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Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
351 Reviews
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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
firestonewalker.com

Style: Oatmeal Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by t0rin0 on 11-20-2008

BEER STATS
Reviews:
351
Ratings:
2,355
Avg:
4.24
pDev:
24.29%
 
 
Wants:
403
Gots:
1,053
For Trade:
141
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 351 | Ratings: 2,355
Photo of 81tillinfinity
4.76/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Oh my goodness I could session this, but then I would be out of money. Rich, creamy, dark, and touch of sweetness spiked with a bit of bourbon like my morning coffee. Drink now or save just drink. No point trying to analyze this it's a world class beer you don't have to wait in line for.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.76/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage. Pours black as pitch with a huge, tan head that slowly dissipated into a nice cap. Dark chocolate and coffee on the nose with prominent vanilla and bourbon notes. Lots of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and bourbon on the tongue. Smooth, velvety mouth feel, medium bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, an extremely well crafted and balanced beer. In my opinion, Firestone Walker has the finest barrel aging program out there.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - dark brown black color with a nice mocha head that dissipates pretty quick and therefore doesn't leave much lacing
S - big mocha, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, roasted malts, chocolate.
T - same as smell, bourbon is nice but not overpowering, mocha caramel, vanilla roasted malts
M - thicker than you'd expect. Alc covered. Aftertaste is mocha and roasty malts.
O - great beer.

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Photo of crob3888
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark brown, nearly totally black and opaque. Some light shines through around the edges. A tan head forms, but eventually settles and disappears entirely.

S: Notice the smell during the pour. Vanilla bourbon notes dominated the sweet aroma, with dark chocolate as well. A good nose.

T: This is where the beer shines, as it should. The vanilla bourbon blends with rich dark chocolate truffle, and a hint of velvety espresso rounds it out. This is a brilliant bourbon aged beer.

F: Velvety smooth, as the name implies. Medium-full body, slightly chewy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin is one of my all-time favorite oatmeal stouts and Velvet Merkin is now an all-time favorite of the BBA variety. Firestone, as usual, knocks it out of the park.

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Photo of bcerv-ca
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fluffy dark khaki head. Dark mahogany, cola body.

Bourbon barrel smell at the forefront. Powdery dark chocolate and mildly sweet dark fruit follows.

Light, almost watery, mouthfeel. Some might be turned off by such a light stout, but I think it works perfectly with this beer.

Fudge-chocolate, oaky taste. Slight maple or maybe molasses sweetness lingers. Hardly notice the alcohol. Very easy drinking stout (especially for being barrel-aged).

If you like stouts or barrel-aged beers, you need to try this. It's amazing.

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Photo of MattLev
4.74/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours dark, almost black with a small non frothy head
S: Bourbon and Chocolate, with hints of hazelnut and coffee
T: Wonderful, very light for a barrel aged beer, though obviously not an imperial. Superbly balanced.
F: Smooth and rich, it goes down smooth.
O: A wonderful intro to a bourbon barrel aged stout that non cask lovers can also enjoy. Scary how easy it goes down.

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Photo of cmalitsky
4.73/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Smooth slightly lighter black stout with just enough vanilla added to the chocolate flavor with some coffee after taste. Enjoyable bourbon flavors compliment as well but the vanilla makes this very intriguing. One of the better bombers to try once a year.

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Photo of ChrisP802
4.73/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pour - dark molasses, small dark beige head
Smell - chocolate, espresso, bourbon come right out
Taste - definitely taste the chocolate and espresso, bourbon was subtle but there
Overall - amazing brew, too bad it's so hard to find in Vermont

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Photo of bigdaddymick
4.73/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I am not a fan of stouts but this was the only FW beer available and I knew I had to try it at least once. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and I really enjoyed it. No fancy cups here, drank it straight from the bottle like a 40 oz and finished the thing in less than 5 minutes. Very smooth malty undertones with big barrel characteristics. Cost $19.95 and was worth it IMO. Not the strongest beer and as a result some of the flavors can be more pronounced

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Photo of W_Des
4.72/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013. Chocolatey goodness. This one ages very well. There was litttle heat from the bourbon but the flavor accented the beer wonderfully. The vanilla comes out as it warms. The coffee was almost non existent to me. A wonderful stout,

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Photo of El_Guapo
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, this beer beat the Deschutes Sucaba, Parobola, and Anniversary Beers that I have had (2012 and 2013). Smooth and potent. The bourbon aging is so smooth that it sneaks up on you. The appearance is without reproach. Creamy head and dark body. If you can find it, buy all that you can. I got 3 bottles and am debating between aging the remaining two or drinking them now because the first was so good. I lucked out and found it at my local Whole Foods after visiting numerous Bevmos and other local beer stores in my area. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Cheers!

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Photo of BastardKing24
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I love this beer, its so easy to drink yet so flavorful. Most barrel aged beers are on the heavy side, but not this one. Its almost perfect in every way. Smells like light bourbon, toffee, vanilla. Easy to see some light through, its not all the way black. Taste is awsome, you get the oatmeal stout part blended nicely with rich notes of barrel, and its hard to resist. Pick this up!

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Photo of vladdswrath
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep dark chocolate, with a thin beige head. Smell is mostly bourbon and vanilla with something that strikes me as coconut. Whatever it is, it smells fantastic. Taste is sweet cream, chocolate, coffee, bourbon and vanilla. It tastes like a dessert, but it's not heavy. I could sip on this all night. Mouthfeel is heavenly, smooth and easy going. I think I'm in love...

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Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very delicious! A bit sweet for me though. Love all the carbonation.
......................................................................................................................................................

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Photo of BierJager89
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at the brewery (at the place across the street from the restaurant) in Paso Robles. Thank God I got accepted into Cal Poly, and had an excuse to get my family to stop nearby so I could get a look at the campus (and the amazing brewery only 20 minutes or so away) on our way to Anaheim for vacation.

A: Black with no head. I gave this a 5 because it's worthy of a better score than what it would otherwise get.

S: Chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla, oak, nice bourbon character. Smells delicious.

T: Tastes delicious! Chocolate, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla and oak bourbon character, but it's a bit weak on the bourbon. Well blended though. A bit oaky.

M: Full bodied, and smooth, though maybe not quite as smooth as Velvet Merlin.

O: I wish they would distribute this amazing beer! If you get a chance to go to the brewery, do so. It's my personal favorite brewery, and I feel blessed to live within a 4 hour drive of it. If you do go to the brewery, taste this! It wasn't available in the taproom restaurant when I went, but it was available across the street in the gift shop.

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Photo of mverity
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On tap at FIrestone Walker in Paso Robles! Great taproom! Nice tan head with fair lacing. Color is opaque black. Aroma is heavily of vanilla and bourbon. Maple and brown sugar is also present. Taste is a bit different from the aroma. Sweet bourbon and earthy coffee is what I get at the front, toasty oats and charred oak on the tail end. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light for an aged stout. Creamy, and a great finish. Wonderful beer!

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Photo of rjp217
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 edition poured from the bottle into two HF tulip glasses....

A - Dark, dark brown, half finger head that dissipates quickly. Not much lace left

S - Bourbon, molasses, malt, oatmeal, chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla

T - Exactly the same as the nose, in that order. The bourbon hits you upfront and then a mix of awesome favors come together with a vanilla oatmeal finish. It's like my palate is able to pass through the nose flavors and detect each one along the way, amazing! Tastes a little thin but fits the 8.5%

M - Smooth, velvet smooth, rolls off the tongue. Almost perfect

O - Outstanding! Reminds me of BCBS but in a lighter form. The ABV is perfect. I love the feel. Impressed with all the flavor that got packed into it. If this was a readily available beer I'd be broke. So glad I got the opportunity. Almost a standard bearer for me. Another barrel aged beast from FW. Bravo!

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Photo of Mersh
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%

This BBA oatmeal stout lives up to the hype and more. Hints of vanilla, bourbon and roasted malt flow throughout the nose and taste. An exquisite pleasure to drink. Not overly boozy at all. Creamy and smooth. Love the mouthfeel on this. Wish I had a case. Firestone Walker are the masters of stouts and barrels. I highly recommend searching this out. I was lucky enough to get 2 on trade from the bottle release. It develops even more as it warms up. Cheers to an almost perfect oatmeal stout.

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Photo of lochraneg
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

L: dark molasses with creme head that dissipates quickly
S: chocolate, bourbon, raisins
F: thick body that is mellow but hangs around on the palate
T: malt, chocolate, bourbon, vanilla
O: had the '14 and let it sit for about 4 months-- great

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. I bought the very first bottle from my local beer store, just minutes after they unloaded it off the truck. The blurb on the back of the box made my mouth water with anticipation. "Aged for a full year in seasoned bourbon barrels". Yeah, needless to say, I am exponentially stoked to have this bottle.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter glass.

A - Pours a solid opaque black with maybe just the faintest hint of brown-red highlights. Two fluffy creamy fingers of tan mocha head. Beautiful lacing.

S - Ahh yes, this thing smells like heaven. Chocolate, oatmeal, some raisins, figs, dates, smooth creamy vanilla, and earthy oak bourbon barrels.

T - Oh my. Truly lovely. Decadent. Delicious. Smooth "velvety" chocolate, coffee bean roast, oatmeal, creamy vanilla, & some warming bourbon presence. This beer is truly amazing.

M - This is one dangerously smooth, creamy, and "velvety" beer, that's for sure. Perfect low lying carbonation, and an almost nonexistent alcohol presence. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and stickiness on the palate, and a hint of booze warmth.

Overall, this is pretty much everything I could ask for in a bourbon barrel aged stout. I don't see how it could get much more amazing than this. Firestone Walker has truly wowed me with this one; it will be hard for them to top this. Highly recommended; trample innocent women and children to get this if you have to.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin ---4.5/5

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Photo of derftron
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had on Tap at APEX in Portland - 2 Glasses

Appearance - Black with a little carmel head

Smell - Outstanding. Like bourbon chocolate oatmeal.

mouthfeel - not too thick on the tongue, but not "thin" either as some have said. just right

taste - wow. just what I was hoping for. a perfect execution of what bourbon barrel aging can do for a beer. The bourbon taste is right up front, and this beer is beyond smooth. for 8.6%, I could drink these all day. Chocolate, oats, and bourbon dominate for me.

Overall - outstanding beer. one of my favorites. as soon as some bottles hit the shops, I will definitely pick up 3-4. This is not a 13% imperial stout that pours like oil, so get that out of your head. But again, this is a wonderful marriage of a great beer and bourbon barrel aging and Firestone has done it again. Had it next to '12 Parbola and it just reinforced my admiration for the quality of beers that they produce. bravo

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Pours a very, very dark brown with only minimal light penetration. The head is a thin accumulation of sand colored bubbles and foam. Dots and waves of lace.

S-Interesting! I find it to be noticeably nutty. Almost like a nut flavored coffee. Toasted coconuts, too. A respectable and well set bourbon aroma. I notice coconuts more and more and I love that. Bits of vanilla and even some tobacco leaves. Almond chocolate bars!

T-The flavor is also delicious. I like how the bourbon isn't the main flavor, it merely accentuates the other flavors. Coconut milk chocolate. Roasted oats. Medium roast almond/hazelnut coffee. Chocolate chips. Vanilla and oak. Light tobacco. Then the whiskey kicks back in on the backside. Very tasty.

M-Body is thinner than expected but it seems to fit the beer's ABV. I actually enjoy its lack of viscosity. Tantalizing bubbles. A bit creamy and spicy/hot from the bourbon. Drinks too easily.

O/D-Firestone Walker barrel aged brews are an automatic. This one may be one of the best in my opinion. Not as huge as the others but it's complexity is unmatched. This beer tastes like it was made just for me and my taste buds. I really, really enjoyed this beer. Instant classic.

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Photo of RichD
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured this into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a deep black with a small light tan had that is reduced to a mere ring around my glass. There is also some lacing left in the glass as I drink.

S: Smells of chocolate and vanilla almost exclusively. The smell is quite faint. I also pick up some bourbon sweetness. It's definitely very pleasant, but if the smell was more prominent I would give this a higher score.

T: Whoa! Immediate bourbon sweetness that consists of vanilla and some oak. The chocolate and roasted malts give a light coffee-like flavor. I also pick up some oats before the flavor transforms into a strong caramel flavor that takes my taste buds for a ride. Some warmness is also coming through at the end. The flavors mesh so incredibly well that I have a hard time setting each flavor aside.

M: I've read that some don't like the mouthfeel on this. I absolutely love it. It's remarkable that even with the bourbon barrel treatment that this beer retains the smoothness of an oatmeal stout. This is truly a one of the best mouthfeels I've ever had with a barrel aged beer. The 8% is almost nonexistent which is even better.

Overall: This beer is awesome. Firestone Walker really might have the best barrel aging program out there. Between this and the 3 other offerings that FW has, I'm having a hard time figuring out which is my favorite. This beer will be on my purchase list every year and I'm already anticipating when I can buy it again even though I still have half the bottle left.

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Photo of Gatch
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Taste of Tops in Tempe, AZ.

Edit: Updated from another experience with this beer on May 2nd, 2012 at Papago Brewing in Scottsdale, AZ. A special event with David Walker and Adam Firestone in attendance. Picked up a bottle of 2012 Parabola and the new Wookey Jack with both being signed by the two main men! Very exciting.

A: Deep, dark black with a light brown, very bubbly head that fades quickly. No lace and no head retention. Massive legs on this brew.

S: Buttery, boozy bourbon. Heavy wood. Some stout comes through a bit in the background. So alluring.

T: Like sucking on a piece of the barrel. Bourbon-soaked oak. Seriously fantastic and I'm not a bourbon-barrel-aged kinda guy. Roasty and smoky malt comes through to remind you it's still a stout.

M: Smooth but boozy. Huge bourbon and wood. Easy and enjoyable to drink and blows my mind how balanced it is.

O: I've been waiting a long time to drink this because I'm such a huge fan of Velvet Merlin. David Walker was at Taste of Tops for an Arizona Beer Week event and was signing stuff and chatting it up with everyone. Great guy. He had high praise for this beer and I have the same praise. Incredible beer.

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Photo of Zorro
4.66/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light proof black colored beer with a medium sized brown colored head.

One sniff and this smells like Canadian Whiskey! Not at all shy about letting you know this has been sitting in a bourbon barrel for a while. Strong vanilla, coconut and caramel scents. Smells sweet with some faint scents of tobacco leaf, ash and tanned leather. Simply lovely I could sniff this glass all day, pity they don't market this smell as an air freshener.

Starts out mildly sweet with a vanilla, coconut and chocolate flavor. Slight butter and stronger toffee candy flavors. A little sweet but not as much as the scent suggests. Mild bitterness. Strong Canadian Whiskey flavor. Oak and a little wood ash really coats the mouth like a milkshake. I can even taste a little sugar cookie in this, complex with a Capital C.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall one of the best things I have tasted all year. I may have tasted a better beer but there are few beers than can beat this. A lot of the beers that might be infinitesimally better are other Firestone Bourbon Barrel aged beers.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.24 out of 5 based on 2,355 ratings.
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