were so, so excited when we found this beer, and while it doesn’t disappoint by any means, we had hoped it would be a little more bold. That is in our failing of false expectations, not the beer’s or the brewer’s, as the final product presented is worthy of all its accolades. (3,023 characters)

Photo of cjgiant
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%

Bottle, 2014 vintage:
Pours a pretty-much pitch black, with a mildly surprising just off-white foamy head. This head does stick around for a bit, and a swirl of the glass leaves the foam clinging to the glass above the surface.

The initial nose (I did let it warm a bit before tasting) definitely has the bourbon barrel scents throughout. There is a vanilla and perhaps a light cinnamon notes to what is really, to me, pretty mush simple roasted malt goodness. When searching, I get wood notes and something that reminds me of a "bowl of oatmeal", but neither is overt or obvious to me.

The taste, surprisingly does not rely on or even focus on the bourbon barrel tastes. I do get the oats more up front than I'd imagined I would. To those flavors are added a fairly significant woodiness that accentuate the initial notes, and meld together to something greatly interesting to me. The bourbon fades in lightly mid-taste, and just stays on the fringe of the taste. I get a touch of coconut, and a dark-roasted nuttiness for the lingering taste.

The feel is actually a little light early, and dries out in a woody feel/taste for the longer term. I think the beer is very smooth throughout, overall, though.

A very good beer that is just solid in its structure. It's not very showy in it's flavors, but does throw enough out there to not be too boring. I like it for being a more subdued higher-octane stout. (1,423 characters)

Photo of Cubatobaco
4.29/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'm glad that I got a chance to drink this fresh as I don't think it will hold up very long, especially at 8.5%. The mouthfeel is amazing and the taste is of dark chocolate and roasted coffee. I think, if it had more barrel presence, I would have rated it higher. It was kind of muted. Great beer and I am glad that I have a few more bottles. (342 characters)

Photo of Modernrickk
4.06/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving type bottle

This beer looks like cold black coffee. When held up to the light I can see thru it. Not much head retention. Not exactly an elegant looking beer. Sure does smell good tho. It's not in your face in the aroma but very pleasing mix of malts and bourbon.the vanilla-like aroma from the wood smells amazing. Tastes like a bit of chocolate dipped in a bit of watered down bourbon. The low abv kinda makes the mouthfeel a bit thin for a BBA stout but really helps the balance of the taste. Overall this beer is pretty darn good. Balance in the bourbon and stout flavors is everything here .. (607 characters)

Photo of GJ40
4.2/5  rDev 0%

Beautiful with a big black color and a sturdy tan head. Awesome aroma with bourbon, vanilla and cane sugar. Smooth flavors follow led by a well behaved bourbon aspect. Maybe a little thin for a bigger oatmeal stout. But I really enjoyed this one. (247 characters)

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