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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: 668 | Ratings: 2,976
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 BearsOnAcid
3.63/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear brown, small khaki head.
Nose has chocolate, coffee and some acidic roasted malt.
Very bitter roasted malts on the tongue but doesn't linger. I get a little bit of that acidic dark malt taste. Something I sometimes find in a schwarzbier. Easy to drink. Clean light bitter finish. Seems a little thin for an oatmeal stout though.

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Photo of tut2528
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a solid jet black that is boldly opaque with about 1 fingers worth of tan colored head formation with some nice lacing.

S: i pick up on a strong burnt and smokey malt backbone that is complemented by a robust coffee and oat characteristics. complexity is lacking

T: big oatmeal, only a slight smokiness with hints of dark chocolate and just a touch of vanilla. again, nothing out of the ordinary for an oatmeal stout. however I do find the balance quite nice

M: full-bodied brew, that leaves a smokiness aspect on the palate that is rather intriguing and not overwhelming. minimal carbonation

O: as previously stated, this brew lacks complexity but it makes up for it in its balance. there is a bit more of a body to this one than other oatmeal stouts that I have had in the past which is always a plus in my book. decent beer all the way around, but nothing to get to get excited about.

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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 dubinsky
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice deep black with reddish highlights on the edges. An aggressive pour yielded a nice foamy three finger head which quickly receded leaving a band of lacing with decent retention visible.

S - Dark roasted malts, coffee and oatmeal dominate the forefront of this beer, with trails of milk chocolate and molasses on the tail end. Not very strong smelling which is not a negative by any means.

T - Taste follows smell. Roasted malts, coffee and chocolate. I do get an oatmeal presence but its not in your face as the name of beer would suggest. Nice sweetness Slight wood smokiness as well.

M - Medium bodied and very smooth. Nice, light carbonation, just like i enjoy in this style. It has a mildly dry finish.

D- Highly drinkable. Its not my favorite in the style but it has a very easy, mellow flavor which makes it extremely quaff-able. I think FW did a great job blending the flavors in a way that didnt have any one ingredient slam you in the mouth. I will buy this beer again.

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

Pours brown, almost black, with a huge mocha head that hangs out for a bit before becoming a ring which left behind some lacing.

Smell is of roasted malt, earthy bitter tobacco, a hint of the sweet malt and bitter chocolate.

Taste is similar to the nose, lots of bitter roasted malt, a touch of hop brightness, and enough bitter baker's chocolate to say it's there. Not much on the sweet flavor for me though.

Feels bubbly and light, easy to drink, though medium bodied. It did have a bite to it, which was different.

I liked this beer, after drinking Imperials for awhile now, it's kind of like a lighter version, one that I enjoyed.


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Photo of bfields4
4.57/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Black body with a light brown hue around the edges. Nice mocha head laces the glass.

Aroma is very much oaty with a bit of espresso bit of roasty. Nice.

Flavor profile is similar to the aroma. Nice roasty oat flavor with an espresso finish. Nice dry chocolate/hop bitterness rounds the beer out nicely.

Velvet is right, the mouthfeel is very smooth. Nice creamy body with just a good bit of carbonation. This beer doesn't have big in your face interesting flavors, but the flavors it does have it absolutely nails.

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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 Auracom
3.21/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Single 12 oz. purchase from MSCM. All 12 oz. poured into a FFF Rastal on February 8th, 2013.

A - Pours a deep black color, with lovely depth. Medium khaki head with plentiful foam and retention.

S - Straight mocha - Nesquik blended with black coffee beans. Soft honey malts and darker cocoa hints underneath.

T - Espresso transitions into almost pure effervescence. Touch of Chocolate powder at the back end, But nothing lingers.

M - High carbonation (overly so), light medium body, lightly dry finish.

D - The drinkability is pretty underwhelming compared to the nose. Too much carbonation and not nearly enough flavor.

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Photo of MrKennedy
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle with huge thanks to nicks6217! Poured into a Tripel Karmeliet tulip style glass.

Looks jet black with a tan coloured head of foam that commenced at 2 fingers in height. Sat just above film for the duration. Spotty glass lacing.

Nice, complex and relatively big aromas. Coffee, chocolate, licorice, dark fruits as well. Very nice and intriguing.

Taste is nice and smooth and well done. Chocolate is first, coffee at the end and the oats in the middle of it.

Mouthfeel is a little thin early and continues to build and build in thickness. With all the chocolate in this, the finish isn't cloying, balanced out by the coffee and a touch of other bitterness.

Very good oatmeal stout, flavoursome, complex, well balanced.

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Photo of pmccallum86
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown/black color with an enormous light cocoa head.

Smell is of light chocolate malts and oatmeal, nothing special here.

Taste of smooth creamy oatmeal and milk chocolates. Not bad, very easy drinking beer.

Mouthfeel is awesome, super silky smooth and creamy.

Great drinkability, good example of the style.

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Photo of Augustiner719
3.98/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

opened this one up tonight thanks to a very generous, but still not confirmed (probably overlord) BA who sent me a random package tonight.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a standard pint glass. Pours a really nice deep dark brownish black color with an off white 1 finger head that leaves behind a ring of foam as the drinking session progresses. there is a very distinct raisin aroma coming through on this that reminds me of having oatmeal with syrup and raisins on top. really nice roasted malty aromas coming through as well. the flavor is nice and balanced. really has a good upfront sweetness that lends itself to a balanced, and even slightly dry finish. some astringent dryness on the backend, but the transition from front to mid to back palate is flawless and really gives a nice experience. the mouthfeel is nice as well. nothing crazy and i would have liked it a bit less carbonated. near perfect body on this, not overly thin even for the low abv. Drinkability is right up there with the best. has a nice low abv, sorta, and really easy to go down. perfect for this time of the year and I would love to get my hands on some more. Worth seeking out.

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

pours black but with practically no head and not much lacing - looks tasty.

smell is nice, coffee, woody vanilla and roasty malts - good porter/stout smell.

taste is solid - basic but good, hints of chocolate, some bitter espresso subtleties and thats about it...finishes clean and smooth.

mouthfeel is very smooth, and thick but refreshing and light-bodied.

good beer - basic, but good...

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A – Opaque dark-brown almost black, with a one-finger light brown creamy looking head which lasts a while. Lacing clings to glass and doesn’t want to give up.

S – Powerful aroma of roasted coffee beans, toffee, graham cracker, and a bit of beery, sweet malt. A chocolate chip cookie smell comes out as it warms. One of the best beers I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.

T – Toffee, milk chocolate, coffee, a touch of caramel, a hint of charcoal. Just enough hop to bring balance, not enough to make any hop character a noticeable standout. Alcohol surprisingly detectable at 5.5% ABV. (This is a good thing if you ask me)

M – Full bodied and chewy. Prickly carbonation helps with the drinkability.

O - Outstanding. A well-balanced oatmeal stout that just comes together perfectly. You can taste the effort that went into making this. My new go-to, non-imperial stout.

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Photo of FFreak
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%

Bottle dated about 9 months back. Poured into glasses and shared.

Almost black, slight brown at edges. Thin quickly-dissipating tan head with minimal lacing

Aroma is of caramel and roast, with some molasses and chocolate. Pretty nice.

Taste was slightly bready and roasty, with caramel and oatmeal. A simple, but tasty stout.

Mouthfeel is full bodied with low carbonation and no bitterness or astringency. Not as smooth as expected for an Oatmeal stout.

Overall, I liked it but expected better. I will try again but I would like to try it fresher. I don't think the age helped it.

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Photo of blakelive784
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live:

A - Pours the darkest shade of brown, with a disappointingly thin, tan, one finger head. Retention is fair.

S - Light roasted barley, faint cream and light coffee. Mild strength and generally appealing.

T - Medium roasted barley foundation opens to a sweet, creamy body. It's really simple; I actually don't get too many more notes off it. It's balanced extremely well, though, and plays well off of its simplicity.

M - Medium bodied, a bit coarse and a bit off an odd dry finish. I don't mind it but could be more smooth.

D - Not a bad beer overall, but doesn't have a whole lot going for it.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
3.15/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Thick and dark brown with minimal head and some slight lacing.

S: Getting some coffee flavoring, and Molasses.

T:Taste like a weak stout, or perhaps even a porter. Bold flavors fade quickly in the mouth. Oatmeal flavor comes in the finish, esp after a big swig.

M: Medium bodied

O: It's decent, I'm definitely a little disappointed as FS usually delivers. It's not bad but not great.

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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 drinker...in 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 JoeAmerican77
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black like a tar moat with some nice tan one finger fluffies...Sweet cocoa and brown sugar dominate the nose a nice light roasty aroma. Smooth slippery slightly sweet and very roasty, chocolate malts, and and caramel work their way to the front. Creamy light body is easy to put down, feelings of a much larger body is due to the heavy small bubble carbonation.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Cordova Casino in Rancho Cordova. It accompanied one of the shittiest meals I've had in eons, a nasty-ass chicken fettucine alfredo. I should have my head examined for having a stout with white sauce, but the mismatch isn't responsible for the Boyardee impression of the noodles. Anyway, this review is not about the noodles, it's about the beer. And what a beer it turned out to be. One of the best oatmeal stouts I've had. Roasty and subtle vanilla flavors, with a fantabulous sureally smooth consistency. Much better than FW's porter. Really makes me want to try Parabola.

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

Appearance: Very dark brown, looks black unless it's held up to a light. Has a generous light beige head.

Smell: Chocolate and coffee/roasted malt aroma. Nice aroma.

Taste: Chocolate, roasted malts and a faint oaky tannic presence. The finish is clean.

Mouth-feel: Light to medium bodied with a fair level of carbonation appropriate tor the style.

Overall: One of those beers that's tastes good, is priced well, and is reasonably accessible.

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Photo of output01x
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. capped bottle (Bottled On 01/09/12) into a pint glass.

A strong pour yields a 2-finger tan-mocha head that slowly fades after a few minutes to a thick, clumpy dusting and thick foam ring. The body is a deep, dark brown with traces of ruby when held to light. Thick lacing clings to glass between sips but always seems to fall back down, leaving a rather clean glass at the end.

Dark, roasted malts give notes of ground coffee beans, dark chocolate, chocolate milk, and burnt caramel. While pretty standard for the style, it is enjoyable and welcoming.

The beginning of each sip starts out with flavors of dark chocolate and roasted coffee beans. As the beer is swirled in the mouth, flavors of milk chocolate and milk caramel become more obvious. Swallowing the beer releases flavors of creamy coffee followed by more dark chocolate. As these flavors fade, a baker's chocolate bitterness lingers on the palate.

Medium bodied with great carbonation, this beer is silky smooth and easy-sipping. The body is a bit light but that does not seem to affect its ability to transfer flavors. This also helps to prevent the beer from being sticky or coating. The carbonation is a bit fizzy but does not seem to interfere with the experience and creates an excellent swallow.

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Photo of kflorence
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at BevMo! a week before Christmas; $7 for a sick pack (what a steal).

A: Pours an opaque, black with a nice frothy layer of tan foam. Not much lacing around the glass as you drink. When held up to a light, carbonation looks good. Looks inviting, if perhaps a little bit light as far as body goes.

S: As advertised, the roasted coffee comes through prominently. Also prominent are roasted malts, chocolate and some cloying caramel. The aroma suggests this beer will be very malty with some underlying sweetness and perhaps some astringency.

T: Wow, this one is truly roasted, almost overpoweringly so. Roasted malts and roasted coffee dominate the flavor; hops are rather subdued, almost indistinguishable. Not much of the cloying sweetness that was detected in the aroma was present, but it is there right after the initial roasts hit the tongue, and right before the lingering barbecue flavor. A tad bit astringent, which I guess is to be expected from a highly prominent coffee presence. Oatmeal is strangely absent as well.

M: For an oatmeal stout, I would consider this medium bodied. I was hoping it would be a bit more on the creamy side, maybe even with some chewiness. Carbonation levels are perfect and it does have body, just expected it to be a bit thicker.

D: Overall this is a pleasant beer and I have absolutely no complaints for the price tag. This is a solid stout that's simplicity and body make it very easy to drink. That said, I think this brew was a little overly roasted for me which made it seem a bit imbalanced. It also had almost no detectable oatmeal flavors, was a bit astringent due to the coffee and was not as creamy as I expected. There are much better oatmeal stouts out there, but this one definitely was on the above average side. I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again, but I probably wouldn't seek it out.

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Photo of HosP
3.89/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Great extra from Scottfrie. Poured 12oz into snifter.

A- Pours not quite black. Some light creeps in around the edges. Nice one finger size head, down to thin cap halfway through the beer.

S- Mostly coffee in the nose. Very subtle hints of oatmeal type aroma. Reminded of a warm breakfast!

T- Coffee flavors up front, although not as strong as I'd hoped. Very smooth creamy drink. Roasted malts come through more at the end and leave some bitterness left with you.

M- Full body with light carbonation. Creamy mouth feel.

D- Very solid oatmeal stout. One of the better ones I've had. Could drink one, maybe two more. Flavors aren't overly spectacular, but still make for a very good beer. Thanks Scott for this nice winter's treat!

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Photo of Labeorphile
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass after taking form the fridge and letting warm for a half hour. Dark brown, but not black with a thick tan head that is fizzy with small bubbles. Maybe a bit too fizzy for a stout.

Aroma is malt and oatmeal, but not overwhelmingly strong.

Really enjoy the flavor. Dark chocolate and oatmeal, typical oatmeal stout but well constructed. Good sweetness from the oatmeal as well. Not as complex as some other oatmeal stouts, however. Mouth is a little thin as expected from the fizzy head. Would love this to be a little thicker and creamier.

A great tasting beer, but a little light for an oatmeal stout.

Follow up: This beer gets better the longer it sits. I would advise pouring it and just letting it sit. Then, just when you are ready to drink it, let it sit a little longer. It becomes more flavorful and a little smoother as it warms.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 2,976 ratings.
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