Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

253 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 253
Hads: 1,980
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 9.29%
Wants: 361
Gots: 773 | 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: 1,980
Photo of GJ40
4.2/5  rDev 0%

Beautiful with a big black color and a sturdy tan head. Awesome aroma with bourbon, vanilla and cane sugar. Smooth flavors follow led by a well behaved bourbon aspect. Maybe a little thin for a bigger oatmeal stout. But I really enjoyed this one. (247 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 hopsputin
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: dark black with some murky brown notes coming from the bottom. small finger beige head that fades rather quickly and leaves some bubbles on top

s: milk chocolate, tons of oats, sweet vanilla, coconut, almonds, toffee, bourbon soaked prunes, raisins, and a smooth hint of bourbon. i am admittedly not a huge fan of bourbon barrel aged beers, but this smells incredible

t: creamy oats, lots of milk chocolate, sweet toasted malt, coconuts, vanilla, raisins, chocolate syrup, decadent fudge, caramel, and a hint of oak. everything in this is so smooth, and blends so well together. each flavor melts into the next very nicely. also call me freaking crazy, but i feel like i taste some cucumber in here. i have no idea why, i know its insane to think

m: medium - actually not as heavy as i expected. light carbonation. its got a rich, silky mouthfeel

o: what i like best about this is that the bourbon is not overwhelming. all the nice oatmeal stout flavors are allowed to shine, and the bourbon is there to cut some of the sweetness. this is definitely a sipper, and would be a great beer to share amongst friends (1,117 characters)

Photo of mactrail
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
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 t0rin0
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
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 AdamF625
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A- dark muddy brown pour with a two finger khaki head, settles black with a milky lacing
S- toasted oats, bourbon, honey, vanilla, hot cacao, bit of brown sugar
T- milk chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla, honey, oats
M- medium body and carbonation, tilts towards the creamy side, dry on the finish.
O- very smooth and drinkable for a bourbon barrel aged beer. Take it for what's it worth, an oatmeal stout. Lacks complexity but doesn't need it. (443 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
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 Vixie
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown, only light getting through is on the edges. Not a large head, not the darkest beer I have seen, but not much light through it either.

Lot going on in the smell department. It starts out a bit candy like, with chocolate, caramel, coconut, and a hint of alcohol.

Very complex beer. Tastes a lot like it smells, there's chocolate, coffee, caramel, coconut, vanilla, and a slight booziness at the finish.

The feel is smooth, but not quite as thick as I was expecting.

Definitely a nice beer here. It has a nice smell with a taste to match. For being a big beer, it goes down easy, I'd easily drink more of this. (636 characters)

Photo of stx00lax
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking a 32oz growler to myself. Weeee!

A- Looks a bit thin as it pours into my glass, light khaki lacing around the edges.

S- Smells like a mellow, aged version of Merlin, light barrel aroma.

T- Very good. pretty straight forward, light roast and chocolate without being too complex. the barrel is perfectly integrated letting you taste Velvet merlin with a subtle lingering vanilla-bourbon presence at the finish.

M- A bit thin, but nicely carbonated and not too hot. Still full bodied.

O- If you like Velvet Merlin, you will like this. Its not as amazing as parabola, but still a great example of the fine barrel-aging Firestone does. very enjoyable (659 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 jlindros
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
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 Samuel906
4.14/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Well, I feel honored to have the first review of the first bottle release of Velvet Merkin ever, something I have been looking forward to a lot longer than I'd like to admit. And here it is, straight from the brewery in Paso Robles, Batch No. 001, 2013.

First, a note on appearance going beyond just the pour: I really like what Firestone has done this past year and for most of their reserve and limited releases. The box design and bottle design has been very consistent with the only major change between brews being color accents. It makes their bottle collections look very handsome and tasteful.

As for the beer... Pours black, very black, with only some minor hints of reddish tinge on the fringes when light is shown through. Light khaki head with some retention; no effervescing visible.

The smell... mmmm the smell. My very first impression was a breakfast setting of coffee and oats, rich and full. Further inspection will reveal coconut, graham crackers, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Being able to smell the toasted fresh grains is delightful. One of my new favorite smelling beers; I seriously just sniffed for a good 10 minutes before diving in any further.

The tune changes a bit for me once we start drinking unfortunately. I'm going to skip right to mouthfeel because it was the fist thing I noticed. It is very, very thin and watery and not what you may expect from an Imperial Stout. Carbonation is light. But don't despair, the full rich flavor makes up somewhat for what the body lacks.

When they say bourbon barrel aged, they aren't kidding. Aged bourbon is going to be at the forefront of the flavor cascade. Vanilla, oak, chocolate, with a strong oat background that finishes strong. Not super-complex, but the flavors all work to complement the bourbon leaving you with the lingering warmth that spirit typifies.

Overall, a terrific beer with my only real qualm being that it is much too thin. A must try for any Firestone enthusiast, bourbon enthusiast, or fan of the style. (2,007 characters)

Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
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. (1,492 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014-12-28
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. (413 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 charlzm
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Consumed October 9th, 2013. Poured into a tulip at 50 degrees F.

Beer is deep, deep, deep brown... okay, maybe it's black. Two finger tan head forms and subsides with reasonable rapidity. Traces of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Bitter chocolate and raw alcohol. A dash of oatmeal and wood as well.

Flavor - Unexpectedly sweet up front. Oatmeal is more a texture than a flavor, though a trace shows up. Modest chocolate maltiness. Trace of wood. Bourbon is apparent more as heat than as flavor, though there is a touch of vanilla. Low but present bitterness.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. A tad undercarbonated, maybe. Trace of alcohol heat on finish.

Not the holy grail of beer, but perhaps the holy grail of oatmeal stout? (742 characters)

Photo of jeff1973
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
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. (784 characters)

Photo of Phelps
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

That’s right: Velvet MERKIN. Barrel-aged goodness. Though I’ve been told a portion of the regular Merlin is aged in barrels, I never get much of it, so I’ve been looking forward to this. According to the Firestone rep on call for tonight’s tapping, Merkin is four times as expensive to make as Merlin and aged 6 to 8 months in Heaven Hill and Four Roses barrels. It wasn’t even supposed to surface in Arizona this year, but the Firestone guys owed the owner of Flanny’s a favor, and here we are.

Dead black, without a hint of light coming through. The airy, sand-colored head gets to be about an inch tall before receding quickly, leaving behind some thin lace trails and an impressive ring of froth.

Amazing aroma. The usual barrel notes of toasted coconut, charred oak and buttery vanilla are all here. Backing them up is what makes Merlin great: roasty, chocolatey goodness. Cocoa nibs, dark chocolate, marzipan, toffee, coffee beans. So smooth, so sweet. Damn near perfect.

The flavor's a bit of a letdown after that performance. It starts with sweet toffee and vanilla bean, followed by definite alcohol notes and oodles of vinous new oak. A simple wave of poor quality chocolate rolls in mid-palate, and notes of bitter coffee and sweet toffee settle in the back. Soft oats join after the swallow. There’s not quite enough of the stout flavor to back up the whiskey — which actually seems lesser quality than what it is. Overall the flavor’s still very good — it’s just not as outrageous as the nose promised.

Some fumes come through my nostrils, but overall the booze is very well-hidden. Body is just under medium, but has nice viscosity, like heavy milk. Mild, tiny fizz bubbles; sweet, nearly tangy finish.

Merlin is world-class for its smoothness and subtlety, so it might not be the best venue to showcase bourbon-aging. I wish just a little bit more of the base beer came through. Very good, not great. (1,943 characters)

Photo of Scotchboy
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Review/Rating No. 800, celebrated with Batch 001 of Velvet Merkin in celebration of the birth of my first son. Split with my brother into pint glasses.

A: Nearly opaque with tan head and lace. Decent retention and lacing.

S&T: Sweet whiskey and vanilla...chocolate, some burnt barley, and oak. Toasted sugars from front to back, caramel? Definitely some toasted coconut and some almonds and hazelnuts. Coffee as it warms. Warmth on the finish but no booze really. This is a lighter body and bourbon presence than I was expecting.

MF: Medium-full bodied, but lighter than I thought it would be. Definitely smooth, but the oats aren't as apparent as I thought/hoped they'd be.

O: A good beer that didn't quite live up to the hype for me. Firestone Walker has ridiculous expectations set on their barrel-aged beers, and rightfully so as most of them are near perfect. This one, for me, was missing body and lower on aromas/flavors of bourbon than I wanted. Still an excellent BA oatmeal stout that is lower in ABV. (1,016 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
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. (836 characters)

Photo of jibbyvonjibb
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%

Oatmeal cookie, vanilla, subtle bourbon flavor, a touch of coffee roast. Body is medium, very smooth and drinkable. Acidity is low. Lingering moderate sweetness. It's good, not great, so I wouldn't buy it again for $15 nor advise you to (buy Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout instead). (278 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 Gueuzedude
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
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 BottleConditioned
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: heart of black walnut with Carmel edges. Carbonation is too scarce and course. A bit frothy with larger bubbles. Would be amazing to try on nitro.
Nose: nouget, vanilla, Carmel competes with a yeast overtone. Very understated on the bourbon.
Pallet: true to the name; super smooth. Fresh tobacco humidor, milk chocolate.
Feel: velvety smooth.
Beer is pure to its oatmeal stout vision; best in class for that. More than sum of its parts. Incredibly drinkable. (465 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)

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