Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,962 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,962
Reviews: 282
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 356
Gots: 769 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,962 | Reviews: 282
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.64/5  rDev -15.3%
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.

Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -15.1%
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).

B

Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -13.5%
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...)

Photo of mr-jj
3.72/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

Photo of Rifugium
3.73/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

Photo of TempeBeerMan
3.74/5  rDev -13%
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.

Photo of thebigredone
3.75/5  rDev -12.8%

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.

Photo of MjBrewhouse
3.75/5  rDev -12.8%

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.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.76/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.76/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

Photo of Brandywine
3.78/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

Photo of Stevedore
3.8/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle of Batch 001, thanks to Shaun for bringing this bottle over. And thanks to Dustin who hooked him up. Poured into a Three Floyds' teku glass today, 10/15/2013.

Review #241.

Pours a pitch black body, with a bubbly and not particularly thick or foamy off-white head that dissipates quickly. Looks like a stout to me. Nothing weird abut it.

Smells interesting, just hints of sweet bourbon and coconut, a bit of the underlying chocolate and toffee but not a whole lot else. No vanilla. But it reminds me quite a bit of Parabola but everything is muted.

We drank this as the first stout of the night so I think my palate is judging this beer fairly. It's mostly hints of sweet bourbon and coconut. I really don't get a whole lot of the typical oatmeal stout flavour profiles- no chocolate, vanilla, coffee, umami. In the end this beer feels like its meant to deliver a muted, watered down bourbon barrel experience.

Creamy, rich, full-bodied stout. Good carbonation. Dangerously drinkable and smooth.

Either my bourbon barrel stout palate is ruined after drinking CW Black Gold and Sixteen last Saturday, or this beer is just missing a lot of things. It's got a much better mouthfeel than Parabola does, but its lacking any kind of intensity. In the end I felt it is a drinkable, smooth oatmeal stout that lost a lot of whatever the base beer had to offer after spending time in barrels.

Photo of Gmann
3.82/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chocolate brown color, near black. The beer has a short tan head that settles into a light ring.

The aroma is sweet from the bourbon. Smooth oatmeal stout notes. Nice under current of caramel and vanilla. The aroma is not super strong but it is also not overpoweringly boozy.

The taste is of a smooth oatmeal stout with some milk chocolate notes and a smidge of roasted bitterness. The bourbon is light and bring caramel and vanilla to the table. Some wood notes in the end.

The feel is light with fizzy carbonation. Sweet on the palate overall but finishes quite dry. Slightly sticky in the finish.

Some nice flavors but the stout seems to fall a little short. It is too dry for my liking and could use a touch more bourbon.

Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2014 Vintage

Appearance: A massive mocha head forms on top of the dark chocolate colored liquid; nice retention and an interesting pattern of lace

Smell: Brown bread, chocolate and caramel, with hints of coconut, vanilla, oak and Bourbon

Taste: Chocolate and brown bread, up front, with the caramel, vanilla and coconut tones developing somewhat; the Bourbon appears in the finish, almost as an afterthought

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; lacks the creamy mouthfeel I would expect from the oatmeal

Overall: I knew with an 8.5% ABV that this wasn't going to be a big stout but I was surprised at it, nevertheless; it's a decent beer but it lacked the depth of flavor and the mouthfeel I would expect from a beer so highly rated, let alone from a brewery that has always impressed me greatly

Thanks, fthegiants, for the opportunity

Photo of kevanb
3.83/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Far Bar in Little Tokyo - snifter

A: Really lovely jet black color, fine hints of caramel brown in the light. Big thick coffee colored head, at least 2 fingers, really sexy looking stout.

S: Bourbon jumps out, but is a little weaker than I expected. Lots of oats and toasty grains, chocolate and mild vanilla with a faint bit of wood. It's not as clean and balanced as I thought, but it's still a pleasant aroma.

T: The oats and the bourbon weren't really doing it for me. Merlin is pretty heavy on the oats and toasty grains and the bourbon just kinda sat there and didn't compliment it at all. It was a bit disjointed, lots of bitter coffee and chocolates in the stout with a melange of oak, vanilla and bourbon kind of scattered around.

M: Nice and full bodied, not to thick and chewy and not too easy either. Great to sip or get a nice big gulp.

O: This was a bit disjointed for me, lots of strong elements and flavors, just not really working in harmony, maybe it needed more age, maybe it had too much age. Maybe the bourbon and oats just didn't mesh.

Photo of prior2two
3.84/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A - Black like night, with a head that dissapates quickly. It pours beautifly.

S- smells of oak and bourbon and roasted malt. Super aromatic

T- I was underwhelmed. For an oatmeal stout, it wasn't as creamy as I had hoped, and it was a little too astringent. Maybe a little over carbed or too much hop? Either way, I didn't feel the body held up very well. Had a "cola" flavor that I couldn't shake. The oak and bourbon came through nicely.

M - See Above. I thought it was a little too thin. Its only 8.5%, but I expected a little more body and creaminess from an oatmeal stout.

O - I enjoyed it. I wouldn't buy it again though. FW does some great stuff, but this wasn't a must have for me. Still, it's better than so many things out there.

Photo of zhanson88
3.84/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Was excited to pick one of these up.

Appearance: Pours a thin-ish bodied dark brown color with about 1" of khaki colored head. Retention is good, and lacing is nice as well. Pretty nice looking beer, just a bit thin for the style.

Smell: Dusty cocoa and bitter dark chocolate scents come to mind immediately. Underneath that, a bit of barrel shows as well. A bit of woodiness, a bit of vanilla, and even less of a hint of bourbon. Nothing too crazy or overbearing, just very nice balance.

Taste: Tastes akin to a brownie in many ways. Cocoa and milk chocolate sweetness, with dark chocolate and perhaps a bit of coffee bitterness. Also, something that I did not catch on the nose in a hint of dark fruits. Again, the barrel is understated, with hints of barrel, vanilla and bourbon.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is really my only gripe. Can't really describe it any other way than thin, with pretty high carbonation. I think this beer gets exponentially better with a bigger body. Overall, a really enjoyable beer that does not drink near its 8.5% ABV. Nice balanced flavors, with an appropriate amount of barrel that complements the beer nicely. Again, a heavier body would really bump my review score on this, but as is, a pretty nice beer that is certainly worth a try.

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.86/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Poured into a snifter to reveal a blackened color with cola brown edging when held to light. The head is light tan and peaks at about a half a finger in width, then quickly dies down to form a webbing of surface suds and a thin ring around the edge. Lacing is small and spotty with decent stick.

Smell - At first crack I get hints of Black roast, chocolate and notes of deep, rich caramel. I could live off that caramel. As the brew warms hints of vanilla and bourbon sweetness begin to peek through, then strengthen. Strong toffee notes once the beer is fairly warmed.

Taste - Lighter in flavor than what the nose leads on. Touches on toffee, chocolate, bourbon and vanilla. Sweet with hints of heat. Light roastiness. Flavor nearly falls off the map in the finish, but leaves ghostly traces of chocolate and bourbon in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Eh. Pretty thin, even for a barrel-aged brew. Low carbonation. A bit watery in the finish. Easily the weakest aspect of the brew.

Overall - Had this on tap last year and thought it was fairly disappointing. I'm not sure if this batch is any better or it's that my expectations aren't as high, but I'm not quite as down on it this time around, though that doesn't mean I'm still not underwhelmed. The aroma is amazing, but unfortunately the flavor and body don't live up to expectations. At $15 per bottle, this is one Firestone BA brew that I won't be buying a 2nd bottle of which to age. In fact I'm not even sure what aging could possibly do for this beer. There simply isn't enough here.

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.86/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle courtesy of BeerHatesRob pours a rich black color with a frothy tan head. Nice lacing and decent retention.

Nose is half chocolate milkshake and half roasty stout. Very nice.

Taste shows some bold barrel character to go along with a lactose-y sweet milk stout. Its smooth and creamy but I could actually use a little more chocolate and malt depth. Its not quite as good as I was hoping, the barrel seems to overpower the malt character of the beer.

Photo of MasterfulIdiot
3.86/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Super excited to try this! Thanks to Coirm for the bottle.

Appearance is pretty much black. A moderately thick coffee-colored head kicks up on the pour, but fades to a film and a frothy ring around the glass almost immediately.

Aroma is coffee, chocolate syrup, with just the faintest hint of vanilla. Bourbon and oaky notes aren't present at first, but begin to show up as the beer warms, along with just a touch of alcohol heat in there. It's actually kind of surprising that they got any alcohol heat to show up, considering the relatively low ABV, but I'm happy they figured out a way! All the flavors are working together really nicely, and it smells like it'll be right up my alley!

Taste is much the same, incorporating chocolate, coffee, oak, and bourbon notes all into one delicious whole. Nice bit of lactic tartness as well. As with the nose, there's a nice feeling of alcohol warmth at its relatively modest 8.5% ABV.

Mouthfeel is moderately thick, but I think could have stood to be a little thicker. Lots of carbonation. Moderately dry.

Overall, a really nice, smooth, and relatively easy-drinking beer. This is positively sessionable as far as barrel-aged beers go! Really well-done.

Photo of srandycarter
3.87/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this at a Firestone Walker tasting at Blind Lady over the weekend. It is not retired and there is a difference between the Merlin and the Merkin. Merlin is not barrel aged and is available in bottles. Merkin is BAed and is not available in bottle.

A - No head, dark, almost black, with amber notes.

S - cocoa, roasted malt, light wood.

T - Chocolate chip cookies, burnt coffee, bitter end.

M - Medium to heavy body, heavy bitter, slightly chaulky finish.

D - Though low ABV, flavors are huge palate killers and I would tire fast.

Photo of sidetracked
3.88/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Acre for Faux-BAB.

Pours black with a lingering off-white head.

Aroma is some bourbon and wood notes, malty with some roastyness. The base oatmeal stout is evident, but leans toward a neutral malty smell that doesn't add much.

Upfront taste is bourbon, wood, roasted malts, a little chocolate, and a slight bitterness. Finish is more barrel-forward with bourbon, wood, and vanilla mixing with a light bitter chocolate flavor. Lingering bourbon and roasted malts.

Medium body and creamy with low to medium carbonation.

Pretty good. The base oatmeal stout still shines through the barrel aging treatment. Nice to see they didn't overpower the original beer's flavors.

5/23/2012

Photo of rfgetz
3.9/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark, copper tinted black, modest cap of brown froth, gone quickly, spotty bubbling. First whiff was solid, but not as bold as expected... light charachter from the burbon and oak blend with light roasted malt, faint creamy sweetness, minimal notes of cocoa. Taste brings a dry, oaky flavor, bourbon is present but not a star, roasty, a bit of a hop presence, light cream and sugar, minimal cocoa. Medium bodied, not full and creamy like an oatmeal stout, dry. Was anticipating this one immensely and left somewhat disapointed, expected big and bold and i got softer and milder. Still a good beer, just not great.

Photo of Premo88
3.91/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22 oz. bomber poured into snifter
(2013 vintage)

L: standard black motor oil, big tan head at least 1.25 inches that doesn't stick or lace; no light can pass through beer, but it might be relatively clear

S: VERY boozy ... smells like whiskey mixed into dark malt ... what you'd expect with some dark dark notes of licorice; oak wood and whiskey take over as it warms, and it’s fantastic; really starting to get the coffee now, kind of an astringent bitter/sour coffee note like some of the central/south american coffees can get

T: loads of stuff here ... whiskey, vanilla malt, dark malt bleeding into licorice, kind of raisiny, very burnt up front or in the middle, but that smooths into a nice wood-char taste that lingers in the aftertaste, very nice; real dark compared to the velvet martin

F: mighty fine ... got lots of carbonation and not too thick, so it’s as drinkable as a pale ale

O: great sipping brew with good whiskey and wood notes; it’s pricey and I think I like the nonbarrel-aged version better, if that’s possible, but the 8.5% ABV is cool because most barrel-aged stouts are 10% plus and this is much less. i like that.

Photo of AgentMunky
3.92/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a tasting glass at the brewery. From notes. Reviewed 24 February 2013.

It smells of sweet bourbon. Like scotch and chocolate. The taste is like oatmeal with chocolate milk. Finish is ozone and chalky sweet. It's okay, but it really suffers from the mouthfeel -- it's thin and flat. Smooooth, but it kills the flavor. I'll try it again sometime, but this was not that impressive.

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,962 ratings.