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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: 2,979
Photo of thepenguin
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L: Pours a very dark brown, near black, with minimal head.

S: Roasty and toasty, you can definitely smell the oats with the toastiness. Some faint English variety hops. The smell on this beer isn’t particularly strong.

T: Very balanced and pretty mild on the roastiness: this could easily pass as a porter. Chocolately, toasty and nutty, and only moderately malty with a slight breadiness. Extremely drinkable with a toasty and moderately roasty finish.

F: Medium bodied with a silky but light mouthfeel and medium carbonation, perhaps a bit too than the style would warrant.

Overall: Solid, very drinkable oatmeal stout. The roastiness is incredibly mild though and the beer could pass as a lighter style. I would have liked the aroma to be a bit more pronounced, but otherwise this is a tasty dark beer that I wouldn’t mind tossing back a few of.

 856 characters

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

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout

12 oz. bottle ,Bottled on dating ( "01/09/14") etched onto the neck of the bottle.

Pours near black, mocha head, stays nicely and leaves low sheeting and thicker strands of lace.

Chocolate and some vanilla on the nose.

Thick and flavorful, with more milk chocolate and smooth dark malt notes. Dry finish but maintains a quite moderate hop presence. Nicely done and well worth a try if ya see this available in your local area.

 476 characters

Photo of portia99
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle (1/9/14) poured into a Bruery tulip.

A - Pours black in the glass with small heading forming briefly and then falling to leave behind a thin collar of grayish foam and random traces of lacing on the glass.

S - Tons of burnt, charred malt, traces of burning tires, molasses, over-roasted coffee, dark chocolate, mild licorice. A bit too much burnt character for me.

T - Flavor follows the aroma fairly well. Large quantities of smoke, burnt, charcoal-y, acrid and deeply roasted flavor. Dark chocolate, fudgy, molasses, coffee, licorice. More complexity and balance than the aroma indicates...chocolatey sweetness comes in just enough to smooth out all of the heavy burnt character.

M - Quite thick and full bodied. Medium carbonation that comes in just a touch to high for my preferences but is not offensive. Increasing hoppy bitterness as the beer warms in the glass.

O - Overall, enjoyable stout. Bigger beer than the ABV would indicate. Super thick in feel and a bit heavy. Nice with dessert.

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

Appearance: Dark as night with little foam but very good lacing.

Smell: Oatmeal and raisins.

Taste: Oatmeal and raisins are just the beginning. Complex flavor with chocolate, coffee, caramel swirling around in there.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, smooth, and creamy.

The Verdict: Very good. Bursting with roasted malt flavor, but less bitter than many oatmeal stouts.

 366 characters

Photo of Omnium
3.94/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Pours pitch black, one finger tan head, no lacing.
S - Roasted oats and some coffee, a little smokiness, some toasted grains.
T - Creamy roasted flavor, nice bitterness, some nutty quality on the end as well, some burnt qualities in the aftertaste.
M - A little bitter and thin for a stout, but not bad.
O - Taste doesnt follow aroma enough, but its an average oatmeal stout, I'd look elsewhere for cheaper and better oat stouts.

 457 characters

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

Poured from a bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint

A. Very dark brown. 95% opaque. Cappuccino colored 2 finger foamy head that recedes kinda quickly. Lasts a minute. Very little lacing.

S. Roasted malts. Slight hop resin. Slight metallic aroma.

T. Flavor is roasted malts, some bakers chocolate, mild burnt coffee or espresso. It's a light flavored stout. No alcohol flavor but at 5.5% that's expected. Some grassy aftertaste.

M. 6 out of 10 on body thickness. Decent carbonation for a stout. Creamy. Feels a little more like a porter. But they can be similar.

O. Nice if your in the mood for a stout and don't wanna reach for the 11%abv+. Flavor is kinda mild. Smells was turning me off a lil at first but the flavor didn't carry some of the deficiencies. Could be a good french press guinea pig to try different flavors. I'd have to be in the mood to reach for this one but that being said it does have it's place.

 941 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 ElSid
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The Beers of California


Bottled Date: 9/27/12

A: Deep black with a light brown head of foam which dissipates to a faint layer of bubbles.

S: Smokey with dark chocolate and hints of espresso.

T: Bittersweet chocholate with hints of smokiness, vanilla, and espresso. Smooth, dark, sweet bread foundation. Some earthy bitterness and warming alcohol in the finish. Great flavor profile with complementing characteristics.

M. Full, creamy, and velvety smooth with good carbonation.

O: A great, smooth stout for the cold winter nights. Simple and balanced with good drinkability.

 587 characters

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.

 1,289 characters

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

Pours a nice dark brown with a short head that quickly dissipates. Smells nice like oatmeal and very fresh. Taste is suprisingly clean and fresh without any heaviness. Nice and crisp and clean for such a dark beer. Nice carbonation and not syrupy like other darker beers. I really enjoyed this one.

 298 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 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 slusk
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours a very dark red, almost opaque with a short lived tan head.

S: Roasted coffee, chocolate and dark fruit is the main course. Some raisin notes and a wee bit of smoky aroma.

T: Dark fruits hit the palate first, some raisin and plum. Quickly followed by a roasted coffee. Some burnt toffee is in the background. Dark bread in a sweet beer. It does fiish dryer than I expected.

M: Full bodied and chewy with low carbonation.

O: A very nice stout. It's sweet but not cloying. Bright roasted coffee notes jump out among the dark fruits. Nice complex beer.

 565 characters

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

February 11, 2015

12 oz bottle, snifter

A – Jet black, a thin layer of light tan foam forms and then disappears quickly. Some lacing sits on top of the beer.

S – Baking chocolate, lightly roasted coffee. Some light vanilla, perhaps some honey. A bit of fruity ester presence in the background, and light, earthy hops.

T – Mostly chocolate and moderate nuttiness, very light roasted component. Maybe a drop of vanilla. Hops are very low in flavor, herbal and earthy, but contributing moderate bitterness.

M – Moderate carbonation, very little sweetness, roast component and hop bitterness are medium-high. Finish is somewhat dry. Body is medium-full, with a touch of creamy smoothness.

O – Very pleasant, traditional version of an oatmeal stout. Smooth, nutty, a touch of roast… it’s well made and that is certainly worth saying.

 857 characters

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

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color medium beige head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains coffee, oats, roasted malts, some chocolate and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of coffee, molasses and chocolate. Then some mild smokiness comes in along with toasted oats and a hearty malt character. The hops presence is very mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is a bit dry and slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, this is a solid beer to drink for a while if you’re in the mood for the style.

 823 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

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.

 777 characters

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

Thanks for this one Sean. Poured into a tulip. Pours a cola colored brown with about a finger of creaming light khaki head.

The aroma has hints of slight cocoa and hints of espresso. Pretty run of the mill but pleasing either way. The taste is pretty much what wone would expect from an oatmeal stout. A little roasty with hints of coffee and some fudgyness to it. Pretty tasty.

The feel is good, silky and smooth with subtle carbonation. Overall this is a well made beer. I just don't think this is the most exciting of styles.

 531 characters

Photo of rangerred
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a medium tan head and just a little bit of head retention.

The aroma is slightly metallic but also has some vanilla and mocha notes.

The flavor is really the showstopper here as it just unleashes mocha, caramel and vanilla along with having a silky (or velvet) smooth mouthfeel. A great example of the style and a wonderful beer.

 354 characters

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

Reviewed "live". Bottle dated 9/27/12 served in a Chimay 150th anniversary glass while watching "The Outlaw Josey Wales". A seemingly appropriate movie for an oatmeal stout.

A. Pours a very dark brown, though not completely opaque, allowing the ruby highlights to occasionally shine through. One finger bone colored head dissipates fairly rapidly, but leaves a long lasting ring and thin island like overlay dancing around in the middle .

s. Roasted malts are prevalent, some caramel malt sweetness, and whole wheat bread here.

t. Roasted malt and slight hop bitterness up front. Espresso notes on finish. Very smooth throughout the palate. No harsh notes on this one.

m. Very creamy and smooth coating the palate with incredible stride. This is where the beer excels in my opinion. Exactly the way an oatmeal stout should feel.

 832 characters

Photo of quirkzoo
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark brown with minimal khaki head. Classic stout aroma with lots of roasted malt, chocolate and some coffee aromas. Taste is very nicely balanced a touch of sweetness from the malt and just enough bitterness. The mouthfeel is a touch thin. There is a little bit of the oatmeal body but I wanted to be just a bit heavier. Overall it is a very easy drinking well balanced stout.

 390 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 10/2010 notes. Poured into a Nostradamus flute glass. Pours a dark, dark red amber with a rim of foam and no lacing. Dark and roasted malt aroma. Starts rather thin, with dark, sweet and roasted malts. Finish is quite robust with malts and a nice coffee flavor. Way above average for a low ABV stout. Worth trying again.

 332 characters

Photo of jibbyvonjibb
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Color pitch black.
S: Roasted coffee. Cocoa.
T: Strong chocolate malt toastiness. Like drinking dark-roast coffee with cream or maybe 80% chocolate. Finishes a bit acrid (maybe the American hops coming through?). I would prefer the earthiness of British hops here, like Kent Goldings.
M: Medium. Somewhat thin for the style. Some creaminess, but would have preferred a bit more to balance the bitterness of the roast.
O: I enjoyed it overall. However, it doesn't quite reach the level of sweetness and creaminess that I would expect from an oatmeal stout (my benchmark is Samuel Smith). That being said, disregarding style, it's a very pleasant session beer more focused on toasted bitterness than malty sweetness.

 717 characters

Photo of hoppyweasel311
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Dark black color with tan head that doesn't last long.
Aroma- roasted malts, coffee, cocoa nibs
taste- Coffee bitterness, cocoa powder, dark roasted malts
mouthfeel- smooth and creamy... low carbonation.
This oatmeal stout is decent.. but I'm more partial to Mendocino Brewing co. oatmeal stout.

 307 characters

Photo of YourMomDrinksBud
3.92/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Bottled on 09/09/11.

A- Ink black pour with only the lightest highlights around the edges. One finger head fades fast giving way to a nice white cap.

S- Roasted malts, iced coffee, baker's chocolate. Hint of vanilla.

T- Tastes follows with coffee and chocolate battling it out for dominance. Very subtle oak vanilla note with a slight salinity. Well balanced.

M- Very smooth and easy drinking. On the lighter side of the style with a somewhat high level of carbonation.

O- Really enjoyed this one. I'll continue to seek it out while it's in season.

 591 characters

Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 2,979 ratings.
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