Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,962 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,962
Reviews: 282
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 355
Gots: 769 | 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: 1,962 | Reviews: 282
Photo of dar482
3.93/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer has a good oak and aggressive bourbon note in the front. Sweet vanilla and chocolate. It then calms onto notes of the beer with roasted malt and slightly bitter chocolate clean up the beer on the finish.

The beer is barely fitting of the Firestone Walker name. It lacks body most importantly, and a bit of flavor. The smooth barrel notes exist, but the complete picture is just not there.

Photo of jaasen64
3.93/5  rDev -8.6%
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).

Photo of roger617
3.93/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage, reviewed 6/30/2014. Bomber poured into snifter.

A: Black in color, pours with a little over a finger of off-white head that reduces fairly quickly and leaves a medium sized collar. Not much lacing to speak of.
S: For a bourbon barrel stout, this comes across as pretty mellow. I get a little bourbon, a little roast, a little grains, and on the back end a pleasant and complimentary smokiness.
T: I get the bourbon up front, oats and grain in the middle, and a smooth mellow bourbon finish. That flavor is very smooth, and quite enjoyable.
M: This is a little more thin that I would hope for, but it leaves a rich feeling as an after taste that I really enjoy.
O: Firestone Walker never seems to disappoint, and this is no exception. Velvet Merkin is a well done beer that everyone should make sure to try.

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a nearly pitch black color with a thick and creamy tan colored head. The head has a fantastic level of retention, slowly fading and leaving behind a sticky looking lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is big of a sweet oatmeal smell with a good showing of a woody and bourbon boozy smell. Along with these aromas comes smells of caramel and vanilla as well as a little bit of a more toasted malt and somewhat grainy smell giving a very nice warningly dark and sweet smell

Taste- The taste begins with a big sweet oatmeal flavor with a good and heavy flavor of oats and caramel as well as a bit of vanilla and some nice woody and bourbon flavors upfront. There is a decent showing of a more roasted and chocolate flavor upfront, but these pale in comparison to the sweeter oat. As the taste advances the woody flavors lessen a bit, but the sweeter flavors grow even more intense with quite a bit more vanilla and caramel coming to the tongue. All the while the more roasted flavors really start picking up steam more toward the end surpassing the oat flavor of the brew. While at 8.5 % abv., the alcohol is very well concealed and with the mix of flavors that is left at the end, a nice roasted and sweet, lightly woody and moderately oatmeal like flavor is left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel-The body of the beer is on the thinner side for a oatmeal stout of 8.5% abv with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. A thicker body and lower carbonation would have been much better for the oatmeal and sweeter roasted flavors of the brew, really giving support to these rich flavors.

Overall- A rather tasty oatmeal stout overall with a nice hit of woody bourbon flavor without a whole lot of heavy and hot booziness. A nice, oatmeal, semi-sweet roasty brew.

Photo of gueuzedreg
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

Photo of PicoPapa
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Photo of billshmeinke
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Photo of axeman9182
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev -7%

Pours engine oil black with a small tan head.

Nose consists of wood, chocolate, bourbon.

Upfront the taste reminds me of dark chocolate brownies followed by a hint of bourbon, oak and vanilla.
I was hoping the beer would feature a bit bigger mouthfeel. That's the one drawback for me. Can't justify the price of this when I can get six packs of Merlin for under $10 and do my own experimenting with vanilla beans and whiskey.

Photo of RickS95
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a luxurious dark brown, almost black color. Not something like from the middle of a black hole, but an extremely dark, rich brown, bordering on black color. The head is a coffee colored mixture of mostly uniform smallish bubbles. It lacks retention and doesn't provide much lace, but it leaves the top with a gentle film of lightness on top of the dark beer.

It's not an aggressive smell of anything, but you pick up slight notes of bourbon and vanilla. With each swirl, the head reemerges and up from it comes a waft of chocolate.

This beer tastes like a liqueur had sex with a stout, and this is the result. Oak and vanilla is prevalent, as is the bourbon. But it's just a bit of bourbon and not overpowering. They showed restraint in the barrels.

Very smooth and creamy feel, with a gentle graininess from the oak barrels. A splash of sweetness lasts throughout the sip with only the faint heat in the finish to cut through. Tastes like it should feel stronger than it is, but it's slightly thinner than you'd imagine.

A bit different than what I'm used to in oatmeal stouts. Everything about this beer is in moderation and that makes it a real treat.

Photo of plaid75
4/5  rDev -7%
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.

Photo of atr2605
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-pours black with a tan head with decent retention
S-chocolate, vanilla, roasted coffee, hint of sweet cream
T-lots of roasted chocolate flavors, like eating a dark chocolate truffle.
M-medium bodied with average retention
O-very solid beer, definitely worth trying

Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -7%
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

Photo of Joshpu
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(2013 Release) Poured from the bomber to snifter.

A: Poured a dark brown, porter looking, with a small off-white head.

S: Vanilla/coconut bourbon smell, slight oatmeal. The stout characteristics are more subtle than I thought they would be.

T: Again getting mostly the vanilla from the bourbon and oak. The stout characteristics are pretty tame on the taste, they're there but are playing background. Slight dark chocolate, coffee. A sweetness that I can't quite describe. As it warms I get a slight tobacco flavor.

M: Light to medium bodied. Creamy and crisp and easy to drink, don't taste the alcohol at all.

Overall, not my favorite offering from FW, but still a well executed beer. An easy drinking and balanced beer.

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -7%
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.

Photo of Brabander
4/5  rDev -7%

A bit too thin but the taste is great!

Photo of Moheban
4/5  rDev -7%

Good but not as good as I expected

Photo of trippytbta
4/5  rDev -7%

Bottle poured into tulip

A: pours very dark brown almost black, light khaki head

S: oats and bourbon

T: kind of a typical Oatmeal stout taste, BuT you do really get the barrel coming through with bourbon, oak, and vanilla.

M: silky and great carbonation

Overall: if your a big fan of oatmeal stouts this is for you. I wanted something a little more crazy, but it is a great representation of the style and as always great barrel aging

Photo of bulletrain76
4/5  rDev -7%
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.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.01/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

Photo of Floydster
4.01/5  rDev -6.7%
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

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.02/5  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.

Photo of siege06nd
4.02/5  rDev -6.5%

A. Black with a half finger of khaki colored head, good lacing and consistency.

S. Excellent with lots of baking chocolate, roasted coffee, caramel, and vanilla.

T. Not quite as good as the nose. Big doses of milk chocolate, lots of vanilla, and caramel, and even some fruity sweetness. It's quite sweet and a little light.

M. A little light on the palate, lightly carbed, the sweetness really stands out. Quite milky with the barrel not really standing out.

O. It's a good beer, but a little sweeter and lighter than I expected. At 8.5%, though, it's impressive.

Photo of ThePaleRider
4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

Photo of jdhasse
4.04/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Very enjoyable, but was hoping for better. Would chose Parabola over this one.

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