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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: 1,992
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.26%
Wants: 364
Gots: 779 | 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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 255 | Hads: 1,992
Photo of cjelden
3.44/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love FW beers. I go nuts over them. But Velvet Merkin didn't live up to the reputation for me. I drank this after drinking another local stout and it just showed how light on all fronts this beer was. Not a lot in the nose. Not a lot in flavor. I wish it had more bite to it's flavor and mouth feel. If you want real real smooth then you would like this more than I did. (372 characters)

Photo of LordofWord
3.45/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

"Creamy"? "Smooth"? Definitely. This beer is what it is. But based on the $15 price tag, I will only make the mistake once. Never again. Solid but unspectacular. There just isn't enough improvement over the base oatmeal stout to warrant the cost. (246 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.48/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle $14.99. I was real excited to try this as I like velvet merlin a lot but I will say I was quite let down. I guess I was expecting something more rich and decadent. This truly tasted like Velvet Merlin with hints of bourbon and it was kind of thin. Aroma was bourbon, a little oats, eh. Flavor was more of the same. Honestly I was expecting something like Parabola but different and this falls short. Just too think and too much like the base beer, I didn't feel like the time in the barrel changed it enough to make it worth my money. (546 characters)

Photo of greenhorn
3.51/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage, poured into oversized wine glass. Nice head on this one, more black than brown. Not much of an aroma - what’s there is almost off putting. Creamy taste but very little coffee and bourbon presence. I do get the chocolate and vanilla. Body is lighter than I expected and wish it was a little thicker. Overall, I expected more from this one but still a tasty offering. (381 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
3.51/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013, batch 01

When a FW brew comes in a box, you expect great things - aroma of toasted oats, touch of chocolate, some malt. Very light bodied - thin flavor profile - oats, cocoa, some hops. For FW, this is terribly disappointing and downright boring (252 characters)

Photo of BeerForHokie
3.54/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Varga during Philly Beer Week in a 10oz chimay glass. Not at all what I expected but not necessarily a bad thing. My friend described it best, close your eyes and sip this beer and you meet think you were drinking a not so hoppy IPA. This stout was quite hoppy, bitter and a bit on the warm side--perhaps from being aged in e bourbon barrels. However, I did not taste any bourbon or traditional notes of coffee or chocolate usually found in a stout.

Overall a decent beer, although a bit of a let down (wish i would have tried the Parabola) and definitely not to be drank as a dessert or nightcap. (612 characters)

Photo of Sludgeman
3.55/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter at Rustico Arlington

Disappointing, over hyped - 3.5

A - Black, minimal tan head 3.75
S - Bourbon, sweet, a faint spiciness, and some roasted malt but the barrel overwhelms everything. 3.75
T - Heavy on the bourbon, a bourbon bomb but not hot or solventy. 3.5
MF - Not particularly smooth for an oatmeal stout. Thinner than expected. 3.25 (363 characters)

Photo of antott0523
3.56/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

$13.99 at Fanwood Liquors in Fanwood, NJ

A: Opaque dark brown with a light brown head that settles to a thin layer with a fair amount of lacing. No visible carbonation.

S: Great nose with notes of vanilla and toffee. Freshly ground cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Sweet, smooth bourbon. A bit of roasted malts.

T: Semi sweet flavor profile with notes of cocoa, with faint notes of vanilla and bourbon. Semi dry finish with a mild amount of bitterness and a touch of black licorice.

M: Well carbonated and relatively thin.

D: The great nose has left me yearning for a bit more. Yes, the beer is highly drinkable. The 8.5% is imperceivable by any sense. However, the lack of flavor complexity and body leaves me wanting more. (733 characters)

Photo of marieli
3.57/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Draft. Dark brown. Coffee, bourbon and oak were the dominant smells and flavors. A bit on the thin side. I can see why people would be attracted to this stout but it's not quite my cup of tea. (192 characters)

Photo of popery
3.57/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap at City Beer Store in San Francisco.

I don't know anything about this beer besides a vague awareness of some internet hype, and for some reason, the store listed the abv as 10%, which I'm very glad to see is incorrect. I would like to try the non-barrel aged version for a point of comparison and highly recommend seeking out a cask version. I can imagine thoroughly enjoying the beer served from a cask, but on tap, something was off for me. The beer pours an opaque dark-brown with highlighting along the edges of the glass. For a decidedly unhelpful point of comparison, it was nearly a dead-on match for 21st Amendment's Back in Black. The aroma, unlike the flavor, was fantastic. There are notes of chocolate, coffee, roasty malt, dry oak and a well-balanced bourbon flavor that meshed very well unlike some bourbon barrel-aged beers. The taste had all of these flavors, but they were far more muted. The bourbon flavor became almost watery. The feel may have been the real culprit. It was much too thin for a stout, much less a barrel-aged stout. A cask would likely bring out the creamy lush mouthfeel of the oatmeal stout. At any rate, it was still a good beer, and they get points for not overwhelming a relatively small stout with bourbon barrel-aging. So, seek it out in a cask if you can. (1,315 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3.6/5  rDev -14.5%

Pour is black with a light brown head. Nose is bourbon, light wood. Assertive malt of brownie and bakers chocolate. Taste falls a little short on the richness. It tastes as it smells but a bit watered down. It has the bourbon and wood up front, some fudge notes with some sweet malt berry sweetness. Body is a touch light and thins in the back. The finish had some roasty barrel notes but a hint empty. (409 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.62/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to analogchainsaw for the first of two rapid-fire trades that brought sunny California to Minnesota (without, y'know, the sun, warmth, ocean...OK, just the beer...OK, just a couple of them). Popping this to celebrate the arrival of box #2 tomorrow. 22 oz. bottle, batch #1, split with my wife.

The pour is you-are-dead black, with appropriate minimal carbonation. Bringing the blessed liquid close to two of the openings in my face. Smells like whiskey & sweet malts. Enough of this crap, let's drink.

Velvet Merkin hits the first word dead-on, but I'll have to look up the second. First impression is the smooothness. Smoother than my chest fresh from waxing, the beer creates almost no friction in the throat. The beer needs to warm; cold, it's tame & lifeless. Warming, it delivers classic oatmeal stout, grainy, smoooth (did I say that?), nice vanilla, touch of bourbon. A little thin; I know of 8.5% beers that hold their barrel well, this one doesn't quite perfect that.

I've come to expect the world from Firestone barrel-aged beers, & this one didn't turn my crank quite so hard. A good beer, but not as dead-center as pretty much everything else they do. (1,176 characters)

Photo of artoolemomo
3.63/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance- Pours up a finger or two of head but it dissipates rather quickly. The head is a dark beige/ mocha while the body is a dark chocolate black. A few spots of lacing. Repours show substantial sheeting above the brim.

Nose- A little disappointing. I guess that this is typical of an oatmeal stout but after drinking KBS, I want more delicious scents. Slight caramel and chocolate from the bottle. Faint hint of smoke and roasted malts but this is so faint I feel like I'm making it up.

Taste- Fortunately, this is much richer than anything that the nose indicated. Bourbon and oak hits you first. It would seem that an oatmeal stout is too plain a canvas to bourbon barrel age; it seems dominated at this point. Heavy notes of oak and vanilla. Some coffee notes but they seem to be more an expression of the oak more than anything else. I wish there were more alcohol in the actual beer to press up against the bourbon presence. Hints of tobacco. Some chocolate but it seems to be overwhelmed by the vanilla and oak. I do appreciate that this is not an oak bomb but the barrel aging seems to disrupt the sublimity of the oatmeal stout style. This seems to be more reminiscent of DDBA rather than Abacus, Parabola, and the Anniversary beers. Some licorice and cinnamon. If you're going to use an oatmeal stout for this type of beer, I think you need a bigger malt bill. And I almost never crave a bigger malt bill. In each drink, I'm trying to search for more depth, for an inkling of the oatmeal stout that it once was- oh, Velvet Merlin, what have they done to you? I think I would rather have that beer. The deep bourbon and oak only make me wish that I was drinking the real thing. Or the easygoing Merlin. Still a good beer and a solid beer but in no way, a 15 dollar beer. I don't think Parabola or Abacus cost that much. Why should this? It does mellow a bit and reveal a slight cherry note. Starts to show some raisin.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied but a little thin for the style. Some grittiness but really not enough.

Drinkability- Lots of bourbon. The patinage of alcohol makes this a little more formidable than some of its higher gravity semblables. But even if it were 20 percent and had this flavor profile, I would still want my money back. It's at 40 percent where the money worries seem to dissolve. I could almost buy a bottle of Bulleit for this price, however.

Overall- Good, solid beer but in reality, this is a failure. I appreciate the fact that FW has to charge this price because it's been on barrels for x amount of time. What I don't appreciate is the fact that they didn't choose a beer robust enough to stand up to the treatment. My complaint is measured though- my enjoyment of their beers surpass my slight disappointment with this beer and DDBA. I will still buy their next barrel aged. Unless it's a pilsner. Fuck that. (Although I do wonder what a barrel aged imperial pilsner/IPL might taste like. Oh, oak. Yeah, I get it now.) (2,976 characters)

Photo of WesMantooth
3.64/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Some other people have already touched on this, but this is a very thin, watery stout. If you really like bourbon, you will probably enjoy it, but it squashes almost all flavors. Very disappointing compared to the other Firestone offerings. Not undrinkable, but I would not seek it out again unless it was fresh. I had a 2013 version. Maybe it does not hold up well. (366 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.64/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a deep, deep brown, nearly black with great carbonation yielding a nice tannish cap, a nice frothy one with pretty good retention. Lacing was minimal though.

S: Roasted coffee, a blend of bitter and milk chocolate, some oats and bourbon with a very minute hint of vanilla

T: A nice blend of roasted malts, oats and chocolate upfront. A nice, light bourbon tinge meets the taste buds as well and persists throughout the finish. The barrel provides some backseat vanilla. The taste itself is sordove muddy in my opinion and not really all that complex. The finish is sordove dry, light sweetness, light booze and sordove effervescent even

M: Medium bodied, well carbonated, a light creaminess. It feels thin, yes, but this is a single stout not a an imperial so it's not going to be as full and hearty as say a Parabola.

O: Not bad. I'm really not a fan of bourbon barrel againg every stout, especialy single stouts. I believe the body feels thin because it is thin compared to other barrel aged or imperial stouts. Not a bad beer but not sure I would drop cash on case of this as I would other FW offerings. (1,120 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a snifter at Firestone Walker's taproom (NOT tasting room) in Paso Robles on its grand opening day. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average given the brewery's reputation.

A: Pours a one finger head of dark milk-white colour, nice cream, good thickness, and great retention for the ABV. Colour is a nontransparent solid black.

Sm: Roast, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. A mild strength aroma.

T: Roast, coconut, milk, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of cherry. No bourbon comes through - not even as a tone. It'd be better with more black cherry. Nicely balanced. Great cream is present as an undertone. Well built. Complex enough, wuth some limited subtlety.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Silky. Nicely creamy. Near perfect thickness. More a porter than a stout (even considering the smoothening factor of the oats). Should be more dry and coarse.

Dr: Very drinkable for the ABV. I'd have it again. Why isn't it on nitro? A lovely oatmeal stout - maybe the best Firestone Walker beer I've had so far (including Abacus - which I found mundane).

(1,102 characters)

Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Yeah, the complaints about the mouthfeel are pretty accurate. Much thinner than one would expect. Flavors are fine, but not exceptional. The weakest of FW's special releases (which is almost an unfair comparison, since the others are all world-beaters, or close to it...) (271 characters)

Photo of mr-jj
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle split between four samplers. Notes from 12/28/14.

Color is dark brown, almost black with a tan head. Aroma is bourbon with some cocoa and vanilla. Flavor is roasted malt with traces of cocoa and vanilla. Bourbon flavor is not as strong as I expected from the nose. Body is light/medium - much lighter than I expected - with minimal carbonation and a creamy texture.

Overall, I tried this in a tasting with BCBS and Fremont KDS and it was very mild and lacking in flavor against those offerings. But it is still a very good beer. (549 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
3.73/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at Capone's

Dark brown pour, slightly translucent around the rim, with a small beige ringlet. Aroma of roasty dark malts, toasted bread, bourbon and spiced rum, notes of chocolate and vanilla. More dark malt roastiness in the taste, notes of dark berries, coconut, bourbon-soaked oak, vegetal vanilla, bakers' chocolate. Mouthfeel was on the thin side, surprising for an oatmeal stout, body was about medium; boozy presence was felt, but it was pretty smooth and not hot at all. A decent brew overall. (520 characters)

Photo of TempeBeerMan
3.74/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours an opaque dark-brown with a one-finger head of fluffy khaki foam, with large and small bubbles. Impressive patches of lacing.

S - Medium strength aroma of wood, bourbon, burnt cocoa, a little dark fruit comes out as it warms.

T - Toasted oats, smoke, pipe tobacco, prunes, and oak. Extremely smooth. Not as rich or robust as I was expecting, as a it seems like a lot of the chocolate/sweet aspects in the base beer (Velvet Merlin) have been lost in the aging process.

M - Thin body with very low carbonation. Could use a little thicker body, in my opinion.

O - A very smooth barrel aged beer and obviously well made but lacked pizazz. Personally my tastes tend toward the sweeter and more decadent stouts, and I feel a richer base beer would have added a little more balance to the bitterness from the wood aging. Still a decent product. (892 characters)

Photo of thebigredone
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

I believe this beer suffered in comparison to the rest of the stouts we were drinking last night. Tasted a bit thin and harsh after the likes of Assassin, three BCBS variants, etc. I'm sure if I'm able to retry it at a later time the score may improve. (253 characters)

Photo of MjBrewhouse
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Poured into tulip glass. Black with dark head which dissipates quickly. Smell is of Vanilla, Carmel, coffee and bourbon.Taste is smooth almost too smooth, I'm looking for some finish to it, but it's not there, it kind of dies in my mouth. Lite carbonation and mouth feel is Lite for an Oatmeal stout. Taste is mild, Bourbon is there but the Bourbon aging seems to have eclipsed the other flavors.Over all I think I like the Velvet Merlin better. (445 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.76/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, NY. 8 oz pour. After drinking this, this will be a hard review.

Pours a very dark black, opaque, with a tiny head, and no lacing.

Smells like cookie dough, toasted oats, chocolate, and the slightest hint of bourbon.

Interesting tastes here, both negative and positive. All of the tastes I'm getting are good. This is one of the most cookie dough forward beers I've ever had, just tons of that flavor. I get cookie dough flavors out of a lot (mostly barrel-aged) stouts, but this one takes the cake/cookie. There's a good amount of toasted oats as well, a tiny bit of bourbon, some oak, and some chocolate. The problem is, however, other than the cookie dough, the flavors are kind of muted. For some styles, laid back flavors are a plus- but this is a barrel-aged stout. I expect a bit more here. Just a little bit too watery, unfortunately.

This is light to medium bodied, honestly too thin for the style. I don't need it to be motor oil, but I need it to be substantial enough. Low carbonation, very drinkable.

A beer with a lot of highs and lows. Overall good, but not something I'm going to hardcore crave again. (1,158 characters)

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.76/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Letdown, my children. Letdown like when they gave the MVP to Braun although he was clearly juicing.

It's aite like my baby mama in her Sunday goodies, but it lacks in taste and mouthfeel. A bit (and Raul means A BIT) sour, and too thin. Not Raul "thin" (it's genetics, my children) but thin enough that Raul ain't feelin' it like Yasiel Puig home run trotting a triple.

Feelin' it, but not feeelin' it. (405 characters)

Photo of Brandywine
3.78/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First bottling. Poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Little over two fingers of a tan, tight bubbled head. Black with a hint of dark red at the bottom of the glass. Sticky alcohol legs.

Smell: Coffee, roasted notes, oak, faint alcohol, vague dark fruit, bakers chocolate, bourbon is subtle.

Taste: Milk chocolate, vanilla bean, oak, smoke, char, bourbon.

Mouthfeel: On the full side of medium. Super fine carbonation feels like nitro.

Overall: On the one hand I appreciate that Firestone is offering us a barrel aged beer at a relatively low ABV. Instead of drinking a beer exploding with flavor enhanced by the barrel, Velvet Merkin puts the barrel center stage. It's like licking the inside of a bourbon barrel, which is awesome. On the other hand the lower ABV results in a mouthfeel that leaves something to be desired and a lack of robust stout character, which is smothered by the barrel. (901 characters)

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