Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,959 Ratings
THE BROS
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Ratings: 1,959
Reviews: 281
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 354
Gots: 768 | FT: 129
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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Ratings: 1,959 | Reviews: 281
Photo of bcerv-ca
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fluffy dark khaki head. Dark mahogany, cola body.

Bourbon barrel smell at the forefront. Powdery dark chocolate and mildly sweet dark fruit follows.

Light, almost watery, mouthfeel. Some might be turned off by such a light stout, but I think it works perfectly with this beer.

Fudge-chocolate, oaky taste. Slight maple or maybe molasses sweetness lingers. Hardly notice the alcohol. Very easy drinking stout (especially for being barrel-aged).

If you like stouts or barrel-aged beers, you need to try this. It's amazing.

Photo of BlackHawk89
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of the best barrel aged beers.

Photo of Kgoldsbe
4.75/5  rDev +10.5%

Amazing! Smooth caramel tones from bourbon barrels, delicious beer!

Photo of Martyrob
4.73/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Wonderful bourbon barrel aged stout.

Photo of W_Des
4.72/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013. Chocolatey goodness. This one ages very well. There was litttle heat from the bourbon but the flavor accented the beer wonderfully. The vanilla comes out as it warms. The coffee was almost non existent to me. A wonderful stout,

Photo of El_Guapo
4.71/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this beer beat the Deschutes Sucaba, Parobola, and Anniversary Beers that I have had (2012 and 2013). Smooth and potent. The bourbon aging is so smooth that it sneaks up on you. The appearance is without reproach. Creamy head and dark body. If you can find it, buy all that you can. I got 3 bottles and am debating between aging the remaining two or drinking them now because the first was so good. I lucked out and found it at my local Whole Foods after visiting numerous Bevmos and other local beer stores in my area. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Cheers!

Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.69/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very delicious! A bit sweet for me though. Love all the carbonation.

Photo of BierJager89
4.69/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at the brewery (at the place across the street from the restaurant) in Paso Robles. Thank God I got accepted into Cal Poly, and had an excuse to get my family to stop nearby so I could get a look at the campus (and the amazing brewery only 20 minutes or so away) on our way to Anaheim for vacation.

A: Black with no head. I gave this a 5 because it's worthy of a better score than what it would otherwise get.

S: Chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla, oak, nice bourbon character. Smells delicious.

T: Tastes delicious! Chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla and oak bourbon character, but it's a bit weak on the bourbon. Well blended though. A bit oaky.

M: Full bodied, and smooth, though maybe not quite as smooth as Velvet Merlin.

O: I wish they would distribute this amazing beer! If you get a chance to go to the brewery, do so. It's my personal favorite brewery, and I feel blessed to live within a 4 hour drive of it. If you do go to the brewery, taste this! It wasn't available in the taproom restaurant when I went, but it was available across the street in the gift shop.

Photo of mverity
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at FIrestone Walker in Paso Robles! Great taproom! Nice tan head with fair lacing. Color is opaque black. Aroma is heavily of vanilla and bourbon. Maple and brown sugar is also present. Taste is a bit different from the aroma. Sweet bourbon and earthy coffee is what I get at the front, toasty oats and charred oak on the tail end. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for an aged stout. Creamy, and a great finish. Wonderful beer!

Photo of rjp217
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 edition poured from the bottle into two HF tulip glasses....

A - Dark, dark brown, half finger head that dissipates quickly. Not much lace left

S - Bourbon, molasses, malt, oatmeal, chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla

T - Exactly the same as the nose, in that order. The bourbon hits you upfront and then a mix of awesome favors come together with a vanilla oatmeal finish. It's like my palate is able to pass through the nose flavors and detect each one along the way, amazing! Tastes a little thin but fits the 8.5%

M - Smooth, velvet smooth, rolls off the tongue. Almost perfect

O - Outstanding! Reminds me of BCBS but in a lighter form. The ABV is perfect. I love the feel. Impressed with all the flavor that got packed into it. If this was a readily available beer I'd be broke. So glad I got the opportunity. Almost a standard bearer for me. Another barrel aged beast from FW. Bravo!

Photo of Mersh
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%

This BBA oatmeal stout lives up to the hype and more. Hints of vanilla, bourbon and roasted malt flow throughout the nose and taste. An exquisite pleasure to drink. Not overly boozy at all. Creamy and smooth. Love the mouthfeel on this. Wish I had a case. Firestone Walker are the masters of stouts and barrels. I highly recommend searching this out. I was lucky enough to get 2 on trade from the bottle release. It develops even more as it warms up. Cheers to an almost perfect oatmeal stout.

Photo of thirstyturtle
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

silky smooth oatmeal stout goodness

Photo of mfnmbvp
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. I bought the very first bottle from my local beer store, just minutes after they unloaded it off the truck. The blurb on the back of the box made my mouth water with anticipation. "Aged for a full year in seasoned bourbon barrels". Yeah, needless to say, I am exponentially stoked to have this bottle.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter glass.

A - Pours a solid opaque black with maybe just the faintest hint of brown-red highlights. Two fluffy creamy fingers of tan mocha head. Beautiful lacing.

S - Ahh yes, this thing smells like heaven. Chocolate, oatmeal, some raisins, figs, dates, smooth creamy vanilla, and earthy oak bourbon barrels.

T - Oh my. Truly lovely. Decadent. Delicious. Smooth "velvety" chocolate, coffee bean roast, oatmeal, creamy vanilla, & some warming bourbon presence. This beer is truly amazing.

M - This is one dangerously smooth, creamy, and "velvety" beer, that's for sure. Perfect low lying carbonation, and an almost nonexistent alcohol presence. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and stickiness on the palate, and a hint of booze warmth.

Overall, this is pretty much everything I could ask for in a bourbon barrel aged stout. I don't see how it could get much more amazing than this. Firestone Walker has truly wowed me with this one; it will be hard for them to top this. Highly recommended; trample innocent women and children to get this if you have to.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin ---4.5/5

Photo of derftron
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had on Tap at APEX in Portland - 2 Glasses

Appearance - Black with a little carmel head

Smell - Outstanding. Like bourbon chocolate oatmeal.

mouthfeel - not too thick on the tongue, but not "thin" either as some have said. just right

taste - wow. just what I was hoping for. a perfect execution of what bourbon barrel aging can do for a beer. The bourbon taste is right up front, and this beer is beyond smooth. for 8.6%, I could drink these all day. Chocolate, oats, and bourbon dominate for me.

Overall - outstanding beer. one of my favorites. as soon as some bottles hit the shops, I will definitely pick up 3-4. This is not a 13% imperial stout that pours like oil, so get that out of your head. But again, this is a wonderful marriage of a great beer and bourbon barrel aging and Firestone has done it again. Had it next to '12 Parbola and it just reinforced my admiration for the quality of beers that they produce. bravo

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Pours a very, very dark brown with only minimal light penetration. The head is a thin accumulation of sand colored bubbles and foam. Dots and waves of lace.

S-Interesting! I find it to be noticeably nutty. Almost like a nut flavored coffee. Toasted coconuts, too. A respectable and well set bourbon aroma. I notice coconuts more and more and I love that. Bits of vanilla and even some tobacco leaves. Almond chocolate bars!

T-The flavor is also delicious. I like how the bourbon isn't the main flavor, it merely accentuates the other flavors. Coconut milk chocolate. Roasted oats. Medium roast almond/hazelnut coffee. Chocolate chips. Vanilla and oak. Light tobacco. Then the whiskey kicks back in on the backside. Very tasty.

M-Body is thinner than expected but it seems to fit the beer's ABV. I actually enjoy its lack of viscosity. Tantalizing bubbles. A bit creamy and spicy/hot from the bourbon. Drinks too easily.

O/D-Firestone Walker barrel aged brews are an automatic. This one may be one of the best in my opinion. Not as huge as the others but it's complexity is unmatched. This beer tastes like it was made just for me and my taste buds. I really, really enjoyed this beer. Instant classic.

Photo of RichD
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep black with a small light tan had that is reduced to a mere ring around my glass. There is also some lacing left in the glass as I drink.

S: Smells of chocolate and vanilla almost exclusively. The smell is quite faint. I also pick up some bourbon sweetness. It's definitely very pleasant, but if the smell was more prominent I would give this a higher score.

T: Whoa! Immediate bourbon sweetness that consists of vanilla and some oak. The chocolate and roasted malts give a light coffee-like flavor. I also pick up some oats before the flavor transforms into a strong caramel flavor that takes my taste buds for a ride. Some warmness is also coming through at the end. The flavors mesh so incredibly well that I have a hard time setting each flavor aside.

M: I've read that some don't like the mouthfeel on this. I absolutely love it. It's remarkable that even with the bourbon barrel treatment that this beer retains the smoothness of an oatmeal stout. This is truly a one of the best mouthfeels I've ever had with a barrel aged beer. The 8% is almost nonexistent which is even better.

Overall: This beer is awesome. Firestone Walker really might have the best barrel aging program out there. Between this and the 3 other offerings that FW has, I'm having a hard time figuring out which is my favorite. This beer will be on my purchase list every year and I'm already anticipating when I can buy it again even though I still have half the bottle left.

Photo of Gatch
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

Edit: Updated from another experience with this beer on May 2nd, 2012 at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ. A special event with David Walker and Adam Firestone in attendance. Picked up a bottle of 2012 Parabola and the new Wookey Jack with both being signed by the two main men! Very exciting.

A: Deep, dark black with a light brown, very bubbly head that fades quickly. No lace and no head retention. Massive legs on this brew.

S: Buttery, boozy bourbon. Heavy wood. Some stout comes through a bit in the background. So alluring.

T: Like sucking on a piece of the barrel. Bourbon-soaked oak. Seriously fantastic and I'm not a bourbon-barrel-aged kinda guy. Roasty and smoky malt comes through to remind you it's still a stout.

M: Smooth but boozy. Huge bourbon and wood. Easy and enjoyable to drink and blows my mind how balanced it is.

O: I've been waiting a long time to drink this because I'm such a huge fan of Velvet Merlin. David Walker was at Taste of Tops for an Arizona Beer Week event and was signing stuff and chatting it up with everyone. Great guy. He had high praise for this beer and I have the same praise. Incredible beer.

Photo of Zorro
4.66/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light proof black colored beer with a medium sized brown colored head.

One sniff and this smells like Canadian Whiskey! Not at all shy about letting you know this has been sitting in a bourbon barrel for a while. Strong vanilla, coconut and caramel scents. Smells sweet with some faint scents of tobacco leaf, ash and tanned leather. Simply lovely I could sniff this glass all day, pity they don't market this smell as an air freshener.

Starts out mildly sweet with a vanilla, coconut and chocolate flavor. Slight butter and stronger toffee candy flavors. A little sweet but not as much as the scent suggests. Mild bitterness. Strong Canadian Whiskey flavor. Oak and a little wood ash really coats the mouth like a milkshake. I can even taste a little sugar cookie in this, complex with a Capital C.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall one of the best things I have tasted all year. I may have tasted a better beer but there are few beers than can beat this. A lot of the beers that might be infinitesimally better are other Firestone Bourbon Barrel aged beers.

Photo of Harvest06
4.66/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reaches its peak 6 months after release date. Fresh too tight & rough at 1 year the oak has faded.

Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Bottle.
Appearance: coca cola with a foamy, tan head. Sticky lacing.
Smell: figs, raisins, light bourbon, light oak.
Taste: see above. Plus a little cola. Yum.
Mouthfeel: light carbonation.light body. Slightly sweet.
Overall: great beer. Worth the $17. Almost like having a whiskey/coke with a great stout backer.

Photo of Catracho5
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Serving Type: 22 ounce bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Pours black, pitch black. No ruby on the edges.

Smell: Big bourbon on the nose, roasted chocolate, dark fruits, lovely aroma.

Taste: Bourbon up front, some roasted chocolate, some dark fruits, cherries, some bitterness, really smooth, the flavors flow very nice. Some alcohol. Flavors become prevalent as beer warms up.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, some bitterness on the tongue, the alcohol has a warming effect on the palate, but nice smooth, silky mouthfeel, not too thick like an imperial stout, but thickness is present.

Overall: World class beer, lovely aroma, great flavor, not overwhelming, the bourbon dominates on the front end but some great flavors smoothly flow in the beer. There is bitterness that I did not expect with an oatmeal stout, but overall, world class beer. I wish I would have picked up a few more to cellar. This is the 2013 edition that I tasted in June 2014. Definitely worth a try when available.

Photo of WillyT1
4.64/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The expert blending of all the flavor notes is superb - fantastic beer!

Photo of whatthehull
4.64/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Tulip/Wine/Snifter

A - B E A Utiful velvety (no pun intended) black/blood red, one finger deep chocolate colored head and some sticky lacing

S - vanilla, caramelized raisins, brown sugar, very delicate anise, homemade molasses, kona style coffee note, baking yeast, sugar, plums, cherries, chocolate covered blueberries, toasted grains, woody whiskey booze note and awesomeness

T - chocolate covered berries, whiskey, sweet rich aromatic coffee, aged whiskey/bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, anise, sarsaparilla, molasses, floral like hoppy note, roasted toastiness and a milk like smoothness

M - full bodied, nearly perfect balance and complexity, medium minus acidity and a very nice chocolate berry vanilla booze party in your mouth finish

D/O - Very lovely stout. I mean well freaking done. Refreshing, smooth, sexy, flavorful and leaves you wanting nothing but more! If you like stouts, love stouts or beer/ale in general, this one is worth a go or 12.

Final thoughts - Price is very high at $14 - 20 a bottle and the abv is nice, but I like a little more at 8.5%, still worth a try or a million.

Photo of TruePerception
4.63/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Firestone's Velvet Merkin (2013), Bourbon barrel-aged oatmeal stout. 8.5% ABV.

And, bourbon I do smell!

Appearance: Black, with just the slimmest dark brown at the bottom, in the light. Slightly tan head. Half a finger, dissipates quickly to almost nothing.

Smell: It's definitely got some caramel-sweet, yet dark, bourbon scents to it. Charred oak. Bittersweet chocolate. Blackened oats. Maybe some sweet coffee sludge. A little vanilla in the background. Nicely complex nose! Bottom's up!

Taste/Mouthfeel: Wow! First off, it's silky smooth, yet still has a nicely textured carbonation! It has a very distinct vanilla and chocolate coffee taste (as if you hit up a gas station and added those creamer cups), yet has a very present sweetness that is not quite sugary (lactose, perhaps?). At the same time you get a nice oatmeal flavor, and some great medium-dark caramel notes. It makes me want a coffee, and I don't even like coffee! This will suffice nicely, I think! There's a touch of Bourbon towards the end. A nice warmth is sitting on my chest, a few minutes afterwards. From the Bourbon, I'm guessing.

At $15, it was a hefty purchase, but one that should be made, if at all possible.

And, just a heads up, I've yet to try the Velvet Merlin, so I don't know the difference between the two. After trying this one, though, I will definitely pick up a pack this year!

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Photo of beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage No.001

India ink black body with a smooth, creamy, off-white head. Light coffee, vanilla, chocolate and cocoa aromas. Deeply rich and soothing malt sugar flavors, favoring the darker malts. Heavy body yet velvety smooth.

A very noticeable oak-bourbon scent right off the top strongly suggests what the rest of the tasting experience may be like. Silky sweet taste and feel, mostly comprised of a deeply rich yet zesty chocolate tone. Mint chocolate quality overall, adding a very tasty and appealing sweetness and zing to things. An exquisitely well-balanced and complex dark ale. Deep and engrossing and near-perfect.

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,959 ratings.