Deep Wood 2022: Summer Wood | Revolution Brewing
From when the last release happens in January, beer foks wait for the next season of Deep Wood beers. For a long time, that season would start in October. For the last 4 years, however, Revolution has decided to do a summer Deep Wood release. The first two releases featured variants of existing beers, usually Deth’s Tar (Supermassive Café Deth) and Straight Jacket (Strawberry and Honey Jacket). Yeah, sure, they snuck in a Mixed Berry Ryeway in there, but you get the picture.
Then last year Revolution changed the game. In addition to two variants, they dropped the highly sought after V.S.O.J. in the summer. Boom. All bets are off now for what comes out at these summer releases and it seems to be part of the regular schedule, with this release joining October, November and January releases this year. The lineup features a mix of a previously released beer (Thundertaker), a previous draft-only variant (Coconut Deth), and a completely new beer (Lumberstruck). Let’s get some Summer Wood.
As a fun summer variant of this review column, both Craig and Ryan drank the Deep Wood beers and reviewed them, so you’ll get both of our opinions on the beers!
Thundertaker | 16.2% ABV
The only returning beer, Thundertaker came out in September 2020 (after being delayed from April due to COVID-19). Everything about it remains the same – an imperial rye stout aged in bourbon barrels selected by Binny’s.
Thundertaker pours a cola color with two fingers of head that bubble away to nothing. It looks like a slightly darker porter in the glass with some brown highlights showing up on the sides. As with almost all Deep Wood beers, some alcohol staining off the glass is visible. It hits you with the booze front and center; at 16.2% that’s expected. Chocolate, vanilla and baking or rye spices knock that boozy note down with repeated sniffs. Altogether it smells like some nondescript Christmas cookie. A boozy Christmas cookie.
And wow, does Thundertaker deliver on the smoothness. Easy to drink with not much alcohol burn at all, you’ll be done with your can before you know it. The chocolate and vanilla return on the palate and are joined by some oak and raisin to keep things interesting. Some spices show up throughout the sip and linger long after it’s done. The medium carbonation helps keep things moving and smooth and also lets some chocolate linger on the tongue. All together it kind of reminds me of a snickerdoodle cookie.
I loved 2020 Thundertaker when I reviewed it. Then I had it up against the rest of the Deep Wood lineup and it came off as way too sweet. This one doesn’t come off as too sweet and the booze hides itself exceedingly well. Worth a trip to Binny’s to get a 4-pack of it definitely.
They’re really tempting me to call this one “Thunderstruck” and the next one “Lumbertaker” just because I keep messing them up in my head, and truthfully I may have been in the minority in not being super impressed with this beer’s first iteration.
On the aroma, this beer gives off a deep bitter roast, chocolate, molasses, and something like sandalwood. It’s much more rugged than the Deth, and continued sniffs bring out some notes of spicy dark rye bread.
Since this beer followed the Coconut Deth in my tasting, the sharp edges on this one are much more apparent and seem tied to the barrel. Up front, you taste dark fruits, rich cocoa, bitter roast, and a boozy burn. Some spicy rye character curls up the tongue a bit. It has a mouthfeel that is medium-to-full but feels heavier due to the burn of the bourbon.
It’s a massive stout for bourbon lovers; this one hits if you want to really feel it on the finish. An improvement over the last iteration in just about every way. It’s a chocolate-drenched wall of bourbon and rye flavor that might push the boundaries too far for some, but rewards those patient enough to sip through their pour and let it come to room temperature.
Four and three-quarter busted out coffins out of five for this one.
Coconut Deth | 15% ABV
Revolution definitely listens to the fans when releasing some of their Deep Wood beers. It happened with Deth by Currants, Mineshaft Gap, and V.S.O.J. (among others). Now you can add Coconut Deth to the list. First appearing to rave reviews at the October 2021 Deep Wood release party as a draft-only variant called Primal Coconut Deth, it’s now been scaled up for a wide release.
Coconut Deth pours pitch black with red highlights. A finger of khaki head forms and quickly vanishes to nothing. In addition to the alcohol stain on the glass, Coconut Deth leaves behind some legs as well. Chocolate, vanilla, oak, and bourbon greet the first sniff. The chocolate stars here causing Coconut Deth to smell like a brownie. If this is what the base Deth’s Tar is this year, sign me up. Unfortunately, not a ton of coconut on the nose (wife also sniffed so that’s two people).
Flavor mirrors the nose flavors with chocolate starring again, followed by some vanilla. Bourbon makes an appearance at the end with a fair amount of burn in the throat. Even some hazelnut showed up as well. But yet again no definitive coconut. Something at the very end of the sip is different from the base Deth’s Tar and I’ll assume that’s coconut, but if you gave it to me blind there’s no way I’d guess what it was. The medium mouthfeel on Coconut Deth keeps things moving while still coating the tongue until that very smooth and pillowy finish.
Coconut Deth reminds me of the first Vanilla Deth in 2018. Do not expect a coconut bomb (like the draft-only version) and you’ll be in for one of the best Deth’s in recent memory. But that’s a table the label situation. My wife even said after having it that she would be mad at having bought this for the coconut name on it. Coconut Deth is absolutely a well done barrel-aged stout but it just needs a bit more coconut. I’m hoping it was can variation.
Usually Craig doesn’t let me do these beer reviews because I get “too political” and use “too many I Think You Should Leave gif links,” but I promised I’d be good this time just to get my hands on these highly sought-after beers. I first opened Coconut Deth, only slightly colder than room temperature, and sipped on it over the course of an episode of Stranger Things. (Vecna is kind of hot?)
Aromatically, it’s pretty even between brownie batter and toasted coconut, with a little charred oak thrown in for good measure. Right away you can tell it’s folding in the coconut rather than heaping loads of it to completely bury the base stout. The barrel is also adding to the harmony, bringing out some vanillins, burnt wood, and baking spices.
The flavor follows suit, giving a good amount of coconut but not cramming it down your throat. That rich Deth base of bitter chocolate and roasted malt is still there – the coconut appears in the last two-thirds of the sip and stays even-keeled. It’s full-bodied and chewy with an initial bitter finish that smooths out entirely by the second half of the can. Unexpectedly, there’s a lot of cinnamon that comes through when it warms, and it serves to highlight the steady interplay between coconut and chocolate.
I’ll need another can (or several) to truly back this up, but on first impression, this might be my favorite adjunct Deth so far.
Five out of five bony fingers for me.
Lumberstruck | 12.3% ABV
Coming out of left field to join the Deep Wood team, Lumberstruck surprised everyone when announced. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a black barleywine, let alone one aged in red wine casks from Saxum Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. This one will be interesting at the very least.
I actually opened and tried this one first as it hasn’t been released in any form. Out of the can it pours red and orange like a barleywine would but sitting in the glass it’s definitely a shade darker than Straight Jacket. Half finger of head disappears to nothing while some crimson hues show up when held up to the light. It’s basically a slightly darker barleywine. Don’t know if I’d go so far as to say black, but darker. Alcohol stain on the glass with significant legs as well.
My first sniff of Lumberstruck hit me with communion wine. Cinnamon, dark cherries, raisins, figs, and grapes all bubble up to the nostrils; this one’s very fruity. All together it forms a sort of snickerdoodle cookie. Absolutely not what I expected but I’m here for it.
Oh buddy does the fruit take center stage here. Luxardo cherries as well as a variety of other berry fruits dominate across the palate. Lumberstruck definitely hits sweet, but the wine tannins dry it out just enough on the finish to keep it from being cloying. Baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg pop up every so often and, in true Deep Wood style, it’s not boozy at all. Lumberstruck never goes too wine-like either, somehow integrating the beer itself with the barrel seemlessly. The medium carbonation allows all that sweet fruit to linger on the tongue.
I had a friend text me about these beers. I didn’t want to text a full, four paragraph review to him so I summed it up in as few words as possible. It’s very mead-like. Very sweet but complex enough to give off aromas and flavors that you weren’t expecting. Do not expect a stoutly barleywine and you’ll be fine. Lumberstruck would make a delicious reduction sauce on a dessert, that’s for sure.
I opened this one the next day on its own, as I felt it’d probably be the hardest to comprehend. And I was right!
At a sessionable 12.3%, this black barleywine pours darker than your average barleywine, but it looks like it’s going for a J.W. Lees Harvest Ale level of deep ruby and brown.
Smelling this, it gives off a mix of brown sugar, dark red grapes, caramel, wet wood, and black pepper – not exactly typical barleywine fare. As it warms, the aroma turns more maillard and molasses sweet with more of the grapes and other dark fruits peeking through.
The first sip is a real experience – a “woah” moment that I couldn’t define as good or bad. But repeated sips had me much more on the good side, as this burst of sweetness and fruit that hits your lips transitions into more of a caramel and brown sugar center. The finish brings the sweetness back before giving a slight tannic finish with a little bitterness before it ends a touch dry. The sweetness becomes more pronounced as it warms, and it starts to get a little sticky on the palate.
In any other brewery’s lineup, this is the gem. Here it is still way better than good, but it does get a little trying when you’re working through the can solo as the sweetness dominates. But even though on paper it seems to be a deviation from previous Deep Wood beers just based on style and barrel alone, sipping through the last few warm ounces of my glass I’m still struck with how complex and barrel-forward it is while never compromising on mouthfeel. So, basically, a Deep Wood beer.
Four and one-quarter skeleton bones out of five for this one.
Revolution will release Thundertaker, Coconut Deth, and Lumberstruck this Friday, July 22, 2022 at their Kedzie taproom. Pre-orders are sold out for all three, but Thundertaker will be showing up at Binny’s stores while Coconut Deth will have a wider distribution footprint.