Reviewed: Revolution Brewing Code Switch
Product description: Built on a dual algorithm written alongside our friends from Sun King Brewery, this new, complex Imperial Ale was brewed with maple sugar, dark candi syrup, and a blend of Belgian yeast cultures. An early switch from Tennessee whiskey to Kentucky bourbon barrels ensured the integrity of the code–with the addition of unfermented blackberries for balancing sweetness and subtle tartness. Enjoy now or store cold. 14.5% ABV, 18 IBUs.
Revolution Brewing – Revolution / Sun King Deep Woods Series Code Switch Imperial Ale Aged on Blackberries – 12oz can served in stemless snifter – 14.5% ABV
My Top 3 Descriptors: Bourbon, Black Cherry, Mixed Drink
Sampled from a 12oz can, Revolution’s Code Switch is an inky dark purple liquid that generates purple, soda-like foam at fizzes up violently and peters out to absolutely nothing in less than 20 seconds. I scrambled to set up my camera in time to get a shot of the foam, but it was too late. At the bottom of the can is quite a bit of sediment, which clouds up the beer to look like opaque purple mud.
There’s a wonderful though predictable mix of blackberry and bourbon in the aroma. The closest beer I can remember like this was Goose Island’s Bourbon County Bramble Rye, a barrel-aged imperial stout with blackberries and raspberries. (Bourbon and berries seems to be a rare combination in my experience.) As the beer warms, blackberry segues to something sweeter like black cherry.
A few sips in, Code Switch is closer to a mixed drink than beer. Bourbon and black cherry are 90% of the experience with very nice acidity building in the back of the palate. Even though there’s no roasted malt character and zero hop bitterness, the beer has excellent balance from fruit skin tannins and fruit juice acids. The bourbon character is absolutely powerful, but it’s nicely modulated. And the beer isn’t too heavy perhaps due to the incredibly high ABV, which thins out the body. It’s a similar mouthfeel to Revolution’s V.S.O.J., which I recently reviewed. Looking at the recipe, sweetness could be way off the charts, but it is sitting at a happy 6/10 while bitterness is at a 3/10 derived mostly from tannic berry skins and powerful wood-like tannins. A spicy, boozy finish rounds this one out nicely and solidifies its resemblance to a cocktail.
Code Switch is a massive but shockingly drinkable strong ale that isn’t too complex with a straightforward mix of bourbon and blackberry juice. The base beer is rather muted and hardly plays a role in the experience. There’s nothing Belgian about it despite its use of Belgian yeast and candi syrup. Still, I really liked this beer. Code Switch is well-integrated and fluid as it transforms into a warming cherry cordial experience. It’s a perfect fireside sipper with attributes of mulled wine, a stiff cocktail, and bourbon barrel-aged strong ale. It’s an odd beer, but that’s why I’ve grown to love it.
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