In brewing, much like other types of retail, much can be gained when choosing the name of a beer or brewery. In the Northwest we are lucky to have brewery names like Hair of the Dog, Elysian, Upright, or even Laughing Dog. And then there are brewery named beers like Beet Down (from Epic Ales), Octupus Ink (from Pike), or Matt (from Hair of the Dog).
It’s this ‘outside of the box’ thinking that has created some of the most memorably named beers this writer has seen. But it wouldn’t be the Northwest Beer Guide if we didn’t recognize the contributions of our friends from out of the Northwest.
Take Firestone Walker, brewed in Paso Robles, and provider of great beers like Velvet Merlin, DBA, or Parabola. But did you know that the brewery produces a beer called Velvet Merkin?
Alright, what the hell is a Velvet Merkin?!
Here’s the quote from Wikipedia just in case you think I’m making this up.
In Hollywood film making, merkins can be worn by actors and actresses to avoid inadvertent exposure of the genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes. If a merkin is not worn, it would be necessary to restrict the shot to exclude the genital area. With the merkin in place, brief flashes of the crotch can be used if necessary. The presence of the merkin protects the actor from inadvertently performing "full-frontal" nudity — some contracts specifically require that nipples and genitals be covered in some way — which can help ensure that the film achieves a less restrictive MPAA rating.
And the beer? Well this is what the brewery had to say regarding the matter.
The original Velvet Merkin was made solely for the brewery’s tasting room, starting in 2004. “I always wanted to make an oatmeal stout, and so I started making single-turn batches for the tasting room, just for fun,” Brynildson said.
He added, “I came up with this fanciful name, because I thought it was hilarious. I never thought it would leave the tasting room walls. When we decided to bottle it as a fall seasonal release about four years ago, everyone got cold feet, so we changed the name to Velvet Merlin.”
But the Velvet Merkin name was surreptitiously resurrected by Brynildson and the brewing team after they began aging batches of the beer in bourbon barrels at around the same time.
“Velvet Merkin is the barrel-aged version of that original oatmeal stout now known as Velvet Merlin,” Brynildson said. “We’ve been making this iteration of Velvet Merkin for several years as part of our Anniversary Ale program, and now we think it merits its own limited release.”
While not available to the public in bottles until now, Velvet Merkin has already racked up two gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival.
Brewery notes for the ‘geeks’
Beautiful chocolate, espresso and vanilla-bourbon aromas hold your nose hostage. Rich milk chocolate, bourbon and espresso create a dangerously smooth and incredibly drinkable barrel-aged oatmeal stout. Hoarding tendencies may occur.
2013 Vintage Merkin Lowdown
Style: Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
ABV: 8.5% IBU: 33 Color: 80SRM
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Roast Barley, English Dark Caramel, Medium Caramel, Carafa Malt, Oats (15%)
Hops: U.S.-grown Fuggle
Aging: Barrel aged for one year on average in retired spirits barrels
Look for this limited release (only 3500 cases) where you find Firestone DBA, Parabola, Sucaba, or other Firestone Walker beer.
As always if you can't find it near you ask your server or grocer to get some!
About Firestone Walker
Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a regional brewery founded in 1996 and located in the Paso Robles wine country on California’s Central Coast. Firestone Walker Brewing Company is driven to produce the world’s finest pale ales. Firestone Walker Brewing Company has been awarded Mid-Sized Brewery of The Year honors at the 2003, 2007 and 2011 Great American Beer Festivals as well as Champion Mid-Sized Brewery at the 2004, 2006 and 2010 World Beer Cup competitions.