Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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

253 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 253
Hads: 1,981
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 3.33%
Wants: 361
Gots: 774 | 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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Reviews: 253 | Hads: 1,981
Photo of KevinA107
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

Enjoyed my first 2013 Velvet Merkin today.

The Velvet in the name should also be the description. If you are one to enjoy a Bourbon Barrel aged Beer, get some of this. Can't compare it to other Bourbon Barrel aged beers as this is in a class of it's own. Bourbon Country, BRRRRR and other highly scored beers are all part of the pilgrimage towards getting your hands on this. (376 characters)

Photo of unitypunk
5/5  rDev +19%

Awesome Beer, pours dark, with a nice head smells like liquor, tastes like it minus the bite of alcohol super solid beer dont miss it! worth the price! 9$ 9oz was worth it! (174 characters)

Photo of macher0
4.59/5  rDev +9.3%

Here we go.

Pours dark brown, thin, and coarse frothy head that has an amber hue. The nose indicates this is a sweet ale that builds from a strong oatmeal presence in the form of brown sugar instant oatmeal. Strong bourbon on the nose. The taste is not at all sweet with a highly noticeable bourbon affect. The taste has notes of bourbon soaked oak, oats, brown sugar, melted butter, canned sweet potato syrup, and vanilla. Very thin feel, moderate carbonation, and lighter body than most stouts.

I was very pleased with this. I can easily get over how thin this stout is because of the excellent flavors from the oatmeal and bourbon barrel. (643 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2014 Vintage, 8.5% ABV
A 4 - near black with a creamy tan head that holds decent retention, some lacing is left on the glass as it fades
S 4.25 - boozy bourbon whiskey, vanilla, and oak dominate the nose
T 4.25 - the bourbon continues to dominate with the oaky vanilla here too, notes of chocolate, roasted barley, oat, and earthy hops do come through just enough to remind you that you are drinking a beer
M 3.5 - seems thin for body; elusive might be the word - this is not a viscous imperial stout, even though it seems like that's what it should be. It is, however, creamy and smooth, medium-ish, while finishing with the bourbony oak lingering on the palate
O 4 - really easy to drink, well balanced, and good, but not worth the $15.99 and hassle to hunt it down. Glad I tried it, but won't buy it again in the future. (836 characters)

Photo of dahlen22
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

I had this last night so I am going to try to get this right.

Appearance: Dark and syrupy with a slight brown head.

Aroma: Good stuff going on here. Coffee, Bourbon, Vanilla, Smokiness.

Taste: Smooth and velvety going down. Explosion of flavors here, including those in the nose and some dark chocolate. Easy drinking for the style.

Overall: Excellent beer here. Not a true oatmeal stout that many who like the style would expect, but an interesting melody of flavors and styles. What really came through were the vanilla and bourbon you would expect from barrel aged beer. Pricy, but very tasty. Cheers!! (624 characters)

Photo of n2185
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

A: Pours black with two fingers of light tan head that fades into a frothy ring with a little lacing.

S: roasted malts with sweet chocolate, vanilla, a bit of oak, and bourbon. Simple, but nice.

T: Roasted malts here as well with semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. There are some light oak flavors before a slightly boozy finish.

M: Medium-thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is slightly watery but still quite very drinkable.

O: Quite a good beer, overall. The body is a bit lacking, but otherwise is great. (540 characters)

Photo of elNopalero
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 10/2013, enjoyed 10/2014.
What difference does a year make? That I cannot speak to, at least as far as this beer is concerned. But in my life a lot has changed over the course of a year. More on that another time, perhaps over a beer.
This pours a luscious black with cottony foam that quickly dies into a cocoa colored ring of surf. There’s an incredible aroma with some dark chocolate and sweet espresso notes, and an underlying rum scent. I get a lot of nuance: toasted coconut, some orange peel, a hint of vanilla, a little oak, and it only gets better as it warms and opens.
There’s a big bitterness and a mighty roast on this, but it’s offset by a creamy, albeit surprisingly thin, consistency. The oatmeal in the oatmeal stout? Plus the masterful blending that FW is known for? I still get some barrel-aged notes, vanilla and coconut and dark chocolate and a touch of rum, but I find myself wishing for just a tad more.. more body, more booze, a touch more heat to contrast on the end. Still delicious, and definitely memorable. I saved this for a reason and it did not disappoint. (1,107 characters)

Photo of BenwayPHD
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with a thin half finger, mocha colored head. The smell is very well balanced between the bourbon and the oatmeal malt. Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, slight booze. Actually quite a delicious nose. The flavor is predominantly the bourbon and the wood. The stout it self gets somewhat buried. Maybe a bigger, higher abv, stout would hold up better to this barrel. The mouthfeel is also slightly thin. Overall, this is quite a good beer, however, the complex nose is more intriguing than the flavor. (534 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.96/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a nearly pitch black color with a thick and creamy tan colored head. The head has a fantastic level of retention, slowly fading and leaving behind a sticky looking lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is big of a sweet oatmeal smell with a good showing of a woody and bourbon boozy smell. Along with these aromas comes smells of caramel and vanilla as well as a little bit of a more toasted malt and somewhat grainy smell giving a very nice warningly dark and sweet smell

Taste- The taste begins with a big sweet oatmeal flavor with a good and heavy flavor of oats and caramel as well as a bit of vanilla and some nice woody and bourbon flavors upfront. There is a decent showing of a more roasted and chocolate flavor upfront, but these pale in comparison to the sweeter oat. As the taste advances the woody flavors lessen a bit, but the sweeter flavors grow even more intense with quite a bit more vanilla and caramel coming to the tongue. All the while the more roasted flavors really start picking up steam more toward the end surpassing the oat flavor of the brew. While at 8.5 % abv., the alcohol is very well concealed and with the mix of flavors that is left at the end, a nice roasted and sweet, lightly woody and moderately oatmeal like flavor is left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel-The body of the beer is on the thinner side for a oatmeal stout of 8.5% abv with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. A thicker body and lower carbonation would have been much better for the oatmeal and sweeter roasted flavors of the brew, really giving support to these rich flavors.

Overall- A rather tasty oatmeal stout overall with a nice hit of woody bourbon flavor without a whole lot of heavy and hot booziness. A nice, oatmeal, semi-sweet roasty brew. (1,871 characters)

Photo of santomark
3/5  rDev -28.6%

A - Pours a coca cola colored body. Mild off white head, about a nickels worth. Hues of brown.

S - Maple syrup, toffee, coffee, malt, fig, dates, darker fruits, splash of that classic bourbon taste.

T - light coffee up front, that watered down mocha, that iced latte taste. This empty presence in the middle. Finish with that bourbon taste.

M - Very light, silky, smooth.

O - I'm not buying another beer from this company again. No offense, but at $16 a bottle, I'd expect this to have a bigger profile. Moreover, the body is too weak for the bourbon characteristics. At times, this taste like the last few sips of a jack and coke, with a breathe of coffee to come back up. This is so weak, words cannot tell you how disappointed I am with this brew. I'm debating regurgitating what I swallowed, putting it back in the bottle, and asking for a refund. It's not bad, it's just absolutely disappointing. (905 characters)

Photo of TheBrewo
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

We peel the foil and pop the top on a bottle of 2013 stock. We pour a beer of burnt chestnut brown into our Founders snifters. A one and a half finger tall head of oily chocolate milk colored bubbles. This dissipates on the quicker side, settling into an oil slick across the top of the liquid. Lacing is specked, but highly mobile and truly formless. No haze or sediment is noted, and carbonation appears to be active. The nose is beautifully warming and rich, even when at the coldest of fridge temperature. We meet notes of raw licorice, vanilla-rubbed woodiness, sweet but intensely buttery diacetyls, dark chocolate sugars, black pepper spice, chocolate covered espresso beans, light balsamic vinaigrette acidity, toasted oats and black malts, chemical bite of nail polish, aluminum foil, ashed cigarette tobacco, and buttercream cheesecake frosting. The taste follows the nose very nicely, but gives up a little robustness that we had hoped would carry through. Coming through is a clean blend of soured and acidic oak, soft and melty mallo sugars and milk chocolates, warming bourbon wash, dried raisins and black cherries, vanilla milk shake, light vodka boozy kick, cinnamon and crushed Graham cracker crumble, light bubblegum esters, medicinal phenol spice, watered charcoal, mildly bitter cocoa, and dusty basement muskiness. The body is the lightest shade of medium, and the carbonation is more solidly medium. The liquid moves easily around the mouth, leaving a cooling and lightly palpable coating of sugary stickiness. Slurp, smack, cream, froth, glug, and pop each contribute nicely. The abv is appropriate, and the beer drinks back nicely, although due to its whale status, you want to take your time.

Overall, best…name…ever. Oh so seductive!! Actually, that last part is a true statement about the aroma. It floats out of the bottle, and just like the smell lines of a pie will lift any cartoon character right off their feet, pulls you firmly in. The bourbon is delicate but expertly represented, giving all of the essence without any of the nasty. This blends with the oddity of the malt base, which is oat, setting the stage for a markedly complex presentation. Things are going great at this point. Then, you sip. It would be a crime to say that the beer takes a wrong turn here, but, it just isn’t quite what we were expecting. Remember, this is an oatmeal stout. This is NOT your typical hulked-up American imperial. This is velvet. The flavoring comes across, due in part to the sweetness of grain, wood, and chocolate, much like a milk/sweet stout, with high residual sugars. Once you accept this fact, you will have a much better time, and you’ll enjoy the beer much more. We were so, so excited when we found this beer, and while it doesn’t disappoint by any means, we had hoped it would be a little more bold. That is in our failing of false expectations, not the beer’s or the brewer’s, as the final product presented is worthy of all its accolades. (3,023 characters)

Photo of cjgiant
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%

Bottle, 2014 vintage:
Pours a pretty-much pitch black, with a mildly surprising just off-white foamy head. This head does stick around for a bit, and a swirl of the glass leaves the foam clinging to the glass above the surface.

The initial nose (I did let it warm a bit before tasting) definitely has the bourbon barrel scents throughout. There is a vanilla and perhaps a light cinnamon notes to what is really, to me, pretty mush simple roasted malt goodness. When searching, I get wood notes and something that reminds me of a "bowl of oatmeal", but neither is overt or obvious to me.

The taste, surprisingly does not rely on or even focus on the bourbon barrel tastes. I do get the oats more up front than I'd imagined I would. To those flavors are added a fairly significant woodiness that accentuate the initial notes, and meld together to something greatly interesting to me. The bourbon fades in lightly mid-taste, and just stays on the fringe of the taste. I get a touch of coconut, and a dark-roasted nuttiness for the lingering taste.

The feel is actually a little light early, and dries out in a woody feel/taste for the longer term. I think the beer is very smooth throughout, overall, though.

A very good beer that is just solid in its structure. It's not very showy in it's flavors, but does throw enough out there to not be too boring. I like it for being a more subdued higher-octane stout. (1,423 characters)

Photo of Cubatobaco
4.29/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I'm glad that I got a chance to drink this fresh as I don't think it will hold up very long, especially at 8.5%. The mouthfeel is amazing and the taste is of dark chocolate and roasted coffee. I think, if it had more barrel presence, I would have rated it higher. It was kind of muted. Great beer and I am glad that I have a few more bottles. (342 characters)

Photo of Modernrickk
4.06/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving type bottle

This beer looks like cold black coffee. When held up to the light I can see thru it. Not much head retention. Not exactly an elegant looking beer. Sure does smell good tho. It's not in your face in the aroma but very pleasing mix of malts and bourbon.the vanilla-like aroma from the wood smells amazing. Tastes like a bit of chocolate dipped in a bit of watered down bourbon. The low abv kinda makes the mouthfeel a bit thin for a BBA stout but really helps the balance of the taste. Overall this beer is pretty darn good. Balance in the bourbon and stout flavors is everything here .. (607 characters)

Photo of GJ40
4.2/5  rDev 0%

Beautiful with a big black color and a sturdy tan head. Awesome aroma with bourbon, vanilla and cane sugar. Smooth flavors follow led by a well behaved bourbon aspect. Maybe a little thin for a bigger oatmeal stout. But I really enjoyed this one. (247 characters)

Photo of Celtics17
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

You without a doubt get the bourbon character in the nose, and in the front. After awhile the bourbon character softens, and you get more of the oatmeal. I get a slight vanilla, but little to known of the chocolate flavors. Great beer. (235 characters)

Photo of siege06nd
4.02/5  rDev -4.3%

A. Black with a half finger of khaki colored head, good lacing and consistency.

S. Excellent with lots of baking chocolate, roasted coffee, caramel, and vanilla.

T. Not quite as good as the nose. Big doses of milk chocolate, lots of vanilla, and caramel, and even some fruity sweetness. It's quite sweet and a little light.

M. A little light on the palate, lightly carbed, the sweetness really stands out. Quite milky with the barrel not really standing out.

O. It's a good beer, but a little sweeter and lighter than I expected. At 8.5%, though, it's impressive. (576 characters)

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.86/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - Poured into a snifter to reveal a blackened color with cola brown edging when held to light. The head is light tan and peaks at about a half a finger in width, then quickly dies down to form a webbing of surface suds and a thin ring around the edge. Lacing is small and spotty with decent stick.

Smell - At first crack I get hints of Black roast, chocolate and notes of deep, rich caramel. I could live off that caramel. As the brew warms hints of vanilla and bourbon sweetness begin to peek through, then strengthen. Strong toffee notes once the beer is fairly warmed.

Taste - Lighter in flavor than what the nose leads on. Touches on toffee, chocolate, bourbon and vanilla. Sweet with hints of heat. Light roastiness. Flavor nearly falls off the map in the finish, but leaves ghostly traces of chocolate and bourbon in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Eh. Pretty thin, even for a barrel-aged brew. Low carbonation. A bit watery in the finish. Easily the weakest aspect of the brew.

Overall - Had this on tap last year and thought it was fairly disappointing. I'm not sure if this batch is any better or it's that my expectations aren't as high, but I'm not quite as down on it this time around, though that doesn't mean I'm still not underwhelmed. The aroma is amazing, but unfortunately the flavor and body don't live up to expectations. At $15 per bottle, this is one Firestone BA brew that I won't be buying a 2nd bottle of which to age. In fact I'm not even sure what aging could possibly do for this beer. There simply isn't enough here. (1,556 characters)

Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Looks pretty inviting, although at 8.5% it's neither motor oil black, nor motor oil thick.

S - The nose is awesome! Vanilla and cookies. Bourbon is subtle.

T - Could use a little more chocolate. The vanilla notes are pleasant but faint. Bourbon character is similar.

M - Super smooth but still quite thin.

O - At roughly $18 a bottle I did not really feel this was a big enough beer to justify the price tag. It's a nice beer for sure, but I'd only go here again if it were about half the price. (504 characters)

Photo of jibbyvonjibb
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%

Oatmeal cookie, vanilla, subtle bourbon flavor, a touch of coffee roast. Body is medium, very smooth and drinkable. Acidity is low. Lingering moderate sweetness. It's good, not great, so I wouldn't buy it again for $15 nor advise you to (buy Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout instead). (278 characters)

Photo of neurobot01
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%

2014 bottle at fridge temp into a snifter, allowed to warm.

Looks lighter in body and color than most BA stouts. Initial taste is basically Velvet Merkin Plus—almost a cola flavor profile going on. A hint of bourbon, but very mild, and few other barrel characteristics. The aftertaste is amazing vanilla/graham cracker/milk chocolate/toasted marshmallow. The mouthfeel is pretty thin. Overall, I remembered this as being better from last year; looking forward to updating this review once I crack my cellared '13. (516 characters)

Photo of Premo88
3.91/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

22 oz. bomber poured into snifter
(2013 vintage)

L: standard black motor oil, big tan head at least 1.25 inches that doesn't stick or lace; no light can pass through beer, but it might be relatively clear

S: VERY boozy ... smells like whiskey mixed into dark malt ... what you'd expect with some dark dark notes of licorice; oak wood and whiskey take over as it warms, and it’s fantastic; really starting to get the coffee now, kind of an astringent bitter/sour coffee note like some of the central/south american coffees can get

T: loads of stuff here ... whiskey, vanilla malt, dark malt bleeding into licorice, kind of raisiny, very burnt up front or in the middle, but that smooths into a nice wood-char taste that lingers in the aftertaste, very nice; real dark compared to the velvet martin

F: mighty fine ... got lots of carbonation and not too thick, so it’s as drinkable as a pale ale

O: great sipping brew with good whiskey and wood notes; it’s pricey and I think I like the nonbarrel-aged version better, if that’s possible, but the 8.5% ABV is cool because most barrel-aged stouts are 10% plus and this is much less. i like that. (1,161 characters)

Photo of brureview
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Pours a totally opaque black-brown almost black color with a one finger head in a snifter. Oak, fruit, and chocolate in the aroma. I really like the oak in this beer-it's not pronounced,but it has a special quality. It combines well with the chocolate, which deepens the oak.

The mouth feel was very carbonated.

The body of the beer is on the lighter side compared to other barrel aged beers, yet it does not detract from the complexity of the beer.

The oak melds well with the chocolate in the taste. The oatmeal presence is not too strong.

There is a bitterness to the finish which works well with the light body.

The beer is different than other beers in the barrel aged series. The finish is not alcoholic and it's lower in ABV.

Overall, another excellent beer from the Firestone Walker barrel Aged series and I was fortunate to find a bottle. (855 characters)

Photo of trippytbta
4/5  rDev -4.8%

Bottle poured into tulip

A: pours very dark brown almost black, light khaki head

S: oats and bourbon

T: kind of a typical Oatmeal stout taste, BuT you do really get the barrel coming through with bourbon, oak, and vanilla.

M: silky and great carbonation

Overall: if your a big fan of oatmeal stouts this is for you. I wanted something a little more crazy, but it is a great representation of the style and as always great barrel aging (440 characters)

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

appearance: Deep dark brown and nearly opaque as stout should be. Thick mocha head and messy lacing.
smell: Oh yeah, this has that rich chocolaty buttery FW barrel aged magic.
taste: More of the same.
overall: Very nice beer. Not quite the depth of the other FW barrel aged brews, kind of a "Parabola lite" and that ain't bad. (328 characters)

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 253 ratings.