Firestone Walker’s iconic Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout undergoes a transformative journey with the introduction of lactose, aka milk sugar, resulting in the Nitro Merlin Milk Stout. Nitrogen gas, known as “nitro” in brewing circles, adds an intriguing twist, akin to infusing cream into your deeply roasted coffee. This rendition boasts a 5.5% ABV and 27 IBUs.


The once-revered Velvet Merlin takes a back seat as Nitro Merlin assumes a prominent role in Firestone Walker’s year-round offerings. The rich, dark liquid, poured with a distinctive reverse cascade effect reminiscent of Guinness Draught, settles beneath a thick layer of tan creamy foam. The can smartly advises a unique pouring technique, adding a touch of theatricality to the ritual.


In the olfactory realm, Nitro Merlin captivates with an aromatic symphony. Roasted malt, chocolate cake, toffee, molasses, and tiramisu weave a complex tapestry. The nose invites anticipation, promising a sensory journey that aligns with the beer’s intriguing brewing process.


Delving into the taste experience, Nitro Merlin delivers a robust initiation. The heavy roast is promptly balanced by notes of chocolate-covered strawberry, accompanied by an unparalleled creaminess, akin to the addition of half & half. The beer’s fatty and oily texture defies the thin and watery expectations of typical stouts, setting it apart in the segment.


Mouthfeel, often a differentiator, is where Nitro Merlin shines. The marriage of oats and lactose yields a silky smooth body, a characteristic usually reserved for imperial stouts. The equilibrium between bitterness and sweetness is commendable, avoiding the pitfalls of ashy acridity or cloying stickiness.


In every aspect, Nitro Merlin stands as a paragon of excellence. Surpassing its predecessor, Velvet Merlin, this iteration retains richness and roastiness beyond its modest 5.5% ABV. Firestone Walker takes a calculated risk, fusing their classic oatmeal stout recipe with the allure of a nitro pour, resulting in a dense, flavor-packed session beer that rivals heartier imperial stouts.

This beer transcends expectations, providing an exceptional bang for your buck. Each pint encapsulates a meal-in-a-glass density and intense flavors, defying the conventional boundaries of a 5.5% ABV beer. Firestone Walker’s gamble appears to be paying off, with even staunch Guinness enthusiasts, like my neighbor, making room for Nitro Merlin in their fridges. The conversion, one Guinness lover at a time, speaks volumes about the success of this unique stout.

In the realm of craft beer, Nitro Merlin emerges not only as a delicious libation but as a testament to the artistry of reimagining a classic and winning over stalwart beer aficionados.