Off the Deep (Wood) End: Revolution’s ‘Wines
Revolution’s not taking a break. Hot on the heels of its first stout-focused release, Revolution switches gears to satiate the malt-worshipping among us – a barleywine and a “very special” ryewine (plus a new batch of a fan favorite released earlier this year). These next two releases also carry some weight with them, namely all the awards and hardware each has won. Join me as we wait in line together for Straight Jacket and V.S.O.R. – Revolution’s next Deep Wood release.
Straight Jacket | 15.8%
So many awards. Straight Jacket is at its core Revolution’s Institutionalized barleywine aged for 12 months in bourbon barrels. Good luck on actually drinking that exact beer. Straight Jacket contains a complex blend of varying barrels and ages designed to give you the best possible imbibing experience. And people are starting to take notice! Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers (FoBAB) gold in 2014 and bronze in 2018 and a Great American Beer Festival (GABF) bronze in 2018 really brings the point home that Straight Jacket – not Deth’s Tar – is Revolution’s barrel aged flagship.
This year’s Straight Jacket comprises three different batches; 55% of the blend is two years old and on the drier side and the remaining 45% are either 18 or 12 months, with the younger barrels being the sweeter ones. There’s no way this can be bad, right?
It’s not, but it’s not what previous vintages of it were. Straight Jacket pours a mahogany and burnt orange color with basically no head; deep crimson highlights can be seen when holding it up to the light. The nose is what you would expect – oak, caramel, toffee, vanilla. I even got some notes of newly purchased (or put together) cabinets – my place now smells of rich mahogany.
All the Straight Jacket flavors are there when you sip, with caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and oak present. There are even some notes of butterscotch and those Werther’s I love so much. But that’s all on the front half of the tongue while drinking. About halfway through it becomes a flavor desert. The back half is all alcohol burn. It’s not heavy and the beer doesn’t really need any aging to make it more drinkable, but it really stand out when alone. Straight Jacket is definitely drier than last year’s.
If the flavor notes present on the first half continued throughout the sip, this would be up there with some of the best Straight Jacket vintages. Unfortunately the fact that it cuts out and just leaves the alcohol all alone (sorry buddy) knocks down the enjoyment of the beer a bit. But that start is outstanding.
V.S.O.R. | 14.8%
Not to be outdone by Straight Jacket, V.S.O.R. (Very Special Old Ryeway) has some metal of its own, winning gold in this year’s (2019) FoBAB. Good job little one! Much like your college history class, get ready to follow along and take some notes! V.S.O.R. is 40% of their Ryeway to Heaven aged for a year in bourbon and rye barrels and 60% of their Boss Ryeway from last year. Boss Ryeway is a combination of Whistle Pig Boss Hog IV Armagnac barrels and Peerless Rye Whiskey barrels. The Boss Ryeway blend is skewed towards the Boss Hog barrels, while the V.S.O.R. blend is skewed towards the Peerless Rye.
I was able to try it this summer during their Honey and Strawberry Jacket release. V.S.O.R. became my most anticipated of the Deep Wood releases this year after trying it. I’m still psyched even though it’s a different blend than the one from that party.
You’re definitely not going to confuse V.S.O.R.with Straight Jacket, as it pours a dark brown with some very light brown head and some crimson highlights. Toffee, caramel and rye spice come through on the nose, but what really makes this a nose flavor parade is all the unexpected aromas coming out of it. Licorice, anise, raisins, roast, and even some bready notes make their way in and out of your olfactory organ.
The rye spice really shines when you taste it and there are complementary notes of caramel, toffee and raisins, but the real curiosity is the mouthfeel. There is a certain cola-like effervescence that, depending on how you like your ‘wines, might be a boon or a curse. The flavor notes, however, bloom like a flower in your mouth, with it starting small and then opening up into different flavor worlds as it traverses the tongue. Some roast and chocolate along with hints of vanilla make appearances, but it’s really the rye that shines throughout the whole ride. There is also a certain sweetness throughout; it lingers well after you’re done with your 12 ounces.
It could be the new blend or my overhyped expectations, but I prefer V.S.O.J. to V.S.O.R. The cola-like effervescence is the big difference for me, especially when comparing it to something as damn near perfect as V.S.O.J. is in my mind. Ryeway to Heaven fans will definitely love it and should suck this beer up.
Strawberry Jacket | 13.8%
So Revolution has this stupid idea to re-release Strawberry Jacket this year (batch 2) at this party. They also go and enter it in FoBAB. Naturally it goes on to win a 2019 FoBAB silver medal. The blend is basically the same (except for more time in barrels). I’m sure all that silver will make it taste that much better. You can check out my written review of Strawberry Jacket from the summer, as well as our recorded take on our FoBABblin’ 4 The People episode.
Revolution will be releasing Straight Jacket, V.S.O.R., and Strawberry Jacket at their Kedzie taproom located at 3340 N Kedzie Ave on Friday, November 15 from 4 PM – 11 PM.
Straight Jacket is $25 per 4-pack with no limit.
V.S.O.R. is $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 2.
Strawberry Jacket is $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 2.