Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
357 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:
357
Ratings:
2,380
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
9.46%
 
 
Wants:
401
Gots:
1,072
For Trade:
146
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Reviews: 357 | Ratings: 2,380
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro tap for Churchill's Renaissance at Churchill's Pub & Grille in San Marcos, CA.

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson brown with a foamy tan head that lasts. A thick curtain of lace forms on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, toasted oats, wood, and slight bourbon. Taste is pretty much the same except the bourbon is very subtle and hard to taste. This beer has a nice thick and creamy mouthfeel being on the nitro tap. Overall, this is a good stout but the barrel aging is quite mild in both the aroma and taste.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

just fantastic, thanks to claystation for bringing this over. long anticipated for me, this pours a honey thick mocha brown color, smooth as silk in the snifter, and showing off over an inch of oatmeal foam. it smells so much less alcoholic than I expected, mostly because of how alcohol forward most of the other boxed offerings have been. this one is sweet and rich, subtle spice and vanilla from the barrel, a lot of oatmeal body and sweetness, and an aggressively bitter cocoa barley vibe. its all blends together exquisitely well, and some of the heavier flavors of milk chocolate, tobacco, raisins, and butter cream come out in the last legs. alcohol never makes an appearance, not even at room temperature, and the bourbon contributes just the right amount of flavor and smoothness. these days so many barreled beers don't taste a lot like beer anymore, this one is perfect. speaking of perfect, the mouthfeel of this beer could not be improved. its full bodied as they come, not sharp at all from booze, palate coating but not sticky, thick but fluent, everything one could ask for in a stout like this. its sensational. worth the wait, worth the money, share it with a loved one or three. amazing stuff from the top shelf firestone stuff, never a surprise. luscious and dark, dangerously easy down, balanced brilliantly. this is a must.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at Blue Palms last Friday. There is a bit of confusion but I am now sure that the other Velvet Merkin on BA is not barrel aged.

Poured pitch black, even in the light. At first my snifter was completely filled with foam. Never had a cask over carbonated before. Lots of beautiful brown foam, very silky, great retention and great lacing.

Aroma was chocolatey, and roasty but mild in those aspects. The oak and bourbon were stronger in the aroma. Well balanced (almost) and no alcohol in the nose. Mild overall.

The flavor was so smooth it was almost rediculous. Chocolate, oak, vanilla, roast(medium), and bourbon all played a part. The oak and bourbon were heavier but not overpowering. Going to guess 8% abv on this one. Mild bitterness.

Body was very heavy, very carbonated but it didn't last. Very very drinkable and very enjoyable. At the risk of getting harassed, this was my favorite beer of the night and that includes the X, XI, and XII as well as the bravo, oaktoberfest, lil opal (probably 2nd favorite), and saucer full of secrets.

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Photo of metter98
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On-tap at Firestone Walker Visitor's Center Tasting Room, Paso Robles, CA

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color and has only slight traces of reddish brown near the edges of the glass when it is held up to the light. It poured with a thin collar of off white bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of bourbon are present in the nose—some oaky vanilla becomes apparent once the beer warms up.
T: The taste has lots of vanilla flavors from the barrel aging along with some notes of oak and hints of bourbon. There are also notes of chocolate and coffee from the underlying beer.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and a bit smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The barrel aging really changes the dynamics of this oatmeal stout and imparts lots of vanilla flavors. It does a very good job at hiding its alcohol.

Note: 2015 vintage

Serving type: on-tap

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Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2014 Vintage

Appearance: A massive mocha head forms on top of the dark chocolate colored liquid; nice retention and an interesting pattern of lace

Smell: Brown bread, chocolate and caramel, with hints of coconut, vanilla, oak and Bourbon

Taste: Chocolate and brown bread, up front, with the caramel, vanilla and coconut tones developing somewhat; the Bourbon appears in the finish, almost as an afterthought

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation; lacks the creamy mouthfeel I would expect from the oatmeal

Overall: I knew with an 8.5% ABV that this wasn't going to be a big stout but I was surprised at it, nevertheless; it's a decent beer but it lacked the depth of flavor and the mouthfeel I would expect from a beer so highly rated, let alone from a brewery that has always impressed me greatly

Thanks, fthegiants, for the opportunity

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Photo of kojevergas
3.65/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served on-draught into a snifter at Firestone Walker's taproom (NOT tasting room) in Paso Robles on its grand opening day. Reviewed from notes. Expectations were above average given the brewery's reputation.

A: Pours a one finger head of dark milk-white colour, nice cream, good thickness, and great retention for the ABV. Colour is a nontransparent solid black.

Sm: Roast, coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. A mild strength aroma.

T: Roast, coconut, milk, chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of cherry. No bourbon comes through - not even as a tone. It'd be better with more black cherry. Nicely balanced. Great cream is present as an undertone. Well built. Complex enough, wuth some limited subtlety.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Silky. Nicely creamy. Near perfect thickness. More a porter than a stout (even considering the smoothening factor of the oats). Should be more dry and coarse.

Dr: Very drinkable for the ABV. I'd have it again. Why isn't it on nitro? A lovely oatmeal stout - maybe the best Firestone Walker beer I've had so far (including Abacus - which I found mundane).

B

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark brown color with a thin tan head and a few spots of lacing. Nice collar as it goes down. The nose brings a good contingent of roast and chocolate alongside the really nice barrel notes. Fantastic amount of bourbon plus some oak and vanilla. The flavor brings smooth bourbon as well as oak, vanilla, chocolate, and moderate roast. Medium body that is quite creamy with really nice barrel qualities. Very, very well done. Not surprising coming from Firestone.

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Photo of mothman
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Light tan head. Black color but nearing brown.

Definitely a porter. Thin compared to a stout. Lots of bourbon and vanilla. Oaky. Caramel and chocolate. A little heat. Fairly smooth. Some roast.

Good porter. I'd have this one again.

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Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tap at EBF from keg.

Creamy light head, brown molasses darker colored but not very dark.

Nose light bourbon and oak, oats, hint of fruit, brown malts, chewy malts, light barrel and vanilla aromas, touch of chocolate and caramel.

Taste creamy, oats, light oak and vanilla, light bourbon, brown malts, hint if molasses, bit of dark malts with hint of roast and caramel, toffee, and just a touch of chocolate.

Mouth is creamy and smooth, lush, fuller bodied, with decent carb and just a hint of booze.

Overall pretty good, wish I could have sat down with a full pour to get more out of it, but still a pretty good beer.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at The Stone Brewing Bistro & World Gardens on 11/13/09 during their Firestone Walker 13th on the 13th event. Served in a snifter.

Pours black, with a thin frothy covering of mocha colored head. This stays rich when swirled, leaving a strong latticework of spotty lacing behind. The aroma is quite tangy (and even a little meaty) smelling with big notes of smoke, chocolate roast, burnt wood, and coffee. Some fresh floral tannic character gives this a distinct layer of earthy depth.

The taste is similar, with a sweet smokey tang to it from layers of chocolate, coffee, roast, a tiny bit of dark fruit, and naturally, the bourbon. This has a definite ripple of earthy feeling tannins that run through it, leaving a strong woody dryness in the finish. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a fuller creaminess to it form the oats but also retains a considerable amount of barrel-induced slickness.

I really liked how the barrel-aging worked with this. The bourbon wasn't in your face, instead working with the malts to impart that deep smokey tang, while the barrel gave the overall profile an earthy and green feeling mellowness. Really interesting and fun drinking stuff from Firestone.

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Photo of mactrail
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

December 4, 2015 update: From the 2015 vintage bottle. Seems light, fizzy, and not very bourbon flavored. The appley, rum scent is the best feature. Tart and sharp along with the wood. I would not rate this anywhere near as high as on my previous tasting. Fades into a chalky cocoa taste.

Original 2013 review: Dark color best described as raw umber. The foam is beige and not overly high in the St. Bernardus globe. Splendid scent of something more like rum than the usual bourbon blast. Slightly sweet with a lively mouthfeel and not so thick on the tongue. A delightful spritzy sensation with the touch of booze and a little cocoa.

Really a fragrant nose and flavor as well. Well balanced with just enough hoppy bitterness to go with the malt. It's all quite refined and mellow. Even the alcohol is restrained. Long, smooth whiskey aftertaste with the alcohol finally providing a nice burn for the finish.

More light and lively than than the imperial stouts by far. An excellent dark brew and probably my favorite Oatmeal Stout ever. From the bottle bought at Bottlecraft in San Diego.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.73/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at Capone's

Dark brown pour, slightly translucent around the rim, with a small beige ringlet. Aroma of roasty dark malts, toasted bread, bourbon and spiced rum, notes of chocolate and vanilla. More dark malt roastiness in the taste, notes of dark berries, coconut, bourbon-soaked oak, vegetal vanilla, bakers' chocolate. Mouthfeel was on the thin side, surprising for an oatmeal stout, body was about medium; boozy presence was felt, but it was pretty smooth and not hot at all. A decent brew overall.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Let me start by saying this is a brewery that is one I consider to be world class and this is a style I am especially fond of but that really is not relevant in this case because regardless of those caveats this is simply an outstanding beer.

The description in the notes/commercial description really are just the tip of the iceberg or icing on the cake if you will since this is a decadent barrel aged beer that can be savored and leaves you wanting more. I highly recommend this to any fan of barrel aged beers or stout in general as it is hard to find a more worthy beer the only drawback is that I wish I had more.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.57/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Oakquinox

Dark brown pour with a small tan head. The aroma reminds me of chocolate milk with a little bit of vanilla added to it. Minimal roast and coffee notes, just an overwhelming chocolate/vanilla blend. Great barrel and bourbon flavor with even more of the chocolate and vanilla going on. Moderate roast and a hint of coffee. Nicely sweet from some toffee malt flavors. So damn good.

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Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From 03/12/11 notes. Had this on tap at the day session of EBF up in Boston, MA. One of the better beers of the day in my opinion.

a - Pours a dark brown, almost black color, with a little bit of white head and moderate carbonation evident. Looks exactly like the normal version of Velvet Merlin.

s - Smells of smooth bourbon, oatmeal, coffee, and vanilla. Pretty nice, the bourbon is out front, but doesn't dominate the smell. You still get all the normal scents of the Velvet Merkin.

t - Tastes of bourbon, oatmeal, oak, roasted malts, vanilla and cream, coffee, and light chocolate. The taste is a step up from the nose and amazingly complex and balanced. Really great, and the bourbon is nice but not overpowering again.

m - Medium body and low carbonation, the body is super smooth and creamy. No alcohol heat at all, most likely thanks to the low ABV of the base beer. Great mouthfeel.

o - Overall this is a really good beer I hope they bring out more often. The smell is nice, ut the taste and mouthfeel were outstanding. Would love to have again.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bottle poured into a taster.

Appearance - Black with a large khaki head. Good lacing. Really nice.

Smell - Bourbon is strong without being overpowering. Vanilla and chocolate. Roasty.

Taste - Bourbon and oak are nice. Roasty. Vanilla. Chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Well it is thin, but it's nice. Drinkable, we'll call it.

Overall - Good beer. Quality flavors in a small package.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Midnight brown with ruby highlights. Nice yellowed paper head has nice retention and lace.

S - Awesome nose. Huge toasted oatmeal aroma. Bread crust, touch of dark roast coffee beans, rum raisin.

T - Vanilla, cream, porridge, caramel, cognac, marzipan, woody booze, birch beer.

M - Soft, medium-full frame.

O - A stellar oatmeal beer. Firestone walker is tough to beat.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Vintage 2015.

Deep walnut brown and some nice ruby red highlights. Quite clear but due to it's dark colors not easy of course to see through. Very light tan head, with a creamy top, and almost icing cake looking. Dissolves with little retention, manages a simple whispy top, and fine to a mix of small bubbles in the collar. A nice looking brew in the realm.

Real complex, diverse, and exciting aroma. Big malt whoppers candy, and a deep brown bread and cake like fluffy flavor. Hints of light brownie chocolate and excellent cereal grains. Sense of light and whispy like malts, taking away some of the barrel roundness but leaving a real distinct flavor. Sweetness is noticeable but not really large which is even better. Big count Chocula quality going on here with a cereal grain quality and husky density.

Palate goes for a little bit simpler quality, but memorable and unique flavors. Tannic mild wood but also a bit wet with not much body in malt to really push the flavors high. Mid palate though fills with an airy chocolate and mild sweetness of malt, and almost some tobacco sweetness to keep it interesting. The oats on this are really being pushed over board, with large cereal qualities becoming evident but without much chewy texture. Real mild sweetness as well, but lacking some complexity in the flavors. Much of expected barrel tones and particularly feel are really sort of lost here also.

This is a real interesting take and brew in the Firestone realm, there's much to improve here which would also though take away from it's easy drinkability.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage. Poured from a bottle into a snifter, the beer is jet black, with a thin, wispy, clingy, light tan head. Aromas of heavy bourbon, rich in vanilla and molasses, with a solid coffee backbone, semisweet chocolate notes, and solid roasted highlights. Flavors are solid bourbon forward, warm and spicy, with a solid blend of chocolate, molasses, vanilla, and a roasted overtone that softens some of the booziness. Surprisingly light bodied, with a bit of crispness still present despite the age and barrel processing. Booze warmth in the aftertaste, accompanying rich chocolate and molasses notes. The finish is smooth and light, with a subtle cloying sweetness that builds as you drink. Great beer.

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Photo of Gobzilla
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured an almost dark as night as black in color with a thin brown head and left some good lacing sticking to the head.

S: lots of chocolatey goodness was detectable on the first whiff with lots of malty sweetness, caramel, vanilla, bourbon booze, and traces of oatmeal grains.

T: the oatmeal grains were more apperent on the taste alongside, bourbon oaky character, tons of chocolatey flavor, hints of carmel and vanilla accents.

M: the brew was full to medium in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, oaky, boozy bourbon, chocolatey, silky finish.

O: I definitely thought it was way better than the original version on the flavor and had a nice intoxicating aroma as well.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

First vintage poured in to FW tulip.

A - Pitch black with a half finger of light brown head and excellent lacing.

S - Huge barrel aromas dominate the nose. Charred oak, sweet bourbon & vanilla, chocolate fudge and roast aromas are all present.

T - Intense charred oak up front with sweet bourbon and vanilla flavours also coming through in a massive barrel presence. Chocolate fudge, roast and the slightest hint of coffee are also present.

M - Medium body. Light carbonation.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin brown head that dissipates to a ring around the glass with light slippery lacing.Aroma of chocolate, sweet dark toasted malt, bourbon and vanilla. Flavor is vanilla, mild toasted malt, cocoa, lactose. A touch of coffee, coconut and bourbon. Light to medium bodied. A nice stout with complex flavor and a deft touch of bourbon from the barrel. Surprisingly thin bodied for an oatmeal stout, perhaps the lightest I've ever had; I would never have identified this as having oatmeal in it in a blind taste. Still tasty different. Can't help but think that this would have been outstanding with a bit heavier malt body.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
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 GreesyFizeek
3.76/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, NY. 8 oz pour. After drinking this, this will be a hard review.

Pours a very dark black, opaque, with a tiny head, and no lacing.

Smells like cookie dough, toasted oats, chocolate, and the slightest hint of bourbon.

Interesting tastes here, both negative and positive. All of the tastes I'm getting are good. This is one of the most cookie dough forward beers I've ever had, just tons of that flavor. I get cookie dough flavors out of a lot (mostly barrel-aged) stouts, but this one takes the cake/cookie. There's a good amount of toasted oats as well, a tiny bit of bourbon, some oak, and some chocolate. The problem is, however, other than the cookie dough, the flavors are kind of muted. For some styles, laid back flavors are a plus- but this is a barrel-aged stout. I expect a bit more here. Just a little bit too watery, unfortunately.

This is light to medium bodied, honestly too thin for the style. I don't need it to be motor oil, but I need it to be substantial enough. Low carbonation, very drinkable.

A beer with a lot of highs and lows. Overall good, but not something I'm going to hardcore crave again.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,380 ratings.
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