Hot Deep Wood Summer | Revolution Brewing
It’s that brewery again. Revolution has made a habit of releasing a portion of their Deep Wood beers over the summer and this one is no exception. Seemingly the release for first time Deep Wood beers – last year had two of three (Coconut Deth and Lumberstruck) – this year’s lineup again features two completely new beers and one returning for the first time since 2021. Read on for the first impressions of Dread & Breakfast, Cuvée de Grâce, and Life Jacket.
Dread & Breakfast | 15.88%
Typically Revolution’s “different-styles-blended” beer always happens to be Cuvée de Grâce. While still the case, Dread & Breakfast joins it and actually one-ups it this year by incorporating 8 different barrel-aged beers, including a few that haven’t seen the light of day yet. In addition to the blend, Revolution put in 2.5 lbs of Dark Matter coffee per barrel. This bears remembering – the only addition is coffee.
Two fingers of khaki head forms and disappears, but slower than typical Deep Wood beers. It pours a lighter black, possibly brown, and features crimson highlights usually seen in their barleywines. At 15.88%, Dread & Breakfast produces significant alcohol stain and legs on the glass. And what’s in the glass fills the room. A medium roast coffee envelops you immediately upon sniffing it. A big maple syrup note show up as well and places second only to the coffee. Dark fruits like cherries and raisins, dark chocolate, vanilla and even a hint of caramel join in the blended fun. Very interesting and complex.
Two things will immediately jump out at you when you sip it – coffee and maple syrup. A bitter coffee roast keeps any sweetness in check and helps with a dry finish. But the maple syrup – something that wasn’t added at all – surprises. It doesn’t add too much sweetness to the overall beer but you definitely perceive it being there. Due to the blend, an array of different flavors come jumping out at you. Dark chocolate. Vanilla. Cherries. Bourbon. No alcohol burn. It’s amazingly complex but still drinkable, if not a bit on the dry finishing side.
I’d like my maple syrup flavor like this in all future beers I drink. There’s no stickiness or cloying sweetness, just the sense of maple syrup. The coffee presence seems to fall in between Café Deth and Supermassive Café Deth but that maple syrup sensation really makes it a completely different beer. The components blend and play well together adding some dark chocolate and fruit notes that I didn’t expect. The star of the release.
Cuvée de Grâce | 15.9%
The original Revolution Deep Wood style-blended beer returns for a third time. Consisting of a blend of 7 different barrel-aged beers, Cuvée de Grâce isn’t going for anything specific like a breakfast stout. I’m also not the target market for Cuvée de Grâce, as the previous two releases really haven’t been my favorite. We’ll see if things change.
Much like the Dread & Breakfast, Cuvée de Grâce pours with two fingers of head that slowly disappears. Unlike Dread, though, Cuvée de Grâce pours more like a Revolution barleywine, with brown, caramel, and orange hues. A similar amount of legs and alcohol stain on the glass as the Dread as well.
Cuvée de Grâce smells like a mash-up of barleywine and stout. Caramel and butterscotch represent barleywine while chocolate represents the stout. Vanilla, bourbon, and wood come from the barrels while some cherries aromas join in the fun as well. The tongue flavors pretty much match the nose flavors with caramel, dark chocolate and vanilla showing more prevalently. Raisins also make an appearance as well as a fair amount of boozy kick. Some odd flavor that I can’t quite explain seemed to show up on the end of the sip too. I wish the caramel and chocolate notes stayed on the tongue a bit longer than they did.
Much like the previous releases, Cuvée de Grâce just isn’t in my wheelhouse. It’s an ambitious blend and one that does an admirable job of getting both the barleywine and stout characteristics to shine but it just always seems to get overshadowed by Revolution’s other Deep Wood offerings. Plus I’d rather usually have just a barleywine or a stout separately, especially if there’s no overarching goal like in the Dread & Breakfast.
Life Jacket | 15.04%
This one scared me. A barleywine with passionfruit, mango, guava and coconut? So many things ran through my head. Revolution almost never has more than one addition in a Deep Wood beer. Previous variations on Straight Jacket (Strawberry and Honey) did one thing that I really didn’t like – knock out the barleywine notes. Passionfruit typically dominates things it’s in, even if not intended. Didn’t Goose Island just release a pineapple barrel-aged stout last year that was OK at best? All the above don’t bode well for Life Jacket.
First impressions of the beer assuaged my conscience. It didn’t pour like some crazy-colored cocktail. It poured like a typical Revolution barrel-aged barleywine with orange and brown notes and crimson highlights. About a finger of head forms and vanishes quickly. Alcohol stains the glass but the legs aren’t present.
Beers with this many additions make it easy to smell. Passionfruit and mango blast out of the glass while the guava hides in the background. I sniffed and sniffed but I could not pick up any coconut. Thankfully some caramel, butterscotch and raisins from the barleywine wormed their way in. Some bourbon heat and vanilla character rounded the aroma out.
Of course Life Jacket leads with passionfruit and mango on the tongue. The guava shows up here a bit more prominently but it still lacks coconut. The sweet caramel and butterscotch of Straight Jacket do crawl out of the fruit melange in the back half of the sip along with some barrel heat and vanilla. The bitterness of the fruit negates any sweetness increase that might’ve occurred while the whole thing works surprisingly well together. Your tongue feels like it was at a luau with all those bitter, tropical fruits hanging around after the sip.
I have no idea who pitched this beer or what cocktail it’s meant to mimic but it works. If you’re a fan of those fruits or cocktails definitely grab a 4-pack. Everyone else should try it before they buy it as I can see this one being divisive. It drinks easy – again like a cocktail – while the fruit and base barrel-aged barleywine work well together. At worst Life Jacket registers as interesting; at best a worthy Straight Jacket variant.
Revolution will be releasing Dread & Breakfast, Cuvée de Grâce, and Life Jacket on Friday, July 21, 2023. All three cost $40 per 4-pack with a limit of three per person per style. All three can be ordered here for pickup.