Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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341 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:
341
Ratings:
2,307
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
24.59%
 
 
Wants:
401
Gots:
1,001
For Trade:
134
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Reviews: 341 | Ratings: 2,307
Photo of Stevedore
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle of Batch 001, thanks to Shaun for bringing this bottle over. And thanks to Dustin who hooked him up. Poured into a Three Floyds' teku glass today, 10/15/2013.

Review #241.

Pours a pitch black body, with a bubbly and not particularly thick or foamy off-white head that dissipates quickly. Looks like a stout to me. Nothing weird abut it.

Smells interesting, just hints of sweet bourbon and coconut, a bit of the underlying chocolate and toffee but not a whole lot else. No vanilla. But it reminds me quite a bit of Parabola but everything is muted.

We drank this as the first stout of the night so I think my palate is judging this beer fairly. It's mostly hints of sweet bourbon and coconut. I really don't get a whole lot of the typical oatmeal stout flavour profiles- no chocolate, vanilla, coffee, umami. In the end this beer feels like its meant to deliver a muted, watered down bourbon barrel experience.

Creamy, rich, full-bodied stout. Good carbonation. Dangerously drinkable and smooth.

Either my bourbon barrel stout palate is ruined after drinking CW Black Gold and Sixteen last Saturday, or this beer is just missing a lot of things. It's got a much better mouthfeel than Parabola does, but its lacking any kind of intensity. In the end I felt it is a drinkable, smooth oatmeal stout that lost a lot of whatever the base beer had to offer after spending time in barrels.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 10.8.13
No. 1

A - Pours a dark brown with a larger dark tan active head that fades fast leaving large bubble lacing.

S - Malt and oats, pretty subtle.

T - Bourbon barrel, chocolate and light oats.

D - Lower carbonation and a heavier body.

O - Nice and solid, nice flavors. I was wishing for a bit more depth.

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Photo of cbutova
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Poured from the 22oz bomber to two snifters with Chico1985. Pitch black body with a fairly oily appearance as it pours to the glass. Off-white head rises to about a finger high with a creamy texture. Frothy ring leaves a web of lace with mostly spotty patches.

S- Right as it was poured, the chocolate and oatmeal stout base leads the way with deep roast malts and sweet chocolate, reminds me of a muffin with the toasted oatmeal feel. With some time, the barrel opens up with a smooth, quality whiskey aroma and oak vanilla.

T- Opens up with the Bourbon barrel coming to the palate first. Reminds me of Elijah Craig range of Bourbon flavors with some peppery hints coming with the toast oak and vanilla sweetness. The chocolate malts and oatmeal combine to remind me of baked goods, ala muffins or cookies. Deep roast grains. It all comes together to create a decadent dessert feel that trumps many higher alcohol stouts in overall flavor.

MF- Moderately thick body with slightly creamy texture. Carbonation at a medium level which helps because the body is not super oily like bigger stouts. Oatmeal adds that chewy silkiness. Slight Bourbon warming in the finish but just a tiny bit.

Pretty huge fan of what this beer brings to the table. It is like a chocolate oatmeal cookie with a dollop of vanilla Bourbon frosting on top at times. The oatmeal side of things is impressive and it isn't just a roast bomb. Great balance is the key to this brew.

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Photo of barnzy78
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, 2014 Vintage, 8.5% ABV
A 4 - near black with a creamy tan head that holds decent retention, some lacing is left on the glass as it fades
S 4.25 - boozy bourbon whiskey, vanilla, and oak dominate the nose
T 4.25 - the bourbon continues to dominate with the oaky vanilla here too, notes of chocolate, roasted barley, oat, and earthy hops do come through just enough to remind you that you are drinking a beer
M 3.5 - seems thin for body; elusive might be the word - this is not a viscous imperial stout, even though it seems like that's what it should be. It is, however, creamy and smooth, medium-ish, while finishing with the bourbony oak lingering on the palate
O 4 - really easy to drink, well balanced, and good, but not worth the $15.99 and hassle to hunt it down. Glad I tried it, but won't buy it again in the future.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a nearly pitch black color with a thick and creamy tan colored head. The head has a fantastic level of retention, slowly fading and leaving behind a sticky looking lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is big of a sweet oatmeal smell with a good showing of a woody and bourbon boozy smell. Along with these aromas comes smells of caramel and vanilla as well as a little bit of a more toasted malt and somewhat grainy smell giving a very nice warningly dark and sweet smell

Taste- The taste begins with a big sweet oatmeal flavor with a good and heavy flavor of oats and caramel as well as a bit of vanilla and some nice woody and bourbon flavors upfront. There is a decent showing of a more roasted and chocolate flavor upfront, but these pale in comparison to the sweeter oat. As the taste advances the woody flavors lessen a bit, but the sweeter flavors grow even more intense with quite a bit more vanilla and caramel coming to the tongue. All the while the more roasted flavors really start picking up steam more toward the end surpassing the oat flavor of the brew. While at 8.5 % abv., the alcohol is very well concealed and with the mix of flavors that is left at the end, a nice roasted and sweet, lightly woody and moderately oatmeal like flavor is left to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel-The body of the beer is on the thinner side for a oatmeal stout of 8.5% abv with a carbonation level that is on the slightly higher side. A thicker body and lower carbonation would have been much better for the oatmeal and sweeter roasted flavors of the brew, really giving support to these rich flavors.

Overall- A rather tasty oatmeal stout overall with a nice hit of woody bourbon flavor without a whole lot of heavy and hot booziness. A nice, oatmeal, semi-sweet roasty brew.

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Photo of maximum12
3.62/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to analogchainsaw for the first of two rapid-fire trades that brought sunny California to Minnesota (without, y'know, the sun, warmth, ocean...OK, just the beer...OK, just a couple of them). Popping this to celebrate the arrival of box #2 tomorrow. 22 oz. bottle, batch #1, split with my wife.

The pour is you-are-dead black, with appropriate minimal carbonation. Bringing the blessed liquid close to two of the openings in my face. Smells like whiskey & sweet malts. Enough of this crap, let's drink.

Velvet Merkin hits the first word dead-on, but I'll have to look up the second. First impression is the smooothness. Smoother than my chest fresh from waxing, the beer creates almost no friction in the throat. The beer needs to warm; cold, it's tame & lifeless. Warming, it delivers classic oatmeal stout, grainy, smoooth (did I say that?), nice vanilla, touch of bourbon. A little thin; I know of 8.5% beers that hold their barrel well, this one doesn't quite perfect that.

I've come to expect the world from Firestone barrel-aged beers, & this one didn't turn my crank quite so hard. A good beer, but not as dead-center as pretty much everything else they do.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.51/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

2013, batch 01

When a FW brew comes in a box, you expect great things - aroma of toasted oats, touch of chocolate, some malt. Very light bodied - thin flavor profile - oats, cocoa, some hops. For FW, this is terribly disappointing and downright boring

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.92/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a tasting glass at the brewery. From notes. Reviewed 24 February 2013.

It smells of sweet bourbon. Like scotch and chocolate. The taste is like oatmeal with chocolate milk. Finish is ozone and chalky sweet. It's okay, but it really suffers from the mouthfeel -- it's thin and flat. Smooooth, but it kills the flavor. I'll try it again sometime, but this was not that impressive.

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Photo of Rutager
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance. Pours a very deep dark brown, pretty much black in the glass and topped with a finger of khaki head.

Smell. Sweet milk chocolate, vanilla and bourbon and some fresh barrel wood.

Taste. Sweet milk chocolate again and bourbon ...but not in an overpowering boozy way, just some nice added flavour. Some oak and vanilla but the flavours aren't as big as I anticipated considering the brewer.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with smooth medium-low carbonation. Again, not nearly as big as I was expecting just based on the brewer's history of these type of beers.

Ovearall. A very nice beer but not as outstanding as many of FW's releases.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.48/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle $14.99. I was real excited to try this as I like velvet merlin a lot but I will say I was quite let down. I guess I was expecting something more rich and decadent. This truly tasted like Velvet Merlin with hints of bourbon and it was kind of thin. Aroma was bourbon, a little oats, eh. Flavor was more of the same. Honestly I was expecting something like Parabola but different and this falls short. Just too think and too much like the base beer, I didn't feel like the time in the barrel changed it enough to make it worth my money.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass, clear brown around the edges, one finger brown head.

S-Bourbon, chocolate, oats, roasted malt.

T-Starts with some bourbon, mild oats, good deal of chocolate, some bitterness.

M-Heavier, creamy with some carbonation.

O-Need to try this one again, it was a good beer, but compared to the Utopias that night it couldn't compare.

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Photo of papat444
3.64/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Looks great, maybe a tad too much foam and aroma has a nice soothing bourbon mixed with oats but the flavor and feel leave to be desired. Too much carbonation makes the mouthfeel uneven and prevents the flavor from fulling shining through. A disappointment for me.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.6/5  rDev -14.9%

Pour is black with a light brown head. Nose is bourbon, light wood. Assertive malt of brownie and bakers chocolate. Taste falls a little short on the richness. It tastes as it smells but a bit watered down. It has the bourbon and wood up front, some fudge notes with some sweet malt berry sweetness. Body is a touch light and thins in the back. The finish had some roasty barrel notes but a hint empty.

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Photo of FLima
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition.
Deep black color with a huge thick light caramel head with great retention.
Aroma with predominating notes of Bourbon backed by cocoa powder, coffee and vanilla.
Likewise, flavor with notes of bourbon, cola and dark chocolate all predominating. Also, creamy espresso, some spices, earthy and mild citrusy hops, roasted malt and very light smoke. Increasingly dry aftertaste with the Bourbon further revealing itself.
Velvet body with appropriate carbonation. Alcohol of 8.5% abv is absent.
Excellent brew with good complexity. Bourbon predominates elegantly and it is far from cloying. Remember this is an Oatmeal Stout don’t compare this to any hoppy imperial.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.28/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Bottle from Tim. Thanks so much! Pours dark brown to black in my FW Barrelworks Teku with a one finger mocha head. Aroma is big oats and chocolate, vanilla, whiskey, graham cracker, toasted nuts. Flavor is chocolate up front with some big time vanilla tones on top of graham crackers. Followed by a punch of strong whiskey and long lasting oaky vanilla. The lasting finish is the real highlight of this beer. Palate is velvety smooth up front and while not a super thick beer, I see no reason to complain about thin body here. Plenty of body, especially for the ABV, and medium carbonation. This was a winner for me with just the right amount of barrel character, rather than the in your face whiskey shot I get with lower ABV stouts and porters aged in barrels. As usual, Firestone Walker kicks ass.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.86/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle courtesy of BeerHatesRob pours a rich black color with a frothy tan head. Nice lacing and decent retention.

Nose is half chocolate milkshake and half roasty stout. Very nice.

Taste shows some bold barrel character to go along with a lactose-y sweet milk stout. Its smooth and creamy but I could actually use a little more chocolate and malt depth. Its not quite as good as I was hoping, the barrel seems to overpower the malt character of the beer.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.79/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

had this at an in store tasting yesterday at beer city and grabbed a few 16oz growler fills of it.

a - poured into a 6oz FW snifter. brew pours a shiny almost watery black with little to no head. has a barrel shine to it.

s - smell is phenomenal. just smells like a perfect oatmeal stout. great roasted malts and chocolate and coffee notes with a perfect balance of oats.

t - taste is just as amazing as the smell. a fantastic oatmeal stout with the wonderful barrel aging of firestone walker. it is really the perfect blend of oats, chocolate, roasted malts, some coffee and a nice barrel vibe.

m - this one is surprisingly thin. i'd want it to be more rich and creamy, but for the size of this beer, it is just surprising how watery it is.

o - overall, this should be bottled. it is as good if not better than parabola. firestone walker is an amazing brewery and this beer blew my mind (like many other firestone beers i've tried in the past). sad that i only have another 16oz of this beer and it needs to be consumed soon. worth seeking out if you like barrel aged brews, or FW, or just damn fine beer.

---edit 2012-03-24---
honestly, i'd say that i may have even rated this too low. what a f*ckin beer!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.3/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Thanks to Nick Swinford for the 22 oz bottle! Poured into a wine glass; from yesterday.

A: Pours a very dark brown color; it certainly doesn't have the opacity of other big 8%+ stouts. There's a finger worth of light mocha colored head. The retention is poor and minimal lacing is left behind.

S: At first, the aroma is quite mild - this one needs time to open up. Once it does, though, it brings notes of bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and oats.

T: The best part of the brew. It starts off with a one-two combination of vanilla and chocolate on the taste buds. Gradually, it will develop some mild oat flavor, then transition straight into pure bourbon. A touch of alcohol burn is prevalent in conjunction with the bourbon/oak note, but it's hardly bothersome. The bourbon - while showcased well - more or less swallows the base brew whole. I could use more complexity as well.

M: Very thin, almost intolerably so - it feels genuinely insubstantial. There's nice carbonation to bring the flavors to the palate, though. The finish is sweet, sticky, long, and tannic; it's an easy brew to sip at least.

O: This isn't a bad beer at all. But given it's reputation and semi-rarity, it should have been better. It's thin and simplistic - two things I don't want from a barrel-aged offering. Honestly, I think I'd like the regular Velvet Merlin more...but we don't get that in Maryland (seriously, WTF? Maryland gets all the barrel-aged offerings from FW, but not Pivo Pils or Velvet Merlin?)

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Photo of warnerry
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Notes from the Parabola release in May

Pours deep brown black with thin ring of tan head.

Relatively subtle aromas of bourbon, chocolate and roasted malt.

Interesting addition of borrbon to an oatmeal stout. Maintains the character of an oatmeal while adding bourbon and a nice amount of vanilla.

Very creamy mouthfeel. Feels like on nitro but I don’t think it is. Slightly thin.

Easy drinking flavorful barrel-aged oatmeal. Glad I got to try this.

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Photo of rjp217
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
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 scottfrie
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter. 2013 batch 1.

A: Pours a thick near-black color with a thin but dense and creamy looking light brown head that slowly faded into a fuzzy film and thick collar. Thick patches of lacing was left down the glass.
S: Rich a decadent nose with dominating notes of bourbon barrel. The bourbon is not hot, but it is definitely prominent. Behind the booze I get creamy scents of toasted oats and sweet milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, and caramelized sugar. Rich and smooth smelling.
T: Extremely rich and smooth flavors of creamy toasted oats, lightly sweet chocolate milk, and touch of caramel. The finish is full of vanilla and extremely smooth and mellow bourbon, and the aftertaste has a touch of raisin, toasted marshmallow, and more bourbon barrel spices.
M: Super smooth and rich mouthfeel, full creamy body, thick and mellow carbonation. This drinks like an awesome milkshake.
O: One of the best Firestone products to date, and probably the best oatmeal stout I’ve had. Super smooth and integrated fresh out of the bottle. Definitely need to go grab a few more of these.

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Photo of popery
3.57/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap at City Beer Store in San Francisco.

I don't know anything about this beer besides a vague awareness of some internet hype, and for some reason, the store listed the abv as 10%, which I'm very glad to see is incorrect. I would like to try the non-barrel aged version for a point of comparison and highly recommend seeking out a cask version. I can imagine thoroughly enjoying the beer served from a cask, but on tap, something was off for me. The beer pours an opaque dark-brown with highlighting along the edges of the glass. For a decidedly unhelpful point of comparison, it was nearly a dead-on match for 21st Amendment's Back in Black. The aroma, unlike the flavor, was fantastic. There are notes of chocolate, coffee, roasty malt, dry oak and a well-balanced bourbon flavor that meshed very well unlike some bourbon barrel-aged beers. The taste had all of these flavors, but they were far more muted. The bourbon flavor became almost watery. The feel may have been the real culprit. It was much too thin for a stout, much less a barrel-aged stout. A cask would likely bring out the creamy lush mouthfeel of the oatmeal stout. At any rate, it was still a good beer, and they get points for not overwhelming a relatively small stout with bourbon barrel-aging. So, seek it out in a cask if you can.

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Photo of Dope
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 batch (001)

A: Pours black with a tall and fluffy medium brown head. Head fades out slowly with great retention. Moderate but big and fluffy chunks of lacing.

S: Heavy on the bourbon. Caramel and toasted sugars primarily with some oak. Quite a bit of smooth milk chocolate hiding behind it. Get that notable, smooth and creamy oatmeal character as well. Very nice.

T: Again with the bourbon up front. Oaky, quite oaky with some toffee, a little coconut and caramel. Creamy oatmeal in the middle with just a hint of milk chocolate. Oatmeal turns a little bit grainy and the chocolate a little bittersweet in the finish. A dry, oaky finish with more hints of bourbon lingering in the aftertaste.

M: Medium-heavy, smooth and creamy.

O: Not often you find a barrel aged oatmeal stout. Not a huge fan of the bourbon in this one but it still works pretty nicely. Oatmeal, as always, provides a nice layer of creaminess and smooths the whole thing out. Well balanced, not overly complex or hot for that matter either. Very nice.

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Photo of Gmann
3.82/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark chocolate brown color, near black. The beer has a short tan head that settles into a light ring.

The aroma is sweet from the bourbon. Smooth oatmeal stout notes. Nice under current of caramel and vanilla. The aroma is not super strong but it is also not overpoweringly boozy.

The taste is of a smooth oatmeal stout with some milk chocolate notes and a smidge of roasted bitterness. The bourbon is light and bring caramel and vanilla to the table. Some wood notes in the end.

The feel is light with fizzy carbonation. Sweet on the palate overall but finishes quite dry. Slightly sticky in the finish.

Some nice flavors but the stout seems to fall a little short. It is too dry for my liking and could use a touch more bourbon.

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Photo of n2185
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

A: Pours black with two fingers of light tan head that fades into a frothy ring with a little lacing.

S: roasted malts with sweet chocolate, vanilla, a bit of oak, and bourbon. Simple, but nice.

T: Roasted malts here as well with semi-sweet chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. There are some light oak flavors before a slightly boozy finish.

M: Medium-thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is slightly watery but still quite very drinkable.

O: Quite a good beer, overall. The body is a bit lacking, but otherwise is great.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,307 ratings.
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