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: 668 | Ratings: 2,974
Photo of rjd722
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Look: Basically black with a thin one-finger tan foam head that dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing.

Aroma: Full of dark chocolate and light espresso. Also picking up some bread crust (the oats I'm sure) and raisins, pretty nice.

Taste: The bitter coffee hops and roasted malts hit at the end while the dark chocolate and oats lead up front. The oats also linger and compliment everything else.

Feel: Smooth and easy drinking, low carbonation and a mild roasted finish. Creamy up front and more dry towards the back.

 528 characters

Photo of NiceTaps
4.06/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle in a tulip glass.

The color is so deep dark brown that it's almost black. It sports a mocha colored head, 1/2F with a quick fade to a film. Minimal spot lacing, some carbonation pops through it's cap and around the perimeter.

Coffee, dark chocolate, dark roasted malt. Pleasant kiln dried and cut woodiness.

"Rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavor." Agreed, and roasted woody malt, I'd add.

Quite smooth. Not quite full bodied but carries the oatmeal sturdiness. Some hop and chocolate mix for a flavorful finish.

Enjoyable proof that that a good stout can carry a modest abv.

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Photo of JRed
3.42/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Darkest brown with creamed coffee head. Aroma of cocoa, light roast, earth, cinnamon. Tastes of cocoa, light roast, cinnamon, oatmeal. Light bodied with medium carbonation. Lacking body.

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Photo of mikeg67
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle. Pours black with tall, creamy, brown head and nice lacing. Aroma is of graham crackers, toasted malt, marshmallow, chocolate and some hops. Body is medium and smooth. Taste is of toasted malt, herbal hops, chocolate, brown sugar and dark fruit. Finish is long and bittersweet. Very good overall.

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Photo of DudMan
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with a tan one finger head with decent lacing. Smells of dark chocolate and coffee. Tastes of bitter coffee and dark chocolate. Mouthfeel is creamy, smooth and nicely carbonated. Good body for a 5.5% abv stout. I'll buy this again.

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Photo of Marraybay
2.73/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Look: Very dark; Not much head; Some light lacing apparent.

Smell: Espresso or coffee

Taste: Looking for a little sweetness, but it doesn't exist. Has more of
a tart upfront note that transitions into coffee bitterness at the close.
Goes down pretty smoothly.

Feel: Creamy; full

Overall: Not a fan. The opening volley of tart-sour that segueways
into a burnt-coffee bitterness is not an overly enjoyable experience
in my opinion. It was a smooth drinker however and I did finish.

 489 characters

Photo of Crumb_Destiny
4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep in dank torch-lit cave
Far from pride of prancing knave
What would brew, but a quaff so dark
That sheaths the shine of pale lark?

That glosses the soul and softens the spirit,
Casts aside what lies nearest
For the utmost reaches and mossy peaks?
One with much to teach, if thou wilt hear it.

 297 characters

Photo of Johnnyvelvet
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nitro Tap @ Toronado. Black appearance with nice tan head. Aroma of mild roast and dark coffee. Flavor of coffee and cream. Light roastiness with little oatmeal present. Medium-full body that is very slick.

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Photo of CNoj012
3.76/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours an opaque black with ruby highlights. There is a small cola like head that disappears immediately and leaves no sign of lacing. The smell is very nice. Robust chocolate and coffee dominate. The taste is similar, but more muted than the smell. The feel is where this beer really lacks. Light and water and it seema to dillute the taste. Next to no carbonation either. Overall ok, but so many better options out there.

 433 characters

Photo of delta490
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This pours a very deep brown, almost black, with a light tan head. Minimal retention around the outside and small amounts of soapy lacing. The aroma is light, mostly roasted malts with just a hint of chocolate. The taste is much the same and the body is lighter with just a hint of fizz.

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Photo of thepenguin
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours a very dark brown, near black, with minimal head.

S: Roasty and toasty, you can definitely smell the oats with the toastiness. Some faint English variety hops. The smell on this beer isn’t particularly strong.

T: Very balanced and pretty mild on the roastiness: this could easily pass as a porter. Chocolately, toasty and nutty, and only moderately malty with a slight breadiness. Extremely drinkable with a toasty and moderately roasty finish.

F: Medium bodied with a silky but light mouthfeel and medium carbonation, perhaps a bit too than the style would warrant.

Overall: Solid, very drinkable oatmeal stout. The roastiness is incredibly mild though and the beer could pass as a lighter style. I would have liked the aroma to be a bit more pronounced, but otherwise this is a tasty dark beer that I wouldn’t mind tossing back a few of.

 856 characters

Photo of Ksmoove27
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look - midnight oil with reddish tint...2 finger light chocolate head...keeps a circle ring spider lacing

Smell - nice cocoa, espresso

Taste - a light toasted malt, chocolate and coffee follow through

Feel - a little light for my stout palate but smooth, medium bodied,

Overall - a little thin for my stout palate but good flavor in the cocoa and expresso

 376 characters

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

- duvel glass. Bot. 10.16.15. Consumed 12.12.15.

A: Dark cola pour sits a flat black in the vessel with a dark, creamy, walnut toned head of 0.5 inches. Thin, film lacing coats the glass well.

S: Beautiful freshly charred firewood, roasted oats, with a smokey chocolate finish of generally good proportions. Head retention is fair, lapsing to a whispy covering.

T: Beautiful smoky charred chocolate, firewood, and roasted oats, are, as the name suggests, velvety in nature. Smooth smoky pine bitterness, touches of burnt cookie dough sweetness, and chocolate licorice add highlights while finishing out with a smooth smokey charred finish.

M: Creamy mouthful, mid body offering, very smooth, velvety on the tongue, charred warmth lingers behind.

O: Overall a highly drinkable oatmeal stout, with a sooty, charred and a velvety nature. Drinks really big in nature for its modest abv%.

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Photo of leantom
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to FW for brewing this. I finally found a stout that my Dad loves! He's a life-long European Pilsner drinker who typically prefers translucent yellow fizz water, but he agreed that this is a great beer. Here goes:

A: Splendid. Pours dark brown but with a massive tan head. Leaves a lot of lacing as well.

S: Not much on the oats and dark fruit; mostly chocolate and coffee. While there is some oatmeal in the background, the roasted notes predominate. I prefer these notes over the fruity ones in Russian Imperial stouts, but I was still somewhat surprised that the beer did not have a richer oatmeal character.

T: Good. Somewhat light, but it's still very tasteful and well-balanced. Notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and some oatmeal at the back of the palate (but it's not very lingering). Again, not very robust, but it's still incredibly flavorful.

F: Only mediocre part of the beer. Somewhat light, especially when using other beers of the style as reference, but this is to be expected given the ABV.

O: Great beer. Thank you, FW!

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Photo of CHickman
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 10/06/15: Pours very dark brown with red-mahogany color at the edge of the glass where light hits the brew; a thick foamy 2-3 finger tan head moves from popping bubbles, dissipating very slowly and leaving decent spotty lacing. A cloud like layer floated on top for quite a while after the head faded away.

Smells of roasted malt, coffee grinds, dry toasted oatmeal flakes, cocoa powder, light toffee and bakers chocolate. It's got a hint of leafy herbs but basically all malty sweetness with the coffee and chocolate accents cutting through everything and providing the most impressive aromas.

Tastes like it smells, with cocoa powder, roasted malt, coffee grinds, dry toasted oats, oatmeal flakes, light toffee, bakers chocolate, earthy notes or peat moss, faint vanilla, a little ash or char and mild yeast that gives off the metallic essence. Like the nose it's got a hint of leafy herbs and even some piney hops, but mostly it's got a stronger malt profile with chocolate sweetness mixing with the coffee, oats and bready yeast which trails off with that penny/metallic taste.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth like it should be, with a thin to light body, a slight bitterness and yet some chewy aspects that are consistent with the stout profile. A solid, tasty year-round enjoyable stout.

 1,303 characters

Photo of Dustin_Sallitt
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The nose isn't impressive, slight cocoa and hops, but almost lager like. The taste is much better, with a nice balance of cocoa and coffee roast that is just potent enough. Nice mouthfeel for the low alcohol percentage, leaves a nice roasted aftertaste as well. Solid beer.

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Photo of LateToThisParty
3.6/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz, bottled 10/19/15 (47days), poured into a pint glass.
Beautiful head formation with deep red bubbles, settling down to a 1-finger straw-tan top. Otherwise, opaque black.
Found the aroma mild oats with chocolate and hints of spice.
Taste is fruity with a stale-coffee backbone and subtle chocolate. Finish is bitter, but there is a strong acidic undertone (sour, metallic) that detracts from the dark robustness.
Drinks smooth, leaning toward the creamy, and it feels warmer that the 5.5ABV would suggest.

Paired by chance with some chocolate fudge, which was a good flavor match but countered the bitter. It also mitigated that unfortunate acidity.

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Photo of wumpshire
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A great example of an oatmeal stout. Far better than a can of imported Guinness. I haven't had a lot of oatmeal stouts other than Guinness, yet I'd buy it over Guinness any day. That said, I've had Guinness in Dublin, and its far better fresh on draught. Fresh Guinness is very clean and smooth, the Velvet Merlin is creamy and smokey, different yet equally good. Well done Firestone!

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Moderate roast, slightly chocolatey with ample oatmeal presence.

A: Black, totally opaque with a thin tannish head that recedes quickly.

T: Chocolate/coffee roasted malt flavor, slightly sweet with some oats presence. The beer finishes dry with slight roast bitterness.

M: Medium bodied with low carbonation. The beer’s oats give it a smooth mouthfeel, but lacks creaminess.

O: Very solid; this oatmeal stout has a nice coffee/chocolate malt roastiness and smooth oatmeal character that makes the beer quite drinkable.

 531 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark brown pour, mild tan head. Aroma was smooth, oats, brown malt, chocolate malt.

Real sturdy sipper, good heft, but not bulky. Good use of the oats. Roasty as Scorpion might say. Not bitter or astringent in any way, good non adjunct stouts still comin' on strong.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

** 11/07/2015
Bottle to snifter. Winner in side by side with Sierra Nevada Narwhal. Not exactly the same type of beer, but close. ... Aroma is Toasted bread, beef stew, thyme, cardamom. I know, strange, but good. Dark black color, thick head. Taste is toast, grain, coffee. Sweet finish. Medium carb. Smooth. Very nice stout. Aroma is most unique.

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Photo of bubseymour
4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Very strong oatmeal smell with a hint of chocolate. The most "oaty" smell stout I think I've had. Very flavorful stout with a perfect balance of hints of chocolate, coffee, hops, roast and oats. Really well balanced and quite enjoyable for a standard level stout. Highly recommend.

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Photo of Chris_Huston
2.83/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

I don't know if this is a bad bottle, or just how bad they can conceivably get, but this was a huge disappointment. Nothing wrong on the eyes -- classic, unsurprising stout look and pour, very healthy. But very weak, roasted aroma, same on the taste, and little other scents or flavors. Body is more like a porter, too watery for a stout. Not horrible, but just very bland compared to other entries in this competitive category, and definitely way below FW standards. I'll try it again eventually just to verify my findings, but won't rush for another.

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Photo of gopens44
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pretty standard looking stout, dark as night with gently lacing thick brown head. Nose is tangy, earthy and a little spicey. Taste is very similar but it's got a touch of chocolate and a nice bitterness hanging out as well. Finish is a tad bitter, virtually no sweetness and aside from some tingly carbonation, it's pretty smooth.

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

In my opinion, this is one of the best "low alcohol" stouts. At only 5.5% this milks a whole lot of flavor in a low malt situation. Plenty of roast, char, burnt coffee, chocolate malt and coffee grounds.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 2,974 ratings.
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