Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
692 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Velvet Merlin Oatmeal StoutVelvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout

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
Reviews: 692 | Ratings: 3,061
Photo of Zaplt
3.5/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5


My friend Dave told me I needed to step up to the plate on BA so here I am.

Appearance - Very dark, black as expected. Pours a nice light tan head that has almost no retention nor lacing.

Aroma - Yummy roasty toasty maltiness, not very complex or strong. Not too many flavors in the aroma, slightly weak for a stout.

Taste - Washes down the palette smoothly and almost a bit thin, but then there is a wash of flavor - vanilla, a certain nuttiness that reminds me of hazelnut, raosted coffee and chocolate, slight woody aspects with just enough of a resiny hoppy finish to please the drinker.

Overall - This is a decent beer, although I did have some issues with it. It's a bit too thin for my taste and there seems to be a lack of punch in the malt. Seems a little weak in the taste and aroma but for a standard stout I think that they did a good job.

 867 characters

Photo of Cinderbike
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle on a rainy afternoon. Velvet Merlin pours a dark brown with minimal head and lacing. Carbonation and mouthfeel to style, with that distinct oatmeal slickness.

Aroma is earthy with some toasty/biscuit notes, and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Flavor: burnt toast, coffee, coffee, coffee. More coffee. This is not a session beer. Flavor is much more complex when it warms.

I am glad this was not a bomber, but it is a good oatmeal stout.

 455 characters

Photo of kflorence
3.51/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at BevMo! a week before Christmas; $7 for a sick pack (what a steal).

A: Pours an opaque, black with a nice frothy layer of tan foam. Not much lacing around the glass as you drink. When held up to a light, carbonation looks good. Looks inviting, if perhaps a little bit light as far as body goes.

S: As advertised, the roasted coffee comes through prominently. Also prominent are roasted malts, chocolate and some cloying caramel. The aroma suggests this beer will be very malty with some underlying sweetness and perhaps some astringency.

T: Wow, this one is truly roasted, almost overpoweringly so. Roasted malts and roasted coffee dominate the flavor; hops are rather subdued, almost indistinguishable. Not much of the cloying sweetness that was detected in the aroma was present, but it is there right after the initial roasts hit the tongue, and right before the lingering barbecue flavor. A tad bit astringent, which I guess is to be expected from a highly prominent coffee presence. Oatmeal is strangely absent as well.

M: For an oatmeal stout, I would consider this medium bodied. I was hoping it would be a bit more on the creamy side, maybe even with some chewiness. Carbonation levels are perfect and it does have body, just expected it to be a bit thicker.

D: Overall this is a pleasant beer and I have absolutely no complaints for the price tag. This is a solid stout that's simplicity and body make it very easy to drink. That said, I think this brew was a little overly roasted for me which made it seem a bit imbalanced. It also had almost no detectable oatmeal flavors, was a bit astringent due to the coffee and was not as creamy as I expected. There are much better oatmeal stouts out there, but this one definitely was on the above average side. I wouldn't hesitate to drink it again, but I probably wouldn't seek it out.

 1,856 characters

Photo of gillagorilla
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Duvel tulip (02/17/14, not sure if that is best by or bottled on, best by makes sense since this is a fall beer)

A: Pitch black and pours a finger thick head that goes away quickly enough. Leaving just a slightly mocha island of bubbles.

S: I get a lot of coffee and chocolate, with that oatmeal background that smooths them all out and binds them together.

T: Very smooth from the oatmeal. Tastes like rye oat water. I was super excited for this, but maybe it would have been better had we gotten it in the fall. Nice bit of stout in there, but comes across as more of a porter.

M: Smooth, with just a bit of abrasiveness to it.

O: Not what I was expecting, but I was wanting more flavor. I guess I am spoiled by GD's Oatmeal Yeti.

p.s. Turns out this is a late spring/early summer release (at least here in MD). Still looking for some Easy Jack and Opal.

 891 characters

Photo of DanJan
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A - Dark rich color. Very dark brown. Tan head. although not large or long lasting. Looks pretty delicious in the light.

S - Not much of a scent here. Basic. Slightly chocolatey, burnt and malty notes.

T - Basic stout. Described as an oatmeal stout which balances out the coffee and darker flavors. Little bit of dark chocolate. Little bit sweet. Easily drinkable.

M - Coats but doesn't last long. I prefer a stout that is a little stickier and thicker on the tongue. Carbonation is nice but quickly dissipates.

O - A decent offering from Firestone Walker. Pretty middle of the road stout but after it warms up and it gets chilly outside, not too bad at all.

 664 characters

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.

 505 characters

Photo of domtronzero
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear dark brown with ruby highlights at the edges. Big, average lasting mocha head. Little lacing.

S - Light dark sweet malts, little roast. Caramel. Light earthy hops.

F/M - Rich velvety smooth dark malts. Bready, toffee, caramel, little roast. Earthy/spicy hops with medium high bitterness. Clean, dry finish. Medium body with moderate carbonation.

D - Good. Clean, dry, full flavored and quite easy drinking.

 419 characters

Photo of wajacobs
3.53/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've never been the biggest fan of Firestone Walker but picked up a sixer at BevMo when the store clerk said it was one of her favorites.

I typically like stronger stouts but must admit I really like this ale, its extremely smooth and but the flavor and aroma are dominated by roasted coffee and light caramel notes. It would be nice if it were a little stronger and provided a more warmth on the back end.

 407 characters

Photo of SABERG
3.54/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle dated 11/21/14 into a modified tulip glass.
A - Translucent, pour light slips through with little effort, initially a big
carbonation charge, settles down, leaving a thin off white cap.
S - Milk chocolate, light brown sugar and raisins, Reminds me of breakfast.
Oatmeal with yes, raisins and a sprinkle of light brown sugar. As the beer warms,
more cocoa notes develop, buried way in the back hides a little fig to tease the senses.
T - Medium roast malt, a kiss of black paten, slightly sweet, with ever present light cocoa. A delicate touch of hops tilts to a crispness that is quite pleasant.
F - Thin in body, with the light carbonation combine to leave a lot of edges. Velvet it is not, as an oatmeal stout it could use a fuller feel IMO. The beginning is muted, the finish like a quite exit, with no calling card.
O - I fell like there is something missing in this oatmeal stout, with respect to FW who do some great things. There take on this style is a little short.
Cheer all

 1,014 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 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 Gfunk720
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle, out of my Maudite Tulip. Thanks to David for this one.

A- The blackest of black, but a little thin on the edges. A healthy tannish head forms, and retains for a bit. The beer laces quite nicely.

S- Rich and creamy, dark roasted malt and oatmeal. Chocolate, coffee, and vanilla notes as well.

T- It's a decent oatmeal stout, nothing too crazy. Primarily roasted malts. Subtle notes of coffee and chocolate.

M- A little lighter than I like from a beer of this style.

D- It's drinkable, but not terribly memorable.


 536 characters

Photo of denver10
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark with a light brown head that settles on the edge of the glass

S: Rich, full of oatiness and some roasted espresso and chocolate, and some roastiness.

Taste: matches the smell pretty well. Get the oatiness up front which is then followed with the espresso and closes out with some chocolate and hops. And don't forget the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: definitely creamy and some good body to it.

Overall: I know this is jedi mind tricks but not really a fan of this when I think about it as an oatmeal stout, but become quite a fan once I view it as an oatmeal porter. For me this drinks more like how I enjoy my porters.

 629 characters

Photo of Darkmagus82
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – Pours a deep brown, nearly black color, with a one finger of tan colored head. The head fades rather rapidly, leaving a persistent foam head that eventually fades to leave only a light level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is rather light overall, consisting mainly of a roasted malt smell mixed with some coffee aromas. Along with these smells are some lighter notes of a oatmeal smell as well as a little bit of a woody smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt flavor mixed with a sweeter oat flavor with some caramel and oatmeal flavors. The oat and sweet flavors lose some ground as the taste advances, being replace by some coffee like flavors. The coffee grows stronger toward the end of the flavor really taking hold of the overall flavor profile. A little bit of an oaky taste as well as a slight increase in sweet, but a rather big increase in the bitter coffee, come at the very end leaving one with a slightly drier and bitter, but still quite pleasant, coffee flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average side in terms of thickness and creaminess with a carbonation level that is rather average. A slightly thicker body and lower carbonation would have likely been slightly better for the darker and coffee flavors of the brew, but overall for the 5.5 % abv, the feel was OK.

Overall – A rather decent oatmeal stout overall. Rather drinkable with a nice coffee flavor.

 1,521 characters

Photo of mothman
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours 1 finger of light tan head. Leaves some rings. Color is a dark copper brown.

Aroma: Rich espresso, chocolate, caramel, and a lot of malts. Some vanilla. Big roast.

Taste: More espresso, roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. A lot like the nose.

Mouthfeel: Massive roast, medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends pretty dry.

Overall, too roasted for me. Otherwise, it is pretty good. I got no bourbon or oak out of this beer.

 460 characters

Photo of arfenhouse
3.55/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A: Almost fully black and pours a decent tan head. Retention is a bit poor.

S: Aroma is a bit fleeting. A bit of coffee and chocolate mainly. A small amount of prune and grape.

T: Starts off with a bit of mocha sweetness. A bit of bittering roasted grains Aftertaste is of dark fruit and some bitter black coffee.

M: Light on the carbonation and feels medium-full. Has a pretty good creaminess to it. Definitely wet.

O: Decent oatmeal stout. Inexpensive and overall tasty.

 478 characters

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.

 361 characters

Photo of mcintire78
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

a: Pours deep brown to black. A very small amount of head that quickly dissipates and mild to moderate carbonation. Served out of a bottle and into a nonic pint glass.

s: A sweet, malty smell. Slightly of raisins.

t: Strong oatmeal taste up front, and ends up dry.

m: Little carbonation. A bit thin and dry on the end.

d: The low abv means you could drink more than one if you were so inclined. Not sure I'd be having more than one or two...

 447 characters

Photo of rawfish
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark, garnet highlights with a quickly building two finger mocha head. Below average retention with hints of sticky lacing left on the glass.

Obvious cereal grains, husky and raw with burnt malt, spent coffee grounds and hints of chocolate sweetness and dried prunes.

Thin profile with some husky light grains, grape juice comes to mind as well as some burnt toast, ashy with hints of chocolate and coffee. Pleasantly bitter and drying on the finish though.

Not velvety smooth or creamy but definitely easy to drink. Lighter body and muted carbonation paired with nearly no alcohol.

Drinks like an oatmeal stout but ultimately disappointing, lots of burnt, ashy and raw grain flavors get collected on the palate before a nice coffee bitterness and drying take over. FW makes great beers but this is closer to the bottom of their list.

 841 characters

Photo of DeepBrew
3.56/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter.

A: Dark mahogany color with some foam, that disappeared quickly. Little lacing.

S: Some hop smell initially, faded almost immediately.

T: Roasted malts and coffee with very discrete hops, but without the bitterness. Taste improves as it warms and the coffee lingers pleasantly.

M: Medium-low mouthfeel and carbonation.

O: Smooth and drinkable, muted but pleasant flavors.

 415 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: Black bodied beer with thin white cap. Mild lacing noted on the glass.

Smell: Big time Oats and coffee. Toasty and roasty smell.

Taste: Mildly bitter coffee and mildly sweet chocolate notes. The oat is fairly strong and flavorful in this beer.

Mouthfeel: Disappointed here. Average at best. Way thinner than i expected and hoped for. Light end of a medium bodied stout and moderate carbonation.

Overall: better than average oatmeal stout, but I expected alot more from this brew.

 522 characters

Photo of jmasher85
3.57/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Possibly the most oatmeal-smelling oatmeal stout I've ever smelled. Smell is straight-up breakfast. I'm almost tempted to pour some molasses on this so it's just the way Mom used to make it when I was little. A hint of sour bread and yeast too. Taste is similar - lots of oatmeal in this, with a bit of bitter, burnt flavor. No chocolate and very little coffee flavor often associated with stouts. Texture is nice, if a hint thin, both on body and carbonation - I was surprised to see the head dissipate that fast. Overall, a nice brew and good rendition of the style, but certainly not a great one.

 606 characters

Photo of Jagen
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes taken 11/7/12. Nitro-tap at The Map Room in Chicago. 12 oz pour into an orval glass

A - 1 Finger light, white-brown head. Very black beer. Looks just about how a stout should look

S - Subtle oatmeal notes. Very weak smell. I like the smell but it is very weak...smells very sweet and inviting/

T - It tastes really delicious. Milk-chocolate. Late oatmeal taste. I don't taste any Bourbon at all. It tastes really good but isn't bold enough for the style.

M - Nitro-goodness. Kind of light. Smooth and silky. Surprisingly light for the style...maybe light due to the nitrotap? Enjoyed the feel, though.

O - A really tasty beer. I wonder if this was mid-advertised and is actually the 5% non-bourbon aged version? I would have liked this to be much more bold and the flavors to be much more prominent. I enjoyed it but it tasted like a watered-down version of what I expected. It was advertised as 'Velvet Merlin', 8.7%, bourbon aged...I think it was just the normal 5%-er that they bottle

 1,013 characters

Photo of champ103
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours an ink black color. A one finger tan head forms and recedes to nothing after a minute. Light lace is left behind.
S: Big roasted malts up front. Coffee and chocolate apparent. Nice typical stout aromas. The coffee becomes a bit acrid and bitter as this warms.
T: Like the nose, big roasted, coffee, and chocolate flavors. Again the coffee becomes too bitter and acrid after a while.
M/D: A medium to full body. Moderate carbonation. Fairly viscous as well. Not the ultra smooth body I want for an Oatmeal Stout though. Not hard to drink. I have gone through a six pack without a problem over the last week.

A decent stout. Nothing special. The biggest downfall in the flavor department is the bitter and acrid finish. Not one of my favorite stouts and certainly not one of FW's better year rounds.

 811 characters

Photo of Phelps
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Hand-pumped from the cask at Papago during a recent Firestone Walker promo. Served in an imperial pint.

A: pours the pervasive brown of dark chocolate with faint highlights of sunset orange visible at the edges. A foamy two-finger head the consistency of soap bubbles and the color of ground ginger sits atop, receding slowly but stopping the departure at about the one-finger mark. No lacing.

S: very chocolatey. Lots of cocoa powder and toasted crackers. Some coffee emerges as it warms. It's one-dimensional, but decent.

T: strangely, this seems way more coffee-forward than from the bottle. Flavors of cocoa powder and slightly acidic dark chocolate are also present.

M: medium-bodied with a lovely smoothness. Nearly flat, but that's to be expected. Not as full as from the bottle.

D: the brew goes down easily enough, but there's just none of the complexity or fullness I get from the bottle. Cask isn't a format that does Velvet Merkin any favors.

 964 characters

Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 3,061 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.