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Velvet Merlin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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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: 674 | Ratings: 3,001
Photo of BEERMILER12
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a pitch black color with 2 fingers of head that fades down to a thin cap

S: Roasted malts, dark fruits, and coffee make up the majority of the nose. Some light caramel in there as well

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the roast and dark fruits and goes into the coffee and light caramel sweetness. Bitterness from the coffee notes balance nicely with the sweetness. Finishes with lingering dark fruits and roast

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Fairly smooth

O: A nice, easy-drinking oatmeal stout with good complexity for the sub-6% abv. Perfect for fall/winter

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Photo of alarmclock314
3.87/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, dated 10/5/16. Pours somewhat hazy reddish brown with a large sized khaki head; some lacing. Smells of roasted malt, cocoa, coffee, caramel, and oats. The taste follows closely with roasted malt, cocoa, oats, caramel, and earthy/woody hops. Medium bitterness and some noticeable but subtle tartness. Average carbonation and somewhat thin body for the style. Overall, this is a fairly good Oatmeal Stout with a nice smell, but it could use more intensity and body.

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Photo of thebeers
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dated 10/12/16. Dark ruddy brown with two fingers of tan head that leaves thick lacing and lasts a good long while.

Big chocolate aroma with roasty notes behind, including coffee, chicory, wood and stale hops.

The roasty qualities really stand out up front in the taste, with the chocolate, coffee and wood present, but more muted. The backend is sort of shallow, with a pretty dry aftertaste.

The feel is somewhat on the thin side, too, with a touch of creaminess but relatively little heft.

Maybe I'm too used to imperial stouts these days, but this feels more like porter territory to me. I was expecting more body in an oatmeal stout, and more flavor, too. Not bad, but with all the competition out there, not one I'd come back to often. If you're into dry Irish stouts, this may be more in your wheelhouse.

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is a dark black with tan head and decent lacing. Smells of toasted oat, some coffee, and mild hoppy malt. Taste is very nice, full flavor of oat, coffee, malt, chocolate, and some burnt bread mixed in giving this a very well balanced feel. The finish is very clean and smooth, I really enjoyed this beer, would recommend to anyone and will drink again for sure, good job guys.

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Photo of lordofthewiens
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very dark brown color with a small mocha head.
Aroma of chocolate and bread.
Mostly chocolate taste. Some oatmeal. A hint of coffee.
Medium-bodied, very pleasant to drink.

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Photo of tekstr1der
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours near-black with a thin tan cap. Aroma is distinctly oat-forward with chocolate notes. Flavor is delicious, with roast coffee and chocolate dominating. Very smooth and drinkable. Clean finish. Excellent.

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Photo of FBarber
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I find that this beer never has as nice and thick a head as I'd expect from an oatmeal stout. However the aroma, flavor and feel are all really nicely done. Its a very drinkable and enjoyable oatmeal stout. Lovely roasted malts and chocolate on the nose and flavor. Overall its a really nice beer.

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Photo of dsa7783
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Echo Tap and Grille. Pours an opaque, jet black hue with moderate frothing. Aroma reminiscent of mocha and dark espresso. Flavor dominated by strong toffee and cocoa notes. Dangerously drinkable. Recommended.

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Photo of Mike_Aguirre
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep black, with a tanned foam head, almost no retention. Aroma is of roasted barley, some bread and crackers. Taste is well balanced, rich, malty, a little bit acid but not aggresive. Very nice oatmeal stout indeed.

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Photo of russpowell
4.44/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on nitro last night. Creamy, a little cocoa that builds towards chocolatey as it warms, some coffee notes as well . Super drinkability, easily one of the best oatmeal stouts I've encountered.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Clear, dark brown with a fizzy tan two finger head that settles to a thin, soft blanket.

Surprised by mucho coffee aromas, with some oats, light roastiness, and walnut.

Nice, moderate roasty flavors come forward, with coffee and bitter chocolate, tamped down by a cola sweetness.

A bit thin, but Velvet Merlin makes up for it with good flavor and aroma.

 356 characters

Photo of Bierliebhaber3
3.54/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This is a dark brown, almost black, oatmeal stout with a barely existent white head. A very strong roasted malt taste dominates with very subtle oatmeal and chocolate flavors in the background. I feel like oatmeal stout is a bit of a misnomer here since there is much of a creamy oatmeal flavor here. It’s kind of plain really and isn’t as heavy or rich as most stouts. It’s also quite dry for a stout. Alcohol percentage is also kind of low at 5.5%. There are only a few stouts that I can say I’ve hated and this isn’t one of them, but it’s definitely underwhelming.

 579 characters

Photo of kalosjakar
3.48/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Brown/black with a foamy light tan head.

Strong aroma of oats, light roasted malt, faint chocolate note.

Taste: roasted malt, a little bittering hops, oats, light mouthfeel.

Unimpressed by this. I almost drank my last of a six pack without rating because it was lackluster.

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Photo of Whey2Hoppy
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A- Pours a very dark black color, especially for the ABV, with only slight red tinting at the edges of the glass. Poured with a one finger tan head initially, but it quickly dissipated into nothing.

S- Dark chocolate is the first, and strongest aroma present. This is followed by notes of coffee, slight caramel, licorice, and roasted malts.

T- Follows the nose, but there's more of the coffee present here than the chocolate. Slight bittersweet chocolate on the finish.

F- Aqueous body, not very thick at all. Little to medium carbonation.

O- Pretty good, comparable to the Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout. Neither are something that I would go out of my way to buy, but if I want a lower ABV stout, I would consider this in the future.

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Photo of Pencible
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured an opaque cola with moderate tan head.
S: It smelled like dry cocoa powder and earthy roasted coffee with cream and a little copper.
T: It tasted like earthy roasted coffee and dry semi-sweet chocolate, with some sweet cream and bitter copper. It had a clean mild bitter aftertaste.
M: It was quite thick with moderate carbonation. Huge body.
D: This was a decent porter with basic scent and taste. The body was not fitting for the style, although I preferred this. It was easy to drink, but also hard to remember. Meh.

 534 characters

Photo of razorsdescent
5/5  rDev +25.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this on nitro and it was probably my favorite widely available nitro stout to date. It was incredible, showing pretty much every thing I look for in a nitro stout. Off nitro, the beer never really reaches its potential.

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Photo of mlockman
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Definitely very good, but not much here to make it stand out: good coffee and dark chocolate flavors, but not really anything to make me say, "wow, I should pick up a 6-pack of this"

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Photo of jaypaul522
4.56/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured very dark, with a thick long lasting head. Lots of great aroma of chocolate and coffee and malts. Taste was very strongly chocolate with nicely balanced malt and coffee. The finish was particularly pleasant, leaving a nice creamy expresso taste in your mouth. The body is just about perfect - not too heavy. Overall, a really good stout that I hope to enjoy many more times.

 381 characters

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.

 1,242 characters

Photo of Zythophile
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle Date: 10/1/15
Palate Contaminants: other beer

Appearance is very dark brown, but I can detect the slightest amount of light through the glass.

Smell is like a nice, semi-sweet brownie. It's a toasted chocolate scent.

Taste is a more intense version of the smell. You know that taste of fresh-ish coffee that has set on the burner for a few minutes too long so it's slightly bitter, but it's still good? That's what's up front. Then eat a brownie. That's Velvet Merlin fer ya.

Feel is thin and slightly carbonated. Basically, I expect a little thicker for an oatmeal stout.

It ain't bad, but Firestone has better stuff, and there are better examples of this style.

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Photo of tillmac62
3.54/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

BOD 10/28/15. Pours black. Normal head volume, lacing and retention.

Light but very good nose of coffee, chocolate, roast and a bit of char over a slightly sweet malt base with subtle caramel notes.

Almost medium body with a bit of creaminess in addition to being smooth - a bit light for an oatmeal stout. World class carbonation with a burst of effervescence in the middle and a finely bubbled prickly finish.

The flavor profile is very good but falls short of outstanding due to low flavor intensity. The flavors of the nose all appear and do provide a tasty very well balanced experience. The base is mildly sweet, the middle mildly bitter (roast and hop) and the finish delivers the coffee notes.

 709 characters

Photo of Libeertarian
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From notes taken 03/12/16:

Dark brown and semi-clear capped with fine, foamy, creamy, golden-brown head, goes down fast at first but then film-forming. Legs don’t stick. Roast, toast, faint cocoa, toffee, and biscuit aromas, leather and light resin notes. Roasty-tasting, and what’s this? Dry grass. But also biscuits, toffee, light-smokey tartness. Soily, leathery, and tea-like hops and then some peppercorn retro-olfaction that is almost lost in the balance. Not as much dark fruit character as most of the of the Oatmeal Stout’s I’ve reviewed to date, and to be honest, I can’t say that makes this better or worse for it. Full-bodied, a little syrupy, creamy suds for the most part but slight prickling on the edges, but an otherwise velvety finish, with mild astringency.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours with a three finger light head that fades quickly to a ring leaving traces of lace. Black color, no highlights. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Light coffee and chocolate nose and flavor is slightly sweet, malty chocolate. Bottled 10/19/2015, $2.35 for a 12oz bottle at Bert's Better Beers Hooksett, NH

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Photo of gandres
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle poured to goblet, bottled 11/21/2015
Appearance: dark brown to black, brown head, some lacing
Aroma: very good, toasted malts
Taste: very good, malty, chocolatey
Mouth feel: Creamy, fizzy
Overall" Very good beer, specially for the price
Drank March 7, 2016

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Photo of breadwinner
3.81/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

As big an FW fanboy as any, but this one just doesn't work for me, no matter how many times I go back to it. Well made, as to be expected, but the oats never contribute the expected feel to my palate, and there's a bit of tangy fruity note in there too. Which, I suppose, isn't really out of line with an English-style stout, so maybe that's what they were shooting for. Even the roast is just a bit too weak, wanting oomph, wanting something to fill this out and give it some character. It's easy drinking, for sure, but in this range I prefer something like Sierra Nevada Stout, whose body, even sans the oats, feels more befitting of a stout.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 3,001 ratings.
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