Revolution Brewing

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English Barleywine
Ranked #4
Ranked #73
4.68 | pDev: 4.7%
Revolution Brewing
Illinois, United States
Notes: Very Special Old (Straight) Jacket

Aged a full 2 years in hand-selected Heaven Hill and Old Forester barrels.
Reviews: 32 | Ratings: 215 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jhavs
4.56/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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jhavs from New Hampshire, Mar 06, 2020
Photo of JMFP
4.62/5  rDev -1.3%
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!

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JMFP from Delaware, Feb 14, 2020
Photo of stortore
4.7/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

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stortore from Illinois, Feb 13, 2020
Photo of Rristow
4.78/5  rDev +2.1%
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.

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Photo of maximum12
4.13/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

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maximum12 from Minnesota, Jun 04, 2019
Photo of Furlinator
4.36/5  rDev -6.8%
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.

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Furlinator from California, Jun 01, 2019
Photo of Hopsiam14
4.98/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

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Hopsiam14 from Minnesota, Apr 22, 2019
Photo of vikingpillager
4.86/5  rDev +3.8%
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

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Photo of SadMachine
4.64/5  rDev -0.9%
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!

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SadMachine from New Jersey, Mar 23, 2019
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.57/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of RAlmeida77
4.6/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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RAlmeida77 from Massachusetts, Jan 14, 2019
Photo of Zach_Attack
4.5/5  rDev -3.8%
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!

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Zach_Attack from Massachusetts, Jan 02, 2019
Photo of pmarlowe
4.34/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2018 release.

A: Pours a nearly-black brown color with basically no head. No retention. Some nice effervescence.

S: Dried black currants, rich sweet toffee, a backdrop of bourbon, and a bit of dark cocoa powder. Not the most aromatic, but the aromas work together.

T: Rich, dense caramel, plum and black currant, and light cocoa and bourbon, with moderate sweetness throughout each sip. Despite the richness and sweetness, the finish is relatively short, which I think helps the drinkability: you can go back for another drink without any lingering cloyness.

M: Medium-full body, lightly chewy, with medium-light carbonation. A bit of smooth alcohol warmth.

O: Very good fruit-forward barleywine. Not quite top tier, though.

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pmarlowe from Virginia, Jan 02, 2019
Photo of rabbott2
4.75/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Shocked to say that I agree with the hype on this. An absolutely perfectly executed English barleywine and wow, this is wonderful. Notes of vanilla and charred oak from the barrel combine with fig, plum, caramel, toffee, maplely brown sugar, and a little cocoa. Many of those flavors I don’t particularly go for. Wow. Incredible

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rabbott2 from Illinois, Dec 22, 2018
Photo of ktr5010
4.99/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Probably the best barleywine I will ever have and one of my all time favorite beers. It's so rich and decadent. Pours a dark brown with hues of red. Smells like caramel, toffee, and bourbon all mixed together. Tastes amazing. Complex flavors last a long time and change as the beer warms up. Really goes to show what a great barrel program Rev has going.

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ktr5010 from Illinois, Dec 21, 2018
Photo of tf10drap
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The best got even better. I love regular Straight Jacket and I could drink it every day, but I never have enough. This is like regular SJ on steroids and HGH. Everything that is awesome about SJ but even better. More intense flavor but also more nuance, depth and complexity. I'd even say that this is better than HF Aaron. Best English barleywine I've ever had bar none. Barleywine is life.

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tf10drap from New York, Dec 17, 2018
Photo of Vidblain
4.6/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Head and shoulders above VSOD - VSOJ is like Straight Jacket cranked up to 11.

VSOJ is tremendously sweet - loads of raisin and caramel and just a bit of dry barrel to keep it grounded. It's delicious even when cold, and then opens up to further taste definition of the caramel and raisins. Barrels are excellent.

Exceptionally good beer - probably Revolution's best thus far, with the possible exception of Coffee Deth's Tar.

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Vidblain from Minnesota, Nov 28, 2018
Photo of Sabtos
4.9/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nearly appearing like a stout, this has a dark brown to blackish body with faint red edges under a creamy, uneven khaki blanket that fades to a thick bubbly ring. A swirl leaves wide, clear legs drooping over the surface forever.

Smell is deeply charred oak with sticky mapled brown sugar coconut oatmeal. What? Cedary pepper accents hints of prune and raisin before ashey milk chocolate deepens the aroma.

Taste starts sweet and transitions into rich and intensely dark charred oak that has an almost smoky note of maple. An addition of dark fruit character is mild as the tingly, microscopically effervescent swallow brings forward milk chocolate and Tootsie Roll with darkly crystallized caramel coming out in the exhale.

The carbonation is perfect in this, really opening up the flavor profile, while the feel is substantial without being too much. It's about as medium bodied as a barleywine can get without verging into thickly syrupy territory. Even the finish is only slightly sticky, and mostly semi-dry.

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Sabtos from Ohio, Nov 24, 2018
Photo of Kegger37
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Straight 5's here, this beer is absolutely outstanding! I honestly don't know how you could improve on this. Massive barrel, caramelized sugar/fig/vanilla flavor.

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Photo of dukeandduke
4.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

10/17/18 (Chicago): $6.82 5 ounce sample pour into snifter at the Revolution release event held at the brewpub. 2018 release 13.8% ABV. Dark black amber pour, very nice aroma, bourbon, vanilla, wine, on the sweet side. Very smooth whiskey malt taste, vanilla as well, very well balanced. Extremely smooth and creamy mouth feel, very easy drinking. Overall excellent pour, outstanding!

Brewer notes for this version: A cuvee of English Barleywines aged between two and three years in our favorite bourbon barrels. Very Special Old [Straight] Jacket is a luscious, complex celebration of malt, oak, and patience.

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dukeandduke from Illinois, Nov 11, 2018
Photo of Fireman_RK
4.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: Pours a lustrous stream of dark chestnut and mahogany, which is met by a gracious 1cm tan head
S: Cognac, vanilla beans, toffee, and figs on the nose
T: Wow - incredibly complex profile that starts with oatmeal raisin cookies, fig newtons, and caramel and finishes with a grade B maple syrup, boozy roasted malt, and bourbon combination
F: Thick, creamy, and rich with a moderate carb
O: Decadent and full octane barleywine - bold flavors expertly combined with a skillfully crafted extended barrel aging. Easily one of the best barleywines I've had in recent memory.

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Fireman_RK from North Carolina, Nov 11, 2018
Photo of edisacoolcat
4.48/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2018 Can

A: huge boozy flavors, tons of raisin and vanilla, toasted oak, rum and whisky, fig, prune, and caramel

A: very dark brown to black with shallow head that falls to a nice tan lacing

F: caramel, fig, raisin, prune, oak, vanilla, caramel and roasted malts.

M: surprisingly creamy for a barleywine, full body with lingering dark cherry, vanilla, roasted oak, and raisin.

O: very enjoyable and pleasant. Lots of whiskey barrel aged flavors but mouthfeel is more like a stout

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edisacoolcat from Virginia, Nov 10, 2018
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.74/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

On draft at Revolution. Full pour.

Rich barrel notes and so much caramel flavor. The difference between straight jacket and VSOJ is crazy. This is just as good as King Henry and Voodoo K-13 which are some of the finest barrel aged English Barleywines this world has to offer.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.7/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz can, snifter glass. Dark caramel brown body, one finger offwhite head, good retention, plenty of lacing. Looks like liquid butterscotch, opaque. Smell is massive bourbon and vanilla, a veritable depth charge of caramel, butterscotch, oak, vanillin, toffee to go along with a dose of sweet oaky whiskey. Damn. Flavour is a massive coalescence of all of the aforementioned aromas; it's literally everything you could ever want in a barleywine and amplified to 11. Yes, this one goes to 11. Mouthfeel is medium fuller bodied, lighter carbonation, smooth as silk, warming heat on the backend. It's delicious and massive. It brings all the boys to the yard, this one.

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Stevedore from Wisconsin, Nov 04, 2018
Photo of darktronica
4.68/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Tasted on draft two nights ago at a preview party, reviewing now from a can. Half a finger of quickly dissipating head over a thick caramel beer. Minimal lacing, thick legs when swirled. Brown sugar, leather, plum, rum-soaked Christmas cake on the nose. Boozy bourbon spice and vanilla enter on the palate, with port wine and candy apple. Just near the edge of syrupy in terms of thickness; mouth-coating but not a sugar bomb, thanks to ample bourbon heat. Absolutely world class.

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V.S.O.J. from Revolution Brewing
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 215 ratings