Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
2,541 Ratings
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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,541 |  Reviews: 401
Photo of RochefortChris
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BJB13
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Batch no. 005 2017 release
12 oz. bottle poured into a willibecher.

Pours deep brown and stacks up near black in the glass. The two tone cream and khaki head started at two fingers and slowly laid down to a quarter inch while leaving nice lacing.

The nose is full of malty sweetness. Notes of bourbon, vanilla and coconut make for a rich inviting aroma.

Tastes of smooth bourbon, toasted coconut, vanilla and caramel. Very smooth and easy drinking with just a scant bit of warmth at the finish.

The body is medium to full with low carbonation and a rather soft feel.

Very good.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch 1, 2013. Mocha, chocolate, coffee, roasted malts and some dark fruits. Getting some fairly oxidized flavors. Way past it's prime. Lighter bodied. A bit of creamy oat feel. Eh.

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark/cloudy brown body with minimal head. Aroma of booze, vanilla, dark fruits, wood (not much of an oat aspect) and hints of malts. Beer is smooth thanks to woody/oat aspect, has a boozy vanilla twang, thick so slow-sipping, notes of dark fruits and is enjoyable although everything comes off a tad muted (nothing stands out) and it's basically a heavy, slightly sweet and fruity beer.

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Photo of RichieRich1812
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Riff
3.79/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark brown color with a thick head, almost two fingers in height. Smell is roasted malts, a little hint of chocolate, hint of bourbon and oak. Flavors tended towards being light, a little bit of bourbon, a light chocolate, light malts. Just simple flavors, nice flavors, but light. Molasses. vanilla, a little oak. Medium-heavy body, light carbonation. It's tasty, a solid beer, but not worth the price. There are a number of better beers in this category.

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Photo of shadrack
4.01/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of MurphDog14
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.87/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

$ 15.61 (Including shipping)/12 oz bottle ($ 1.302/oz) from Blackwell’s, San Francisco.
2017 vintage, run 005, marked 08/21/2017 on bottle shoulder in black ink. Stored in a 42 degree reefer and served at 55 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter.
Appearance – 4.5.
Body – Dark brown/black, opaque, slight effervescence.
Head – Large (Maximum 4.6 cm, aggressive pour), tan, medium density with average retention time, diminishing to a three to five mm ring fed by effervescence and a thin complete layer with some rocks. Head retraction leaves some thin partial rings of tight lacing.
Lacing – Excellent. One continuous sheet of tiny to small bubbles.
Pour – Light brown, clear.
Aroma – 3.75 - Initially cocoa and weak coffee, followed by some ghosts of bourbon past.
Flavor – 3.75 - Fairly weak. A little cocoa, some expresso. Just a touch of alcohol heat on the aftertaste. Allowing it to warm in my mouth fails to release either bourbon or oak. No hops, no diacetyl.
Palate – 4.5 - Moves smoothly across my tongue like an amoeba across a food plate. Medium, almost creamy, soft carbonation.
Impression and summation – 3.75 - I’m somewhat disappointed. Based on the hype and the price point, I was expecting to be carried aloft on vapors of bourbon with cocoa and expresso lovingly stroking my taste buds all the while. While this brew certainly looks good and feels exceptional, the most important component, taste, is but a shadowy figure lurking in the background, skulking behind the lessor actors of appearance and palate.

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Photo of deweese
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of addicted2thebarrel
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Vidblain
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Like most oatmeal stouts, this really takes a little time to open up - sadly, I opened this at about 2am on New Year's Eve and wasn't at my most patient. Drinking Velvet Merkin cold is a fairly unremarkable experience - it's smooth, without any particularly noticeable barrel or bourbon notes.

But I fell asleep for a bit while watching TV, then came back to the beer.

It's funny how much depth there is to Velvet Merkin once it finally warms up - the chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon notes are truly fantastic... but it basically has to be at ambient temperature/around 64 degrees.

I really wish I hadn't asked what a merkin was. Yowza. Thanks for that, FSW!

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Photo of NickSMpls
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'17 vintage, bottled Aug 21st. Very dark brown, not inky balck pour, light head fades to a skim coat. Aroma comes up with vanilla and bourbon, Taste is incredibly smooth, rich and satisfying. Notes of chocolate, expresso and bourbon with no ABV burn. We could easily drink it a lot quicker than one should. Sip it gently, make it last.

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Photo of 1971bernat
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of JColin
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of BigMike
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Jimmys
4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2017 vintage.

Pours dark brown,but not opaque. Vanilla notes are strong with mild bourbon heat/flavor. This might be the most refreshing bourbon barrel aged beer I’ve had. The reasonable abv makes this even better. Very well done.

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Photo of champ103
3.68/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark brown with some ruby highlights around the edges. At first a two finger beige head forms and recedes to ring that sticks throughout. Not much lace left behind.
S: Light toasted malts, that immediately gets buried in oak and vanilla. While nothing is particularly strong, it is simple and mostly barrel.
T: Like the nose this is fairly simple. Though a bit warmer. Light toasted malts, oak, vanilla, light chocolate. Not a bad barrel aged Oatmeal Stout at all, but a little on the one noted side.
M/O: A medium body that is very smooth. Soft carbonation, and seems almost thin. Though easy enough to drink, as there is not a lot of alcohol presents, and everything is fairly subtle.

I have had this on several occasions, and would like to see a bigger body that has more character in its own right. While 8.5 is a lot of alcohol, it just doesn't seem to have the weight to carry the barrel. I have always enjoyed Firestone Walker's barrel aged offerings, especially how they blend everything together. I do enjoy this as well, but could be great if they had a base to match the barrel and blending process.

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Photo of deonreds
3.88/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of ludachris
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Cola brown out of the bottle but jet black in the glass. An inch of tan head is fluffy and light on its feet, receding fairly quickly.

The aroma is deeply layered. Heaps of shaved coconut and creamy vanilla are stacked on a caramel bourbon body. A gentle smokiness seeps through. A bit of cinnamon and lots of luscious oak. Dark and decadent chocolate has a cake-like impression to it. Soft icing without being too sweet. Equally rich espresso gives off a very rounded, sanded down roast.

Ultra silky and soft vanilla and oak are the unifying bass line. Freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies are neatly placed on top of sweetened dark chocolate with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a lick of smoke. Brownies ease into the finish with an underbelly of espresso roast.

There's a beautiful body and structure to this. Despite its deeply rich and layered dessert-like flavors, it remains balanced, rounded and approachable with a clean finish. The tingly level of CO2 compliments its creamy feel.

Everything is extremely well integrated in this stout, especially the bourbon barrel. The addition of oats not only adds a rich and creamy complimentary texture to the vanilla and oak, it melds into its own flavor of oatmeal raisin cookie which I love.

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3.88/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2017 vintage bottled 8/21/17
Black/brown with a 1/4" tan head -short lived to a ring.
MIld roast aromas mixed with bourbon wood,
Milk chocolate, vanilla. MIld roasted grain flavors. Very mild bourbon flavor here.
Lush mouthfeel, silky. Low carbonation. Smooth, not boozy hot.
MIld and smooth overall....nothing stands out.

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Photo of Holderness
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L -- Pours a deep reddish brown body that is much lighter than anticipated: phone light passes through the glass no problem. Minimal retention or lacing
S -- Molasses, caramel, bourbon, oak, raisin, prune, fig, dark chocolate, smoke. Nicely layered
T -- Semi-sweet dried dark fruit, oaky vanilla, molasses, dark chocolate, earth, nutty coffee, and a hint of coconut
F -- Has a somewhat thin, fizzy body to it, perhaps due to the much lower than normal ABV for a barrel aged stout. I was expecting more silkiness from the oats. Medium carb.
O -- Tastes like a barrel-aged version of Sam Smith's oatmeal stout. The aromas are great, but given the $10/12oz bottle pricing there is definite room for improvement in the flavors and mouthfeel.


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Photo of Luscious_Malfoy
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of chewy6935
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Bouleboubier
3.58/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

(12 oz bottle, 2017 vintage ... split between two snifters)

L: poured with a pinky width of khaki foam... very dark brown liquid... only thin collar with random flares of lace

S: brown malt roast and caramelized wood and char-grilled chuck steak fats... hints of ground black pepper and a sort of umami, Worcestershire sauce (very faint essence), hint of alcohol... some strange, potentially off-putting aromas I've never come across in a beer, but they do certainly spike my curiosity

T: char-heavy, softly-scorched base malts... little residual sweetness; bitterness sanded down, powder-pelletized... after several sips, the odd flavor that stands out is reminiscent of celery (seed, possibly a toe in caraway) - the only other beer I remember tasting that flavor in was Pretty Things Babayaga...

F: smooth, fuzzy-slick flow; medium bodied, little carbonation, sedate alcohol warmth... chill drinking

O: not up to expectations(?) ... Merlin also is not a very sweet stout, but the degree of attenuation/extraction here is too much - the beer lacks depth ... do have a bottle of the 2014 - hopefully more enjoyable experience

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.28 out of 5 with 2,541 ratings