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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: 2,974
Photo of Knapp85
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew I picked up just by chance, I have enjoyed several other Firestone Walker brews so I figured this one would be pretty good too. It poured out as a very dark black color with a nice looking creamy tan head on top. The lacing was very nice on this also. The aroma was lightly roasted but nothing too strong on the nose. The taste of the beer has a really nice, it has a soft roasted flavor to it with a creamy mouthfeel. Overall I can see myself getting this again. Worth trying for sure.

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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 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 rawla
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served a 5 week old 12 bottle into a 14 oz beer mason jar.

Pours a dark, velvety chocolate pour with solid carbonation off the bottle. Creamy, tan/coffee head with a 2 inch retention. Good lacing on the sides.

S: Mmmm... Chocolate, charred marsh mellow, and freshly pulled espresso shots. A very truly welcoming bouquet of aromas.

T: French pressed coffee, toffee, sweet chocolate milk, and toasted oats. Small bite toward the end that smoothes out the delicate, sweet, chocolate and coffee flavors. Well done.

M: Silky smooth; feels like a thai iced coffee. Wow.

o: An amazing take on an oatmeal stout. Only thing that keeps me from giving this a higher overall rating is it's limited yearly release. Otherwise, a fantastic brew.


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Photo of alexgash
4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle.

Very dark root beer brown body. Pinkie finger of dense, light to washed out brown head. Some lacing. Appetizing nose, highlighted by rich dark chocolate, roasted coffee, caramelized fruits, and light peat.

Tinny, roasted barley and coffee bitterness up front. Palate fills in with semi-sweet chocolate, hearty soda bread, licorice, peat, wood, and a hint of vanilla. Finish features lingering chocolate sweetness, with minor notes of espresso and cream (think latte). Medium-full body with a nice creamy feel. Very nice.

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Photo of hopfacebrew
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from updated bottle to pint glass. Pours a deep dark opaque brown, nearly black, with a fine 1 finger head with good retention and some lacing. The nose is that of roasty malts mixed with coffee and vanilla. Somewhat sweet and not much in terms of hop character. The flavor starts with a smooth roasted malt flavor mixed with the milder tones of coffee and vanilla and a residual sweetness. There is almost a subtle fruit flavor. Finishes extremely smooth with a hint of mild bitterness and slight woody flavor. Extremely well balanced and well crafted beer. The mouthfeel is like velvet, as the name implies, it's perfect. Very easy to drink, not over the top considering all the flavors. Medium to Thin bodied.

Overall, this is an excellent beer and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

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Photo of corby112
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chocolate brown color with faint mahogany edges and a pillowy two finger beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Larges streaks and chunks of soapy lacing left behind.

Robust, roasted malt aroma that never becomes acrid or burnt. Slightly smokey with hints of toast, dark chocolate, coffee bean, caramel, toffee and of course, oatmeal. There's also a slight lactic cream presence adding complexity to the nose.

Chewy, full body with a deeply roasted dark malt character that's nicely countered by a subtle earthy hop presence. Very similar to the aroma with lots of roasted malt flavor that never becomes overpowering or burnt tasting. Strong dark chocolate, oatmeal and coffee bean presence along with some caramel, toffee and lactic cream. Very complex and even though it's full bodied, it's very well balanced resulting in an extremely quaffable beer.

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Photo of kbanks13
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Got this from Rake in a recent BIF, thanks!

Poured into my SA pint glass pitch black, darker than most oatmeal stouts I've encountered, with an inch or so of dense tan head. Smell is dominantly coffee with a nice fudgey chocolate background. Subtle hopping. The taste is like a mocha kind of flavor, nice french roast coffee sort of flavor with the semi-sweet dark chocolate fudge I smelled earlier. Kind of pick up on a chestnut flavor. Very smooth. Earthy roasted and nutty flavors are complimented nicely with slightly floral hops that aren't too bitter or resiny. The feel is a bit lighter than I expected at first, not very dense as the smell and flavors would suggest, but as it warmed up a bit it became thicker. Highly drinkable and very tasty beer, overall. So far, I have not been disappointed with Firestone Walker. Velvet Merlin just made its way into regular rotation with me.

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Photo of matjack85
3.88/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A friend brought this back for me from her trip to San Diego (Thanks Nancy). It's a good thing she did since this beer is only distributed in 6 western states and I couldn't get it even if I wanted it here in Illinois. 12oz brown bottle with no freshness date, despite their website claim that they put bottled on dates on the neck labels of all their beers. My bottle had no date.

The beer poured out a dark brown color with a full 3 finger's worth of light brown head. Head retention was good, but it didn't leave much lacing.

The beer smelled like coffee and cocoa.

Tastes more like a coffee stout than an oatmeal one, but it's still good. Heavy roasted malt flavors along with a strong coffee taste. Unsweetened chocolate and a bit of oatmeal are also there. Not as sweet as most oatmeal stouts, and in fact it has a rather dry wood barrel finish to it. The fuggles hops only add mild bitterness.

Very smooth mouthfeel but way too light to be called creamy. Much thinner than most stouts and it has very low carbonation.

Another good offering from Firestone Walker. Well hidden alcohol and light enough to have more than one.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a deep brown (some ruby highlights come out across the bottom), with a finger of smooth light mocha colored head. This maintains a thin foaminess that skims the top of the glass, leaving back a rich cascade of spotty lacing that dots the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of sweet oatmeal notes up front, before giving away to an underlying mix of cocoa, roast, and a good bit of green citrus flavor. The oatmeal is really standing out to me here in the nose and I’m digging it.

The taste is similar to the nose, with a smooth smelling mélange of flaked oatmeal and chocolate that then leads into a leafy citrus profile across the back. Some light roasted character sits underneath and combos with the hops to finish this a bit bitter with an extra smidge of burnt toast on the tail end. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and initially prickly on the tongue, which helps draw out some of that hops and roast, but there is also an easy feeling silkiness on the edges of this, courtesy of that oatmeal, which gives this an overall crisp slickness in the mouth that works.

This was quite a robust and easy drinking Oatmeal Stout, with a good bit of well balanced flavor that didn’t skimp on the oatmeal character one bit. I’m not sure if this one is making distribution yet on the East Coast but it’s definitely one that I’m going to keep an eye out for.

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Photo of tony223366
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Fantastic head! Filled up my entire tulip. 3 fingers of tan, rocky head. Bubbles of all sizes and lacing is already apparent. Color is a deep, deep brown with the faintest hint of red. Clarity is good but no light can get through.

S: I'm getting tons of rich coffee aromas, some chocolate too. A little tobacco. Nice smokiness from the roasted malts.

T: Flavor mirrors the nose. Lots of rich roasted malts. That Earthy, almost tobacco flavor is here. Hops are much more present in a very lightly clean and citrusy way. I love that there's a nice bitter finish. Dark chocolate is always there. A really clean finish as well.

M: Can tell oatmeal is present, nice creaminess. Good carbonation. Maybe a smidge thin.

O: I love how drinkable this is. The aroma and body didn't knock me out but the clean, crisp flavors are incredibly attractive. Nice work from one of my favorite breweries.

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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 TaySuth
4.62/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark brown with a minimal head and moderate lacing.

Smell: Amazing smell with hints of chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, and caramel. Absolutely excellent.

Taste: Great balance between the chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, and caramel flavors. Good amount of bitterness. Delicious.

Mouthfeel: Just the right amount of carbonation. Solid body without feeling too thick. Smooth finish.

Overall: Very pleased with this beer. Great balance, smooth finish, and a delicious taste.

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Photo of Beaver13
3.38/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle. Pours dark brown with a big creamy light tan head that retains well and laces the glass a little.

The aroma is roasted malt, oatmeal and some coffee.

The flavor is a little on the mild side - some sweet chocolate and caramel malts with some earthy coffee notes. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly watery.

Overall, a decent oatmeal stout, but a little on the mild and sweet side. I slightly preferred the Slow Elk by Big Sky which is very similar.

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

Finally got to try this one while on the west coast over Christmas. We only get a handful of FW beers on the east coast at the moment, which is a shame, because I’ve really enjoyed them all and I’d buy this one on a regular basis if I could.

This is a tasty and very easy drinking beer. Pours dark brown, almost black, with a smallish head and minimal lacing. Opaque. A roasty aroma of coffee and vanilla, a touch of sweetness and a bit of a bitter note.

The flavor is all of those things: roasted, with coffee and vanilla, plus a touch of cherry, perhaps, and a general gentle sweetness, finishing with a lightly hopped bitterness. Subtle fruitiness. I’d describe this almost as a porter with coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and cherry. Bourbon and wood make an appearance as well. All of these flavors are here but they’re well balanced and none of them are all that strong despite being rather distinctive. This is not a big beer, just a very tasty one with more subtle flavor notes than one might expect. It really opens up to reveal them as it sits a bit.

The medium to thin body and lively, but not prickly, carbonation also put me more in mind of a porter than an oatmeal stout, although the creaminess of the body is fitting to the style. I really enjoyed this one, it’s definitely right up my alley, and would find a regular spot in my fridge along side Union Jack if it made it to stores over here.

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Photo of CasanovaCummins
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Just yum. Silky smooth chocolate coco puffs in liquid form.

This is an everyday kind of pour that you just don't get tired of. The dram you go back to again and again. Great texture. Great consistently deep flavors. Lots of warm darkness.

This is a jazzy Morgana King type of beer. Velvety and soft-spoken, yet deeply sexy. More to the traditional side. All polish and depth.

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Photo of tbern007
3.86/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours very dark brown/black, gigantic head, very good lacing.
Scent is lighter than I expect- coffee, mild chocolate, roasted malt, slight sweetness of the chocolate.
Taste is of primarily coffee, mild chocolate.
Very light- less carbonated, not as creamy as I would have liked.
Overall good- the mouthfeel is a little disappointing.

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Photo of beergod1
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, brown out of the bottle, sitting almost black in the glass. The head is small and tan, leaving streaks of lacing. Aroma is mainly toasted chocolate malt and oatmeal. There are hints of coffee and cocoa powder as well. Taste is more of the same and predominantly chocolate with bitter espresso, with a healthy dose of oatmeal in finish to make it very creamy. The mouth feel is light to medium bodied and feels a tad thin, though it is a low ABV stout. This is a very drinkable. I wish I wouldn't have threw in my other one as an extra in a trade.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A black beer here with a fairly tall tan head. The head is dense and mousse like. Nice contrast.
Aroma of rich roasted malts and coffee and chocolate. I didn't pickup any oak barrels or whiskey in the nose.
Roasted malts are dominate in the taste not overpowering but just the first thing you taste upon first sip. Accent flavors includes coffee and bittersweet chocolate and suggestive hints of oak and spirits. Fuggle hops lend just a light bittering to this stoudt.
Mouthfeel is a bit thin for a stout but none the less it's smooth and easy drinking. An excellent well made stout smooth and creamy with layers of flavor.
That being said, I would like to see the carbos pumped up a bit as well as an increase in head size for appearance purposes. I also think it's a bit thin giving a washed down feel. As stated previous, I would drink this beer many more times... and with glee

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

Poured into a pub style glass from 2 month old bottle.

Appearance: a nice dark black pour, yet thinner than expected. Slight lacing, low carbonation with about a finger's worth of head that decapitates quickly.

Smell: faint coffee and roasted malt aroma that does not linger. very nice, but not over the top.

Taste: I taste roasted oats, a hint of coffee, with a lingering sweetness

Mouthfeel: creamy but thin texture. goes down silky smooth. very pleasant.

Overall: a very enjoyable oatmeal stout. kudos on the taste and mouthfeel. Not the most impressive oatmeal stout I've ever had but up there. Great job!

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Photo of newsage
4.32/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

velvet merlin 5.5% one of the better oatmeal stouts out there other than the velvet merkin 8.6% which is only served at the brewery. The difference is merkin is age longer in bourbon barrels which gives it an higher ABV, silky smooth mouthfeel and great oak bourbon smell.

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Photo of liamt07
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle had at the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay in Vegas, 12oz'er into a pint glass.

Pours an opaque black with a mocha brown head of a couple fingers. Quite thin in terms of head retention and only a snippet of lacing. Lovely nose for an oatmeal stout, some bitter chocolate, sweet caramel and hints of a sweeter/milkier chocolate. Good roastiness and a hint of molasses. Sweet and bitter in terms of taste, roasted malts, subtle caramel and molasses notes. Modest bitterness with a bit of coffee in the finish. Heavy medium body, with a medium carbonation. Chewy feel, with great flavour. An exceptional oatmeal stout with lots of subtle complexities.

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

This beer pours jet black. Has a slightly retaining head. Smells roasty and the mouthfeel is very smooth; medium bodied. Tastes roasty and even a bit chocolatey. Solid example of the style; the oats lending to the smooth mouthfeel I'm sure. Great stout from Firestone Walker.

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Photo of Reidrover
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

16oz mug at f-stop Fitzgeralds in Salem. $3.00 Black as a moonless night with a small but persistent off white head. Great toasty roasty oat aromas..comforting Taste is mainnly roasted oats,dark chocolate and esspresso coffee..the bitter ness lingers. Great mouthfeel and even better aftertaste that goes on for some time after the beer is done. Great beer at a great [price

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Photo of Beertracker
4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

FW's Velvet Merkin pours up with an incredible effervescence which creates a cascading tannish-brown colored head above the deep mahogany-jet black body. The head retention is phenomenal with lots of wonderful lacing that clings to the side of the glass. The aroma is very complex for a "smaller" beer with notes of cocoa roasted almonds, bread pudding, hot chocolate, cordial cherries, marzipan, mocha, rumcake, toasted coconut & warm vanilla wafers. Really great stuff! There's maybe just a touch of spiciness from a late hop addition? The flavor starts off with a fresh coffee character sustained by a lovely roastiness followed by a touch of nuttiness (almond/hazelnut) complimented by some caramel sweetness which is superbly balanced by a moderate bitterness which creates an off-dry, bittersweet & somewhat fruity (blackberry, cherry) finish. The overall flavor isn't quite as complex as the aroma, but still very good for its strength. The body is medium-light with a mouthfeel that's as smooth as a baby's bottom. I'm admittingly not a huge 'stoutfan' but this is one terrific oatmeal stout and definitely worth seeking out for any stout lover!

CHEERS! Beertracker

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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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