Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

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very good

584 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 584
Reviews: 315
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 12.44%
Wants: 42
Gots: 123 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company visit their website
Texas, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: aracauna on 12-18-2002)
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Ratings: 584 | Reviews: 315 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of elniko
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage poured from bottle into goblet.

A: Ruby golden amber with half finger oily head. Lacing and light carbonation apparent. Good looking brew.

S: I do pick up some alcohol notes along with some serious malty tones. I don't pick up any really hoppy notes but it might be due to the fact that my nose is a little stopped up.

T & M: For a fresh vintage I was really surprised by the balance of this barleywine. The high alcohol is not really apparent at all. Really nice not overbearing barleywine.

D: For a barleywine quite drinkable, I'm curious what the 2007 that I have will taste like since this was already pretty mellow.

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

Viggo shared this bottle. thanks eric!

12oz bottle. 2008 vintage. sampled may 18/09.

pours deep orange, pretty much crystal clear until the bottom of the bottle. a small dense off-white head forms, quickly dropping to a ring around the glass and leaving tons of spotty lace.

aroma is good. tons of citrus and tropical fruit. orange, tangerine, pineapple, mango, pear. bit of grapefruit. orange zest. light alcohol. lightly toasted whole wheat bread with orange marmalade. bit of cracker.

taste is good. like the aroma, it starts off with plenty of citrus and tropical fruit. the same components are all represented, with the addition of a subtle bit of pine. actually, the themes from the aroma are all carried over here. just under medium bitterness level. light alcohol.

mouthfeel is good. medium-large body. medium well-integrated carbonation.

drinkability is great. the alcohol is well hidden, and the tropical fruit aspect gives it a nice depth and new dimension not typically seen in american barleywines. good stuff.

Photo of Viggo
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, vintage 2008, big thanks to GregMcQ for sending my way!

Pours a mostly clear orange, very vibrant colour, thick white head forms, quickly settles down to a medium ring around the glass, tons of lace spots stick to the glass, real nice pattern, looks pretty damn good. Smell is nice, lots of caramel, very fruity, lots of sweetness, brown sugar, peaches and apricot, alcohol, oranges and grapefruit, maple syrup, mangoes, pretty nice. Taste is neat, caramel and brown sugar sweetness, grapefruits and orange peel, some spiciness, very malty, biscuity, mango, very tropical, touch of raisin and alcohol, very fruity in the finish, solid balance, pretty nice barleywine. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation, pretty smooth for the ABV, not spectacular but definitely enjoyable. Last 07 bottle I had was somewhat infected so its good to see that isn't a lasting problem. Thanks Greg!

Photo of craytonic
2.63/5  rDev -33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance: Hazy apricot, nice head that fades quickly. Great lacing.

Fruits on the palate, and not enough malt. Maybe some coconut? I was immediately turned off of this one and didn't spend the time to investigate. Something a bit off about this one - possibly because it needs more of everything (but fruit and alcohol). It does have a nice creamy mouthfeel but a bit too much syrup, everything else needs a good bit of work. Certainly doesn't stick to the style.

Photo of Kromes
4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sisyphus 2007. Poured a cloudy amber with a thick tannish head. Great lacing down the glass. I noticed some white chunks floating around in the beer even though I stopped short on the pour and it had been sitting upright for a while. Lots of woody, sour beer, horse blanket notes in the aroma, some malt and hop, but overpowered by Brett. this is when I looked in the bottom of the glass and notiched the little round blackish brown and white chunks sitting there. This bottle is definitely infected with Brett. It's a good thing I happened to like the Brett flavor. I risked it and drank it and it was pretty tasty. A slight caramel flavor that is quickly overcome by the combination of alcohol, woody pine hop and a heavy wild Brett flavor. Nice and oaky and barnyard sour. Mouthfeel was a little thick but I couldn't imagine it any thinner for this style. Drinkability is alright however since this seems like it is an infected batch so I'm a little wary.

Photo of nlmartin
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to MiguelMandingo! This was a very thoughtful extra included in a recent trade. I love classical referances. Sisyphus was a greek king who was punished by the gods for hubris. In his pride Sisyphus thought he was an equal to the gods. The gods punished Sisyphus to spend and eternity in hell. While in hell Sisyphus would push a stone up a hill only to see it slide to the bottom. A Sisyphean task is one that could be said to be both pointless and meaningless. The real ale brewing company may have misnamed this beer. Consuming this beer was in no way a Sisyphean task. This beer was the 2007 vintage. The beer was served chilled and allowed to warm to a pleasing temperature. The beer was served in a wide mouthed goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours an amber / orange coloration. When held to the light the beer has a glowing fiery reddish coloration. The head was about a quarter inch high. This head resolves to a thin merangue. Freckles of lacing remain to mark its passage on my glass.

Smell: Very nice!... Now to get out of Borat mode. The beers aroma has a nice carmalization fortified with citrus. Along for the ride is floral honey on biscuits, a bit of pepperyness.

Taste: The beers taste is definately a malty treat. The caramel, honey infused orange and grapefruit lead the charge. A bit of raisins and apricot as well as butterscotch and some other undefinable fruit are present. The alcohol is well incorporated in this beer.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would like. I think this should have just a little more viscousness. The carbonation is on the lower side and isnt a problem. The alcohol is invisible. The drinkability is really just short of fantastic. The beer disappeared at an alarming rate. I would have never pegged Texas as the location for the brewer of a big bold barleywine.

Photo of brokenleadedcask
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage. Thanks to xpimptastikx for the extra. Reviewed from notes

I poured this fairly hard because I wanted to get a nice aroma release. The head formed slow, late and very little appeared. It did have the typical barleywine color, a cloudy dark amber. The first smell to arrive was honey and lots of it with raisins and figs to back it up. (Note to self, do a blind tasting with aged barleywines and old ales.) More raisins in the taste, hid the alcohol well and had a delicious caramel malt presence. It had a sweetness to it but it wasn't overboard and not too syrupy. There wasn't much carbonation left but was velvetey smooth and had some viscosity. Every sip was very enjoyable and didn't want to reach the bottom

Photo of jasonjlewis
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really this is in a bottle, but I want to review the 2008 version.

I may add this as a yearly thing.

Pours a nice 1 1/2 finger head with excellent retention and a clear amber color.

Smell is of some spicy hops, some caramelized malts, and a hint of fusel alcohol and some dark fruit. I smell a little bit of raisin.

Taste is nicely balance. The alcohol is slightly warming. Nice strong malt balance with adequate sweetness followed by a balance of hop bitterness and flavoring. 11.5% abv does not come off too strong at all.

Nice slick mouthfeel.

This is a solid offering. I look forward to trying it every year. The local store still has a 2007. I may buy it each year then do a vertical.

In fact I think I will.

Photo of HoustonTX
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Was lucky enough to grab the last bottle of the 2007 edition off the shelves at Downtown Specs. Been wanting to try this one for a while.

This one pours out nicely with nice ample carbonation and a nice fluffy white head. The body is amber in color, with shades of ruby seeming through.

Smell is spot on for the style. HUGE malt presence here, sweet extremely aromatic caramel, along with a huge phenolic toasted blast. Highly malty, and very complex.

Taste is quite balanced. Chewy, and full-bodied. Lots of caramel malt, a hint of roasted grains, a hint of citrus, along with sweet fruity phenols. Flavors all meld together well, and the 11.50%abv is not even noticeable.

A solid representation of the American Barleywine style. Very impressive display of malts. All while a sickly easy to drink, drinkability. Good stuff here Real Ale.

Photo of stoutfiend27
4.28/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 and 2008 tonight both bottles sent by the ever so courteous ottovon..big thank you to him..


a-dark brass head which i expected...good bubbles..the carbonation held up well on this one...

s-sweet...malty and old and musty...different

t-starts off sweet like raisins or something then fades to a old ale type flavor....this beer is quite balanced..the alcohol is quite tame on this one...warms as it goes down but nothing rough at all

m-nice and thick perfect for a barleywine..oily and resiny

d-i actually like this beer i may not have more than one in a night but its not because i wouldnt want to..


a-brighter copper color than the 2007..better carbonation and a slightly better head 1/8 inch thick with some lacing..

s-fruity and hoppy in nose..a little alcohol here as well

t-sweet, fruity and malty the followed by a nice hop bitterness..alcohol more prominent than the 2007 as well and warms more

m-thick but semi slick and oily from the hop presence...nice

d-unlike the 2007 i wouldnt want to have more than one in a night....but it is very tasty

im gonna go out on a limb and say the 2007 is one of the tastiest barleywines ive ever had...age has done wonders to this beer imo but then again i havent had it fresh...kudos to real ale on both of these

Photo of mjl21
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at the Ginger Man in Fort Worth, TX. Poured into a 1/2 pint snifter. This is the 2008 version and according to the bartender, it is the only cask in North Texas. Didn't catch abv.

A-Pours a really nice amber that veers heavily towards the orange side of the spectrum. Has a very thin foamy off white head from the hand pump.

S-Orange juice. This is without a doubt the most citrusy barleywine that I have ever smelled. There is also sweet caramel malt going, but the oj smell dominates.

T-A whole lot like it smells. The citrus hits upfront and gives way to some sweet malt in the middle before it reappears.

M-Smooth and creamy due to it being on cask. A tad bit of booze, but not much.

D-Apparently previous version have come in around 11.5%. The alcohol was barely noticeable. Very good beer to sip on. Could have had two of these easily due to the fact that it is not overly sweet.

This was my first time trying this beer and thought it worked well on cask. As previously mentioned the high abv was well hidden and the citrus kick helped make this a great beer. Will have to search out the bottled version the next time I am in TX.

Photo of jdoncbus
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Visiting sis-in-law in Austin and just got back from an excursion in San Marcos. Pours a burnt orange (makes sense) mild carbonation and smallish head. A few bubbles cling to the glass with little lacing.

Aroma is a sweet biscuit smell. Notes of sourdough, funk, apricot, caramel, and butterscotch. Faint pine.

Filmy and tart on the palate. A sweet, leathery flavor that leans into molasses, dark fruits, & sweet booze. It finishes with pine, bark, and warm burn down the throat.

A solid barleywine and a sweet offering. I would age it some more and see if the bite relaxes and the sweet mellows out.

Photo of atsprings
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to wagenvolks for the trade of both 2007 and 2008 bottles. Each one is poured into a Brooklyn tulip. '07 pours a quite hazy dark orange with a razor thin off-white head. '08 pours a tad less hazy with a slightly more well-defined head. Aroma is burnt caramel and brown sugar with '07 much more abundant than '08. The taste is loads of brown sugar with sweet fruits and as expected, the '08 possesses a more defined almost cloying sweetness that has greatly subdued in the '07. The beer is medium bodied, with '08 being a bit heavier. This one is a decent Barley Wine, but I have had better.

Photo of bib4tuna
3.2/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

I was lucky enough to find both the 2007 and 2008 vintages at Specs this weekend. There really wasn't much of a taste difference between the two, though.

Pours into my Real Ale snifter with a deep reddish color. Smell and taste are solid, balanced hop and malt, but lack the depth I expect from a Barleywine. I just can't pick up on much going on here. Feels a little light for the style. This is definitely a more 'drinkable' Barleywine than some.

Maybe I was spoiled by having the incredible Lagunitas Olde GnarlyWine a few weeks ago, but this one just fell short of the mark. I had high hopes, being a Real Ale fan for years, but this just did not have the depth I was anticipating. Where is the character?

Photo of PDXHops
3.45/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to goatgoat for this 12 oz bottle of the 2007 vintage.

A pour into the middle of a 22 oz snifter raises a substantial 2-finger head of small, tight bubbles. After a minute or so, the head reduces to a quarter inch that sticks around easily with a gentle swirl. The body is a copperish dark amber, and a bit hazy. Surprisingly, no real lacing.

Pleasant sweet smells dominate. Floral, honeysuckle aromas along with some vanilla, overripe oranges and sweet maltiness.

Quite a sweet-tasting beer. Honey, a bit of molasses, vanilla, a bit of yellow cake(?), malt, caramel. There's just a hint of hop bite in the finish, but a whole lot of sweetness. Wish there was a little bitterness, graininess or something to cut the sweetness a bit.

Mouthfeel is pretty nice. Although there was a substantial head, the actual carbonation is quite gentle. This brew is fairly thick and has a nice creaminess.

Drinkability is limited somewhat by all that sweetness, but still a pretty nice barleywine.

Photo of thirdeye11
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured a 2007 vintage example (blue label) from 12oz bottle into a snifter style glass.

A: Poured a beautiful amber color with hints of ruby when held near light. Nice carbonation and lacing from this one, but minimal head.

S: This beer smells amazingly good. Caramel sweetness is coming through nice and strong. No hop aromas here. Maybe some molasses as well.

T: Deliciously good and pretty deceptive of its 11.5% although not completely. This one has caramel written all over it and in a good way. Some hops are present in the taste that I could not smell so it helps with balancing this one. Still pretty sweet overall though.

M: Perfectly carbonated, nice and creamy in the mouth. No complaints at all.

D: I had 1.5 of them or so. For the ABV it's too easy to drink for me! This can be good, but bad the next day.

I love the fact this one is made in Texas and sporatically available. I will drink it again, and the 2008 is just now coming out and has a gold label.

Photo of hiikeeba
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours up a clear amber with ruby highlights, and a huge, thick, creamy head that takes a while to dissipate.

S - Sweet malt background, almost syrupy aroma, with a nice hop bitterness punching through. No alcohol notes.

T - Rich, caramel toffee-like flavor with some hop flavor in the finish. Mostly sweet.

M - Full bodied, and well carbonated.

D - I would prefer a few more hops to cut the toffee flavor. It gets cloying as you drink it.

Photo of TheMistler
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In honor of the beer hunter's birthday, I cracked this beer, which I picked up while travelling. 2007 vintage.

Orange copper body. The poor was slow to reveal head, but I got a finger's width. Creamy, off-shite. Displays very nice spider web lacing.

Some juicy hops (largely citrus) linger behind a full, sweet malt nose. Caramel, brownie batter. Just the slightest, teensiest bit of spice at the end.

Doughy, bread malt up front, with citrus and pine hops following. Finishes with some warming and alcohol drying, but overall the ABV is very, very well hidden. Some piney hops intermingle with the alcohol to linger on the palate.

Great feel, lots going on, much of it seemingly conflicting. Syrupy, but also light bodied. Cream carbonation feel, but also with a carbonated juice-spritzer note, though fleetingly.

Not my favorite barleywine, but quite nice, and I truly dig the feel. Lots of lip smacking. I've liked (more than the BA average) many Real Ale beers, and this is no exception.

Photo of dirtylou
3.6/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz single, not sure who sent this one over to me...

cellphone notes

appearance: light apricot body, very different from other flagships of the style

smell/taste: grassy hop, lacking the body/depth of a bwine, fresh hops with a touch of spice, a touch of fresh lemony cleanser, grapefruit/tangerine

mouthfeel: nice light body, no booze...nowhere near as strong as other barleywines

drinkability: good, just not memorable

Photo of Traquairlover
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to brandoneast for this bottle.

12-oz bottle poured into a tulip. 2007 vintage.

A = Hazy dark copper, very little head quickly resolving into thin foam cover on surface.

S = Chocolate caramel, fudge, maple syrup, light butterscotch. Quite good, I haven't had this more fresh, but it's hard to believe it was better than this.

T = Slightly watered down walnut infused maple syrup, good balancing bitterness especially at midpalate and into the finish.

M = Medium body, good mouthcoating, decent carbonation but not overpowering.

D = This is definitely a sipper, but one to which I will happily return.

Photo of jujubeast6000
2.88/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 8/11/2008 (2007? bottle):

Pours a light brown colored body. Had to work to get the head. Off-white color, good lacing, not very lasting. Somewhat lacing. Strong hoppy aroma, sweetness. Some dustiness, some syrupyness. Some malts. Dusty sweet taste. Not as strong as a typical barley wine.

Photo of Oxymoron
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rock and roll? 2007 vintage. Pours a slighty hazy darker amber color with a copper hue through out. A soft off white head that was fizzy at first but after a swirl become more consistent. Ok retention, with help, and no real lacing.

The nose is malty with some alcohol notes. To start there is a generic malty note with some minor caramel and toffee smells. Nothing really distinct but a good malt billing to back up. Some minor hop notes but ok considering the vintage. Some noticeable alcohol and fusel notes that is offsetting considering the age. There is some oxidation but more sherry notes that paper.

The taste is mostly clean. The malt is still there but the caramel/melanodian notes come out a bit more versus the nose. Some almost chocolate malt note but light. The alcohol/fusel notes are lighter versus the nose but there is a very distinct fusel note that comes out. Some light esters, rose and plums mostly. But more the most part very clean. No real hop notes, would like a bit more even for it's age. Some minor metallic notes but mostly good.

The body is big with a good warming effect. Carbonation is very light. Would like a bit more balance here. Some sweetness in the finish but ok versus the alcohol notes. Overall reading other reviews this beer seems to age well over time. Would suggest to age a bit longer than I did.

Photo of Sammy
3.3/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Small bottle, stored many months, gotten in a trade with the tradeable Texans. Barnyard alert! And a superfoamer. After that, medium yellow with white head, and lot of lace. But barnyard smell and somewhat dishrag and hops taste. Understated carbonation. 2007 edition.Drank most of it, for mouthfeel.
2010 edition shipped from Augustgarage was much much better. Smooth mouthfeel, better drinkability, though smell just OK.

Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Orange-brown color. Fairly transparent. Looks like soap. Think head and rim stick around

S- Lots of caramel/butterscotch sweetness along with herbal aromas of citrus and pine

T- Best part of this beer. Mostly sweet like the nose, but with hints of hop and ale yeast flavors. Alcohol is covered

M- Smooth and sticky. A bit flat for my liking

D- Very drinkable for a >10% barleywine

Photo of jwc215
3.6/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to armock for this one!

2007 vintage, poured into snifter:

Pours hazed caramelish orange with a thin wisp of a head and a ring. Small dots of lacing stick.

The smell is of caramel, fruity rum-soaked dates (a hint of coconut?) with a piney/resiny/citric touch.

The taste is of caramel, fruity rum-like booze (touch of coconut?) with herbal notes. It has a growing bitterness, though this has been aged. Sharp finish, a bit chalky.

The feel is lighter than expected, though sharp and fairly coating. Low carbonation. I had left this one out to warm to room temp, hoping for more body - it grew a bit. On the syrupy side, though not too sticky.

A sipper - herbal bitterness mixes in as it goes despite the aging. Alcohol shows, but doesn't dominate.

Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 584 ratings.