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
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Reviews: 253
Hads: 1,981
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 9.29%
Wants: 361
Gots: 775 | FT: 130
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: 253 | Hads: 1,981
Photo of cbutova
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Poured from the 22oz bomber to two snifters with Chico1985. Pitch black body with a fairly oily appearance as it pours to the glass. Off-white head rises to about a finger high with a creamy texture. Frothy ring leaves a web of lace with mostly spotty patches.

S- Right as it was poured, the chocolate and oatmeal stout base leads the way with deep roast malts and sweet chocolate, reminds me of a muffin with the toasted oatmeal feel. With some time, the barrel opens up with a smooth, quality whiskey aroma and oak vanilla.

T- Opens up with the Bourbon barrel coming to the palate first. Reminds me of Elijah Craig range of Bourbon flavors with some peppery hints coming with the toast oak and vanilla sweetness. The chocolate malts and oatmeal combine to remind me of baked goods, ala muffins or cookies. Deep roast grains. It all comes together to create a decadent dessert feel that trumps many higher alcohol stouts in overall flavor.

MF- Moderately thick body with slightly creamy texture. Carbonation at a medium level which helps because the body is not super oily like bigger stouts. Oatmeal adds that chewy silkiness. Slight Bourbon warming in the finish but just a tiny bit.

Pretty huge fan of what this beer brings to the table. It is like a chocolate oatmeal cookie with a dollop of vanilla Bourbon frosting on top at times. The oatmeal side of things is impressive and it isn't just a roast bomb. Great balance is the key to this brew. (1,457 characters)

Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from the Parabola release in May

Pours deep brown black with thin ring of tan head.

Relatively subtle aromas of bourbon, chocolate and roasted malt.

Interesting addition of borrbon to an oatmeal stout. Maintains the character of an oatmeal while adding bourbon and a nice amount of vanilla.

Very creamy mouthfeel. Feels like on nitro but I don’t think it is. Slightly thin.

Easy drinking flavorful barrel-aged oatmeal. Glad I got to try this. (456 characters)

Photo of TX-Badger
4.46/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with khaki colored head. Bourbon, roasted malt, and oak on the nose; follows onto the palate, with some coconut and oats. Finishes with a little sweetness and bourbon. (186 characters)

Photo of popery
3.57/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap at City Beer Store in San Francisco.

I don't know anything about this beer besides a vague awareness of some internet hype, and for some reason, the store listed the abv as 10%, which I'm very glad to see is incorrect. I would like to try the non-barrel aged version for a point of comparison and highly recommend seeking out a cask version. I can imagine thoroughly enjoying the beer served from a cask, but on tap, something was off for me. The beer pours an opaque dark-brown with highlighting along the edges of the glass. For a decidedly unhelpful point of comparison, it was nearly a dead-on match for 21st Amendment's Back in Black. The aroma, unlike the flavor, was fantastic. There are notes of chocolate, coffee, roasty malt, dry oak and a well-balanced bourbon flavor that meshed very well unlike some bourbon barrel-aged beers. The taste had all of these flavors, but they were far more muted. The bourbon flavor became almost watery. The feel may have been the real culprit. It was much too thin for a stout, much less a barrel-aged stout. A cask would likely bring out the creamy lush mouthfeel of the oatmeal stout. At any rate, it was still a good beer, and they get points for not overwhelming a relatively small stout with bourbon barrel-aging. So, seek it out in a cask if you can. (1,315 characters)

Photo of dar482
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | 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.

The beer is barely fitting of the Firestone Walker name. It lacks body most importantly, and a bit of flavor. The smooth barrel notes exist, but the complete picture is just not there. (398 characters)

Photo of Gmann
3.82/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chocolate brown color, near black. The beer has a short tan head that settles into a light ring.

The aroma is sweet from the bourbon. Smooth oatmeal stout notes. Nice under current of caramel and vanilla. The aroma is not super strong but it is also not overpoweringly boozy.

The taste is of a smooth oatmeal stout with some milk chocolate notes and a smidge of roasted bitterness. The bourbon is light and bring caramel and vanilla to the table. Some wood notes in the end.

The feel is light with fizzy carbonation. Sweet on the palate overall but finishes quite dry. Slightly sticky in the finish.

Some nice flavors but the stout seems to fall a little short. It is too dry for my liking and could use a touch more bourbon. (742 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1540th Review on BA
Nitro-Tap to 6oz snifter

@Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA

App- When the server poured this, the whole glass seemed to look like a cotton ball and he said dont worry. He was right. As things settled the beer became a very flat looking dull brown but retained the creamy white frothy head on top. A liquid reverse oreo if you will. The whole glass had some good sticky cling to it.

Smell- Its got the base for sure of Velvet Merkin. The rich oats, the little bit of malts and the little bit of bitter hoppy & chocolate for balance. Except this kicks it to another level and adds the bourbon, boozy notes. A little unbalanced on the aromatics but still a very nice smelling beer.

Taste- Like a oreo. So smooth with a big burst of grainular cookie crust. The malts tie this together with a rich oatmeal flavor but yet with the addition of the bourbon its a phenomal beer. Decadent and rich with bursts of bourbon and cookie with each sip. Would be amazing if this were bottled.

Mouth- Big and chewy with a low carbonation level. Super smooth and rich. The bourbon that I mentioned before is the residual flavors with a flaky oatmeal and cocoa powder addition.

Drink- Hot damn, this was a great beer. Another one where I said, "Really? this is on Nitro today" What a great detour. (1,303 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a very deep dark brown, pretty much black in the glass and topped with a finger of khaki head.

Smell. Sweet milk chocolate, vanilla and bourbon and some fresh barrel wood.

Taste. Sweet milk chocolate again and bourbon ...but not in an overpowering boozy way, just some nice added flavour. Some oak and vanilla but the flavours aren't as big as I anticipated considering the brewer.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with smooth medium-low carbonation. Again, not nearly as big as I was expecting just based on the brewer's history of these type of beers.

Ovearall. A very nice beer but not as outstanding as many of FW's releases. (647 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
4.46/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter. 2013 batch 1.

A: Pours a thick near-black color with a thin but dense and creamy looking light brown head that slowly faded into a fuzzy film and thick collar. Thick patches of lacing was left down the glass.
S: Rich a decadent nose with dominating notes of bourbon barrel. The bourbon is not hot, but it is definitely prominent. Behind the booze I get creamy scents of toasted oats and sweet milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, and caramelized sugar. Rich and smooth smelling.
T: Extremely rich and smooth flavors of creamy toasted oats, lightly sweet chocolate milk, and touch of caramel. The finish is full of vanilla and extremely smooth and mellow bourbon, and the aftertaste has a touch of raisin, toasted marshmallow, and more bourbon barrel spices.
M: Super smooth and rich mouthfeel, full creamy body, thick and mellow carbonation. This drinks like an awesome milkshake.
O: One of the best Firestone products to date, and probably the best oatmeal stout I’ve had. Super smooth and integrated fresh out of the bottle. Definitely need to go grab a few more of these. (1,109 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
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. (805 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
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. (351 characters)

Photo of Stevedore
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle of Batch 001, thanks to Shaun for bringing this bottle over. And thanks to Dustin who hooked him up. Poured into a Three Floyds' teku glass today, 10/15/2013.

Review #241.

Pours a pitch black body, with a bubbly and not particularly thick or foamy off-white head that dissipates quickly. Looks like a stout to me. Nothing weird abut it.

Smells interesting, just hints of sweet bourbon and coconut, a bit of the underlying chocolate and toffee but not a whole lot else. No vanilla. But it reminds me quite a bit of Parabola but everything is muted.

We drank this as the first stout of the night so I think my palate is judging this beer fairly. It's mostly hints of sweet bourbon and coconut. I really don't get a whole lot of the typical oatmeal stout flavour profiles- no chocolate, vanilla, coffee, umami. In the end this beer feels like its meant to deliver a muted, watered down bourbon barrel experience.

Creamy, rich, full-bodied stout. Good carbonation. Dangerously drinkable and smooth.

Either my bourbon barrel stout palate is ruined after drinking CW Black Gold and Sixteen last Saturday, or this beer is just missing a lot of things. It's got a much better mouthfeel than Parabola does, but its lacking any kind of intensity. In the end I felt it is a drinkable, smooth oatmeal stout that lost a lot of whatever the base beer had to offer after spending time in barrels. (1,395 characters)

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. (677 characters)

Photo of notchucknorris
4.09/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep brown color with a thin light brown head. Leaves some nice spotty lace down the glass.

S: Roasted malt, freshly ground medium roast coffee, milk chocolate and some vanilla all laced with a mild touch of whiskey.

T: Opens with a smooth hit of milk chocolate sweetness. Chocolate cake, roasted malt and chocolate milkshake. Finishes with just a hint of whiskey, vanilla and the barest hint of charred oak. Good flavors, but the mouthfeel just doesn't do this beer justice. Very thin with just a hint of creaminess from the oats. Parabola light is a good description. Very light. (596 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
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. (1,031 characters)

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Nick Swinford for the 22 oz bottle! Poured into a wine glass; from yesterday.

A: Pours a very dark brown color; it certainly doesn't have the opacity of other big 8%+ stouts. There's a finger worth of light mocha colored head. The retention is poor and minimal lacing is left behind.

S: At first, the aroma is quite mild - this one needs time to open up. Once it does, though, it brings notes of bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and oats.

T: The best part of the brew. It starts off with a one-two combination of vanilla and chocolate on the taste buds. Gradually, it will develop some mild oat flavor, then transition straight into pure bourbon. A touch of alcohol burn is prevalent in conjunction with the bourbon/oak note, but it's hardly bothersome. The bourbon - while showcased well - more or less swallows the base brew whole. I could use more complexity as well.

M: Very thin, almost intolerably so - it feels genuinely insubstantial. There's nice carbonation to bring the flavors to the palate, though. The finish is sweet, sticky, long, and tannic; it's an easy brew to sip at least.

O: This isn't a bad beer at all. But given it's reputation and semi-rarity, it should have been better. It's thin and simplistic - two things I don't want from a barrel-aged offering. Honestly, I think I'd like the regular Velvet Merlin more...but we don't get that in Maryland (seriously, WTF? Maryland gets all the barrel-aged offerings from FW, but not Pivo Pils or Velvet Merlin?) (1,499 characters)

Photo of msubulldog25
4.27/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The barrel-aged version of Velvet Merkin (name = LOL), served at Holiday Ale Festival 2008 (Portland, OR). The program description: 'A rich oatmeal stout 25% aged in bourbon barrels blended back to the original batch. ABV 5.5%'. I enjoyed this twice on-tap - once the first evening (Wed 12/3) and again as a first pour on Sat 12/7.

A: Head is sudsy/creamy khaki, maybe 1/2 finger. Liquid is a deep charcoal with a notable carbonation. Speckled lace and a clinging ring of cream.

S: Full aroma of cocoa, chocolate, a toasty breadiness (pumpernickel?), light coffee and a sweetened cereal grain. A faint oakiness, woody and sweet.

T: Husky malts, rich roastedness, sweetened coffee (milk & sugar). hints powdered spice (cinnamon?) and a subtle woodiness.

M: S-m-o-o-o-o-t-h! Creamy and soothing mouthfeel; medium body. 'Velvet'y? Yes! A slight grit, or this could be a '5'.

D: Super drinkable. Soft feel, excellent flavor, bold aroma - everything one could want in an 'oatmeal stout', with the partial barrel-aging as an added bonus. Good enough to drink several times at a festival, but one that I'd hope will be making an appearance soon in a bar near us. (1,161 characters)

Photo of srandycarter
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this at a Firestone Walker tasting at Blind Lady over the weekend. It is not retired and there is a difference between the Merlin and the Merkin. Merlin is not barrel aged and is available in bottles. Merkin is BAed and is not available in bottle.

A - No head, dark, almost black, with amber notes.

S - cocoa, roasted malt, light wood.

T - Chocolate chip cookies, burnt coffee, bitter end.

M - Medium to heavy body, heavy bitter, slightly chaulky finish.

D - Though low ABV, flavors are huge palate killers and I would tire fast. (538 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ FoBAB.

A: pour dark brown, pretty much identical to the base beer, decent retention, creamy head

S: like the base beer, this is an excellent aromatic showcase of roasted barley, this is paired with vanilla, cream, and mellow chocolate.

T: vanilla shows up front with mellow oak qualities, this is followed by chocolate and roasted malt, great balance, very smooth flavors

MF: somewhat thin but on par for a 5.5% oatmeal stout, medium carbonation

O: this is a great drinkable barrel aged stout. There aren't a whole lot of barrel aged stouts with such a low ABV, this one pulls it off nicely (605 characters)

Photo of MacQ32
4.51/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - almost motor oil black with a minimal chocolate head, weak retention and OK lacing

S - Tons of sweet chocolate, smokey/almost roasty aromas. Lots and lots of oats. Tons of dry okay aromas and a wallop of bourbon

T - Sweet milk stout with tons of great oat flavor. Swear vanilla sweet bourbon flavor, lots of oak.

M - perfectly smooth. Minimal carbonation, thick, very warming combines with a great balanced but bkurbony flavor profile to form an incredibly nice drinking brew (482 characters)

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

Had this on 2012-12-08 at TJ's pub in Paoli, PA for their 9th anniversary celebration.

A - Black or very dark brown with a 1/2-finger dark tan head and mild lacing.

S - Dark roasted grain, spice, light bourbon, coconut.

T - Rich medium-dark roasted grain, toasted oats, coconut, vanilla, illusion of chocolate, bourbon. Nice amount of bitterness in the finish. Delicious.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Not overly creamy.

O - A very fine oatmeal stout although I like Founders Breakfast Stout a little more. (515 characters)

Photo of Floydster
4.01/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at Blue Palms out of the handpump for seven dollars, reviewed from notes

A-Practically black color but the edges are lighter for sure, so very dark brown, 1 1/4 inch full frothy medium tan head that lasted three or four minutes, nice retention, some lacing
S-Main smell at first is the bourbon and the slightly spicy scents that come from it, also lots of oak and vanilla, it has milk chocolate, roasted malts, cream, and grains as well
T-It starts off a little sweet with some cocoa, there is some light coffee in the middle, bourbon notes are in the finish with lots more vanilla than expected, like the slight twang and spice from the whiskey too, flavors mold together with this one well and I can really see why this mixed so well with a dark Belgian in a previous blend, nicely balanced and a flavorful oatmeal stout
M-Slightly dry, roasty, and faintly sweet mouthfeel, thinner body out of the cask but still medium, carbonation is obviously minimal, taste lingers
D-Could have drank lots more of this stuff, light on the stomach, smooth and very easy to drink for an oatmeal stout, could even make a session beer, taste does not get tiresome

I was excited to try this after having Saucerful of Merkin and wanting to know what those two components tasted like by themselves, this beer is right around six percent alcohol supposedly but it feels even lighter than that at times, would like to drink again, recommended (1,444 characters)

Photo of KYGunner
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The nose has a light lactose-sweetness with fresh brewed coffee, some caramel and toffee, oats and lots of chocolate.

This is a chocolate bomb at first sip, thick and creamy. It opens late with bourbon, oats, cream, vanilla, chocolate, coconut and a ribbon of toffee.

FW nails this as they always do! (303 characters)

Photo of arizcards
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber Reserve Series 001 from BevMo on 10-12-13 for $14.99. Bottled on 8/23/13.

Beer poured cola brown with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is wonderful, chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon.

Taste is bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is disappointing, light to medium bodied and not overly smooth.

Overall this brew rocks! With the flavor and nose one expects a viscous brew but other than that this is worthy of trying if you can scarce up a bottle. (507 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)

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