Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout and Milk & Cookies Release Party in Portland

Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout glass beer

Firestone Walker Brewing is introducing a special Nitro version of its Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout, made even more creamier and silkier and called Nitro Merlin Milk Stout. Look for the new Nitro Merlin Milk Stout on draft starting around January 6th and a series of Milk & Cookies pairing events in select markets. Saturday, January 16th, it will be paired with Brown Butter Cookie Co’s delicious cookies at Roscoe’s in Portland.

“We’ve experimented with Velvet Merlin as both a milk stout and as a nitro beer, but this is the first time we’ve married the two styles,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “The combination is really magical, to the point where you can’t imagine one without the other once you taste it.”

Nitro Merlin Milk Stout marks Firestone Walker’s first broad-market foray into nitro beers. It will be available in draft year-round across Firestone Walker markets nationwide—starting with a series of “Milk & Cookies” promotions in collaboration with Brown Butter Cookie Company, a beloved family operation located in Firestone Walker’s backyard of California’s Central Coast.

Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout logo

Milking It

Nitro Merlin Milk Stout is brewed exactly the same as Firestone Walker’s winter seasonal Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout, but with one critical twist: the inclusion of non-fermentable lactose sugar (a.k.a. milk sugar), the ingredient that transforms the beer into a milk stout.

“With a traditional dry stout like Velvet Merlin, you’re using these roasted barleys that add astringency, with a fairly high hopping rate that adds bitterness,” Brynildson said. “But when you add milk sugar into the mix, you counterbalance those more astringent qualities. It’s a lot like adding cream to your dark roasted coffee.”

He added, “The result is a stout that is still roasty, but with this mellow sweetness and a roundness of body that is only enhanced by the nitro format.”

More Velvety

Nitro beer was originally popularized as a way to mimic the classic British cask ale experience, which is known for delivering a thick creamy head and an ultra-smooth mouthfeel with less carbonation.

“The challenge with cask ale is that you’re dealing with a live fermentation, and a lot of things can go wrong,” Brynildson said. “Nitrogenating a stable beer is the solution for capturing a similar head and mouthfeel while bulletproofing the process.”

When a nitro beer is poured, it is pushed through a dedicated “sparkler” nozzle on the tap that sheers the liquid and knocks the nitrogen out of solution.

“You get this cascading waterfall effect in the glass and this temporary visual whiteout of the beer,” Brynildson said. “That’s the nitrogen coming out of solution, and then it migrates to the top to create this beautiful foam. The presentation is just fantastic. Nitro isn’t just about head retention and palate smoothness, it’s also about the theater of the pour.”

He added, “With Nitro Merlin Milk Stout, you’ve got this dark, roasty beer that looks really ominous, yet on nitro it’s so smooth and creamy and drinkable. It’s a visual mindf***, and a complete transformation on the palate—especially with the added dimension of the milk sugar.”

Milk & Cookies

The release of Nitro Merlin Milk Stout coincides with a series of “Milk & Cookies” promotions to be held in select markets, with the beer being served with cookies provided by Brown Butter Cookie Company. The company’s signature shortbread cookies are made with browned butter, brown sugar and vanilla with a touch of sea salt.

“Brown Butter Cookie Company is a hometown favorite created by two sisters here on the Central Coast,” Brynildson said. “This is a pairing of local flavors that taste really awesome together.”

Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin and Milk & Cookies Release Party
Saturday January 16th 4-7pm
8105 SE Stark St.
Portland, Oregon 97215

Firestone Walker Nitro Merlin Milk Stout  tap


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Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: