Velvet Merkin
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
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Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Oatmeal Stout
Ranked #17
Ranked #1,519
4.28 | pDev: 8.88%
May 05, 2023
Nov 20, 2008
Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
Notes: Our decadent Oatmeal Stout lovingly aged in Bourbon barrels. Beautiful chocolate, espresso and vanilla-bourbon aromas hold your nose hostage. Rich dark chocolate truffle, bourbon and espresso create a dangerously smooth and incredibly drinkable barrel aged Oatmeal Stout. Hoarding tendencies may occur.
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Photo of ChrisCage
Reviewed by ChrisCage from Canada (AB)

4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Picked this up from the fridge at Aces and Ales Tanaya Las Vegas! Great Selection of vintage btw!

A- Pours a very dark brown, almost black color, and shows off not a head, but rather a decent looking caramel colored ring of foam around the inside of the tulip that I am using. I can see a select few columns of carbonation rising to the top of the brew and the lacing starts out well, but then I watch it fizzle off so not sure what to think about that. Overall I find this to be an above average stout!

S- Oh right away I smell boozy charred bourbon barrel, of which this was aged in! Alongside whisky, rum, wood char and smooth alcohol, I find there to be aromas of rich dark chocolate, black French Press coffee, dry flaked oat, vanilla bean, blackstrap molasses and nuances of spicy root beer/cola on the finish. Muted hop presence as well.....overall it has a medley of aromas, and seems fairly smooth on the nostrils.

T- The flavors follow the nose fairly closely! Beautiful cola/root beer sweetness (sarsaparilla, licorice, cinnamon, slight citrus), dark chocolate, cocoa, creamy unsweetened coffee, fresh vanilla bean, and oh did I mention the bourbon barrel char? There is an oat flake dryness about it, but the aging has smoothed this out. I also detect some dried dark fruits such as prune/fig/raisin and the pits that would accompany these fruits too to add some bitterness/dryness. The finish has some astringent character and the woodiness lingers onto the next taste

M/O- Well it is pretty velvety I have to say, although the carbonation still has a bit of zing to it. The mouthfeel is medium fullness, and overall it is quite drinkable! I enjoyed this over the course of 90 minutes and it didn't fact I would pay the $35 USD again to just pour and have this again! A nice Oatmeal Stout and I'm willing to bet it gets better even over the next couple of years.
May 05, 2023
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Reviewed by Herbabee from Pennsylvania

4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
i'm here with an cellared 2018 version (and with a '17 remaining - so as to equalize my FW vintage cask o' 24 preciously-boxed vessels) and am so noting...

Uneventfully unpried into 6 fl oz snifter, the pour issues a reliably mostly-opaque body with most resilient tan-color pinky-finger capper, inevitably reducing to a misty film on surface flanked by gauntlet of micro-bubbly tan ring. I'm always looking for that "fiddle-faddle" nuance in the nose and taste, and methinks it's still got it. Nice, grainy, woodsy, nuanced bittersweet from palate to swallow, but not at all overbearingly. Always enjoyed this within their repertoire, and i'd be overjoyed if they offered a new batch of the ol' recipe.
Mar 01, 2023
Rated: 3.88 by MDDMD from Pennsylvania

Nov 26, 2022
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Rated by ReDave from California

4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2015 Vintage!
FOUND, back of the 3rd fridge
Pretty darn good!
This has aged well
Nov 10, 2022
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Reviewed by atigerlife from Hawaii

4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
2017 Vintage.

Pours black with a small brown head that dissipates quickly leaving a brown collar.

Aroma of Molasses, dark chocolate, coffee, bourbon and dark fruit.

Taste is coffee up front with malt, dark chocolate, prunes, vanilla & molasses.

Mouthfeel is medium to heavy and coats the tongue.

Overall, very nice. Well worth a try.
Sep 10, 2022
Rated: 4.31 by Taenim from New Jersey

Aug 25, 2022
Rated: 3.35 by Resistance88 from California

Aug 19, 2022
Rated: 4.68 by Buannaich from Colorado

Jul 09, 2022
Rated: 4.35 by Bruno74200 from France

May 25, 2022
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Reviewed by DoctorZombies from Florida

4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
Vintage 2016, bomber. Poured at 55°. Dark brown/ruby with excellent clarity; two fingers of creamy khaki head with a few rocks; ok to good cap retention; solid plus ring; sudsy lace; medium legs on swirl. Nose is decidedly bourbon with nuanced chocolate right behind. Taste follows nose; oaky vanilla middle; no coffee or much of anything else; bourbon balls finish. Medium minus body, light carbonation; light silky feel; no warmth from 8.5%; dry barrel finish. Overall, tastes good after 6 years; no perceived oxidation; but, drinks light/thin more like a porter than an imperial oatmeal stout; tasty but not particularly complex.
Mar 23, 2022
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Reviewed by Roy_Hobbs from Connecticut

3.94/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
2017 Vintage. Cola colored on the pour with a thin beige head. Decent legs. Aroma is rich, with some nice vanilla notes still present. Taste is chocolate and some vanilla. Feel is surprisingly thin. Good, but not great beer. Distinctly possible the age didn't help.
Mar 09, 2022
Rated: 4.43 by Capn_Colbeer from Texas

Feb 27, 2022
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Reviewed by 40ontarget from Colorado

4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Dark cola colored with a 1/4 inch tan head. There are fresh biscuits, mocha ice cream, pecan Sandies, vanilla, and bread pudding with bourbon sauce on the nose. The taste is pecan pie, dark corn syrup, bittersweet chocolate, cafe au lait, cherry cola, and bourbon lingering constantly in the background. Vanilla, oak, and a bare hint of char are on the finish. The nose here is magnificent. It is a great opening like the introduction to the Scarlet Letter. Everything about the nose makes the anticipation of drinking almost unbearable. The actual drinking of this beer slows the grandiose of the nose to a slow afternoon on a porch watching the sunlight filter through the trees. Very calming and satisfying, a bit hot but relaxing nonetheless. Sweet but not cloying. Rich but not heavy. This is as good as an oatmeal stout gets. ( Found old notes on this one)
Feb 22, 2022
Rated: 4.04 by Humanusfermentum from Virginia

Feb 06, 2022
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Reviewed by lketchersid from Texas

4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Not as much bourbon as I remember from previous years (this was a 2016 that I've kept around) - certainly not as much as a Parabola. But a great cold weather evening brew.
Feb 06, 2022
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Reviewed by DarkLordScott from Wisconsin

4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
2016 Vintage, sampled 2/5/22.

Pours chocolate brown with a modest head. Aroma is oatmeal flakes, a hint of bourbon and some chocolate notes. Taste is bourbon with cooked oatmeal, some chocolate and faint vanilla. Body is surprisingly light, clean with the bourbon ever present, but not overly so.
Feb 05, 2022
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Reviewed by stevoj from Idaho

4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Bottle pour at PreFunk Nampa. Oily black pour, pretty much flat. Mild boozy aroma, big roast grains nose. Flavor really wraps it all up, silky smooth, gentle warmth, hints of chocolate and cocoa, coffee. Really nice 2015 vintage. 2017 vintage also
Jan 12, 2022
Rated: 4.25 by bigpoppa67 from Wisconsin

Dec 19, 2021
Rated: 4.25 by cbcrunch from Wyoming

Dec 12, 2021
Rated: 4.04 by TMoney2591 from Illinois

Dec 07, 2021
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Reviewed by DefenCorps from Oregon

4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2019 vintage. 8.5%

Black with a brown head with good retention and lacing this looks solid. The nose is a nice, sweet milk stout, creamy and softly lactose rich, a nice, rich oatmeal character , a mild roast and a mild bourbon character. There's some vanilla and a little heat. The palate opens sweet with vanilla, oatmeal and lactose. Pleasant bourbon warmth appears on the back end of the swallow. Creamy and soft oatmeal flavor, nice lactose richness. Mild bourbon warmth on the finish. Medium light in body, softly carbonated and with a finish that has lactose, oatmeal and biscuit. Fruity. The lower ABV and lighter mouthfeel are refreshing in this day of thick beers. Yum.
Nov 28, 2021
Rated: 4.09 by ppavlick from New Jersey

Aug 21, 2021
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Rated by Casey_L from Texas

4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Year 2016
Aug 02, 2021
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Reviewed by mynie from Maryland

4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Somehow never reviewed this?

I grabbed a bottle at a decent-by-2020's-standards price off a shelf a month or two ago. It's 2018 vintage.

Pour is lively considering the somewhat elevated ABV: near opaque black with gorgeous effervesce and a sturdy, chocolate brown head.

Aroma is quite nice. Barrel aging is pronounced but not overwhelming; it accentuates the base stout, rather than dominating it. Oaky vanilla is, of course, prominent, but balanced against milk chocolate and pleasantly rough grainbill of charred barley and oats.

Flavor is very much the same as aroma: nice balance, firm throughout, no one node overwhelming the others. Almost shockingly drinkable, for a BA stout that's nearly 8% ABV. Sweet chocolate and vanilla up front, some mild whiskey and burned barley in the middle, finishing with some bittersour tang of English yeast mixed with dark coffee.
Jul 21, 2021
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Reviewed by 5toutman75 from Illinois

4.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
2017 release year consumed on 6/20/21

The smell opens up with wonderful vanilla and barrel notes of a well made BA stout. I would expect more barrel notes based on the smell, but then seeing that it comes in at only 8.5%, I’m more impressed. This is almost sessionable! I’m expecting an abv like Parabola and get a “regular” stout. It’s a bit thin but is that a function of the abv? I am wondering if I should have just had this fresh given the abv, but it’s still a wonderful brew. It’s more sweet vanilla notes than anything super complex. This is the prefect beginner BA stout! The oatmeal stout probably adds some smoothness to the mouthfeel. I just wish it were a bit thicker. So, for the style of beer and ABV, it’s world class. Don’t think it’s fair to compare to other 14-15% abv stouts really. Worth buying again and trying fresh.
Jun 21, 2021
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Rated by HopBelT from Belgium

4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Rating for 2017 vintage (Oatmeal Stout).
Rating for 2019 vintage (Milk Stout) : 4.5 - 4.25 - 4.25 - 4.5 - 4.25.
Apr 25, 2021
Rated: 4.16 by Duncian from Pennsylvania

Mar 05, 2021
Rated: 4.33 by o29 from Texas

Mar 05, 2021
Rated: 4.17 by Abstractspirit from Rhode Island

Feb 22, 2021
Rated: 4.28 by KAP1356 from Pennsylvania

Feb 20, 2021
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Reviewed by backblast from Alaska

4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
2015 bottle. Tasted of fig-licorice up front, succulent dark chocolate, nice boozy flavor, light coffee note and is smooth. Had a light/medium mouthfeel was the only deduction for this one. Would liked it to have a heavier mouthfeel, just seemed too light. Still a top-notch offering!
Feb 07, 2021
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Reviewed by Sigmund from Norway

4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
355 ml bottle in cardboard box, vintage 2017, from Vinmonopolet Kvadrat. ABV is 8.5%. Black colour, large tan head. Aroma of roast malts, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and oak. Smooth flavour with the same elements, not too sweet, moderate hops. A very enjoyable beer.
Jan 23, 2021
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Reviewed by vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.14/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Velvet Merkin pours black, with a small, tan head. Aroma is dry, yeasty with notes of bread. Flavor is sweet, some lactose notes, hints of nuts, dry finish. Good body and feel. Overall, full flavor, drier, with some nut flavors.
Jan 22, 2021
Photo of RJLarse
Reviewed by RJLarse from Washington

4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
Mine is the 2017 edition. Pours an opaque black color with a modest tan head. The aroma is pungent. Smells of booze and dark fruits, dates and plums. The taste is a sweet charcoal and chocolate flavor. Mouthfeel is thin for the style with a bit of an alcohol burn on the finish. Overall I'd say it's world class. Certainly not session-able, but a good imperial stout.
Jan 17, 2021
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Reviewed by MikeWard from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
650ml bottle into a goblet. 2016 vintage, #004.

Black body with tawny highlight. No head, no lacing.

Can smell the barrel aging, along with a little vanilla.

On tasting, smooth, a little boozy, touch of vanilla.

Mouth below medium, finish bourbon.

Overall, although by no means an unpleasant beer, I found myself asking why BBA an oatmeal stout?
Jan 02, 2021
Rated: 3.91 by SG_H44 from Korea (South)

Jan 02, 2021
Rated: 3.9 by 0x4a64 from Minnesota

Dec 05, 2020
Photo of Guaro
Reviewed by Guaro from Italy

3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Ebony body and compact beige head with good grip. Nose: bourbon, vanilla, wood, molasses, dark fruit, chocolate, coffee. The olfactory sensations are confirmed on the palate, caramel, milk chocolate, coffee, plum and cherry. Final with a generous trail of bourbon with hints of wood and vanilla. Medium-low body and fine and pungent carbonation. Feeling a bit waterly and not as velvety as the name would indicate.
Nov 21, 2020
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Reviewed by Beginner2 from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Now having reviewed 7 of the 8 most rated ales on BA from FW, I should take stock. Of the three dozen or so significant brewers in the second generation of crafters, FW probably excels the most in the barrel and elevated ABV styles inspired by the British tradition (and some good Belgians, too.)

That said, Velvet Merkin adds to FW's reputation. Merkin's Looks are only slightly above average. But its Smells, Tastes and Feel are an integrated lot; all balanced, all contributing in a controlled way to a great, soft stout. The chocolate, tobacco, bourbon, vanilla, coffee and whatever else is in this bottle all plays nice together.

My copy was a 2018 bottling and I'd have to say it was hitting its peak for subtle melding.
Nov 18, 2020
Rated: 4.29 by Vysta from Missouri

Nov 08, 2020
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 2726 ratings