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Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

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very good

318 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 318
Hads: 626
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 17.14%
Wants: 46
Gots: 137 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Barleywine | 11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: aracauna on 12-18-2002

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (44) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 318 | Hads: 626
Photo of gman1602
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into stemmed glass
LOOK: Burnt copper with receding head
SMELL: Honeyed toffee. A bit of fresh pine resin.
TASTE: Really nice upfront sweet malts with a bright and refreshing hoppiness at the end. They truly play beautifully together. Excellently designed barleywine.
FEEL: Decent thickness, nice and creamy as others have noted.
OVERALL: Nice barleywine off the shelf that is ready to drink. I can't guess what age would do to this but for the availability and price in Texas, it would be worth trying. Love the brewers at Real Ale.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.66/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

i wasnt overly stoked on this one, perhaps it didnt get cellared all the way correctly, got exposed to some heat or light, it has a mild oxidation to it. copper in color, real hazy and thick, and smells exactly as expected. woody hops, could be centennial, but not enough to cut the sweetness, caramelized and toffeed, its intense. thick in feel, sticky sweet, bitter as heck in the end. its one of those ones, and american barleywine often is this for me, that seems like all the recipe is is an attempt to make the biggest beer ever, just kitchen sink malt and hops, and there is very little refinement. sloppy might he a stretch, but the beer taste like a lot of others, and while enjoy it, its sweetness, bitterness, and overexposed alcohol are all unflattering to it. i keep hearing amazing things about these guys, but the few beers i have had have been just alright. perfect to drink out in the sun if you want to get raucously intoxicated.

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Photo of Beer-Revelry
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Duvel snifter glass.

A - 4.25 - Poured a rich and somewhat unfiltered caramel orange. Low head potential, to be expected with such a high ABV. Formed about a finger of quickly dissipating, off white colored head. Spotty lacing.
S - 4.50 - Peaches, mangos, hops, roasty malt, toffee and caramel.
T - Much like the aroma, unfortunately a little bit subdued and not quite as strong as Id like. Makes the alcohol stand out a bit much.
F - 4.25 - Good medium creamy mouthfeel.
O - 3.75 - A decent little Barleywine, but not a great one. Would work in a pinch when yours craving the style, but isn't worth taking up space in your cellar to track its flavor development or anything.

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Photo of nizzle8287
4.56/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 7-31-14, consumed 12-19-14. After agitating the sediment in the bottom of the bottle, it was then poured into a tulip at 60 degrees. It poured an opaque rust-reddish-orange with about an inch of creamy off-white colored head that dissipated into a thin film, leaving nice and sticky flecks of lacing all around the glass. Smells like pear, apple, apricot, sweet malts, and a slight hint of alcohol. Medium thick and creamy mouth feel with light carbonation, and it's definitely a sipper. I taste malty sweetness blended with ripe pears and apricots, followed by a mild lingering hint of toffee, with mild hop bitterness staying on the palette for a while. This beer is less than 5 months old and the hops and malts work together nicely, but I can imagine this beer might become overly sweet with too much age. Alcohol is noticeable but it blends well considering that it's 11.5%. Overall this is a very good barleywine, and I will be ageing the other two bottles from this four pack.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%

Bottle from 2011

A: poured into a snifter to a clear gold with a small light tan head that fades quickly to a small collar
S: smells of well faded citrusy hops and orange marmalade with some caramel sweetness and a little alcohol
T: taste is bready malt, some stone fruits, caramel sweetness, faint citrus and pine oil hoppiness. swallow is more faded oily piney hop with lingering caramel sweetness. slight alcohol is noticeable as well
M: fairly full in the mouth with soft carbonation that is just right. finish is pretty drying.
O: I probably should have drank one of these a few years ago when they first came to me, but this beer is drinking really well. Flavors are good and it's aged gracefully. Hops are much more apparent on the nose than on the palate and it aged gracefully.

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Photo of cvm4
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

2014 vintage

A - Pours an amber/orange in color body with a thin eggshell head.

S - Caramel, honey, sweet malts, citrus and a buttery essence.

T - Citrus forward at first with sweet malts, caramel and a slight hoppy ending.

M - Medium bodied and medium carbonation. Smooth body.

O - Tasty, different, and citrus forward. Can't say I've had a barleywine like this. It's good, but not something I'd reach for often.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a 12 ounce bottle into a teku. March 2013 edition.

A- Orange and copper colored body. Exceptionally persistent head that remains even after sipping. Lace is sticky, abundant and scattered. Carbonation bubbles stick to the glass plainly visible in the body. Sexy.

S- Citrusy, sweet, honey-like. Thick sweet malt flavor. Caramel and toffee abound. A very pungent and robust flavor.

T- Continues very citrusy. Caramel, toffee and sweet malt too. The nose and taste are very consistent.

M- I love how creamy this drinks. Quite smooth and mellow. The age must have done this well, because there's zero hint of alcohol. No burn whatsoever. It's sweet as I've mentioned, with only a slight bitterness from whatever citrusy hops it started with.

This beer probably isn't getting the props it deserves. It's delicious. I can't speak to this beer flesh, but a year and four months have aged it well.

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Photo of mikul93
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 Vintage

A - Poors an amber/orange color with a eggshell colored head. Head dissipated quickly but left a ring clinging around the glass.

S - Dark Fruit with hints of citrus. Also getting some honey

T - Similar with the nose. Taste like figs and orange followed by hops. I imagine this might have been a hop bomb when it was fresh as there is still a punch from the hops with 3 years of age.

M - Medium body with nice carbonation.

O - Decent american barley wine. Not bad.

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Photo of BoozerBrad
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Drank one that was about a year old...not sure how the age affected the taste because i've never had this beer before.

a: cloudy, orange coloring w/ light carbonation. not much of a head developed and disappeared quickly
s: sweet apricot aroma, piney hop aroma. possibly a little spice
t: sweet taste that is quickly countered by the bittering hops. hop flavor not overpowering but balances the sweetness very well. i'm an ipa fan so i generally enjoy hops and this beer has it
m: soft without much carbonation
o: good balanced beer. it's borderline too sweet for me, but they loaded it up on hops to save the day! i will be drinking this beer again!

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Photo of robwestcott
3.59/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage.

Poured cold to a heady topper stemless a deep, dark, murky copper, with a super thin, quickly dissipating tan head that leaves a thin rim on the surface of the beer.

Aroma of dark, buttery sugars and dark cherries.

Big bodied, little carbonation, smooth-ish, medium heat, sweet.

Dark sugars, sticky sweet, muted flavors. This one may be past it's sweet spot.

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Photo of AlCaponeJunior
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Kind of an orange tan color, little head or lacing, not that impressive to look at.

Aroma and flavor are pungently malty, bready, a touch of toasty, with a fair hoppiness and an overall sweet character.

Body is smooth and slick, low carbonation, alcohol fairly well hidden, although a nice warming is obvious.

It's tasty but I don't think it's amongst the top barleywines on my list. I think a bottle or two of this will get aged for a year or more.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.48/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with green label and simple label art acquired at a local HEB Grocery. The cap is a branded green pry-off pressure cap. 2013 vintage; bottled 06/06/13. Reviewed live. Expectations are low; I reviewed Real Ale's Blonde Barleywine last night and wasn't a big fan. No ABV is listed on the label so I can't confirm that it's 11.50%.

Served cold, straight from me fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No liquid gushed out upon removal of the cap. Carbonation seems adequate.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a half finger wide head of white colour. Okay creaminess and thickness. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes; it falls without sticking, so I guess it isn't true lacing per se. Head retention is pretty decent considering the high ABV - about 3 minutes; it's above average.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Looks about right for the style, but there's nothing unique or special here. No obvious flaws.

Sm: Amber malts, English pale malts, caramunich malts, caramalts, toffee, butterscotch (diacetyl?), and a surprisingly prominent floral hop presence. Also some orange rind citrus esters from the hops. Vague grapefruit. Plenty of residual sugars; this one is definitely on the sweeter side. Relatively low yeast attenuation is suspected; I'd guess an American yeast was used as the fermentation doesn't seem to have the clean feel an English barleywine yeast would impart. Vague alcohol. Fruit sugars. Fairly syrupy.

The aroma isn't great for the style, and suggests that syrupy alcohol sweetness I can't stand in barleywines. I'm not certain I'm going to enjoy this one. The aroma is moderate in strength.

T: Plenty of fruity alcoholic sweetness. Orange rind, rough grapefruit, tangerine. Some piney hop character. Generic floral hop character. Cane sugar, brown sugar. Plenty of biscuit malt, caramunich malt, and caramalt sweetness along with unwelcome English toffee character. Plenty of sugars bring this one towards the sweeter end of the bitter/sweet spectrum. This one could do with some age. The fruity alcohol is obnoxious. It's not a pleasant or approachable flavour profile by any means. Has a bit of cohesion, but it's far from gestalt, and I wouldn't call it balanced. I wouldn't say I like it. Lacks complexity and subtlety. There's no nuance or inspiration here. A pretty pedestrian flavour profile for a barleywine. Quite boring.

Shallow depth of flavour. Average duration of flavour. Above average intensity of flavour.

No yeast character comes through. Aside from the alcohol, there aren't any off-notes; the butterscotch suggested by the aroma never surfaces in the flavour profile.

Mf: Sticky, smooth, and wet. Too thick and syrupy. Overcarbonated, but not quite biting. Unpleasant, but not offensive. It's got too much alcohol warmth. The texture doesn't really suit the flavour profile too well, but it doesn't work against it per se. Bad presence on the palate.

Not oily, gushed, harsh, or astringent.

Dr: As pedestrian a barleywine as you'll find. Real Ale's shelf offerings have yet to impress me. I wouldn't get this again, nor would I recommend it to friends or trading partners. Its below average quality coupled with its alcohol presence makes it somewhat difficult to drink. Age would likely help, but I wouldn't waste the cellar space on this. Pretty boring, underwhelming, forgettable stuff.

High D+

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with Cyde. 12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 10/1/2012. Pours very hazy orange copper color with a 1 finger dense cream colored head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big tangerine, lemon zest, orange zest, orange rind, apple, caramel, raisin, toast, brown sugar, floral, pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of hop and malt notes; with good strength. Taste of big tangerine, orange zest, lemon zest, orange rind, apple, caramel, raisin, toast, toffee, brown sugar, floral, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness. Light earthy pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of citrus, citrus zest, apple, caramel, raisin, toast, brown sugar, toffee, floral, light pine, and floral/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic balance and complexity of hop and malt flavors; with a great bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy and slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent barleywine! All around great balance and complexity of hop and malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of brurevu
4.46/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From my tasting notes on a 2012 vintage: I know barleywines are usually better with some age, but the word on Sisyphus is it is incredible fresh since it is made with a load of hops. The bottle I sampled was about 3 months old according to the bottle date, which is not a lot of aging time for a barleywine. The pungent citrus hop aroma crept out of the bottle as soon as I popped the top. The beer poured a copper color with very little head. There was a nice citrus, grapefruit hop bitterness at the front that quickly dissipated into a smooth caramel and toffee malt body. It had a full mouthfeel and medium to full body that you would expect from such a substantial brew with no harshness and not overly boozy. It is definitely a hoppy Barleywine. Maybe the 3 months took a bit of the hop edge and bitterness out of the Sisyphus because I thought it was just the right amount without being overly biting. The typical barleywine flavors were allowed to assert themselves and play nicely with the grapefruit hop undertones. A really wonderful brew that keeps Real Ale on the forefront of the Texas brewing scene.

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Photo of JGlitz87
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Bottle

A: Slightly cloudy amber

S: Slightly sweet and floral

T: Nice progression. Starts smooth and with a hint of caramel. Finishes with a distinctly hoppy, but assertively hoppy finish.

F: Good

O: Good beer. Not too familiar with barleywines, so hard to compare this to others in the style. However, overall a very balanced beer.

Drank my second 2013, with it being just a few weeks from being 2 years old. Aged beautifully. Much better with 2 years on it than fresh. I will be buying this to set aside to age every year.

Rating reflects the aged variety.

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Photo of tectactoe
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not sure who brought this one to the tasting, but thanks to whomever it was. 2011 vintage. Murkiness at an all-time high, making the body completely opaque like a solid, gold bar. No head here, just a beige collar, and I'm even hesitant to use the word "collar". So still, menacing, and somnambulant as it just steadily hangs out in the glass, just saying "COME AT ME BRO!"

My expectations for this beer do not exist, mainly because I've never heard of it. That being said, I'm pleasantly surprised as I lean my face in and my nostrils are assaulted by a rush of boozy and tart apples and plums that have been drizzled in warm caramel and rolled in a vat of burnt, brown sugar. Some mild nuttiness in the finish; pretty enjoyable for an "off the radar" barley wine so far.

On the palate, the booze aspect of Sisyphus seems mostly rum-like, but I don't believe this thing has ever been in any kind of barrel, right? So maybe it's just the flavors that have developed over time within the malts. Tart plums, sweet grapes, rum, toffee, brown sugar and molasses, with another touch of nuts in the finish.

Hops are relatively low for an American barley wine / DIPA (see what I did there?) but I'm guessing that can be attributed to the nearly two years of age this bottle has on it. Slight leafy notes hop in and out, but they don't contribute much offsetting bitterness, meaning this big, badass brew is pretty damn sweet. Thick, creamy, heavy, and sticky on the palate with minimal carbonation.

Sometimes, I really enjoy trying a beer that I've never heard of and have no expectations for, because I'm typically a sadistic pessimist and will often go into new, unknown beers thinking they're going to be the worst thing I've ever tasted, and when I try them and find out they're not (usually the case), then it's even more of a treat. Such is the case here - very good brew that I'd have again if it were available to me.

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Photo of darocny
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle.

Copper orange color. Small head that dissipates quickly leaving a bit of lacing.

Smell of caramel, toffee, light fruitiness. Deeper inhalation brings a strong nuttiness and syrup soaked bread.

Taste follows the nose. Fresh 2011 was more hoppy than 2012, but a couple years has allowed the hops to mellow after two years. The sweetness of the beer really shows through here. Definitely not out of balance since some light hops coats the tongue, running on the surface of the sweetness.

Very creamy. Minimal carbonation. Perfect.

I've had Sisyphus fresh and aged up to 5 years. Both are very delicious. Sisyphus is a fantastic barleywine. With years on it, Sisyphus is a very special treat.

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Photo of StaveHooks
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2009 vintage
12oz green label bottle served in a snifter.

A - Pours a bright reddish orange color with a few floaties. Small head vanishes but allows for a solid collar and a thin island of micro bubbles.

S - Candy caramel, old white bread, toffee, muted citrus hops, minor hints of oxidation(nothing bad) toast comes out as it warms, very nutty, toasted walnuts, woody strawberries, dry herbs, caramel cotton candy.

T - Dense nutty caramel, creamy toffee, fruity butterscotch, passion fruit. Very sweet but the has a toasted pecan like bitterness and notes of wood in the middle, counteracting the sweetness. Roasted barley comes in strong toward the end with some resinous hops, finishing dry.

M - Full bodied, thick and viscous, low carbonation kicks up quite creamy when you hold it in the mouth.

I haven't had a fresh one but this is an incredible beer with 4 years on it. Only slight oxidation that hardly detracts from the synergy of all the other components. Awesome mouthfeel that demands sipping. This is drinking fantastic right now and seems like it could handle a couple more years of aging.

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Photo of BigBarley
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 10.01.12
Pours like honey-colored motor oil, coming out to be a deep orange/ honey blend, with a nice, sticky, imperial white crown of foamy goodness. Looks like cloudy, delicious goodness.

Aroma is one of sweet, citrus hops, backed by a buttery, bready malt character. It even smells syrupy, but delicious and intriguing,

Indeed! Candy-like zest, lemon, orange, slight hint of grapefruit... citrus candy syrup all over a malty, buttered cracker. Alcohol is prominent, and gives a general spicy texture to the flavor. I bet that rounds out nicely after a little age. Not for someone who hates booze presence on the tongue.

Thick, thick and thick. Carbonation is explosive and lively, which works well with the alcohol spice to give it a real kick. Good fun to drink.

All around impressive barleywine, enjoyable on all fronts. I'm glad I took the chance and grabbed this local gem, it's pretty nice.

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Photo of deg
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured a good amber color, and I could smell the hops. The smell had a fruit tang, like citrus, more like orange than grapefruit. I could taste the hops. I could not pick up much of a malt taste. The beer had a creamy feel to it. I felt very little alcohol warmth. Since I don't like American Barleywine (I prefer English Barleywine when I get Barleywine style beers), I probably would not buy this again. If you are someone that likes American Barleywine style beers, this would be a good one to try out since it matches the style (with the exception of alcohol warmth) well.

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Photo of charlzm
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed on January 24th, 2013. Bottle dated 3.24.12. Purchased Austin, TX in May of 2012 at Whip In. Poured into a Klokke Roeland goblet at 50 degrees F.

Beer pours a nearly-clear orange-amber. A bashful head of white foam becomes a ring around the edges in short order. This beer has some legs when swirled.

Aroma is sweet with vanilla and cane sugar notes.

Flavor is big and thick. As in nose, vanilla and brown sugar are up front. Fruitiness I can't pin down (Pears? Peaches? Raisins?) swims in a sea of alcohol warmth. Finish is oddly clean with only a little sweetness lingering behind. Not particularly bitter.

Mouthfeel is thick and still and a little oily.

Not my favorite barleywine, but a significant one. Damn, that's strong!

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Photo of Sven_Darinski
4.65/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Tried the 2012 and first try was less than favorable as the alcohol seemed to overwhelm any flavor but for the sour hops. The second and third glass (not the same night) however changed my mind. Seems the hops tame over time and an added caramelized or sweet note balances the hops. But make no mistake the punch in this barley wine is not for a "sisy."

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle

a murky orange with a finger of head (holy crap, carbonation!) which quickly diminished. nutty, malty, sweet caramel smells coming right up front.. almost an almond like scent. the taste is a complex mix of grains.. barley, i taste some oats, some rye as well.. holy crap this is like drinking a world class bread. not even tasting the abv at all on this one but i know it's high. very sweet, honey like hints, mixed in with bready flavors. best tasting barley wine i've had in a long time.

medium to full in body with a modest amount of carbonation for the style of beer this is.

a great sipper, a wonderful barleywine.. way breadier than most i've tasted.

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Photo of davey101
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage. 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass and allowed to warm up a bit.

A - Pours a hazy dark red/orange body. Small one finger off white dissipates quickly into some thin edging. Solid lacing and retention.

S - Sweet caramel malt, dank hops, citrus, and raisins. The finish is a bit warming from the alcohol.

T - Similar to the nose with caramel malts and raisins followed by some dank and citric hops. Very much an American barleywine with the hops still clinging on with some light bitterness. Aftertaste is piney and grapefruit juice and slightly off putting.

M - Medium bodied and slightly syrupy. Carbonation is a bit too high. Alcohol isn't very noticeable.

O - A solid example of the American Barleywine. I'm really just not subscribed to the idea that they are worth aging though. Thanks for the chance to try this gtermi!

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Photo of BrewerB
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to miikezombie for sending this beer out via trade. Tonight feels like a sipping beer evening so I figured it'd be a good time to crack one open.

This is the 2009 version.

Pours a crystal clear medium orange with a thin off-white foam that couldn't keep it together. Slight wet cardboard notes in the early aroma hint at oxidation. Saltine cracker and toffee. Also detecting some dark fruity esters, blackberry. In the cup, I'm picking up citrus fruits, caramel, lightly toasted bread, and a small amount of butterscotch in the background. Touch of vegetal in the finish. Medium in body, carbonation is fairly low.

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 318 ratings.