Velvet Merkin | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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outstanding
339 Reviews
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Velvet MerkinVelvet Merkin
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

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:
339
Ratings:
2,300
Avg:
4.23
pDev:
9.46%
 
 
Wants:
401
Gots:
1,002
For Trade:
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Reviews: 339 | Ratings: 2,300
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 pkalix
4.29/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

pours black with a little bit of tan head on top.
aroma is of a very nice bourbon-barrel on top of some malts. lots of alcohol in the smell.
lots of bourbon barrel flavor and lots of alcohol in the taste. nice oatmeal stout, perfect thinness to it but a bit more alcohol presence than preferred. maybe some cellaring will do this some mellowing.
2nd time: 2014 version, sitting in the frig for a long while: incredible!!!! super smooth. super light, but very tasty. never got this like this before, but insane coconut on the front sip and smell..... some barrel, no alcohol, but very very tasty..... I would give this MUCH higher scores than the first time!

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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 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 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 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 cjgiant
4.4/5  rDev +4%

Bottle, 2014 vintage:
Pours a pretty-much pitch black, with a mildly surprising just off-white foamy head. This head does stick around for a bit, and a swirl of the glass leaves the foam clinging to the glass above the surface.

The initial nose (I did let it warm a bit before tasting) definitely has the bourbon barrel scents throughout. There is a vanilla and perhaps a light cinnamon notes to what is really, to me, pretty mush simple roasted malt goodness. When searching, I get wood notes and something that reminds me of a "bowl of oatmeal", but neither is overt or obvious to me.

The taste, surprisingly does not rely on or even focus on the bourbon barrel tastes. I do get the oats more up front than I'd imagined I would. To those flavors are added a fairly significant woodiness that accentuate the initial notes, and meld together to something greatly interesting to me. The bourbon fades in lightly mid-taste, and just stays on the fringe of the taste. I get a touch of coconut, and a dark-roasted nuttiness for the lingering taste.

The feel is actually a little light early, and dries out in a woody feel/taste for the longer term. I think the beer is very smooth throughout, overall, though.

A very good beer that is just solid in its structure. It's not very showy in it's flavors, but does throw enough out there to not be too boring. I like it for being a more subdued higher-octane stout.

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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 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 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 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 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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Photo of msubulldog25
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The barrel-aged version of Velvet Merkin (name = LOL), served at Holiday Ale Festival 2008 (Portland, OR). The program description: 'A rich oatmeal stout 25% aged in bourbon barrels blended back to the original batch. ABV 5.5%'. I enjoyed this twice on-tap - once the first evening (Wed 12/3) and again as a first pour on Sat 12/7.

A: Head is sudsy/creamy khaki, maybe 1/2 finger. Liquid is a deep charcoal with a notable carbonation. Speckled lace and a clinging ring of cream.

S: Full aroma of cocoa, chocolate, a toasty breadiness (pumpernickel?), light coffee and a sweetened cereal grain. A faint oakiness, woody and sweet.

T: Husky malts, rich roastedness, sweetened coffee (milk & sugar). hints powdered spice (cinnamon?) and a subtle woodiness.

M: S-m-o-o-o-o-t-h! Creamy and soothing mouthfeel; medium body. 'Velvet'y? Yes! A slight grit, or this could be a '5'.

D: Super drinkable. Soft feel, excellent flavor, bold aroma - everything one could want in an 'oatmeal stout', with the partial barrel-aging as an added bonus. Good enough to drink several times at a festival, but one that I'd hope will be making an appearance soon in a bar near us.

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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 srandycarter
3.87/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this at a Firestone Walker tasting at Blind Lady over the weekend. It is not retired and there is a difference between the Merlin and the Merkin. Merlin is not barrel aged and is available in bottles. Merkin is BAed and is not available in bottle.

A - No head, dark, almost black, with amber notes.

S - cocoa, roasted malt, light wood.

T - Chocolate chip cookies, burnt coffee, bitter end.

M - Medium to heavy body, heavy bitter, slightly chaulky finish.

D - Though low ABV, flavors are huge palate killers and I would tire fast.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ FoBAB.

A: pour dark brown, pretty much identical to the base beer, decent retention, creamy head

S: like the base beer, this is an excellent aromatic showcase of roasted barley, this is paired with vanilla, cream, and mellow chocolate.

T: vanilla shows up front with mellow oak qualities, this is followed by chocolate and roasted malt, great balance, very smooth flavors

MF: somewhat thin but on par for a 5.5% oatmeal stout, medium carbonation

O: this is a great drinkable barrel aged stout. There aren't a whole lot of barrel aged stouts with such a low ABV, this one pulls it off nicely

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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 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 HattedClassic
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | 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.

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 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 Floydster
4.01/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter at Blue Palms out of the handpump for seven dollars, reviewed from notes

A-Practically black color but the edges are lighter for sure, so very dark brown, 1 1/4 inch full frothy medium tan head that lasted three or four minutes, nice retention, some lacing
S-Main smell at first is the bourbon and the slightly spicy scents that come from it, also lots of oak and vanilla, it has milk chocolate, roasted malts, cream, and grains as well
T-It starts off a little sweet with some cocoa, there is some light coffee in the middle, bourbon notes are in the finish with lots more vanilla than expected, like the slight twang and spice from the whiskey too, flavors mold together with this one well and I can really see why this mixed so well with a dark Belgian in a previous blend, nicely balanced and a flavorful oatmeal stout
M-Slightly dry, roasty, and faintly sweet mouthfeel, thinner body out of the cask but still medium, carbonation is obviously minimal, taste lingers
D-Could have drank lots more of this stuff, light on the stomach, smooth and very easy to drink for an oatmeal stout, could even make a session beer, taste does not get tiresome

I was excited to try this after having Saucerful of Merkin and wanting to know what those two components tasted like by themselves, this beer is right around six percent alcohol supposedly but it feels even lighter than that at times, would like to drink again, recommended

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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 thebigredone
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%

I believe this beer suffered in comparison to the rest of the stouts we were drinking last night. Tasted a bit thin and harsh after the likes of Assassin, three BCBS variants, etc. I'm sure if I'm able to retry it at a later time the score may improve.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours opaque brown with a moderately thick tan head with a pretty good retention that left nice lacing throughout. Aromas suggested a strong oatmeal presence along with very light notes of vanilla, bourbon, oak, toffee, and marshmallows. The flavor was also oat and chocolate forward along with a sweet moderate note of lighter caramel, toffee, bourbon, oak, and slight coconut. Medium bitterness and no hop flavor whatsoever. Medium mouthfeel with decent carbonation throughout. Overall, this beer was thinner than I expected along with low astringency and alcohol warmth. This was more of an interesting milk stout to me and perhaps too light for my taste as I am a fan of the more bold, but complex beers

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Velvet Merkin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 339 ratings.
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