Pacific Northwest – There’s a sudden chill in the air tonight and why shouldn’t there be with so much discussion center on the weather. Prospects lean towards a colder than expected Winter and Fall mornings (and evenings) are producing crisp temperatures, that are sure to force that little witch or ghost to wear a jacket. For us grownups, it's a time to warm up in front of the fire, put on an extra blanket and pull up a glass of dark, inviting ale or lager.
For the folks of Paso Robles, it’s the beginning of the season for their annual release of Velvet Merlin. No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that’s Merlin with an L. Back in early August we made the announcement that starting soon, you would be seeing this appreciated Oatmeal stout, not just on draft but in bottles. To celebrate this achievement we wanted to invite those undecided what you are missing out by not picking one of these up at a nearby grocer or bar.
To the untrained, the Oatmeal Stout might appear as any other dark beer in a glass. Originally brewed in the kettles of England, this sweet stout, relies on an ‘oatmeal’ body while maintaining a complexity that comes off milky (in body and sweetness). To some this beer has received the monitor sweet stout or dry stout, with the level of bitterness varying based on the oatmeal impression. Overall this beer has impressed upon those who drink it a sensation of silkiness on up to a sort of oiliness.
Smelling this we detect cream vanilla mixed with coffee, roasted barley and hints of fresh oak.
Take a moment to ponder whether we would have a cup of coffee or the Merlin we take a sip and are surprised by coffee notes upfront before a welcomed vanilla creaminess makes an appearance. Add a dash of honey and finish with minor roastedness and you have the makings of a potential breakfast beer. Overall this beer produces the sensation of medium weight while still being slightly dry.
Velvet Merlin is the perfect beer for the holidays, a nice comforting creamy beer with familiar flavors
“Anyone who has an attraction to coffee, any attraction to chocolate, will love this beer,” brew master Matt Bryndilson said.
Velvet Merlin is also partially blended with Merlin that has been aged in bourbon barrels for a year. The aging adds even more complexity to this very rich beer. The use of US grown Fuggles gives the perfect hop flavor to this exceptionally well-balanced beer.
You Should Try This. Thoughts roam whether we should enjoy this beer indoors in front of the hearth or after raking up the leaves that continue to fall. Firestone Walker, never ceases to surprise us, and we say this as we move a bit of Fontina cheese to the side of our mouth. Food ideas to consider include, smoked meats (salmon, chicken, turkey, pork), or maybe add this as a reward at the end of your meal. Either way this beer works on so many levels recreationally and during a meal.
About the photo’s author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.
In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.