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Collaborating for a Cause | Life Jacket

Feature IMage for Revolution Brewing's Collaborating for a Cause Installment
Eric Griffin

As 2023 nears its conclusion, many families and businesses feel the strain and chaos of the holiday season and the deadlines associated with the final months of the year. Fortunately, the support for Alex Kidd and his family has not even considered pumping the brakes, and we are happy to welcome Revolution Brewing to this week’s installation of Collaborating for a Cause.

(Read: Collaborating for a Cause Series)

Adjusting the spotlight to a beer that Alex himself helped co-create with the Revolution team, this well-known Chicago brewery organized an incredible gesture spanning the month of November involving their Life Jacket Barleywine.

The Revolution Cause

A Chicago Staple

Revolution Brewing proudly bears the title of the largest independent brewery in the state of Illinois. Both leaders and innovators in craft beer’s revolutionary changes over the years, this brewery has been a labor of love since it opened its doors nearly 14 years ago. Their diverse portfolio of beer styles are all clear examples of their commitment to quality and the value they place on hard work. As the palate of craft beer drinkers continues to evolve, so too will Revolution in their mission to push the boundary of bigger flavors, more variety, and better beer.

No Strangers to DDB

The team at Revolution have been longtime fans of Don’t Drink Beer, and Alex has had their beer on his radar ever since they stood at the peak of his 29-Barleywine blind tasting back in 2014. Additionally, Alex has had two sold-out comedy shows at their Brewpub and has continually championed beers such as V.S.O.J. and others over the years. As eloquently stated in their benefit announcement on Instagram, even if Alex doesn’t enjoy something, he’s intelligent, funny, and observant about why. His work undoubtedly has kept the subjects of his features both honest and self aware.

Revolution arguably releases and sells more unique barrel-aged barleywines than any other brewery in the country, and it could be argued that this is only possible because of the path that Alex Kidd has paved for the style. While the news of his cancer diagnosis in May was devastating news to the team, they were coincidentally preparing for the release of Life Jacket, a unique barleywine that Alex himself helped co-create. Revolution has been keeping in touch with the Kidds throughout this difficult time, and at the beginning of November decided to organize a benefit around Life Jacket to help raise money for Alex’s medical expenses.

Life Jacket

Benefit graphic for Life Jacket November Fundraiser
Graphic Courtesy of Revolution Brewing

Beginning on November 8, 100% of the sales of Life Jacket four-packs at the Taproom and Brewpub went toward the GoFundMe set up to support his treatment and his family. This uniquely tropical Barleywine first appeared during the July 2023 Deep Wood Series alongside Dread & Breakfast and Cuvée de Grâce. The Deep Wood exclusive is Revolution’s Straight Jacket Barleywine base with mango, guava, passionfruit, coconut and other natural flavors, aged in bourbon barrels.

After tallying the November sales from the Pub and Taproom, the final donation for the Kidds came out to an unbelievable $5,000. An absolutely amazing gesture from the Revolution team, and invaluable to Alex and his family in helping them manage the long road ahead.

Revolution was also generous in sending a four-pack to PorchDrinking as well to highlight the beer and this benefit as part of this ongoing series. We thank you so much for your contribution!

The Review

Review photo, Life Jacket Barleywine
Photo by Eric Griffin

The pour on Life Jacket is a deep, brown-hued crimson, with beige carbonation rising to about two fingers of head before settling entirely into the body of the beer.

The nose bursts forward with dark chocolate-covered tropical fruits. An initially subtle toasted coconut component quickly intensifies, as well as clearer notes of guava. Sipping further seems to stir up lots of stone fruit aromas. That said, overall with warmth the fruit mellows and the profile on the nose begins to hone in closer to a traditional, non-adjunct barleywine; raisin, caramel, and that bourbon barrel taking precedence.

The malty underbody of this beer really shines on the palate, contrasting the brighter, mildly tannic notes of stone fruit and mango. The passionfruit flavors intensify the tropicality imparted by the other fruits, and adds just a kiss of tartness. Carrying into the mid-palate, it rides the line perfectly with a chocolate-powered rigidity. While initially it is surprising that coconut isn’t more noticeable, the more the profile is studied the more it becomes apparent that all the other tropical inclusions to this beer don’t work alongside the barleywine base without the behind-the-scenes influence of mild nutty bitterness and milky coconut sweetness.

Revolution has never been known for high plato in their high-gravity beers. That said, they’ve never needed it. With expert balance of adjuncts, carbonation, and base weight, the mouthfeel on this one really works. In fact, we agreed that the slightly thinner feel to this works much better with the fruit than a beer with a higher finishing gravity would have. The carbonation is effervescent and matches any residual tannin or tartness from the fruit, and it finishes with a bitterness from the coconut that works to build up the warmth and oak character from the bourbon barrels.

Supporting the Kidd Family

If you would like to contribute to Alex’s recovery yourself, the GoFundMe dedicated to him and his family can be found here. Currently Alex is scheduled to endure a liver resection surgery as well as a rectal reattachment on January 8th, 2024. While this is part of the original treatment plan and is great news that he avoided the need for a supplements ileostomy, the recovery associated is still a long one. Not only that, but there will be intense chemotherapy until then that will undoubtedly take a toll on both his mind and body.

Revolution provided immense financial support with this Life Jacket Benefit, and will do wonders towards financing treatments such as this. The team in Chicago as well as the team at PorchDrinking would like to extend well wishes to Alex as this next major procedure quickly approaches.

Please continue to follow along in the series as our next feature brings us all the way to Norway, where homebrewer Espen Westum and Westum Hjemmebryggeri dedicated two massive beers to Alex for a fundraiser raffle conducted right here on PorchDrinking earlier this year.

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