Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout review

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal StoutDrink the dark brew while it's still cold outside! That's my mantra these days and when I saw a single bottle of this Firestone Walker Brewing Company limited release beer I had to buy it. It has been less than a year since Firestone Walker started distributing here in Colorado and so far it has lived up to its reputation.

Velvet Merlin is a limited release seasonal beer, generally available in the fall and winter and I figured I had better try one before it had disappeared from the shelves since Spring had already started. This beer was partially aged in bourbon barrels. Supposedly, their website claims that they put the bottled on date on the neck of the bottles, but I couldn't seem to find it on mine. But I wasn't worried, the beer had only been in Colorado for less than 6 months so I figured it was still good.

This beer was made with Maris Otter, 2-row Pale, Roast Barley, English Dark Caramel, Medium Caramel, Carafa malt and 15% of it in oats. They hopped this beer with 100% US grown Fuggle hops. This beer has also won over 7 awards including a Gold at the 2010 GABF and a Silver at the World Beer Cup in 2010 and another Silver at the San Diego International Beer Festival in 2011. So this beer has a bit of winning history to it.

Appearance: This beer poured out a very dark color, nearly black with some mahogany-brown edges along the sides of the glass. This beer was poured cold right out of the fridge and produced just a small 1 finger tall brown head. There was just a little bit of lacing along the edge of the glass but it slid off rather quickly. This beer was dark enough that I couldn't see through it except for a slight lighter area around the edge of the glass.

Aroma: I chose my Offero Omnis glass for this pour to enhance the aromas of the malt. Velvet Merlin had a solid full nose of dark chocolate with a background like roasted coffee. There was just a hint of dark molasses as well. The hop aroma was there, slightly earthy and woody, but well hidden in the background. Being partially aged in bourbon barrels, I could pick up just a trace of the old booze. The overall sensation of this aroma was heavenly.

Taste: This beer started out thick and chewy, full of dark roasted chocolate and slight coffee taste. The bourbon was only barely noticeable. It was a nice, dry bitter stout that felt creamy and went down dry but smooth. The fullness of this beer made for a slow sipping event. I really wanted to enjoy the roasted malt taste of this. This brew wasn't as sweet as other stouts I've had, but then again it didn't need to be. It was a semi-strong ale that was well worth sipping slowly a bit at a time.

Overall: This beer met my expectations for an outstanding oatmeal stout. It had plenty of body, a full rich flavor and had a nice kick to it after just a half a glass. The bourbon aging added a nice extra flavor and aroma to this beer. It's hard to imagine that I only paid $1.60 for this single bottle. I would have gladly paid three times more for it.

If you're looking for a rich oatmeal stout with a big roasty taste and a hint of bourbon, then this is your beer. It's available only in CA, NV, AZ, WA, OR and Colorado - and if you happen to see it in a single bottle grab it! Normally, it comes in 6-packs and on tap. I'm an instant fan and will seek out Firestone Walker beers again.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer as part of a build your own 6-pack.

Video showing the pour of Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout:

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Related articles:
- Firestone Walker Double Jack DIPA review.
- Firestone Walker DBA Double Barrel Ale review.
- Colorado readies for Firestone Walker. (2011)
- Crabtree Brewing Stephanie's Oatmeal Raisin Cookie review.

This article came from FermentedlyChallenged.com - a Colorado beer blog.
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