|Credit Nick Gingold|
Paso Robles, CA: With All Hallows’ Eve on the near horizon, it is time once again for a little black magic from Firestone Walker Brewing Company as the brewery’s seasonal Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout is set to make its annual return starting in mid October.
The 2016 release of Velvet Merlin sticks to the beer’s proven script as a decadent oatmeal stout that will warm your innards on a cold autumn or winter night.
The malt bill features Maris Otter, 2-Row Pale, Roast Barley, English Dark Caramel, Medium Caramel, Carafa Malt, and Oats. A subtle hop profile comes entirely from U.S.-grown Fuggle hops.
“I have a real soft spot for oatmeal stouts,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “The Velvet Merlin recipe is from my homebrew days. It’s pretty straightforward, and it’s all about the malt.”
The resulting beer offers robust cocoa and espresso aromas with subtle American hop nuances. Rich dark chocolate and roasted coffee flavors accentuate a creamy mouthfeel and dry finish to create perfect balance in this full-bodied stout.
In The Beginning…
Velvet Merlin was born under the name Velvet Merkin back in 2004, when it was first offered as a brewery-only beer.
Several years later, when this astonishingly silky stout became popular enough to package for distribution, Velvet Merkin was recast as Velvet Merlin for the sake of public manners, and as a nod to Brynildson’s nickname at the brewery, Merlin.
“I initially fought the name change, but ultimately had to agree that things might get a bit hairy if we sent a beer called Velvet Merkin to broad market,” Brynildson said. “The important part of the name is ‘velvet,’ which describes the texture we’re always aiming for with this beer.”
(Editor’s Note: The moniker “Velvet Merkin” did not die, but rather went underground at the brewery, and later resurfaced as the name for a barrel-aged version of what had become known as Velvet Merlin. Last year, Firestone Walker also launched Nitro Merlin Milk Stout on draft, a nitrogenated milk stout version of Velvet Merlin. Yes, it’s confusing.)
N.W. Beer Guide