Revolution Brewing

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Barleywine - English
Ranked #2
Ranked #47
4.69 | pDev: 4.69%
Revolution Brewing
Illinois, United States
Notes: Very Special Old (Straight) Jacket

A periodic, rotating release from Revolution Brewing.

2021: A cuvée of English Barlewines aged between two and four years in our favorite bourbon barrels. Lusciously sweet and colossally complex, V.S.O.J. is equal parts refinement and excess.

2018: A celebration of malt, oak, and patience, Very Special Old [Straight] Jacket is a cuvée of English Barleywines each aged between two and three years in our favorite bourbon barrels. Lusciously sweet and colossally complex, V.S.O.J. is equal parts refinement and excess. Enjoy life now, or store cold.

2017: Aged a full 2 years in hand-selected Heaven Hill and Old Forester barrels.
Reviews: 46 | Ratings: 268 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of SpeedwayJim
SpeedwayJim from New York

4.51/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz. can into a Founder's snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours super dark for the style. A bold mahogany. No head. Sticky, oily, lace that really hangs around. Nose is loads of molasses, oak, booze, and vanilla. I also get anise, brown sugar, and caramel. Very dense and aromatic. Beer opens vanilla, caramel, and molasses. Oak and tobacco in the middle while the sweetness continues to heighten. More molasses, anise, booze, and brown sugar at the end with a sticky, lingering finish. Body is full with low carbonation. Rich and oily on the palate and goes down smooth, rich, and hot. Lingering aftertaste that sticks around for days.

This beer's worth the hype. Really solid overall and made to drink now! Doesn't need any aging.

Sep 18, 2021
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Fordcoyote15 from Pennsylvania

4.29/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yeeeeeah... look wise this is a joke. Looks like a watery 4% beer with giant bubbled head from an aggressively poured bud light. Seriously disappointing.

Smells exaclt like straight jacket so I don't know how to rate this. Straight jacket smells great. But for a beer that's 5 times the cost id expect a little more "yes, omg, or damn" to hit me when I smell it.

Taste - haha... alright you win revolution.

Feel - fucking hot. Not mad about that but damn it drinks like black tuesday.

Overall - ungodly hot and unworldly complex. I'll Crack another and give it a real review in the upcoming few months

Sep 12, 2021
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WunderLlama from Massachusetts

4.68/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very Special Old (Straight) Jacket By Revolution

12 oz can, that was cAnned on 6.29.21, opened 8.5.21 poured into an ipa glass

Received in a ninja strike associated with Bif13 from @fbarber

Tasting notes : 2021: A cuvée of English Barlewines aged between two and four years in our favorite bourbon barrels. Lusciously sweet and colossally complex, V.S.O.J. is equal parts refinement and excess.

Two finger fluffy taupe over a dark cola liquid, good retention settles to a thin island and ring

Bourbon is very fragrant as it is poured into the glass. Sweet Sweet Bourbon Aroma

Taste- oh my ! Sweet bourbon , no heat , rich malt , oak , caramel, vanilla, dark fruits, bourbon soaked raisins , Wow! This is nice!!!

Mouthfeel is dense , full , syrupy and totally hides the demonic 15% abv. No wonder this served in a 12 oz can . The sweetness lingers in the mouth

Wow, just wow! Great beer

Aug 05, 2021
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ajcuster89 from Indiana

4.67/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One of the best barrel-aged barleywines and as a bonus, it's somewhat easily available in the Chicago area. Big bold flavors at every turn. Huge boozy nose. Much smoother finish than the smell would indicate. An excellent entry into the #BIL catalog.

Aug 03, 2021
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StoutSnob40 from California

4.8/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Commonly regarded as the best barrel-aged English barleywine in the U.S., hopes are extremely high. Aroma is a tad overwhelmed by the high ABV, as I’m finding it difficult to find complex characteristics through the alcohol burn. Pull the glass away a bit, and you can pick up aromas of sweet, caramel malts, coconut and vanilla truffles.

After the first sip, I understand the reputation. It’s so incredibly balanced, with flavors dominated by oak-derived coconut, old leather, booze soaked raisins and creme brûlée. This base beer was brewed for barrel-aging. It spent years expanding and contracting into the American oak staves, wading through the spirits that previously resided there. It lets the barrel shine, but maintains its own identity. Finishes with mouth-numbing alcohol, but the slick coconut flavors last for minutes after. It’s absolutely epic, and outside of 2016 Whiskey A Deal with the Devil, it’s the best barleywine I’ve ever had. Unreal.

Jul 27, 2021
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michaelsmith11 from Illinois

4.85/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is the 2021 version. I was lucky enough to grab a 4 pack so this is out of the can. Made this one last and it was almost like drinking two different beers. At first it was very oaky with some vanilla and more boozy. As it warmed up you could taste a little dark fruit and the vanilla became stronger. It also didn't taste as sweet as it got warmer. The whole drinking experience was an exercise in patience as i wanted to chug all 12 oz. But I'm glad I took my time and savored this masterpiece. Revolution just keeps one upping themselves with every release and I'm totally hooked.

Jul 25, 2021
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GreatStoutman from Texas

5/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2021 version on draft at the Rev taproom. All the great aromas of caramelized dates, leather, sweet raisins and maybe some vanilla. Lots of barrel notes but exceptionally smooth with a long sticky finish. World class for sure.

Jul 19, 2021
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NCSapiens from Indiana

4.23/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(2021) Looks like a day-old Dr. Pepper that’s gone flat but with a whift of bubbles on the rim and slight random streaks of white foam on the surface. Smells like faint brandy. The taste is where this stands out and distinguishes itself from other barleywines. Very rich dark fruits and barleywine and bourbon barrel. Charred oak, sweet fig, tobacco, vanilla, raisin, sweet toffee, dates. No off-putting flavors or alcohol characteristics of bad barley wines. Fantastically thick viscosity compliments the taste. This is a ten out of ten for the style. Nearly perfect blending of beer and alcohol.

Jul 19, 2021
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BPatton from California

4.71/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer perfectly rides the line between sweet caramel tones and bourbon oak. It is a little thinner than some of the heavy hitter barleywines like a deal with the devil, but it more than makes up for it with the pronounced barrel character. You can taste the aging process.

Dec 31, 2020
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CraftFan5 from New Jersey

4.94/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

17 December 2020 - Beer #215 - BA Top 250 Alert!

Acquired via trade
Current Rank: #70 on Beer Advocate

Appearance: 4 - about as nice as a barleywine can look. Dark, murky brown with a fancy head.

Nose: 5 - I can smell this from across the room. Insane aroma - dark fruit, bready malt. A ton of it.

Taste: 5 - uh-huh, yip yip yip yip yip, uh-huh uh-huh. Tremendous flavor. Sweeter than the nose indicated. Not terribly complex, just straight flava.

Mouth: 5 - extremely smooth. Very boozy. This is a slow sipper. Do not mess around here.

Overall: 5 - among the best barleywines I've ever had.


Dec 24, 2020
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.92/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2018 batch, canned 10/10/18. This is in the top 3 barleywines that I've ever had.

This pours a dark brownish color, with some gold flecks, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like charred oak, maple, chocolate, bittersweet caramel, tobacco, oak spice, vanilla, Rolos, molasses, and some warming booze.

This is so complex and dynamic. It almost feels like barleywine concentrate, and the flavors are super intense but well balanced with one another. The barrel character is dynamite, with lots of spice, an almost herbal character, tobacco, black pepper, and vanilla. The base is already good, but has come a long way with the extended barrelling, with maple dripping all over it, creamy caramel, milk chocolate, Rolos candy, and raisins.

This has some boozy warmth, but it's nowhere near as boozy as it could have been. It's a slow sipper, mainly because you don't want your pour of it to end.

It's hard to find anything negative to say about this. This is entirely on par with legends like Aaron, A Deal With The Devil Double Oak, and Blue Ridge. This is as good as it gets for barleywines and barrels. I need more of this, now.

Dec 05, 2020
Photo of GRG1313
GRG1313 from California

4.25/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Revolution is extremely consistent with this brilliant Barleywine that really does the trick. Wonderful nose, great balance and great flavor profile. A big English Barleywine that is not too sweet but has the flavor profile to please. Big beer and good.

Jul 22, 2020
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eppie82 from Illinois

4.73/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

VSOJ 2018 can, consumed in 2020.

Excellent representation of the style, this pours a deep dark amber color with minimal foam. Caramel, toffee, vanilla all really comes out with a strong barrel presence, which isn't boozy somehow. It's a terrific representation of an English Barleywine. This was enjoyed right after Anabasis (blend 4), and although that came off more robust in flavor, it was also more 'stouty' than VSOJ.

Jul 01, 2020
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jhavs from New York

4.56/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Can poured into fluted snifter.

Brown with slightly translucent edges of mahogany when held up to the light. Thick, slow to bubble out head, tan and foamy.

Aroma is dark fruit, caramel, toffee, vanilla, dark roasted grain, booze.

Flavor is sweet syrupy toffee, rich layers of dark fruits including prunes, raisins over deep malt, vanilla, wood, booze.

Moderate carbonation, syrupy thick, sweet and full bodied.

Excellent use of the barrel to enhance the big flavors. Booze smoothed out into rich and complex flavors instead of heat.

Mar 06, 2020
Photo of JMFP
JMFP from Delaware

4.62/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very Special Old Jacket, indeed! The hype train is real here. Thanks to my man, Julian Catanzaro, for snagging this gem for me. One of the better barleywines out there!

Feb 14, 2020
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stortore from Illinois

4.7/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 ounce can into a snifter. Canned 10/10/18, had 10/28/18.

Pours a dark ruby, a little cloudy, with no real head and a little light, foamy lacing. Aromas of bourbon, malt, tobacco,figs, plums, raisins, caramel, light oak, a light spicy aroma. The flavor pretty much follows the nose- bourbon, figs, plums, malt, tobacco, caramel, oak, some dates and brown sugar, light molasses, a hint of cherries. Smooth, a great fuller body, well carbonated.

This is truly one of my favorite beers ever. Incredibly expressive aromas and flavors. Every sip gets better as it warms.

Feb 13, 2020
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Rristow from Ohio

4.78/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tasted from can. Thick and chewy. Sticky goodness. Lots of bourbon, caramel and molasses on aroma and taste. Some dark fruits, raisins, dates, brown sugar and maple along with the caramel molasses on taste. Incredible English barleywine.

Jun 30, 2019
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maximum12 from Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to intecwrx for this 12 oz. can. My very special old jacket was my first black leather motorcycle jacket, which protected me from my first motorcycle crash. It looked bad ass with those skid marks across the right shoulder. My shoulder, not so much.

The pour is very dark brown with Shanda Fay highlights. Nose is surprisingly weak – or is that subtle – with dark fruit & what I’d assume was brandy if I couldn’t read.

V.S.O.J. How is this not brandy barrel aged? Because that’s what I get: rich alcohol, dark, fleshy fruit, caramel, brown sugar, sharp oak, molasses, damn there’s a lot going on in here. Sticky, denser than Michael A****** (name redacted). Like Fay, once in a night is enough.

Yet another beer that falls into the “after dinner liqueur” category, ‘Jacket is decadent like a 007 yacht. Less the considerable hype, this is still an excellent beer.

Jun 04, 2019
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Furlinator from California

4.36/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bourbon, toffee, brown sugar, charred oak, raisins, fig, leather, subtle rye and faint cocoa. This beer delivers on all cylinders despite a slightly sulfurous aroma.

Jun 01, 2019
Photo of Hopsiam14
Hopsiam14 from Minnesota

4.98/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The finest example of the style I've had since King Henry. This beer was a true delight and I'd recommend it to anyone. Well worth the effort to find one of these gems. The barrel flavor and mouthfeel on this beer was incredible.

Apr 22, 2019
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vikingpillager from Illinois

4.86/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I'm not particularly a fan of barleywines or Straightjacket for that matter, but I got to try this at a share recently and I fully understand why it is a favorite and top-rated beer!!! Absolutely amazingly smooth. I wouldn't change a thing about this. Outstanding! I will search this one out in the future for sure

Apr 15, 2019
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SadMachine from New Jersey

4.64/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours an almost entirely opaque brown with tinges of light coming through at the edges, with a big, light tan head that dissipates slowly.

Aromas of dark fruits, leather, raisins, slightly dried prunes, fig, caramel, and toffee dominate. Subtle undertones of vanilla, oak, brown sugar, cocoa, and coffee follow. All the immense complexity that one would hope for in an English Barleywine is present, and then there's an extra step above in every aspect! Only a slightly over the top boozy aroma keeps this from being perfect, and even that isn't unwelcome. Truly delightful!

The taste is more of the same. Deep complexity, with rich dark fruits, leather, cocoa powder, vanilla, and oak playing the most prominent roles. Toffee and molasses also are big players here, and there's a hint of coffee as well.

It has a velvety mouth feel, thick, rich, and coating. It hides the booze well for being 14%, but it still lets you know it's there with a tinge of alcohol burn on the end.

This is a world class English barleywine! Incredibly complex while retaining a perfect balance between the aromas and flavors. This is just wonderfully executed, and I hope to be able to drink this many more times in the future!

Mar 23, 2019
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Hopheadjeffery from Illinois

4.57/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2018 vintage tasted in a snifter from draft at O'Toole's on February 5, 2019. A celebration of malt, oak and patience. Very Special Old [Straight] Jacket is a cuvée of English barleywines each aged between two and three years in bourbon barrels. Lusciously sweet and colossally complex, V.S.O.J. is equal parts refinement and excess.

Feb 12, 2019
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RAlmeida77 from Massachusetts

4.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz can poured into a tulip. Appearance was a little off putting as this was very dark brown. Not the color I'm used to from a typical barley wine. Small off-white head that dissipated quick. Aroma was off the charts....lots of barrel character such as bourbon and wood. Dark fruit was heavily present. Lots of fig, raisin and prune and a hint of tobacco. Flavor was everything I detected in the aroma. Tons of fig, raisin and prune...lots of bourbon and oak. Very rich. Feel was medium bodied. Kinda stout like which is thicker for a barley wine. Overall, this was fantastic. A real treat to have. Glad to have been able to try.

Jan 14, 2019
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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12/2018 - This is just so damn good - caramel and toffee, negligible booze, awesome bourbon though; great mouthfeel, which lingers through the finish. This is a super sipper!

Jan 02, 2019
V.S.O.J. from Revolution Brewing
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 268 ratings