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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:
2,352
Avg:
4.24
pDev:
24.29%
 
 
Wants:
403
Gots:
1,051
For Trade:
141
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Reviews: 351 | Ratings: 2,352
Photo of Chris_Huston
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

LOOK: 2015 vintage, poured slightly below room temp (where I usually like my darker beers) into a squat tulip glass. Foams very nicely without threatening to get out of control but building pleasantly with its dark cinnamon color and deep brown liquid. The burnt khaki froth recedes and ultimately disappears completely within a couple of minutes, which is a little disappointing.

AROMA: The last beer I had before this I finally realized I wasn't a bourbon barrel beer fan, so I was moderately skeptical about this, but I had a similar experience to others in that the barrel presence is mild at best. Unlike most other drinkers who found that a let down, it made the beer more enjoyable for me, letting more of that malty, bready smell come through and make it far more balanced for the style. It's a bit lighter on the coffee than I expected or like, and almost no cacao.

FEEL: It's more watery than I expected and than I think it should be. Not so much as to be off-putting, but enough to make it seem like a weakness for a BA oatmeal stout.

TASTE: The taste doesn't depart much from the nose -- very light on the bourbon (which, again, I like), but also generally light on the other flavors. It's definitely nicely balanced, and although the flavors are I think too low key, the balance makes it quite remarkable and impressive, just not as astonishing as, say, a Breakfast Stout kind of animal.

*** 2nd POUR***
Finishing off the bottle the day after. The pour was about the same but the head, even though it died to a thin layer, stuck around permanently resulting in some really nice, copious lacing, making the drink a bit creamier. The net result isn't much, but it's certainly tastier this way. Not sure why there's such a difference in the head/lacing retention between the first & second pour, but I definitely prefer the 2nd.

 1,842 characters

Photo of TheElectricOne
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 2015 vintage bottle ($18.99, I believe....) into a tulip glass:

Appearance: pours a dark brown, but not quite black color, with a moderately large mocha head. Head dissipates somewhat quickly, leaving spotty lacing. Beer isn't quite opaque, and shows surprisingly translucency when swirled.

Aroma: definitely disappointed in this regard. I was hoping for the full, potent bourbon and chocolate aromas present in Parabola, but instead got muted malt and some lactose. I didn't detect much vanilla or chocolate, perhaps a tiny bit.

Taste: again, I was hoping for a little more potency. It started with light toffee and caramel notes, then some mild bourbon on the finish. I missed the chocolate and coffee completely, and the bourbon was definitely more subdued than I'd wanted. Its "incredibly drinkable," as stated in the description, but not in a good way in my opinion.

Feel: moderately thick and creamy, but finishes relatively thin. I'd like a little more body.

Overall: it's a solid oatmeal stout, but for $20 after taxes, I'll go with something a little more potent and flavorful.

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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...

 376 characters

Photo of enrique_m
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured this brew in a snifter and it poured jet black with no head and no lacing. It has chocolate, coffee, and malts in the aromas. The feel is full-bodied, smooth, and creamy. Overall, this is very enjoyable.

 210 characters

Photo of GregA135
4.63/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Got this awesome brew from a recent trade!

Poured a dark brown color with a very thin tan head
I honestly could only smell the bourbon and a little bit of vanilla
I thought I would be caught off guard with the taste since all I smelled was the bourbon, but was I wrong. Had the bourbon burn, but very minimal - Chocolate, coffee and vanilla with an oatmeal aftertaste.
Super smooth and very easy to drink.

 406 characters

Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tasted in a 12 oz snifter from draft at O'Toole's on February 18, 2016. Look is nearly black with a tan head and lingering lacing. Smell is dark roasted malts.

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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 Tonyjenlasc
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look - Pitch black. Completely opaque.
Smell - Bourbon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla sweetness
Taste - Perfect amount of bourbon, coffee, and chocolate flavors. Some smokiness and vanilla sweetness in there too.

Overall - My favorite oatmeal stout yet. Loving the FW Prop Vintage series! Killer beers.

 303 characters

Photo of LloydDobler
3.22/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage / 22oz btl poured into stemless wine glass

Tons of foam on the pour that caught me a little off guard. Very thin without much distinguished taste at all. Straight watered down booze is the dominant flavor. Not like any other milk stout I have ever had. More like a thin porter. Was hoping for something along the lines of a milder Parabola, but it's nowhere close.

 379 characters

Photo of brewaddict
4.24/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 in a FW Teku Glass
L - This pours pitch black with a cream head and ok lace with big bubbles
S - I get lots of vanilla, chocolate, with a little bourbon
t - Tastes of sweet cream, vanilla, milk chocolate, caramel, and roasted malt
F - The overall texture is silky smooth
O - Although the flavors are subtle, overall, this is very well balanced.

 351 characters

Photo of argock
3.62/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a boxed, 22 oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. 2015 vintage. Purchased from Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with brown edges and 1/2 finger of beige head with poor retention and no lacing.

S: Nice bourbon barrel aged character with nice vanilla, sweet bourbon, and light oak on the base beer with medium caramel malt leaving a sweet impression overall.

T: Flavor is good but diluted and thin compared to what FW's other barrel aged beers taste like. There are no bad flavors, but overall the profile is weak and missing punch. Caramel comes through along with the barrel flavors of vanilla and pretty hefty bourbon but the heft in flavor is missing badly.

M: Thin and watery for the style with low carbonation.

O: Really disappointing, I wish I had drank it on the day I bought it but usually there is some heat to wear off. The flavors are weak and muted despite a nice aroma. I won't be purchasing again in the future. Overrated big time.

 982 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

10oz draft at the olympic tavern served in a Firestone walker mini nonic pint glass. light black body with a thick cap of tan colored head. Smells of light roast, oats, a nice dose of chocolate, and barely detectable bourbon. Taste is more chocolaty than anything with a hinting of oats. Light bourbon presence pairs with some rootbeer/cola notes. Light to moderate sweetness. A medium bodied beer that has low carbonation. The beer is a little thin, but the drinkability on this beer aged stout is fantastic. The score should be closer to a 4, but with the drinkability considered it deserves all of the 4.25 in the mouthfeel category. Really solid barrel aged oatmeal stout by FSW. Glad to finally track down a taste of this beer.

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Photo of RyanK252
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours dark brown, basically black with a creamy khaki brown head that settles to a thin layer and leaves a little light lacing.

S: Toffee, molasses, dark sugar, kinda maple, smooth bourbon, vanilla, hints of toasted coconut, dark fruit, some roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate and coffee, and a touch of cinnamon and clove spice.

T: Vanilla, toasted coconut, smooth bourbon, mild spice, dark fruit, plum, fig, cherry, roasted malt, a touch of coffee and bittersweet chocolate, and some nice toffee sweetness.

M: Medium to full body, moderate carbonation, very smooth with just a touch of warmth.

O: Pretty fantastic barrel aged stout, yet very approachable. Not so strong that it'll knock you on your ass before you know what happened, but it still gives you everything you want.

 818 characters

Photo of beer-me-pls
4.03/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is a great looking beer with a light lacing on the snifter. There is a very light nose wo a lot I'm picking up. It is smooth and easy to drink. The current bottle is aged 1 year. This is very enjoyable, but the bourbon could be stronger and I don't find it particularly complex for a $20 beer. I picked up a few of these over the years, but I won't go out of my way anymore.

 383 characters

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

 463 characters

Photo of SovereignGood
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up from Whole Foods - first time trying it.

Look: Deep, black pour with a thin head that dissipates to a subtle rim around the glass. Minimal lacing but some legs appear upon swirling the tulip glass.

Smell: Immediately hit with the barrel characteristics. Lots of coconut, vanilla, bourbon, oak, with a slight chocolate coming in the back.

Taste: Coconut, vanilla, bourbon, dark chocolate; very similar to the smell.

Feel: Thinner than expected. For a FW Barrel Aged beer I was thinking full-bodied mouthfeel. Slight carbonation is felt throughout the mouth with minimal stickiness remaining on the lips.

Overall: Definitely a good beer but I probably wouldn't go out of my way for getting more.

 714 characters

Photo of gatornation
3.79/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2015 Vintage
Pours a dark mahogany color with a tan head smells of vanilla and coffee with roasted malts and bourbon , taste follows the nose vanilla and espresso bean with sweet chocolate malts followed with a small amount of bourbon, mouthfeel is smooth and silky with medium carbonation, VM is my least favorite of the Proprietors series the BA is really thin on this, vanilla and espresso stand out and the barrel is in the background .

 440 characters

Photo of Moose90
4.06/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage Served On-Tap & From 22oz Bottle

A — Pours a deep and clear brown hued liquid into the glass. There is a mocha colored head that forms on-top and leaves behind some spots of lacing. Lighter than anticipated.

S — Smell is light but focused on sweet Bourbon notes of vanilla and oak. Little bit of a chocolate malt body with notes of cocoa and coffee.

T — Medium heavy notes of chocolate and coffee, balanced with a resounding sweet Bourbon kick.

M — Medium bodied, lingering semi-sweet finish.

O — Good overall, just really light and fairly straightforward for FW Prop. releases.

 611 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
4.01/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: Clear half-pint glass
From: Firestone Barrelworks in Buellton, Calif.
Price: $16.99
Purchased: July 28, 2015
Consumed: Dec. 29, 2015
Misc.: 2014 vintage

Poured a black color with 2-to-3 fingers of fizzy, tan head. Above average amount of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. Average retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled a big whiff of boozy bourbon up front, followed by toffee, caramel, milk chocolate, light espresso, oaky vanilla, oatmeal, faint dates and even some maple syrup. (Smell - 4.25)

Taste was pretty good, but nowhere as flavorful as I thought it would be. Especially after having another BCBS earlier in the day. Got smooth bourbon, chocolate, faint crayon, toffee, caramel, light oaky vanilla, tobacco, dry oatmeal, faint roasty malts and faint rye bread. Seemed to be missing something. Disappointing. (Taste - 3.75)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.50)

I was expecting so much more in this one. Good, but nowhere near their anniversary beers, Sucaba, Parabola, etc. I probably overrated it a tad. (Overall - 4.00)

4.01 | 90 | A-

 1,127 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a tulip
Vintage 2015


Thanks to

A: very dark brown, nearly black, small tan head, dissipates quickly leaves essentially no lacing 4

S: oak, toasted coconut, roasted malt; 4.25

T: follows the nose, roasty, oak, oats;
very nice but not overwhelming barrel notes 4.25

M/D: silky smooth but fairly thin, drink ability is excellent but could stand to be thicker 4

O: nice beer, barrel notes pair nicely with the base beer; doesn't live up to many of the other FW barrel aged beers but still quite enjoyable 4.25

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Photo of FriedSlug
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark in the glass but some light can get through which shows the color to be a ruby brown. The head is tan and has good staying power with a thin layer staying throughout the consumption. The smell is amazing. I am picking up chocolate, toffee, coffee, roasted malts and bourbon. The taste is mainly sweet coffee, chocolate and bourbon with a bit of boozy heat and bitterness at the end. This is a really well done beer.

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Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep ruby, nearly black. Only the brightest of lights shine through. Beige head that settles to nearly no bubbles. No lace.

Chalky chocolate aroma. Lightly sweet.

Rich dark chocolate start. There's a strong sweetness and thickness to the body and taste. I detect strong vanilla notes, perhaps a bit of bourbon. Rich and thick body which is exentuated by the low carbonation.

 377 characters

Photo of Sheppard
4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with tan head. Isn't teaming with aroma but a little bourbon and vanilla. Super smooth stout with slight vanilla, slight bourbon, slight chocolate. This is simply an incredible oatmeal stout.

 209 characters

Photo of emyers
4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

Appearance: Pours very dark brown with a half inch beige head.

Intense coffee aroma up front on the nose, followed by roasted barley, vanilla, oak, and chestnuts. I don't get much of a "bourbon" aroma, but the vanilla/oak character from the barrel is definitely present.

Taste is similar, with coffee and chocolate dominating followed by the barrel and a nice nutty character on the finish. There is a bit more bourbon here compared to the nose, but it is still pretty restrained. Very balanced and drinkable, fairly mild compared to many BBA stouts out there.

Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth, which was almost a given with a BBA oatmeal stout from FW, however it could use a bit more body - a tad light for my preference.

FW produces the whole range when it comes to barrel presence - with Bravo representing the classic "barrel-bomb" and this representing the opposite restrained end of the spectrum. While I tend to prefer a little more barrel presence in my BBA stouts, this is objectively a great beer, and it's extremely impressive how FW is able to put out such diversity with the barrel presence in their barrel-aged beers.

 1,185 characters

Photo of scbeerman
4.97/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Simply put, one of the best beers I've had the pleasure of trying.
L: black with some brownish-ruby highlights; great clarity and solid head retention, though not outstanding in this latter regard. Still, very nice.
S: rich and decadent without excessive sweetness. Chocolate truffle, vanilla, bourbon, roastiness. Perfectly balanced
T: see smell - much the same, with everything in absolutely perfect balance. Complexity is great
F: smooth as silk, drinkable but refined. Medium bodied, which fits the beer overall very well. Oatmeal stouts are awesome. Wonderful creaminess.
Overall: one of my new favorites. Going to seek this out repeatedly in the future.

 659 characters

Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.24 out of 5 based on 2,352 ratings.
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