Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 1,274 | Reviews: 175 | Display Reviews Only:
4.53/5 rDev +5.6%
Poured from 22oz bomber into snifter with a decent half inch head, off white, that settled rather quickly. Color is a dark black but seems to have somewhat of a brownish hue.
Aroma is awesome, roasted malt, vanilla, a hint of bourbon and some oak
Taste has a nice complexion, some chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, toffee, a tad bit boozy but not really getting any noticeable bourbon
Mouthfeel is very smooth to start, low carbonation, creamy, medium body, a bit cloying finish
Overall -this is the best Oatmeal Stout I've had! I actually haven't even had Velvit Merlin before, I need to find some of that. It's great to have a bourbon barrel beer that I can drink the whole bomber without getting drunk. Wish I was able to get more than one.
10-25-2013 23:44:58 | More by maxcoinage
4.26/5 rDev -0.7%
I'm glad it was easy to score a bottle of this, unlike the case with the Parabola hyped fiasco. Interestingly enough, this cost the same price ($15), but I still had high hopes for it. Anytime FW releases anything barrel aged I'll expect it to be, at the very least, an excellent, memorable offering. Poured out of a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. Split with a friend.
Pours a nearly opaque blackened color (with some mere lightened brownish hues at the edges of the glass), complete with a lovely mocha colored head. Head retention is, as far as I'm concerned, pretty excellent here, as it lasted pretty much the entire time we drank this. Leaves behind a good deal of splattered lacing across the glass. I believe that this is slightly bottle conditioned as well, which would explain the excellent thickened appearance that a beer of relatively lower ABV levels than their other barrel aged offerings would contain. Still, excellent stuff as always, if only a little less refined.
The aroma is terrific - on par with any amazing bourbon aged and blended stout I've had. Notes of bourbon immediately hit the nose, with vanilla and brown sugar as the main flavors. Then, the stout base comes in, with flavors ranging from cocoa powder, coffee beans, oatmeal, caramel, and almonds. There's minimal dried fruits in this one, and the most we could find was maybe dates or prunes. Still, the powdery consistency of the chocolate is astonishing, often smelling like the actual freshly ground product. Combined with the nutty, baking spice notes from the oak, as well as bits of dust and mild cedar, this is a premier stout to be reckoned with in terms of quality and originality. A little boozy even here, but otherwise fantastic.
The flavor is also excellent, and while it is a pleasure to drink, it's not without its faults during long-term consumption. At first, the palate is immediately coated with bourbon notes, ranging from vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and brown sugar. The sweetness is almost immediately cut by the roasted, oat laden stout notes that provide chocolate, ground espresso, toasted oats, and dark fruit flavors to the palate. The bourbon enhances the roasted stout notes with slight dark dried cherries as well as nutmeg, mild coconut, baking soda, and a little bit of those dusty barrel qualities. Quite good stuff - yet, somehow, the alcohol makes itself a little bit more present throughout, almost to the point where it tastes like someone poured cheap bourbon into my stout when I wasn't looking. The burn becomes stronger as it warms up, and the beer, alas, starts to feel thinner. On one hand, this does retain the great qualities of top English and Irish dry stouts in terms of flavor, but I feel a little bit more body would reduce the boozy harshness. Who would have thought that a lower ABV variant of Parabola would be boozier? Great stuff as always, but seriously not as refined as I expected.
I don't tend to drink boozy beers, but I do love it when the extra alcohol provides a thickness and sweetness that compliments but doesn't overpower the flavors at the front. I really enjoyed it overall and I'd gladly have it again, but it might be a little overpriced for what it actually is. This goes to show how the bourbon chosen for the stout makes a huge difference. And maybe it's just me, but I personally believe that Four Roses (used for Parabola) is most definitely a more refined bourbon maker than Old Fitzgerald. However, I'm not going to sit and complain - I recommend this as it is an excellent barrel aged offering from FW, if only a little boozier than I usually like it.
10-25-2013 18:02:37 | More by magictacosinus
4.58/5 rDev +6.8%
Served from a 22 oz bomber into a Firestone Walker Barrelworks Teku glass.
Appearance - black as pitch with a 1 1/2 finger cream head that quickly dissipated to a ring around the glass. Small amounts of lacing.
Aroma - Smooth oak and vanilla notes. The touch of barrel is very nice.
Taste - Smooth milk chocolate and vanilla right up front, middle and finish remind me of a slightly underdone in the middle brownie. Liquid brownie has a nice ring to it eh? ;-) Middle also has more of the oak barrel and slight bourbon notes.
Mouthfeel - despite the thin look of it, very medium bodied and creamy mouthfeel from the oatmeal
Overall - this beer is the easiest to drink of all the barrel aged Proprietor's Series offerings from Firestone Walker. I like to call this one "Parabola Light", as it is definitely the baby brother of that fantastic beer. You just can't go wrong when FW puts anything in a barrel then bottles it. Definitely a fantastic BA oatmeal stout.
10-25-2013 01:27:40 | More by bnelson997
4.53/5 rDev +5.6%
Poured from bottle into snifter.
A-Much what you'd find from an oatmeal stout. Thick head dissipates quickly leaving just a peppering of haze that lays upon the surface. Solid outside ring leaves the walls coated as the beer is consumed.
S-Very muted tones of bourbon and oak muddled with a slight smokiness. Hop aromas are replaced with deep notes of grapes, currant, and figs.
T-When served cold, the beer presents an almost bitter character that is surprising. Leave it sit for a half hour and it will open and present itself to you. Nothing is overpowering here. A very balanced mix of porridge, maple, anise, and smoke.
M-A bit thin, although to be expected from a lighter bodied oatmeal stout. Carbonation may seem heavier to those familiar with the barrel aged category. In the end, Velvet Merkin leaves little bitterness left in your mouth.
O-A valid effort by FW. Those looking for it to rise through the ranks like Parabola, Black Note, KBS, etc. may be disappointed. In a world full of bazooka barrel aged stouts, Velvet Merkin is comfortable being a "session" amongst giants.
10-24-2013 20:38:21 | More by kylelenk
3.81/5 rDev -11.2%
A - Black like night, with a head that dissapates quickly. It pours beautifly.
S- smells of oak and bourbon and roasted malt. Super aromatic
T- I was underwhelmed. For an oatmeal stout, it wasn't as creamy as I had hoped, and it was a little too astringent. Maybe a little over carbed or too much hop? Either way, I didn't feel the body held up very well. Had a "cola" flavor that I couldn't shake. The oak and bourbon came through nicely.
M - See Above. I thought it was a little too thin. Its only 8.5%, but I expected a little more body and creaminess from an oatmeal stout.
O - I enjoyed it. I wouldn't buy it again though. FW does some great stuff, but this wasn't a must have for me. Still, it's better than so many things out there.
10-22-2013 20:34:07 | More by prior2two
3.74/5 rDev -12.8%
Poured from a bottle into a snifter.
A - Pours an opaque dark-brown with a one-finger head of fluffy khaki foam, with large and small bubbles. Impressive patches of lacing.
S - Medium strength aroma of wood, bourbon, burnt cocoa, a little dark fruit comes out as it warms.
T - Toasted oats, smoke, pipe tobacco, prunes, and oak. Extremely smooth. Not as rich or robust as I was expecting, as a it seems like a lot of the chocolate/sweet aspects in the base beer (Velvet Merlin) have been lost in the aging process.
M - Thin body with very low carbonation. Could use a little thicker body, in my opinion.
O - A very smooth barrel aged beer and obviously well made but lacked pizazz. Personally my tastes tend toward the sweeter and more decadent stouts, and I feel a richer base beer would have added a little more balance to the bitterness from the wood aging. Still a decent product.
10-22-2013 05:09:11 | More by TempeBeerMan
3.84/5 rDev -10.5%
Was excited to pick one of these up.
Appearance: Pours a thin-ish bodied dark brown color with about 1" of khaki colored head. Retention is good, and lacing is nice as well. Pretty nice looking beer, just a bit thin for the style.
Smell: Dusty cocoa and bitter dark chocolate scents come to mind immediately. Underneath that, a bit of barrel shows as well. A bit of woodiness, a bit of vanilla, and even less of a hint of bourbon. Nothing too crazy or overbearing, just very nice balance.
Taste: Tastes akin to a brownie in many ways. Cocoa and milk chocolate sweetness, with dark chocolate and perhaps a bit of coffee bitterness. Also, something that I did not catch on the nose in a hint of dark fruits. Again, the barrel is understated, with hints of barrel, vanilla and bourbon.
Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is really my only gripe. Can't really describe it any other way than thin, with pretty high carbonation. I think this beer gets exponentially better with a bigger body. Overall, a really enjoyable beer that does not drink near its 8.5% ABV. Nice balanced flavors, with an appropriate amount of barrel that complements the beer nicely. Again, a heavier body would really bump my review score on this, but as is, a pretty nice beer that is certainly worth a try.
10-22-2013 02:33:32 | More by zhanson88
4.24/5 rDev -1.2%
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.
10-21-2013 14:37:23 | More by John_M
4.19/5 rDev -2.3%
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.
10-21-2013 05:35:28 | More by mactrail
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,274 ratings.