Deep Wood 2020 Part 3 | Revolution Brewing
Check out our other beer reviews here, which is slowly turning into the Revolution Deep Wood 2020 beer review! A big thanks to Revolution for providing these samples.
The third (or fourth or sixth, depending on how you count it) Revolution Deep Wood 2020 of the season has arrived. The biggest variety of any release so far, this drop includes Ryeway to Heaven (ryewine), Mineshaft Gap (barleywine) and Double Barrel V.S.O.D (stout). Something for everyone!
Ryeway to Heaven | 15.8%
You can count on Ryeway to Heaven. Always part of the Deep Wood lineup, recent years have actually seen variants being produced (Boss Ryeway, VSOR, the upcoming Apple Brandy Ryeway) cementing its status as one of the core four Deep Wood beers (the others being Deth’s Tar, Cafe Deth, and Straight Jacket). Initially on the lower end of desirability and quality, Ryeway has risen the ranks, consistently being one of the best tasting Deep Wood beers.
Hope you like rye on rye action, because Ryeway starts out as a ryewine and then goes into rye and bourbon barrels for 12 months. What comes out looks almost exactly like Straight Jacket. Ryeway pours a light brown color with some gold highlights. The crimson red hues make it resplendent. Much like all the Deep Wood beers, the head starts at about a finger and a half and slowly goes away to nothing.
So yeah, this is 15.8%, so the booze comes at you on the aroma. Lovely caramel notes mingle with some rye spice while some raisins and fig try to cut in. Some standard bourbon notes apply here as well – chocolate, vanilla, oak – just in lesser quantities than in the stouts. For comparison’s sake, I thought this year’s Straight Jacket had more happening on the nose.
And here comes butterscotch to crash the party! Bg butterscotch to start, with some raisins, fig, and a slight caramel note helping out; even some apple notes arrive. The rye spices finish it off nicely. Ryeway starts off really smooth, but some of that booze heat shows up in the end. It lessens as you drink more of it, but it’s the most I’ve had on a Deep Wood release this year.
While this Ryeway doesn’t achieve the heights of 2017 or 2019, it doesn’t fall flat after signing their big contract in 2018. I remember the 2019 being a big more well integrated, but that should not put you off going in on a 4-pack. You’ll be getting one of the best (only?) barrel-aged ryewines available.
Mineshaft Gap | 12.4%
Before the big Deep Wood release parties that featured Sanctuary Beers and one-off variants of other beers, Revolution would have a smaller affair, with only one or two bombers being released and sometimes a special tap or two. Mineshaft Gap began as one of those special taps. Word got around, people started asking for it and eventually it made its canned debut in 2018. While Revolution has a penchant for taking its beer names from the Repo Man soundtrack, the Mineshaft Gap name comes from Dr. Strangelove. So stop asking them about it!
Mineshaft Gap starts out as Institutionalized but then slumbers away in Cognac barrels rather than bourbon ones. The bourbon ones become Straight Jacket. I first had it at some special release event at the Revolution taproom alongside VSOJ and thought it held its own. Mineshaft Gap pours like a slightly lighter Straight Jacket – light brown with some gold on the pour complemented by lovely red and mahogany hues in the glass. Much like all Deep Wood beers, you’ll get substantial alcohol staining on the glass.
This definitely reminds me of Straight Jacket, at least in terms of the base beer aromas. Caramel, toffee and butterscotch dominate. The booze note hides well. The real difference comes from the cognac barrel. Wine and oak are present, but heavy notes of botanicals (think juniper), citrus, and apples. So some wine notes and some gin notes. Maybe my nose is messed up.
For the first time on a Deep Wood beer this year, there’s a substantial booze burn on the end. Those caramel, toffee, and butterscotch notes (the CTB gang) show up, but they don’t ride off into the esophagus like Straight Jacket or (to a lesser extent) Ryeway. The wine and botanical cadre shows up at the end and stops all that. Fruits and a slight citrus note arrive as well. The cognac barrel makes its presence known in the very dry finish, which then sticks around after the party’s over.
Mineshaft Gap definitely skews towards wine and spirit drinkers, with those botanicals, wine tannins, and dry finish seeing to that. It drinks easy as well despite the booze heat. But my preference remains with Straight Jacket. I’d like the Straight Jacket notes to stay the entirety of the sip, with the cognac barrel supplementing and adding unique notes. To me, it just takes over by the end of the sip. Not a bad beer by any means, just not up to the level of this year’s Straight Jacket.
Double Barrel V.S.O.D. | 17%
Hello acronym! Double Barrel Very Special Old Deth (DB VSOD for short) returns as well. Released once before in 2017/2018 Deep Wood season (same year as Mineshaft Gap), it seems like there’s a VSOD in every line up. (Just checked – none in 2018/2019. But there was the outstanding VSOJ in that one.)
Get your flowcharts out, because DB VSOD doesn’t really have a simple explanation as to how it came into existence. VSOD ages for two years in barrels. During the second year, some barrels are blended together and then aged in Weller Special Reserve and Weller 10 barrels. I’m usually not a big fan of both the VSOD or the DB VSOD (past instances have been too oaky), but I did snag a crowler of a single barrel of this year’s DB VSOD – Form of the Destructor – and it was outstanding. So I’m hoping!
DB VSOD pours a light brown/caramel color. It could easily be mistaken for a cola. The head quickly vanishes. Purple and red tones highlight the outer rim of the beer, but DB VSOD looks like the dark of night, with that Deep Wood alcohol glass stain to boot.
Keeping in mind that this beer is 17%, it’s no surprise that booze comes at you hard and fast. Your standard chocolate, vanilla and oak come out and play, while slight notes of cherries and other dark fruits hole up in the background. Some cola notes pop up as well, and faint cocoa powder and brownie notes might dazzle you on the end.
Ryeway to Heaven clocks in at 15.8% ABV; DBVSOD 17%. Ryeway tasted boozier. That’s amazing. The chocolate and vanilla are big, but it skews more toward a bitter chocolate than a sweeter chocolate. The barrel really shines here. It mingles perfectly with the beer, never becoming overbearing or too hot. It’s perfect now. Some cherries and raisins play around a bit, but stay in the background. The mouthfeel is spot on, leaving some of those cherries and raisins at bay along with some slight chocolate.
So while not a fan of any VSOD up to this point, I can easily say that 2020 Double Barrel VSOD tops the VSOD list for me. While not as amazing as Form of the Destructor, it keeps many of the qualities that I loved about it and added a bit more barrel presence. Buy far and away the two stars here are the barrel integration and the stupidly well-hidden alcohol. I finished a twelve ounce can while writing this (can you tell?) and I wanted more. Dangerous. But yeah.
Ryeway to Heaven, Mineshaft Gap, and DB VSOD go on sale online at Revolution’s shop on December 8th, 2020 here. Ryeway to Heaven is $30 per 4-pack with no limit and will see distribution. Mineshaft Gap is $40 per 4-pack with no limit and will see limited distribution. DB VSOD is $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 2 and is brewery-only.