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Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.

271 Reviews
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Reviews: 271
Hads: 2,030
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 26.35%
Wants: 367
Gots: 829 | FT: 131
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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Reviews: 271 | Hads: 2,030
Photo of draheim
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz (No. 001, bottled 8/23/2013) into a snifter. Pours a deep dark brownish black w/ a minimal head, just a ring of khaki foam around the edge.

Aroma is big chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon, similar to Parabola. Lots of rich, swirling complexity here, and the glass is still pretty cold. Difficult as it is, I'm going to let this warm up a bit before I continue... OK, where was I? Ah yes. Now I'm getting more of everything I mentioned above, plus a really nice oaky char. Outstanding.

Taste has all the qualities of the aroma: vanilla, caramel, bourbon, chocolate, and a nice warming roastiness.

Mouthfeel is just a touch thin, not really surprising for a relatively low ABV stout like this. Otherwise it's slick and smooth, and goes down way too easy. Good carbonation.

Overall, another barrel-aged wonder from Firestone Walker.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.51/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - almost motor oil black with a minimal chocolate head, weak retention and OK lacing

S - Tons of sweet chocolate, smokey/almost roasty aromas. Lots and lots of oats. Tons of dry okay aromas and a wallop of bourbon

T - Sweet milk stout with tons of great oat flavor. Swear vanilla sweet bourbon flavor, lots of oak.

M - perfectly smooth. Minimal carbonation, thick, very warming combines with a great balanced but bkurbony flavor profile to form an incredibly nice drinking brew

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Photo of DrewskiWhit
4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
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

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Photo of chugalug06
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

#700 - Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Super, fluffy, foamy, milky tan, crispy, butters, bubbly head appearance. Brew is thin(er) black very little light shines though. Nice lacing too.

Tons of oats, vanilla, barrel notes, hazelnut, coffee, milky chocolate.

Flavors burst. Deep, complex, creamy, thin(er), popcorn(y), no booze or barrel bite. Vanilla pours out of the roasty (light) hazelnut chalky flavors. Dry, roasty, English-style, combination of flavors. Carbonation is way lighter than visible though appearance and fits nicely.

Highly drinkable, very relaxed. Smooth easy barrel-aged brew. Not a typical over the top BA brew. Highly recommended, definitely worth seeking out, if you can find it. Here's to 700 more, cheers!!!

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Photo of Vixie
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown, only light getting through is on the edges. Not a large head, not the darkest beer I have seen, but not much light through it either.

Lot going on in the smell department. It starts out a bit candy like, with chocolate, caramel, coconut, and a hint of alcohol.

Very complex beer. Tastes a lot like it smells, there's chocolate, coffee, caramel, coconut, vanilla, and a slight booziness at the finish.

The feel is smooth, but not quite as thick as I was expecting.

Definitely a nice beer here. It has a nice smell with a taste to match. For being a big beer, it goes down easy, I'd easily drink more of this.

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Photo of RichD
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep black with a small light tan had that is reduced to a mere ring around my glass. There is also some lacing left in the glass as I drink.

S: Smells of chocolate and vanilla almost exclusively. The smell is quite faint. I also pick up some bourbon sweetness. It's definitely very pleasant, but if the smell was more prominent I would give this a higher score.

T: Whoa! Immediate bourbon sweetness that consists of vanilla and some oak. The chocolate and roasted malts give a light coffee-like flavor. I also pick up some oats before the flavor transforms into a strong caramel flavor that takes my taste buds for a ride. Some warmness is also coming through at the end. The flavors mesh so incredibly well that I have a hard time setting each flavor aside.

M: I've read that some don't like the mouthfeel on this. I absolutely love it. It's remarkable that even with the bourbon barrel treatment that this beer retains the smoothness of an oatmeal stout. This is truly a one of the best mouthfeels I've ever had with a barrel aged beer. The 8% is almost nonexistent which is even better.

Overall: This beer is awesome. Firestone Walker really might have the best barrel aging program out there. Between this and the 3 other offerings that FW has, I'm having a hard time figuring out which is my favorite. This beer will be on my purchase list every year and I'm already anticipating when I can buy it again even though I still have half the bottle left.

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Photo of beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage No.001

India ink black body with a smooth, creamy, off-white head. Light coffee, vanilla, chocolate and cocoa aromas. Deeply rich and soothing malt sugar flavors, favoring the darker malts. Heavy body yet velvety smooth.

A very noticeable oak-bourbon scent right off the top strongly suggests what the rest of the tasting experience may be like. Silky sweet taste and feel, mostly comprised of a deeply rich yet zesty chocolate tone. Mint chocolate quality overall, adding a very tasty and appealing sweetness and zing to things. An exquisitely well-balanced and complex dark ale. Deep and engrossing and near-perfect.

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Photo of MCain04
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle poured into my Crooked stave snifter. Around 50F.

Pours a dark brown body, near-black in the glass, with a cappuccino-colored thick frothy head of great depth, retention, and lacing.

Smells of roasty malts with vanilla and oak with bourbon notes, some coffee.

Taste follows the nose and is roasty with some bitterness, sweetness from toffee and vanilla, oak, bourbon, chocolate, finish with a touch of bourbon lingering, minimal alcohol burn

Feel is medium-bodied, smooth, moderate carbonation, mildly dry finish.

Overall, the best part about this brew is the drinkability. You can throw down a bomber of this without struggling. It is delicious and enjoyed, but I have to say I prefer my BBA stouts to be thicker and with more intense aromas and flavors. Still, this works really well.

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Photo of cde1218
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Wow.... I've read all of the reviews on here about poor mouth feel of this beer.... I truly disagree with all of those reviews. This beer is fantastic! I'm thoroughly impressed with the unique flavor profile... Great chocolate, malt, dark fruit etc. True.... It's no bourbon county in terms of mouth feel but truly a great drive king experience in terms of flavor. FBGM

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Photo of Ljudsignal
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle split four ways--with my dear mother and father and my ladyfriend katalijne. Poured into my Night Shift tulip. Reviewed from notes.

Pours a thick, viscous brown-black. Subtle reddish-brown highlights appear when held up to light. A half-finger mocha head subsides fairly quickly into a thin collar. Thick, retentive curtains of lacing.

In the nose, powerful bourbon notes dominate, with roasted nuts, coffee, milk chocolate, vanilla, and toasted coconut all playing supporting roles. The overbearing potency of the bourbon note keeps this beer from having a truly world-class nose on it, although it becomes increasingly multidimensional as it warms.

On the palate, by contrast, this beer is complex and delicious right from the get-go. Light bourbon notes, vanilla, and lightly toasted coconut dominate the front of the palate, while notes of hazelnut, blonde roast, and semisweet chocolate appear mid-palate. Finishes with a resurgence of oaky bourbon notes.

In the mouth, on the light side of medium-bodied and slightly more effervescent than expected. The slightly higher carbonation and thinner body pairs well with the subtlety of the barrel-aging, resulting in a creamy but not chewy complete package. Dangerously drinkable.

On the whole, Velvet Merkin is perhaps the finest beer I have had by Firestone Walker thus far, and a truly superior stout by any standard. It's a damn shame this one doesn't come around more often, and I wish I'd bought more than one bottle.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Pours a very, very dark brown with only minimal light penetration. The head is a thin accumulation of sand colored bubbles and foam. Dots and waves of lace.

S-Interesting! I find it to be noticeably nutty. Almost like a nut flavored coffee. Toasted coconuts, too. A respectable and well set bourbon aroma. I notice coconuts more and more and I love that. Bits of vanilla and even some tobacco leaves. Almond chocolate bars!

T-The flavor is also delicious. I like how the bourbon isn't the main flavor, it merely accentuates the other flavors. Coconut milk chocolate. Roasted oats. Medium roast almond/hazelnut coffee. Chocolate chips. Vanilla and oak. Light tobacco. Then the whiskey kicks back in on the backside. Very tasty.

M-Body is thinner than expected but it seems to fit the beer's ABV. I actually enjoy its lack of viscosity. Tantalizing bubbles. A bit creamy and spicy/hot from the bourbon. Drinks too easily.

O/D-Firestone Walker barrel aged brews are an automatic. This one may be one of the best in my opinion. Not as huge as the others but it's complexity is unmatched. This beer tastes like it was made just for me and my taste buds. I really, really enjoyed this beer. Instant classic.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.92/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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Photo of Rizalini
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 2013 bomber, No. 001, into a Stone goblet

A - Pours nearly black, with a finger of light brown head. Leaving some nice thick lacing as the head slowly falls.

S - Very bourbon forward, and smells delicious.

T/M - The taste is a beautiful mix of chocolate and vanilla-ey bourbon. Nice rich chocolate wafer / oatmeal in the middle, with notes of coffee and slight tobacco. The bourbon returns and hangs around during the after taste. The mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, carbonation is good.

O - Another winner from Firestone for sure! This one is flavorful, and very drinkable to boot! I'm sure this one is only gonna get better with age. Just a slight amount of heat, but that'll probably fall off with age. Glad I got some for my cellar.

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Photo of ChrisMyhre
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a stemmed tulip from the 22 oz. bottle.

a: Dark brown/ black. Thick large bubbles in the head, is that a merkin in the lacing?

s: Super bourbon forward, very little malt or yeast coming through.

t: Again very bourbon forward, decent malt background, but not a ton of the roastiness you'd expect from a stout. Decently balanced, but not much bitterness comes through the bourbon.

m: Drinkable, maybe even a little thin, a little of the creaminess oats provide, but less than expected.

o: Very good, very subtle but it is hard for such a subtle profile to stand up to the strong bourbon flavor.

Bottled 8/23/13.

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Photo of nataku00
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle, first batch released, poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a dark brown bordering on black, with two fingers of light brown creamy head that dissipates quickly. Some carbonation visible at the edges.

Nose is roasted malt, toffee, cocoa, coffee, graham cracker and a good amount of bourbon barrels flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, charred wood, and caramel.

Taste follows the nose, roasty flavors of coffee and malt, a little bit of toasted grain, semi sweet chocolate, graham cracker, before the bourbon flavor kicks in mid tongue with vanilla, spice, charred oak. Not much of a finish on this, just some light roasted and toasted flavors after a short finish.

Medium to full body, creamy with smooth decent carbonation. Very easy to drink for this high ABV as the bourbon barrel flavors are well integrated. Drinking nicely so soon after release.

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Photo of Axnjxn
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle into a snifter.

pours a pitch black with a great beige head. smell is insanely chocolatey and bourbony..wow! taste is so so smooth with chocolate, roasted malts and just a tad of bourbon on the back end. the oats are also very present! real impressive and drinkablity is huge. medium bodied and so so smooth.

overall love this one. fw is amazing.

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Photo of Joshpu
4/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

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Photo of McStagger
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From notes.

A: Big pour leads to half finger of head. Beer is opaque blackness. Not the darkest ever, but pretty dark. Head is leathery color, with moderate retention. Nice lacing. Carbonation is difficult to discern.

S: Boom! Coconut out the wazoo. Toffee, dark fruit, milk chocolate, malted milk balls, dark chocolate, almond joy/mounds.

T: Similar to the nose. Huge coconut notes. Vanilla bean, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, some small bits of coffee, roastiness. Cherry liquer. Slightly medicinal with the cherry and alcohol flavors interweaving. Rounds out as it opens up. more malt sweetness, and the milk chocolate definitely takes off.

M: Big, but not huge. The carbonation supplies the structure without being distracting.

O: Killer stout here. Wish I could have given a more detailed review of this one. It's not quite to the level of Parabola. The bourbon barrel isn't quite as pronounced as I'd like it to be. Still a damn fine stout. FW, you are the masters.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.26/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First vintage poured in to FW tulip.

A - Pitch black with a half finger of light brown head and excellent lacing.

S - Huge barrel aromas dominate the nose. Charred oak, sweet bourbon & vanilla, chocolate fudge and roast aromas are all present.

T - Intense charred oak up front with sweet bourbon and vanilla flavours also coming through in a massive barrel presence. Chocolate fudge, roast and the slightest hint of coffee are also present.

M - Medium body. Light carbonation.

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Photo of maximum12
3.62/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to analogchainsaw for the first of two rapid-fire trades that brought sunny California to Minnesota (without, y'know, the sun, warmth, ocean...OK, just the beer...OK, just a couple of them). Popping this to celebrate the arrival of box #2 tomorrow. 22 oz. bottle, batch #1, split with my wife.

The pour is you-are-dead black, with appropriate minimal carbonation. Bringing the blessed liquid close to two of the openings in my face. Smells like whiskey & sweet malts. Enough of this crap, let's drink.

Velvet Merkin hits the first word dead-on, but I'll have to look up the second. First impression is the smooothness. Smoother than my chest fresh from waxing, the beer creates almost no friction in the throat. The beer needs to warm; cold, it's tame & lifeless. Warming, it delivers classic oatmeal stout, grainy, smoooth (did I say that?), nice vanilla, touch of bourbon. A little thin; I know of 8.5% beers that hold their barrel well, this one doesn't quite perfect that.

I've come to expect the world from Firestone barrel-aged beers, & this one didn't turn my crank quite so hard. A good beer, but not as dead-center as pretty much everything else they do.

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Photo of hoppytobehere
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. bottle. 2013 vintage (is that how you say it? who cares). Purchased a couple months ago.

A: Dark as the hour before dawn. Creamy, tan head with nice retention.

S: Bourbon dominates. Coffee, vanilla and chocolate poke through.

T: Follows the nose. Dry stout with tons of bourbon flavor. Hardly any alcohol present. Outstanding.

M: Creamy. A little stickiness from the bourbon.

O: Excellent stuff. Like the flavor in this relatively low ABV barrel aged stout.

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Photo of Mersh
4.68/5  rDev +10.1%

This BBA oatmeal stout lives up to the hype and more. Hints of vanilla, bourbon and roasted malt flow throughout the nose and taste. An exquisite pleasure to drink. Not overly boozy at all. Creamy and smooth. Love the mouthfeel on this. Wish I had a case. Firestone Walker are the masters of stouts and barrels. I highly recommend searching this out. I was lucky enough to get 2 on trade from the bottle release. It develops even more as it warms up. Cheers to an almost perfect oatmeal stout.

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Photo of tzieser
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

purchased for $15 from total wine and spirits in Tucson, AZ. i love regular velvet merlin so i know this is going to be delicious.

A: completely opaque, motor-oil like in color with a thick, dark head that sticks to the glass for a very long time.

S: bourbon barrel is noticeable but not quite as boozy as most other BBA stouts. notes of vanilla and roasted chocolate malts are there. quite complex.

T: i'm not a big barrel aged beer fan; typically they end up being too boozy or thin in my opinion. this, however is quite a phenomenal beer. aforementioned notes of vanilla are there with lots of roasted malt. very smooth, well-rounded body throughout. bourbon is there but not aggressive at all. 8.5% ABV is extremely well hidden. this might be the best barrel aged beer i've had since CBS.

M: thick, velvety mouthfeel.

O: an amazingly complex stout that lives up to all the hype. well worth the $15 if you can find it (3,000 cases produced). recommended.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

just fantastic, thanks to claystation for bringing this over. long anticipated for me, this pours a honey thick mocha brown color, smooth as silk in the snifter, and showing off over an inch of oatmeal foam. it smells so much less alcoholic than I expected, mostly because of how alcohol forward most of the other boxed offerings have been. this one is sweet and rich, subtle spice and vanilla from the barrel, a lot of oatmeal body and sweetness, and an aggressively bitter cocoa barley vibe. its all blends together exquisitely well, and some of the heavier flavors of milk chocolate, tobacco, raisins, and butter cream come out in the last legs. alcohol never makes an appearance, not even at room temperature, and the bourbon contributes just the right amount of flavor and smoothness. these days so many barreled beers don't taste a lot like beer anymore, this one is perfect. speaking of perfect, the mouthfeel of this beer could not be improved. its full bodied as they come, not sharp at all from booze, palate coating but not sticky, thick but fluent, everything one could ask for in a stout like this. its sensational. worth the wait, worth the money, share it with a loved one or three. amazing stuff from the top shelf firestone stuff, never a surprise. luscious and dark, dangerously easy down, balanced brilliantly. this is a must.

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Photo of Tristen84
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Firestone Walker is not capable of making a bad beer and in fact they only make good beers. If its a beer that is meant to be to style they will follow it to the T. If it is a hybrid they are willing to go nuts with it. Velvet Merkin has a good story behind it and is made with so much love and care you can taste it. I am overwhelmed by the thick dark toasted presence of this beer. Some toasted coconut is present with also a nice roasted tobacco. Some alcohol warmth but nothing as compared to their other specialty beers, This is the zenith that all beer should try to achieve. If have not had this yet, try and find a bottle to drink now and bottle to cellar.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 271 ratings.