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 bigdaddymick
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I am not a fan of stouts but this was the only FW beer available and I knew I had to try it at least once. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and I really enjoyed it. No fancy cups here, drank it straight from the bottle like a 40 oz and finished the thing in less than 5 minutes. Very smooth malty undertones with big barrel characteristics. Cost $19.95 and was worth it IMO. Not the strongest beer and as a result some of the flavors can be more pronounced

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Photo of SovereignGood
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up from Whole Foods - first time trying it.

Look: Deep, black pour with a thin head that dissipates to a subtle rim around the glass. Minimal lacing but some legs appear upon swirling the tulip glass.

Smell: Immediately hit with the barrel characteristics. Lots of coconut, vanilla, bourbon, oak, with a slight chocolate coming in the back.

Taste: Coconut, vanilla, bourbon, dark chocolate; very similar to the smell.

Feel: Thinner than expected. For a FW Barrel Aged beer I was thinking full-bodied mouthfeel. Slight carbonation is felt throughout the mouth with minimal stickiness remaining on the lips.

Overall: Definitely a good beer but I probably wouldn't go out of my way for getting more.

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Photo of gatornation
3.79/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2015 Vintage
Pours a dark mahogany color with a tan head smells of vanilla and coffee with roasted malts and bourbon , taste follows the nose vanilla and espresso bean with sweet chocolate malts followed with a small amount of bourbon, mouthfeel is smooth and silky with medium carbonation, VM is my least favorite of the Proprietors series the BA is really thin on this, vanilla and espresso stand out and the barrel is in the background .

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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 BucannonXC5
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Type: 22-oz. bottle
Glass: Clear half-pint glass
From: Firestone Barrelworks in Buellton, Calif.
Price: $16.99
Purchased: July 28, 2015
Consumed: Dec. 29, 2015
Misc.: 2014 vintage

Poured a black color with 2-to-3 fingers of fizzy, tan head. Above average amount of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass. Average retention. (Sight - 4.00)

Smelled a big whiff of boozy bourbon up front, followed by toffee, caramel, milk chocolate, light espresso, oaky vanilla, oatmeal, faint dates and even some maple syrup. (Smell - 4.25)

Taste was pretty good, but nowhere as flavorful as I thought it would be. Especially after having another BCBS earlier in the day. Got smooth bourbon, chocolate, faint crayon, toffee, caramel, light oaky vanilla, tobacco, dry oatmeal, faint roasty malts and faint rye bread. Seemed to be missing something. Disappointing. (Taste - 3.75)

Full body. Sticky texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish. (Feel - 4.50)

I was expecting so much more in this one. Good, but nowhere near their anniversary beers, Sucaba, Parabola, etc. I probably overrated it a tad. (Overall - 4.00)

4.01 | 90 | A-

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Photo of zac16125
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a tulip
Vintage 2015

Thanks to

A: very dark brown, nearly black, small tan head, dissipates quickly leaves essentially no lacing 4

S: oak, toasted coconut, roasted malt; 4.25

T: follows the nose, roasty, oak, oats;
very nice but not overwhelming barrel notes 4.25

M/D: silky smooth but fairly thin, drink ability is excellent but could stand to be thicker 4

O: nice beer, barrel notes pair nicely with the base beer; doesn't live up to many of the other FW barrel aged beers but still quite enjoyable 4.25

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Photo of FriedSlug
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark in the glass but some light can get through which shows the color to be a ruby brown. The head is tan and has good staying power with a thin layer staying throughout the consumption. The smell is amazing. I am picking up chocolate, toffee, coffee, roasted malts and bourbon. The taste is mainly sweet coffee, chocolate and bourbon with a bit of boozy heat and bitterness at the end. This is a really well done beer.

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Photo of smcolw
3.98/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep ruby, nearly black. Only the brightest of lights shine through. Beige head that settles to nearly no bubbles. No lace.

Chalky chocolate aroma. Lightly sweet.

Rich dark chocolate start. There's a strong sweetness and thickness to the body and taste. I detect strong vanilla notes, perhaps a bit of bourbon. Rich and thick body which is exentuated by the low carbonation.

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Photo of Sheppard
4.45/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with tan head. Isn't teaming with aroma but a little bourbon and vanilla. Super smooth stout with slight vanilla, slight bourbon, slight chocolate. This is simply an incredible oatmeal stout.

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Photo of emyers
4.19/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

Appearance: Pours very dark brown with a half inch beige head.

Intense coffee aroma up front on the nose, followed by roasted barley, vanilla, oak, and chestnuts. I don't get much of a "bourbon" aroma, but the vanilla/oak character from the barrel is definitely present.

Taste is similar, with coffee and chocolate dominating followed by the barrel and a nice nutty character on the finish. There is a bit more bourbon here compared to the nose, but it is still pretty restrained. Very balanced and drinkable, fairly mild compared to many BBA stouts out there.

Mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth, which was almost a given with a BBA oatmeal stout from FW, however it could use a bit more body - a tad light for my preference.

FW produces the whole range when it comes to barrel presence - with Bravo representing the classic "barrel-bomb" and this representing the opposite restrained end of the spectrum. While I tend to prefer a little more barrel presence in my BBA stouts, this is objectively a great beer, and it's extremely impressive how FW is able to put out such diversity with the barrel presence in their barrel-aged beers.

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Photo of scbeerman
4.97/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Simply put, one of the best beers I've had the pleasure of trying.
L: black with some brownish-ruby highlights; great clarity and solid head retention, though not outstanding in this latter regard. Still, very nice.
S: rich and decadent without excessive sweetness. Chocolate truffle, vanilla, bourbon, roastiness. Perfectly balanced
T: see smell - much the same, with everything in absolutely perfect balance. Complexity is great
F: smooth as silk, drinkable but refined. Medium bodied, which fits the beer overall very well. Oatmeal stouts are awesome. Wonderful creaminess.
Overall: one of my new favorites. Going to seek this out repeatedly in the future.

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Photo of cmalitsky
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Smooth slightly lighter black stout with just enough vanilla added to the chocolate flavor with some coffee after taste. Enjoyable bourbon flavors compliment as well but the vanilla makes this very intriguing. One of the better bombers to try once a year.

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Photo of oldn00b
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark, near black with some nice rust color around the edges with a foamy tan head that recedes mostly and pretty quickly.

Nose is very light. Smells like a typical oatmeal stout - mostly just roasty malts, not much chocolate or depth beyond that.

Flavor is very nice, but nothing spectacular. This comes across like a nice, silky, smooth oatmeal stout but not a lot of complexity here. Pretty straightforward.

Body is a bit on the light side. Nicely rounded but again, not much going on here. Light and clean.

It's fine, glad I got one and not more, especially at that price.

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Photo of Jeffsta1
3.87/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Root beer brown, pale tan foamy head.
Mild, clean smell. Not intense or stout-y.
Sweet malty flavor, some cocoa.
Moderate mouthfeel, foamy effervescence.
Sweet licorice on the finish.
Overall: this is a weird beer. Do not buy again.

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Photo of mschrei
4.18/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into Pipeworks Tales from the Oak snifter. Dark brown, tan head that's healthy on pour but dissipates quickly. Little lacing, but the light discoloration on the edges makes the sight of this beer its' highest quality. Not much smell on initial pour other than barrel and booze, but after sitting a sweet smell is most prevalent.
Taste was initially very thin, some sweet tang upfront but not much other than a boozy aftertaste to follow it. After sitting, it's got some sweet syrupy qualities to it. Not a bad beer, but wondering if I should have cellared longer or not drank cold. Live and learn.

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

L: black with a finger of head brown head that fades fast
S: chocolate and bourbon, but not powerful
T: nice bourbon, and subtle chocolate. More flavor and in the aroma
F: very smooth and creamy. Medium thickness.
O: Lacking flavor, and smell compared to all the other barrel aged beers by Firestone walker. It is the lowest abv, but very underwhelmed. It has faint bourbon and chocolate, but it it smooth.

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Photo of Parmesan
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 Vintage
Look: Dark black pour with a creamy brown tan head that sticks around for a while.

Smell: Lots going on here. Some caramel, toffee, peanut. Strong notes of bourbon, stone fruit and vanilla, some booze.

Taste: Very well balanced, lots of bourbon but the other flavors of toffee, roast malt, and chocolate come through well too. Has a nice coffee flavor in the finish. Alcohol is evident but not overwhelming.

Feel: The mouthfeel is a little light and not quite creamy enough. Low carbonation.

Overall: Other than the mouthfeel, this beer definitely lives up to the hype.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
3.64/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance - The pour was brownish black with tan bubbles clinging to the side of the glass.

Smell - Big booze. By the nose, I am not sure if there is beer in here.

Taste - The booze is dominant. There os some dark chocolate, malts, and a faint hint of vanilla. In the afterburn, I thought about how much I like beer with my barrel aged beer. This one is hot.

Mouthfeel - The carbonation was low, which contributed to a thinner feel.

Overall - Of the higher end FW, this is easily my least favorite.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Missed out on this last year, but I'm not too focused on oatmeal stouts anyway - however, it seems a suitable beer to usher in my 1000th review... Poured a black body into a snifter with a couple of fingers of dense light brown foam on top. The head slipped away in short order, leaving just a slim ring of foam around the edge. Aromas of wood and whiskey hovered over darker roasted malt and oats... Felt a bit thin on the body, but smooth, slickly crossing the tongue with woodsy oak and light vanilla and tannins. The chocolate aspects slipped in subtly, along with a bit of watery molasses and hints at dark fruits underneath it all. I was a little put off by the feel (I'm fussy that way), but the quality of the craftsmanship is undeniable. The bourbon is not over-done, and the beer drinks very elegantly and easily.

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Photo of maxifunk777
3.1/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

After so many GREAT stouts during my first year of being a craft beer drinker. This is a good stout just not great or outstanding. Some what of a major let down considering it's Herald from such GREAT beers.

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Photo of rjd722
4.59/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured at a bottle event, deep brown color with some lacing and slight tan head. Aroma is mostly bourbon with subtle hints of chocolate, toffee, and espresso. Bourbon is up front but this is an incredibly balanced stout, chocolate and toffee coming through very strong. Silky smooth and extremely drinkable, an outstanding brew!

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

The biggest issue I have with this beer is how ...velvet...soft it is. It has the pricetag of parabola, sucaba, and stickee but it drinks like a lighter brethren. The flavor is delicious with hints of bourbon, espresso and cocoa but the vanilla seems artificial

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Photo of mobrado
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A very delicate beer. Doesn't look like much, smell is subtle, feel is thin. But the taste is very alluring (mainly chocolate and bourbon) and the feel improves a lot when you let the beer warm up a bit (it's REALLY thin when cold). I enjoyed this overall, but the big drawback is that it's priced in line with Parabola, Stickee Monkey etc. In contrast to those I easily finished this one alone and was ready for more...If you're planning to share, grab a couple if you can afford it.

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