Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
362 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:
362
Ratings:
2,410
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
9.46%
 
 
Wants:
405
Gots:
1,063
For Trade:
140
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User Reviews
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Reviews: 362 | Ratings: 2,410
Photo of stephenjmoore
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a cola color that settles into the glass as a near black. Head is an off-white that settles quickly and leaves a ring around the top. Aroma is roasty malts, sweet oaky bourbon and a hint of coffee. Flavor includes many of the same flavors with the bourbon coming through nicely and a nice coffee element. The feel is on the thin side, but perfect carbonation. A really nice change of pace BA stout.

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Photo of stortore
4.23/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle, 2014 release into a snifter.

Pours very dark and thick looking, medium head, some foamy lacing. Smell is rich malts, a good amount of vanilla, chocolate, bourbon- more as it warms, oak. Nice. Taste continues the malt, more chocolate and less vanilla than the nose, bourbon, oak. A slight bitterness towards the end. Very creamy and smooth, generously carbonated. Seems a touch thin, but that could be because it seems like a bigger beer than it is designed to be.

A very enjoyable beer, complex and flavorful. Worth a purchase every year.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%

2013 Vintage, poured into a snifter in celebration of my 10 year high school reunion

A- pours a nearly pitch black color with a small khaki colored head that reduces to a ring around the edge, with a bit of lace left behind as it settles 4.25

S- aroma of chocolate walnut fudge mixed with sweet caramel/toffee malt, lots of bourbon juice aroma mixed with some oaky vanilla, smoky roasted notes with toasted marshmallow 4.25

T- dark chocolaty malt base up front with a nice smoothness from the oats, the barrel provides lots of barrel juice flavor with hints of oak, vanilla and caramel. Nutty sweet finish with mire bourbon on the linger 4.25

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a slightly foamy mouthfeel and finish, just a bit thin overall 3.75

O- lots of bourbon coming from this one, even after a year of aging. Perhaps due to the base beer being a bit lower in alcohol. Still a nice chocolaty bourbon bomb that is a slow sipper for sure 4.25

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Photo of arizcards
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber Reserve Series 001 from BevMo on 10-12-13 for $14.99. Bottled on 8/23/13.

Beer poured cola brown with a nice tan head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is wonderful, chocolate, roasted malts, bourbon.

Taste is bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is disappointing, light to medium bodied and not overly smooth.

Overall this brew rocks! With the flavor and nose one expects a viscous brew but other than that this is worthy of trying if you can scarce up a bottle.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.67/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle, with no apparent bottled on date present. I bought the very first bottle from my local beer store, just minutes after they unloaded it off the truck. The blurb on the back of the box made my mouth water with anticipation. "Aged for a full year in seasoned bourbon barrels". Yeah, needless to say, I am exponentially stoked to have this bottle.

Poured into a clear balloon snifter glass.

A - Pours a solid opaque black with maybe just the faintest hint of brown-red highlights. Two fluffy creamy fingers of tan mocha head. Beautiful lacing.

S - Ahh yes, this thing smells like heaven. Chocolate, oatmeal, some raisins, figs, dates, smooth creamy vanilla, and earthy oak bourbon barrels.

T - Oh my. Truly lovely. Decadent. Delicious. Smooth "velvety" chocolate, coffee bean roast, oatmeal, creamy vanilla, & some warming bourbon presence. This beer is truly amazing.

M - This is one dangerously smooth, creamy, and "velvety" beer, that's for sure. Perfect low lying carbonation, and an almost nonexistent alcohol presence. Finishes with a bit of bitterness and stickiness on the palate, and a hint of booze warmth.

Overall, this is pretty much everything I could ask for in a bourbon barrel aged stout. I don't see how it could get much more amazing than this. Firestone Walker has truly wowed me with this one; it will be hard for them to top this. Highly recommended; trample innocent women and children to get this if you have to.

Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin ---4.5/5

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Photo of Sludgeman
3.55/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter at Rustico Arlington

Disappointing, over hyped - 3.5

A - Black, minimal tan head 3.75
S - Bourbon, sweet, a faint spiciness, and some roasted malt but the barrel overwhelms everything. 3.75
T - Heavy on the bourbon, a bourbon bomb but not hot or solventy. 3.5
MF - Not particularly smooth for an oatmeal stout. Thinner than expected. 3.25

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Photo of beergoot
4.63/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage No.001

India ink black body with a smooth, creamy, off-white head. Light coffee, vanilla, chocolate and cocoa aromas. Deeply rich and soothing malt sugar flavors, favoring the darker malts. Heavy body yet velvety smooth.

A very noticeable oak-bourbon scent right off the top strongly suggests what the rest of the tasting experience may be like. Silky sweet taste and feel, mostly comprised of a deeply rich yet zesty chocolate tone. Mint chocolate quality overall, adding a very tasty and appealing sweetness and zing to things. An exquisitely well-balanced and complex dark ale. Deep and engrossing and near-perfect.

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Photo of Tucquan
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on 2012-12-08 at TJ's pub in Paoli, PA for their 9th anniversary celebration.

A - Black or very dark brown with a 1/2-finger dark tan head and mild lacing.

S - Dark roasted grain, spice, light bourbon, coconut.

T - Rich medium-dark roasted grain, toasted oats, coconut, vanilla, illusion of chocolate, bourbon. Nice amount of bitterness in the finish. Delicious.

M - Medium body and carbonation. Not overly creamy.

O - A very fine oatmeal stout although I like Founders Breakfast Stout a little more.

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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 BEERMILER12
4.4/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a near pitch black color with 2 fingers of head that slowly fades down to a small cap that leaves very spotty lacing

S: Roast, light bourbon, oak, dark chocolate, coffee, and vanilla are all fairly prominent. Very much like an dark chocolate espresso brownie

T: Follows the nose. Starts off with the roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate, and bourbon and slowly picks up the vanilla and oak notes. Light bitterness from the roast works very well with the light sweetness from the barrel. Finishes with lingering barrel notes and dark chocolate

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Smooth

O: An extremely well-rounded BBA oatmeal stout that takes the base and elevates it to a whole new level. Staggeringly easy to drink at only 8.5% as well. Definitely worth checking out

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

Great, deep brown color with awesome head and moderate lacing. The oats add a great, chewy feel and smooth this stout out to a nice feel. Flavors are strong but not overbearing and produces a very drinkable, mild oatmeal stout !

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

1540th Review on BA
Nitro-Tap to 6oz snifter

@Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, CA

App- When the server poured this, the whole glass seemed to look like a cotton ball and he said dont worry. He was right. As things settled the beer became a very flat looking dull brown but retained the creamy white frothy head on top. A liquid reverse oreo if you will. The whole glass had some good sticky cling to it.

Smell- Its got the base for sure of Velvet Merkin. The rich oats, the little bit of malts and the little bit of bitter hoppy & chocolate for balance. Except this kicks it to another level and adds the bourbon, boozy notes. A little unbalanced on the aromatics but still a very nice smelling beer.

Taste- Like a oreo. So smooth with a big burst of grainular cookie crust. The malts tie this together with a rich oatmeal flavor but yet with the addition of the bourbon its a phenomal beer. Decadent and rich with bursts of bourbon and cookie with each sip. Would be amazing if this were bottled.

Mouth- Big and chewy with a low carbonation level. Super smooth and rich. The bourbon that I mentioned before is the residual flavors with a flaky oatmeal and cocoa powder addition.

Drink- Hot damn, this was a great beer. Another one where I said, "Really? this is on Nitro today" What a great detour.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The nose has a light lactose-sweetness with fresh brewed coffee, some caramel and toffee, oats and lots of chocolate.

This is a chocolate bomb at first sip, thick and creamy. It opens late with bourbon, oats, cream, vanilla, chocolate, coconut and a ribbon of toffee.

FW nails this as they always do!

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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 CHickman
4.82/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Sapsuckers, 2014 batch pours pitch black color with a small tan head that faded and left good spotty lacing. This brew's looks were fortunately the least impressive part, as it was all uphill from here.

Smells of ash, charred wood, burnt grains, coffee grinds, vanilla, burnt coffee, oak barrel, tree bark, cocoa powder, wheat bread toast, oatmeal and dark chocolate. Smells like bourbon barrel aged stout with a lot of char, grains and delicious chocolate. Pretty much the apex of an oatmeal stout.

This is an oatmeal stout on steroids, ridiculously flavorful and packed with oaky notes, earthy accents, and lots of chocolate and coffee. Taste shows off the burnt coffee, cocoa powder, light vanilla, charred wood, molasses, bakers chocolate, roasted malt, touches of syrup, tea leaf, light floral hops, tobacco, light booze which is a cross between rum and bourbon, toasted coconut and some toasted buttery wheat bread; it then trails off with more char and cocoa. As it warms the bourbon comes out and is so woody and oaky that it's like an actual bourbon with a lot of peat moss. Outstanding tasting, exceptional.

Mouthfeel is thin and smooth, but par for the course for the style; light to medium bodied with very little to no carbonation and the greatest if ease to drink. So smooth, so easy and so delicious, for a beer with this much flavor it should not be this easy to drink but it is. Overall an unbelievably great beer.

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Photo of justintcoons
3.96/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage
22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance
Deep chestnut brown (near black) with a short head that dissipates quickly. Some light penetrates around the rim of the glass.

Nose
Bourbon, fudge, dark chocolate, peanut, wood, coconut, and vanilla.

Taste
Semi-sweet chocolate, caramel, toffee, and peanut. Smooth bourbon, vanilla ice cream, and oak. Hints of fudge and toasted coconut.

Mouthfeel
Medium-light bodied, slick, smooth, and warming.

Overall
Smooth, warming, and decadent. While still a great Oatmeal Stout, this seems to be the least complex of the Firestone Walker barrel aged beers that I’ve had. I expect a little more for the $20 price point on this.

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Photo of socon67
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours black with a slight redish hue. No lacing noted. A slight tan foam that lays just on the surface.

S - Great scent of roasted malt, fresh oatmeal, and coffee. I found the bourbon was a faint part of the smell.

T - Really nice! The first flavor is a roasty malt with a bit of spicy kick that stays on the tongue. The bourbon is much more pronounced in the taste. There is a warming burn at the end, though it is mild. A little bit of coffee bitterness is noted.

M - Feels heavyier than it is, though I was able to drink 16oz of this pretty easily. Coates the mouth a bit, and has a peppery spice feel.

O - Really liked this one, and yet another Firestone Walker beer I seem to enjoy. Let this one warm a bit and enjoy the flavors. Personally I think the BBA didn't make this better; it is really good on its own.

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Photo of crob3888
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark brown, nearly totally black and opaque. Some light shines through around the edges. A tan head forms, but eventually settles and disappears entirely.

S: Notice the smell during the pour. Vanilla bourbon notes dominated the sweet aroma, with dark chocolate as well. A good nose.

T: This is where the beer shines, as it should. The vanilla bourbon blends with rich dark chocolate truffle, and a hint of velvety espresso rounds it out. This is a brilliant bourbon aged beer.

F: Velvety smooth, as the name implies. Medium-full body, slightly chewy mouthfeel. Low carbonation.

Overall: A fantastic oatmeal stout. Velvet Merlin is one of my all-time favorite oatmeal stouts and Velvet Merkin is now an all-time favorite of the BBA variety. Firestone, as usual, knocks it out of the park.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 10/2013, enjoyed 10/2014.
What difference does a year make? That I cannot speak to, at least as far as this beer is concerned. But in my life a lot has changed over the course of a year. More on that another time, perhaps over a beer.
This pours a luscious black with cottony foam that quickly dies into a cocoa colored ring of surf. There’s an incredible aroma with some dark chocolate and sweet espresso notes, and an underlying rum scent. I get a lot of nuance: toasted coconut, some orange peel, a hint of vanilla, a little oak, and it only gets better as it warms and opens.
There’s a big bitterness and a mighty roast on this, but it’s offset by a creamy, albeit surprisingly thin, consistency. The oatmeal in the oatmeal stout? Plus the masterful blending that FW is known for? I still get some barrel-aged notes, vanilla and coconut and dark chocolate and a touch of rum, but I find myself wishing for just a tad more.. more body, more booze, a touch more heat to contrast on the end. Still delicious, and definitely memorable. I saved this for a reason and it did not disappoint.

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

Velvet Merkin 2015 (Firestone Walker Snifter)
The beer pours a nice tan head that starts bubbly but dissipates quickly and leaves a creamy ring around the inside of the glass. The beer itself is certainly something nice to look at and certainly different from any oatmeal stout that I've seen before. The color is a chocolate black that looks good but the texture does not have that creamy and milky smooth look that an oatmeal stout usually has. Instead, the beer has a thin look similar to bourbon; it isn't to say that it's bad but loses that look I enjoy so much in an oatmeal stout.

The smell is very good. The strongest note appears to be the oatmeal which has a nice milk cream and vanilla mixing with the bourbon. The cocoa nibs and dark chocolate come out and mix with each other to the point where it's hard to distinguish between the two different but very similar aromas. The bourbon is certainly strong but isn't overpowering; it also mixes well with the vanilla.

The taste is also very good and strongly resembles the smell. It has as moderate vanilla and oat note that mixes with a moderate bourbon note. The chocolate note is a bit stronger in this one while the cocoa nibs are fairly weak compared to the smell.

2016 Update: Ditto but with a much stronger oat and cocoa note. The oat also comes off a little dairy like.

The feel is good. It has a very nice cream feel and goes down incredibly smooth. The carbonation is a bit light but adds that creamy feel in the same way a cask ale does. My main issue is that it's pretty thin, which is probably the result of the bourbon barrel aging. Fortunately, there does not seem to be any burn because that would ruin it.

Overall, a very good imperial oatmeal stout and definitely worth getting. However, this beer does not seem to be one for aging and should probably be drank as fresh as possible or on draft. Time seems to dull the notes that would be stronger otherwise. Go for it.

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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 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 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 MacQ32
4.51/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A - almost motor oil black with a minimal chocolate head, weak retention and OK lacing

S - Tons of sweet chocolate, smokey/almost roasty aromas. Lots and lots of oats. Tons of dry okay aromas and a wallop of bourbon

T - Sweet milk stout with tons of great oat flavor. Swear vanilla sweet bourbon flavor, lots of oak.

M - perfectly smooth. Minimal carbonation, thick, very warming combines with a great balanced but bkurbony flavor profile to form an incredibly nice drinking brew

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
4.23 out of 5 based on 2,410 ratings.
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