First Impressions: Revolution Deep Wood 2018 Release 3
Revolution is back again with their third release of Deep Wood beers to assist you in destroying your liver this stout season. It’s the home stretch, as there’s only one more Deep Wood release in January and it’s only two beers. Wallet save! This release is the most eclectic of the four, featuring Vanilla Deth (barrel-aged stout), Gravedigger Billy (barrel-aged scotch ale), and Ryeway to Heaven (barrel-aged ryewine).
A draft-only variant last year, Vanilla Deth has been promoted to the major leagues, being the fourth Deth released this year. This Deth variant looks like a typical stout, being black with some brown highlights. Like a majority of barrel-aged stouts, it has little to no head and, somewhat unusually, does not stain the glass all that much.
A calling card of Revolution’s Deep Wood series is the focus on barrels and Vanilla Deth is no exception, featuring a ton of bourbon heat and finishing with some marshmallow or ice cream sniffs imparted by the vanilla. Some chocolate, roastiness, and charred oak are also present.
It tastes as you would expect it – tons of bourbon with some notes of chocolate, oak, roast, and even some dark fruits. The finish is all vanilla with some heat, but it’s not a vanilla bomb; it’s more subtle and definitely not to the level of being oppressive or cloying. When compared to, oh, I don’t know, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Vanilla stout, Revolution’s Vanilla Deth is more subtle and ready to drink now. However, if you prefer a ton of vanilla in your stout, a bit more chocolate on the base, or like to sit on your beer for a bit, by all means go with Goose’s offering.
Gravedigger Billy was last released in bombers in 2015, so this is its first time in 12 ounce cans. A bourbon barrel-aged scotch ale, it is one of two (the other being Code Switch) that isn’t a stout or barleywine (or barleywine adjacent).
Gravedigger Billy pours with a ton of head that quickly settles and leaves an oily residue on the glass. Hues of burnt orange, crimson, and amber dominate the beer’s specturm. That Deep Wood burn™ is present, but this one brings along with it caramel, vanilla, cookie spices, cinnamon, and some smokiness.
The beer itself is a complex melange of caramel, vanilla, and some cinnamon, while prominently featuring the Deep Wood burn™ of bourbon. There’s some chocolate, smokiness and oak imparted by the barrel, but the base beer really shines on this one. The beer overall is on the thin side for a scotch ale, and I would like the caramel to be a bit more present on the tongue.
There aren’t many readily available – heck, even available – barrel-aged scotch ales on the market, so Gravedigger Billy is definitely filling a need; the only other two I can think of off the top of my head are Founders Backwoods Bastard and Central Waters Bourbon Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale. Being that I last had Backwoods Bastard, like, 3 years ago (and I’ve heard things about it being not as good) and the Central Waters features their proprietary CW Thin Mouthfeel™, Gravedigger Billy is the best scotch ale available in the Chicago market this year. I have no doubt Revolution will improve upon the recipe to give it more heft and bigger flavor for future iterations.
Ryeway to Heaven
Multiple times have I read (or heard) that this is a favorite of the brewers and staff at Revolution. That means either one of two things:
- Just trying to boost sales
- It’s on it’s way out of the Deep Wood series, like a coach/manager getting the dreaded vote of confidence from the GM
Since this this is the second year of it being in cans, I’m leaning toward the former on this one. This one pours very heady compared to Vanilla Deth, with about two fingers of head that slowly recedes; the beer looks very similar to Gravedigger Billy, with a burnt orange/caramel color. Tons of caramel, toffee and rye spices dominate the nose, reminding me of something akin to Irish soda bread, with the obvious Deep Wood burn™ present.
And it’s a boozy one! Spice from the rye barrels balances with the caramel and toffee flavors from the base beer. It’s a style very similar to a barleywine (it’s a ryewine) so it’s sweet, but it also has a nice bready quality to it. It’s medium mouthfeel makes it drink closer to a scotch or whisky as opposed to a thick stout or barleywine. Ryeway is meant to be enjoyed by a fireplace over a period of time. It’s not a bad beer, but when V.S.O.J. is already out and Straight Jacket is on it’s way, it’s the Marsha Brady of the bunch.
Revolution has put you through 8 of the 10 Deep Wood offerings so far, with only Straight Jacket and Boss Ryeway to come. While not as anticipated as the first two releases, this third release shows Revolution can pull off a variety of styles and still stay true to their Deep Wood mission of featuring the barrel above all else.
Revolution will release Vanilla Deth, Gravedigger BIlly, and Ryeway to Heaven on Friday, December 7 from 4 P.M. – 11 P.M. at the Kedzie Taproom. Vanilla Deth is $35 per 4-pack with a limit of 2 4-packs per person and will see limited distribution. Gravedigger Billy is $25 per 4-pack with a limit of 3 4-packs per person and it taproom only. Ryeway to Heaven is $25 per 4-pack with a limit of 2 4-packs per person and it taproom only.
If you like the glass pictured with the beers, swing by the ABV Store and pick one up!