Velvet Merlin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
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Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
A decadent oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin offers robust cocoa and espresso aromas with subtle American hop nuances. Rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor with a creamy mouth feel and wonderfully dry finish create the perfect balance in this full-bodied stout. Ideal for sipping in the winter months or at the end of a meal.

Original name was "Velvet Merkin", but name was changed when it began to be bottled in 2010.

Added by largadeer on 11-13-2008

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Reviews: 685 | Ratings: 3,043
Photo of Star80
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dated 1/22/13

A - Pours out a pitch black color with a tan head, quickly dissipated.

S - Smells like lots of chocolate, some sourdough bread, malted milk, and smoke.

T - Tastes like a burst of chocolate, dark roasted coffee and malts, some sourdough, and some leafy smoke.

M - Mouthfeel is good.

O - Overall a beautiful, sessionable oatmeal stout that is definitely on the chocolatey side of things. Another great beer from Firestone and a fills a needed gap in the sessionable American Stout arena.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

They claim at their website this is no longer available...Guess I'm getting some of the last bottles, eh? While watching the SF Giants throw away the first game of the 2010 WS, this is filling my soon to be empty glass...

Pours a very dark, near-opaque, reddish brown/black. No real head, no real lacing. Nose is super-roasty with cocoa-nib or, more accurately, like a Newman's Own Espresso Chocolate bar...Almost a smokiness waaay in the background. The name is apt, as the flavor is velvety smooth. Very robust roasted malt character, but lacking the tangy bitterness of many oatmeal stouts. This replaces the tanginess with a smoky roasted component. I like...Mikey would also like it...Heck, everyone would like it. Except maybe Mila Kunis - she strikes me as someone who WOULDN'T like oatmeal stouts...She seems more of a Chelada any event the flavor profile is unique for a robust oatmeal stout...I'm loving the seamless evolution from robust roasty to smooth chocolate covered espresso bean (we're talkin' 75% cocoa though...No milk chocolaty sweetness at all), and from there into the long, dry finish that only imparts a wisp of hops. Good beer. At $9.99 a six-pak it's well-priced, but apparently you shouldn't ba able to find any, even though I bought this yesterday...

What I like most: The price and unique flavor profile.

What I like least: the lack of a decent head.

Verdict: Apart from a minor flaw or two, very good and worth tracking down if you can.

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Photo of jrallen34
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz extra given to my Craytonic, served in a Bruery tulip...A dark brown pour with a brilliant light tan head. At least six fingers of head rises and stays forever, tightly compact bubbles on this are great. Unbelievably thick lacing. This is a looker...A fairly muted aroma, lots of oatmeal, a little roast and bitter, pretty sweet. A little alcohol and the sweetness bring my score down a touch, not balanced enough...The taste is pretty muted as well, disappointed. Light roast, oatmeal, a little sweet chocolate cake. Better balanced, just not strong enough. The more I drink it the more I like it as its so easy to drink, yet flavorful. A nice full feel.

Above average oatmeal, worth a shot.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep brown (some ruby highlights come out across the bottom), with a finger of smooth light mocha colored head. This maintains a thin foaminess that skims the top of the glass, leaving back a rich cascade of spotty lacing that dots the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of sweet oatmeal notes up front, before giving away to an underlying mix of cocoa, roast, and a good bit of green citrus flavor. The oatmeal is really standing out to me here in the nose and I’m digging it.

The taste is similar to the nose, with a smooth smelling mélange of flaked oatmeal and chocolate that then leads into a leafy citrus profile across the back. Some light roasted character sits underneath and combos with the hops to finish this a bit bitter with an extra smidge of burnt toast on the tail end. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and initially prickly on the tongue, which helps draw out some of that hops and roast, but there is also an easy feeling silkiness on the edges of this, courtesy of that oatmeal, which gives this an overall crisp slickness in the mouth that works.

This was quite a robust and easy drinking Oatmeal Stout, with a good bit of well balanced flavor that didn’t skimp on the oatmeal character one bit. I’m not sure if this one is making distribution yet on the East Coast but it’s definitely one that I’m going to keep an eye out for.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wowsers! An unexpected treat, a gift from my son.

Big yellow-tan head, fades and leaves lovely lacing.

Smell is rich, chocolate, sweet. Mmmm.

Taste follows the smell: delightfully sweet-dry, with notes of dark fruits in the background. Limited hop presence. Nice bitter-burned malt.

Super easy to drink and extra smooth. Not as thick as I might wish.

Give it a try. Worth it.


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Photo of readbaron
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours out a relatively thin looking - more porter than stout - with a decent light tan head.

Smell is smooth - nearly all malt, with a hint of sweetness. Almost smells like a milk stout.

Taste is good - incredibly smooth. Very malty - not a lot of complexity - all malt and some oaty sweetness. There is no aftertaste - just an incredibly smooth finish.

Mouthfeel is excellent - much richer than I would have expected from the pour. Definitely see why velvet is in this beer's name.

Highly drinkable. Relatively low ABV and incredibly smooth.

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Photo of nickshep7
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a 3 finger light tan head. The smell is a combination of fresh roasted coffee and dark malts. Some chocolate now coming through. Initial taste is all coffee and finishes with a decent amount of bitterness from the hops. Mouthfeel is good though I wish it was a bit thicker. Overall, a solid brew.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A modest and thin but lasting head of dirty white foam, sitting on top of an extremely dark liquid which is either super-dark brown or a lighter shade of black.

Subtle but welcoming aroma is very much par for the style, being grainy, earthy, toasted, a bit vinous and faint hints of cocoa nibs.

There's something quite wonderful about the taste of Velvet Merlin (and hey, great name!). It's got subtlety and class; its roastiness is right on the money while its deeper traits emerge slowly and politely. Still has the vinous and chocolate qualities from the nose, and some other dark fruits (fig, date) but these are merely supporting characteristics. It's really about the perfect roasty-toasty hot breakfast cereal vibe that is the centerpiece of this beer.

Feels soft and smooth, for the most part, while the carbonation is probably a little more pronounced than expected, considering the "velvet" in the name of this beer.

Velvet Merlin has a really satisfying, comforting kind of personality. It's a case of every ingredient working in harmony, everything balanced out perfectly.

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Photo of allforbetterbeer
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From a bottle into a glass.

Pours dark brown and produces a classic and wonderfully appealing tan head composed of compact foam which becomes more dense as it falls and laces quite well. Very nice presentation

The aroma has many layers, and is a step above the average stout. I have never felt that "coffee" or "chocolate" or any of their subcategories can quite capture the aroma of roasted unmalted barley and black patent malt. They are so present in this beer, and the "roast" spectrum includes a nice soft acidic fruitiness all the way to an almost smoky char.

The flavor isn't quite as rich as the aroma would indicate, but it is really nice. The hugely thick and soft mouthfeel actually strikes me first, and it sets a stunning stage for the dark malts to perform on. Once again (as in the nose) the flavors cover a broad spectrum of flavor which can be derived from different roasting process with barley. This is so well done.

Conclusion: This is the best American oatmeal stout I have tried to date (I have tried well over 500 beers thus far in my journey). Awesome job Firestone walker, the mouthfeel is actually "velvety". I don't get surprised like this very often anymore, it sure is fun to find an everyday beer this good.

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Photo of thatsfine
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been looking forward to this one for a long time. Thank you Whole Foods.

A: About as black as a beer can be. What little head resulted from the pour is gone not long after. The extreme darkness is what makes up for the lack of head.

S: Roasted malts. Light chocolate and coffee smells. A refreshing smell.

T: Roasty, mocha, and a little coffee. Nice balance of chocolate malts and coffee. Really nice. As it warms, the oats come out and make this go down really smooth.

M: Nice amount of carbonation. Medium mouthfeel. Just about right for the style.

D: This goes down pretty easy. Not well enough to pound a six-pack but no oatmeal stout is meant to be drinkable enough to pound a six-pack. Two of these, maybe three is perfect for one sitting.

This lived up to my expectations. Definitely worth seeking out. It's hard to go wrong with anything from Firestone. Looking forward to hopefully having this on tap next week at the brewery. Good stuff. Buy it.

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Photo of Murrhey
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Reviewed from notes.

A- Two finger thick frothy head. Mocha color. Deep dark brown-red color.

S- Mocha scents. Dark roast malts, coffee and chocolate.

T- Deep malty and finishes sweet and chocolatey. Taste some grainy oatmeal notes.

M- Velvety smooth and chocolate like in texture. Creamy.

O- Would absolutely buy again. Love this beer.

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Photo of drummstikk
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Black color. Smells roasty and chocolatey. Super light bodied despite the oatmeal. Perfect body that lends to its super high drinkability. Tastes roasty with no oakiness. The bitterness is really smooth. This beer tastes better on tap than from a bottle.

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Photo of scotorum
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 1/9/14. Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English tulip pint.

a: Black with clear ruby highlights when seen through light. Inch tall tan head receded slowly to even surface foam and spotty lacing.

s: Black coffee and dark malt, strong enough to make me cough when I inhale.

t: Smooth dark malt, black coffee and chocolate notes. Some hop bite balances the brew. Bittersweet finish.

m: Light to medium, "velvety" smooth. Hint of wateriness.

o: A flavorful and easy-drinking stout.

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Photo of Haybeerman
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep, dark brown; no light comes through. Poured a 2 finger tan head with good retention to a thick skim. Sticky webs of lacing on the glass.

S: Big, toasted malts; chocolate and bitter coffee. Earthy and rich.

T: Big toasted malts consistent with aroma; lots of coffee and chocolate. Lightly bitter finish that's nice and mild.

M: Medium body. Low carbonation. Rich and creamy feel that's really smooth.

O: Good malt character. Nice feel, nice finish. A little filing, ABV good for style.

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Photo of Tonyjenlasc
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look - An opaque black color, minimal head on this one
Smell - Roastiness, some coffee, oats, hints of chocolate
Taste - Roasted malts, some coffee, some chocolate, nutty, oats
Feel - A bit thin but very drinkable

Overall - A solid oatmeal stout!

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Photo of Offa
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Basically black with med-big tan head slowly shirnking to a foamy ring and some nice lace.

Aroma is rich coffee/mocha, roasted malt, dark, rich toast, hint of molasses-gingerbread, some fermented winey prune joining later.

Taste is nice, smooth & mellow but flavourful and balanced. It has fermented prunes, rasiiny bread up front with light oatmeal sourness behind, dry roastiness, hints of coffee and choclate, woody-peppery spicy light bitterness. It has a little complexity and good, solid depth of character, and is highly drinkable.

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Photo of ummswimmin
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've never been able to get Velvet Merlin on the east coast. So, I was really excited to find it in Las Vegas. I thought that this would make for a very good choice for my 500th review. This review is taken from notes.

I got this at Todd English PUB in the Crystals. I recommend it for finding a lot of very good to great beers on tap. It is expensive, but almost everything is.

The bar served this beer in a chilled pint glass. I don't like the chilled glasses, but there was no frost on these. The coloring is as dark as midnight with minimal foarm.

You can smell coffee and peat off the top. I could also smell the fish behind me, but that didn't affect my review. I recommend the fish and chips here, but not the fish.

I taste lots of coffee and some decent brediness. There is also coffee from the roast. The aftertaste was very good as well.

I recommend this beer... if it is distributed to your area.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours out a deep ruby brown with a thin head. Smells of chocolate, raisins, and lightly burnt toast. Flavor is big on malts, dried fruits, medium roast coffee and chocolate malts. Fruity esters and earthy hops. Finishes really dry. Mouthfeel is fairly light and prickly. I expected fuller from an oatmeal stout. This is a really solid stout. If it were a little lighter in alcohol, I could session this. I love the dryness in this.

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Photo of abuliarose
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a fluted pint, revealing blackish opaque body under a finger of somewhat thick crema head. Looks ok for an oatmeal stout; I'd have thought with the viscosity there would be more staying power for the head. Creamy-looking regardless. Smells clean and roasty with a nice dark malt presence. Some charred wood, slight milky sweetness.

Tastes light and clean with the signature touch of oat-y sweetness. Nice and roasted up front, fresh watery finish. Some slight bitterness with a roasted character. Very well-rounded for a plain oatmeal stout. Mouthfeel is that oatmeal creaminess with a carbonation that is a little too small-nucleating and tingly to add much to the body. Very drinkable otherwise, almost session-able.

Overall I quite like it. Maybe not my favorite oatmeal stout, but it is certainly an upstanding offering of the style.

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Photo of matttttYCE
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tan creamy head, a little less than a finger high. Pitch black color. Smell is really nice. Milk chocolates, roasty and burnt malts, oats, coffee, molasses, hazelnut. Taste is along the same lines. Milk chocolate, roasted malts, oats, some lactose notes almost, light coffee, molasses, nut/hazelnut. Very drinkable, light but flavorful. Smooth and creamy consistency, light carbonation, medium body, and a nice light finish.

Overall great beer. Pleasantly flavorful and drinkable for being a lighter brew, especially at 5.5% Definitely one of the better oatmeal stouts. Must try, in my opinion.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Bottled 1/29/14. Thanks, Darren.

A: Cola brown with a tan half finger head that dissipates fast. Curtain-y lacing.

S: Dark Chocolate, coffee, molasses. Burnt sugar.

T: Follows nose, oh, so nicely! Robust, full-bodied, smokey, toasty, sweet. A terrific concoction of chocolate, coffee and molasses. Smooth and decadent.

M: Medium with medium carbonation. Thick and chewy.

O: I wasn't sure if this one would hold up 9 months after being bottled. But it was killer. A magical brew that must be sought out like the Holy Grail.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We don't get Firestone Walker in New Mexico, so I had to pick this up in Arizona this past weekend (November 2013).

I poured the twelve ounce bottle into a stein.

A- The beer comes out dark black with hues of brown. It produces a healthy two fingers of head. The head is chewy-looking, frothy and has lots of bubbles. This beer looks tasty.

S- Dark, roasty malt, sweetness similar to honey,some oatmeal and grain.

T- The smokiness surprises me, as I hadn't detected this on the nose. It's pleasant and not overwhelming. There's plenty of dark malt, toffee and vanilla taste underneath the smoke. The oatmeal characteristics emerge towards the finish.

M- The beer is creamy and easy drinking. There's no hint of booziness.

O- A great beer and very accessibly priced. I'd gladly drink this all winter long.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A finger of tan head on a pitch black body.
The aroma is strong burnt malt.
The taste is roasted malt, a touch of chocolate and only the mildest bitterness at the end.
The texture is, well, velvety smooth with low carbonation.
The burnt malt dominates here, which I like. It's a top stout.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown body, lightening up around the edges. The head is minimal and doesn't last long.

The nose is abundant with coffee, roasted malt, and chocolate.

The taste is bitter coffee on both gbe front and bsck end, chocolate in the middle.

I was expecting the body to be a little softer considering its an oatmeal stout and the name. It's still smooth, but the carbonation is a little prickly.

A very solid stout. I especially appreciate the modest abv and robust flavor.

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Photo of TWStandley
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into my new Bruery glass.

Poured a dark black color with a tan head. Head vanished rather quick leaving some lacing.

Smells of roasted malts mostly, with a touch of vanilla and some cereal notes (think cheerios).

Taste is quite good, very balanced, slightly chocolately, slightly roasty. Not overly complex but certainly not boring.

Mouthfeel is a bit light. I like my oatmeal stouts to be a bit more thick and syrupy.

Overall a very drinkable stout, one that I will certainly seek out again. Quite tasty.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 3,043 ratings.
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