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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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

255 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 255
Hads: 1,992
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.26%
Wants: 364
Gots: 779 | FT: 128
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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Reviews: 255 | Hads: 1,992
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro tap for Churchill's Renaissance at Churchill's Pub & Grille in San Marcos, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson brown with a foamy tan head that lasts. A thick curtain of lace forms on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, toasted oats, wood, and slight bourbon. Taste is pretty much the same except the bourbon is very subtle and hard to taste. This beer has a nice thick and creamy mouthfeel being on the nitro tap. Overall, this is a good stout but the barrel aging is quite mild in both the aroma and taste. (552 characters)

Photo of t0rin0
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at Blue Palms last Friday. There is a bit of confusion but I am now sure that the other Velvet Merkin on BA is not barrel aged.

Poured pitch black, even in the light. At first my snifter was completely filled with foam. Never had a cask over carbonated before. Lots of beautiful brown foam, very silky, great retention and great lacing.

Aroma was chocolatey, and roasty but mild in those aspects. The oak and bourbon were stronger in the aroma. Well balanced (almost) and no alcohol in the nose. Mild overall.

The flavor was so smooth it was almost rediculous. Chocolate, oak, vanilla, roast(medium), and bourbon all played a part. The oak and bourbon were heavier but not overpowering. Going to guess 8% abv on this one. Mild bitterness.

Body was very heavy, very carbonated but it didn't last. Very very drinkable and very enjoyable. At the risk of getting harassed, this was my favorite beer of the night and that includes the X, XI, and XII as well as the bravo, oaktoberfest, lil opal (probably 2nd favorite), and saucer full of secrets. (1,064 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark brown color with a thin tan head and a few spots of lacing. Nice collar as it goes down. The nose brings a good contingent of roast and chocolate alongside the really nice barrel notes. Fantastic amount of bourbon plus some oak and vanilla. The flavor brings smooth bourbon as well as oak, vanilla, chocolate, and moderate roast. Medium body that is quite creamy with really nice barrel qualities. Very, very well done. Not surprising coming from Firestone. (492 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.48/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

just fantastic, thanks to claystation for bringing this over. long anticipated for me, this pours a honey thick mocha brown color, smooth as silk in the snifter, and showing off over an inch of oatmeal foam. it smells so much less alcoholic than I expected, mostly because of how alcohol forward most of the other boxed offerings have been. this one is sweet and rich, subtle spice and vanilla from the barrel, a lot of oatmeal body and sweetness, and an aggressively bitter cocoa barley vibe. its all blends together exquisitely well, and some of the heavier flavors of milk chocolate, tobacco, raisins, and butter cream come out in the last legs. alcohol never makes an appearance, not even at room temperature, and the bourbon contributes just the right amount of flavor and smoothness. these days so many barreled beers don't taste a lot like beer anymore, this one is perfect. speaking of perfect, the mouthfeel of this beer could not be improved. its full bodied as they come, not sharp at all from booze, palate coating but not sticky, thick but fluent, everything one could ask for in a stout like this. its sensational. worth the wait, worth the money, share it with a loved one or three. amazing stuff from the top shelf firestone stuff, never a surprise. luscious and dark, dangerously easy down, balanced brilliantly. this is a must. (1,345 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2014 Vintage

Appearance: A massive mocha head forms on top of the dark chocolate colored liquid; nice retention and an interesting pattern of lace

Smell: Brown bread, chocolate and caramel, with hints of coconut, vanilla, oak and Bourbon

Taste: Chocolate and brown bread, up front, with the caramel, vanilla and coconut tones developing somewhat; the Bourbon appears in the finish, almost as an afterthought

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; lacks the creamy mouthfeel I would expect from the oatmeal

Overall: I knew with an 8.5% ABV that this wasn't going to be a big stout but I was surprised at it, nevertheless; it's a decent beer but it lacked the depth of flavor and the mouthfeel I would expect from a beer so highly rated, let alone from a brewery that has always impressed me greatly

Thanks, fthegiants, for the opportunity (859 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Oakquinox

Dark brown pour with a small tan head. The aroma reminds me of chocolate milk with a little bit of vanilla added to it. Minimal roast and coffee notes, just an overwhelming chocolate/vanilla blend. Great barrel and bourbon flavor with even more of the chocolate and vanilla going on. Moderate roast and a hint of coffee. Nicely sweet from some toffee malt flavors. So damn good. (399 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Stone Brewing Bistro & World Gardens on 11/13/09 during their Firestone Walker 13th on the 13th event. Served in a snifter.

Pours black, with a thin frothy covering of mocha colored head. This stays rich when swirled, leaving a strong latticework of spotty lacing behind. The aroma is quite tangy (and even a little meaty) smelling with big notes of smoke, chocolate roast, burnt wood, and coffee. Some fresh floral tannic character gives this a distinct layer of earthy depth.

The taste is similar, with a sweet smokey tang to it from layers of chocolate, coffee, roast, a tiny bit of dark fruit, and naturally, the bourbon. This has a definite ripple of earthy feeling tannins that run through it, leaving a strong woody dryness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fuller creaminess to it form the oats but also retains a considerable amount of barrel-induced slickness.

I really liked how the barrel-aging worked with this. The bourbon wasn't in your face, instead working with the malts to impart that deep smokey tang, while the barrel gave the overall profile an earthy and green feeling mellowness. Really interesting and fun drinking stuff from Firestone. (1,201 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap at EBF from keg.

Creamy light head, brown molasses darker colored but not very dark.

Nose light bourbon and oak, oats, hint of fruit, brown malts, chewy malts, light barrel and vanilla aromas, touch of chocolate and caramel.

Taste creamy, oats, light oak and vanilla, light bourbon, brown malts, hint if molasses, bit of dark malts with hint of roast and caramel, toffee, and just a touch of chocolate.

Mouth is creamy and smooth, lush, fuller bodied, with decent carb and just a hint of booze.

Overall pretty good, wish I could have sat down with a full pour to get more out of it, but still a pretty good beer. (621 characters)

Photo of mactrail
4.18/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark color best described as raw umber. The foam is beige and not overly high in the St. Bernardus globe. Splendid scent of something more like rum than the usual bourbon blast. Slightly sweet with a lively mouthfeel and not so thick on the tongue. A delightful spritzy sensation with the touch of booze and a little cocoa.

Really a fragrant nose and flavor as well. Well balanced with just enough hoppy bitterness to go with the malt. It's all quite refined and mellow. Even the alcohol is restrained. Long, smooth whiskey aftertaste with the alcohol finally providing a nice burn for the finish.

More light and lively than than the imperial stouts by far. An excellent dark brew and probably my favorite Oatmeal Stout ever. From the bottle bought at Bottlecraft in San Diego. (781 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

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. (520 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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).

(1,102 characters)

Photo of mdfb79
4.35/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 03/12/11 notes. Had this on tap at the day session of EBF up in Boston, MA. One of the better beers of the day in my opinion.

a - Pours a dark brown, almost black color, with a little bit of white head and moderate carbonation evident. Looks exactly like the normal version of Velvet Merlin.

s - Smells of smooth bourbon, oatmeal, coffee, and vanilla. Pretty nice, the bourbon is out front, but doesn't dominate the smell. You still get all the normal scents of the Velvet Merkin.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oatmeal, oak, roasted malts, vanilla and cream, coffee, and light chocolate. The taste is a step up from the nose and amazingly complex and balanced. Really great, and the bourbon is nice but not overpowering again.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, the body is super smooth and creamy. No alcohol heat at all, most likely thanks to the low ABV of the base beer. Great mouthfeel.

o - Overall this is a really good beer I hope they bring out more often. The smell is nice, ut the taste and mouthfeel were outstanding. Would love to have again. (1,059 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on Tap at 1702, Tucson; March 2010
Arrives from the tap an opaque, dark color that shows a touch of clear red / brown hues when held up to the light. The head is quite wispy and seems a bit dark. At first the aroma has a thin vanilla note to it as well as a roast grain aromatic. Actually the aroma is really hard for me to smell, but as it warms I get hints of buttery oak and a hint of almost fruity tartness.

There is a hint of sweetness in the flavor (or is that vanillin) up front, but this dries out quite significantly as this rolls across the tongue. Vanillin lingers along with notes of dark chocolate, roasted grain and a hint of barrel-derived spiciness on the palate. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy feeling, but it still remains light as this is definitely a beer to quaff a couple pints of. The roast character dominates the flavor profile, but it is well balanced and keeps from being harsh, astringent, or acidic (which I find as common "flaws" in roasted beers). This is really well balanced in the flavor; roast, sweeter malt character, vanillin and bittering notes all work together quite harmoniously. The barrel is quite mellow actually, vanillin is here, as is an oak derived spiciness and a tannic quality in the finish, but I could almost be convinced that this was not barrel aged.

This is an awesome quaffing / session brew; it is full flavored, delicious andcomplex, too bad that this aroma comes off as being so muted (is it the glass, my nose, I don't know but I think it is actually just the beer). (1,539 characters)

Photo of BARFLYB
4.32/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap at Teresa's Next Door. Served in a tulip glass.

Velvet Merkin pours the standard dark black color like the Merlin with a silky look. Black shade, off white head that is an inch that eventually fades, no cling. Smell is a nice and if not the best mix of oatmeal and bourbon ever. I'll admit, I am not a fan of huge beers, so i was a bit surprised at the alcohol difference between the former and the latter. I cant smell the eight some percent listed. OAts, ripe chocolate, vanilla, no oak, present bourbon. The taste is about the same with a focus of oatmeal and bourbon with a backing of chocolate. The great thing is, it's under 9%, meaning if i want another glsss, it would be a sinch. I loved the original and all the flavor and low abv, I love this version as well. (778 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.06/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bottle poured into a taster.

Appearance - Black with a large khaki head. Good lacing. Really nice.

Smell - Bourbon is strong without being overpowering. Vanilla and chocolate. Roasty.

Taste - Bourbon and oak are nice. Roasty. Vanilla. Chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Well it is thin, but it's nice. Drinkable, we'll call it.

Overall - Good beer. Quality flavors in a small package. (386 characters)

Photo of corby112
4.42/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a one finger light beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic streaks of lace left behind.

Boozy bourbon barrel aroma that's nicely integrated into the base beer(which is partially bourbon BA). I thought amping it up to 100% BA might kill off some of those notes but they're still there underneath the barrel presence. Strong spicy bourbon, earthy oak, vanilla and coconut followed by roasted dark malt, chocolate, robust coffee and oatmeal.

Medium bodied but a bit thinner than I expected with a strong bourbon barrel presence that's excellently integrated into the flavor of the regular Merlin version. Sweet and spicy bourbon dominated up front with some boozy heat but it never becomes to hot. Feels stronger than 8.6 but not harsh. There's also some dry oak, toasted coconut and vanilla followed by roasted dark malt, silky chocolate, caramel, toffee and oatmeal. Subtle dry bitterness but never approaches burnt or acrid. Really well balanced and although there is a decent amount of heat it's very easy to drink. (1,085 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light proof black colored beer with a medium sized brown colored head.

One sniff and this smells like Canadian Whiskey! Not at all shy about letting you know this has been sitting in a bourbon barrel for a while. Strong vanilla, coconut and caramel scents. Smells sweet with some faint scents of tobacco leaf, ash and tanned leather. Simply lovely I could sniff this glass all day, pity they don't market this smell as an air freshener.

Starts out mildly sweet with a vanilla, coconut and chocolate flavor. Slight butter and stronger toffee candy flavors. A little sweet but not as much as the scent suggests. Mild bitterness. Strong Canadian Whiskey flavor. Oak and a little wood ash really coats the mouth like a milkshake. I can even taste a little sugar cookie in this, complex with a Capital C.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall one of the best things I have tasted all year. I may have tasted a better beer but there are few beers than can beat this. A lot of the beers that might be infinitesimally better are other Firestone Bourbon Barrel aged beers. (1,056 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.64/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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. (1,120 characters)

Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. Don't get a huge amount of bourbon on the nose, but nevertheless, I'm picking up considerable milk chocolate, vanialla, a hint of leather and light bourbon. Not a lot of coffee in this one, but nevertheless, the nose is attractive. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this moderately sweet beer. and while the mouthfeel is a bit thin I thought, there is still a very attractive soft, plush, almost creamy consistency to this beer. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, and so drinkability is quite good in this beer. Had no trouble whatsoever downing a bomber during the Sunday night football game.

Nice beer... not sure it's up there with Parabola or some of the anniversary beers FW has done, but it's still a nice enough beer. (845 characters)

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev -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. (375 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First vintage poured in to FW tulip.

A - Pitch black with a half finger of light brown head and excellent lacing.

S - Huge barrel aromas dominate the nose. Charred oak, sweet bourbon & vanilla, chocolate fudge and roast aromas are all present.

T - Intense charred oak up front with sweet bourbon and vanilla flavours also coming through in a massive barrel presence. Chocolate fudge, roast and the slightest hint of coffee are also present.

M - Medium body. Light carbonation. (480 characters)

Photo of Axnjxn
4.36/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle into a snifter.

pours a pitch black with a great beige head. smell is insanely chocolatey and bourbony..wow! taste is so so smooth with chocolate, roasted malts and just a tad of bourbon on the back end. the oats are also very present! real impressive and drinkablity is huge. medium bodied and so so smooth.

overall love this one. fw is amazing. (362 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Midnight brown with ruby highlights. Nice yellowed paper head has nice retention and lace.

S - Awesome nose. Huge toasted oatmeal aroma. Bread crust, touch of dark roast coffee beans, rum raisin.

T - Vanilla, cream, porridge, caramel, cognac, marzipan, woody booze, birch beer.

M - Soft, medium-full frame.

O - A stellar oatmeal beer. Firestone walker is tough to beat. (378 characters)

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
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. (681 characters)

Photo of Gobzilla
4.24/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured an almost dark as night as black in color with a thin brown head and left some good lacing sticking to the head.

S: lots of chocolatey goodness was detectable on the first whiff with lots of malty sweetness, caramel, vanilla, bourbon booze, and traces of oatmeal grains.

T: the oatmeal grains were more apperent on the taste alongside, bourbon oaky character, tons of chocolatey flavor, hints of carmel and vanilla accents.

M: the brew was full to medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, oaky, boozy bourbon, chocolatey, silky finish.

O: I definitely thought it was way better than the original version on the flavor and had a nice intoxicating aroma as well. (705 characters)

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 255 ratings.