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: 362 | Ratings: 2,411
Photo of Zoomslowik
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

L- black. Not much head or lacing.

S- not a lot of aroma. A little bourbon heat.

T- smooth with some roasted malt and bourbon. Pleasant, but not that interesting.

F- disappointing. Thin, not nearly as rich as the better ones I've had. Dry.

O- not awful, but uninspiring. I'd buy it if it sat on shelves, but it's not worth a chase.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.77/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Got on trade! 22oz bomber served at cellar temperature in a challis

A- Opens well and pours a light, airy head that films out within 2mins. Very dark brown colour

S- Not a lot here. Not even bourbon. More heat than anything else

T- Nice bourbon but subdued. Not very stout like. Weak body and depth. Kind of disappointing. Missing a lot to be good.

M- Dry and watery. Not good for a stout of this league

O- Not so good. Will not buy ever. Will only order if it's best on the menu so imagine I will not be having this one again. Some may like it though as it is mild and watery

Food Pairing

This ok brew went well with........ Roast beef. The roast beef will be the star of the show though!


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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 tbryan5
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A- Pitch black with a creamy huge tan head.
S- Sweet and bitter chocolate. Booze and some bitter coffee.
T- Wow. This is an amazing beer. Sweet malts, bitter chocolate, bourbon and oak.
M- Slick, medium, creamy. Simply amazing.
D- Even this is a sipper. Yes... Another please.

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Photo of metter98
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On-tap at Firestone Walker Visitor's Center Tasting Room, Paso Robles, CA

A: The beer is essentially jet black in color and has only slight traces of reddish brown near the edges of the glass when it is held up to the light. It poured with a thin collar of off white bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of bourbon are present in the nose—some oaky vanilla becomes apparent once the beer warms up.
T: The taste has lots of vanilla flavors from the barrel aging along with some notes of oak and hints of bourbon. There are also notes of chocolate and coffee from the underlying beer.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied and a bit smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The barrel aging really changes the dynamics of this oatmeal stout and imparts lots of vanilla flavors. It does a very good job at hiding its alcohol.

Note: 2015 vintage

Serving type: on-tap

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Photo of Stevem68
3.89/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark chocolate color with small light brown head. Aroma is chocolate, oatmeal, bourbon and a touch of vanilla. Flavor follows the nose but is pretty dry. Has bourbon on the back end. Mouthfeel is a little thin and it's just all around a dry finish. This isn't bad it just too dry for me. Nice flavors going on but not pronounced enough. Solid stuff but could be better.

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Photo of Phil-Fresh
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep grain roast, coffee-like, chocolate malt, with some bourbon, vanilla notes.

A: Jet black color, opaque, with a persistent, tan head that has solid retention.

T: Rich chocolatey, coffee-like malt flavor, lightly sweet, light bourbon flavor in the background with a low hop bitterness.

M: Full bodied with moderate carbonation. The oats provide a very smooth mouth-feel.

O: Delicious; Always one of my all time favorite BA oatmeal stouts. The beer has a great chocolatey, coffee aroma, great flavor and a very smooth mouth-feel. Awesome!

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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 infinitebruner
3.81/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

April 4, 2016

22 oz. bomber, snifter

A – Very deep brown, nearing light black, with high clarity. A huge light tan foam stand erupts, about two inches high, and takes a while to settle, leaving a thin creamy layer atop the beer. The pour is not heavy, though not light; just normal for an oatmeal stout.

S – Low chocolate, bread crust, a touch of sweet vanilla. Some slightly herbal and fruity notes, presumably from the hops and maybe a bit of barrel character. Overall, very light for a barrel aged stout of any variety.

T – Milky, but not sweet, chocolate, with a bit of toffee in the background. Some low herbal notes and a touch of fruit like a raisin or a cherry pit, barely noticeable. Minor vanilla notes, the only hint that this was barrel aged. A hint of bitterness on the back end. Very balanced profile, but not particularly strong in any area.

M – Very smooth, a bit creamy, just a touch of a warm note from the alcohol / barrel-aging. Feels a bit thicker than it actually is, likely from the use of the oats. Not particularly viscous or heavy though. Light bitterness on the back end. Very balanced. It actually lacks some of the smooth silky feel in the regular version (Velvet Merlin).

O – For the price point involved and the work of putting a beer in a barrel to age it, this seems a bit reserved. I think the oatmeal stout is better pre-barrel, a la Velvet Merlin, and there’s not a lot of barrel character that I’m picking up here, other than the light vanilla. I would drink it again, because it’s a good beer, but I wouldn’t pay as much as I did for another bottle. Rarely does price point come into play on my evaluations, but at some point there’s definitely a higher expectation because of it.

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

Dark brown to black in color with one finger of tan head. Retention is good, leaves little lacing. The aroma is very enticing. Bourbon, dark chocolate, light roast, notes of oak, vanilla and oats. Taste is bourbon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, nutty. Body is high end of medium with low-moderate carbonation. Silky smooth and creamy. Perfect mouthfeel for an oatmeal stout. An all around excellent beer.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a near pitch black with the slightest hints of a reddish hue. Small but stubborn head of off white foam. Very nice lacing.

The Bourbon dominates the smell with smaller doses of roasted malt and oats.

Oats and bourbon share top billing in the taste. Roasted malt, chocolate of the milky kind round it out. Finishes decidedly with that oaty goodness.

Full bodied with medium carbonation.

Delicious! Thanks Jay! !

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Photo of Chris_Huston
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

LOOK: 2015 vintage, poured slightly below room temp (where I usually like my darker beers) into a squat tulip glass. Foams very nicely without threatening to get out of control but building pleasantly with its dark cinnamon color and deep brown liquid. The burnt khaki froth recedes and ultimately disappears completely within a couple of minutes, which is a little disappointing.

AROMA: The last beer I had before this I finally realized I wasn't a bourbon barrel beer fan, so I was moderately skeptical about this, but I had a similar experience to others in that the barrel presence is mild at best. Unlike most other drinkers who found that a let down, it made the beer more enjoyable for me, letting more of that malty, bready smell come through and make it far more balanced for the style. It's a bit lighter on the coffee than I expected or like, and almost no cacao.

FEEL: It's more watery than I expected and than I think it should be. Not so much as to be off-putting, but enough to make it seem like a weakness for a BA oatmeal stout.

TASTE: The taste doesn't depart much from the nose -- very light on the bourbon (which, again, I like), but also generally light on the other flavors. It's definitely nicely balanced, and although the flavors are I think too low key, the balance makes it quite remarkable and impressive, just not as astonishing as, say, a Breakfast Stout kind of animal.

*** 2nd POUR***
Finishing off the bottle the day after. The pour was about the same but the head, even though it died to a thin layer, stuck around permanently resulting in some really nice, copious lacing, making the drink a bit creamier. The net result isn't much, but it's certainly tastier this way. Not sure why there's such a difference in the head/lacing retention between the first & second pour, but I definitely prefer the 2nd.

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Photo of TheElectricOne
3.89/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 2015 vintage bottle ($18.99, I believe....) into a tulip glass:

Appearance: pours a dark brown, but not quite black color, with a moderately large mocha head. Head dissipates somewhat quickly, leaving spotty lacing. Beer isn't quite opaque, and shows surprisingly translucency when swirled.

Aroma: definitely disappointed in this regard. I was hoping for the full, potent bourbon and chocolate aromas present in Parabola, but instead got muted malt and some lactose. I didn't detect much vanilla or chocolate, perhaps a tiny bit.

Taste: again, I was hoping for a little more potency. It started with light toffee and caramel notes, then some mild bourbon on the finish. I missed the chocolate and coffee completely, and the bourbon was definitely more subdued than I'd wanted. Its "incredibly drinkable," as stated in the description, but not in a good way in my opinion.

Feel: moderately thick and creamy, but finishes relatively thin. I'd like a little more body.

Overall: it's a solid oatmeal stout, but for $20 after taxes, I'll go with something a little more potent and flavorful.

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Photo of vladdswrath
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep dark chocolate, with a thin beige head. Smell is mostly bourbon and vanilla with something that strikes me as coconut. Whatever it is, it smells fantastic. Taste is sweet cream, chocolate, coffee, bourbon and vanilla. It tastes like a dessert, but it's not heavy. I could sip on this all night. Mouthfeel is heavenly, smooth and easy going. I think I'm in love...

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Photo of enrique_m
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured this brew in a snifter and it poured jet black with no head and no lacing. It has chocolate, coffee, and malts in the aromas. The feel is full-bodied, smooth, and creamy. Overall, this is very enjoyable.

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Photo of GregA135
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Got this awesome brew from a recent trade!

Poured a dark brown color with a very thin tan head
I honestly could only smell the bourbon and a little bit of vanilla
I thought I would be caught off guard with the taste since all I smelled was the bourbon, but was I wrong. Had the bourbon burn, but very minimal - Chocolate, coffee and vanilla with an oatmeal aftertaste.
Super smooth and very easy to drink.

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tasted in a 12 oz snifter from draft at O'Toole's on February 18, 2016. Look is nearly black with a tan head and lingering lacing. Smell is dark roasted malts.

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Photo of BastardKing24
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I love this beer, its so easy to drink yet so flavorful. Most barrel aged beers are on the heavy side, but not this one. Its almost perfect in every way. Smells like light bourbon, toffee, vanilla. Easy to see some light through, its not all the way black. Taste is awsome, you get the oatmeal stout part blended nicely with rich notes of barrel, and its hard to resist. Pick this up!

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

Look - Pitch black. Completely opaque.
Smell - Bourbon, chocolate, coffee, vanilla sweetness
Taste - Perfect amount of bourbon, coffee, and chocolate flavors. Some smokiness and vanilla sweetness in there too.

Overall - My favorite oatmeal stout yet. Loving the FW Prop Vintage series! Killer beers.

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Photo of LloydDobler
3.22/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

2014 vintage / 22oz btl poured into stemless wine glass

Tons of foam on the pour that caught me a little off guard. Very thin without much distinguished taste at all. Straight watered down booze is the dominant flavor. Not like any other milk stout I have ever had. More like a thin porter. Was hoping for something along the lines of a milder Parabola, but it's nowhere close.

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Photo of brewaddict
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 in a FW Teku Glass
L - This pours pitch black with a cream head and ok lace with big bubbles
S - I get lots of vanilla, chocolate, with a little bourbon
t - Tastes of sweet cream, vanilla, milk chocolate, caramel, and roasted malt
F - The overall texture is silky smooth
O - Although the flavors are subtle, overall, this is very well balanced.

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Photo of argock
3.62/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a boxed, 22 oz brown bottle into a clear glass snifter. 2015 vintage. Purchased from Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with brown edges and 1/2 finger of beige head with poor retention and no lacing.

S: Nice bourbon barrel aged character with nice vanilla, sweet bourbon, and light oak on the base beer with medium caramel malt leaving a sweet impression overall.

T: Flavor is good but diluted and thin compared to what FW's other barrel aged beers taste like. There are no bad flavors, but overall the profile is weak and missing punch. Caramel comes through along with the barrel flavors of vanilla and pretty hefty bourbon but the heft in flavor is missing badly.

M: Thin and watery for the style with low carbonation.

O: Really disappointing, I wish I had drank it on the day I bought it but usually there is some heat to wear off. The flavors are weak and muted despite a nice aroma. I won't be purchasing again in the future. Overrated big time.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.14/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | 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 RyanK252
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter

A: Pours dark brown, basically black with a creamy khaki brown head that settles to a thin layer and leaves a little light lacing.

S: Toffee, molasses, dark sugar, kinda maple, smooth bourbon, vanilla, hints of toasted coconut, dark fruit, some roasted malt, bittersweet chocolate and coffee, and a touch of cinnamon and clove spice.

T: Vanilla, toasted coconut, smooth bourbon, mild spice, dark fruit, plum, fig, cherry, roasted malt, a touch of coffee and bittersweet chocolate, and some nice toffee sweetness.

M: Medium to full body, moderate carbonation, very smooth with just a touch of warmth.

O: Pretty fantastic barrel aged stout, yet very approachable. Not so strong that it'll knock you on your ass before you know what happened, but it still gives you everything you want.

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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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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,411 ratings.
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