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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.

298 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 298
Hads: 2,127
Avg: 4.24
pDev: 25.71%
Wants: 383
Gots: 921 | FT: 140
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.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 298 | Hads: 2,127
Photo of imperialbeerdude
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I had this months ago when it first came out and I hate to age beers, but this is a case where some age has really done the beer some good. I feel the additional time helped integrate the flavor more. I'm picking up much more coconut and vanilla in this bee, not much if any of the bourbon barrel. This is exactly what I want though, the bourbon to give some extra sweetness, vanilla and coconut. Don't drink this expecting big barrel character, instead expect a well integrated beer.

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Photo of KFBR392
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage bottled on 8/23/13

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of gcamparone
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz boxed bottled into an innis & gunn tulip glass. Purchased in Attleboro, MA. Thanks Eric for putting this aside for me.

A- Pours a pretty deep brown body with a generous 3 finger, fast rising light mocha head that reduces slowly to leave some thick white lacing.

S- Smells quite sweet with vanilla, butterscotch, honey, and caramel notes, the bourbon comes through quite nicely. Light coffee and chocolate.

T- Creamy, smooth, slightly sweet milk chocolate, toasted oats, caramel are the first things to show up. The barrel is present here and adds vanilla and bourbon notes. The finish is roasty and leaves a nice toasted malt flavor on the tongue.

M- Somewhat light on the tongue, could use more body.. light carbonation.

A nicely done oatmeal stout.. barrel aging is unique with an oatmeal stout.. usually it's reserved for the heavier styles like Russian Imperials or double stouts, but it worked here.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Bottle from Tim. Thanks so much! Pours dark brown to black in my FW Barrelworks Teku with a one finger mocha head. Aroma is big oats and chocolate, vanilla, whiskey, graham cracker, toasted nuts. Flavor is chocolate up front with some big time vanilla tones on top of graham crackers. Followed by a punch of strong whiskey and long lasting oaky vanilla. The lasting finish is the real highlight of this beer. Palate is velvety smooth up front and while not a super thick beer, I see no reason to complain about thin body here. Plenty of body, especially for the ABV, and medium carbonation. This was a winner for me with just the right amount of barrel character, rather than the in your face whiskey shot I get with lower ABV stouts and porters aged in barrels. As usual, Firestone Walker kicks ass.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

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

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

Appearance: Very dark red brown. Tan lace wall.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of greenhorn
3.51/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.51/5  rDev -17.2%
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

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Photo of Dope
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 batch (001)

A: Pours black with a tall and fluffy medium brown head. Head fades out slowly with great retention. Moderate but big and fluffy chunks of lacing.

S: Heavy on the bourbon. Caramel and toasted sugars primarily with some oak. Quite a bit of smooth milk chocolate hiding behind it. Get that notable, smooth and creamy oatmeal character as well. Very nice.

T: Again with the bourbon up front. Oaky, quite oaky with some toffee, a little coconut and caramel. Creamy oatmeal in the middle with just a hint of milk chocolate. Oatmeal turns a little bit grainy and the chocolate a little bittersweet in the finish. A dry, oaky finish with more hints of bourbon lingering in the aftertaste.

M: Medium-heavy, smooth and creamy.

O: Not often you find a barrel aged oatmeal stout. Not a huge fan of the bourbon in this one but it still works pretty nicely. Oatmeal, as always, provides a nice layer of creaminess and smooths the whole thing out. Well balanced, not overly complex or hot for that matter either. Very nice.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.86/5  rDev -9%
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.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.61/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage

Pours dark thick black letting little to no light through. Head is thin tan and fades to a tan ring around the glass that's retains nicely.

Smell is great. Rich dark chocolate malt along with creamy oat aromas are balanced nicely with a light barrel and bourbon aromas. Notes of semi sweet chocolate truffle, cookie dough and raisins.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. Rich semi sweet chocolate malt is forward and so incredibly rich and creamy that it is almost like desert in a glass. Some faint dark ripe blackberry fruity esters follow along with a more prevalent oak barrel and lighter bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick, creamy great body. Mild carbonation leaves this a great sipping beer, perfect for a bitter cold night.

Incredible beer, I'm glad I have another to cellar.

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Photo of rjp217
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 edition poured from the bottle into two HF tulip glasses....

A - Dark, dark brown, half finger head that dissipates quickly. Not much lace left

S - Bourbon, molasses, malt, oatmeal, chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla

T - Exactly the same as the nose, in that order. The bourbon hits you upfront and then a mix of awesome favors come together with a vanilla oatmeal finish. It's like my palate is able to pass through the nose flavors and detect each one along the way, amazing! Tastes a little thin but fits the 8.5%

M - Smooth, velvet smooth, rolls off the tongue. Almost perfect

O - Outstanding! Reminds me of BCBS but in a lighter form. The ABV is perfect. I love the feel. Impressed with all the flavor that got packed into it. If this was a readily available beer I'd be broke. So glad I got the opportunity. Almost a standard bearer for me. Another barrel aged beast from FW. Bravo!

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Photo of whatthehull
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Tulip/Wine/Snifter

A - B E A Utiful velvety (no pun intended) black/blood red, one finger deep chocolate colored head and some sticky lacing

S - vanilla, caramelized raisins, brown sugar, very delicate anise, homemade molasses, kona style coffee note, baking yeast, sugar, plums, cherries, chocolate covered blueberries, toasted grains, woody whiskey booze note and awesomeness

T - chocolate covered berries, whiskey, sweet rich aromatic coffee, aged whiskey/bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, anise, sarsaparilla, molasses, floral like hoppy note, roasted toastiness and a milk like smoothness

M - full bodied, nearly perfect balance and complexity, medium minus acidity and a very nice chocolate berry vanilla booze party in your mouth finish

D/O - Very lovely stout. I mean well freaking done. Refreshing, smooth, sexy, flavorful and leaves you wanting nothing but more! If you like stouts, love stouts or beer/ale in general, this one is worth a go or 12.

Final thoughts - Price is very high at $14 - 20 a bottle and the abv is nice, but I like a little more at 8.5%, still worth a try or a million.

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Photo of Outlandishbrew
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served at 45 degrees in a Firestone tulip.

A - Pours nearly opaque with a 1 inch light tan head

S - This is my favorite part of this beer. I absolutely love the combo of caramel, chocolate, raisins, vanilla... oh, and bourbon! its very complex and pleasant.

T - Don't get me wrong, I love this beer but when I was trying to describe the taste, I took a sip with my nose plugged and I honestly thought of soda. like Dr. Pepper mixed with coke and a shot of bourbon. I don't mean that in a bad way because it wasn't a bad flavor, I just think that the aroma of this beer definitely carries the flavors a lot. It also finishes surprisingly drier then expected from the aroma.

M - The only stipulation on the dry finish is the silkyness left from the oats (I assume). Halfway through the bottle you'll notice a slickness between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. I guess I would say this is a medium bodied beer.

O - Definitely an awesome beer that I would prolly turn tricks for. That makes me pretty whorey I guess because pretty much anything that Brynildson brews up makes my panties wet. I look forward to trying this beer again with some age. But after tasting it fresh I wouldn't recommend aging this bad boy for too long (3-5 years at most). I have a feeling that the slightest hint of paper/cardboard mixed with the lightish body and silky mouthfeel would be a poopy combo.


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Photo of ThickNStout
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black foil sealed 22oz bottle from j47paco (thanks Juan!). No bottling date but this is the 2013 release from a few months ago. Served in a Three Floyds teku.

Pours deep, dark, near-black brown with two fingers of tan head. Maintains a nice, frothy cap for quite a while, leaving lots of lace.

Smells of bourbon, vanilla, roast malts and a little cocoa. Sweet and inviting.

Taste follows the nose but adds much more depth. Smooth, sweet bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, oak, oats, caramel, toasted malts, mild dark fruit and a wisp of alcohol. Very easy to drink with nice layers of flavor all wrapped up in a soft, complementary blanket of bourbon.

Creamy medium body with moderate carbonation. Bourbon, chocolate and toasted oat finish.

An outstanding oatmeal stout. The bourbon is in near perfect balance with the creamy base. This is worth seeking out to give a try.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, clear brown around the edges, one finger brown head.

S-Bourbon, chocolate, oats, roasted malt.

T-Starts with some bourbon, mild oats, good deal of chocolate, some bitterness.

M-Heavier, creamy with some carbonation.

O-Need to try this one again, it was a good beer, but compared to the Utopias that night it couldn't compare.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.02/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

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Photo of arizcards
4.38/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber Reserve Series 001 from BevMo on 10-12-13 for $14.99. Bottled on 8/23/13.

Beer poured cola brown with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is wonderful, chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon.

Taste is bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is disappointing, light to medium bodied and not overly smooth.

Overall this brew rocks! With the flavor and nose one expects a viscous brew but other than that this is worthy of trying if you can scarce up a bottle.

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Photo of hopsputin
4.18/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: dark black with some murky brown notes coming from the bottom. small finger beige head that fades rather quickly and leaves some bubbles on top

s: milk chocolate, tons of oats, sweet vanilla, coconut, almonds, toffee, bourbon soaked prunes, raisins, and a smooth hint of bourbon. i am admittedly not a huge fan of bourbon barrel aged beers, but this smells incredible

t: creamy oats, lots of milk chocolate, sweet toasted malt, coconuts, vanilla, raisins, chocolate syrup, decadent fudge, caramel, and a hint of oak. everything in this is so smooth, and blends so well together. each flavor melts into the next very nicely. also call me freaking crazy, but i feel like i taste some cucumber in here. i have no idea why, i know its insane to think

m: medium - actually not as heavy as i expected. light carbonation. its got a rich, silky mouthfeel

o: what i like best about this is that the bourbon is not overwhelming. all the nice oatmeal stout flavors are allowed to shine, and the bourbon is there to cut some of the sweetness. this is definitely a sipper, and would be a great beer to share amongst friends

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Photo of Roguer
4.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Jet black brew, thin tan head, OK retention, decent lacing.

Chocolate malts and a hint of bourbon through the nose. Fairly understated aroma.

Noticeable bourbon, vanilla, and oak, balanced against dark cocoa and oatmeal.
Complex, balanced, sweet, and delicious.

Smooth and chewy. No burn, but the alcohol is present. This is a big bodied beer.

Fantastic beer. Super smooth and understated, very drinkable, and low ABV for the style.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.46/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter. 2013 batch 1.

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

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black pour with ruby highlight at the bottom of the glass. Light brown head. Leaves some lacing.

The Merkin tempts you with a sweet chocolate, toffee, and bourbony aroma. Soft oak and coconut barrel.

The flavor is amazing with chocolate, vanilla, coffee roastiness, bourbon, and barrel character.

Smooth medium bodied beer with plenty of tingly carbonation.

Really well done.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.51/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours almost totally black in color. Minimal tan froth.

(S)- A great vanilla oatmeal aroma up front. Some chocolate and caramel oak. Superb oatmeal characters on the nose. One of the most striking oatmeal stout smells I have encountered thus far.

(T)- A superb stand out oatmeal, chocolate, and vanilla combo. Some oaky char in there on the finish.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level. I dig the balance this has with a nice stand out oatmeal profile. It does get to be a bit sweet as it warms.

(O)- One of the more oatmeal forward stouts in recent memory. Very well balanced with a dessert quality to it. The barrel really showcases how well the oatmeal works with it. Fantastic now; I would be surprised if this improved any with age. I say drink now.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of gueuzedreg
3.96/5  rDev -6.6%
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.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 298 ratings.