Deep Wood 2022: New Era, Part 3 | Revolution Brewing
Just like that, 3/4ths of the Deep Wood releases for the season will be coming up. As typical, Revolution releases their stouts early in the season, then brings on the barleywines to close it out. This release features a bit of everything, with the brand new V.S.O. Dark Mode joining perennial stalwarts Straight Jacket and Ryeway to Heaven. Not to ruin your reading experience, but this is the top to bottom best Deep Wood release this year (so far).
V.S.O. Dark Mode | 14.4%
A polarizing offering in the beer community last year (but not on this podcast), Dark Mode returns in a V.S.O. way. That usually means extended aging time (typically two years) and/or premium barrels, but there appears to be no information from Revolution about the specifics of this beer. Honestly, only one beer in the 2022 Deep Wood lineup makes me more excited to try. (Try to guess which one.)
V.S.O. Dark Mode pours black with some brown highlights if you hold it up to the light. While moving it around it looks a bit like a dark cola. Some tan head formed but immediately disappeared leaving only beer behind. Some alcohol sticks to the side of the glass but not a ton of staining going on.
Chocolate immediately hits your nose when diving in. Like chocolate cake chocolate. Bourbon is no slouch either, tickling the nostrils and giving off some nice caramel notes. A fair amount of vanilla show up as well as some raisins and dark fruits, specifically cherries. It overall smells like a boozy chocolate birthday cake.
Extended barrel-aging a milk stout does have one big advantage – a silky, silky mouthfeel. It glides across the tongue while still maintaining a nice, big mouthfeel. V.S.O. Dark Mode combines that with all the chocolate going on to make it taste like a milk chocolate candy bar. You know you’re not drinking a liquefied one due to the small amount of welcome bourbon heat that shows up at the end of the sip. Vanilla peeks its way through and even some general nuttiness come around. Any smokiness from the smoke malt (from Dark Mode) is gone. And I think I just described a candy bar here.
Needless to say my 14.4% ABV pour was gone too quickly. Those that loved or liked Dark Mode last year should immediately buy this one. Those that didn’t like it should definitely give this one a try. It’s up there as one of the best Deep Wood beers released this year. But so are the next two!
Straight Jacket | 15%
One of the OGs and a release you can bet on every year, Straight Jacket returns yet again. While all of the other revamped Deep Wood artwork features the Deth’s Tar skeleton guy (Reveleton? Skeletion?) in some form, Straight Jacket eschews that, focusing on the spirits coming out of the barrels. While I prefer Reveleton being on all the cans, it’s what’s in the can that matters. I’ll give the highest compliment I can of a beer – I know exactly what I’m getting with Straight Jacket. It’s consistent year over year (with the exception of that “dry year”) and only gets pushed down in the Deep Wood rankings by vastly superior beers.
That consistency immediately shows upon pouring. Same as it ever was – a finger of white head that slowly leaves; an orange pour; crimson tones when held up to the lights. Compared to some barleywines I’ve had this year, Straight Jacket comes in lighter on the SRM scale but that’s the way it’s always been. Alcohol stains the side of the glass when swirled around. Aromas remain consistent as well – butterscotch, caramel, raisin and fig. A little vanilla from the barrel; some bourbon.
You know what you’re getting into with Straight Jacket. A medium to low mouthfeel with a big butterscotch note that hangs around. Caramel, vanilla and a bit of raisin supports the overarching butterscotch flavor. A hint of chocolate powder even came through, bringing back fond memories of V.S.O.J. Batch 1. Above all, Straight Jacket is smooth. The pre-printed can says 15% but it drinks closer to 10%. Bourbon burn doesn’t exist here and the barrel character helps cut some of the sweetness just a bit. It never gets too cloying and as always is a joy to finish.
While its year-round availability causes it to be overlooked, Straight Jacket still reigns supreme. If you’ve listened to our show, it’s the barrel-aged barleywine we compare to all other barrel-aged barleywines – a standard. Expect it to finish somewhere in my top 4 of the Deep Wood 2022 lineup as it almost always does. Consistently delicious. But needs more Reveleton on the can.
Ryeway to Heaven | 15%
The little brother to Straight Jacket, Ryeway to Heaven also comes out every year like clockwork. Just as consistent, Ryeway typically relies on more subtle flavors of bread and spice as opposed to the sweeter butterscotch and caramel of Straight Jacket. Some vintages do kick it up a notch but it hangs right there with Straight Jacket pretty much every year. The new can art marks the biggest departure of the Deep Wood beers, featuring Reveleton on a white, winged horse on a white background. It’s beautiful and stunningly different from the typical dark hues of the Deep Wood cans. (Yes, I’d like a poster of it made, Revolution.)
Much like Straight Jacket, same ol’, same ol’. Ryeway pours cola-colored brown with crimson highlights. A finger of white head forms that slowly and methodically goes away. Alcohol stain is present. A ryewine aged in rye barrels will definitely give off some rye spices and Ryeway is no exception; even some baking spices join in the aromatic party. Ryeway hits with more toffee as opposed to the butterscotch of Straight Jacket and for some reason a whiff of chocolate came along for the ride. Typical Ryeway notes of fig and raisin finish things off with some nice barrel wood character helping out.
Ryeway leads with those rye spices on the palate along with some light bready notes. Toffee and sweet caramel come through as well and the barrels support a drier-than-normal finish (but not too dry). A twinge of chocolate comes through as well and a little bit of the raisin note permeates. The toffee and rye notes are dialed down compared to previous vintages so if those are your jam, look elsewhere. Much like Straight Jacket, it drinks much lower than the 15% quoted on the can and will get you in trouble if you try to take down a 4-pack. You could, but you shouldn’t. Still an amazing solid and consistent offering.
So of course right after we say there’s a new barrel-age beer lineup king in Chicago, Revolution shows up and releases these three. Easily the best top-to-bottom release of Deep Wood beers for the 2022 lineup. I can’t wait for January with Boss Ryeway and DB V.S.O.J.
Revolution will release V.S.O. Dark Mode, Straight Jacket and Ryeway to Heaven on Friday, November 18, 2022. Pre-orders can be found here. All four packs are limit 3, with V.S.O. Dark Mode costing $30, Straight Jacket running $25, and Ryeway to Heaven $30. They’re selling merch as well, including a Ryeway to Heaven tumbler along with foil posters of Deth’s Tar, Cafe Deth, Coconut Deth and Thundertaker. They look amazing in person.