Velvet Merkin
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
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Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Stout - Oatmeal
Ranked #14
Ranked #1,505
4.28 | pDev: 8.88%
Mar 23, 2022
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 DoctorZombies
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
by DoctorZombies from Florida

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
Photo of Roy_Hobbs
3.94/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4
by Roy_Hobbs from Connecticut

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
4.43 by Capn_Colbeer from Texas on Feb 27, 2022
Photo of 40ontarget
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by 40ontarget from Colorado

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
4.04 by Humanusfermentum from Virginia on Feb 06, 2022
Photo of lketchersid
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by lketchersid from Texas

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
Photo of DarkLordScott
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by DarkLordScott from Wisconsin

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
Photo of stevoj
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by stevoj from Idaho

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
4.25 by bigpoppa67 from Wisconsin on Dec 19, 2021
4.25 by cbcrunch from Wyoming on Dec 12, 2021
4.04 by TMoney2591 from Illinois on Dec 07, 2021
Photo of DefenCorps
4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by DefenCorps from Oregon

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
4.09 by ppavlick from New Jersey on Aug 21, 2021
Photo of Casey_L
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by Casey_L from Texas

Year 2016

Aug 02, 2021
Photo of mynie
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
by mynie from Maryland

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
Photo of 5toutman75
4.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by 5toutman75 from Illinois

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
Photo of HopBelT
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by HopBelT from Belgium

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
4.16 by Duncian from Pennsylvania on Mar 05, 2021
4.33 by o29 from Texas on Mar 05, 2021
4.17 by Abstractspirit from Rhode Island on Feb 22, 2021
4.28 by KAP1356 from Pennsylvania on Feb 20, 2021
Photo of backblast
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
by backblast from Alaska

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
Photo of Sigmund
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by Sigmund from Norway

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
Photo of vette2006c5r
4.14/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by vette2006c5r from Minnesota

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
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by RJLarse from Washington

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
Photo of MikeWard
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by MikeWard from Pennsylvania

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
3.91 by SG_H44 from Korea (South) on Jan 02, 2021
3.9 by 0x4a64 from Minnesota on Dec 05, 2020
Photo of Guaro
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by Guaro from Italy

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
Photo of Beginner2
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by Beginner2 from Illinois

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
4.29 by Vysta from Missouri on Nov 08, 2020
4.25 by vidisad from California on Oct 26, 2020
4.35 by dt_gbpackersfan from Missouri on Oct 25, 2020
4 by mmilyko from Nevada on Oct 13, 2020
4.36 by Burt from Rhode Island on Oct 01, 2020
Photo of Thankin_Hank
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
by Thankin_Hank from Texas

The Merkin, poured into a Willie Becker glass, is a rich and roasty looking stout, very dark, a thin head with a little carbonation. The aroma is toasty sweet molasses and/or brown sugar. Amazingly lighter than it smells, it is an excellent oatmeal stout and is not overpowered by the sweet molasses, brown sugar aroma suggests. Nor the bourbon or its barrel. Smooth and creamy Merkin goes down with pleasure. Delicious. Overall an outstanding oatmeal stout. Do this one again.
Vintage 2018. "BEER BEFORE GLORY"

Sep 13, 2020
4.59 by jmbeerdude91 from Arizona on Aug 16, 2020
4.49 by DOCRW from Washington on Jun 29, 2020
4.1 by kkarimi from Texas on Jun 18, 2020
4.42 by ricknelson from Vermont on Jun 01, 2020
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 2717 ratings