Deep Wood 2020 Part 2 | Revolution Brewing
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Round 3 of Revolution’s Deep Wood 2020 pulls into the station! This drop features three brews that Revolution has released before, some more recent than others. There’s a little more variety here, as the previous two rounds featured only stouts, while this one brings a stout and two barleywines. Let’s get hammered!
Straight Jacket | 15.8%
Straight Jacket is Revolution’s flagship barleywine. You can pencil it in for every Deep Wood season. It gets the second most variants produced from it behind Deth’s Tar. And hey, there’s a Straight Jacket variant reviewed below too! Two for one!
Straight Jacket initially starts life as some version of Revolution’s Institutionalized barleywine. Based on what Revolution has been doing with their barrel-aged base beers, the Institutionalized you may have had years ago scantly resembles what goes into barrels these days. A mainstay, it has been released every year since the first Deep Wood run in 2012/2013. I was not a fan of last year’s Straight Jacket (too dry of a finish). This year’s Straight Jacket, however, returns to the previous year’s deliciousness.
Straight Jacket pours a beautiful mahogany color. Crimson and light brown hues highlight the edges and the depths of the beer. Seriously, just hold it up to the light and gaze on its resplendent beauty. Some head forms immediately after the pour, but that quickly vanishes to nothing. Beautiful beer.
The nose accompanies the look on Straight Jacket. Some booze is present (it’s 15.8% after all) but the huge notes of caramel, toffee, and butterscotch make that alcohol note but a distant memory. Digging past all the confections, more earthy notes start popping, with raisins, figs and some faint cherry notes. Heck, at one point I even got some cola-like aromatics.
SJ is back! Sweet, but not overly so, with those big caramel, toffee and butterscotch notes driving you hard. Some fig and raisin notes help out, and some alcohol burn is present, but it keeps it in the margin. At this ABV, you expect a little booze, but the sweetness really helps out with it not getting too boozy. As I kept sipping some very slight bitterness even popped out, which I was not expecting. The medium mouthfeel lends a helping hand as well, getting the beer out of the way and leaving behind only the sweet and tasty caramel and toffee treats.
So, yeah, Straight Jacket returns to its former glory (in my eyes). Not only are the flavors and finish back, but the booze stays well hidden. I had zero issues finishing off a can of it in record time. This can be a sipper, but it probably won’t last in your glass that long. Purchase with impunity!
Honey Jacket | 13.2%
All downhill (ABV wise) from here! Honey Jacket’s first appearance came last year during Revolution’s first ever Deep Wood summer release. It takes the Straight Jacket base and adds honey from Revolution’s own rooftop hive. I loved how the honey added a different type of sweetness to Straight Jacket while still letting the base shine in last year’s version.
Honey Jacket pours almost identical to Straight Jacket. It might pour a shade lighter than Straight Jacket, giving off a burnt orange or sunset color vibe. It starts off with about a finger of head that very slowly vanishes to nothing.
Guess what? You basically get the same aroma notes off of Honey Jacket as you do Straight Jacket. The big difference here comes in those caramel, toffee, and butterscotch notes not being as prominent as in Straight Jacket. I would only guess I’m getting honey on the nose due to it being in the beer, but a certain extra sweetness can be perceived.
So what does this honey addition do to the taste? Well, the mouthfeel stays the same, although this time a bunch of sweet honey stays around while knocking some of those caramel and toffee notes back a little. The same happens with the rest of Honey Jacket. The honey takes all the things I loved about this year’s Straight Jacket, pulls them back a bit, and replaces them with honey sweetness. Any secondary flavors – raisins, fig, cherries – really suffer and get completely overtaken.
Thanks to Newton’s third law of beer flavors, if some flavors are reduced, other must take their place! (Right?) In this case, some sweet bready notes show up with some big honey sweetness. Despite being lower in ABV, the alcohol comes off as more prominent. Don’t really know how that works, but it’s definitely both boozier and sweeter than Straight Jacket.
So if you’re a fan of sweeter things, go for the Honey Jacket. You still get a fair amount of the base Straight Jacket while replacing some of the nuances with honey sweetness. I still prefer Honey to Strawberry Jacket due to getting more of the base beer, but with this year’s Straight Jacket firing on all cylinders, I’d just as soon get that.
Deth by Cherries | 12.5%
Another returning variant, but this one took a longer sabbatical. Deth by Cherries was part of the first Deep Wood lineup in cans way back in 2017 and also served as Revolution’s first fruited Deth’s Tar variant canned (they’ve since done currants and plums with varying success). That was so long ago that I don’t have a previous review to link to! Personally, the fruited Deth’s usually rank low on the Deth’s Tar variant scale as I would just rather have the coffee or vanilla or maple or whatever else. If memory serves, I quite liked Deth by Cherries.
Deth by Cherries pours similar to Deth’s Tar, with about two fingers of khaki head that takes some time to die down. It’s dark brown in color with some light brown and red highlights. You immediately know this isn’t regular old Deth’s Tar as your nose becomes assaulted by sweet cherry juice. Never before on a fruited Deth variant have i had the fruit come out at me like that. Chocolate comes next, followed by oak, booze, and raisin. Repeated sniffings bring out more wood character, but those cherries keep me sniffing for more.
Holy crap. It starts off tasting close to a cherry cough drop or cherry syrup, but never goes to the medicinal side of things. Basically it’s all the cherry goodness in all the right ways. It starts with some lovely bitter cherries then moves to a nice, smooth chocolate finish. Some oak and vanilla stop by and say hello, but this stays a chocolate and cherry-only party. The can will be gone before you know it due to there being no boozy quality to it at all. Comparative to the other Deth’s that have been released this year, Deth by Cherries is closer to Maple Deth than regular or Café in terms of mouthfeel.
Imagine blending Deth’s Tar with New Glarus’ Belgian Red. That’s this Deth by Cherries. Easily my favorite fruited Deth variant and, hell, it might be the best Deth released this year (find out on the podcast in the coming months to see if it is!) Do not sleep on this beer. Or even the maple syrup that they’re selling. There goes Revolution again, taking all my money.
Revolution will release Straight Jacket, Honey Jackey and Deth by Cherries via preorder here for curbside pickup only the weekend of November 20, 2020. Straight Jacket ($25) and Deth by Cherries ($40) will be distributed and have no limit. Honey Jacket ($40) is brewery-only with a two 4-pack limit (and is sold out as of this posting).