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Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin

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

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

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Reviews: 342 | Ratings: 2,316
Photo of cjelden
3.44/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love FW beers. I go nuts over them. But Velvet Merkin didn't live up to the reputation for me. I drank this after drinking another local stout and it just showed how light on all fronts this beer was. Not a lot in the nose. Not a lot in flavor. I wish it had more bite to it's flavor and mouth feel. If you want real real smooth then you would like this more than I did.

 372 characters

Photo of jellikit
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Bottle.
Appearance: coca cola with a foamy, tan head. Sticky lacing.
Smell: figs, raisins, light bourbon, light oak.
Taste: see above. Plus a little cola. Yum.
Mouthfeel: light carbonation.light body. Slightly sweet.
Overall: great beer. Worth the $17. Almost like having a whiskey/coke with a great stout backer.

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Photo of TX-Badger
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with khaki colored head. Bourbon, roasted malt, and oak on the nose; follows onto the palate, with some coconut and oats. Finishes with a little sweetness and bourbon.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The nose has a light lactose-sweetness with fresh brewed coffee, some caramel and toffee, oats and lots of chocolate.

This is a chocolate bomb at first sip, thick and creamy. It opens late with bourbon, oats, cream, vanilla, chocolate, coconut and a ribbon of toffee.

FW nails this as they always do!

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Photo of kaseydad
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Batch 1 2013

Pours a nice black ale with a decent sized brown foamy head with ok lacing. Turns rather quickly to a ring around the glass and then nothing but a flat cola.

Aroma still has some nice bourbon kicking through with some roastiness, espresso, leather, char, rubber, and subtle chocolate.

Taste is a bit spicy with more espresso tones and boozy elements. Each sip gives a bit of a bite. Hoppy. Dark chocolate.

Much too thin. Was hoppy for something creamy ala the oatmeal experience.

Overall this was a nice but lacking in that big "it" factor. The thin body was much too noticeable on each sip. Still it is Firestone and therefore is always worthy of a try.

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Photo of marieli
3.57/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Draft. Dark brown. Coffee, bourbon and oak were the dominant smells and flavors. A bit on the thin side. I can see why people would be attracted to this stout but it's not quite my cup of tea.

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Photo of Anker13
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Review for 2014 Vintage

Appearance: Great pour, deep brown almost black, looks slightly thin, decent tan head

Aroma: Boozier than i remember... Bourbon upfront followed by a chocolatey, burnt marshmallow / campfire aroma

Mouthfeel: Light-Moderate carbonation, pretty thin, slight astringency

Taste: Bourbon flavor upfront... Spicy with a hint of vanilla. Muted chocolate and coffee follow

Residual: Flavor does not linger long. There's a definitive start to the beer but the chocolatey center is short lived

Overall: This is a great beer, truly it is, worth trying if you've never had it. However, the 2014 version is a little thinner and less flavorful than I was expecting. Reminds me of the difference between bourbon neat and bourbon on the rocks. The flavor is there but it's a little muted. Don't get me wrong though... Few BA beers live up to the quality of Firestone Walker's BA program. Would recommend to anyone

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Photo of busternuggz
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a tulip. 2014 vintage, aged in Rittenhouse Rye, Elijah Craig, and Woodford Reserve barrels.

Nice mostly opaque black color with a frothy, creamy beige 1/2" head. Recedes to about 1/8" with good retention. Leaves persistent spots of lacing.

Scents of sweet bourbon, chocolate chip cookies, blackberry pie filling, vanilla, a little coffee. So nice...

Big whiskey notes on the taste. I taste some spicy rye up front, sweeter bourbon follows. Creamy chocolate comes in next, followed by vanilla, toffee, some toasted oak, and a slightly bitter finish of roasted malt, coffee, and berries. More whiskey comes out as it warms up. Nice balance, the whiskey barrel is present but doesn't overpower the base stout.

Body comes on creamy and medium bodied, but ends kind of thin. Nice carbonation, but could maybe stand a little less.

Overall, hey, it's freakin Velvet Merkin. It's delicious, fuhgedaboutit. The body is a bit of a weak spot, but still a delicious FW beer.

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Photo of Matonika
4.54/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

What I love about this beer is that it has big flavors with out being overly sweet and overly boozy. It has the complexity of bourbon which is awesome. What would make this beer better is if had a 10-15 price range not the 19.99 I paid.

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Photo of stratusjeans
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Most other reviews are spot on so I'm going to be lazy and make mine simple. Very well balanced both on smell and taste. Easy to drink. At 8.5 ABV it's something you can drink one evening after work (which I did). The complaints about it being a little light on the mouthfeel are valid, but if you know that going in you'll be ok. It's not a thick beer but that adds to the easy drinkability. And maybe it's just me tonight, but it pairs great with Tillamook sharp cheddar. Good ahead and get it.

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Photo of buyyourfreedom
3.31/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I was really looking forward to this beer but came away underwhelmed. I felt the flavors were too subtle, particularly since it is barrel-aged. Also, it was entirely too thin for my taste.

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Photo of Dominic_Decoco
3.41/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Thin mouthfeel, boozy/hot flavor, oaky smell. A big disappointment from FW, was hoping it to be on the same level as Parabola but not even close. I guess it's because it's an oatmeal stout rather than a RIS

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Photo of Marius
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from memory - sampled at a tasting a year ago. Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, some caramel and roasted malts, smooth mouthfeel - another excellent beer from Firestone.

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Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.69/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Very delicious! A bit sweet for me though. Love all the carbonation.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.31/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a globe.

A: The room is dimly lit, but it appears to be a nice sheening black color. Two fingers of khaki colored head retain well. Spotty lacing.

S: Barrel aromas waft from the glass. Dusty oak, vanilla, rye whiskey. Caramel. Chocolate truffles. Coffee with cream. Oatmeal with brown sugar. Subtle whiff of alcohol. Sugar dates and black currants.

T: Starchy oats, chocolate truffles, sugar cookies, brown sugar, caramel. Iced coffee with two creams. Walnuts. The barrel is a focal point. Dusty oak, runny caramel, vanilla, corny sweet bourbon, mild barrel char. Oaky vanilla finish with lingering coffe and cream.

M: Medium-thick body. Smooth as silk. Creamy and luscious, slick and chewy. Low tingling carbonation.

O: Delicious. Effortless grace and balance. The barrel character is front and center, but never overbearing. Everything melds together nicely. Is it possible for a liquid to melt in your mouth? Because that's what it feels like. Firestone Walker's barrel aged beers are incomparable.

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Photo of crob3888
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark brown, nearly totally black and opaque. Some light shines through around the edges. A tan head forms, but eventually settles and disappears entirely.

S: Notice the smell during the pour. Vanilla bourbon notes dominated the sweet aroma, with dark chocolate as well. A good nose.

T: This is where the beer shines, as it should. The vanilla bourbon blends with rich dark chocolate truffle, and a hint of velvety espresso rounds it out. This is a brilliant bourbon aged beer.

F: Velvety smooth, as the name implies. Medium-full body, slightly chewy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin is one of my all-time favorite oatmeal stouts and Velvet Merkin is now an all-time favorite of the BBA variety. Firestone, as usual, knocks it out of the park.

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Photo of mr-jj
3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

650ml bottle split between four samplers. Notes from 12/28/14.

Color is dark brown, almost black with a tan head. Aroma is bourbon with some cocoa and vanilla. Flavor is roasted malt with traces of cocoa and vanilla. Bourbon flavor is not as strong as I expected from the nose. Body is light/medium - much lighter than I expected - with minimal carbonation and a creamy texture.

Overall, I tried this in a tasting with BCBS and Fremont KDS and it was very mild and lacking in flavor against those offerings. But it is still a very good beer.

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Photo of Barnoloid
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Rating of the 2013 vintage.This is a fine barrel aged stout. There is a little smoke and cocoa on the nose. Mouthfeel is fairly light, with the accent of the bourbon coming through fairly pertinently. A little dark fruit comes in on the back end. A fine sipping beer.

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Photo of antott0523
3.56/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

$13.99 at Fanwood Liquors in Fanwood, NJ

A: Opaque dark brown with a light brown head that settles to a thin layer with a fair amount of lacing. No visible carbonation.

S: Great nose with notes of vanilla and toffee. Freshly ground cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Sweet, smooth bourbon. A bit of roasted malts.

T: Semi sweet flavor profile with notes of cocoa, with faint notes of vanilla and bourbon. Semi dry finish with a mild amount of bitterness and a touch of black licorice.

M: Well carbonated and relatively thin.

D: The great nose has left me yearning for a bit more. Yes, the beer is highly drinkable. The 8.5% is imperceivable by any sense. However, the lack of flavor complexity and body leaves me wanting more.

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Photo of LordofWord
3.45/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.75

"Creamy"? "Smooth"? Definitely. This beer is what it is. But based on the $15 price tag, I will only make the mistake once. Never again. Solid but unspectacular. There just isn't enough improvement over the base oatmeal stout to warrant the cost.

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Photo of snaotheus
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into four disparate samplers.

Pours very dark -- but not opaque. Small creamy head. Very little carbonation. Smell is smokey, coffee. A little chocolate and vanilla.

Taste is mild compared to Bourbon County Brand Stout. No alcohol bite. Smooth, and surprisingly drinkable. Creamy. Like a super milk stout. Slight bourbon flavor.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Overall, very good.

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

Some other people have already touched on this, but this is a very thin, watery stout. If you really like bourbon, you will probably enjoy it, but it squashes almost all flavors. Very disappointing compared to the other Firestone offerings. Not undrinkable, but I would not seek it out again unless it was fresh. I had a 2013 version. Maybe it does not hold up well.

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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 ronricorossi
3.72/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Yeah, the complaints about the mouthfeel are pretty accurate. Much thinner than one would expect. Flavors are fine, but not exceptional. The weakest of FW's special releases (which is almost an unfair comparison, since the others are all world-beaters, or close to it...)

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Photo of larryi86
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle poured into a teku

A- Black with a three finger light mocha head.

S- Bourbon, some vanilla, oak, cocoa powder, slightly metallic, some coffee, and sweet oats. Metallic notes are kind of off putting, if they weren't there I would rate the smell at least 4.25.

T- Mild bourbon, hints of oak and vanilla, cocoa powder, fairly sweet, some coffee, some nice oat quality, nicely balanced, no hint of alcohol at all.

M- Smooth, creamy, medium body.

O- Bose throw me off but the taste is great. Didn't feel it would be great to age, but I really enjoy how it tastes fresh, can't wait to get more next year. Bourbon is a nice added flavor but not a big flavor in this beer.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,316 ratings.
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