Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

255 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 255
Hads: 1,994
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 9.26%
Wants: 365
Gots: 779 | FT: 128
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Oatmeal Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: t0rin0 on 11-20-2008

Our decadent Oatmeal Stout lovingly aged in Bourbon barrels. Beautiful chocolate, espresso and vanilla-bourbon aromas hold your nose hostage. Rich dark chocolate truffle, bourbon and espresso create a dangerously smooth and incredibly drinkable barrel aged Oatmeal Stout. Hoarding tendencies may occur.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 255 | Hads: 1,994
Photo of kaseydad
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 1 2013

Pours a nice black ale with a decent sized brown foamy head with ok lacing. Turns rather quickly to a ring around the glass and then nothing but a flat cola.

Aroma still has some nice bourbon kicking through with some roastiness, espresso, leather, char, rubber, and subtle chocolate.

Taste is a bit spicy with more espresso tones and boozy elements. Each sip gives a bit of a bite. Hoppy. Dark chocolate.

Much too thin. Was hoppy for something creamy ala the oatmeal experience.

Overall this was a nice but lacking in that big "it" factor. The thin body was much too noticeable on each sip. Still it is Firestone and therefore is always worthy of a try. (681 characters)

Photo of marieli
3.57/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Draft. Dark brown. Coffee, bourbon and oak were the dominant smells and flavors. A bit on the thin side. I can see why people would be attracted to this stout but it's not quite my cup of tea. (192 characters)

Photo of Anker13
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Review for 2014 Vintage

Appearance: Great pour, deep brown almost black, looks slightly thin, decent tan head

Aroma: Boozier than i remember... Bourbon upfront followed by a chocolatey, burnt marshmallow / campfire aroma

Mouthfeel: Light-Moderate carbonation, pretty thin, slight astringency

Taste: Bourbon flavor upfront... Spicy with a hint of vanilla. Muted chocolate and coffee follow

Residual: Flavor does not linger long. There's a definitive start to the beer but the chocolatey center is short lived

Overall: This is a great beer, truly it is, worth trying if you've never had it. However, the 2014 version is a little thinner and less flavorful than I was expecting. Reminds me of the difference between bourbon neat and bourbon on the rocks. The flavor is there but it's a little muted. Don't get me wrong though... Few BA beers live up to the quality of Firestone Walker's BA program. Would recommend to anyone (927 characters)

Photo of busternuggz
4.44/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip. 2014 vintage, aged in Rittenhouse Rye, Elijah Craig, and Woodford Reserve barrels.

Nice mostly opaque black color with a frothy, creamy beige 1/2" head. Recedes to about 1/8" with good retention. Leaves persistent spots of lacing.

Scents of sweet bourbon, chocolate chip cookies, blackberry pie filling, vanilla, a little coffee. So nice...

Big whiskey notes on the taste. I taste some spicy rye up front, sweeter bourbon follows. Creamy chocolate comes in next, followed by vanilla, toffee, some toasted oak, and a slightly bitter finish of roasted malt, coffee, and berries. More whiskey comes out as it warms up. Nice balance, the whiskey barrel is present but doesn't overpower the base stout.

Body comes on creamy and medium bodied, but ends kind of thin. Nice carbonation, but could maybe stand a little less.

Overall, hey, it's freakin Velvet Merkin. It's delicious, fuhgedaboutit. The body is a bit of a weak spot, but still a delicious FW beer. (1,000 characters)

Photo of Matonika
4.54/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What I love about this beer is that it has big flavors with out being overly sweet and overly boozy. It has the complexity of bourbon which is awesome. What would make this beer better is if had a 10-15 price range not the 19.99 I paid. (237 characters)

Photo of stratusjeans
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Most other reviews are spot on so I'm going to be lazy and make mine simple. Very well balanced both on smell and taste. Easy to drink. At 8.5 ABV it's something you can drink one evening after work (which I did). The complaints about it being a little light on the mouthfeel are valid, but if you know that going n you'll be ok. It's not a thick beer but that adds to the easy drinkability. And maybe it's just me tonight, but it pairs great with Tillamook sharp cheddar. Good ahead and get it. (502 characters)

Photo of buyyourfreedom
3.31/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was really looking forward to this beer but came away underwhelmed. I felt the flavors were too subtle, particularly since it is barrel-aged. Also, it was entirely too thin for my taste. (191 characters)

Photo of Dominic_Decoco
3.41/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thin mouthfeel, boozy/hot flavor, oaky smell. A big disappointment from FW, was hoping it to be on the same level as Parabola but not even close. I guess it's because it's an oatmeal stout rather than a RIS (206 characters)

Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very delicious! A bit sweet for me though. Love all the carbonation.
...................................................................................................................................................... (219 characters)

Photo of ryan1788a5
4.31/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a globe.

A: The room is dimly lit, but it appears to be a nice sheening black color. Two fingers of khaki colored head retain well. Spotty lacing.

S: Barrel aromas waft from the glass. Dusty oak, vanilla, rye whiskey. Caramel. Chocolate truffles. Coffee with cream. Oatmeal with brown sugar. Subtle whiff of alcohol. Sugar dates and black currants.

T: Starchy oats, chocolate truffles, sugar cookies, brown sugar, caramel. Iced coffee with two creams. Walnuts. The barrel is a focal point. Dusty oak, runny caramel, vanilla, corny sweet bourbon, mild barrel char. Oaky vanilla finish with lingering coffe and cream.

M: Medium-thick body. Smooth as silk. Creamy and luscious, slick and chewy. Low tingling carbonation.

O: Delicious. Effortless grace and balance. The barrel character is front and center, but never overbearing. Everything melds together nicely. Is it possible for a liquid to melt in your mouth? Because that's what it feels like. Firestone Walker's barrel aged beers are incomparable. (1,032 characters)

Photo of crob3888
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark brown, nearly totally black and opaque. Some light shines through around the edges. A tan head forms, but eventually settles and disappears entirely.

S: Notice the smell during the pour. Vanilla bourbon notes dominated the sweet aroma, with dark chocolate as well. A good nose.

T: This is where the beer shines, as it should. The vanilla bourbon blends with rich dark chocolate truffle, and a hint of velvety espresso rounds it out. This is a brilliant bourbon aged beer.

F: Velvety smooth, as the name implies. Medium-full body, slightly chewy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin is one of my all-time favorite oatmeal stouts and Velvet Merkin is now an all-time favorite of the BBA variety. Firestone, as usual, knocks it out of the park. (796 characters)

Photo of mr-jj
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle split between four samplers. Notes from 12/28/14.

Color is dark brown, almost black with a tan head. Aroma is bourbon with some cocoa and vanilla. Flavor is roasted malt with traces of cocoa and vanilla. Bourbon flavor is not as strong as I expected from the nose. Body is light/medium - much lighter than I expected - with minimal carbonation and a creamy texture.

Overall, I tried this in a tasting with BCBS and Fremont KDS and it was very mild and lacking in flavor against those offerings. But it is still a very good beer. (549 characters)

Photo of Barnoloid
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rating of the 2013 vintage.This is a fine barrel aged stout. There is a little smoke and cocoa on the nose. Mouthfeel is fairly light, with the accent of the bourbon coming through fairly pertinently. A little dark fruit comes in on the back end. A fine sipping beer. (267 characters)

Photo of antott0523
3.56/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

$13.99 at Fanwood Liquors in Fanwood, NJ

A: Opaque dark brown with a light brown head that settles to a thin layer with a fair amount of lacing. No visible carbonation.

S: Great nose with notes of vanilla and toffee. Freshly ground cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Sweet, smooth bourbon. A bit of roasted malts.

T: Semi sweet flavor profile with notes of cocoa, with faint notes of vanilla and bourbon. Semi dry finish with a mild amount of bitterness and a touch of black licorice.

M: Well carbonated and relatively thin.

D: The great nose has left me yearning for a bit more. Yes, the beer is highly drinkable. The 8.5% is imperceivable by any sense. However, the lack of flavor complexity and body leaves me wanting more. (733 characters)

Photo of LordofWord
3.45/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

"Creamy"? "Smooth"? Definitely. This beer is what it is. But based on the $15 price tag, I will only make the mistake once. Never again. Solid but unspectacular. There just isn't enough improvement over the base oatmeal stout to warrant the cost. (246 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014-12-28
12oz bottle poured into four disparate samplers.

Pours very dark -- but not opaque. Small creamy head. Very little carbonation. Smell is smokey, coffee. A little chocolate and vanilla.

Taste is mild compared to Bourbon County Brand Stout. No alcohol bite. Smooth, and surprisingly drinkable. Creamy. Like a super milk stout. Slight bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Overall, very good. (413 characters)

Photo of WesMantooth
3.64/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Some other people have already touched on this, but this is a very thin, watery stout. If you really like bourbon, you will probably enjoy it, but it squashes almost all flavors. Very disappointing compared to the other Firestone offerings. Not undrinkable, but I would not seek it out again unless it was fresh. I had a 2013 version. Maybe it does not hold up well. (366 characters)

Photo of FLima
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition.
Deep black color with a huge thick light caramel head with great retention.
Aroma with predominating notes of Bourbon backed by cocoa powder, coffee and vanilla.
Likewise, flavor with notes of bourbon, cola and dark chocolate all predominating. Also, creamy espresso, some spices, earthy and mild citrusy hops, roasted malt and very light smoke. Increasingly dry aftertaste with the Bourbon further revealing itself.
Velvet body with appropriate carbonation. Alcohol of 8.5% abv is absent.
Excellent brew with good complexity. Bourbon predominates elegantly and it is far from cloying. Remember this is an Oatmeal Stout don’t compare this to any hoppy imperial. (677 characters)

Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Yeah, the complaints about the mouthfeel are pretty accurate. Much thinner than one would expect. Flavors are fine, but not exceptional. The weakest of FW's special releases (which is almost an unfair comparison, since the others are all world-beaters, or close to it...) (271 characters)

Photo of larryi86
4.23/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle poured into a teku

A- Black with a three finger light mocha head.

S- Bourbon, some vanilla, oak, cocoa powder, slightly metallic, some coffee, and sweet oats. Metallic notes are kind of off putting, if they weren't there I would rate the smell at least 4.25.

T- Mild bourbon, hints of oak and vanilla, cocoa powder, fairly sweet, some coffee, some nice oat quality, nicely balanced, no hint of alcohol at all.

M- Smooth, creamy, medium body.

O- Bose throw me off but the taste is great. Didn't feel it would be great to age, but I really enjoy how it tastes fresh, can't wait to get more next year. Bourbon is a nice added flavor but not a big flavor in this beer. (685 characters)

Photo of themind
2.92/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

a 96??? after having BCBS, Devils Due, Backwoods Basterd and a host of other BB beers recently, this beer is truly a disappointment. The aroma is weak, the carbonation is fizzy and the taste is below par for the standard these days. A thin mouth feel just adds to the many short comings of this beer. I am shocked as this beer to me gets smoked by many so called " shelf turds " out there. If your seeking this out, save your money. The only redeeming factor of this beer is the ABV is hidden, but it's not very hard at 8.5%

Bottom Line: Not buying this again. (561 characters)

Photo of pmangold
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage - poured into a snifter. jet black appearance with a thin khaki head. the aroma was bourbon with sweet notes. The taste was very elaborate with bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, oak and even toffee. This was a thinner BA stout but I believe that was the intention since it's a lower abv oatmeal stout. I will be seeking out more of these. (351 characters)

Photo of Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4.25

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. 2014 vintage with no obvious bottle date.

A: You know when you hear the description of some BBA stouts as pouring like "thick motor oil"? Ya, this isn't that. Pours more like Coca-Cola. Once it's in the glass, though, it's not too bad. Dark brown-black body, minimal tan head.

S: Very nice aroma. Hit with the bourbon right up front. Very clean, lots of vanilla, some almond nuttiness. Just a hint of chocolate in the background. Fair amount of oak and barrel character.

T: A little underwhelming. Soft notes of vanilla, oak, flourless chocolate. A hint of toffee near the back end. Whiskey comes through strongly in the finish, but it's nicely balanced.

M: Disappointingly thin. Very, very watery for a BA stout.

O: So my expectations for Merkin were low because I wasn't a huge fan of Merlin. I thought the base beer was unimpressive, very thin and watery, and weak in flavor. So I wasn't sure how barrel-aging would help that. For the most part, it's an improvement. Wonderful flavors of vanilla, oak, almond all come through and the beer is very balanced and drinkable. The bourbon character is very nicely wrapped around this beer. However, a thin base beer leads to a thin BBA beer and the look and mouthfeel are just so unimpressive and leave a lot to be desired.

Recommendation: Not a must-try if you don't care for Velvet Merlin, but definitely still worth seeking out just for the fact that FW is so good at barrel-aging beers. (1,492 characters)

Photo of LouZ
4.6/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Draft. Pours dark with a slight red hue. Smell is coffee and caramel - love the smell of this beer. You can taste the bourbon, but it's not overwhelming; balanced with coffee and sweet malts. A great, drinkable barrel-aged beer. (228 characters)

Photo of samtrillo
4/5  rDev -5%

Pours engine oil black with a small tan head.

Nose consists of wood, chocolate, bourbon.

Upfront the taste reminds me of dark chocolate brownies followed by a hint of bourbon, oak and vanilla.
I was hoping the beer would feature a bit bigger mouthfeel. That's the one drawback for me. Can't justify the price of this when I can get six packs of Merlin for under $10 and do my own experimenting with vanilla beans and whiskey. (430 characters)

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 255 ratings.