Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Velvet Merlin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
668 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 668 | Ratings: 2,976
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.

 297 characters

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.

 218 characters

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.

 222 characters

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.

 202 characters

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.

 280 characters

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.

 739 characters

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.

 225 characters

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"

 182 characters

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.

 675 characters

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.

 788 characters

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

 313 characters

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

 274 characters

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.

 645 characters

Photo of Immortale25
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Ommegang stemmed glass. Label says 10/01/15.

A- Pours a mostly opaque black color with a 1/4 inch dark tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and some sheer wisps of surface foam. Not-so-resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Dark roasted malt with a bit of sweetness bringing notes of milk chocolate, mocha and a touch of caramel.

T- Flavor profile is nicely balanced between roasty bitterness, hop bitterness and a mild sweetness. Great interplay of coffee-like roast, dark chocolate and a slight nuttiness. Bit of char in the aftertaste.

M- Slightly creamy with medium carbonation and a full body.

O- A very tasty oatmeal stout that rides the line between sweet and roasty very well. Super drinkable, quite flavorful and just all-around yummy.

 825 characters

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

Black with dark brown edges when held to light. Light brown head that recedes to a ring, leaves a little lacing. The nose is primarily roast and dark chocolate, some sweet malt too. Taste has roasted malts, chocolate, and some coffee characteristics. The body is on the lighter end of full and carbonation is moderate. A balance, dry finish. A very nice oatmeal stout.

 368 characters

Photo of Myotus
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured at 51°F from a 12oz bottle (bottled on 19Oct15) into a Spiegelau Stout glass. Consumed on 23Feb16.
LOOK: Pours with a half fingers worth of brown foam that dissipates into a quarter fingers worth of khaki foam within 45 seconds. Black in color with a ruby tint. Rising bubbles are moderate in quantity and small in size. Lacing is moderate in quantity and thin with a few areas of thickness.
SMELL: Mild aromas of sweet chocolate, coffee, and sweet oatmeal entangle with subtle aromas of bitter roasted malts, vanilla, molasses, figs, plums, and wood.
TASTE: Strong sweet chocolate and mild sweet oatmeal flavors first strike the palate. Mild coffee, bitter roasted malts, and wooden flavors immediately follow. Subtle vanilla flavors continue the taste symphony as oatmeal flavors grow slightly stronger. Subtle flavors of molasses, fig, plum, and smoked goodness (weren't detected in the smell) enter lastly as all previous flavors persist.
FEEL: Full-bodied and subtly carbonated. Goes down smooth and creamy. Finishes with a subtle dryness.
NOTE: This was one of the most complex Oatmeal Stouts that I have ever had. I loved how it was more sweet than bitter as sometimes, these styles are too roasty for me. I look forward to being able to try the BA version of this one day.

 1,288 characters

Photo of agreenman19
3.71/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L - pours a reddish black with a fluffy yummy-looking lacing. Mocha.

S - oats! Caramel malts, some rusty nail. Sweet dark fruits.

T - more of the same. A distinct red ale metallic taste. Roasted coffee, chocolate.

F - creamy oaty mouthfeel, but still feels a little thin. Refreshing and easy to drink.

O - solid oatmeal stout. Light and easy drinking.

 359 characters

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Nitro version on tap

L: black with large brown head
S: chocolate and dark malt
T: mostly chocolate
F: very creamy, I know the nitro provided some of that. But it also was rather thin and very drinkable.

 204 characters

Photo of Jacobob10
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, dated 12/10/15.

Look: Deep brown color, small tan head with good retention, and sparse lacing on the glass.

Smell: Roasted malt with a bit of sweetness and fruitiness to it. Mild chocolate and coffee.

Taste: Roasted malt, coffee, milk chocolate, and dark fruits. The oats give it a subtle earthiness and a dry, bitter finish.

Feel: Medium-full bodied, smooth, and easy to drink.

A really nice oatmeal stout here. Fairly complex without being difficult to drink. Very enjoyable.

 498 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 2,976 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!