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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.

297 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 297
Hads: 2,122
Avg: 4.24
pDev: 25.71%
Wants: 384
Gots: 917 | FT: 140
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.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 297 | Hads: 2,122
Photo of eifster82
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look - black. Not very viscous.

Smell - barrel aging process is noticeable on the nose. Very full scent. Oats, malts… it's all right there.

Taste - slightly light, under-whelming when considering appearance and smell. Certainly not as full bodied as it's big brother, Parabola, or cousin belgian quad Stickee Monkee.

Feel - light. There should be a genre called Session Stout.

Overall - do not get me wrong, this is still a good stout. Lighter than what you would expect, but good none the less. However, not as good as other Firestone barrel aged offerings, and certainly not as good as Parabola.

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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 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 Dope
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of brureview
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Pours a totally opaque black-brown almost black color with a one finger head in a snifter. Oak, fruit, and chocolate in the aroma. I really like the oak in this beer-it's not pronounced,but it has a special quality. It combines well with the chocolate, which deepens the oak.

The mouth feel was very carbonated.

The body of the beer is on the lighter side compared to other barrel aged beers, yet it does not detract from the complexity of the beer.

The oak melds well with the chocolate in the taste. The oatmeal presence is not too strong.

There is a bitterness to the finish which works well with the light body.

The beer is different than other beers in the barrel aged series. The finish is not alcoholic and it's lower in ABV.

Overall, another excellent beer from the Firestone Walker barrel Aged series and I was fortunate to find a bottle.

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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 BenwayPHD
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a thin half finger, mocha colored head. The smell is very well balanced between the bourbon and the oatmeal malt. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, slight booze. Actually quite a delicious nose. The flavor is predominantly the bourbon and the wood. The stout it self gets somewhat buried. Maybe a bigger, higher abv, stout would hold up better to this barrel. The mouthfeel is also slightly thin. Overall, this is quite a good beer, however, the complex nose is more intriguing than the flavor.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque black with cola edges. The thin khaki head settles to a thin film and ring on top that leaves thick spots of lace.

The smell is of chocolate, vanilla, burnt wood, coconut and roasted oats.

The taste is of coffee, molasses, assorted dark fruits, oats and a faint hint of bourbon.

The texture is medium bodied and more carbonated than I expected.

I'm a huge fan of Velvet Merlin so, I had high expectations for this one. The appearance and aroma hinted at greatness but, the taste and mouthfeel felt somewhat watered down. Still, this one sets the bar for the oatmeal stout category.

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Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of teromous
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2015 Bottle.

Appearance: Black body with a small strata of medium brown foam that changes into a large light khaki head. Good head retention and lacing.

Aroma: I get a fairly strong wood, bourbon, and brown sugar. It's pretty average smelling for a bourbon barrel beer but it does have a nice mellow presence that doesn't overwhelm the senses.

Taste: There is a light roasted coffee flavor with a bit of cream. The bourbon and wood characters show great restraint leaving a wonderful showcase for notes of chocolate and brown sugar. The alcohol flavor is there, but it is not unpleasant at all. In fact I think this sets the bar a bit higher as far as what alcohol flavor you can get into a beer without overpowering it or turning it into a booze-bomb. The aftertaste leaves some sweet cream and date flavors.

Mouthfeel: It is incredibly smooth and drinkable. The mouthfeel is perfect.

Overall: I was very satisfied by this beer and the bottle went a lot faster than I had expected. It's an incredibly drinkable beer. It is not a huge thick beer with tons of flavor; it is a very deliberate and delicate beer that delivers its flavors like a fencer would choose their strikes. I do recommend it.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured an almost dark as night as black in color with a thin brown head and left some good lacing sticking to the head.

S: lots of chocolatey goodness was detectable on the first whiff with lots of malty sweetness, caramel, vanilla, bourbon booze, and traces of oatmeal grains.

T: the oatmeal grains were more apperent on the taste alongside, bourbon oaky character, tons of chocolatey flavor, hints of carmel and vanilla accents.

M: the brew was full to medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, oaky, boozy bourbon, chocolatey, silky finish.

O: I definitely thought it was way better than the original version on the flavor and had a nice intoxicating aroma as well.

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Photo of lordofstarside
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber to a snifter, batch 001 of the 2013 vintage. Giving this ~20 minutes to warm up out of the fridge

Pours pitch black with dark brown hues around the bottom meniscus of my snifter. A finger of mocha brown foam has died down pretty quickly, leaving a frothy ring as what's left of the foam breaks down into bubbles in the center. Mild carbonation on the sides of the glass, good lacing also. Great looking beer

Giving this a minute or two to breathe. Smells strongest of chocolate and oak, followed by a very sweet smelling bourbon/toffee blend. Dark fruits, coffee and a bit of vanilla come through at the back, finished by a touch of alcohol. Not as complex as parabola, but still miles a head of your average ba stout

Taste has all the nose but in different strengths- upfront dark fruits, oak, chocolate, bourbon, coffee, toffee, vanilla, and roasted malts finishing with a splash of alcohol. Not as sweet as the nose, fruits and malts are more dominant with a nice oak tinge. Good none the less, falls a bit short in telemetry of the smell though

Feel is a thick full body, creamy with a bit watery of a finish. Alcohol is concealed well, it's pretty drinkable. This area could use some work

Overall a really good beer, good fresh but it will be interesting to see how this guy ages. I have three more in the crawl space under my house, I'll come back to this when it gets older

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Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

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Photo of stortore
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle, 2014 release into a snifter.

Pours very dark and thick looking, medium head, some foamy lacing. Smell is rich malts, a good amount of vanilla, chocolate, bourbon- more as it warms, oak. Nice. Taste continues the malt, more chocolate and less vanilla than the nose, bourbon, oak. A slight bitterness towards the end. Very creamy and smooth, generously carbonated. Seems a touch thin, but that could be because it seems like a bigger beer than it is designed to be.

A very enjoyable beer, complex and flavorful. Worth a purchase every year.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. batch No. 001 bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Liquid comes out cola brown during the pour and gets darker as it rises in the glass. A little bit of light sneaks through on the sides at a deep brown/red, but not much. Tan colored head, small bubbles, and I'd say average lacing. The head sticks around for quite awhile though.

Smell is pretty good, not as big as I expected, but then again, this isn't a big beer like Parabola. Some sweet, dark, chewy malts, some vanilla and bourbon oak (blended together it almost provides a hazelnut characteristic), and there's some slight hints of dark dehydrated sugar coated fruit (raisons/figs).

Taste is a slight step up from the smell. Vanilla, oak, slight light cocoa mixed with a bit of dark bitter chocolate, and caramel. Nice dark roasted, close to toasted, blend of mostly dark but some paler malts as well. Sweet but not overly sweet, sort of like coffee with cream sweet (I prefer my coffee black, so I guess I'm a little bias). Overall everything meshes really well. It hits all of the desired components of a good barrel aged stout.

Mouthfeel is unique to many barrel aged beers and in my opinion the best part of this beer. Its only medium bodied, yet the flavor lingers longer on the palate than you'd expect based on how light it feels. There is a light airy carbonation and it really does have a light feel to it, like a barrel aged stout designed for a hot summer day. Barrel provides a dry bitter finish and really only a little bit of heat. Great drinkability and not too filling even if you finish the bottle on your own. Not my favorite, but Firestone Walker is still one of my top go to breweries for barrel aged beers.

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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 abeeronthebeach
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Looks pretty inviting, although at 8.5% it's neither motor oil black, nor motor oil thick.

S - The nose is awesome! Vanilla and cookies. Bourbon is subtle.

T - Could use a little more chocolate. The vanilla notes are pleasant but faint. Bourbon character is similar.

M - Super smooth but still quite thin.

O - At roughly $18 a bottle I did not really feel this was a big enough beer to justify the price tag. It's a nice beer for sure, but I'd only go here again if it were about half the price.

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Photo of brandonwnw
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Very good BA beer, but I understand the mixed reviews. The relatively high carbonation is the biggest fault here. My best description is a lite BA RIS, which is still great, but falls short of the full bodied wonder that is Parabola. However, I will say that the lower ABV makes this a beer I'll revisit if I want solid BA taste, but don't want to share. - Cheers

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Photo of mobrado
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A very delicate beer. Doesn't look like much, smell is subtle, feel is thin. But the taste is very alluring (mainly chocolate and bourbon) and the feel improves a lot when you let the beer warm up a bit (it's REALLY thin when cold). I enjoyed this overall, but the big drawback is that it's priced in line with Parabola, Stickee Monkey etc. In contrast to those I easily finished this one alone and was ready for more...If you're planning to share, grab a couple if you can afford it.

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Photo of fox227
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Velvet Merkin poured into my mini snifter with about a half-inch of tan head with mostly fine bubbles and some large. The black liquid underneath is very dark as expected. The beer smells of oak, bourbon, possibly sherry, and milk chocolate. The first sip revealed mostly bourbon and unsweetened cola, but as the beer warmed, milk chocolate, oats, and the rest of the nose are revealed to this drinker. Each component seemed in proper balance, as the bourbon does not dominate. Sweetness is lacking, which is fine, and the mouthfeel is medium/full bodied with a bit of a dry finish.

Overall: this is yet another bourbon barrel beer in what seems to be an endless selection of these days, but Firestone, as to be expected, deliver the goods with a nearly spectacular beer.

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Photo of Barnoloid
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rating of the 2013 vintage.This is a fine barrel aged stout. There is a little smoke and cocoa on the nose. Mouthfeel is fairly light, with the accent of the bourbon coming through fairly pertinently. A little dark fruit comes in on the back end. A fine sipping beer.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Batch 001 bottle shared by Cam. Thanks Cam! Had this EBF the weekend before too, happy to get to review it now.

Appearance - (Not quite) black pour into a snifter, beige head retains well as a swirly cap, some lace left.

Smell - Oatmeal forward along with really nice coffee, bran muffin, vanilla, chocolate chip cookie goodness. Breakfast and dessert feel without being too sweet. Just a bit of bourbon spice noticeable, not much bourbon here.

Taste - More bourbon but overall somewhat of a step down from the scent for me. Oats, chocolate, caramel, coffee w/ cream, vanilla, light roast along with some toasted bread. Still noticeably an oatmeal stout which is nice. Bourbon flavor is still kinda understated but good, not much oak.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, well-carbonated, low heftiness. Pretty easy drinking and not alot of booze present.

Overall - Love the lighter feel bourbon stout while maintaining its oaty self. Delivers all around, very good.

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Photo of LADaveBN
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 vintage. Pours dark with a tiny mocha head that dissipates quickly. Nose is roasty malt, bourbon, vanilla, coffee, chocolate. Front of palette I get toasted oats, subtle chocolate. Finish is quite dry, light, with a touch of coffee bitterness. Feel is lighter than expected. Overall, I really enjoyed this beer. It's much easier drinking than most of the Proprietor Vintage series.

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Photo of neurobot01
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Updating review for 2015 vintage (previous review below; previous rating 4.05). Bomber into a Teku at cellar temp on 9/18/15.

Look: dark brown, a bit thin looking. Big head with a vigorous pour that quickly fades to a faint light tan ring.

Smell: like you put Velvet Merlin on your morning bowl of Cocoa Puffs. Huge huge powdered chocolate.

Taste: basically exactly like the smell. The bourbon is a lot more present than in the aroma, but the chocolate leads the way. Lacking most of the typical FW barrel characteristics (toffee, coconut, etc).

Feel: definitely a bit creamier than I remember VM being in the past. Still light bodied.

Overall: if this were released as a special version of Merlin, it would be great. As it is, it is inevitably compared to the rest of the Proprietor's Vintage series, and it just doesn't stand up. This beer isn't meant to emulate Parabola, so people come in with that expectation and are disappointed. If you come in expecting an amped up oatmeal stout, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

---Previous review---

2014 bottle at fridge temp into a snifter, allowed to warm.

Looks lighter in body and color than most BA stouts. Initial taste is basically Velvet Merkin Plus—almost a cola flavor profile going on. A hint of bourbon, but very mild, and few other barrel characteristics. The aftertaste is amazing vanilla/graham cracker/milk chocolate/toasted marshmallow. The mouthfeel is pretty thin. Overall, I remembered this as being better from last year; looking forward to updating this review once I crack my cellared '13.

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Photo of McD0uche
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap (tulip glass) at Firestone Brewery on Feb-04-2012.

A: Thick black with a good, frothy, two-finger head of coppery brown bubbles. No lacing to speak of. Retention is excellent.

S: Roasted malts up front with coffee and oat notes. Maybe a hint of dark fruits.

T: Massively huge roasted malt flavor, and the coffee and oats play in the background. The bourbon is present and distinguishable. Excellent.

M: Light carbonation, heavier body. Finishes light and a little wet. Compliments the style.

O: I really enjoyed the Velvet Merkin. It's a shame they don't let you take some away in a growler or else I would have been all over this one.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 297 ratings.