Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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94
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329 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
329
Ratings:
2,263
Avg:
4.24
pDev:
9.43%
 
 
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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
BEER INFO

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

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by t0rin0 on 11-20-2008

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Reviews: 329 | Ratings: 2,263
Photo of Treyliff
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%

2013 Vintage, poured into a snifter in celebration of my 10 year high school reunion

A- pours a nearly pitch black color with a small khaki colored head that reduces to a ring around the edge, with a bit of lace left behind as it settles 4.25

S- aroma of chocolate walnut fudge mixed with sweet caramel/toffee malt, lots of bourbon juice aroma mixed with some oaky vanilla, smoky roasted notes with toasted marshmallow 4.25

T- dark chocolaty malt base up front with a nice smoothness from the oats, the barrel provides lots of barrel juice flavor with hints of oak, vanilla and caramel. Nutty sweet finish with mire bourbon on the linger 4.25

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel and finish, just a bit thin overall 3.75

O- lots of bourbon coming from this one, even after a year of aging. Perhaps due to the base beer being a bit lower in alcohol. Still a nice chocolaty bourbon bomb that is a slow sipper for sure 4.25

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Photo of seedyone
4.41/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

01/22/14 From bottle. Silky smoothness and a fine bittersweet chocolate are the first impressions. Enjoyment from first sip to last. It did change character slightly as it warmed from cellar temp to ambient.

The rarity is a distraction. Not your everyday quaff by any means, but knowing it can be found for that certain occasion would enhance the whole idea of knowing it's 'out there'.

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Photo of woodyhardboner
5/5  rDev +17.9%

I took my 73 year old uncle Eddy to a doctors appointment in providence RI. It was a routine check up that told us everything was fine. SWEET. After learning this I axed him if he would enjoy a pint with me. His response was "hell yah". Since I was in Providence I took him to Julian's. A place that is known for it's draft selection. When I sat at the bar I noticed A Firestone Walker tap I hadn't seen before. I ordered one because that brewery has not let me down before. The Velvet Merkin was placed in front of me. Its blackness alone was intoxicating. The head was a thick brownish tan that stayed until the end. All I could smell was whiskey. This beer was everything I could hope for in a bourbon barrel stout. The vanilla was just right so it actually tasted like beer. the finish was to good to be true. I could have drank 10 of them but I had to drive my uncle home. Needless to say I enjoyed this fine brew to the fullest.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.76/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage. Pours black as pitch with a huge, tan head that slowly dissipated into a nice cap. Dark chocolate and coffee on the nose with prominent vanilla and bourbon notes. Lots of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and bourbon on the tongue. Smooth, velvety mouth feel, medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, an extremely well crafted and balanced beer. In my opinion, Firestone Walker has the finest barrel aging program out there.

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Photo of roger617
3.93/5  rDev -7.3%
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.

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

Dark brown with a reddish hue. Slight tan head with little retention.

Smells of chocolate, lightly toasted marshmallow, vanilla. Woody.

The toasted marshmallow is front and center. Milk chocolate, vanilla, coffee.

Mouthfeel is out of this world. Super smooth, soft, and full.

I love the bourbon effect on this one. It's mild, almost subtle. Not boozy at all and melds well.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.76/5  rDev -11.3%
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.

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Photo of Catracho5
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Serving Type: 22 ounce bottle poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: Pours black, pitch black. No ruby on the edges.

Smell: Big bourbon on the nose, roasted chocolate, dark fruits, lovely aroma.

Taste: Bourbon up front, some roasted chocolate, some dark fruits, cherries, some bitterness, really smooth, the flavors flow very nice. Some alcohol. Flavors become prevalent as beer warms up.

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth, some bitterness on the tongue, the alcohol has a warming effect on the palate, but nice smooth, silky mouthfeel, not too thick like an imperial stout, but thickness is present.

Overall: World class beer, lovely aroma, great flavor, not overwhelming, the bourbon dominates on the front end but some great flavors smoothly flow in the beer. There is bitterness that I did not expect with an oatmeal stout, but overall, world class beer. I wish I would have picked up a few more to cellar. This is the 2013 edition that I tasted in June 2014. Definitely worth a try when available.

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

Pours opaque black with cola edges. The thin khaki head settles to a thin film and ring on top that leaves thick spots of lace.

The smell is of chocolate, vanilla, burnt wood, coconut and roasted oats.

The taste is of coffee, molasses, assorted dark fruits, oats and a faint hint of bourbon.

The texture is medium bodied and more carbonated than I expected.

I'm a huge fan of Velvet Merlin so, I had high expectations for this one. The appearance and aroma hinted at greatness but, the taste and mouthfeel felt somewhat watered down. Still, this one sets the bar for the oatmeal stout category.

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Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours dark as death, as an imperial stout should. Upon pouring, there is a seemingly above average presence of carbonation for the style. Half a finger of khaki white head collars quickly after settling in the snifter.

Smell: Dark chocolate, rich cocoa, graham cracker, roasted malt, toasted coconut, oak barrel and subtle cherry. Nothing stands out too much from the others, nice.

Taste: Creamy, graham cracker laced oatmeal stout up-front with overlapping layers of cocoa and vanilla. Middle of the mouth is nice caramelized malt balanced by a somewhat crisp and mildly bitter hop bite. The finish is quite dry, with a mild but noticeable wash over of Bourbon, which peek-a-boos for a moment and then subsides, letting gentle vanilla and cocoa fade out to end the drink. The end of the drink is akin to the aftertaste of a mildly sweet hot cocoa that had melting marshmallows in it. Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout did that better, but the fact that this brew has that element in the finish is impressive.

Mouthfeel: Some will criticize this because it isn't the viscous behemoth you'd liken to BCBS or Hunahpu. I get it, but the base beer is what it is, and I happened to enjoy Merlin very much. This isn't supposed to be those beers. This goes down really easily for 8.5%, and I don't see that as a distinct disadvantage.

Overall: Coming from someone who enjoyed Velvet Merlin because of the sessionability (word?) and great flavor, I can't say this is one of the best Bb stouts I've ever had, but it's delicious. The Bourbon barrel ads subtle nuances that you appreciate when having had the base beer first, and this is dangerous. If you can find this on draft somewhere with unlimited pours, you'll be in for quite the night.

Edit: 7/29/15

Drinking the '14 vintage right now and there is this dry, awesome dark chocolate/cherry thing going on in the finish that is just do damn good. Some of the sweetness from being fresh has subsided but this more than makes up for that...it's almost like because of this, every sip leaves you thirsty for more (eat that, McAllister).

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Photo of richj1970
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 22 oz bomber into snifter glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown bordering on black with a generous 2-3 finger mocha colored head with some decent retention and leaving some significant lacing.

S: Vanilla, chocolate, coconut, oak, bourbon, and perhaps a bit of espresso.

T: Lots of nice chocolate and vanilla notes mixed with oats. Some bourbon and toasted oak flavors.

M: Full bodied and thicker than I might expect for an oatmeal stout. Creamy texture.

O: One of my favorite oatmeal stouts. I would definitely seek out again.

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Photo of Damian
4.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pint, 6 fl oz (650ml) bottle purchased at Ball Square Fine Wines & Liquor, Somerville, MA
No. 001
2013 vintage
Served in a snifter

Beautiful appearance. Thicker bodied for an oatmeal stout. The dark brown (almost black) liquid was topped by a super tight and creamy, three-finger tall, mocha colored crown. The head looked like something you would see on a beer that was poured from a nitro tap. Streaks of drippy lacing coated the glass. The head quickly fell to a lasting cap of bubbles.

The aroma was interesting and really complex for the style. Super boozy with notes of bourbon and oak coming through strong. Really roasty and dry. Slightly ashy. Hints of flaked oats were detectible. Some French roast coffee as well. There was also a rich, semi-sweet chocolate presence that reminded me of chocolate truffles. A touch of vanilla was noticeable as well. As the beer warmed, the nose became sweeter and some brown sugar notes appeared.

Roasted malts also came through strong in the flavor profile. Super dry overall. Dark chocolate notes were apparent in the center. Lots of cold, black coffee as well. Touch of brown sugar. The finish was super roasty and bitter with dry, oaky notes. Really tasty but quite boozy for an 8.5% ABV beer.

The mouthfeel was solid. Medium bodied for the style. Creamy, slick and smooth on the palate.

Barrel aging played a huge role in this beer, turning a tasty yet straightforward oatmeal stout into something wonderfully complex. Six months of age really softened some of this beer's rougher edges when fresh. I would love to revisit another bottle with even a bit more age on it.

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Photo of Jmamay22
4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2013 batch 001.

The beer pours a very dark black that is opaque. The mocha color head is fluffy, but eventually settles to a thick collar. The scent is well impacted by the bourbon barrel. There is a strong, but well rounded scent of vanilla with a slight earthy undertone accented by a hint of spice including clove and cinnamon. The roast character is there yet fairly subdued.

The mouthfeel is certainly velvety. The smooth mouthfeel strengthens the vanilla flavor. There is an initial sweetness of brown sugar and treacle that gives way to the vanilla and spices mentioned earlier. There is a slightly roasted finish with a subdued warming character. The carbonation is medium-light with a medium bodied feel.

The beer has many characteristics of a boozy winter sipper, but refrains from being cloying or overly hot from alcohol. I enjoy the restrained character of 8.5% abv compared to the over the top 10% or more that is often found in specialty barrel aged beers. By no means is it a quick drink, but it doesn't leave you overwhelmed.

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Photo of kdahnke123
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2103 Vintage (No. 001)
A - Poured into a snifter at cellar temperature. Pours a medium brown with a single finger of light brown head. The head is moderately long lasting leaving a small amount of lacing.
S - Slightly sweet smell with chocolate and carmel notes.
T - Chocolate at the front with plenty of malt in the middle and a hint of tang from the bourbon at the finish.
M - Less full bodied than the Parabola or Sucaba but still moderate and nice. The carbonation is a little heavier as well, moderate to full.
O - A lighter companion to the Parabola and Sucaba in the Reserve Series. Nicely balanced and about as expected for an 8.5% abv. I would recommend it with those caveats.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. batch No. 001 bottle poured into a Duvel Tulip style glass. Liquid comes out cola brown during the pour and gets darker as it rises in the glass. A little bit of light sneaks through on the sides at a deep brown/red, but not much. Tan colored head, small bubbles, and I'd say average lacing. The head sticks around for quite awhile though.

Smell is pretty good, not as big as I expected, but then again, this isn't a big beer like Parabola. Some sweet, dark, chewy malts, some vanilla and bourbon oak (blended together it almost provides a hazelnut characteristic), and there's some slight hints of dark dehydrated sugar coated fruit (raisons/figs).

Taste is a slight step up from the smell. Vanilla, oak, slight light cocoa mixed with a bit of dark bitter chocolate, and caramel. Nice dark roasted, close to toasted, blend of mostly dark but some paler malts as well. Sweet but not overly sweet, sort of like coffee with cream sweet (I prefer my coffee black, so I guess I'm a little bias). Overall everything meshes really well. It hits all of the desired components of a good barrel aged stout.

Mouthfeel is unique to many barrel aged beers and in my opinion the best part of this beer. Its only medium bodied, yet the flavor lingers longer on the palate than you'd expect based on how light it feels. There is a light airy carbonation and it really does have a light feel to it, like a barrel aged stout designed for a hot summer day. Barrel provides a dry bitter finish and really only a little bit of heat. Great drinkability and not too filling even if you finish the bottle on your own. Not my favorite, but Firestone Walker is still one of my top go to breweries for barrel aged beers.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Nick Swinford for the 22 oz bottle! Poured into a wine glass; from yesterday.

A: Pours a very dark brown color; it certainly doesn't have the opacity of other big 8%+ stouts. There's a finger worth of light mocha colored head. The retention is poor and minimal lacing is left behind.

S: At first, the aroma is quite mild - this one needs time to open up. Once it does, though, it brings notes of bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and oats.

T: The best part of the brew. It starts off with a one-two combination of vanilla and chocolate on the taste buds. Gradually, it will develop some mild oat flavor, then transition straight into pure bourbon. A touch of alcohol burn is prevalent in conjunction with the bourbon/oak note, but it's hardly bothersome. The bourbon - while showcased well - more or less swallows the base brew whole. I could use more complexity as well.

M: Very thin, almost intolerably so - it feels genuinely insubstantial. There's nice carbonation to bring the flavors to the palate, though. The finish is sweet, sticky, long, and tannic; it's an easy brew to sip at least.

O: This isn't a bad beer at all. But given it's reputation and semi-rarity, it should have been better. It's thin and simplistic - two things I don't want from a barrel-aged offering. Honestly, I think I'd like the regular Velvet Merlin more...but we don't get that in Maryland (seriously, WTF? Maryland gets all the barrel-aged offerings from FW, but not Pivo Pils or Velvet Merlin?)

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Photo of RickS95
4/5  rDev -5.7%
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.

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Photo of AdamF625
4.17/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A- dark muddy brown pour with a two finger khaki head, settles black with a milky lacing
S- toasted oats, bourbon, honey, vanilla, hot cacao, bit of brown sugar
T- milk chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla, honey, oats
M- medium body and carbonation, tilts towards the creamy side, dry on the finish.
O- very smooth and drinkable for a bourbon barrel aged beer. Take it for what's it worth, an oatmeal stout. Lacks complexity but doesn't need it.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.51/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - 4.75 - nice brown-black beer with a mocha head on it, head sticks for a while and leaves nice lace
S - 5 - bourbon chocolate coffee caramel vanilla cocoa oak smoke
T - 4.25 - bourbon/oak up front, coffee, chocolate, smoke and roasted malts in the background. Oatmeal stands out quite a bit too.
M - 4.25 - medium to thick. Not as thick as the other imperial stouts. A little bit of boozy taste. Aftertaste is roasted malts, coffee, toasted oak.
O - 4.5 - the smell is pretty phenomenal. But as you drink it, it thins out quite a lot. Probably because its an 8% barrel aged beer. Given the choice I'd buy a DDBA or Parabola instead.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Batch 001 bottle shared by Cam. Thanks Cam! Had this EBF the weekend before too, happy to get to review it now.

Appearance - (Not quite) black pour into a snifter, beige head retains well as a swirly cap, some lace left.

Smell - Oatmeal forward along with really nice coffee, bran muffin, vanilla, chocolate chip cookie goodness. Breakfast and dessert feel without being too sweet. Just a bit of bourbon spice noticeable, not much bourbon here.

Taste - More bourbon but overall somewhat of a step down from the scent for me. Oats, chocolate, caramel, coffee w/ cream, vanilla, light roast along with some toasted bread. Still noticeably an oatmeal stout which is nice. Bourbon flavor is still kinda understated but good, not much oak.

Mouthfeel - Smooth, well-carbonated, low heftiness. Pretty easy drinking and not alot of booze present.

Overall - Love the lighter feel bourbon stout while maintaining its oaty self. Delivers all around, very good.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
3.86/5  rDev -9%
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.

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Photo of cbutova
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Poured from the 22oz bomber to two snifters with Chico1985. Pitch black body with a fairly oily appearance as it pours to the glass. Off-white head rises to about a finger high with a creamy texture. Frothy ring leaves a web of lace with mostly spotty patches.

S- Right as it was poured, the chocolate and oatmeal stout base leads the way with deep roast malts and sweet chocolate, reminds me of a muffin with the toasted oatmeal feel. With some time, the barrel opens up with a smooth, quality whiskey aroma and oak vanilla.

T- Opens up with the Bourbon barrel coming to the palate first. Reminds me of Elijah Craig range of Bourbon flavors with some peppery hints coming with the toast oak and vanilla sweetness. The chocolate malts and oatmeal combine to remind me of baked goods, ala muffins or cookies. Deep roast grains. It all comes together to create a decadent dessert feel that trumps many higher alcohol stouts in overall flavor.

MF- Moderately thick body with slightly creamy texture. Carbonation at a medium level which helps because the body is not super oily like bigger stouts. Oatmeal adds that chewy silkiness. Slight Bourbon warming in the finish but just a tiny bit.

Pretty huge fan of what this beer brings to the table. It is like a chocolate oatmeal cookie with a dollop of vanilla Bourbon frosting on top at times. The oatmeal side of things is impressive and it isn't just a roast bomb. Great balance is the key to this brew.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to BA deschutes_fan for sending this one along as part of a great trade. Enjoyed out of a 22 oz brown bottle with some kind of paper seal around the cap, for freshness I suppose. No discernible bottling or freshness date, but the vintage, 2013, is marked very clearly on the label. Poured into a large 20 oz snifter.

Appearance - Aggressive pour hields a one finger tan head with lots of frothy, soap-like bubbles. Dissipates fairly quickly, reduced to little more than a sparse mottling of thin film and a ringlet around the edge of the glass in a matter of minutes. Beneath the not-for-long head is an inky black body that finally reveals some rich mahogany brown notes after drinking it down enough so that light can pass through the liquid. Lacing is almost nonexistent--just a few spots here and there.

Smell - Wow. Having finally tried this, I can now tell where so much of the wonderful aroma on the XVII anniversary beer comes from. A rich, sweet blend of bourbon, molasses, and Nutella-covered graham crackers fills the nose, promising a big, powerful nightcap-style beer. Notes of vanilla bean and cocoa powder are also present. I could almost sit here smelling this beer and never take a drink and be satisfied. Almost.

Taste - Hmmm. After the great first impression left by the aroma, I'm a little let down by the taste. It's not bad by any means, just less than what I was anticipating after practically drowning my olfactory nerves in the intoxicating smell. The sweetness from the smell is less present here, with the taste instead consisting of stronger characteristics of astringent bourbon and some faint caramel, roasted malt and faded cacao. A few times I get hints of that great rich chocolate ganache/fudge element that is often present in big stouts, but it's so fleeting that it just leaves me longing for more.

Mouthfeel - This is where I start to put two and two together with regards to the disappointing taste. The smell leaves me expecting a rich, viscous-and-just-short-of-cloying stout, but the body is very thin and almost watery. The carbonation, is moderate-to-low and doesn't provide enough depth of texture to make up for the thin mouthfeel. It seems like this one needs to be blended with some oatmeal stout that isn't barrel aged to give it a bit more heft.

Overall, it's still a very good brew. The smell alone carries it quite far, but it's still a bit of a letdown all the same, a little bit with the flavor, but really with the mouthfeel. There was a thread about the importance of mouthfeel the other day, and this is a perfect example of how an otherwise outstanding beer can take a serious step back without the appropriate body and carbonation.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of 01001111
4.79/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: A dark but not opaque chestnut color with little-to-no head and some oil slick patterns.

S: Wood, roast, oats, vanilla, pipe tobacco, and a slight bourbon bite.

T: Chocolate, hazelnuts and walnuts, vanilla, a hint of coconut. The bourbon character comes through as it warms in the mouth. The finish is very bold and roasted; not bitter at all.

M: Velvety, but a bit thin with some syrupy character, more like a nut brown ale in body, but the robust flavor boosts the mouthfeel. The alcohol heat appears mostly in the back of the throat.

O: I'm quite impressed. Velvet Merlin is a great oatmeal stout but the other reviews had me worried about this one. While not the most amazing barrel-aged stout, this is an excellent brew.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 329 ratings.