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Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding
339 Reviews
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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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:
339
Ratings:
2,298
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
24.59%
 
 
Wants:
401
Gots:
1,004
For Trade:
136
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Reviews: 339 | Ratings: 2,298
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.

 463 characters

Photo of Fcolle2
4.61/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage

Pours dark thick black letting little to no light through. Head is thin tan and fades to a tan ring around the glass that's retains nicely.

Smell is great. Rich dark chocolate malt along with creamy oat aromas are balanced nicely with a light barrel and bourbon aromas. Notes of semi sweet chocolate truffle, cookie dough and raisins.

Taste is awesome and follows the nose. Rich semi sweet chocolate malt is forward and so incredibly rich and creamy that it is almost like desert in a glass. Some faint dark ripe blackberry fruity esters follow along with a more prevalent oak barrel and lighter bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is great. Thick, creamy great body. Mild carbonation leaves this a great sipping beer, perfect for a bitter cold night.

Incredible beer, I'm glad I have another to cellar.

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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 whatthehull
4.64/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a Tulip/Wine/Snifter

A - B E A Utiful velvety (no pun intended) black/blood red, one finger deep chocolate colored head and some sticky lacing

S - vanilla, caramelized raisins, brown sugar, very delicate anise, homemade molasses, kona style coffee note, baking yeast, sugar, plums, cherries, chocolate covered blueberries, toasted grains, woody whiskey booze note and awesomeness

T - chocolate covered berries, whiskey, sweet rich aromatic coffee, aged whiskey/bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, anise, sarsaparilla, molasses, floral like hoppy note, roasted toastiness and a milk like smoothness

M - full bodied, nearly perfect balance and complexity, medium minus acidity and a very nice chocolate berry vanilla booze party in your mouth finish

D/O - Very lovely stout. I mean well freaking done. Refreshing, smooth, sexy, flavorful and leaves you wanting nothing but more! If you like stouts, love stouts or beer/ale in general, this one is worth a go or 12.

Final thoughts - Price is very high at $14 - 20 a bottle and the abv is nice, but I like a little more at 8.5%, still worth a try or a million.

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Photo of Outlandishbrew
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served at 45 degrees in a Firestone tulip.

A - Pours nearly opaque with a 1 inch light tan head

S - This is my favorite part of this beer. I absolutely love the combo of caramel, chocolate, raisins, vanilla... oh, and bourbon! its very complex and pleasant.

T - Don't get me wrong, I love this beer but when I was trying to describe the taste, I took a sip with my nose plugged and I honestly thought of soda. like Dr. Pepper mixed with coke and a shot of bourbon. I don't mean that in a bad way because it wasn't a bad flavor, I just think that the aroma of this beer definitely carries the flavors a lot. It also finishes surprisingly drier then expected from the aroma.

M - The only stipulation on the dry finish is the silkyness left from the oats (I assume). Halfway through the bottle you'll notice a slickness between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. I guess I would say this is a medium bodied beer.

O - Definitely an awesome beer that I would prolly turn tricks for. That makes me pretty whorey I guess because pretty much anything that Brynildson brews up makes my panties wet. I look forward to trying this beer again with some age. But after tasting it fresh I wouldn't recommend aging this bad boy for too long (3-5 years at most). I have a feeling that the slightest hint of paper/cardboard mixed with the lightish body and silky mouthfeel would be a poopy combo.

Cheers!

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black foil sealed 22oz bottle from j47paco (thanks Juan!). No bottling date but this is the 2013 release from a few months ago. Served in a Three Floyds teku.

Pours deep, dark, near-black brown with two fingers of tan head. Maintains a nice, frothy cap for quite a while, leaving lots of lace.

Smells of bourbon, vanilla, roast malts and a little cocoa. Sweet and inviting.

Taste follows the nose but adds much more depth. Smooth, sweet bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla, oak, oats, caramel, toasted malts, mild dark fruit and a wisp of alcohol. Very easy to drink with nice layers of flavor all wrapped up in a soft, complementary blanket of bourbon.

Creamy medium body with moderate carbonation. Bourbon, chocolate and toasted oat finish.

An outstanding oatmeal stout. The bourbon is in near perfect balance with the creamy base. This is worth seeking out to give a try.

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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 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 arizcards
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber Reserve Series 001 from BevMo on 10-12-13 for $14.99. Bottled on 8/23/13.

Beer poured cola brown with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is wonderful, chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon.

Taste is bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is disappointing, light to medium bodied and not overly smooth.

Overall this brew rocks! With the flavor and nose one expects a viscous brew but other than that this is worthy of trying if you can scarce up a bottle.

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Photo of hopsputin
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: dark black with some murky brown notes coming from the bottom. small finger beige head that fades rather quickly and leaves some bubbles on top

s: milk chocolate, tons of oats, sweet vanilla, coconut, almonds, toffee, bourbon soaked prunes, raisins, and a smooth hint of bourbon. i am admittedly not a huge fan of bourbon barrel aged beers, but this smells incredible

t: creamy oats, lots of milk chocolate, sweet toasted malt, coconuts, vanilla, raisins, chocolate syrup, decadent fudge, caramel, and a hint of oak. everything in this is so smooth, and blends so well together. each flavor melts into the next very nicely. also call me freaking crazy, but i feel like i taste some cucumber in here. i have no idea why, i know its insane to think

m: medium - actually not as heavy as i expected. light carbonation. its got a rich, silky mouthfeel

o: what i like best about this is that the bourbon is not overwhelming. all the nice oatmeal stout flavors are allowed to shine, and the bourbon is there to cut some of the sweetness. this is definitely a sipper, and would be a great beer to share amongst friends

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Photo of Roguer
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Jet black brew, thin tan head, OK retention, decent lacing.

Chocolate malts and a hint of bourbon through the nose. Fairly understated aroma.

Noticeable bourbon, vanilla, and oak, balanced against dark cocoa and oatmeal.
Complex, balanced, sweet, and delicious.

Smooth and chewy. No burn, but the alcohol is present. This is a big bodied beer.

Fantastic beer. Super smooth and understated, very drinkable, and low ABV for the style.

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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 MattSweatshirt
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black pour with ruby highlight at the bottom of the glass. Light brown head. Leaves some lacing.

The Merkin tempts you with a sweet chocolate, toffee, and bourbony aroma. Soft oak and coconut barrel.

The flavor is amazing with chocolate, vanilla, coffee roastiness, bourbon, and barrel character.

Smooth medium bodied beer with plenty of tingly carbonation.

Really well done.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.51/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours almost totally black in color. Minimal tan froth.

(S)- A great vanilla oatmeal aroma up front. Some chocolate and caramel oak. Superb oatmeal characters on the nose. One of the most striking oatmeal stout smells I have encountered thus far.

(T)- A superb stand out oatmeal, chocolate, and vanilla combo. Some oaky char in there on the finish.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level. I dig the balance this has with a nice stand out oatmeal profile. It does get to be a bit sweet as it warms.

(O)- One of the more oatmeal forward stouts in recent memory. Very well balanced with a dessert quality to it. The barrel really showcases how well the oatmeal works with it. Fantastic now; I would be surprised if this improved any with age. I say drink now.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle No. 001 – 2013
Notes taken 11-27-13 - Split two ways into snifters

A: Dark cola brown that settles to a near black in the glass. Looks thinner around the edges. Small brim of fluffy light brown sugar that settles out to a crown only after a few moments. Light dotting and squiggles of lace remain to the glass after each sip.

S: Smells of bourbon infused oak with some lightly charred grains, chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla syrup, and just a hint of soy. More molasses like probably. The barrel quality is light and subtle giving no boozy spirits effect which is my preference.

T: Taste is wonderfully complex yet delicately balanced and smooth with loads of dark fruit presenting as caramelized fig and dark cherries. More dark roast grain emerges with an earthy oak presence. Vanilla bean and bourbon with some chocolate crème. The bourbon is mellow and perfectly in line with the other attributes. Alcohol is downplayed with just a whisper of noticeable warming coming through. Nothing competes and the beer is void of any harshness. Simply divine and more impressive than the nose.

M: Silken smooth feel. Velvet. A touch thin in the body hitting a moderate level of fill. Creamy and light with some mild ABV warmth. Sleek on the tongue but fairly clean overall.

D: Absolutely delicious. The balance gives supreme drinkability and the marriage of flavors is impeccable. You can fault the thinner body but if you have had the regular Merlin you would know this is by design. Comparing this to Parabola is a mistake.

So glad this is now in the Reserve Series. Very deserving.

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Photo of gueuzedreg
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz batch one into a Goose Island glass.

A- Not quite jet black. On the sides of the glass when held up to light brown barely transparent through. Pretty thick. Minimal lacing with little retention.

S- Big oats/oatmeal upfront, with sugary sweet malts and little bit of dark fruit.

T- Slight oatmeal stout, not overpowering with a touch of booze heat at the end. I kinda wanted this to be a big bad bold oatmeal stout that has heat on the end. I know that this kind of stout would get thinner because of the barrel aging.

M- Pretty thick for a BA Oatmeal Stout. Not thick like Zhukov, and not as thin as Central Waters BB Stout, right in the middle of both.

O- I was not impressed with the hype behind this one. I probably will seek out one bottle next year, and not go overboard searching for it.

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Photo of jaasen64
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle poured into 18oz Funky Buddha snifter. '13 vintage, 3500 cases produced.

A- Pours a dark brown that appears a jet black in the glass, about a half-fingers worth of slight mocha head forms leaving off-white spotty lacing. Head recedes to just a wispy flat top.

S- Dark malts with a little bit of dark chocolate, licorice, lactose sugars, some faint toffee. About average aroma strength, pleasant smelling, bourbon doesn't come out too much. Overall a nice aroma with a little bit of complexity but nothing too memorable.

T- Nice lactose sugars mixed with a bit of dark chocolate, some light licorice, toffee, more dark chocolate comes out on the finish with a bit of milk chocolate, some light leather, very subtle bourbon, and more lactose sugars. Nice long enjoyable finish.

M- Fairly light for style, a little bit spritzy with a decent amount of carbonation, very drinkable though.

O- I enjoyed this beer but I don't think I'd say it lives up to the hype it has been receiving. There just wasn't anything that really stood out for me, maybe I just had too high of expectations loving Parabola and Sucaba. Definitely worth the try, but there is no way I'd pay $17 for another bottle (even at half that I'd be a little bit hesitant).

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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 draheim
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz (No. 001, bottled 8/23/2013) into a snifter. Pours a deep dark brownish black w/ a minimal head, just a ring of khaki foam around the edge.

Aroma is big chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon, similar to Parabola. Lots of rich, swirling complexity here, and the glass is still pretty cold. Difficult as it is, I'm going to let this warm up a bit before I continue... OK, where was I? Ah yes. Now I'm getting more of everything I mentioned above, plus a really nice oaky char. Outstanding.

Taste has all the qualities of the aroma: vanilla, caramel, bourbon, chocolate, and a nice warming roastiness.

Mouthfeel is just a touch thin, not really surprising for a relatively low ABV stout like this. Otherwise it's slick and smooth, and goes down way too easy. Good carbonation.

Overall, another barrel-aged wonder from Firestone Walker.

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Photo of MacQ32
4.51/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - almost motor oil black with a minimal chocolate head, weak retention and OK lacing

S - Tons of sweet chocolate, smokey/almost roasty aromas. Lots and lots of oats. Tons of dry okay aromas and a wallop of bourbon

T - Sweet milk stout with tons of great oat flavor. Swear vanilla sweet bourbon flavor, lots of oak.

M - perfectly smooth. Minimal carbonation, thick, very warming combines with a great balanced but bkurbony flavor profile to form an incredibly nice drinking brew

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

A nice head retention. Looks pretty thin. deep brown color.

S yep its a Firestone BA beer. That classic firestone bourbon, vanilla & coconut smell dominates.

T falls a touch short here for me. Its good but not blowing me away as most fw beers do. Mostly follows the nose although there is a touch of bitterness on the back end as it warmed

M I've seen the reviews and indeed it is a thin mouth feel. However, I rather enjoyed it and it just makes it more drinkable.

O I think I prefer this one a bit chilled but the more I drink it, the more I like it. Honestly tho this is prob my least favorite fw BA beer but still quite delicious and a nice alternative to parabola

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Photo of chugalug06
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

#700 - Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Super, fluffy, foamy, milky tan, crispy, butters, bubbly head appearance. Brew is thin(er) black very little light shines though. Nice lacing too.

Tons of oats, vanilla, barrel notes, hazelnut, coffee, milky chocolate.

Flavors burst. Deep, complex, creamy, thin(er), popcorn(y), no booze or barrel bite. Vanilla pours out of the roasty (light) hazelnut chalky flavors. Dry, roasty, English-style, combination of flavors. Carbonation is way lighter than visible though appearance and fits nicely.

Highly drinkable, very relaxed. Smooth easy barrel-aged brew. Not a typical over the top BA brew. Highly recommended, definitely worth seeking out, if you can find it. Here's to 700 more, cheers!!!

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Photo of Vixie
4.17/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown, only light getting through is on the edges. Not a large head, not the darkest beer I have seen, but not much light through it either.

Lot going on in the smell department. It starts out a bit candy like, with chocolate, caramel, coconut, and a hint of alcohol.

Very complex beer. Tastes a lot like it smells, there's chocolate, coffee, caramel, coconut, vanilla, and a slight booziness at the finish.

The feel is smooth, but not quite as thick as I was expecting.

Definitely a nice beer here. It has a nice smell with a taste to match. For being a big beer, it goes down easy, I'd easily drink more of this.

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Photo of RichD
4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
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 beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage No.001

India ink black body with a smooth, creamy, off-white head. Light coffee, vanilla, chocolate and cocoa aromas. Deeply rich and soothing malt sugar flavors, favoring the darker malts. Heavy body yet velvety smooth.

A very noticeable oak-bourbon scent right off the top strongly suggests what the rest of the tasting experience may be like. Silky sweet taste and feel, mostly comprised of a deeply rich yet zesty chocolate tone. Mint chocolate quality overall, adding a very tasty and appealing sweetness and zing to things. An exquisitely well-balanced and complex dark ale. Deep and engrossing and near-perfect.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 339 ratings.
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