No chocolate was harmed in the making of Deth’s Tar, but that hardly seems possible. This bourbon barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout from Chicago’s Revolution Brewing drinks like a decadent dessert, layering the flavors of vanilla bean, dark fruit, and chocolate—heaps of chocolate—in a rich, 14.8% ABV package. True to Revolution’s logo, it’s the beer equivalent of being punched by a velvet glove.
Drinkers who prefer their stouts on the sweeter side of the spectrum will especially want to keep their eyes peeled for Deth’s Tar. The aroma doesn’t offer up any of the char, dark toast, or deep coffee roast of some other imperial stouts, instead focusing on dark fruit and chocolate. Black cherry, blueberry, and golden raisins dominate, with a Hershey’s syrup chocolate blanket drawing them together. The bourbon barrel contributes plenty of sticky molasses and vanilla bean richness, cushioned by malt-derived graham cracker aromas.
The sip follows suit, beginning with a smooth blanket of cherry, plum, and blueberry, followed (somehow) by even more chocolate than the aroma suggests. The hot fudge center of the sip then yields to vanilla before closing with a semisweet chocolate level of bitterness. The alcohol is certainly perceptible as a warming and light tingling in the throat, but it’s remarkably well incorporated given its nearly 15% ABV; before checking the beer’s alcohol content, I would have put it closer to 11%.
While far from a pastry stout, Deth’s Tar certainly has a dessert quality to it. The retronasal experience after a sip is that of having just bit into a chocolate-covered strawberry. This is a wonderful beer to consider bringing as an after-dinner sipper for holiday parties—just mind how many times you refill your boss’ glass.
Revolution Brewing’s Deth’s Tar is available as a limited release in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Boston, and New Jersey. Illinois is extra lucky, as it’s the only state receiving Deth By Plums, a version of Deth’s Tar with, yep, plums. Dare I say it’s even better than the original?
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