The Revolution Brewing V.S.O.J. 2018, poured into a stemless snifter, presents itself in a 12oz can packaged in a paper carton 4-pack. The cola-colored liquid emerges with soda-like foam that quickly dissipates, leaving a flat appearance akin to Godiva liqueur. This barleywine stands out as exceptionally dark, bordering on black in the glass, deviating from the usual deep amber to maroon hues associated with the barleywine style.


The robust aroma of V.S.O.J. is a decadent blend, reminiscent of Firestone Walker Anniversary series strong ales. Dominated by a powerful mix of bourbon barrel and milk chocolate, it unfolds gradually to reveal notes of tobacco, vanilla, and a subtle hint of savory soy sauce and sweet hoisin sauce. While undeniably complex, the scent doesn’t conform strictly to the barleywine profile, with the chocolate character usually found in imperial stouts making a prominent appearance.


Sipping on V.S.O.J. unveils a symphony of flavors, with each sip offering a medley of vanilla, toasted marshmallow, milk chocolate, and dark rum. The layering of these sweet elements creates a sugary crescendo. Notably, the roasted malt’s chocolate flavor plays a pivotal role, bringing balance and uniqueness to the beer. Despite a deficiency in bitterness for a strong ale, the high alcohol content of around 14% aids in preventing excessive sweetness, accompanied by a subtle tartness from black cherry, adding a layer of complexity to the overall taste.


V.S.O.J. is undoubtedly a sipping beer, where the interplay of flavors unfolds gradually with each sip. The high sugar content is counteracted by the elevated alcohol content, preventing the brew from becoming overly cloying or sticky. The mouthfeel is enriched by the addition of roasted malt, contributing to the overall balance. The result is a beer that can be likened to a mixed drink, comprising elements of imperial stout, bourbon, barleywine, and a touch of black cherry cordial.


Revolution Brewing’s V.S.O.J. 2018 emerges as a delectable and exceptional representation of bourbon barrel-aged American strong ales. While it deviates from the traditional barleywine profile, leaning more towards a barleywine/imperial stout hybrid, it successfully addresses the common pitfalls of barleywines, offering a delightful and balanced masterpiece. For aficionados of Firestone Walker’s barrel-aged cuvees, this beer is a must-try. The convenience of finding it in 12oz cans within a paper carton adds to its appeal.

In conclusion, V.S.O.J. stands as a testament to the brewer’s skill in crafting a unique and memorable beer that transcends traditional style boundaries.