Velvet Merlin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
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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: 688 | Ratings: 3,050
Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a Brooklyn Tulip. Very dark pour (almost black) with a nice tight 2-finger light brown head and good retention. Nose is subdued and has mostly roasty notes and some chocolate.

Lots of roasted malt in the flavor. It's medium-bodied and pretty dry. It's somewhat reminiscent of Samuel Smith's OS, but without the nice, creamy sweetness. Overall, it's not bad, but it's a bit dry for my palate and therefore is far from the best OS I've had. I expect more creaminess in this style.

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Photo of brystmar
3.64/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, no freshness date. Pours dark brown, moderate head, needs work on the retention too. Roasted malts mix with freshly ground oats in the aroma. You can really smell the oats, nice!

Taste is straightforward with all your basic stout flavors and hints of oatmeal. Medium bodied, but definitely too thin for the style. An oatmeal stout really needs more body. A nice stout overall, but give me Breakfast Stout instead please :)

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

12oz bottle into a snifter. Bottled 1/24/12. Received as an extra in an early February trade with generous BA, KevSal. Thanks!

Appearance: Free pour yields a 1 inch fluffy tan head that dissipates quickly and lacelessly. Pours a solid black and leaves occasional spots of lacing.

Smell: Coffee and roasted malt. Some milk chocolate and cola in the background. Simple, but high magnitude brings it to 4.0.

Taste: Roasted malt, espresso, with a semi-sweet chocolate finish. Pretty consistent flavor from sip to sip. Some nice bready notes in the finish, with some mild ambiguous dark fruit up front with the husky roasted malt and coffee flavors. Gives a rather bitter overall flavor impression, as it's a bit dry and seems to get a lot of roasted malt bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Full side of medium bodied. Maybe a bit overcarbonated, but still pretty soft feel. Dry finish. Not as smooth as many oatmeal stouts, but enjoyable.

Overall: Solid stout. Some rich flavors, but kept in line by punchy bitterness. More depth of flavor than the usual 5.5% ABV American stout, further underscoring the skill of Firestone Walker's brewers.

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

Black body, with ruby highlights at the bottom of the glass. Medium-to-dark tan head of dense foamy micro-bubbles. Stretchy lace as the head recedes.

Aroma is heavy with coffee, maybe a touch of cream. Hint of oatmeal.

Taste starts with a sip of coffee, followed by a dollop of chocolate, a spoon of oatmeal, a hop bite, then a big dose of stronger coffee to finish.

Mouthfeel is a bit prickly for an oatmeal stout, not as rounded as expected.

Despite the slightly disappointing mouthfeel, it's a quality stout, well worth sampling.

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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 DM1293
4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Seasonal Sample from the Lazy Dog Cafe.

Its pretty good. Appears a reddish brown to the light, but then again the light was kinda dim.

A bit less smooth than other oatmeal stouts, being up-front with the bitter smokiness and coffee notes, but it falls into a semi-rich chocolate finish, which I find strangely decedent of a beer. So the finish does balance out the beer quite well.

A very unimposing, tasty stout.

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

12oz bottle into mug.

Pours with of fairly rocky, brown head over deep brown body with just a hint of light on the edges.

Solid, roasty aromas... reminded me of Founders Imp Stout. Lots of bittersweet chocolate, charred log, oats, and some tire rubber.

Creamy on the palate. The roast continues into the flavor, but mellows out to a sweeter chocolate profile - think chocolate/chocolate chip ice cream. Light hop pull in the finish. Good body - this drinks bigger than a 5.5%. Nearly perfect carbonation. Light film on the tongue.

Awesome Oatmeal Stout. Smokey quality is the only thing holding me back from a couple 5's.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: bottle from Capone's, Norristown, PA

Poured a dark brown-black, nearly opaque, with a small cap of off-white head that receded to a patchy layer and left a bit of lacing on the glass. Aroma was heavy with roast: coffee, dark malts, underlying cocoa. More roast on the taste, oatmeal and toasted grains, coffee, cocoa, roasty bitterness, with a definite sugary sweetness in the background. Medium-bodied, creamy, but still a bit on the light/watery side for the style, and not as completely balanced as it should be. Still very good though, and quite drinkable overall.

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Photo of raynmoon
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It pours a nice dark brown with hints of red in it. Once it's in the glass, however, it looks black, but thin in that you can see through it slightly.

The smell is very bread-like, with a little bit of coffee and sugary roasted malts.

The beer is very smooth, with a tiny bit of hop bitterness on the way down. A little bit of an alcohol tingle as the beer warms up, but ever so slight.

Overall, it is very medium bodied and pleasant. I like it. But not an exceptional stout by any means.

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Photo of scootpolute
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12ozs. bottle into a pint, 'cone' glass.

A - Pitch black with 1.5 fingers light tan creamy head. Head retention is good, with OK lacing.

S - Smokey roasted malts are at the forefront. Chocolate is well defined in the background.

T - Chocolate and roasted malts now dominate while the smokiness is still present it was mostly in the aroma. Some coffee and hints of dark fruit are present on the back of the tongue. Overall a balanced flavor, but not overly complex.

M - Medium-heavy bodied, a little thin for an oatmeal stout. Very creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is definitely noticeable, but expecting more. Finish is slightly drying with lots of roasted malts, here the smoke comes back again.

D - Very Chocolaty (like having a large bite of your favorite chocolate ice can mention your's, mine is Ben & Jerry's!!), yummy beer...Well rounded, starts out dominating with the smokiness and finishes the same way. No complex flavors but definitely a very good beer...just a bit flat in parts, but other than that GREAT!

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

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A- pitch black with a thin tan head that disapates.

S- toffee, roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, and raisins.

T- roasted malt, coffee, bread, chocolate, molasses, raisins, and toffee.

M- creamy mouthfeel with subtle carbonation. Alcohol brings a little warmth to the palate.

O- This is a decent beer. My first oatmeal stout I had was Samuel Smith's and this beer is very much comparable to it. It has a nice rich flavor and it's low alcohol makes it very drinkable.

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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 Khazadum
4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Tight creamy head develops, easily two fingers, sticky lacing, mountains of froth stick to the edges and just layer on each other like grandma's famouse yellow cake. A cola brown color and an off-white toasted froth.

S- Chocolate, like a cocoa and milk chocolate infusion. Roasted grains, toasted malts, a charred barrel nature. There is a back end oxidized malt character betraying the age on this. Still, even if its aged a bit it is very enjoyable.

T- Roasty... Its truly an example of smooth, creamy, roast. It opens like a nice crust of bread, then it flows into a light burnt edge. Like you bit into the wrong end of the loaf. After that a sweetness comes to dominate. Minorly caramel, mostly just bright. Finishes grainy, oats, and a bit of cardboard from oxidized malt.

M- Super creamy, a bright and crisp middle that flows around and helps disrupt the creamy nature so it isn't syrupy or gross. The carbonation sometimes breaks things up too much. Full bodied. Finish is a good amount of sticky. Nothing bothersome. Great texture.

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

poured a finger head with good retention. Dark like body which represents a good stout. Roasted malts and vanilla on the nose as well as some hoppy aroma lingering around. The palate was almost identical to the smell. Strong taste of roasted malts which do not overpower the beer at all. The vanilla seems to sweeten it out and give it a nice balanced taste. Not a complex oatmeal stout, but a very well brewed and tasting one indeed. Oily thick mouthfeel is as pleasing as they get for this style.
If you happen to come across this limited edition stout I would grab a few. This is definately worth having and cannot find one reason why this should not be a big contender.

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

Pours thickish black with a slow dissipating creamy head. The taste is akin to the St. Ambroise: highlighting the bitterness, bulked up mouthfeel. Though still good drinkability. Leaving a moderate dry and bitter coffee aftertaste. Malty and roast aroma.Trace of bourbon does not add but subtracts.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of EinWeizenBitte into a medium-sized Duvel tulip. I've held onto this one longer than I planned, so let's hope it's still going strong.

A: Black body, one-finger head of frothy tan foam. Ok retention, spotty lace. Pretty standard, but nice.

S: Pure, nutty, rich milk chocolate. Plenty of raw oats, too. Simple, and very, very good.

T: Bitter dark chocolate, a hint of coffee, some nuttiness, and a milky, creamy finish. Bitter coffee on the aftertaste. Very nice, but not quite as intense as the aroma.

M: A little thin, but nicely carbonated. Rather creamy.

O: Very nice beer. I'd love to quaff a few pints of it on cask. It paired nicely with my wife's s'more cookies. Good times.


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Photo of inlimbo77
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a DFH signature glass. Bottle date reads 1/9/12 I believe.

A: Pours almost completely opaque black color. Maybe a deep brown on the edges of the glass. Doesn't pour overly thick. Nearly two fingers of light tan head. Tight bubbles. Appears to be nicely carbonated. Smells really fresh.

S: I get those nice roasts notes. Some mild coffee is present as well. Maybe some soft milk chocolate as well as oats.

T: My taste buds are a little off, but I do get a good flavor out of this one. Nice coffe bitterness on the tip of the tongue. Then those toasty oats and roasted malts hit you in the middle of the mouth. Also some mild chocolate. It's very easy drinking but not the smoothest oatmeal stout out there. I think the coffee bitterness is the culprit for that.

M: Medium bodied leading to full. But this is no where near RIS full bodied.

O: This is a very solid oatmeal stout. Low ABV and good flavor. Maybe a little less bitterness and I'd have rated higher but still very very good from FW.

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Photo of jegross2
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Company.
Score: 87

Bottled 12/06/11. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 02/17/12.

Appearance: Pours a pitch black color. Totally opaque save for a layer of brown highlights atop the body. Poured a finger plus of creamy/foamy tan colored head that settled into a bubbly/creamy ring around the glass with a bubble tan clump in the middle. Excellent lacing. 4.5/5

Smell: Primarily roasted oats and, to a much lesser degree, bitter coffee. A little cocoa powder and roasted malt too. 4/5

Taste: Toasted oats, creamy roasted malts, bitter unsweetened chocolate and coffee. Lingering bitter oat and chocolate malt flavor. A light amount of citrus is present on the midpalate and towards the finish. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, moderate carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel. Bitter and acidic finish. 3/5

Overall: A solid "off the shelf" oatmeal stout. Not overly heavy on the palate or on ABV. A little bitter and coffee/oat-forward on the flavor, but quite drinkable thanks to a thinner body and creamy mouthfeel.

Recommendation: Unless you have some aversion to bitter beers or coffee flavors, seek this one out at your convenience.

Pairings: French toast and syrup.

Cost: $2 for a 12 oz bottle.

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

Poured into a shaker pint: Deep black body under two fingers of cappuccino head with drops to form some nice lumps.

Smells niiice. Toasty, brown, muffiny oatmeal & malt note, sweetly baked but with a thick graininess, like buckwheat pancakes. Or even baked corn, in a very good way. Some light roast coffee develops - good stuff!

Combo of many "dark" flavors in the taste: acidic dark fruit skins, coffee, that bready character again, with more oomph from the roasty bitterness in the finish, a little astringent but just pleasantly so.

Medium-full-bodied & nicely chewy, with a mild acidity & astringency that helps to balance things out.

Nice little number here! Feels like moderate ABV stouts are becoming less & less visible, & glad to see a full-flavored, well-composed oatmeal stout. Wish we got this in my area more regularly.

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

thank to LaChupacabra for the extra!

12oz bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter. bottled on 10/24/2011.

pours out almost completely opaque black, no light coming through at all. a nice big 2-3 fingers worth of khaki colored head off the pour that within a few minutes settled to a retentive ring. only some spotty lace from a swirl of the glass.

bitter roasted malt and bitter dark chocolate coming through the aroma the most. also some coffee and a touch of toasted malt and fruits.

again, lots of bitter roasted malt and bitter dark chocolate. some nice slightly fruity toasted malts as well, coffee and a nice bitter hop finish.

a nice slick, somewhat oily/ creamy mouthfeel from oatmeal, medium to light bodied, ample carbonation.

spot on oatmeal stout, a great example of the style. i could see myself drinking this again.

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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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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 3,050 ratings.
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