Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,961 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,961
Reviews: 282
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 355
Gots: 768 | 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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Ratings: 1,961 | Reviews: 282
Photo of larryarms847
4.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown and sits black as coffee in the glass with a light brown half finger of thick foam.

Espresso, dark chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, and a hint of bourbon.

Tons of dark chocolate and expresso, roasted malt, vanilla, caramel, toasted oat, and subtle bourbon.

Heavy-bodied, light carbonation, slick, unfortunately thin, subtle bourbon warming sensation.

Overall, a mighty fine brew, the only downside is the thinner mouthfeel than I look for in an impy stout, but delicious nonetheless.

Photo of cfrances33
4.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at South Philly Tap Room during Philly Beer Week. Pour into a snifter.

Pour: Deep black with dark brown around the edges of the glass. Finger and half frothy deep khaki head.

Smell: Bourbon vanilla with some caramel and chocolate. Very boozy, but it complements the rest of the beer so well that it is very welcome.

Taste: More of the nose, but roastey chocolate comes out more. The bourbon vanilla is the headline here though.

Mouthfeel: Warming but light. Retains the drinkability of an oatmeal stout but commands that you have it slowly and enjoy it. Plus, this is a rare one, so you should be already.

Overall: So pumped that I got to have this, and even happier once I tasted it. Firestone Walker knows how to barrel age like no other. If you can get this, do it.

Photo of LanguedocRocks
4.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Fire Works Pizza in Arlington, VA on 02/24/15. Definately a treat. Smooth like velvet.

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

just fantastic, thanks to claystation for bringing this over. long anticipated for me, this pours a honey thick mocha brown color, smooth as silk in the snifter, and showing off over an inch of oatmeal foam. it smells so much less alcoholic than I expected, mostly because of how alcohol forward most of the other boxed offerings have been. this one is sweet and rich, subtle spice and vanilla from the barrel, a lot of oatmeal body and sweetness, and an aggressively bitter cocoa barley vibe. its all blends together exquisitely well, and some of the heavier flavors of milk chocolate, tobacco, raisins, and butter cream come out in the last legs. alcohol never makes an appearance, not even at room temperature, and the bourbon contributes just the right amount of flavor and smoothness. these days so many barreled beers don't taste a lot like beer anymore, this one is perfect. speaking of perfect, the mouthfeel of this beer could not be improved. its full bodied as they come, not sharp at all from booze, palate coating but not sticky, thick but fluent, everything one could ask for in a stout like this. its sensational. worth the wait, worth the money, share it with a loved one or three. amazing stuff from the top shelf firestone stuff, never a surprise. luscious and dark, dangerously easy down, balanced brilliantly. this is a must.

Photo of vic21234
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. 2013 Vintage Batch 1.

A- Pours dark with a small amount of light visible along the top. A half finger worth of khaki colored head sticks around for awhile and diminishes to the sides of the glass.

S- Chocolate, dark fruits, and bourbon are most prevalent. This is a nice smelling beer.

T- Chocolate and espresso/ coffee bring out the front of the taste, before nice bourbon and oak characters come through. Complex beer for sure.

M- Body is actually on the lighter side I'd say for a BBA beer. Drinks quite hot initially for only 8.5% ABV but very flavorful and complex.

I love all of Firestone's Barrel Aged beers and this one continues my liking. A great beer and one to pick up an extra of and age.

Photo of inlimbo77
4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8oz draft poured into a Pinocchio's snifter. On draft at Pinocchio's in Media, PA.

A: Pitch black. Good carbonation. About a quarter finger of head initially that fades quickly. Some reddish hues towards the edges.

S: A lot of the FW coconut notes. Some dark chocolate. Mild coffee. Then vanilla and oak hints.

T: On the tip of the tongue, I get some bitterness: either chocolate or coffee. But then it smooths into a nice vanilla/coconut sweetness. I bow to the FW barrel program. I think the oatmeal stout helps make this nice and smooth. Second sip really gives some nice chocolate. Also, toffee and caramel.

M: Full bodied. Nice rich mouthfeel. Silky smooth.

Photo of scottfrie
4.46/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter. 2013 batch 1.

A: Pours a thick near-black color with a thin but dense and creamy looking light brown head that slowly faded into a fuzzy film and thick collar. Thick patches of lacing was left down the glass.
S: Rich a decadent nose with dominating notes of bourbon barrel. The bourbon is not hot, but it is definitely prominent. Behind the booze I get creamy scents of toasted oats and sweet milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, and caramelized sugar. Rich and smooth smelling.
T: Extremely rich and smooth flavors of creamy toasted oats, lightly sweet chocolate milk, and touch of caramel. The finish is full of vanilla and extremely smooth and mellow bourbon, and the aftertaste has a touch of raisin, toasted marshmallow, and more bourbon barrel spices.
M: Super smooth and rich mouthfeel, full creamy body, thick and mellow carbonation. This drinks like an awesome milkshake.
O: One of the best Firestone products to date, and probably the best oatmeal stout I’ve had. Super smooth and integrated fresh out of the bottle. Definitely need to go grab a few more of these.

Photo of TX-Badger
4.46/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with khaki colored head. Bourbon, roasted malt, and oak on the nose; follows onto the palate, with some coconut and oats. Finishes with a little sweetness and bourbon.

Photo of Harrgain1
4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wonderful beer. Very smooth and the bourbon aroma works well. Was drunk as a celebration beer and the experience was well worth the wait.

Photo of busternuggz
4.44/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip. 2014 vintage, aged in Rittenhouse Rye, Elijah Craig, and Woodford Reserve barrels.

Nice mostly opaque black color with a frothy, creamy beige 1/2" head. Recedes to about 1/8" with good retention. Leaves persistent spots of lacing.

Scents of sweet bourbon, chocolate chip cookies, blackberry pie filling, vanilla, a little coffee. So nice...

Big whiskey notes on the taste. I taste some spicy rye up front, sweeter bourbon follows. Creamy chocolate comes in next, followed by vanilla, toffee, some toasted oak, and a slightly bitter finish of roasted malt, coffee, and berries. More whiskey comes out as it warms up. Nice balance, the whiskey barrel is present but doesn't overpower the base stout.

Body comes on creamy and medium bodied, but ends kind of thin. Nice carbonation, but could maybe stand a little less.

Overall, hey, it's freakin Velvet Merkin. It's delicious, fuhgedaboutit. The body is a bit of a weak spot, but still a delicious FW beer.

Photo of KYGunner
4.43/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The nose has a light lactose-sweetness with fresh brewed coffee, some caramel and toffee, oats and lots of chocolate.

This is a chocolate bomb at first sip, thick and creamy. It opens late with bourbon, oats, cream, vanilla, chocolate, coconut and a ribbon of toffee.

FW nails this as they always do!

Photo of socon67
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours black with a slight redish hue. No lacing noted. A slight tan foam that lays just on the surface.

S - Great scent of roasted malt, fresh oatmeal, and coffee. I found the bourbon was a faint part of the smell.

T - Really nice! The first flavor is a roasty malt with a bit of spicy kick that stays on the tongue. The bourbon is much more pronounced in the taste. There is a warming burn at the end, though it is mild. A little bit of coffee bitterness is noted.

M - Feels heavyier than it is, though I was able to drink 16oz of this pretty easily. Coates the mouth a bit, and has a peppery spice feel.

O - Really liked this one, and yet another Firestone Walker beer I seem to enjoy. Let this one warm a bit and enjoy the flavors. Personally I think the BBA didn't make this better; it is really good on its own.

Photo of tzieser
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

purchased for $15 from total wine and spirits in Tucson, AZ. i love regular velvet merlin so i know this is going to be delicious.

A: completely opaque, motor-oil like in color with a thick, dark head that sticks to the glass for a very long time.

S: bourbon barrel is noticeable but not quite as boozy as most other BBA stouts. notes of vanilla and roasted chocolate malts are there. quite complex.

T: i'm not a big barrel aged beer fan; typically they end up being too boozy or thin in my opinion. this, however is quite a phenomenal beer. aforementioned notes of vanilla are there with lots of roasted malt. very smooth, well-rounded body throughout. bourbon is there but not aggressive at all. 8.5% ABV is extremely well hidden. this might be the best barrel aged beer i've had since CBS.

M: thick, velvety mouthfeel.

O: an amazingly complex stout that lives up to all the hype. well worth the $15 if you can find it (3,000 cases produced). recommended.

Photo of corby112
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a one finger light beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic streaks of lace left behind.

Boozy bourbon barrel aroma that's nicely integrated into the base beer(which is partially bourbon BA). I thought amping it up to 100% BA might kill off some of those notes but they're still there underneath the barrel presence. Strong spicy bourbon, earthy oak, vanilla and coconut followed by roasted dark malt, chocolate, robust coffee and oatmeal.

Medium bodied but a bit thinner than I expected with a strong bourbon barrel presence that's excellently integrated into the flavor of the regular Merlin version. Sweet and spicy bourbon dominated up front with some boozy heat but it never becomes to hot. Feels stronger than 8.6 but not harsh. There's also some dry oak, toasted coconut and vanilla followed by roasted dark malt, silky chocolate, caramel, toffee and oatmeal. Subtle dry bitterness but never approaches burnt or acrid. Really well balanced and although there is a decent amount of heat it's very easy to drink.

Photo of seedyone
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

01/22/14 From bottle. Silky smoothness and a fine bittersweet chocolate are the first impressions. Enjoyment from first sip to last. It did change character slightly as it warmed from cellar temp to ambient.

The rarity is a distraction. Not your everyday quaff by any means, but knowing it can be found for that certain occasion would enhance the whole idea of knowing it's 'out there'.

Photo of MtnSoup
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 (001) Version. Drinking very smooth at this point, but I'm honestly not sure what more time would do. I'm not getting a ton of bourbon flavor at this point (or espresso). Still really tasty, but maybe it's time to open the others...

Photo of Pahn
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

22oz bottle split 2 ways between myself and morningthief. Poured into wine glasses.

Appearance: Very dark red brown. Tan lace wall.

Smell: Nice sweet stout, with a hefty bit of vanilla oak around it. Restrained and well put together. Speaks of a good beer...

Taste: As usual with Firestone Walker, delivers. It's Velvet Merlin, a nice, unassuming, creamy oatmeal stout, elevated by several fully discernible oak-influenced notes.

Firestone Walker really knows how to make a complete beer. This flavor is beautiful; not over the top in any respect, with the barrel honoring rather than masking the base beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, high carbonation. Normally this carbonation level would bother me, but it puts me in mind of a very lively porter, and is just the right stage for these flavors to play out their little play. Some dryness would bring out the roasted flavors--I love what's here, but I think some husky dryness would make it even better.

Overall: Greater than the sum of its parts. Firestone Walker is a brewery of masters... Others may make showier (and excellent) beers, but Firestone perfects a recipe and then shares their brilliant work with its fans. Wonderful beer.

Photo of KFBR392
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage bottled on 8/23/13

Appearance: Pours with a medium brown color yet sits black in the glass. The head was light on the pour and is only present in a slightly off white ring around the edges of the glass. Very little active carbonation in the glass while drinking.

Smell: Big heavy bourbon front. Filled with vanilla, cherries, coffee, roasted malt, molasses, and medium bodied chocolate. Behind the booze is a wonderful base of rich creamy oatmeal that gives this aroma some serious legs. I love the big bourbon accents yet they are done perfectly to allow so much more to shine through.

Taste: A mesh of flavors hit the palate first. Some oats, vanilla, chocolate, and bourbon all come together to make a unique taste and start this beer off. The body opens up with a potent oatmeal taste that is brought out by the bourbon accents. The finish is a an earthy, grainy, malt, and of course some booze finish that tingles on the palate for long after drinking.

Mouthfeel: A thickness covers the palate yet not overwhelmed and still allows many of the flavors to come through while drinking. Bourbon brings some dryness on the finish but is primarily sweet and delicious.

Overall: Was in the mood for a delicious BA stout and this one did just fine. Not as heavy since it's an oatmeal stout but a ton of complexity. I'm a big bourbon fan so I loved the barrel character and how potent it was. Firestone Walker doesn't mess around with this series.

Photo of Cylinsier
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz.

Pours jet black, no light penetration, with a brown sugar lacing for a head.

Smells of rich chocolate, vanilla, brown sugar, and toasted bread.

Tastes of brown sugar, toasted oatmeal bread, vanilla, cocoa, coffee, and fig. Woody finish.

Medium to full body with light tingling carbonation throughout.

A fantastic oatmeal stout, probably one of the best out there for my money. Worth seeking out and definitely something I will revisit.

Photo of cjgiant
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%

Bottle, 2014 vintage:
Pours a pretty-much pitch black, with a mildly surprising just off-white foamy head. This head does stick around for a bit, and a swirl of the glass leaves the foam clinging to the glass above the surface.

The initial nose (I did let it warm a bit before tasting) definitely has the bourbon barrel scents throughout. There is a vanilla and perhaps a light cinnamon notes to what is really, to me, pretty mush simple roasted malt goodness. When searching, I get wood notes and something that reminds me of a "bowl of oatmeal", but neither is overt or obvious to me.

The taste, surprisingly does not rely on or even focus on the bourbon barrel tastes. I do get the oats more up front than I'd imagined I would. To those flavors are added a fairly significant woodiness that accentuate the initial notes, and meld together to something greatly interesting to me. The bourbon fades in lightly mid-taste, and just stays on the fringe of the taste. I get a touch of coconut, and a dark-roasted nuttiness for the lingering taste.

The feel is actually a little light early, and dries out in a woody feel/taste for the longer term. I think the beer is very smooth throughout, overall, though.

A very good beer that is just solid in its structure. It's not very showy in it's flavors, but does throw enough out there to not be too boring. I like it for being a more subdued higher-octane stout.

Photo of McStagger
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From notes.

A: Big pour leads to half finger of head. Beer is opaque blackness. Not the darkest ever, but pretty dark. Head is leathery color, with moderate retention. Nice lacing. Carbonation is difficult to discern.

S: Boom! Coconut out the wazoo. Toffee, dark fruit, milk chocolate, malted milk balls, dark chocolate, almond joy/mounds.

T: Similar to the nose. Huge coconut notes. Vanilla bean, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, some small bits of coffee, roastiness. Cherry liquer. Slightly medicinal with the cherry and alcohol flavors interweaving. Rounds out as it opens up. more malt sweetness, and the milk chocolate definitely takes off.

M: Big, but not huge. The carbonation supplies the structure without being distracting.

O: Killer stout here. Wish I could have given a more detailed review of this one. It's not quite to the level of Parabola. The bourbon barrel isn't quite as pronounced as I'd like it to be. Still a damn fine stout. FW, you are the masters.

Photo of ElSid
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

The Beers of California

#96

Bottled Date: 2013

A: Deep black with a head of khaki foam. The variable sized bubbles slowly fade to a net of lace cling on the glass

S: Bourbon warmth, smooth hot cocoa sweetness, and earthy, woody textures. The admixture is balanced, smooth and stimulating resulting in the perfect nose.

T: Behind the medium bourbon booziness comes strong currents of toasted grain, cocoa nibs, raisin and brown sugar sweetness, along with wood and tobacco qualities. There are also hints of vanilla and marshmallow stickiness .

M: Medium bodied and velvety smooth with moderate carbonation.

O: This little of brother of Parabola is able to marry complexity with smooth drinkability. The Firestone barrel program succeeds again.

Photo of Nugganooch
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle No. 001 – 2013
Notes taken 11-27-13 - Split two ways into snifters

A: Dark cola brown that settles to a near black in the glass. Looks thinner around the edges. Small brim of fluffy light brown sugar that settles out to a crown only after a few moments. Light dotting and squiggles of lace remain to the glass after each sip.

S: Smells of bourbon infused oak with some lightly charred grains, chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla syrup, and just a hint of soy. More molasses like probably. The barrel quality is light and subtle giving no boozy spirits effect which is my preference.

T: Taste is wonderfully complex yet delicately balanced and smooth with loads of dark fruit presenting as caramelized fig and dark cherries. More dark roast grain emerges with an earthy oak presence. Vanilla bean and bourbon with some chocolate crème. The bourbon is mellow and perfectly in line with the other attributes. Alcohol is downplayed with just a whisper of noticeable warming coming through. Nothing competes and the beer is void of any harshness. Simply divine and more impressive than the nose.

M: Silken smooth feel. Velvet. A touch thin in the body hitting a moderate level of fill. Creamy and light with some mild ABV warmth. Sleek on the tongue but fairly clean overall.

D: Absolutely delicious. The balance gives supreme drinkability and the marriage of flavors is impeccable. You can fault the thinner body but if you have had the regular Merlin you would know this is by design. Comparing this to Parabola is a mistake.

So glad this is now in the Reserve Series. Very deserving.

Photo of ChrisMyhre
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a stemmed tulip from the 22 oz. bottle.

a: Dark brown/ black. Thick large bubbles in the head, is that a merkin in the lacing?

s: Super bourbon forward, very little malt or yeast coming through.

t: Again very bourbon forward, decent malt background, but not a ton of the roastiness you'd expect from a stout. Decently balanced, but not much bitterness comes through the bourbon.

m: Drinkable, maybe even a little thin, a little of the creaminess oats provide, but less than expected.

o: Very good, very subtle but it is hard for such a subtle profile to stand up to the strong bourbon flavor.

Bottled 8/23/13.

Photo of tigg924
4.38/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap at New World Tavern.

Appearance: low carbonation, 1/4 inch head, opaque, black in color

Smell: dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon

Taste: Deep bourbon taste, dark and milk chocolate, with touch of vanilla

Mouthfeel: sweet, oaky, and roasty, heavy body, moderate carbonation

Overall: Wow. Every barrel aged beer FireStone Walker has done has been lights out amazing and worth every penny. This one is no different. I love the depth of the barrel aging and yet this still has a lot of stout to it. One of the best beers I have had in a while.

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,961 ratings.