Firestone Walker is releasing “Mocha Merlin,” a coffee and cocoa version of the delicious, creamy Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout. With an infusion of local roast coffee, a dash of cocoa nibs and touch of seasonal sorcery, Firestone Walker’s signature Velvet Merlin oatmeal stout has been transformed into Mocha Merlin for fall and early winter.
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“This is an iteration of Velvet Merlin that we’ve dabbled in before, and we finally decided to scale it up,” said Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. “It takes Merlin to another level and it’s a perfect sipper for the season.”
Mocha Merlin begins rolling out this week in draft and 12-ounce cans (six pack) formats to all Firestone Walker markets.
Mocha Merlin is brewed with the Colombia La Granadilla blend from HoneyCo Coffee Roasters. HoneyCo is owned by two local entrepreneurs, Jon and Sara Peterson, who also operate the popular Scout coffeehouse in downtown San Luis Obispo.
“We wanted to work with a local roaster who could provide coffee of excellent quality and consistency, and HoneyCo fit the bill perfectly,” Brynildson said. “Their Colombia La Granadilla blend really meshes well with the chocolaty character from the cocoa nibs.”
The cocoa nibs are sourced from Ghana. “Rather than using processed chocolate, we wanted to use a pure chocolate precursor with no sugar added,” Brynildson said. “It really integrates into the beer.”
The coffee is added straight into the fermentation tank, similar to the dry hopping process. The cocoa nibs are secured in mesh bags and steeped into the beer. The base beer of Mocha Merlin is the milk stout version of the original Velvet Merlin recipe, with lactose incorporated into the brew for a rounded mouthfeel and a suggestion of sweetness.
“The inclusion of milk sugar adds dimension to the mouthfeel and helps knit the coffee and cocoa qualities together on the palate,” Brynildson said.