Revolution Brewing opened up this year’s Deep Wood Series releases with a bang. Thundertaker, an imperial rye stout aged in Blanton’s and Buffalo Trace barrels, launched this year’s series of releases in a huge way, and it caught my attention. Chronicling the ins and outs of the craft beer scene during COVID times has been especially fraught with the continued pressures on bars, brewery taprooms and restaurants to remain operational during these uncertain times. Having an annual release pop up in my feed this past week was a welcome relief.
Every year, Revolution Brewing puts out a litany of some of the most impressive and ambitious barrel-aged beers in the country. We are lucky to live close enough we get to buy them at our local liquor stores such as Liquor World in Kankakee and craft beer bars such as The Hoppy Pig in Bradley. If one of these beers or release dates strikes your fancy, you can reserve your allotment online through Revolution Brewing’s website for pre-order; then, drive to Kedzie Avenue and wait in line in your car or socially distanced on the street to pick up your four packs.
The first release in the Deep Wood 2020 series was Thundertaker on Sept. 18. This collaboration with Binny’s Beverage Depot passed us by. The rye in this beer really threw a change up at me this year, and the opportunity to drink an imperial stout aged in Blanton’s barrels is a fairly astonishing feature. Blanton’s is a luxury brand bourbon that is relatively hard to find on the shelves of any spirits retailer. I never have seen it at Liquor World in Kankakee. This is the type of bourbon that availability rumors swirl around. I am not sure if you will ever see this beer in the wild, but if you do, make sure to snatch it up.
The next release date, set for Oct. 23-24, will be the flagship Deep Wood beer, Deth’s Tar. It is routinely one of my favorite releases of the year. I am a sucker for a well-made beer. Also released that weekend will be Café Deth, a coffee-infused, barrel-aged imperial stout that annually gives the original a run for its money for top of the crop. Also in this batch of beers is Maple Deth, which is the original Deth’s Tar aged in barrels that were once bourbon barrels that held maple syrup from Chicago Maple.
On Nov. 20-21, the Straight Jacket reappears alongside one of my favorite barleywines released in the past couple of years, Honey Jacket. This is a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine with honey added. Revolution Brewing released Honey Jacket and Strawberry Jacket last summer as a trial balloon gauging whether people would turn out for a big beer in the middle of a hot summer. The answer was largely yes, and so they added this terrific beer to the lineup of Deep Wood releases. Along with these two excellent barleywines, this month’s release adds Deth by Cherries to the mix, which is easily going to be this year’s favorite for my wife, Sam. Cherries, if executed perfectly, can be one of the best fruits to be added to beer. I have not had this year’s version, but Deth by Plums and Deth by Currants were excellent beers. I included Deth by Plums to my New Year’s Eve event with the Hoppy Pig in years past.
Just in time for Christmas gift shopping, Revolution pushes up its release schedule a little bit and drops its next series of beers Dec. 11-12. This round of releases sees a return of Mineshaft Gap — a beer I have never had before — which is their barleywine used in Straight Jacket put into Cognac barrels instead of bourbon barrels. Also coming out that week, Ryeway to Heaven, which rocketed up my favorite’s list in recent years, and the grand debut of Double Barrel V.S.O.D. (Very Special Old Deth). V.S.O.D. is usually Deth’s Tar that has aged in the same barrel for two years instead of the traditional one. This year’s V.S.O.D, an already special beer, was blended and finished in Weller Special Reserve and Weller 10-year barrels because you know, why not? This is the jewel in the crown of an exceptional year in beer, and I am excited to try it.
The last release will be the release of Apple Brandy Ryeway to Heaven from Jan. 22-23. This year, Ryeway to Heaven is put into Apple Brandy barrels for an extra special finish.
The final release listed is a TBA Collaboration beer. There is no indication what this beer is going to be, but when it is announced, I will write a column about it.
In honor of an armada of some of the highest-quality beers barreling our way, I will recommend some of these beers I know you can still get locally. First up will be Revolution Supermassive Café Deth available on tap at Revolution Brewing. This beer is exceptional. This beer is ultra rare, and there is no reason why we should have this available on tap whenever we want here in Bradley. Find a night that you get a chance to cut loose and go get a sip of this one.
Also available at The Hoppy Pig at this time is Mixed Berry Ryeway, the jam factory of barrel-aged beers. Again, this is not a normal thing to have this level of quality in our backyard. This is another entry in the Big Beer Summer that Revolution bestows upon us. To round out an already ridiculous line-up, last year’s 2019 V.S.O.D. (Very Special Old Deth) is on tap at The Hoppy Pig as well. Get these beers, cherish them, and await the return of the Deep Wood series.
Mixed Berry Ryeway from Revolution Brewing
ABV: 12.4 percent
Style: Rye Wine
Brewery’s notes: “After 18 months in rye whiskey barrels and an addition of unfermented berries, this special dry blend of Ryewine emerges with a wonderous array of oak-derived flavors and balance. Cherry, vanilla and spice from the barrel meet restrained maple, caramel and aged malt complexities. Blackberry, raspberry, boysenberry and cranberry shine through the end result with perfect balance.”
Where to buy: The Hoppy Pig in 5-ounce pours for $7 and 10-ounce pours for $13.
V.S.O.D. 2019 from Revolution Brewing
ABV: 14.2 percent
Style: Stout – Imperial/Double Oatmeal
Brewery’s notes: “Very Special Old Deth demonstrates the flavors and aromatics [that] can only be achieved through extended barrel aging and obsessive TLC. Enjoy now with pinkies extended or store cold.”
Where to buy: The Hoppy Pig in Bradley in 5-ounce pours for $7 and 10-ounce pours for $13.