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My Velvet Merkin

By Jasmine · October 29th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Last night, I woke up to my husband and brother coming home from partying after the Giants won game 2 of the World Series (GO GIANTS!). I crawled out of bed to do the sleepy, cranky thing (Be quieter! Go hang out in the living room!). Then Joe hugged me in apology and I spotted something in his hands (even though I wasn’t wearing my glasses).
“You’re drinking my Velvet Merkin!?!?!”
“No, no, no!” he said quickly. “I was just showing your brother.”
Sure. Since no bottle had been cracked, there was no harm done. But I gave them all the stink eye anyways. A few weeks ago we traveled down to Firestone-Walker to take their brewery tour and hang out in their tasting room. FW has tons of great beers, but the one I fell hardest for was the Velvet Merkin.

Today I decided to share one with them (maybe with a side of guilt?), so we could all revel in the deliciousness.

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I poured it into three tulip shaped glasses. We all spent the first minute sniffing the bouquet with our noses inside our glasses, like the beer connoisseurs we are.

“It just smells…boozy,” my brother said. Very good, Luke. Velvet Merkin is partially aged in bourbon barrels. At 5.5% alcohol, it’s not actually a boozy beer though. It’s an Oatmeal Stout, dark brown but not quite black. It has more chocolate than coffee notes, though as it warms up the coffee gets stronger. The head is a thin line of carmel-colored foam, just like a good espresso. It breaks up after a sip or two like espresso as well.

Joe said he tasted, “leather, that meaty sort of flavor” and “fruitwood.” Which apparently means a sort of apple and firewood flavor. The finish definitely has a hint of burnt something in it. According to Firestone Walker’s factoid sheet, “The addition of U.S. grown fuggles hops contributes the perfect amount of bitterness to this exceptionally balanced beer.” What that really means is that I can actually drink more than one of these without my taste buds feeling stripped. Oats often add a sharp bitterness, but it seems that they are balanced in this case with the hops.

The finish is super smooth and clean, with very little lingering aftertaste. Very unusual, and desirable, if you ask me, for a stout.

It’s called Velvet Merkin in the taproom, but it’s sold in bottles as Velvet Merlin, apparently a voluntarily move by FW to avoid possible conflicts with the ATF over labeling issues (wondering why?). The FW website says it is no longer available, but the bartender at the taproom said they JUST started bottling it. I emailed the company and they responded that it is available now through March and that they are updating the website.

I haven’t yet figured out where to get it in the Bay Area. I checked The Jug Shop last week and they didn’t have it–which is sad because I’m dying to make my Porter Cream Pie recipe with it, but I’m not willing to give up one of my two remaining bottles. If anyone spots it, let me know, and you’ll be rewarded with a piece of Velvet Merkin Cream Pie.

Okay, you can stop giggling now.

Tags: Beer I can't get my hands on · Beerventures

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stewart Bloom // Nov 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Interesting name! A merkin (first use 1617)[1] is a pubic wig. Merkins were originally worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia.

  • 2 tv fool // Nov 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

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