Firestone Walker ’17 ‘Velvet Merkin’ BA Oatmeal Stout


66174459_1121749588009185_6528339423652741120_n“Velvet Merkin is the beer that almost wasn’t…Indeed, this vintage oatmeal stout’s comical  (or is it scandalous?) name went off the grid for several years, but now it’s back due to popular demand. Velvet Merkin is aged for a full year in retired spirits barrels from Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve and others, yet manages to offer mind-­boggling balance and restraint.”

Glassware: Snifter.

Appearance: Dark brown with a wispy tan head which retreats to the rim. The wet foam drags the lacing down the glass as it subsides. Quite a light pour for a barrel aged stout!

Aroma: What it lacks in EBC is instantly made up by huge wafts of bourbon barrels, vanilla spice, coffee, toasted coconut, dark fruits, milk chocolate, brown sugar, an undertone of honey and subtle nutty malts. The oatmeal is very faint but it provides a smooth and somewhat dry creaminess that works well alongside the rest of the rich and decadent aromas. Classy stuff.

Flavour: Incredibly smooth and effortless notes of coffee, mildly charred malts, vanilla, chocolate and bourbon barrels to the fore. Some underlying sweetness pulling it all in to line…we want to say caramel and honey but it’s thicker like molasses or toffee. Some cocoa and earthy spice forming late and rolling in to a kind of milky finish with mild roast and coffee lingering on the back palate.

Mouthfeel: So smooth, silky and creamy. Lighter in body than we had anticipated with the 8.5% AbV also very well hidden. It literally drinks like a sub 6%er. Wow!

Overall: Look it’s not the most mind-blowing barrel aged stout FW have released but it’s insanely sessional. How they mask the AbV like they do is seriously impressive. Dangerous! But impressive.