V.S.O. Gravedigger | Revolution Brewing
With the release of Boss Ryeway and DB V.S.O.J. in January, Revolution’s Deep Wood season concluded for 2022-2023 until at least July. Or did it? Revolution surprised everyone with a one beer Deep Wood drop in April (like the original Thundertaker’s pre-COVID release date). And it’s not just a variant on an existing Deep Wood beer (like Strawberry Jacket or something). It’s a V.S.O.! Please welcome the debut of V.S.O. Gravedigger to the Deep Wood family.
Like all V.S.O. beers, Gravedigger Billy has rested in various barrels for at least two years. According to the brewers and barrel guys, V.S.O. Gravedigger combines liquid from Elijah Craig, Heaven Hill, Willett, Wild Turkey and WhistlePig 3-year barrels with victory, dark caramel, crystal and a little chocolate malt. A very complex and interesting blend of barrels. Combine that with the dearth of barrel-aged scotch ales in the market and you have a recipe for something unique.
V.S.O. Gravedigger pours a caramel color, similar to Straight Jacket. Opaque in the glass, when held in the light some crimson and orange highlights show up. One finger of head forms and then quickly evaporates in a similar manner to soda. As soon as you open the can the beer aroma fills the room. Going in deeper you immediately get a fair amount of wood and oak. A maple syrup note joins in but not nearly at the level of some breakfast stouts look to obtain. It’s more of an essence of maple syrup as opposed to being overbearing. Some general fruit notes hit as well (I got apple juice). Chocolate, vanilla and caramel come in low in the mix here.
Upon hitting your lips V.S.O. Gravedigger immediately asserts itself as rich and sweet. Thankfully it finishes a bit on the dry side so as not to cause something saccharine. The oak shows up big, rounding the beer out. As with almost all Deep Wood releases, the 14.9% ABV of V.S.O. Gravedigger hides extremely well making it an enjoyable drinker throughout. A small hint of smoke creeps up on the finish but not enough to call it a smoke beer or anything like that. It has less smokiness than previous Gravedigger Billy releases.
All the flavor in the front part of the tongue somehow combines to form a candy bar flavor, with nuts, maple syrup, vanilla and caramel show up in various degrees. No chocolate, so like a Payday bar. Dark fruit like raisins and cherries show up in trace amounts but it mostly serves as background noise. V.S.O. Gravedigger is carbonated medium to low, with a fair amount of it staying on the tongue well after the sip. Somehow the sweetness stays on the tongue without it adding to the overall sweetness of the beer. Again, almost like an essence of sweetness. Combine that with the dry finish and your 12 ounce can will be gone before you know it, leaving you wanting another. While you probably shouldn’t, I definitely could have.
Dare I say it, but it’s a really good time to be a scotch ale/wee heavy lover in Chicago. Old Irving’s Of Lochs and Monsters was outstanding and V.S.O. Gravedigger continues that trend. It does what the V.S.O. beers do – improve upon the base in every way. V.S.O. Gravedigger has more depth, body and flavor than Gravedigger Billy. While it doesn’t quite achieve the stratospheric heights of the top tier of 2022 Deep Wood releases (DB V.S.O.J., Boss Ryeway, and V.S.O. Dark Mode), it falls neatly into the next, still dizzyingly high tier. It’s easily the best barrel-aged scotch ale in the Chicago market hands down. (And might be the best available period). Scotch ale/wee heavy lovers should stock up as much as you can immediately. Those who like the style or are curious should get a 4-pack as you will not be disappointed. Which you already knew due to the V.S.O. at the front of the beer. Another home run from Revolution.
Revolution will release V.S.O. Gravedigger on Friday, April 14, 2023 at their Kedzie taproom. Pre-orders are currently live at Revolution’s webshop right now. They will also be selling Coconut Deth and Lotto Boxes (mixed Deep Wood 4-packs). V.S.O. Gravedigger will be $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 3 4-packs. Coconut Deth will come in at $40 per 4-pack with a limit of 3 4-packs. Lotto Boxes are $50 per 4-pack with a limit of 2 4-packs per person.