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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,476 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,476
Reviews: 203
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: 9.79%
Wants: 291
Gots: 528 | FT: 98
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Oatmeal stout aged in a >10 year old Heaven Hill bourbon barrel.

(Beer added by: t0rin0 on 11-20-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,476 | Reviews: 203 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of smithj2154
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%

smithj2154, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of stakem
4/5  rDev -6.8%

stakem, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of deschutes_fan
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

deschutes_fan, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of PalatePilot
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

PalatePilot, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of akang
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

akang, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of justwork
4/5  rDev -6.8%

justwork, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of Prager62
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Prager62, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of CoolEthan
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

CoolEthan, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of SocalKicks
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

SocalKicks, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of NurseBri
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

NurseBri, Oct 07, 2013
Photo of Birdlegs
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

Birdlegs, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of Docrock
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Docrock, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of Brandywine
3.8/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First bottling. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Little over two fingers of a tan, tight bubbled head. Black with a hint of dark red at the bottom of the glass. Sticky alcohol legs.

Smell: Coffee, roasted notes, oak, faint alcohol, vague dark fruit, bakers chocolate, bourbon is subtle.

Taste: Milk chocolate, vanilla bean, oak, smoke, char, bourbon.

Mouthfeel: On the full side of medium. Super fine carbonation feels like nitro.

Overall: On the one hand I appreciate that Firestone is offering us a barrel aged beer at a relatively low ABV. Instead of drinking a beer exploding with flavor enhanced by the barrel, Velvet Merkin puts the barrel center stage. It's like licking the inside of a bourbon barrel, which is awesome. On the other hand the lower ABV results in a mouthfeel that leaves something to be desired and a lack of robust stout character, which is smothered by the barrel.

Brandywine, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of timc100
4.28/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cola coffee dark brown, yields a substantial creamy dark beige head - really great looking beer. Aroma of oak vanilla, milk chocolate, bitter dark chocolate, and a wonderful graham cracker and toasted coconut. Taste is much of the same but with less vibrancy. Outrageously creamy smooth mouthfeel. Another great firestone barrel malt concoction.

timc100, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of Beardcore
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Beardcore, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of Crazydaddyo
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Crazydaddyo, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of johnnyboy76
3.75/5  rDev -12.6%

johnnyboy76, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of artoolemomo
3.65/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance- Pours up a finger or two of head but it dissipates rather quickly. The head is a dark beige/ mocha while the body is a dark chocolate black. A few spots of lacing. Repours show substantial sheeting above the brim.

Nose- A little disappointing. I guess that this is typical of an oatmeal stout but after drinking KBS, I want more delicious scents. Slight caramel and chocolate from the bottle. Faint hint of smoke and roasted malts but this is so faint I feel like I'm making it up.

Taste- Fortunately, this is much richer than anything that the nose indicated. Bourbon and oak hits you first. It would seem that an oatmeal stout is too plain a canvas to bourbon barrel age; it seems dominated at this point. Heavy notes of oak and vanilla. Some coffee notes but they seem to be more an expression of the oak more than anything else. I wish there were more alcohol in the actual beer to press up against the bourbon presence. Hints of tobacco. Some chocolate but it seems to be overwhelmed by the vanilla and oak. I do appreciate that this is not an oak bomb but the barrel aging seems to disrupt the sublimity of the oatmeal stout style. This seems to be more reminiscent of DDBA rather than Abacus, Parabola, and the Anniversary beers. Some licorice and cinnamon. If you're going to use an oatmeal stout for this type of beer, I think you need a bigger malt bill. And I almost never crave a bigger malt bill. In each drink, I'm trying to search for more depth, for an inkling of the oatmeal stout that it once was- oh, Velvet Merlin, what have they done to you? I think I would rather have that beer. The deep bourbon and oak only make me wish that I was drinking the real thing. Or the easygoing Merlin. Still a good beer and a solid beer but in no way, a 15 dollar beer. I don't think Parabola or Abacus cost that much. Why should this? It does mellow a bit and reveal a slight cherry note. Starts to show some raisin.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied but a little thin for the style. Some grittiness but really not enough.

Drinkability- Lots of bourbon. The patinage of alcohol makes this a little more formidable than some of its higher gravity semblables. But even if it were 20 percent and had this flavor profile, I would still want my money back. It's at 40 percent where the money worries seem to dissolve. I could almost buy a bottle of Bulleit for this price, however.

Overall- Good, solid beer but in reality, this is a failure. I appreciate the fact that FW has to charge this price because it's been on barrels for x amount of time. What I don't appreciate is the fact that they didn't choose a beer robust enough to stand up to the treatment. My complaint is measured though- my enjoyment of their beers surpass my slight disappointment with this beer and DDBA. I will still buy their next barrel aged. Unless it's a pilsner. Fuck that. (Although I do wonder what a barrel aged imperial pilsner/IPL might taste like. Oh, oak. Yeah, I get it now.)

artoolemomo, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of aquazr1
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

aquazr1, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of ArchEnemyBrew
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

ArchEnemyBrew, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of admonster00
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%

admonster00, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of vic21234
4.48/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. 2013 Vintage Batch 1.

A- Pours dark with a small amount of light visible along the top. A half finger worth of khaki colored head sticks around for awhile and diminishes to the sides of the glass.

S- Chocolate, dark fruits, and bourbon are most prevalent. This is a nice smelling beer.

T- Chocolate and espresso/ coffee bring out the front of the taste, before nice bourbon and oak characters come through. Complex beer for sure.

M- Body is actually on the lighter side I'd say for a BBA beer. Drinks quite hot initially for only 8.5% ABV but very flavorful and complex.

I love all of Firestone's Barrel Aged beers and this one continues my liking. A great beer and one to pick up an extra of and age.

vic21234, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of MattSlem
4.75/5  rDev +10.7%

MattSlem, Oct 04, 2013
Photo of Jules11788
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

Jules11788, Oct 04, 2013
Photo of jeff1973
4.14/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Stone IRS tulip. Bottled in 9/13, so around a month old? Bought at Whole Foods Newport Beach for $14.99.

A - Pitch black, no sign of red on the edges. Khaki head leaves nice lacing. Looks thick.

S - Slight vanilla and coconut. Followed by a milk chocolate and slightly ashy smell. Smell is not overwhelming.

T - Great balance. Smooth, creamy milk chocolate w/ a nice vanilla and coconut finish. Everything is subtle and blends really nicely.

M - Medium to full mouthfeel. Very smooth and creamy. Medium low carbonation that fits the style.

O - Really nice beer. The smell is a little muted, but the taste and mouthfeel make this a great beer. The price is a little steep for the enjoyment factor, but I would still categorize this a "great" beer.

jeff1973, Oct 04, 2013
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,476 ratings.