Deep Wood 2021 Part 3 | Revolution Brewing
Check out our other beer reviews here!
Revolution continues its assault on my wallet with their third Deep Wood release of the season. This release features – for the first time this year – two new, never released before and never tapped before (as far as I can tell) beers. Ryeway to Heaven makes its yearly appearance during the December release, while we get another Straight Jacket variant in Maple Jacket. The big news here is Dark Mode, Revolution’s first barrel-aged imperial milk stout since Very Mad Cow was last released in 2016.
Ryeway to Heaven | 15%
While not a 2012 OG Deep Wood release, Ryeway to Heaven showed up on the scene in bombers in 2015. It’s been a constant ever since then, taking a gigantic leap forward in quality in 2017. A ryewine, it usually features similar notes to Straight Jacket, except with those Jacket notes a little lower in the register and more of the rye featuring prominently. A very special, 2-year aged version (V.S.O.R.) will be released for the second time next month. Ryeway to Heaven this year features aging in Heaven Hill and Elijah Craig rye barrels.
Ryeway to Heaven pours a light brown color. The color if you diluted some toffee with water if you can imagine. I poured it, put the can down, came back to it and the head was gone. Could’ve been a ghost for all intensive purposes. No head stuck around. I could see my finger through the glass but not crystal clear, so Ryeway comes in as a mostly clear beer.
Much like Straight Jacket last month, Revolution has Ryeway dialed in year after year, with only slight variances one way or the other. Ryeway hits you with its classic toffee and caramel along with some alcohol burn. Some dark fruit notes of raisin and figs support and then a huge dose of rye spices finishes things off. Pretty standard Ryeway to Heaven stuff.
My first sip was not standard. A surprising amount of chocolate came through, mixing things up a bit from the usual Ryeway notes. Due to that chocolate, this Ryeway comes across as more rich on the lips than previous versions. The rye spices finish things off and along the way toffee and some of the dark fruits make appearances. The medium to low carbonation accentuates those chocolate and toffee notes, leaving behind a Heath bar in its wake. Lovely.
While the chocolate surprised me in a positive direction, I think I prefer previous Ryeway vintages to this one (2017 and 2019 come to mind). I think I just wanted more toffee and rye spices on the beer. Ryeway to Heaven absolutely kicks and holds up to the standard set by Revolution for the beer. That big chocolate note is a welcome surprise but I just think Straight Jacket really killed it this year. As per usual, Ryeway will most likely finish in the top half of Deep Wood beers for the year.
Maple Jacket | 14.4%
Second only to Deth’s Tar, Straight Jacket gets yet another variant, this time in the form of maple syrup. Last year featured the a-bit-too-sweet Maple Deth, so combining sweet maple syrup with the already sweet Straight Jacket base and keeping it out of saccharin territory will be a challenge.
Maple Jacket, for the most part, pours exactly the same as Straight Jacket. (I didn’t want to end the night passed out somewhere so I refrained from drinking Ryeway, Maple Jacket and Straight Jacket in one night; therefore, no direct comparison to Straight Jacket. Just going from memory.) All the burnt orange and crimson you could want out of Straight Jacket are here. If pressed, I’d say Maple Jacket is a slight shade darker than Straight Jacket, but that could just be me. The head hangs around for a bit before vanishing.
Maple Jacket also keeps those lovely Straight Jacket aromas – butterscotch, caramel, toffee, and some dark fruits. Very little alcohol burn on the nose. Oddly, I don’t get a ton of the maple syrup they used. Might be a hint of it back there, but it’s definitely not front and center. Otherwise it’s Straight Jacket.
To the point of keeping it not sweet, Maple Jacket succeeds. Maple syrup fans might not like this too much as the maple syrup definitely melds with the base Straight Jacket well and doesn’t overpower everything (like Dark Black from Hop Butcher did). The maple really shines on your lips, leaving behind some sweet goodness there but not in the sip. All the butterscotch, caramel, and toffee you’d expect from Straight Jacket are present and accounted for.
So what’s the maple doing? Two things it seems. First, it knocks back those big flavor notes of the Straight Jacket down a little, replacing it with some maple sweetness. Secondly, the maple makes the beer really heavy to drink. I had some of the Ryeway after it and the Ryeway came off like a refreshing lager in mouthfeel terms. So while the medium carbonation is fine, that maple seems to add some weight to the proceedings.
Overall, Maple Jacket comes off as a worthy variant. It doesn’t go too sweet like Honey Jacket and doesn’t completely overtake the base beer like Strawberry Jacket. But it’s weighed down enough to preclude entry to the top tier of barleywine variants, which currently houses Ten Year Beer and Blackberry Finn. But this is better than Maple Deth from last year. With all these Jacket variants coming out, when will the draft-only-from-a-few-years-ago Coffee Jacket be getting a release? Or a Supermassive Coffee Jacket?
Dark Mode | 13.8%
Very Mad Cow kicked off this whole Deep Wood thing back on FoBAB weekend in 2012. (The release party featured stupid good food from Revolution’s brewpub, but that’s for another article.) It kept showing up in the bomber Deep Wood releases until 2016 when the switch to 12 ounce cans came about. Since then, Revolution has only released Deth’s Tar beers as their Deep Wood stouts. So this is a pretty big deal that Revolution is going to the imperial milk stout well once again in their Deep Wood series.
Dark Mode contains a blend of beer that has been aged in Elijah Craig, Heaven Hill and Wild Turkey barrels. Dark Mode should be compared to Jamonilla – their collaboration with Jameson – rather than to Very Mad Cow according to Revolution barrelmaster Marty Scott. The Dark Mode base beer was the same ABV going into the barrels as the fully barrel-aged Very Mad Cow was.
Dark Mode looks light brown coming out of the can but rests in the glass a hearty black. Brown and red highlights emit from the rim of the beer with basically no head present. A little bit lighter than Deth’s Tar, but not by much.
Dark Mode comes out and says it in the aroma – milk chocolate. Excuse me – alcoholic milk chocolate. Tons of that chocolate meld with a hit of bourbon burn to let you know this isn’t Quik you’re drinking. Some vanilla and a roasty character complement the chocolate notes. Some smokiness might also be present, but nothing overpowering.
Dark Mode drinks as it smells – bourbon milk chocolate. A nice creamy chocolate note runs into a bourbon finish that tells you it’s a barrel-aged beer. Unlike some other Deep Wood beers, there’s some alcohol burn present, but it doesn’t act as a detriment. Rather it adds a nice little spike at the end of the sip. A nice note of oak and vanilla join in the proceedings while some roast makes a small appearance as well. But this is all milk chocolate.
Somehow the mouthfeel clocks in very light but it manages to maintain its fullness. Chocolate and bourbon burn hang around well after your sip and make you want to drink again. No idea how but Dark Mode definitely does not drink 13.8%. I sucked down my 12 ounce can so fast that I wanted more (say, you know, a 19.2 oz can…). In the right situation, I could see someone getting a full s’mores experience off Dark Mode, with only the graham crackers possibly needing some imagination to reveal itself in the beer.
Do yourself a favor and grab a four pack of Dark Mode. While not as deep and complex as something like Deth’s Tar, Dark Mode remains thoroughly enjoyable. It really makes me hope that more beer styles are brought in (or in this case back in) to the Deep Wood series.
Revolution will be releasing Ryeway to Heaven, Maple Jacket and Dark Mode the weekend of December 10, 2021. Ryeway to Heaven runs $30 per 4-pack with no limit. Maple Jacket costs $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 3, while Dark Mode combines the two with a $30 price for a 4-pack with a limit of 3. You can pre-order the beer through Revolution’s web site or pick up the beer from the taproom.