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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: 342 | Ratings: 2,314
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.02/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin brown head that dissipates to a ring around the glass with light slippery lacing.Aroma of chocolate, sweet dark toasted malt, bourbon and vanilla. Flavor is vanilla, mild toasted malt, cocoa, lactose. A touch of coffee, coconut and bourbon. Light to medium bodied. A nice stout with complex flavor and a deft touch of bourbon from the barrel. Surprisingly thin bodied for an oatmeal stout, perhaps the lightest I've ever had; I would never have identified this as having oatmeal in it in a blind taste. Still tasty different. Can't help but think that this would have been outstanding with a bit heavier malt body.

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

On Tap at Teresa's Next Door. Served in a tulip glass.

Velvet Merkin pours the standard dark black color like the Merlin with a silky look. Black shade, off white head that is an inch that eventually fades, no cling. Smell is a nice and if not the best mix of oatmeal and bourbon ever. I'll admit, I am not a fan of huge beers, so i was a bit surprised at the alcohol difference between the former and the latter. I cant smell the eight some percent listed. OAts, ripe chocolate, vanilla, no oak, present bourbon. The taste is about the same with a focus of oatmeal and bourbon with a backing of chocolate. The great thing is, it's under 9%, meaning if i want another glsss, it would be a sinch. I loved the original and all the flavor and low abv, I love this version as well.

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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 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 plaid75
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at The Lark, East Northport, NY.

Poured a black hue with a two finger foamy tan head. There was decent retention and lacing.

The smell featured roasted malts a d a touch of charcoal.

The flavor was likewise roasted with a touch of sweetness and a hint of black licorice.

The mouthfeel was toward tge fuller side of the style.

Overall a tasty oatmeal stout.

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Photo of Zorro
4.66/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Light proof black colored beer with a medium sized brown colored head.

One sniff and this smells like Canadian Whiskey! Not at all shy about letting you know this has been sitting in a bourbon barrel for a while. Strong vanilla, coconut and caramel scents. Smells sweet with some faint scents of tobacco leaf, ash and tanned leather. Simply lovely I could sniff this glass all day, pity they don't market this smell as an air freshener.

Starts out mildly sweet with a vanilla, coconut and chocolate flavor. Slight butter and stronger toffee candy flavors. A little sweet but not as much as the scent suggests. Mild bitterness. Strong Canadian Whiskey flavor. Oak and a little wood ash really coats the mouth like a milkshake. I can even taste a little sugar cookie in this, complex with a Capital C.

Mouthfeel is good.

Overall one of the best things I have tasted all year. I may have tasted a better beer but there are few beers than can beat this. A lot of the beers that might be infinitesimally better are other Firestone Bourbon Barrel aged beers.

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

The beer pours a blackish brown color with good head retention and lacing. Don't get a huge amount of bourbon on the nose, but nevertheless, I'm picking up considerable milk chocolate, vanialla, a hint of leather and light bourbon. Not a lot of coffee in this one, but nevertheless, the nose is attractive. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this moderately sweet beer. and while the mouthfeel is a bit thin I thought, there is still a very attractive soft, plush, almost creamy consistency to this beer. Alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, and so drinkability is quite good in this beer. Had no trouble whatsoever downing a bomber during the Sunday night football game.

Nice beer... not sure it's up there with Parabola or some of the anniversary beers FW has done, but it's still a nice enough beer.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.76/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

On tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, NY. 8 oz pour. After drinking this, this will be a hard review.

Pours a very dark black, opaque, with a tiny head, and no lacing.

Smells like cookie dough, toasted oats, chocolate, and the slightest hint of bourbon.

Interesting tastes here, both negative and positive. All of the tastes I'm getting are good. This is one of the most cookie dough forward beers I've ever had, just tons of that flavor. I get cookie dough flavors out of a lot (mostly barrel-aged) stouts, but this one takes the cake/cookie. There's a good amount of toasted oats as well, a tiny bit of bourbon, some oak, and some chocolate. The problem is, however, other than the cookie dough, the flavors are kind of muted. For some styles, laid back flavors are a plus- but this is a barrel-aged stout. I expect a bit more here. Just a little bit too watery, unfortunately.

This is light to medium bodied, honestly too thin for the style. I don't need it to be motor oil, but I need it to be substantial enough. Low carbonation, very drinkable.

A beer with a lot of highs and lows. Overall good, but not something I'm going to hardcore crave again.

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Photo of dar482
3.93/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer has a good oak and aggressive bourbon note in the front. Sweet vanilla and chocolate. It then calms onto notes of the beer with roasted malt and slightly bitter chocolate clean up the beer on the finish.

The beer is barely fitting of the Firestone Walker name. It lacks body most importantly, and a bit of flavor. The smooth barrel notes exist, but the complete picture is just not there.

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Photo of corby112
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown, almost black color with a one finger light beige head that slowly settles into a lasting ring. Sporadic streaks of lace left behind.

Boozy bourbon barrel aroma that's nicely integrated into the base beer(which is partially bourbon BA). I thought amping it up to 100% BA might kill off some of those notes but they're still there underneath the barrel presence. Strong spicy bourbon, earthy oak, vanilla and coconut followed by roasted dark malt, chocolate, robust coffee and oatmeal.

Medium bodied but a bit thinner than I expected with a strong bourbon barrel presence that's excellently integrated into the flavor of the regular Merlin version. Sweet and spicy bourbon dominated up front with some boozy heat but it never becomes to hot. Feels stronger than 8.6 but not harsh. There's also some dry oak, toasted coconut and vanilla followed by roasted dark malt, silky chocolate, caramel, toffee and oatmeal. Subtle dry bitterness but never approaches burnt or acrid. Really well balanced and although there is a decent amount of heat it's very easy to drink.

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

A: Poured a deep, deep brown, nearly black with great carbonation yielding a nice tannish cap, a nice frothy one with pretty good retention. Lacing was minimal though.

S: Roasted coffee, a blend of bitter and milk chocolate, some oats and bourbon with a very minute hint of vanilla

T: A nice blend of roasted malts, oats and chocolate upfront. A nice, light bourbon tinge meets the taste buds as well and persists throughout the finish. The barrel provides some backseat vanilla. The taste itself is sordove muddy in my opinion and not really all that complex. The finish is sordove dry, light sweetness, light booze and sordove effervescent even

M: Medium bodied, well carbonated, a light creaminess. It feels thin, yes, but this is a single stout not a an imperial so it's not going to be as full and hearty as say a Parabola.

O: Not bad. I'm really not a fan of bourbon barrel againg every stout, especialy single stouts. I believe the body feels thin because it is thin compared to other barrel aged or imperial stouts. Not a bad beer but not sure I would drop cash on case of this as I would other FW offerings.

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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 Axnjxn
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle into a snifter.

pours a pitch black with a great beige head. smell is insanely chocolatey and bourbony..wow! taste is so so smooth with chocolate, roasted malts and just a tad of bourbon on the back end. the oats are also very present! real impressive and drinkablity is huge. medium bodied and so so smooth.

overall love this one. fw is amazing.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A-Pours a very, very dark brown with only minimal light penetration. The head is a thin accumulation of sand colored bubbles and foam. Dots and waves of lace.

S-Interesting! I find it to be noticeably nutty. Almost like a nut flavored coffee. Toasted coconuts, too. A respectable and well set bourbon aroma. I notice coconuts more and more and I love that. Bits of vanilla and even some tobacco leaves. Almond chocolate bars!

T-The flavor is also delicious. I like how the bourbon isn't the main flavor, it merely accentuates the other flavors. Coconut milk chocolate. Roasted oats. Medium roast almond/hazelnut coffee. Chocolate chips. Vanilla and oak. Light tobacco. Then the whiskey kicks back in on the backside. Very tasty.

M-Body is thinner than expected but it seems to fit the beer's ABV. I actually enjoy its lack of viscosity. Tantalizing bubbles. A bit creamy and spicy/hot from the bourbon. Drinks too easily.

O/D-Firestone Walker barrel aged brews are an automatic. This one may be one of the best in my opinion. Not as huge as the others but it's complexity is unmatched. This beer tastes like it was made just for me and my taste buds. I really, really enjoyed this beer. Instant classic.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Label says 2015.

A- Pours a dark brown color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves large clots behind.

S- Heavily toasted malt character with some vanilla sweetness and a bit of must. Slight booze fume.

T- Has an Oreo cookie-like duality with the roasty milk chocolate quality of the malt and the sweet vanilla that the barrel brings. Also some dark fruit like raisin and fig. Sweetness lingers on the palate and the actual bourbon flavor is pretty light.

M- Soft and about as thick as you'd expect given the color and lower ABV, which is to say not very. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Pretty tasty but I won't be seeking it out again, at least in the context of trading. If I saw it on the shelf, I'd probably grab it for a retry.

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Photo of TX-Badger
4.46/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brown with khaki colored head. Bourbon, roasted malt, and oak on the nose; follows onto the palate, with some coconut and oats. Finishes with a little sweetness and bourbon.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark, copper tinted black, modest cap of brown froth, gone quickly, spotty bubbling. First whiff was solid, but not as bold as expected... light charachter from the burbon and oak blend with light roasted malt, faint creamy sweetness, minimal notes of cocoa. Taste brings a dry, oaky flavor, bourbon is present but not a star, roasty, a bit of a hop presence, light cream and sugar, minimal cocoa. Medium bodied, not full and creamy like an oatmeal stout, dry. Was anticipating this one immensely and left somewhat disapointed, expected big and bold and i got softer and milder. Still a good beer, just not great.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle of Batch 001, thanks to Shaun for bringing this bottle over. And thanks to Dustin who hooked him up. Poured into a Three Floyds' teku glass today, 10/15/2013.

Review #241.

Pours a pitch black body, with a bubbly and not particularly thick or foamy off-white head that dissipates quickly. Looks like a stout to me. Nothing weird abut it.

Smells interesting, just hints of sweet bourbon and coconut, a bit of the underlying chocolate and toffee but not a whole lot else. No vanilla. But it reminds me quite a bit of Parabola but everything is muted.

We drank this as the first stout of the night so I think my palate is judging this beer fairly. It's mostly hints of sweet bourbon and coconut. I really don't get a whole lot of the typical oatmeal stout flavour profiles- no chocolate, vanilla, coffee, umami. In the end this beer feels like its meant to deliver a muted, watered down bourbon barrel experience.

Creamy, rich, full-bodied stout. Good carbonation. Dangerously drinkable and smooth.

Either my bourbon barrel stout palate is ruined after drinking CW Black Gold and Sixteen last Saturday, or this beer is just missing a lot of things. It's got a much better mouthfeel than Parabola does, but its lacking any kind of intensity. In the end I felt it is a drinkable, smooth oatmeal stout that lost a lot of whatever the base beer had to offer after spending time in barrels.

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Photo of tigg924
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap at New World Tavern.

Appearance: low carbonation, 1/4 inch head, opaque, black in color

Smell: dark chocolate, oak, and bourbon

Taste: Deep bourbon taste, dark and milk chocolate, with touch of vanilla

Mouthfeel: sweet, oaky, and roasty, heavy body, moderate carbonation

Overall: Wow. Every barrel aged beer FireStone Walker has done has been lights out amazing and worth every penny. This one is no different. I love the depth of the barrel aging and yet this still has a lot of stout to it. One of the best beers I have had in a while.

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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 sweemzander
4.51/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

(A)- Pours almost totally black in color. Minimal tan froth.

(S)- A great vanilla oatmeal aroma up front. Some chocolate and caramel oak. Superb oatmeal characters on the nose. One of the most striking oatmeal stout smells I have encountered thus far.

(T)- A superb stand out oatmeal, chocolate, and vanilla combo. Some oaky char in there on the finish.

(M)- A smooth carbonation level. I dig the balance this has with a nice stand out oatmeal profile. It does get to be a bit sweet as it warms.

(O)- One of the more oatmeal forward stouts in recent memory. Very well balanced with a dessert quality to it. The barrel really showcases how well the oatmeal works with it. Fantastic now; I would be surprised if this improved any with age. I say drink now.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle opened on 10.8.13
No. 1

A - Pours a dark brown with a larger dark tan active head that fades fast leaving large bubble lacing.

S - Malt and oats, pretty subtle.

T - Bourbon barrel, chocolate and light oats.

D - Lower carbonation and a heavier body.

O - Nice and solid, nice flavors. I was wishing for a bit more depth.

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Photo of cbutova
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- Poured from the 22oz bomber to two snifters with Chico1985. Pitch black body with a fairly oily appearance as it pours to the glass. Off-white head rises to about a finger high with a creamy texture. Frothy ring leaves a web of lace with mostly spotty patches.

S- Right as it was poured, the chocolate and oatmeal stout base leads the way with deep roast malts and sweet chocolate, reminds me of a muffin with the toasted oatmeal feel. With some time, the barrel opens up with a smooth, quality whiskey aroma and oak vanilla.

T- Opens up with the Bourbon barrel coming to the palate first. Reminds me of Elijah Craig range of Bourbon flavors with some peppery hints coming with the toast oak and vanilla sweetness. The chocolate malts and oatmeal combine to remind me of baked goods, ala muffins or cookies. Deep roast grains. It all comes together to create a decadent dessert feel that trumps many higher alcohol stouts in overall flavor.

MF- Moderately thick body with slightly creamy texture. Carbonation at a medium level which helps because the body is not super oily like bigger stouts. Oatmeal adds that chewy silkiness. Slight Bourbon warming in the finish but just a tiny bit.

Pretty huge fan of what this beer brings to the table. It is like a chocolate oatmeal cookie with a dollop of vanilla Bourbon frosting on top at times. The oatmeal side of things is impressive and it isn't just a roast bomb. Great balance is the key to this brew.

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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 maximum12
3.62/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to analogchainsaw for the first of two rapid-fire trades that brought sunny California to Minnesota (without, y'know, the sun, warmth, ocean...OK, just the beer...OK, just a couple of them). Popping this to celebrate the arrival of box #2 tomorrow. 22 oz. bottle, batch #1, split with my wife.

The pour is you-are-dead black, with appropriate minimal carbonation. Bringing the blessed liquid close to two of the openings in my face. Smells like whiskey & sweet malts. Enough of this crap, let's drink.

Velvet Merkin hits the first word dead-on, but I'll have to look up the second. First impression is the smooothness. Smoother than my chest fresh from waxing, the beer creates almost no friction in the throat. The beer needs to warm; cold, it's tame & lifeless. Warming, it delivers classic oatmeal stout, grainy, smoooth (did I say that?), nice vanilla, touch of bourbon. A little thin; I know of 8.5% beers that hold their barrel well, this one doesn't quite perfect that.

I've come to expect the world from Firestone barrel-aged beers, & this one didn't turn my crank quite so hard. A good beer, but not as dead-center as pretty much everything else they do.

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,314 ratings.
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