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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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,960
Reviews: 281
rAvg: 4.3
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 354
Gots: 768 | 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 Furlinator
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

Photo of Pahn
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

22oz bottle split 2 ways between myself and morningthief. Poured into wine glasses.

Appearance: Very dark red brown. Tan lace wall.

Smell: Nice sweet stout, with a hefty bit of vanilla oak around it. Restrained and well put together. Speaks of a good beer...

Taste: As usual with Firestone Walker, delivers. It's Velvet Merlin, a nice, unassuming, creamy oatmeal stout, elevated by several fully discernible oak-influenced notes.

Firestone Walker really knows how to make a complete beer. This flavor is beautiful; not over the top in any respect, with the barrel honoring rather than masking the base beer.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, high carbonation. Normally this carbonation level would bother me, but it puts me in mind of a very lively porter, and is just the right stage for these flavors to play out their little play. Some dryness would bring out the roasted flavors--I love what's here, but I think some husky dryness would make it even better.

Overall: Greater than the sum of its parts. Firestone Walker is a brewery of masters... Others may make showier (and excellent) beers, but Firestone perfects a recipe and then shares their brilliant work with its fans. Wonderful beer.

Photo of nataku00
4.3/5  rDev 0%
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.

Photo of ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -13.5%
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...)

Photo of Murrhey
4.07/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had as part of the "Reserve Flight" at the Bruery Provisions for its Firestone Walker tap takeover. Poured in a 2oz taster. Reviewed from notes.

A- Off-white head, fairly thin especially when sat next to its less boozy brother the Merlin. The higher alcohol content probably had a lot to do with that. Dark black color, no light peeked through.

S- Chocolate and bourbon, warm and dark. Inviting smell. I like this quite a bit.

T- So smooth. Boozy and malty. Warm and decadent with a distinct bourbon taste.

M- Thin, with an alcoholic feel. Finishes wet.

O- I want more of this beer.

Photo of kaseydad
4.05/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

Photo of unclejazz
4.8/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have been looking forward to trying this ever since trying Velvet Merlin in December. Thank you goes to Brouwerij Lane for getting this and pouring me more than my share.

A-dark brown with a half inch head tan there is great lacing went along with a decent espresso like color.

S-solid bourbon with vanilla and earthy notes which all complemented the roast malt and oat base.

T-this delivers the goods, it is not at all boozy, but wonderful bourbon carmel favors that have wonderful oak undertones. This is an amazing accomplishment.

M-thick and definitely in the sipper category. Just a touch of heat from the bourbon left a great burn in the aftertaste. I could sip this for days, so rewarding.

O-I thought I might never try this but so glad I did. This is e future of beer, some day it will be bottled and I will be there. Fantastic!

Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Milk chocolate, oats, cocoa, dark chocolate, balanced bourbon, oak, coffee, roast

Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.23/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

Photo of billshmeinke
3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Blue Palms.

Pitch black with a finger of off white head. Retention and lacing are fine for the style.

Smells of oaky vanilla, coconut, some chocolate, hint of alcohol, hint of cereal like oats.

Tastes follows smell, only more intense and complex. Tastes of bakers chocolate, rolled oats, really pronounced coconut note, oaky vanilla.

Medium bodied, well carbonated, some alcohol spice. Kind of expected it to be a bit more full bodied and sticky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Photo of themind
2.92/5  rDev -32.1%
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.

Photo of CJNAPS
4.83/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I love the creamy texture of this beer...and I'm a big Bourbon fan so I picked up on that goodness right away.

Photo of maxcoinage
4.54/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bomber into snifter with a decent half inch head, off white, that settled rather quickly. Color is a dark black but seems to have somewhat of a brownish hue.

Aroma is awesome, roasted malt, vanilla, a hint of bourbon and some oak

Taste has a nice complexion, some chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, toffee, a tad bit boozy but not really getting any noticeable bourbon

Mouthfeel is very smooth to start, low carbonation, creamy, medium body, a bit cloying finish

Overall -this is the best Oatmeal Stout I've had! I actually haven't even had Velvit Merlin before, I need to find some of that. It's great to have a bourbon barrel beer that I can drink the whole bomber without getting drunk. Wish I was able to get more than one.

Photo of KFBR392
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage bottled on 8/23/13

Appearance: Pours with a medium brown color yet sits black in the glass. The head was light on the pour and is only present in a slightly off white ring around the edges of the glass. Very little active carbonation in the glass while drinking.

Smell: Big heavy bourbon front. Filled with vanilla, cherries, coffee, roasted malt, molasses, and medium bodied chocolate. Behind the booze is a wonderful base of rich creamy oatmeal that gives this aroma some serious legs. I love the big bourbon accents yet they are done perfectly to allow so much more to shine through.

Taste: A mesh of flavors hit the palate first. Some oats, vanilla, chocolate, and bourbon all come together to make a unique taste and start this beer off. The body opens up with a potent oatmeal taste that is brought out by the bourbon accents. The finish is a an earthy, grainy, malt, and of course some booze finish that tingles on the palate for long after drinking.

Mouthfeel: A thickness covers the palate yet not overwhelmed and still allows many of the flavors to come through while drinking. Bourbon brings some dryness on the finish but is primarily sweet and delicious.

Overall: Was in the mood for a delicious BA stout and this one did just fine. Not as heavy since it's an oatmeal stout but a ton of complexity. I'm a big bourbon fan so I loved the barrel character and how potent it was. Firestone Walker doesn't mess around with this series.

Photo of tzieser
4.42/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.23/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

Photo of Fcolle2
4.61/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage

Pours dark thick black letting little to no light through. Head is thin tan and fades to a tan ring around the glass that's retains nicely.

Smell is great. Rich dark chocolate malt along with creamy oat aromas are balanced nicely with a light barrel and bourbon aromas. Notes of semi sweet chocolate truffle, cookie dough and raisins.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. Rich semi sweet chocolate malt is forward and so incredibly rich and creamy that it is almost like desert in a glass. Some faint dark ripe blackberry fruity esters follow along with a more prevalent oak barrel and lighter bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick, creamy great body. Mild carbonation leaves this a great sipping beer, perfect for a bitter cold night.

Incredible beer, I'm glad I have another to cellar.

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.

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 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 Dominic_Decoco
3.41/5  rDev -20.7%
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

Photo of seedyone
4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
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'.

Photo of mverity
4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at FIrestone Walker in Paso Robles! Great taproom! Nice tan head with fair lacing. Color is opaque black. Aroma is heavily of vanilla and bourbon. Maple and brown sugar is also present. Taste is a bit different from the aroma. Sweet bourbon and earthy coffee is what I get at the front, toasty oats and charred oak on the tail end. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for an aged stout. Creamy, and a great finish. Wonderful beer!

Photo of zhanson88
3.84/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Was excited to pick one of these up.

Appearance: Pours a thin-ish bodied dark brown color with about 1" of khaki colored head. Retention is good, and lacing is nice as well. Pretty nice looking beer, just a bit thin for the style.

Smell: Dusty cocoa and bitter dark chocolate scents come to mind immediately. Underneath that, a bit of barrel shows as well. A bit of woodiness, a bit of vanilla, and even less of a hint of bourbon. Nothing too crazy or overbearing, just very nice balance.

Taste: Tastes akin to a brownie in many ways. Cocoa and milk chocolate sweetness, with dark chocolate and perhaps a bit of coffee bitterness. Also, something that I did not catch on the nose in a hint of dark fruits. Again, the barrel is understated, with hints of barrel, vanilla and bourbon.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Mouthfeel is really my only gripe. Can't really describe it any other way than thin, with pretty high carbonation. I think this beer gets exponentially better with a bigger body. Overall, a really enjoyable beer that does not drink near its 8.5% ABV. Nice balanced flavors, with an appropriate amount of barrel that complements the beer nicely. Again, a heavier body would really bump my review score on this, but as is, a pretty nice beer that is certainly worth a try.

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.76/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Letdown, my children. Letdown like when they gave the MVP to Braun although he was clearly juicing.

It's aite like my baby mama in her Sunday goodies, but it lacks in taste and mouthfeel. A bit (and Raul means A BIT) sour, and too thin. Not Raul "thin" (it's genetics, my children) but thin enough that Raul ain't feelin' it like Yasiel Puig home run trotting a triple.

Feelin' it, but not feeelin' it.

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