Velvet Merkin
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
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Stout - Oatmeal
Ranked #10
Ranked #839
4.3 | pDev: 8.84%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
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 backblast
backblast from Alaska

4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
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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Sigmund from Norway

4.47/5  rDev +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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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.14/5  rDev -3.7%
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
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RJLarse from Washington

4.7/5  rDev +9.3%
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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MikeWard from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -9.3%
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
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Guaro from Italy

3.7/5  rDev -14%
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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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev -0.9%
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
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Thankin_Hank from Texas

4.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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
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EnderFett11 from Virginia

3.98/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured moderately hard from a bottle into a snifter glass, forming a couple fingers of tan head that slowly faded to heavy lacing. Smells pleasantly of bourbon, but not too strong. Taste isn't quite what I expected, oatmeal flavor is faintly in the background, but primarily a gentle bourbon flavor. Not really the best bourbon flavored stout though. Light to medium bodied with light carbonation. A tiny bit boozy, especially as it warms, but its only 8.5% for the 2017. Not my favorite, and not worth the cost.

Mar 25, 2020
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.27/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a very dark brown with a nice tan head. Nice amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark chocolate, vanilla, caramel and bourbon.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, caramel, vanilla and light bourbon.

M - Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft dry finish.

O - Solid lower ABV BBA stout.

Mar 18, 2020
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Lucular from Maryland

3.83/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

5 oz pour on tap. Pours dark brown, not quite opaque. Aroma, taste, and mouthfeel all offer less than I had hoped for - not as much dark malts/chocolate/vanilla/viscosity as I was looking for. I've wanted to try this beer for several years and while it's a decent beer it is ultimately pretty disappointing.

Feb 18, 2020
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dbrauneis from North Carolina

4.33/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours an opaque yet still clear jet black in color with moderate amounts of fine active visible carbonation rising along the edges of the glass and faint dark chestnut brown + dark cola brown colored highlights. The beer has a two finger tall dense foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a couple of medium sized patches of medium thick film surrounded by a large patch of very thin film covering a majority of the remainder of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of dark + roasted malts with a moderate amount of caramel + oat malts and a light amount of caramel sweetness. Light aromas of chocolate malts and a coffee-like roastiness. Just shy of moderate aromas of vanilla + caramel + bourbon + toasted oak.

T: Upfront there are slightly stronger than moderate flavors of dark + roasted malts, moderate flavors of caramel + oat malts, and light flavors of coffee malts with a light amount of caramel sweetness. That is followed by light to moderate flavors of coffee. Moderate flavors of vanilla + caramel + bourbon along with light flavors of toasted oak. Light amounts of roasty bitterness in the finish which lingers.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Easy to drink with well hidden alcohol and a pleasantly smooth mouthfeel. Enjoyable and the barrel aging changes the oatmeal stout in a pleasantly successful way - adding in the caramel + vanilla.

Jan 08, 2020
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MrOH from Maryland

4.13/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2018 vintage
Black, tan head, no retention, beautiful lace
Raisins, roast, bourbon, vanilla in the nose
Flavor pretty much follows aroma, roast a bit subdued
Full, creamy, appropriately carbonated
Really good, but I can't help but think that you overpay for this beer

Dec 28, 2019
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Nass from Florida

4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The pour is motor oil black with a khaki colored head. The taste is a little bland compared to the parabola RIS. In addition to, i'm tasting some velvety creaminess, burnt sugar, vanilla, fire roasted marshmallow, caramel, char, a little dark chocolate, mild raisin & prune notes some bourbon especially as it warms up, & some oats, . In addition to, this beer leaves a nice lacing in the snifter glass. I agree with the body being in the medium range but this is one smooth oatmeal stout that gets better as it gets closer to room temperature. If you've not had this beer already & your a stout fan then you ought to go out & get you some. Cheers! A-

Dec 25, 2019
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DaveMaciolek21 from New Jersey

3.52/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

At first sip, this smooth, dark brown oatmeal stout attacked the palate with chocolate, vanilla, and expresso flavors--very exciting. The middle sips were less distinctive, the bourbon barrel aging providing the most impact. After that, this stout becomes very mild--pleasant, very drinkable with mellow chocolate flavors, but frankly, a little bland after the intriguing start.

Dec 01, 2019
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 8/14/16; drank 5/23/17 @ the Yarchives.

Brown/black appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice khaki head; minimal lace.

Oak, cream, mild milk chocolate & faint citrus notes in the nose.

Medium thick, creamy mouthfeel.

Oak, cream & mild milk chocolate flavors up front; mild citrus bite on the finish. Whiskey heat emerged as this warmed.

This is never going to be my favorite beer, or even a beer I look forward to...but it's drinkable & far from offensive. I just think I'm done buying it.

Nov 22, 2019
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BlurryVisi0n from New York

4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass from a 2014 vintage bottle.

Appearance: Semi-thick, semi-thin dark brown body coming off with a tan head which initially rises roughly half a finger's length off the body.

Smell: light whiskey flavor on the nostrils with a dose warm caramel.

Taste: Light malty sweet molasses with hint of nuts and whiskey flavor.

Mouth: Thin body, but heavy full after flavor. Medium to heavy carbonation and lightly dry finish.

Overall: good brew. Different than what I was expecting. Always in a glass. Salud!

Aug 05, 2019
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Thomas_Wikman from Texas

4.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

It is a delicious stout and not as heavy as some of the "big stouts" I've had lately.

Look: black with a two inch mocca colored head

Aroma: roasted oats, chocolate, coffee, bourbon

Taste: The flavor is roasted oats/malts, chocolate, coffee, and significant bourbon.

Body/Overall: silky/velvety, medium body, a bit thinner than expected

Jun 21, 2019
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Oh_Dark_Star from Washington

3.69/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The Merkin May be at the lower end of the Firestone Walker barrel aging program for me, but just when I figure on not buying them again I try one, and relative to my recent dark brews, I rather enjoy it. It’s easy drinking and smooth like chocolate milk without the higher ABV of say CBS. Give it a try!

Jun 06, 2019
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.23/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2017 vintage. Poured into a tulip glass

Pour: deep brown. 1 finger head quickly morphs into a thick ring, some clouds and lots of bubble lacing.

Nose: toffee, some coffee, maybe a hint of dark fruit.

Taste: toffee, caramel, dark chocolate, biscuity malt, oats and slight oak.

Mouthfeel: fairly high carbonation, a little thinner than the look but exceptionally smooth. Lingers on the tongue. Really nice.

Overall: this is really good. Very drinkable, super smooth with good amount of complexity. Would absolutely buy again, if I get the chance!

May 26, 2019
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: It pours very dark brown with a tan head. Head retention is moderately low.

Smell: There are roasted aromas with some light bourbon and oatmeal.

Flavor: The bourbon is more prominent with roast and coffee in the flavor. There is also a certain cream like flavor that is a bit sugary. There are moderate vanilla flavors in support with some dark fruits that are low.

Feel: It has a medium full body and a creamy texture. The carbonation is moderately high.

Overall: an excellent oatmeal stout with plenty of flavors working together and good balance.

Apr 22, 2019
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LifesAnesthesia from Virginia

4.57/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2018 bottle:
L - Deep opaque black with mahogany highlights around the edges with a medium tan head that dissipates somewhat quickly, but leaves behind a nice cap with a decent amount of lacing.
S - Rich chocolate, oats, and vanilla from the sweet bourbon
T - Rich chocolate/fudge and oats throughout with some roasted oats and espresso as well along with sweet, rich bourbon, vanilla, and oak.
F - Medium to full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation - smooth, silky
O - A really solid oatmeal stout that builds, if ever so slightly, on the original formula by adding the sweet bourbon, vanilla, and oak flavors.

Apr 14, 2019
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Claude-Irishman from New Jersey

4.56/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What we have here is a 2018 Velvet Merkin- Looks jet black with a quickly receding mocha colored head,leaves lacing on Spieglau stout glass-Smell is intense cocoa nibs, vanilla,coffee,wet mud,coconut - Taste is quite delicious,-chocolate,toffee,vanilla swirl in your mouth like a creamy iced coffee. I can taste barrel aging (heavens hill),Feels right for this beer. It is sort of strange that the viscosity is so light bodied for a stout, I guess that falls in line with the disappointingly low ABV. This beer with barrel aging and the expertise behind it could have been a 12% at least . It is not an inexpensive beer, And costs more than a 4 pack of KBS if they sold it in a 4pack,( Only boxed singles) It is still delicious. Reminds me more of Porter because of the thin body and the ABV-

Apr 05, 2019
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, 2018 edition.
Dark brown colored body, with garnet and medium brown back lit highlights. One finger of light tan head with the first pour, which settles back to a bubbly cap. Each sip leaves behind a fair pattern of medium spots of lacing.
Aroma is rich with chocolate and vanilla, caramel, oats, and a whiff of bourbon barrel.
Taste is sweet chocolate and caramel, with some flavor of vanilla. The bourbon barrel is present but not strong, and this adds to the woody, oak, and vanilla tones. Chocolate oats linger into the after taste.
Mouth feel is medium, and the texture is smooth. Good carbonation.
This is a sweet treat of an oatmeal stout, and one that expresses several complementary flavors.

Mar 16, 2019
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garymuchow from Minnesota

4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I've been patiently waiting for the right event. A significant snowstorm (another one this Feb) is hitting hard tonight, so tonight's the night.
Sam Adams glass. Oooo that aroma is rich and the bourbon is right there. Sweet and chocolate with hints of wood and vanilla, A really creamy head and dense as heck. Boy that is a dark body with only some hints of color on the edges.
Wow, there is a lot going on there. I'm gonna' let this warm up some more and then get back to it. I like the rich and creamy feel though (yet holds onto some thinness that is consistent for the size).
Bourbon is probably too strong as is the vanilla. I'd like stronger oatmeal stout presence. However, this is enjoyable. Feel is top notch. There is kind of a bready/earthy quality which adds complexity.

Feb 24, 2019
Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 2698 ratings