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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: 2,978
Photo of jmasher85
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Possibly the most oatmeal-smelling oatmeal stout I've ever smelled. Smell is straight-up breakfast. I'm almost tempted to pour some molasses on this so it's just the way Mom used to make it when I was little. A hint of sour bread and yeast too. Taste is similar - lots of oatmeal in this, with a bit of bitter, burnt flavor. No chocolate and very little coffee flavor often associated with stouts. Texture is nice, if a hint thin, both on body and carbonation - I was surprised to see the head dissipate that fast. Overall, a nice brew and good rendition of the style, but certainly not a great one.

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Photo of cbarrett4
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours with slight head fading rapidly to little or no lacing. Displays a great dark nose with lots of malts and roasted notes. Zesty yet rich on the palate, more dark flavors backing up the nose. In the mouth it is very effervescent and light, lacks stuffing. The finish is lingering, tart and slightly bitter but well integrated. For a stout, it is rather light but with good flavor and aromas.

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Photo of hopsbreath
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Looks like I'm the first to review this from the bottle. Bottled 9/20/2010.

Poured into a pint glass. Pours dark brown with deep plum edging. A few fingers of cappuccino head recedes to a spotty cap with a wispy ring on the edges. No lacing evident.

There's some deep roasted coffee on the nose. Some sweet malts, vanilla, soy sauce, and a little prune make this smell oh so good!

Tons of coffee, bakers cocoa, and roasty goodness are the most prolific flavors on the palate. No harsh bitterness or acrid flavors rear their ugly heads. The sharp edges have been knocked off this and it is wonderfully round. I love this stuff!

Oatmeal stouts have wonderful mouthfeel when done right and this bad boy is no exception! Creamy and smooth, I really like this more and more with each passing bottle. For the record I went through 4 of these with ease.

All too easily, Velvet Merlin disappears faster than free corn bread at a hoe down! Highly recommended regardless, of the name, get some now!

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

Thanks to Snosage22 for the chance to taste this one. I've been intrigued with Firestone Walker, and happy to have the chance to review one of their beers. Bottle dated 2-24-11. Poured into my dfh snifter, pours a light bodied consistency, pitch black color, nice off white head emerges, but recedes quickly and completely. Smell- chocolate, with a watery but enjoyable light scent. Definitely smell the oatmeal here. Light scent of coffee grind. its faint, but its there. taste- nice milk chocolate, met with immediate nice carbonation, and there is the coffee grind in the back. Mouthfeel- its pretty light bodied for an oatmeal stout, but it works well with the tight carbonation. Drinkability- for a 5% beer, this one packs a ton of flavor and is really enjoyable.

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Photo of ISmith87
3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - 3.75 - Pretty opaque brown/black beer with a minimal head that leaves a little lacing.

S - 4 - Pretty awesome smell with coffee and roasty notes. Maybe some chocolate in there too.

T - 4 - Taste is also a roasty/smokey coffee taste. Very nice.

M - 3.75 - Medium - thick mouthfeel. More thick than most oatmeal stouts. Alc covered. Aftertaste is roasty/coffee.

O - 3.75 - It's a good oatmeal stout. nothing I can complain about too much. If I could change it I'd want it a little bit stronger with a little thicker mouthfeel.

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

Pours very dark brown with an average amount of whitish head that is gone before you know it.

Roasted coffee is the dominant aroma, with some chocolate and oatmeal sourness in there.

Taste is similar, with more of the oatmeal malt going with the coffee well. Earthy, with some dirt in both nose and taste. Carbonation is minimal but adequate.

Very solid mouthfeel feeds into the great finish of the malty coffee. Drinkability is excellent. Very good oatmeal stout.

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

Wooo this is a great stout! Black body with a thick head. Roasty, chocolately aroma and flavor. Ultra creamy, nay, velvety mouthfeel that just slides down your throat. This brewery is on the rise and for good reason. Every new brew from these guys gets me excited and they deliver a surprisingly large amount of the time.

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Photo of jellikit
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%

Appearance: dark, dark brown to black with a brownish, ruby hue when held to light. Clear. Thin head. Thin lacing that dissipates.
Smell: bread dough. Roasted cocoa nibs.
Taste: clean, slightly roasted, light coffee flavor.
Mouthfeel: medium-low carbonation. Medium to medium high body. Dry.
Overall: easy drinking stout. Balanced extremely well. Great gateway stout for non dark beer drinkers. Would buy again.

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Photo of comfortablynumb1
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a RR snifter...

A - Pours black with a two finger light brown head. Head retention is good, and there is some slippery lacing to be had...

S - Roasted malts, bitter chocolate, and some sweet malt...

T - Starts bitter, but as beer warms a good amount of sweetness is revealed. Sweet caramel, toasted oats, roasted malts, and cocoa. Finishes with on lingering roast note with a little cocoa in the mix...

M - Has a good creamy feel, but still a tad light. On the higher end of medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation...

O - Solid Oatmeal Stout from a solid brewery. Definitely something I will be rivisiting in the future. FW has yet to let me down...


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Photo of t420o
3.8/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Six pack from Bevmo for 7.99

A- Dark brown but not opaque. Tan head that is only about one finger with an aggressive pour. Head dissapate quickly and leaves little lacing.

S- Smoked oats, chocolate, coffee

T- At first it is very light and a but acidic. After only a could sips that quickly fades away into a pretty good oatmeal stout, yet not the best I've had by a long shot. Smoked oats, coffee, chocolate, and some creay goodness in there.

M- At first kind of thin, but begins to feel creamier (sp?) as I keep sipping. Maybe a little too much carbonation until it settles a little

D- I'd say excellent drinability. The creamy taste and feeling is like a Guinness but with different flavors going on. I easily killed the six pack I had.

I wouldn't seek it out but if it is on tap or around the same price I got it for (7.99) I'd give it a try. Its a good beer but I'd expect a little more from FW.

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Photo of capra12
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed solo served out of a pint glass.

Appearance: Deep dark brown with a 1 finger head with spotty lacing.

Smell: This really got my off guard, I got a medium roasted iced coffee with roasted powdered chocolate.

Taste: Opens very with a dark malt profile with coffee and chocolate malts that meld together from the middle to end. Leaving a dark and malty stick aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Rather light bodied and moderately carbonated. Slightly sticky and drying finish.

Drinkability: I would definitely have this again and thanks to alexander for this bottle from Darkness day. I recommend this to those seeking a solid oatmeal stout with a ton of well balanced flavor.

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Photo of LiquidBread219
3.7/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A- The blackest of black, but a little thin on the edges. A healthy tannish head forms, and retains for a bit. The beer laces quite nicely.

S- Rich and creamy, dark roasted malt and oatmeal. Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla notes as well.

T- It's a decent oatmeal stout, nothing too crazy. Primarily roasted malts. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate.

M- A little lighter than I like from a beer of this style.

D- It's drinkable, but not terribly memorable.

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Photo of nkersten
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Kevin - Thanks! poured into a NB globe, black liquid with a tan head that quickly fades to a bubbly cap. Smells of dark roasted malts, some coffee, and spicy hops. Taste is very malty and a bit smokey from the roast. Hop flavor to start that fades into a nice balance of hops and roast finish. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Not as silky as most oatmeal stouts but a good beer regardless.

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Photo of hagbergl
3.84/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A buddy of mine and I spotted this in six-packs at the local store and he decided to buy it for the Ravens-Patriots game. As a big fan of Firestone Walker's other beers, I was excited to try this. Served in a big old mug. Review is from notes.

Appearance (4.25/5): A moderately hard pour produces a huge, billowy khaki head. The luxuriant head sits atop a pitch black body of beer. Plenty of soapy residue lines the sides of the glass. Looks pretty great.

Smell (4/5): Very aromatic. Oats, grain, cereal, malty, light milk chocolate, black coffee, roasty. The oats give the aroma a slightly acidic twang. Basically everything you would expect from an oatmeal stout in terms of smell. One of the beer's stronger suits.

Taste (3.5/5): Black coffee, roasty, some nice dark chocolate notes arrive late and recede shortly thereafter, oats and grain. Dark maltiness borders on richness but doesn't quite cross the threshold–this is a fairly restrained and mild stout. While certainly flavorful, it doesn't approach the decadence of its bigger Russian Imperial and American Double cousins. I'm not enamored by the flavor here. While this is pretty good, there is nothing that stands out and 'wows' me–it features a fairly simple flavor profile and does it well.

Mouthfeel (4.25/5): In my opinion the best feature of this beer is its creamy smoothness. Velvet Merlin indeed. Very drinkable. Nice medium carbonation and medium body. These qualities almost make up for its shortfalls in the taste department.

Overall (4/5): Velvet Merlin is good, not great. Firestone has brewed a very drinkable, though simple and mild stout. I prefer my stouts to be a bit bolder. I know some people (weirdos, all) that would prefer this approach. But if you're an oatmeal stout aficionado, maybe you'll find virtues in Velvet Merlin my palate doesn't appreciate as well. My own stylistic preferences asides, I do think this is still a very respectable beer even if it's not by any means a show stopper.

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

Given a few minutes to warm up, 12oz (10/17/13) to a snifter. Rewarding myself for shoveling a bunch of snow

Pours a solid black (0% trans) with brown hues at the bottom when held to the light, with a half finger of mocha foam that's died down to a frothy ring. Mild carbonation, really good lacing. Not bad looking

Smells of roasted malty chocolate nibbs and coffee, followed by figs, cherries, and other dark fruits, finishing with a small touch of alcohol. Pretty simple, but still really good

Taste is with the nose, strong coffee on the front followed by a more subdued chocolate malt. Fruits come in next, cherries and figs followed by a hint of vanilla. A tiny bit of alcohol and more coffee notes on the end, everything blends nicely

Feel is a thick creamy body with a dry finish. Alcohol hard to pick up, very easy to sip on cold snowy days like these

Overall a pretty good stout, something to look forward to each year

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

12 oz bottle. Pours a black which looks cola brown at the edges when held up to the light. Two finger light brown head which pretty good retention and leaves a very small amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma is roasted coffee, light earthy hops, and light dark chocolate. A bit of vanilla and licorice comes out as it warms up. I wouldn't have guessed a portion of this was barrel aged, but when you are looking for those notes you can find them. Initial taste is roasted coffee going into light dark chocolate with some hints of vanilla and licorice. The finish has a slight tea-like bitterness. Don't really get any bourbon in the taste. Medium body. Low carbonation. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Pretty standard for an oatmeal stout. Pretty great beer, especially for the cost.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured little to no head. Moderate carbonation. Not too much lacing.

I get a very nice nose on this beer. I get tons of roasted coffee and intense dark chocolate ... Almost like pure coco powder. Heavy malts also present on the nose.

Taste doesn't match the richness of the nose. The intensity of the flavor is pretty flat and watery. Up front I get carbonation and wateriness followed by mild malt, mild coffee, and mild chocolate. Touch of hops at the finish.

Overall not worth the time. Pretty watery and not too much flavor despite the deceiving nose. I would pair it with smoked brisket or a porcini mushroom rubbed hangar steak. I give it a 83.5/100

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Photo of gregshead
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Black with brown hues when you hold it to the light.

S: Roasted grain and something else I can't pick out. Good on the nose.

T: Taste is pretty predictable stout I can't find anything particularly specific about this one. Well made in every way.

M: Smooth feel, not much carbonation.

D: Good but not phenomenal. Will have again in six pack.

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

Appearance: Staid pitch black and luminous brown undertones with a finger thick creamy tan head.

Smell: Oat, chocolate, blueberry, cafe espresso and chocolate moose. Slight bitterness

Taste: British hops, earthy and herbal. Granite charcoal malts. Coffee. Sweet fruit. Blackberry. Dry charcoal malt finish.

Mouthfeel: Beautifully balanced, smooth and tasty treat. Full flavored and not too heavy. Medium malt texture. Savory.

Overall: A great beer for the price. You can pick this one up on sale seasonally at Trader Joe's. About a $1.20 a beer. Drinkable. I only wish it was available year round.

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Photo of phishsihq
3.96/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Velvety Smooth....

Firestone Walker Brewing Company was the 2011 GABF Mid-Size Brewery of the Year, as well as winning the award in 2003 & 2007, and at the World Beer Cup in 2004, 2006 & 2010. So, considering they won awards for being the best brewery their size in '03, '04, '06, '07, '10 & '11, it is safe to assume they know a thing or two about good beer, and it is good beer!

Velvet Merlin is an Oatmeal Stout that is partially aged in bourbon barrels and utilizes the always amazing Maris Otter malt. The beer pours an intensely dark brown (black?), with ruby highlights near the edges. Atop this dark brew sits one inch of beige colored head that dissipates slowly and leaves a curtain of lace. A BIG roasty nose leaps from the glass, with whispers of espresso and chocolate aromas as well. Sweet chocolate flavors quickly fade into roasted coffee tones on the pallet. Bold flavors and a delicate creaminess is due to the medium-full body and softer levels of carbonation. We enjoyed some of this with Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream, simply magical.


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Photo of ronniebruner
2.77/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Gotta say right off the bat I was disappointed in this brew as I have thoroughly enjoyed all the other Firestone beers I have had. It could just be a bad batch I presume, but it is hard to say. The beer is very black, almost too black to be enjoyable considering the horrid burnt wood taste. It is nowhere as thick as other stouts and it took me several weeks to finish this 6 pack off. Overall I have a very high opinion of Firestone Walker and would rate it as one of the top 3 breweries in the state of California, but I have to say this really was just not that great. Not terrible, but just not worth the time or money.

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Photo of timc100
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, dark, dark rich brown with a full ice cream dark beige colored head.
S: Fresh roasted coffee, bitter dark chocolate, big roasted malts.
T: Full of flavor - fresh roasted coffee, dark chocolate, subtle rich milk chocolate, roasted malts
P: Medium body, incredibly smooth - like silk
O: Wow, just a fantastic beer. Huge flavor and feel for a low abv beer.

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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 eclipse54
3.62/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle from leschkie; thanks man! Review from notes taken on 07/19/2011.

Deep brown/red as it pours from the bottle, but appears black in the glass. A light khaki head rests atop, but fades quickly and leaves no lacing. Smells of oats, caramel, sugar, dark fruit, and roasted/charred malt. They blend together nicely in the nose, but are a bit more disconnected in the mouth. It tastes of sweet fruit (plum, date), sugar, oat, roasted malt, and alcohol. Mouth is thick, has medium carbonation, and finishes very dry. Overall, an enjoyable oatmeal stout, but there are some better options out there that are just as readily available.

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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.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 2,978 ratings.
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