Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
361 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:
361
Ratings:
2,407
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
9.46%
 
 
Wants:
405
Gots:
1,066
For Trade:
142
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 361 | Ratings: 2,407
Photo of siege06nd
4.02/5  rDev -5%

A. Black with a half finger of khaki colored head, good lacing and consistency.

S. Excellent with lots of baking chocolate, roasted coffee, caramel, and vanilla.

T. Not quite as good as the nose. Big doses of milk chocolate, lots of vanilla, and caramel, and even some fruity sweetness. It's quite sweet and a little light.

M. A little light on the palate, lightly carbed, the sweetness really stands out. Quite milky with the barrel not really standing out.

O. It's a good beer, but a little sweeter and lighter than I expected. At 8.5%, though, it's impressive.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle, 2014 vintage (straight 4.4)
(Re-review, 2016 vintage, rating adjusted)

Pours a pretty-much pitch black, with a mildly surprising just off-white foamy head. This head does stick around for a bit, and a swirl of the glass leaves the foam clinging to the glass above the surface.
Re-review: more of a khaki-tan head, but just as lasting.

The initial nose (I did let it warm a bit before tasting) definitely has the bourbon barrel scents throughout. There is a vanilla and perhaps a light cinnamon notes to what is really, to me, pretty mush simple roasted malt goodness. When searching, I get wood notes and something that reminds me of a "bowl of oatmeal", but neither is overt or obvious to me.
Re-review: not a strong nose, but the barrel aging is softly evident. There's definitely a little grain or oat, but the overall lightness of the nose to me makes it hard to discern.

The taste, surprisingly does not rely on or even focus on the bourbon barrel tastes. I do get the oats more up front than I'd imagined I would. To those flavors are added a fairly significant woodiness that accentuate the initial notes, and meld together to something greatly interesting to me. The bourbon fades in lightly mid-taste, and just stays on the fringe of the taste. I get a touch of coconut, and a dark-roasted nuttiness for the lingering taste.
Re-review: petty much the same, though a little chocolate comes through.

The feel is actually a little light early, and dries out in a woody feel/taste for the longer term. I think the beer is very smooth throughout, overall, though.
Re-review: efijitely light, but smooth.

A very good beer that is just solid in its structure. It's not very showy in it's flavors, but does throw enough out there to not be too boring. I like it for being a more subdued higher-octane stout.
Re-review: the feel is always iffy on oatmeal stouts for me, but the lightness of it and the nose drug my review down from initial levels.

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Photo of beer-me-pls
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is a great looking beer with a light lacing on the snifter. There is a very light nose wo a lot I'm picking up. It is smooth and easy to drink. The current bottle is aged 1 year. This is very enjoyable, but the bourbon could be stronger and I don't find it particularly complex for a $20 beer. I picked up a few of these over the years, but I won't go out of my way anymore.

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Photo of ThePaleRider
4.03/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Really dark brown stout. No light is visible through the glass. Very nice two finger head that quickly disappeared and just left a small layer of big bubbles. Head is a very light brown that left some decent lacing on the glass.

S - This smells like desert in a glass. Lots of chocolate, roasted grains, and a little bit of brown sugary whiskey. Maybe the best smell of any stout I've ever had. It smells like it's going to taste smooth, if that makes any sense.

T - Delicious. The flavor really comes on strong. Right up front your hit with the bourbon and oak. Gives you a little kick, tastes like the ABV would be a little higher. Way, way back in the back end of the flavor you begin picking up the malts, grains, and chocolate. The barrel taste really does a great job at sticking around. I do wish it was a little smoother.

M - Very crisp stout. Dry taste that keeps you wanting more..

O - I think this is a beer that needs to be aged a little. I couldn't resist opening it up, but I think it need to tone down and let the flavors mix a little more. Not a bad beer at all, now I need to find another one for my cellar.

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

2015 Vintage

Appearance: Very dark brown bordering on black with a modest beige head that slowly fades. Good looking stout.

Smell: Moderate brown sugar, vanilla, coffee/roasted malt aromas, and some mild oak notes.

Taste: A fairly balanced palate of Bourbon notes, roast malts, vanilla, and oak. The flavors are all there but they aren't as forward as in some beers. The finish is fairly dry with some roast malt notes, vanilla, and oak notes. No real alcohol presence to speak of.

Mouth-feel: On the light side of medium-bodied with a good level of carbonation, especially considering the bal-aging. Though the 2015 vintage blends in some Lactose Stout to enhance the body this is still fairly thin bodied. Velvet Merlin has a good body for it's ABV so maybe it's the bal-aging in Velvet Merkin.

Overall: I enjoyed this beer. It has a fairly restrained taste profile in comparison to the other Firestone walker bal-aged beers but I like it.

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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 q33jeff
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

**
10/28/2016

Bottle (2015) to snifter.

LOOK: Dark black color with the slightest transparency, giving a cola like appearance. Medium beige head fades to lacing.

AROMA: heavy bourbon whiskey, odd that it is so strong at only 8.5% .

TASTE: yep, more whiskey. Maybe it is so pronounced because this is a year old. Malty, oatmeal, raisin, ashy flavors lurk underneath.

FEEL: a little thinner than expected, a touch astringent, but drinks easy.

Obviously, this is a good beer. I am not sure whether this is still too young or too old, but the whiskey really dominates the flavor. A tad disappointed on that front, but it will not stop me from buying all the 2016 I can get my hands on.

**
12/25/2016

2016 bottle to snifter, drank/shared while cooking Christmas dinner.

More mellow than the 2015. Whiskey was not as dominant.

Still an excellent beer, just lacks the complexity of other FW Proprietors releases.

Merry Christmas.
**

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

From tap at Firestone Brewery in Paso Robles. My first barrel aged beer! I enjoyed this one, but I have nothing to compare it with. I did find it to be rather thin for an oatmeal though.

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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 GOBLIN
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in a recent trade. Long time want and and glad I'm getting to try this.
Pours a very dark and robust brown almost black but not quite . . . Still brown. Nice tan head makes this a really inviting beer.
Aromas are stellar. The bourbon actually does hold your sense of smell hostage for a few seconds. Along with vanilla, chocolate and coffee this beer should be a real treat. Flavors are espresso and vanilla, very little barrel character almost no hint of bourbon. Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin . . . Here and Gone ! Just like this beer hits your mouth and then nothing.
Overall, I guess what I'm trying to say is this beer is good but not terrific. I suspect the high scores are based more on reputation rather than execution.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.06/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bottle poured into a taster.

Appearance - Black with a large khaki head. Good lacing. Really nice.

Smell - Bourbon is strong without being overpowering. Vanilla and chocolate. Roasty.

Taste - Bourbon and oak are nice. Roasty. Vanilla. Chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Well it is thin, but it's nice. Drinkable, we'll call it.

Overall - Good beer. Quality flavors in a small package.

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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 drdiesel9483
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look - dark as expected with a slight last head and leaves a film on top
Smell - toasted semi sweet chocolate
Taste - not as much chocolate in the taste as the smell. Maybe slight caramel and espresso.
Feel - pretty thin smooth with a slight cream
Overall - great different beer. First bba oatmeal I've had.

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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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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,407 ratings.
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