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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

255 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 255
Hads: 1,991
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 3.33%
Wants: 364
Gots: 780 | FT: 128
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: 255 | Hads: 1,991
Photo of Gatch
4.67/5  rDev +10.9%
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. (1,184 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.66/5  rDev +10.7%
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. (1,056 characters)

Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
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. (328 characters)

Photo of Catracho5
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
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. (1,001 characters)

Photo of whatthehull
4.64/5  rDev +10.2%
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. (1,120 characters)

Photo of TruePerception
4.63/5  rDev +10%
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. (1,429 characters)

Photo of beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +10%
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. (633 characters)

Photo of Fcolle2
4.61/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage

Pours dark thick black letting little to no light through. Head is thin tan and fades to a tan ring around the glass that's retains nicely.

Smell is great. Rich dark chocolate malt along with creamy oat aromas are balanced nicely with a light barrel and bourbon aromas. Notes of semi sweet chocolate truffle, cookie dough and raisins.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. Rich semi sweet chocolate malt is forward and so incredibly rich and creamy that it is almost like desert in a glass. Some faint dark ripe blackberry fruity esters follow along with a more prevalent oak barrel and lighter bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick, creamy great body. Mild carbonation leaves this a great sipping beer, perfect for a bitter cold night.

Incredible beer, I'm glad I have another to cellar. (812 characters)

Photo of newsage
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best Beer Ever! Silky smooth, milk chocolate, coffee bean, oak and bourbon are all present. The best beer i ever had. Too bad it's not bottled or sold to take home. WTF you can only drink it at the brewery when they have it there but it always runs out. (253 characters)

Photo of LouZ
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
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. (228 characters)

Photo of vfgccp
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Midnight brown with ruby highlights. Nice yellowed paper head has nice retention and lace.

S - Awesome nose. Huge toasted oatmeal aroma. Bread crust, touch of dark roast coffee beans, rum raisin.

T - Vanilla, cream, porridge, caramel, cognac, marzipan, woody booze, birch beer.

M - Soft, medium-full frame.

O - A stellar oatmeal beer. Firestone walker is tough to beat. (378 characters)

Photo of bnelson997
4.59/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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. (967 characters)

Photo of macher0
4.59/5  rDev +9%

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. (643 characters)

Photo of imperialbeerdude
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had this months ago when it first came out and I hate to age beers, but this is a case where some age has really done the beer some good. I feel the additional time helped integrate the flavor more. I'm picking up much more coconut and vanilla in this bee, not much if any of the bourbon barrel. This is exactly what I want though, the bourbon to give some extra sweetness, vanilla and coconut. Don't drink this expecting big barrel character, instead expect a well integrated beer. (484 characters)

Photo of pmangold
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
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. (351 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Oakquinox

Dark brown pour with a small tan head. The aroma reminds me of chocolate milk with a little bit of vanilla added to it. Minimal roast and coffee notes, just an overwhelming chocolate/vanilla blend. Great barrel and bourbon flavor with even more of the chocolate and vanilla going on. Moderate roast and a hint of coffee. Nicely sweet from some toffee malt flavors. So damn good. (399 characters)

Photo of Robomunky
4.56/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle. Opaque black, very thin tan head. Smells like a chocolate hug. Tastes like Bourbon and chocolate. With a couple years on it, it's thinned out a little but is one of the smoothest, most drinkable, warm blanket stouts I can remember. It won't blow your mind like Parabola or PNC but it will make you smile like a 6-year-old with a cup of cocoa on a snowy day. (370 characters)

Photo of bpasquini
4.56/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Nice slightly oily black appearance to it, poured heavy and leaves a small light tan head that leaves little lacing around the glass, wish it had a thicker darker appearance to it though, can slightly see into the glass

S: The smell isn't strong at all, it is very hard to find many flavors in it but you can find a few, but what you can pick up smells good. I get some oatmeal, caramel, chocolate, vanilla, and of course the bourbon barrels, predominately bourbon barrels, wish the smell was a lot stronger

T: Based of the smell I expected the flavor to not be very existent, but it is the complete opposite! Loads of oatmeal upfront, then the bourbon barrels kick in, followed with a nice chocolate coffee flavor blend and finishes with a nice slight vanilla caramel blend with an ever so slight bitterness which is fantastic! Very slight alcohol presence is noticed when the bourbon flavors kicks in, the presence definitely compliments the flavor

M: Very thick but it feels light and creamy, I have got to say that this beer sits very well on the palate and probably has one of the best feels to it I've had so far, finishes a little dry leaving you begging for more!

O: An outstanding beer! Definitely search for this beer! It is easily my new favorite stout, at first it was hard to think about getting more with the price tag on it, but after drinking it the price doesn't matter anymore because it's that good, FW is going to make me go broke with this beer! (1,473 characters)

Photo of Mahlik
4.55/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap on at the 2011 Holiday Ale Fest in Portland. Poured into the plastic souvenir mug.

* This is the 100% Bourbon Barrel Aged version. The ABV is listed as 8.6%.

A - Pours an opaque dark brown with a one-finger creamy, brown head. Head retention was average. Good lacing.

S - An amazing aroma of milk chocolate and coconut. Almost like a Mounds bar. Roasted malts are mixed in. I also really like what the additional barrel-aging did for this beer. The bourbon and oak notes really round out the aroma.

T - The smooth candy bar-like flavors of milk chocolate and coconut are complimented by roasted malts, vanilla and a touch of coffee. The bourbon wraps everything up to create a well balanced taste. Not overly complex but everything works to perfection.

M - This is the true standout for me. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. The creaminess is so inviting and only makes me want to take any other sip. Medium-to-thick bodied with moderate carbonation. I had no problem downing my mug.

O - This was the standout beer for me at the Holiday Ale Fest. I'm pretty sure a lot of our people would agreed since it was consistently one of the longest lines at the fest. I ended up get a couple mugs of this. I wish the 100% barrel-aged version was always available. (1,271 characters)

Photo of Kinsman
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
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. (715 characters)

Photo of Matonika
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What I love about this beer is that it has big flavors with out being overly sweet and overly boozy. It has the complexity of bourbon which is awesome. What would make this beer better is if had a 10-15 price range not the 19.99 I paid. (237 characters)

Photo of maxcoinage
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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. (746 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours almost totally black in color. Minimal tan froth.

(S)- A great vanilla oatmeal aroma up front. Some chocolate and caramel oak. Superb oatmeal characters on the nose. One of the most striking oatmeal stout smells I have encountered thus far.

(T)- A superb stand out oatmeal, chocolate, and vanilla combo. Some oaky char in there on the finish.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level. I dig the balance this has with a nice stand out oatmeal profile. It does get to be a bit sweet as it warms.

(O)- One of the more oatmeal forward stouts in recent memory. Very well balanced with a dessert quality to it. The barrel really showcases how well the oatmeal works with it. Fantastic now; I would be surprised if this improved any with age. I say drink now. (795 characters)

Photo of ISmith87
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - 4.75 - nice brown-black beer with a mocha head on it, head sticks for a while and leaves nice lace
S - 5 - bourbon chocolate coffee caramel vanilla cocoa oak smoke
T - 4.25 - bourbon/oak up front, coffee, chocolate, smoke and roasted malts in the background. Oatmeal stands out quite a bit too.
M - 4.25 - medium to thick. Not as thick as the other imperial stouts. A little bit of boozy taste. Aftertaste is roasted malts, coffee, toasted oak.
O - 4.5 - the smell is pretty phenomenal. But as you drink it, it thins out quite a lot. Probably because its an 8% barrel aged beer. Given the choice I'd buy a DDBA or Parabola instead. (638 characters)

Photo of kylelenk
4.51/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (1,097 characters)

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 255 ratings.