Tonight, I am doing a twofer: it is the last night of The Best Week Ever and I just had to get back to KnB. You see, they were featuring Firestone. Not just any Firestone, though. No, they had three of my favorites: Velvet Merlin, Velvet Merkin and an anniversary. All three are stouts, so it was a heavy night, but I could not pass this up.
I started with Velvet Merlin. I have told you about this one before, but it bears repeating. This beer poured black, with a somewhat thick, light brown head that quickly dissipated. Rising from the glass came rich aromas of chocolate and bittersweet flavors. It tasted sweet at first, with a lot of chocolate up front. Then it moved to rich roasty malts and a touch of what I could only identify as coffee. It did not finish as smoothly as I expected, due to heavier carbonation than I am used to in a stout. Still, this is one of the best stouts I have ever had. While not quite a 5, it is as close as possible at a 4.9, or for simplicity:
Working my way up the list, I next tried the Velvet Merkin. This is the Velvet Merlin on steroids. Firestone takes the Merlin Oatmeal Stout and ages it bourbon barrels. This gives it a ton of character and a booziness that is not entirely unwelcome. It also poured black, with copious tan head that really stuck to the sides of the glass. It had a light smell of caramel, roasted malts and a touch of raisin toward the end. The first thing I tasted were the rich malts, brown sugar and raisin. It was pretty boozy, so the vanilla got a little buried, but was still noticeable. There was also a bitterness that helped to keep it from being too rich. It was a bit sugary on the finish, with the heavy alcohol ever-present. I would rate this the same as the Merlin:
I finished up with the 18th Anniversary. I was looking forward to this all night, but at 13%, I didn’t want to do it right away. Also a stout, you won’t be surprised to learn that it also poured black, with light brown head. It did have some bigger sudsy bubbles in the head, but KnB was having some trouble with their lines, so I would chalk it up to that. It smelled very rich, with sugary notes and lots of alcohol. Despite the booziness, it was very smooth, though I could definitely taste the alcohol up front. This was followed by some brown sugar and smooth malts. It finished sweet and really boozy. With a blend of 13 different beers, I was surprised at how well each blended with one another. I would also rate this one:
With that, San Diego Beer Week 2014 draws to a close. Until next year, I will remember this week for…at least a year!