1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,017 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1017
Reviews: 160
rAvg: 4.29
pDev: 9.56%


Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Oatmeal stout aged in a >10 year old Heaven Hill bourbon barrel.

(Beer added by: t0rin0 on 11-20-2008)
View: Beers (64) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
Ratings: 1,017 | Reviews: 160 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of AgentMunky
AgentMunky

California

3.89/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

11-19-2013 06:04:48 | More by AgentMunky
Photo of sidetracked
sidetracked

Illinois

3.9/5  rDev -9.1%
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

Serving type: on-tap

05-26-2012 15:55:42 | More by sidetracked
Photo of rfgetz
rfgetz

New Jersey

3.9/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

06-07-2012 13:10:45 | More by rfgetz
Photo of jaasen64
jaasen64

Massachusetts

3.93/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle poured into 18oz Funky Buddha snifter. '13 vintage, 3500 cases produced.

A- Pours a dark brown that appears a jet black in the glass, about a half-fingers worth of slight mocha head forms leaving off-white spotty lacing. Head recedes to just a wispy flat top.

S- Dark malts with a little bit of dark chocolate, licorice, lactose sugars, some faint toffee. About average aroma strength, pleasant smelling, bourbon doesn't come out too much. Overall a nice aroma with a little bit of complexity but nothing too memorable.

T- Nice lactose sugars mixed with a bit of dark chocolate, some light licorice, toffee, more dark chocolate comes out on the finish with a bit of milk chocolate, some light leather, very subtle bourbon, and more lactose sugars. Nice long enjoyable finish.

M- Fairly light for style, a little bit spritzy with a decent amount of carbonation, very drinkable though.

O- I enjoyed this beer but I don't think I'd say it lives up to the hype it has been receiving. There just wasn't anything that really stood out for me, maybe I just had too high of expectations loving Parabola and Sucaba. Definitely worth the try, but there is no way I'd pay $17 for another bottle (even at half that I'd be a little bit hesitant).

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2013 23:17:40 | More by jaasen64
Photo of ThePaleRider
ThePaleRider

California

3.95/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Really dark brown stout. No light is visible through the glass. Very nice two finger head that quickly disappeared and just left a small layer of big bubbles. Head is a very light brown that left some decent lacing on the glass.

S - This smells like desert in a glass. Lots of chocolate, roasted grains, and a little bit of brown sugary whiskey. Maybe the best smell of any stout I've ever had. It smells like it's going to taste smooth, if that makes any sense.

T - Delicious. The flavor really comes on strong. Right up front your hit with the bourbon and oak. Gives you a little kick, tastes like the ABV would be a little higher. Way, way back in the back end of the flavor you begin picking up the malts, grains, and chocolate. The barrel taste really does a great job at sticking around. I do wish it was a little smoother.

M - Very crisp stout. Dry taste that keeps you wanting more..

O - I think this is a beer that needs to be aged a little. I couldn't resist opening it up, but I think it need to tone down and let the flavors mix a little more. Not a bad beer at all, now I need to find another one for my cellar.

Serving type: bottle

10-03-2013 06:59:50 | More by ThePaleRider
Photo of gueuzedreg
gueuzedreg

Colorado

3.96/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz batch one into a Goose Island glass.

A- Not quite jet black. On the sides of the glass when held up to light brown barely transparent through. Pretty thick. Minimal lacing with little retention.

S- Big oats/oatmeal upfront, with sugary sweet malts and little bit of dark fruit.

T- Slight oatmeal stout, not overpowering with a touch of booze heat at the end. I kinda wanted this to be a big bad bold oatmeal stout that has heat on the end. I know that this kind of stout would get thinner because of the barrel aging.

M- Pretty thick for a BA Oatmeal Stout. Not thick like Zhukov, and not as thin as Central Waters BB Stout, right in the middle of both.

O- I was not impressed with the hype behind this one. I probably will seek out one bottle next year, and not go overboard searching for it.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2013 01:09:58 | More by gueuzedreg
Photo of PicoPapa
PicoPapa

Connecticut

3.98/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Top Hops. Pours a very dark brown with a 1/4 inch of head. Some lacing. Sweet aroma of vanilla, caramel, chocolate and some coffee. The taste is sweet caramel and chocolate with some vanilla as well. Some bitter dark chocolate towards the end. Boozey. Vanilla and caramel at the finish. Slick mouthfeel with a medium amount of carbonation. One of the boozier Oatmeal Stouts I've had. Overall, I'd get it again.

Serving type: on-tap

01-17-2014 19:09:11 | More by PicoPapa
Photo of bulletrain76
bulletrain76

California

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Guest tap at Fifty Fifty. I went in to try the house beers out, and saw that they had this as a guest tap because they didn't currently have a house stout. Not knowing anything about the beer other than it was a stout and that firestone makes an awesome porter, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. The pint showed up at the table pitch black with a rocky tan head. A little cold at first, but most stouts are right out of the keg. The aroma had a strong espresso roast character. The flavor also had lots of bitter dark chocolate and espresso flavors, with some dried fruits. The body was full and smooth, but not too substantial. What got me was that there was this alcoholic bite that felt disconnected from the rest of the beer. it felt like the beer wasn't too alcoholic, yet there was this vivid snap like a hard alcohol. Never crossed my mind that it was bourbon aged, but makes sense now looking back. An interesting and cool stout; I would definitely had another pint or two if time allowed.

Serving type: on-tap

06-10-2009 20:00:53 | More by bulletrain76
Photo of billshmeinke
billshmeinke

California

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Blue Palms.

Pitch black with a finger of off white head. Retention and lacing are fine for the style.

Smells of oaky vanilla, coconut, some chocolate, hint of alcohol, hint of cereal like oats.

Tastes follows smell, only more intense and complex. Tastes of bakers chocolate, rolled oats, really pronounced coconut note, oaky vanilla.

Medium bodied, well carbonated, some alcohol spice. Kind of expected it to be a bit more full bodied and sticky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Serving type: on-tap

12-03-2011 03:09:50 | More by billshmeinke
Photo of UCLABrewN84
UCLABrewN84

California

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro tap for Churchill's Renaissance at Churchill's Pub & Grille in San Marcos, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson brown with a foamy tan head that lasts. A thick curtain of lace forms on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, toasted oats, wood, and slight bourbon. Taste is pretty much the same except the bourbon is very subtle and hard to taste. This beer has a nice thick and creamy mouthfeel being on the nitro tap. Overall, this is a good stout but the barrel aging is quite mild in both the aroma and taste.

Serving type: nitro-tap

03-05-2012 22:41:29 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of axeman9182
axeman9182

New Jersey

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap and served in a goblet at Barcade's anniversary party.

Velvet Merkin pours jet black, with around half a finger of mocha foam crowning the beer. Head retention is surprisingly good, though there's very little in the way of lacing left behind. The nose isn't bad, though it's more barrel than beer. There's plenty of bourbon and wood, joined by more subtle aromas of vanilla and milk chocolate. The base brew shines through some more in the flavor profile, as rich chocolaty notes take the lead here. Vanilla is the main supporting player, though oak and a very mild bourbon flavor are also present. The body is velvety smooth and not at all heavy, and is paired with an appropriately muted carbonation. Picture perfect mouthfeel. I had supremely high expectations for a 100% barrel aged version of one of my favorite oatmeal stouts, and while Velvet Merkin might not quite live up to them, it's still a damn good beer.

Serving type: on-tap

10-18-2012 19:52:23 | More by axeman9182
Photo of CuriousMonk
CuriousMonk

Virginia

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours opaque brown with a moderately thick tan head with a pretty good retention that left nice lacing throughout. Aromas suggested a strong oatmeal presence along with very light notes of vanilla, bourbon, oak, toffee, and marshmallows. The flavor was also oat and chocolate forward along with a sweet moderate note of lighter caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak, and slight coconut. Medium bitterness and no hop flavor whatsoever. Medium mouthfeel with decent carbonation throughout. Overall, this beer was thinner than I expected along with low astringency and alcohol warmth. This was more of an interesting milk stout to me and perhaps too light for my taste as I am a fan of the more bold, but complex beers

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2013 19:40:25 | More by CuriousMonk
Photo of HuskyinPDX
HuskyinPDX

Washington

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 10.8.13
No. 1

A - Pours a dark brown with a larger dark tan active head that fades fast leaving large bubble lacing.

S - Malt and oats, pretty subtle.

T - Bourbon barrel, chocolate and light oats.

D - Lower carbonation and a heavier body.

O - Nice and solid, nice flavors. I was wishing for a bit more depth.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2013 20:36:23 | More by HuskyinPDX
Photo of plaid75
plaid75

New York

4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured roasted malts a d a touch of charcoal.

The flavor was likewise roasted with a touch of sweetness and a hint of black licorice.

The mouthfeel was toward tge fuller side of the style.

Overall a tasty oatmeal stout.

Serving type: on-tap

02-23-2014 22:35:03 | More by plaid75
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber

Washington

4.01/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin brown head that dissipates to a ring around the glass with light slippery lacing.Aroma of chocolate, sweet dark toasted malt, bourbon and vanilla. Flavor is vanilla, mild toasted malt, cocoa, lactose. A touch of coffee, coconut and bourbon. Light to medium bodied. A nice stout with complex flavor and a deft touch of bourbon from the barrel. Surprisingly thin bodied for an oatmeal stout, perhaps the lightest I've ever had; I would never have identified this as having oatmeal in it in a blind taste. Still tasty different. Can't help but think that this would have been outstanding with a bit heavier malt body.

Serving type: bottle

12-25-2013 04:45:58 | More by LiquidAmber
Photo of Floydster
Floydster

California

4.03/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at Blue Palms out of the handpump for seven dollars, reviewed from notes

A-Practically black color but the edges are lighter for sure, so very dark brown, 1 1/4 inch full frothy medium tan head that lasted three or four minutes, nice retention, some lacing
S-Main smell at first is the bourbon and the slightly spicy scents that come from it, also lots of oak and vanilla, it has milk chocolate, roasted malts, cream, and grains as well
T-It starts off a little sweet with some cocoa, there is some light coffee in the middle, bourbon notes are in the finish with lots more vanilla than expected, like the slight twang and spice from the whiskey too, flavors mold together with this one well and I can really see why this mixed so well with a dark Belgian in a previous blend, nicely balanced and a flavorful oatmeal stout
M-Slightly dry, roasty, and faintly sweet mouthfeel, thinner body out of the cask but still medium, carbonation is obviously minimal, taste lingers
D-Could have drank lots more of this stuff, light on the stomach, smooth and very easy to drink for an oatmeal stout, could even make a session beer, taste does not get tiresome

I was excited to try this after having Saucerful of Merkin and wanting to know what those two components tasted like by themselves, this beer is right around six percent alcohol supposedly but it feels even lighter than that at times, would like to drink again, recommended

Serving type: cask

05-10-2009 17:59:21 | More by Floydster
Photo of homebrew311
homebrew311

Illinois

4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ FoBAB.

A: pour dark brown, pretty much identical to the base beer, decent retention, creamy head

S: like the base beer, this is an excellent aromatic showcase of roasted barley, this is paired with vanilla, cream, and mellow chocolate.

T: vanilla shows up front with mellow oak qualities, this is followed by chocolate and roasted malt, great balance, very smooth flavors

MF: somewhat thin but on par for a 5.5% oatmeal stout, medium carbonation

O: this is a great drinkable barrel aged stout. There aren't a whole lot of barrel aged stouts with such a low ABV, this one pulls it off nicely

Serving type: on-tap

11-15-2011 07:17:05 | More by homebrew311
Photo of Murrhey
Murrhey

Montana

4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had as part of the "Reserve Flight" at the Bruery Provisions for its Firestone Walker tap takeover. Poured in a 2oz taster. Reviewed from notes.

A- Off-white head, fairly thin especially when sat next to its less boozy brother the Merlin. The higher alcohol content probably had a lot to do with that. Dark black color, no light peeked through.

S- Chocolate and bourbon, warm and dark. Inviting smell. I like this quite a bit.

T- So smooth. Boozy and malty. Warm and decadent with a distinct bourbon taste.

M- Thin, with an alcoholic feel. Finishes wet.

O- I want more of this beer.

Serving type: on-tap

04-23-2012 05:05:26 | More by Murrhey
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium

Florida

4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bottle poured into a taster.

Appearance - Black with a large khaki head. Good lacing. Really nice.

Smell - Bourbon is strong without being overpowering. Vanilla and chocolate. Roasty.

Taste - Bourbon and oak are nice. Roasty. Vanilla. Chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Well it is thin, but it's nice. Drinkable, we'll call it.

Overall - Good beer. Quality flavors in a small package.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2013 01:56:20 | More by Alieniloquium
Photo of DrewskiWhit
DrewskiWhit

Indiana

4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice head retention. Looks pretty thin. deep brown color.

S yep its a Firestone BA beer. That classic firestone bourbon, vanilla & coconut smell dominates.

T falls a touch short here for me. Its good but not blowing me away as most fw beers do. Mostly follows the nose although there is a touch of bitterness on the back end as it warmed

M I've seen the reviews and indeed it is a thin mouth feel. However, I rather enjoyed it and it just makes it more drinkable.

O I think I prefer this one a bit chilled but the more I drink it, the more I like it. Honestly tho this is prob my least favorite fw BA beer but still quite delicious and a nice alternative to parabola

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 03:19:51 | More by DrewskiWhit
Photo of notchucknorris
notchucknorris

California

4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep brown color with a thin light brown head. Leaves some nice spotty lace down the glass.

S: Roasted malt, freshly ground medium roast coffee, milk chocolate and some vanilla all laced with a mild touch of whiskey.

T: Opens with a smooth hit of milk chocolate sweetness. Chocolate cake, roasted malt and chocolate milkshake. Finishes with just a hint of whiskey, vanilla and the barest hint of charred oak. Good flavors, but the mouthfeel just doesn't do this beer justice. Very thin with just a hint of creaminess from the oats. Parabola light is a good description. Very light.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2013 01:40:48 | More by notchucknorris
Photo of Phelps
Phelps

Arizona

4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

That’s right: Velvet MERKIN. Barrel-aged goodness. Though I’ve been told a portion of the regular Merlin is aged in barrels, I never get much of it, so I’ve been looking forward to this. According to the Firestone rep on call for tonight’s tapping, Merkin is four times as expensive to make as Merlin and aged 6 to 8 months in Heaven Hill and Four Roses barrels. It wasn’t even supposed to surface in Arizona this year, but the Firestone guys owed the owner of Flanny’s a favor, and here we are.

Dead black, without a hint of light coming through. The airy, sand-colored head gets to be about an inch tall before receding quickly, leaving behind some thin lace trails and an impressive ring of froth.

Amazing aroma. The usual barrel notes of toasted coconut, charred oak and buttery vanilla are all here. Backing them up is what makes Merlin great: roasty, chocolatey goodness. Cocoa nibs, dark chocolate, marzipan, toffee, coffee beans. So smooth, so sweet. Damn near perfect.

The flavor's a bit of a letdown after that performance. It starts with sweet toffee and vanilla bean, followed by definite alcohol notes and oodles of vinous new oak. A simple wave of poor quality chocolate rolls in mid-palate, and notes of bitter coffee and sweet toffee settle in the back. Soft oats join after the swallow. There’s not quite enough of the stout flavor to back up the whiskey — which actually seems lesser quality than what it is. Overall the flavor’s still very good — it’s just not as outrageous as the nose promised.

Some fumes come through my nostrils, but overall the booze is very well-hidden. Body is just under medium, but has nice viscosity, like heavy milk. Mild, tiny fizz bubbles; sweet, nearly tangy finish.

Merlin is world-class for its smoothness and subtlety, so it might not be the best venue to showcase bourbon-aging. I wish just a little bit more of the base beer came through. Very good, not great.

Serving type: on-tap

01-06-2012 23:09:59 | More by Phelps
Photo of Samuel906
Samuel906

California

4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Well, I feel honored to have the first review of the first bottle release of Velvet Merkin ever, something I have been looking forward to a lot longer than I'd like to admit. And here it is, straight from the brewery in Paso Robles, Batch No. 001, 2013.

First, a note on appearance going beyond just the pour: I really like what Firestone has done this past year and for most of their reserve and limited releases. The box design and bottle design has been very consistent with the only major change between brews being color accents. It makes their bottle collections look very handsome and tasteful.

As for the beer... Pours black, very black, with only some minor hints of reddish tinge on the fringes when light is shown through. Light khaki head with some retention; no effervescing visible.

The smell... mmmm the smell. My very first impression was a breakfast setting of coffee and oats, rich and full. Further inspection will reveal coconut, graham crackers, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Being able to smell the toasted fresh grains is delightful. One of my new favorite smelling beers; I seriously just sniffed for a good 10 minutes before diving in any further.

The tune changes a bit for me once we start drinking unfortunately. I'm going to skip right to mouthfeel because it was the fist thing I noticed. It is very, very thin and watery and not what you may expect from an Imperial Stout. Carbonation is light. But don't despair, the full rich flavor makes up somewhat for what the body lacks.

When they say bourbon barrel aged, they aren't kidding. Aged bourbon is going to be at the forefront of the flavor cascade. Vanilla, oak, chocolate, with a strong oat background that finishes strong. Not super-complex, but the flavors all work to complement the bourbon leaving you with the lingering warmth that spirit typifies.

Overall, a terrific beer with my only real qualm being that it is much too thin. A must try for any Firestone enthusiast, bourbon enthusiast, or fan of the style.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2013 05:05:04 | More by Samuel906
Photo of Scotchboy
Scotchboy

Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Review/Rating No. 800, celebrated with Batch 001 of Velvet Merkin in celebration of the birth of my first son. Split with my brother into pint glasses.

A: Nearly opaque with tan head and lace. Decent retention and lacing.

S&T: Sweet whiskey and vanilla...chocolate, some burnt barley, and oak. Toasted sugars from front to back, caramel? Definitely some toasted coconut and some almonds and hazelnuts. Coffee as it warms. Warmth on the finish but no booze really. This is a lighter body and bourbon presence than I was expecting.

MF: Medium-full bodied, but lighter than I thought it would be. Definitely smooth, but the oats aren't as apparent as I thought/hoped they'd be.

O: A good beer that didn't quite live up to the hype for me. Firestone Walker has ridiculous expectations set on their barrel-aged beers, and rightfully so as most of them are near perfect. This one, for me, was missing body and lower on aromas/flavors of bourbon than I wanted. Still an excellent BA oatmeal stout that is lower in ABV.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2014 14:33:57 | More by Scotchboy
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on Tap at 1702, Tucson; March 2010
Arrives from the tap an opaque, dark color that shows a touch of clear red / brown hues when held up to the light. The head is quite wispy and seems a bit dark. At first the aroma has a thin vanilla note to it as well as a roast grain aromatic. Actually the aroma is really hard for me to smell, but as it warms I get hints of buttery oak and a hint of almost fruity tartness.

There is a hint of sweetness in the flavor (or is that vanillin) up front, but this dries out quite significantly as this rolls across the tongue. Vanillin lingers along with notes of dark chocolate, roasted grain and a hint of barrel-derived spiciness on the palate. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy feeling, but it still remains light as this is definitely a beer to quaff a couple pints of. The roast character dominates the flavor profile, but it is well balanced and keeps from being harsh, astringent, or acidic (which I find as common "flaws" in roasted beers). This is really well balanced in the flavor; roast, sweeter malt character, vanillin and bittering notes all work together quite harmoniously. The barrel is quite mellow actually, vanillin is here, as is an oak derived spiciness and a tannic quality in the finish, but I could almost be convinced that this was not barrel aged.

This is an awesome quaffing / session brew; it is full flavored, delicious andcomplex, too bad that this aroma comes off as being so muted (is it the glass, my nose, I don't know but I think it is actually just the beer).

Serving type: on-tap

03-20-2010 23:04:38 | More by Gueuzedude
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,017 ratings.