Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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358 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:
358
Ratings:
2,394
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
9.46%
 
 
Wants:
404
Gots:
1,070
For Trade:
144
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Reviews: 358 | Ratings: 2,394
Photo of Murrhey
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had as part of the "Reserve Flight" at the Bruery Provisions for its Firestone Walker tap takeover. Poured in a 2oz taster. Reviewed from notes.

A- Off-white head, fairly thin especially when sat next to its less boozy brother the Merlin. The higher alcohol content probably had a lot to do with that. Dark black color, no light peeked through.

S- Chocolate and bourbon, warm and dark. Inviting smell. I like this quite a bit.

T- So smooth. Boozy and malty. Warm and decadent with a distinct bourbon taste.

M- Thin, with an alcoholic feel. Finishes wet.

O- I want more of this beer.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got at the FireStone walker tap room in paso... Served in a proprietors rsv snifter.

A: served a deep black... Slight brown around the edges, little to no head... And virtually no lacing.

S: toastyney vanilla and caramel, along with chocolate.... Almost reminds me of fudgy brownies... A very inviting and pleasing aroma... The burbon is there but not overwhelimg... Just blended perfectly.

T: much like the nose I get dry fudgy chocolate accented by toasty vanilla and caramel, and a bit of burbon mixed in, but again nothing is overwhelimg, just very well balanced.... I get a but of almond and dark cherry in there as well towards the finish. A lot of the espresso flavor in this brew takes a back seat compared to the mon barrel aged velvet Merlin... But works perfectly with the barrel profiles going on.

M: light/medium body with medium crisp carbonation... Very drinkable and well rounded, indeed a velvety mouthfeel. But all the same I feel this one could have used a little more heft.

O: a greatly rounded barrel aged stout... I would love to drink this again anytime... I only wish they had it in nitro like the velvet Merlin.

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Photo of unclejazz
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I have been looking forward to trying this ever since trying Velvet Merlin in December. Thank you goes to Brouwerij Lane for getting this and pouring me more than my share.

A-dark brown with a half inch head tan there is great lacing went along with a decent espresso like color.

S-solid bourbon with vanilla and earthy notes which all complemented the roast malt and oat base.

T-this delivers the goods, it is not at all boozy, but wonderful bourbon carmel favors that have wonderful oak undertones. This is an amazing accomplishment.

M-thick and definitely in the sipper category. Just a touch of heat from the bourbon left a great burn in the aftertaste. I could sip this for days, so rewarding.

O-I thought I might never try this but so glad I did. This is e future of beer, some day it will be bottled and I will be there. Fantastic!

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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 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 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 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 socon67
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours black with a slight redish hue. No lacing noted. A slight tan foam that lays just on the surface.

S - Great scent of roasted malt, fresh oatmeal, and coffee. I found the bourbon was a faint part of the smell.

T - Really nice! The first flavor is a roasty malt with a bit of spicy kick that stays on the tongue. The bourbon is much more pronounced in the taste. There is a warming burn at the end, though it is mild. A little bit of coffee bitterness is noted.

M - Feels heavyier than it is, though I was able to drink 16oz of this pretty easily. Coates the mouth a bit, and has a peppery spice feel.

O - Really liked this one, and yet another Firestone Walker beer I seem to enjoy. Let this one warm a bit and enjoy the flavors. Personally I think the BBA didn't make this better; it is really good on its own.

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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 Gatch
4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of amart79
4.92/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Opaque black color with a pretty big brown tinted head that hangs around for a while.

S - toasty coffee beans, some vanilla and a good smell of malts. Awesome.

T - the taste just follows right where the smell left off. The toasted malt and coffee beans flow right into a little taste of vanilla that flows beautifully into a bourbon taste right at the end.

M - creamy lightly carbonated and incredibly smooth. Even with the small bourbon bite at the end, it goes down easy.

O - literally one of the best beers I've ever had. The velvet merlin was already great and the aging in bourbon barrels just enhances every aspect of it. I'd recommend it to anyone that's gonna be around the brewery since it's only on tap.

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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 McD0uche
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap (tulip glass) at Firestone Brewery on Feb-04-2012.

A: Thick black with a good, frothy, two-finger head of coppery brown bubbles. No lacing to speak of. Retention is excellent.

S: Roasted malts up front with coffee and oat notes. Maybe a hint of dark fruits.

T: Massively huge roasted malt flavor, and the coffee and oats play in the background. The bourbon is present and distinguishable. Excellent.

M: Light carbonation, heavier body. Finishes light and a little wet. Compliments the style.

O: I really enjoyed the Velvet Merkin. It's a shame they don't let you take some away in a growler or else I would have been all over this one.

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Photo of Phelps
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

That’s right: Velvet MERKIN. Barrel-aged goodness. Though I’ve been told a portion of the regular Merlin is aged in barrels, I never get much of it, so I’ve been looking forward to this. According to the Firestone rep on call for tonight’s tapping, Merkin is four times as expensive to make as Merlin and aged 6 to 8 months in Heaven Hill and Four Roses barrels. It wasn’t even supposed to surface in Arizona this year, but the Firestone guys owed the owner of Flanny’s a favor, and here we are.

Dead black, without a hint of light coming through. The airy, sand-colored head gets to be about an inch tall before receding quickly, leaving behind some thin lace trails and an impressive ring of froth.

Amazing aroma. The usual barrel notes of toasted coconut, charred oak and buttery vanilla are all here. Backing them up is what makes Merlin great: roasty, chocolatey goodness. Cocoa nibs, dark chocolate, marzipan, toffee, coffee beans. So smooth, so sweet. Damn near perfect.

The flavor's a bit of a letdown after that performance. It starts with sweet toffee and vanilla bean, followed by definite alcohol notes and oodles of vinous new oak. A simple wave of poor quality chocolate rolls in mid-palate, and notes of bitter coffee and sweet toffee settle in the back. Soft oats join after the swallow. There’s not quite enough of the stout flavor to back up the whiskey — which actually seems lesser quality than what it is. Overall the flavor’s still very good — it’s just not as outrageous as the nose promised.

Some fumes come through my nostrils, but overall the booze is very well-hidden. Body is just under medium, but has nice viscosity, like heavy milk. Mild, tiny fizz bubbles; sweet, nearly tangy finish.

Merlin is world-class for its smoothness and subtlety, so it might not be the best venue to showcase bourbon-aging. I wish just a little bit more of the base beer came through. Very good, not great.

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Photo of newsage
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Best Beer Ever! Silky smooth, milk chocolate, coffee bean, oak and bourbon are all present. The best beer i ever had. Too bad it's not bottled or sold to take home. WTF you can only drink it at the brewery when they have it there but it always runs out.

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Photo of phichifiji00
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into tulip glass at the brewery.

Appearance: black, tan head fades quickly. No lacing.

Smell: chocolate, bourbon, coconut, Vanilla,

Taste: chocolate, oatmeal, bourbon, coconut, oak, vanilla.

Mouthfeel: smooth, silky, full bodied, minimal carbonation slightly boozy as it warms.

Overall: very tasty. Good complexity. Well balanced. Highly drinkable.

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

On tap at Holiday Ale Festival, note the program lists the ABV at 8.6%, OG 15, 33 IBU.

Dark brown head, uneven bubbles, over very dark brown almost black body, medium dissipation with no visible carbonation. Pronounced bourbon and roasted malt aromas with some floral hops for balance. Really big chocolate notes upfront on the tastebuds, some vanilla from the barrel and floral hops on back end, minimal bitterness. Mouthfeel medium, really dry finish attributed to the oats. A step up from 'regular' Mirkin, which is certainly one of America's (and the world's) best Oatmeal Stouts. Despite the protestations of one of Beervana's leading bloggers, one of the best beers I've had this year. The bourbon was in much better balance than several of the other barrel-aged beers at HAF, may be attributable to the high quality (Heaven's Hills) barrels used. Another masterpiece from Matt B., all the lunchbox heads agreed this was one of the best beers at HAF, lucky I was able to try this.

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Photo of Mahlik
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap on at the 2011 Holiday Ale Fest in Portland. Poured into the plastic souvenir mug.

* This is the 100% Bourbon Barrel Aged version. The ABV is listed as 8.6%.

A - Pours an opaque dark brown with a one-finger creamy, brown head. Head retention was average. Good lacing.

S - An amazing aroma of milk chocolate and coconut. Almost like a Mounds bar. Roasted malts are mixed in. I also really like what the additional barrel-aging did for this beer. The bourbon and oak notes really round out the aroma.

T - The smooth candy bar-like flavors of milk chocolate and coconut are complimented by roasted malts, vanilla and a touch of coffee. The bourbon wraps everything up to create a well balanced taste. Not overly complex but everything works to perfection.

M - This is the true standout for me. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. The creaminess is so inviting and only makes me want to take any other sip. Medium-to-thick bodied with moderate carbonation. I had no problem downing my mug.

O - This was the standout beer for me at the Holiday Ale Fest. I'm pretty sure a lot of our people would agreed since it was consistently one of the longest lines at the fest. I ended up get a couple mugs of this. I wish the 100% barrel-aged version was always available.

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Photo of billshmeinke
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Blue Palms.

Pitch black with a finger of off white head. Retention and lacing are fine for the style.

Smells of oaky vanilla, coconut, some chocolate, hint of alcohol, hint of cereal like oats.

Tastes follows smell, only more intense and complex. Tastes of bakers chocolate, rolled oats, really pronounced coconut note, oaky vanilla.

Medium bodied, well carbonated, some alcohol spice. Kind of expected it to be a bit more full bodied and sticky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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

On tap at Far Bar in Little Tokyo - snifter

A: Really lovely jet black color, fine hints of caramel brown in the light. Big thick coffee colored head, at least 2 fingers, really sexy looking stout.

S: Bourbon jumps out, but is a little weaker than I expected. Lots of oats and toasty grains, chocolate and mild vanilla with a faint bit of wood. It's not as clean and balanced as I thought, but it's still a pleasant aroma.

T: The oats and the bourbon weren't really doing it for me. Merlin is pretty heavy on the oats and toasty grains and the bourbon just kinda sat there and didn't compliment it at all. It was a bit disjointed, lots of bitter coffee and chocolates in the stout with a melange of oak, vanilla and bourbon kind of scattered around.

M: Nice and full bodied, not to thick and chewy and not too easy either. Great to sip or get a nice big gulp.

O: This was a bit disjointed for me, lots of strong elements and flavors, just not really working in harmony, maybe it needed more age, maybe it had too much age. Maybe the bourbon and oats just didn't mesh.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ FoBAB.

A: pour dark brown, pretty much identical to the base beer, decent retention, creamy head

S: like the base beer, this is an excellent aromatic showcase of roasted barley, this is paired with vanilla, cream, and mellow chocolate.

T: vanilla shows up front with mellow oak qualities, this is followed by chocolate and roasted malt, great balance, very smooth flavors

MF: somewhat thin but on par for a 5.5% oatmeal stout, medium carbonation

O: this is a great drinkable barrel aged stout. There aren't a whole lot of barrel aged stouts with such a low ABV, this one pulls it off nicely

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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 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 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 srandycarter
3.87/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this at a Firestone Walker tasting at Blind Lady over the weekend. It is not retired and there is a difference between the Merlin and the Merkin. Merlin is not barrel aged and is available in bottles. Merkin is BAed and is not available in bottle.

A - No head, dark, almost black, with amber notes.

S - cocoa, roasted malt, light wood.

T - Chocolate chip cookies, burnt coffee, bitter end.

M - Medium to heavy body, heavy bitter, slightly chaulky finish.

D - Though low ABV, flavors are huge palate killers and I would tire fast.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,394 ratings.
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