Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,960 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,960
Reviews: 281
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 354
Gots: 769 | FT: 129
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: 1,960 | Reviews: 281
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 arizcards
4.38/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

Photo of hopsputin
4.18/5  rDev -2.8%
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

Photo of Roguer
4.36/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Photo of scottfrie
4.46/5  rDev +3.7%
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.

Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.3/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of sweemzander
4.51/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

Photo of Nugganooch
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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 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 Rifugium
3.73/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at Capone's

Dark brown pour, slightly translucent around the rim, with a small beige ringlet. Aroma of roasty dark malts, toasted bread, bourbon and spiced rum, notes of chocolate and vanilla. More dark malt roastiness in the taste, notes of dark berries, coconut, bourbon-soaked oak, vegetal vanilla, bakers' chocolate. Mouthfeel was on the thin side, surprising for an oatmeal stout, body was about medium; boozy presence was felt, but it was pretty smooth and not hot at all. A decent brew overall.

Photo of draheim
4.34/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

Photo of MacQ32
4.51/5  rDev +4.9%
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

Photo of DrewskiWhit
4.06/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of chugalug06
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
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!!!

Photo of Vixie
4.17/5  rDev -3%
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.

Photo of RichD
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

Photo of beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

Photo of MCain04
4.27/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Photo of cde1218
4.9/5  rDev +14%
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

Photo of Ljudsignal
4.36/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.67/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

Photo of AgentMunky
3.92/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

Photo of Rizalini
4.29/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Photo of ChrisMyhre
4.39/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,960 ratings.