Velvet Merlin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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89
very good
679 Reviews
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Velvet MerlinVelvet Merlin
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
firestonewalker.com

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfaqU30twwU&feature=youtube_gdata

Added by largadeer on 11-13-2008

BEER STATS
Reviews:
679
Ratings:
3,032
Avg:
3.98
pDev:
9.8%
 
 
Wants:
232
Gots:
625
For Trade:
5
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 3,032
Photo of jmarsh123
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown almost black with no head at all. Some slight lacing down the glass.

Sharp roasted notes leap at the nose. A little bit of chocolate and earthiness as well.

Flavor follows the nose. Huge bitter roasted coffee maltiness with some chocolate background. Bold flavors.

Not quite as velvety as I'd like, but still very solid mouthfeel. Got a little creamier as it warmed.

Very tasty beer especially if you like lots of roastiness. One of the stronger roast presence in this style I've had.

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

Served in a mug, there's a short-statured and short-lived light, frothy head, off white. Color is a very dark brown.

Smells of sweet cocoa, and as it warms up some roasted malts begin to peak out a bit.

The taste surprised me: roasty roast roasty. Delicious coffee tones take the show, contrasting the subtlety in the nose. Man on man this is nice. This time the chocolate malt takes a back seat. A pleasant aftertaste lingers and makes me really eager to take the next sip.

Mouthfeel does this beer well. Not watered down, not overly thick for the style, just right. Feels nice the entire way down.

This is a great beer. I've been wanting to try this for a while now. I'm kind of perplexed by the sweet smell and roasted body makeup. At first whiff I was certain it was going to be on the sweet side. Not so fast, mister, this one's a winner.

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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 brotherloco
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle x2. Bottled 10/19/11. Served in a tapered 22oz glass.

Pours a deep dark brown, almost black. Over a finger of dark beige foam. Occasional bit of lacing.

Big aroma for a "small" beer. Toasted, smokey malts are right up front. Nice amount of sweetness blends with the grain reminding me of a bowl of sugar crisp cereal (and that's an *old* sense memory).

Flavor is quite similar to the nose, but has more of a semi-sweet bakers chocolate quality than I was expecting. Middle and finish are quite dry and reveal a respectable hop presence. Roasty hoppy bitterness lingers in the aftertaste.

Both body and carbonation hit about medium. Goes down easy.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.74/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle served into a N'ice Chouffe stem-goblet in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Expectations are pretty high; I love stouts.

A: Pours a one finger head of good cream, good thickness, and pretty good retention - though the ABV is merely average. Colour is a nontransparent dark brown-black.

Sm: Chocolate, heavy oats, caramel, and light nuts. Very appealing. A moderate strength aroma.

T: Oats are dominant, with notes of chocolate, caramel, and light nuts atop. Complex and balanced. Quite nicely built. It's not layered, but it has a depth of flavour I don't usually experience in oatmeal stouts. Often, oats are there just to smooth things out, but here, they're a dominant flavour and it suits the profile quite nicely. Bravo.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but not too thick or thin. Suits the flavour quite well.

Dr: Very drinkable. I quite fancy it. I'd love to try this on draught. Quite a nice flavorful brew. Give her a spin, lads.

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Photo of gregb13
4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark with minimal head; nice sticky lacing. Smells very strongly of coffee with some chocolate. Taste follows the nose, along with some added oaty character. Mouthfeel is medium and somewhat viscous. Overall this is excellent, better than others of the style (Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout comes to mind). Highly recommended.

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Photo of gbontrag
4.56/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

what a great, well-made beer. Partially aged in bourbon barrels, but this doesn't define the beer. So, it really still reviews as an oatmeal stout. The bourbon barrel adds some depth to the nose, and blends seamlessly in the flavor. There's some barrel char and sweetness in the finish. Maybe a little buttery, but this is all perfectly wedded to the yeast.

Velvet Merlin presents a black body with tan foam, and walnut wood highlights when back lit. The finish is so delicious, and long: Caramel and char take turns on the palate with ripe apple core in the retronasal. That's only part of the story. The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and like a stout-flavored chapstick on the lips. It's well carbonated, and the carbonation holds in this thick ass beer. This beer has back!

15% of the grist is oats! Sucking crawdad heads gives you the real mud bug experience; drinking Velvet Merlin is the real oatmeal stout experience. The oats are palpable in this velvet beer, and they're not polite. They are oily, thick, slightly astringent and grainy, and omnipresent here. Bring it on! This is one of those beers that make me say, hell yah, from recipe to regal pour.

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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 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 flagmantho
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: deep brown color, nearly black, with a ruby tinge when held up to the light. Head cascaded into a three-finger monstrosity of tan froth. Great.

Smell: rich, creamy, roasty aroma of chocolate and coffee. That's what I come to an oatmeal stout to get.

Taste: roasty chocolate flavor with a fair amount of astringent acidity; more than I like in an oatmeal stout. Finish is OK but, overall, the flavor is a bit milder than I'd have hoped.

Mouthfeel: bodaciously creamy, silky texture. Body is huge and, although the carbonation doesn't seem like a whole lot, it is more than enough to make this thing feel like a champion.

Overall: I like this beer. It has some flavor flaws which are rather minor, and its mouthfeel is awesome, even for a stout like this. Good stuff.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Notes from 11-21-11
*12ozer to Nonic – Best damn 6er out there!!!

A: Pours a really dark brown color with a thin rosewood edge to it. Tight half finger cap of a light brown sugar head that fizzed away quick just leaving some spotty lace. Although more aggressive pours have yielded much livelier head in my experience.

S: Smells of dark roasted grains. Some chocolate and that distinct earthy F-W oaky/wood note.

T: Taste is just an awesome blend of chocolate, toasted grains, and dry roast coffee flavors. A bit of earthy wood notes and some herbal/spice hops that provide a nice subdued bitter charge towards the end. Very light with just a touch of sweetness. Quite refreshing.

M: Super creamy mouthfeel. It is most excellent. Very light in body. A bit thin for a stout actually but then again this is only 5.5% ABV. Nice dry finish.

D: This is a great American Stout. Nice layers of chocolate and coffee with a lighter body provides for a fantastic session. Creamier texture provided by the oats. Perfect hoppy balance. A must try!

Excellent candidate for beer engine.

Superb balance. A perfect cozy beer for these colder months.

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Photo of ely2000k
4.55/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nearly black in color when you pour it into a pint glass. Not too much head or lacing. Looks very appetizing however. Smell of oatmeal chocolate, vague raisin bread perhaps, and a wee bit of molasses? Great smell. The taste is slightly underwhelming at first but as the beer warms, the complexity begins to come out more, and it's almost like the perfect combo between a cream stout and chocolate stout. And the best part of the beer is the mouthfeel. It lives up to the name, feels very velvet, goes down smooth and full, leaving you satisfied. Overall this is a beer I will absolutely come back to again each year around winter.

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

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a clear glass tumbler. Freshness date on bottle neck. Purchased at Zain's Liquors (San Francisco, CA).

A: Black with dark brown edges, soft, foamy 1-finger beige head with good retention and copious lacing.

S: Chocolate and dark maltiness are most prominent with some raisin, smoky malts, and light whiskey

T: The smoky bourbon flavor is delightful and really adds a delicate and unique touch that really moves this beer up a tier. The chocolate notes are sumptuous and the the caramel component, not really very obvious in the aroma, comes through to give a lightly fudgy finish.

M: Very smooth and lush with medium body and low carbonation.

O: A really well-styled oatmeal stout that I wish they distributed more widely. It is one of FW's best everyday beers.

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Photo of mactrail
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pronounced cereal, grainy flavor. Big dose of charred malt with that touch of sourness. Hops are pretty much in the background. Decent head on the black-brown pour. Very light body with appropriate carbonation for a refreshing mouthfeel. Fairly dry but there is a touch of caramel. Spicy in the back of the throat. Just a slight nose of roast grain.

Pleasant drinkable average stout. Not quite the "velvet" one might hope for.

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Photo of sweethome
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pour is dark cola color - a bit cloudy when heald to light. Tan head turns wispy in a moment or two. Nose of roasted malt and chocolate.

Medium mouthfeel on entry - a pretty straight through mouthfeel until the finish when an astringency develops in the back of the mouth and leaves a roast and chocolate fade. Creaminess from oatmeal is evident.

The chocolate bar forward flavor profile is quite nice. Roast is present but not overpowering. A flavorful stout - well constructed.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.37/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The pour reveals a cola brown liquid exiting the glass, settling into the glass an opaque black color. One and a half finger fizzy malted milk colored head is set atop. The head recedes in a rather quick manner, leaving a rocky ring lingering on the outside. Moderate lacing clings to the walls of the glass.

The aroma is very pleasing, a bit more assertive than I imagined. A pleasant roasted character is prominent up front. The roasted aroma dances in between malt and coffee aromas. Warmth subdues the sweetness and really expands the aroma. Cocoa powder aroma really builds on what was picked up before. The roast somehow becomes more integrated.

The flavor comes in layers, displaying tremendous balance. Sweet chocolate and creme flavors roll across the tongue. A pleasant roasted malt and java develop just behind. There is a subtle caramel flavor which peaks its head out from below rounding out the flavor. As the beer sits and warms the sweet chocolate moves towards a bittersweet chocolate flavor, the medium roasted coffee flavor moves to a darker, fuller roast.

The mouthfeel is absolute perfection, I see no room for improvement here. Medium bodied Oatmeal Stout delivering a smooth, creamy, dare I say velvety texture.

We all have our preferences in beers and styles. I have a definite preference for the bigger stouts. The bodies are fuller, the flavors more intense, they simple appeal to me much more than their smaller counterparts. If their were more stouts like Velvet Merlin out there, I may change my mind. Flavors are bold and balanced, the body smooth and creamy. I find it hard to admit sometimes that another state makes a better stout than what is available in Michigan, at least a Kalamazoo boy is responsible for this one. Absolutely awesome beer, fantastic. Big thanks to KevSal for the bottle.

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Photo of SawDog505
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a huge Duvel tulip glass. I poured aggressive and got a huge 4 inch tanish head, that fell quickly, leaving a good amount of lacing. A light black color on the beer itself. Smell is dark roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, hints of toffee, and some piney hops. Taste is lots of expresso, really dominates, but it isn't a bad thing. Body is fairly thin, but that is expected for the modest abv. Kind of dry, with a good amount of life. A nice beer, I would drink this a good amount if it was available.

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Photo of MrVonzipper
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, yet pitch black in the glass. Nice 1 finger foamy tan head with great retention and lacing.

Dark bitter malt and oats along with dark bittersweet chocolate make up the nose.

Flavor has the same characteristics as the nose but brighter and more robust. Nice balance. Notes of bittersweet chocolate, nice oatmeal and dark malt. Very pleasant and slightly sweet after taste.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Pretty much full bodied with medium creamy carb.

Overall a great oatmeal stout that's a pleasure to look forward to around the holidays every year.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Single bottle into two glasses with oglmcdgl, an extra in a recent trade. Hopefully six packs make it over here some day.

A- Out of the bottle Merkin looks a dirty brown bordering on black. Once it's all together it has a black appearance but up to light it has brown and reddish spots. A steady pour yielded a frothy milkshake like head with great retention, minor stick.

S- A very deep creamy appeal to this one as im getting a lot of chocolate as well as the advertised oatmeal. A bunch of roasted malt is a strong contender as well. A very small amount of coffee.

T- This is a very nice oatmeal stout with a huge creaminess, perhaps the most I've had from this style. A bunch of oatmeal & chocolate with slight burnt coffee. A nice amount of hops to balance all those dark flavors. Great flavor from this very fresh bottle

M- Medium to slightly thick in the mouth which I was not expecting from the look of the pour. Creamy as hell, smooth as silk. Carbed up without being bitey at all, yet a small bitterness from the roast coffee.

D- At 5.5% this is quite drinkable and with the robust flavors I could drink a few without getting bored. One of the better examples of an oatmeal stout that I've had. I enjoy everything I have had from this brewery.

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

Deep, ruby brown in color with a nice creamy tan head. Strong roasted aroma with a bevy of graininess. Rich roasted flavor-very coffee like with a nice touch of dark chocolate. Lingering dryness from the heavy roasted flavors. Ok mouthfeel wise-could use a kick in the pants "stout wise". Lacks some of the velvety creaminess of an oatmeal stout. A nice stout for the most part. Personally I was looking for more "umph" but still a nice example.

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Photo of rtaps
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a very dark brown (almost black) like a stout normally does. About a 1/4 inch thick head tan colored and dense.

smell is mostly dominated by chocolate. Oatmeal plays in the back round

Taste nutty, and rich chocolate. with a mild hint of oatmeal

mouth feel is smooth and creamy like your typical stout

overall this is a good seasonal stout worth enjoy during the winter time nothing to special but easy to drink.

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Photo of bld81
3.82/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottle poured into a pint glass:
A: pours dark brown, very small head but thick and dense
S: roasted grain malts and oats, smoky, chocolate
T: baker's chocolate - just sweet enough to notice but some bitterness, earthy, slight alcohol burn
M: full bodied, not as smooth and creamy as I'd like
O: very drinkable and great flavors, despite lacking some smooth oat character

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

Jet black with a decent sized khaki head off of a normal pour. The head dies down to more of a white layer within a minute or two.
Texture looks pretty thick as it’s a slow pour and the liquid coats the glass.
The nose is roasty and semi-sweet. Baker’s chocolate and mild coffee.
Dark chocolate hits the palate first, and it’s not overly sweet. That creamy texture is all-encompassing and brings on a slightly bitter and acidic hit from the roasted malts. There’s a hint of sweetness on the back end that lingers.
This is about as easy drinking as they come. More depth than some, but nothing mind blowing or unusual.
A good oatmeal stout that’s clearly leaning in the roasted malt direction, but has enough sweetness to keep your palate from getting bored.
Tasty and enjoyable.

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Photo of Rayek
3.59/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Merlin pours pitch black, with a small cream cap. The head quickly falls to a patchy film and leaves bits of lace.

The beer starts out with a espresso like coffee and chocolate mix. A mild burnt bitterness follows. It finishes slightly acidic, with lingering burnt malt flavors. The body is dry and too tingly for my tastes.

A decent stout overall. Not the most complex example of the style, but pleasant enough.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.17/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to drummrboy22 for sending this one as an extra.

A: pours deep dark brown with white-ish brown head, not much retention, no lacing, opaque

S: nose is chock full of roasted barley with chocolate and coffee around the edges

T: tastes starts off with bold malts and a touch of sweetness, this develops into an increasingly roasted profile and a finish of all roasted barley. This brew elevates the specialty malts very well.

MF: smooth creamy texture, slightly high carbonation

O: this is a great Oatmeal stout. Very representative of the style, I love the use of roasted barley and chocolate malt, the flavors really stand out.

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Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 3,032 ratings.
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