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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
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 339 | Ratings: 2,298
Photo of Modernrickk
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving type bottle

This beer looks like cold black coffee. When held up to the light I can see thru it. Not much head retention. Not exactly an elegant looking beer. Sure does smell good tho. It's not in your face in the aroma but very pleasing mix of malts and bourbon.the vanilla-like aroma from the wood smells amazing. Tastes like a bit of chocolate dipped in a bit of watered down bourbon. The low abv kinda makes the mouthfeel a bit thin for a BBA stout but really helps the balance of the taste. Overall this beer is pretty darn good. Balance in the bourbon and stout flavors is everything here ..

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Photo of Moose90
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage Served On-Tap & From 22oz Bottle

A — Pours a deep and clear brown hued liquid into the glass. There is a mocha colored head that forms on-top and leaves behind some spots of lacing. Lighter than anticipated.

S — Smell is light but focused on sweet Bourbon notes of vanilla and oak. Little bit of a chocolate malt body with notes of cocoa and coffee.

T — Medium heavy notes of chocolate and coffee, balanced with a resounding sweet Bourbon kick.

M — Medium bodied, lingering semi-sweet finish.

O — Good overall, just really light and fairly straightforward for FW Prop. releases.

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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 BottleConditioned
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: heart of black walnut with Carmel edges. Carbonation is too scarce and course. A bit frothy with larger bubbles. Would be amazing to try on nitro.
Nose: nouget, vanilla, Carmel competes with a yeast overtone. Very understated on the bourbon.
Pallet: true to the name; super smooth. Fresh tobacco humidor, milk chocolate.
Feel: velvety smooth.
Beer is pure to its oatmeal stout vision; best in class for that. More than sum of its parts. Incredibly drinkable.

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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 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 AppaZappa
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 version poured into a snifter. This looks and smells the part--comes out a rich brown color with smooth white head. Smell is sweet bourbon, vanilla, oak, slight malt. The taste is good, but not great. Like others, I found the barrel presence to be surprisingly subtle--and disappointingly so. Feel is more springy than expected, and it's thin per the style.

A solid beer, but I won't go out of my way to get it again.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle a dark brown-black with two fingers of tan head. No lacing with this one.

Aroma of roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, and boozy oak.

Like the aroma, tasted of roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla and a boozy oakey sweet warmth. Boozy notes linger thru the finish.

Lighter-to-medium bodied and smooth with a moderate carbonation.

Thinner bodied and boozier than I expected. Still, a real nice stout.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled on Tap at 1702, Tucson; March 2010
Arrives from the tap an opaque, dark color that shows a touch of clear red / brown hues when held up to the light. The head is quite wispy and seems a bit dark. At first the aroma has a thin vanilla note to it as well as a roast grain aromatic. Actually the aroma is really hard for me to smell, but as it warms I get hints of buttery oak and a hint of almost fruity tartness.

There is a hint of sweetness in the flavor (or is that vanillin) up front, but this dries out quite significantly as this rolls across the tongue. Vanillin lingers along with notes of dark chocolate, roasted grain and a hint of barrel-derived spiciness on the palate. The mouthfeel is pretty creamy feeling, but it still remains light as this is definitely a beer to quaff a couple pints of. The roast character dominates the flavor profile, but it is well balanced and keeps from being harsh, astringent, or acidic (which I find as common "flaws" in roasted beers). This is really well balanced in the flavor; roast, sweeter malt character, vanillin and bittering notes all work together quite harmoniously. The barrel is quite mellow actually, vanillin is here, as is an oak derived spiciness and a tannic quality in the finish, but I could almost be convinced that this was not barrel aged.

This is an awesome quaffing / session brew; it is full flavored, delicious andcomplex, too bad that this aroma comes off as being so muted (is it the glass, my nose, I don't know but I think it is actually just the beer).

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.09/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a deep brown color with a thin light brown head. Leaves some nice spotty lace down the glass.

S: Roasted malt, freshly ground medium roast coffee, milk chocolate and some vanilla all laced with a mild touch of whiskey.

T: Opens with a smooth hit of milk chocolate sweetness. Chocolate cake, roasted malt and chocolate milkshake. Finishes with just a hint of whiskey, vanilla and the barest hint of charred oak. Good flavors, but the mouthfeel just doesn't do this beer justice. Very thin with just a hint of creaminess from the oats. Parabola light is a good description. Very light.

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Photo of jibbyvonjibb
4.1/5  rDev -3.1%

Oatmeal cookie, vanilla, subtle bourbon flavor, a touch of coffee roast. Body is medium, very smooth and drinkable. Acidity is low. Lingering moderate sweetness. It's good, not great, so I wouldn't buy it again for $15 nor advise you to (buy Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout instead).

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Photo of Stardusthotel83
4.11/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Nice and dark, not too heavy, really light mouth feel. Taste was good but could have used more of the bourbon. Smelled nice with lots of coffee and some chocolate notes. This was for the 2015 vintage. Definitely worth a try.

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

Review/Rating No. 800, celebrated with Batch 001 of Velvet Merkin in celebration of the birth of my first son. Split with my brother into pint glasses.

A: Nearly opaque with tan head and lace. Decent retention and lacing.

S&T: Sweet whiskey and vanilla...chocolate, some burnt barley, and oak. Toasted sugars from front to back, caramel? Definitely some toasted coconut and some almonds and hazelnuts. Coffee as it warms. Warmth on the finish but no booze really. This is a lighter body and bourbon presence than I was expecting.

MF: Medium-full bodied, but lighter than I thought it would be. Definitely smooth, but the oats aren't as apparent as I thought/hoped they'd be.

O: A good beer that didn't quite live up to the hype for me. Firestone Walker has ridiculous expectations set on their barrel-aged beers, and rightfully so as most of them are near perfect. This one, for me, was missing body and lower on aromas/flavors of bourbon than I wanted. Still an excellent BA oatmeal stout that is lower in ABV.

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

Consumed October 9th, 2013. Poured into a tulip at 50 degrees F.

Beer is deep, deep, deep brown... okay, maybe it's black. Two finger tan head forms and subsides with reasonable rapidity. Traces of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Aroma - Bitter chocolate and raw alcohol. A dash of oatmeal and wood as well.

Flavor - Unexpectedly sweet up front. Oatmeal is more a texture than a flavor, though a trace shows up. Modest chocolate maltiness. Trace of wood. Bourbon is apparent more as heat than as flavor, though there is a touch of vanilla. Low but present bitterness.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. A tad undercarbonated, maybe. Trace of alcohol heat on finish.

Not the holy grail of beer, but perhaps the holy grail of oatmeal stout?

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Photo of jeff1973
4.12/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Stone IRS tulip. Bottled in 9/13, so around a month old? Bought at Whole Foods Newport Beach for $14.99.

A - Pitch black, no sign of red on the edges. Khaki head leaves nice lacing. Looks thick.

S - Slight vanilla and coconut. Followed by a milk chocolate and slightly ashy smell. Smell is not overwhelming.

T - Great balance. Smooth, creamy milk chocolate w/ a nice vanilla and coconut finish. Everything is subtle and blends really nicely.

M - Medium to full mouthfeel. Very smooth and creamy. Medium low carbonation that fits the style.

O - Really nice beer. The smell is a little muted, but the taste and mouthfeel make this a great beer. The price is a little steep for the enjoyment factor, but I would still categorize this a "great" beer.

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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 Sparty1224
4.13/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 4.25

Serving: 22 oz. bomber poured into a snifter. 2014 vintage with no obvious bottle date.

A: You know when you hear the description of some BBA stouts as pouring like "thick motor oil"? Ya, this isn't that. Pours more like Coca-Cola. Once it's in the glass, though, it's not too bad. Dark brown-black body, minimal tan head.

S: Very nice aroma. Hit with the bourbon right up front. Very clean, lots of vanilla, some almond nuttiness. Just a hint of chocolate in the background. Fair amount of oak and barrel character.

T: A little underwhelming. Soft notes of vanilla, oak, flourless chocolate. A hint of toffee near the back end. Whiskey comes through strongly in the finish, but it's nicely balanced.

M: Disappointingly thin. Very, very watery for a BA stout.

O: So my expectations for Merkin were low because I wasn't a huge fan of Merlin. I thought the base beer was unimpressive, very thin and watery, and weak in flavor. So I wasn't sure how barrel-aging would help that. For the most part, it's an improvement. Wonderful flavors of vanilla, oak, almond all come through and the beer is very balanced and drinkable. The bourbon character is very nicely wrapped around this beer. However, a thin base beer leads to a thin BBA beer and the look and mouthfeel are just so unimpressive and leave a lot to be desired.

Recommendation: Not a must-try if you don't care for Velvet Merlin, but definitely still worth seeking out just for the fact that FW is so good at barrel-aging beers.

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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

2014-12-28
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 gopens44
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not the most picturesque beer nor does it go much deeper than the bourbon on the nose, but the complexity in taste make up the difference. Bourbon opens up into the vanilla and coffee masterfully before a thin bitterness rides out.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

10oz draft at the olympic tavern served in a Firestone walker mini nonic pint glass. light black body with a thick cap of tan colored head. Smells of light roast, oats, a nice dose of chocolate, and barely detectable bourbon. Taste is more chocolaty than anything with a hinting of oats. Light bourbon presence pairs with some rootbeer/cola notes. Light to moderate sweetness. A medium bodied beer that has low carbonation. The beer is a little thin, but the drinkability on this beer aged stout is fantastic. The score should be closer to a 4, but with the drinkability considered it deserves all of the 4.25 in the mouthfeel category. Really solid barrel aged oatmeal stout by FSW. Glad to finally track down a taste of this beer.

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Photo of Samuel906
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4.5

Well, I feel honored to have the first review of the first bottle release of Velvet Merkin ever, something I have been looking forward to a lot longer than I'd like to admit. And here it is, straight from the brewery in Paso Robles, Batch No. 001, 2013.

First, a note on appearance going beyond just the pour: I really like what Firestone has done this past year and for most of their reserve and limited releases. The box design and bottle design has been very consistent with the only major change between brews being color accents. It makes their bottle collections look very handsome and tasteful.

As for the beer... Pours black, very black, with only some minor hints of reddish tinge on the fringes when light is shown through. Light khaki head with some retention; no effervescing visible.

The smell... mmmm the smell. My very first impression was a breakfast setting of coffee and oats, rich and full. Further inspection will reveal coconut, graham crackers, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Being able to smell the toasted fresh grains is delightful. One of my new favorite smelling beers; I seriously just sniffed for a good 10 minutes before diving in any further.

The tune changes a bit for me once we start drinking unfortunately. I'm going to skip right to mouthfeel because it was the fist thing I noticed. It is very, very thin and watery and not what you may expect from an Imperial Stout. Carbonation is light. But don't despair, the full rich flavor makes up somewhat for what the body lacks.

When they say bourbon barrel aged, they aren't kidding. Aged bourbon is going to be at the forefront of the flavor cascade. Vanilla, oak, chocolate, with a strong oat background that finishes strong. Not super-complex, but the flavors all work to complement the bourbon leaving you with the lingering warmth that spirit typifies.

Overall, a terrific beer with my only real qualm being that it is much too thin. A must try for any Firestone enthusiast, bourbon enthusiast, or fan of the style.

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Photo of stx00lax
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drinking a 32oz growler to myself. Weeee!

A- Looks a bit thin as it pours into my glass, light khaki lacing around the edges.

S- Smells like a mellow, aged version of Merlin, light barrel aroma.

T- Very good. pretty straight forward, light roast and chocolate without being too complex. the barrel is perfectly integrated letting you taste Velvet merlin with a subtle lingering vanilla-bourbon presence at the finish.

M- A bit thin, but nicely carbonated and not too hot. Still full bodied.

O- If you like Velvet Merlin, you will like this. Its not as amazing as parabola, but still a great example of the fine barrel-aging Firestone does. very enjoyable

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