Real talk: We're going to be learning about some adult topics today. If you're at work, do your best to maintain composure. If you already know what a merkin is, then you're either an existing Firestone Walker fan, or perhaps you're well-read in the minutiae of 15th century sexual fads and fetishes. For the uninitiated, a "merkin" is a pubic wig. Or, "counterfeit hair for the privy parts." Sadly, that's the extent of our knowledge on the topic. We can assume, however, that a merkin made of velvet would certainly be considered a luxury item.
This week's featured beer is, appropriately, about as luxurious as you can get. Firestone Walker, brewing award magnet and darlings of the craft beer industry, brew a wonderful oatmeal stout called Velvet Merlin. The beer is available in 6-packs during the fall and winter, and features gorgeous notes of espresso and cocoa. Proteins in the oats add body to the brew, making for a luscious, satisfying mouthfeel.
For the first time, Firestone has bottled Velvet Merlin's cult classic evil twin, Velvet Merkin. This version takes the ABV up to 8.5%, and the beer gets a year-long rest in bourbon barrels from the likes of Four Roses, Heaven Hill, and others. The result is a smooth, drinkable beer with aromas of vanilla and bourbon, and flavors of milk chocolate.
We agree with brewer Matt Brynildson, who thinks that "some folks are going to wig out when they learn that it's finally available" in bottles (see what he did there?). Until now, the beer has only been used as a blending agent for the brewery's yearly anniversary series, or on tap at the tasting room or occasional festival. The beer has also been vetted by the expert judges at the Great American Beer Festival, who have previously awarded it two gold medals.
We can expect to see Velvet Merkin trickling onto Bay Area shelves within the next week or so. Call your favorite craft beer retailer for availability. Actual merkin sold separately.