Velvet Merkin - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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Ratings: 1,277 | Reviews: 175 | Display Reviews Only:
4.13/5 rDev -3.7%
Sampled on Tap at 1702, Tucson; March 2010
Arrives from the tap an opaque, dark color that shows a touch of clear red / brown hues when held up to the light. The head is quite wispy and seems a bit dark. At first the aroma has a thin vanilla note to it as well as a roast grain aromatic. Actually the aroma is really hard for me to smell, but as it warms I get hints of buttery oak and a hint of almost fruity tartness.
There is a hint of sweetness in the flavor (or is that vanillin) up front, but this dries out quite significantly as this rolls across the tongue. Vanillin lingers along with notes of dark chocolate, roasted grain and a hint of barrel-derived spiciness on the palate. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy feeling, but it still remains light as this is definitely a beer to quaff a couple pints of. The roast character dominates the flavor profile, but it is well balanced and keeps from being harsh, astringent, or acidic (which I find as common "flaws" in roasted beers). This is really well balanced in the flavor; roast, sweeter malt character, vanillin and bittering notes all work together quite harmoniously. The barrel is quite mellow actually, vanillin is here, as is an oak derived spiciness and a tannic quality in the finish, but I could almost be convinced that this was not barrel aged.
This is an awesome quaffing / session brew; it is full flavored, delicious andcomplex, too bad that this aroma comes off as being so muted (is it the glass, my nose, I don't know but I think it is actually just the beer).
03-20-2010 23:04:38 | More by Gueuzedude
3.68/5 rDev -14.2%
Served on-draught into a snifter at Firestone Walker's taproom (NOT tasting room) in Paso Robles on its grand opening day. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average given the brewery's reputation.
A: Pours a one finger head of dark milk-white colour, nice cream, good thickness, and great retention for the ABV. Colour is a nontransparent solid black.
Sm: Roast, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. A mild strength aroma.
T: Roast, coconut, milk, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of cherry. No bourbon comes through - not even as a tone. It'd be better with more black cherry. Nicely balanced. Great cream is present as an undertone. Well built. Complex enough, wuth some limited subtlety.
Mf: Smooth and wet. Silky. Nicely creamy. Near perfect thickness. More a porter than a stout (even considering the smoothening factor of the oats). Should be more dry and coarse.
Dr: Very drinkable for the ABV. I'd have it again. Why isn't it on nitro? A lovely oatmeal stout - maybe the best Firestone Walker beer I've had so far (including Abacus - which I found mundane).
03-23-2012 04:05:32 | More by kojevergas
4.43/5 rDev +3.3%
Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a one finger light beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic streaks of lace left behind.
Boozy bourbon barrel aroma that's nicely integrated into the base beer(which is partially bourbon BA). I thought amping it up to 100% BA might kill off some of those notes but they're still there underneath the barrel presence. Strong spicy bourbon, earthy oak, vanilla and coconut followed by roasted dark malt, chocolate, robust coffee and oatmeal.
Medium bodied but a bit thinner than I expected with a strong bourbon barrel presence that's excellently integrated into the flavor of the regular Merlin version. Sweet and spicy bourbon dominated up front with some boozy heat but it never becomes to hot. Feels stronger than 8.6 but not harsh. There's also some dry oak, toasted coconut and vanilla followed by roasted dark malt, silky chocolate, caramel, toffee and oatmeal. Subtle dry bitterness but never approaches burnt or acrid. Really well balanced and although there is a decent amount of heat it's very easy to drink.
08-21-2012 01:42:29 | More by corby112
3.61/5 rDev -15.9%
A: Poured a deep, deep brown, nearly black with great carbonation yielding a nice tannish cap, a nice frothy one with pretty good retention. Lacing was minimal though.
S: Roasted coffee, a blend of bitter and milk chocolate, some oats and bourbon with a very minute hint of vanilla
T: A nice blend of roasted malts, oats and chocolate upfront. A nice, light bourbon tinge meets the taste buds as well and persists throughout the finish. The barrel provides some backseat vanilla. The taste itself is sordove muddy in my opinion and not really all that complex. The finish is sordove dry, light sweetness, light booze and sordove effervescent even
M: Medium bodied, well carbonated, a light creaminess. It feels thin, yes, but this is a single stout not a an imperial so it's not going to be as full and hearty as say a Parabola.
O: Not bad. I'm really not a fan of bourbon barrel againg every stout, especialy single stouts. I believe the body feels thin because it is thin compared to other barrel aged or imperial stouts. Not a bad beer but not sure I would drop cash on case of this as I would other FW offerings.
10-03-2013 14:52:23 | More by barleywinefiend
4.65/5 rDev +8.4%
Light proof black colored beer with a medium sized brown colored head.
One sniff and this smells like Canadian Whiskey! Not at all shy about letting you know this has been sitting in a bourbon barrel for a while. Strong vanilla, coconut and caramel scents. Smells sweet with some faint scents of tobacco leaf, ash and tanned leather. Simply lovely I could sniff this glass all day, pity they don't market this smell as an air freshener.
Starts out mildly sweet with a vanilla, coconut and chocolate flavor. Slight butter and stronger toffee candy flavors. A little sweet but not as much as the scent suggests. Mild bitterness. Strong Canadian Whiskey flavor. Oak and a little wood ash really coats the mouth like a milkshake. I can even taste a little sugar cookie in this, complex with a Capital C.
Mouthfeel is good.
Overall one of the best things I have tasted all year. I may have tasted a better beer but there are few beers than can beat this. A lot of the beers that might be infinitesimally better are other Firestone Bourbon Barrel aged beers.
09-22-2013 01:35:13 | More by Zorro
4.33/5 rDev +0.9%
On Tap at Teresa's Next Door. Served in a tulip glass.
Velvet Merkin pours the standard dark black color like the Merlin with a silky look. Black shade, off white head that is an inch that eventually fades, no cling. Smell is a nice and if not the best mix of oatmeal and bourbon ever. I'll admit, I am not a fan of huge beers, so i was a bit surprised at the alcohol difference between the former and the latter. I cant smell the eight some percent listed. OAts, ripe chocolate, vanilla, no oak, present bourbon. The taste is about the same with a focus of oatmeal and bourbon with a backing of chocolate. The great thing is, it's under 9%, meaning if i want another glsss, it would be a sinch. I loved the original and all the flavor and low abv, I love this version as well.
07-04-2012 02:54:17 | More by BARFLYB
4.24/5 rDev -1.2%
The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. Don't get a huge amount of bourbon on the nose, but nevertheless, I'm picking up considerable milk chocolate, vanialla, a hint of leather and light bourbon. Not a lot of coffee in this one, but nevertheless, the nose is attractive. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this moderately sweet beer. and while the mouthfeel is a bit thin I thought, there is still a very attractive soft, plush, almost creamy consistency to this beer. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, and so drinkability is quite good in this beer. Had no trouble whatsoever downing a bomber during the Sunday night football game.
Nice beer... not sure it's up there with Parabola or some of the anniversary beers FW has done, but it's still a nice enough beer.
10-21-2013 14:37:23 | More by John_M
4/5 rDev -6.8%
On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.
Poured a black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was decent retention and lacing.
The smell featured roasted malts a d a touch of charcoal.
The flavor was likewise roasted with a touch of sweetness and a hint of black licorice.
The mouthfeel was toward tge fuller side of the style.
Overall a tasty oatmeal stout.
02-23-2014 22:35:03 | More by plaid75
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,277 ratings.