Off the Deep (Wood) End 2019: Deth’s Tar
I’m wearing a jacket everyday outside, which means it’s time for Revolution’s Deep Wood series to start up again (also, fall). Ten beers are included in this year’s lineup that is heavy on stouts (their Deth’s Tar beers) and barleywines (four of each, plus two blended beers). I have heard from people at Revolution that they were aiming to make all the Deep Wood beers this year a bit sweeter as opposed to drier (think closer to 2017 Ryeway to Heaven as opposed to the 2018 iteration), so we’ll see if and how that plays out.
The first release focuses heavily on the stouts, with 75% of the stouts for the year being in this first release. So how do Deth’s Tar, Cafe Deth and Deth by Plums stack up to previous vintages and other barrel-aged stouts?
Deth’s Tar | 14.8%
Along with Straight Jacket, you can pretty much pencil Deth’s Tar in every Deep Wood lineup. It has since spawned many a variant, including three other ones being released this year. It is the Bourbon County of Revolution’s barrel program.
Deth’s Tar pours pitch black with an almost motor oil consistency. There’s some head that quickly goes away while the beer itself stains the glass a light brown. If you angle it some direct light you’ll get some lovely brown highlights, but this is pretty standard stout stuff. The nose back this up, with booze, char, oak, chocolate and vanilla dominating the nose. While definitely boozy, it wasn’t as overpowering and prevalent as previous vintages of Deth’s Tar.
Whereas last year’s Deth’s Tar was exhibiting that Deep Wood Burn™, 2019 Deth’s is wonderous right out of the gate – slightly boozy, but very warming and smooth. Huge notes of chocolate and licorice are supplemented by some oak, vanilla and a little roasty coffee. No need to wait to drink this – it’s good to go right now. The mouthfeel is appropriate for an imperial oatmeal stout in having a slight effervescence while moving across the tongue (as opposed to a Russian imperial stout that moves like molasses). A friend compared it to drinking Old Rasputin back in the good ol’ days of… um…2014. This is a fireplace sipper if there ever was one.
I’m usually not too excited to have Deth’s Tar (compared to the variants and some other offerings), but this year’s might be the best since its debut in 2013. The booze doesn’t dominate and it melds well with the beer. A superb start to the 2019/2020 Deep Wood lineup.
Cafe Deth | 14.8%
Much like its Bourbon County cousin that’s no longer with us, Cafe Deth relies heavily on the coffee chosen for the beer. Some years it might be too fruity, some too roasty, while others taste like you’re drinking the coffee grounds.
And then some years they absolutely nail it. Welcome to Cafe Deth 2019, one of the best barrel-aged coffee beers to come out of Chicago in a while.
The pour is the same as Deth’s Tar but with a slightly greater brown tint and the fact that a coffee shop might have just opened up in your place. The coffee is upfront and forceful, with my notes simply reading, “coffee, coffee, coffee.” Digging a bit deeper some dark fruit notes were apparent, as were some vanilla, chocolate, and oaky notes, along with a pleasant booze heat.
Upon sipping you are greeted with a medium roast coffee flavor, along with tons of chocolate and vanilla. That combination results in a coffee beer that gets very close to reaching the exalted plane of the barrel-aged creamed coffee beer, in which Bourbon County Coffee 2013 and 2016 (both when fresh) reside. There is some boozy burn present, but it’s minimal and honestly does not prevent you from downing a whole 12oz can with ease. There’s honestly not a lot more to say on it, other than the coffee will fade, so drink it as fresh as you can!
Deth by Plums | 11.7%
The third fruited Deth variant released (after Cherries in 2017 and Royal Rumble-style people’s choice winner Currants in 2018, Deth by Plums features a healthy amount of plum puree added to the base Deth’s Tar, resulting in a slightly less bozzy (11.4%) beer.
Deth by Plums pours just like its sister stouts except with a ton of head. Deth and Cafe had some, but it quickly dissipated, whereas Plums had about two fingers of head and it stuck around for a minute or two. It might be the power of suggestion but I swear there was a certain dark purple benadryl color coming through. Maybe this will help with colds? Fruited pie is what comes across on the nose, with some sweet berries present. There were some earthy notes as well, along with a little booze heat, much like the other two stouts and noticeably less than last year’s versions.
Deth by Plums is radically different than the others when it comes to taste and mouthfeel. It’s quite a lot thinner and a bit more effervescent than Deth’s and Cafe, and the plums make the finish bone dry. The plums also lend some tartness and a fruity sweetness to the proceedings, but also some earthy notes, almost like a red wine would. It was a bit too much for me, as it added an unwanted wrinkle to an otherwise outstanding beer. A friend of mine (who was over to help drink through 48oz of barrel-aged stouts) liked it the best of the three, so if you’re a big fan of fruited stouts you’ll love this. I still prefer the Currants from last year as my favorite fruited Deth.
An auspicious start to the Revolution Deep Wood 2019/2020 series to say the least. For the first time ever I was more excited about the Deep Wood beers than Goose Island’s Bourbon County beers, and Revolution is quickly rewarding my enthusiasm. I cannot wait to get my hands on the remaining seven beers.
Revolution will be releasing Deth’s Tar, Cafe Deth, and Deth by Plums on Friday, October 18 from 2 PM – 11 PM and Saturday, October 19 from 12 PM – 11 PM.
Deth’s Tar is $25 per 4-pack with no limit.
Cafe Deth is $30 per 4-pack with no limit.
Deth by Plums is $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 4.