This week, we have a very, very special Friday Four Pack for you. The release of Revolution’s Deth’s Tar & other Deep Wood Series beers may as well be the fall equinox in Chicago. The official end of the lingering summer IPA vibes and the official arrival of Dark Beer SZN.
We write this on the eve of the first of four releases of from Revolution’s Deep Wood Series for the 2021-2022 season. We were fortunate enough to have gotten the opportunity to taste these beers during a guided walk through with Revolution Head Brewer Jim Cibak and Marty Scott (head of Revolutions vaunted barrel program) ahead of the release. Let’s get into it.
Revolution Brewing- Deth’s Tar (14.8% ABV Barrel Aged Imperial Oatmeal Stout)
For those that don’t know, Deth’s Tar is the flagship beer of Revolution’s barrel program. While maybe not the most hyped or anticipated of the Deep Wood Releases, Deth’s Tar is the beer that sets the stage for the rest of the year’s releases. This year’s version is the most diverse blend yet, featuring 12 different bourbon and rye whiskey barrels melded together to create the 2021 vintage of Deth’s Tar.
What’s most mind boggling to me about the Deep Wood series is how Revolution has been able to scale their barrel program, distribute it over an increasingly large geographic radius, and continue to improve overall product quality. This year, for instance, Rev is on track to put out 333 barrels of Deth. That’s almost 14,000 gallons of 14.8% world class bourbon barrel aged stout. Each barrel is tasted, checked for pH, and sensory cleared before being pushed to tanks for blending, then centrifuged and pasteurized, before going to a final tank for canning. Talk about a labor of love.
And all this effort is apparent when you take your first sip of 2021 Deth. As Deth’s Tar usually does, it pours a little thinner than you’d expect, with plenty of carbonation and a thick mocha head. About a finger and a half of foam. On the nose, it’s clear this beer isn’t Ty Webb’s first trip to the family lumber yard. I expected to get heavy chocolate and spirit, which is present in droves, but I also (perhaps at Marty and Jim’s suggestion), can pull out each of the individual wood components. Coconut. Caramel. Vanilla. Toffee. Marshmallow. Hints of cherry. It’s all there.
The body, thinner than one would expect for a 15% beer, picks up the bitterness (probably from the hops), but the oats take centerstage, enveloping the palate. I get a heavy roastyness, but the mouthfeel is still a velvety bakers chocolate.
On the finish, the barrel comes back and we get a complex mélange of oak, tobacco, and char. It’s dangerously drinkable at 14.8% and with the new 19 oz. package format, more dangerous than an RKO out of nowhere. It’s your quintessential BA stout. It’s what (almost) everyone else aspires to.
Revolution Brewing- Café Deth (14.8% ABV Barrel Aged Stout w/ Coffee)
So for the first variant of this year’s Deep Wood release, we have Café Deth which is the coffee version of Deth’s Tar. Using a custom blend of roasted El Salvadorian and Guatemalan coffee beans, this years version of Café strikes me as totally different than year’s prior. You know when you walk into a Dunkin and it smells like not so fresh reheated Folger’s? That’s some peoples jam, but not mine. Café Deth is like being in the Italian espresso shops in the 1980s that showed Howard Schultz what Starbucks could be.
Compared to last year’s Café, this years nose is so much more vanilla forward, sweeter, and less bitter. Jim said that they look at adding coffee like they’re “dry hopping” with it. Reducing contact time, maximizing nose, while minimizing any extraction of the bitter components of the beans. Once it hits the palate you know it’s mission accomplished. We get tons of roasty chocolate and very little astringency. The finish is spicier than Deth’s tar, but still hugely drinkable with just the right balance of coffee, oak, and spirit. I anticipate Café being equally enjoyable at 7 PM or 7 AM.
Revolution Brewing- Deth by Raspberries (11% ABV Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels)
This was the beer that most intrigued me. This variant takes sweet components of Deth’s Tar and conditions them on raspberry puree before canning.
Historically, I haven’t been a huge fine of their fruit adjuncted Deep Wood Beers (though I did have a Deth by Cherries Sunday and after about a year in the can it was off the charts). I’m just not a huge fan of overly tart or high pH beers. And Marty was quick to point out the Raspberries wasn’t going to be for everybody.
Fortunately, it was for me.
Pouring more muddy brown than rich black, Raspberries’ nose immediately overwhelms you with nary delight. I get notes of raspberry sorbet and chocolate. The palate is smooth and doesn’t pack nearly the bite I was expecting. On the finish, the barrel brings a depth of character to the beer, but doesn’t cut through the sweetness, yielding a velvety raspberry chiffon pie finish. A fantastic, nuanced expression of what a fruit adjuncted stout should be.
Revolution Brewing- Razzle from LA Guns (cuvee of Café Deth and Deth by Raspberries, ABV- ???)
OK, so this last beer wasn’t “officially” part of the tasting. It is, however, a draft only variant that will be served at Revolution’s Kedzie taproom during tomorrow’s release party. Because this series is called the “Friday Four Pack” and we needed a fourth beer, we took it upon ourselves to blend our own version.
To do so, we took two parts Café Deth and one-part Deth by raspberries and poured into our snifter. The nose is bold, full of vanilla and chocolate covered raspberries laced with alcohol. The appearance is a tarry black with a faint red glow.
The two beers delicate interplay continues on the palate, silky smooth and full of chocolate. The finish is tart fruit and roasty coffee that is still just as smooth as chocolate mousse. We also get subtle notes of oak and coconut. An A1 blend.
What a treat this week’s Friday Four Pack was. Beers like Rev’s Deep Wood series serve to remind us how lucky we are to be able to drink beer in Chicago right now. There are so many breweries putting out an incredible variety of beers, but Revolution’s Deep Wood Series continues to set the high watermark and reminds us of what can happen with time, patience, and constant improvement. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to taste these beers and learn more about everything that went into putting them together. We can’t wait for what’s to come and hope you are able to enjoy Deth’s Tar, Café Deth, and Deth by Raspberries as much as we did. Cheers!