Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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273 Reviews
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Reviews: 273
Hads: 2,034
Avg: 4.24
pDev: 26.42%
Wants: 369
Gots: 833 | FT: 131
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: 273 | Hads: 2,034
Photo of LordofWord
3.45/5  rDev -18.6%
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.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

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.

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Photo of WesMantooth
3.64/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

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Photo of FLima
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -12.3%
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...)

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Photo of larryi86
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of themind
2.92/5  rDev -31.1%
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.

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Photo of pmangold
4.58/5  rDev +8%
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.

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of LouZ
4.6/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

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Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev -5.7%

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.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.6/5  rDev -15.1%

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.

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Photo of CaliforniaJohnson
5/5  rDev +17.9%

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

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.

Vanilla, Irish creme, cocoa.

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.

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

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

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Photo of Kinsman
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of MjBrewhouse
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

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.

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Photo of GilGarp
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

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.

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Photo of thebigredone
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

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.

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Photo of Flight317
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

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!

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Photo of KevinA107
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

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.

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Photo of unitypunk
5/5  rDev +17.9%

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!

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Photo of macher0
4.59/5  rDev +8.3%

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.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of dahlen22
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

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!!

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Photo of n2185
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

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.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.