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Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

561 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 561
Reviews: 311
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 12.44%
Wants: 41
Gots: 119 | FT: 3
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 561 | Reviews: 311 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of EnojysAnyBeer


4.33/5  rDev +9.9%

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

03-07-2009 01:37:07 | More by EnojysAnyBeer
Photo of jwc215


3.6/5  rDev -8.6%

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.

02-23-2009 23:32:07 | More by jwc215
Photo of ThirdLap


3.6/5  rDev -8.6%

Had my first Sisyphus ('07) courtesy of BA Macktbone. Thanks man! Served from a 12 oz. bottle into a pint glass at the proper temperature.

A - Pours a thick cloudy amber... this is one of the most viscous appearing beers I've ever encountered! Minimal off-white head after a relatively vigorous pour, and minimal lacing remained.

S - I get raisins, vanillla, old citrus (if that makes sense), and malt.

T - Lots of malt and caramel, hints of dark fruit, minimal hop bite. The alchohol is well hidden, but the sweetness almost has me calling it cloying.

M - As the predicted by the relatively thick pour, this is a medium to full-bodied beer. Carbonation was relatively low, reminiscent of a cask pour.

D - The one that I sampled was enough for me. Not that I didn't enjoy it... it's just a definite sipper.

Not my favorite barleywine, but a fine example of the style.

02-20-2009 08:30:15 | More by ThirdLap
Photo of wagenvolks


4.08/5  rDev +3.6%

12oz bottle (2007) into a Delirium snifter.

Sisyphus pours how a high ABV barleywine should--viscous, with a sluggish carbonation level. The body is clear and bright copper-orange in color, and the paperboard-tan head diminishes quickly to a wisp of tiny bubbles. Aromatically, this beer shines. Rich notes of caramel-toffee malts and floral hops balance perfectly, while a sherry alcohol note adds a kiss of sweetness and booze to the background.

The flavor doesn't exactly make Sisyphus stand out as a top 10 barleywine, but it drinks nicely and masks the 11.5% extremely well. Starts out with a blast of grassy, citric hops and quickly succumbs to sweet boozy sugars, toasted caramel malt, and a nutty graininess. Not a hint of hotness to be found. Hops linger throughout the finish, adding a nice bitterness to complement the syrupy, medium-thick body. All in all, a tasty barleywine that I'd gladly purchase again. In many ways, Sisyphus reminds me of Elysian Brewing's Cyclops barleywine, but with a bit more malty depth. I think the 2-year mark is about perfect for this brew...not too hot, and the hops are still in effect.

02-20-2009 05:34:12 | More by wagenvolks
Photo of maximum12


3.03/5  rDev -23.1%

Thanks to pepsican for sending this 2007 label bottle to me a few months ago & helping to feed my happy affair with the b-wine.

This one looks standard enough, red, amber, et al. Smell is sweet molasses.

A sip reveals a barleywine leaning more English than American, & heavy on the malty sweetness for my tastes. There are some hops thrown in for balance, I presume, but...hmph. This tastes more like an IIPA that's just started to turn south than a barleywine. The sweet nose belies the taste, dominated by the malts rather than a more fruitish, sweeter, lighter taste that I personally prefer. If I scored to style, this one would flunk, but as it is I don't really get what this brew is going for.

Mouthfeel is lively for a slightly aged barleywine, but drinkability isn't great. I can already feel the weight of the beer beginning to weigh my midsection down, & I hate that. Ugh.

Sorry to say this one wasn't much more than mediocre for me. This is the second Real Ale I've tried & neither was notable at all. Lots of far superior barleywines out there.

02-20-2009 02:48:09 | More by maximum12
Photo of stephens101


4.2/5  rDev +6.6%

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the previous Real Ale brews I've tried, and I approach this one with much anticipation. This 2007 vintage pours cherry red with some orange hues. The head grows to almost one finger in heighth, but not until the very end of the pour, and it recedes quickly with some disorganized spots of lacing left behind. The smell of very sweet caramel and resiny hops mix as some dark fruits, yeast and grain move around underneath. A faint musty earthiness is detected. The hops don't hit upon the first sip as much as they linger throughout the palate. There's a good amount of fruity tanginess and bready sweetness which balances things perfectly, and doesn't keep the barley and pine resin from surfacing toward the end. The body lies toward the medium to heavy end, but it's goes down smooth, without much alcohol (11.5%) being noticed, and without weighing too much on the stomach. This is an exceptional barleywine that doesn't seem as extreme tasting as it's alcohol content would suggest, and whose components work in concert without individual extravagances.

02-20-2009 00:09:04 | More by stephens101
Photo of damienblack


3.1/5  rDev -21.3%

Thanks to HopsAreOverrated for this bottle.

Pours a bright, cloudy amber with thin head and a bit of sticky lacing. Smells of big sweet malt, a little yeasty, but kind of an indistinct blur - nothing really sticks out.

A smokey, boozey, hoppy barleywine. A bit of initial sweetness, but not much of it makes it to the residual stages. Slick and buttery, some toffee. Has a deep, smokey booziness like a scotch almost, reminds me of a harsh old ale in that respect. These factors are the big detractors for me. I didn't like that taste in Founder's Curmudgeon, and though a different style, I really don't care for it here either. Mellows out a bit as the beer approaches peak temperature, but definitely not the easiest drink in the world. Finishes with a bitter hop flourish, a very hoppy barleywine, whereas I prefer them on the sweet side. Seems pretty well made, but has a few different aspects that don't seem to agree with me.

02-17-2009 06:36:15 | More by damienblack
Photo of pants678


4/5  rDev +1.5%

Very interesting brew. I feel that it's necessary to preface this as being my first barleywine. It was much like a belgian strong ale in my opinion, but who knows, maybe my tastes are not refined for this type of thing.

It reminded me a lot of Maredsous #10. Very strong, very sweet but also very hoppy. Not usually up my alley, but there was a smoothness and a maturity that twisted it my direction. God, that sounds so snobby and like such b/s...

Nonetheless, it pours a very nice orange/beige and again had no head mainly because I believe that I poured it wrong. But the taste is delectable, not worth $10 for the glass though, that was the real b/s. Damnit, that's two meals for me. Oh well.

The mouth feel is fine, it's perfectly carbonated for what it is. It goes down very well and very fine and tastes like a mix of carmel and sweet fruit. Doesn't go down much better than your average craft brew, but the best thing I've had from Real Ale, w/o a doubt.

02-14-2009 07:32:19 | More by pants678
Photo of coldmeat23


3.5/5  rDev -11.2%

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a nice caramel color. Slightly hazy and with a light rose tint. Minimal head appears and disappears quickly. Slight filmy foam remains. Lacing is foamy and lightly sticky.

Big notes of toffee and malts. Big nose of sweet dates. Slight hint of spices.
A very mild nose, overall, but if you give it a little attention, you can find some nice scents.

Very butterey taste. Caramel taste is subdued, but there. Hints of dark fruit notes, rise and fade. Hop spice, but not much bitterness.
Very interesting, and quite light.

Medium body. Kind of light for a barleywine. This is actually a fairly good thing, though. Smooth, with a nice touch of creaminess.

One of the more drinkable barleywines I've come across. Light and easy drinking. Not overpowering.

02-12-2009 20:00:44 | More by coldmeat23
Photo of goatgoat


3.93/5  rDev -0.3%

2007 12oz.

A: Toffee with golden highlights. A slight head forms late and dissipates quickly. No lacing.

S: Thick with alcohol, sweet and a little perfumy.

T&M: Start is smooth, with a little hop bite. Hop characteristics are hard to pick out and have probably mellowed quite a bit with age. Flavor then moves to a slight sweetness that almost starts to cloy but then is cut by more light bitterness and the astringency of the alcohol. This has excellent balance at one year out.

D: Obviously not a session beer at 11.5 abv, but very nice for what it is. Which for me is an inauguration celebration, Congrats America!

01-20-2009 16:59:08 | More by goatgoat
Photo of Bagman007


3.53/5  rDev -10.4%

Served in a bottle poured into a sinfter.

A- Has a clear red wine looking appearance with not a whole lot of head.

S- Had somewhat of a malty alcohol scent to it. Did not smell very hoppy.

T- Tastes like a combination of an English Pale Ale and red wine. Seems like a strange combination, but I think it works well. The high alcohol content is very well hidden.

M- Has kind of a fizzy feel to it. Not very thick at all.

D- It's very drinkable, but I'd watch out. This is a strong beer whose alcohol content is extremely well hidden.

Overall a very good beer. This is the first barleywine I have ever had and if others are this good then this style is going to quickly move up the list of my favorite styles.

01-20-2009 00:46:12 | More by Bagman007
Photo of Wasatch


4.33/5  rDev +9.9%

Thanks goes out to BeerZack for this brew.

2007 Vintage
12oz. Bottle

Pours a nice golden orange/red color, some carbonation, not much of a head, but some fizzyness, which does leave some oil slicks and small islands. The nose is malty, with some hops, nice touch of spices. The taste is sweet, malty, nice hop punch, and spicy. Medium body, the alcohol is hidden pretty well, leaves the body warm. Very Drinkable, this is a tasty BWSA.

01-19-2009 22:24:42 | More by Wasatch
Photo of roadhouse


3.4/5  rDev -13.7%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle dated 2007 into a tulip glass.

Appears an orange-red coppery color with a half inch off-white head that slowly rises through the thick syrupy looking body. It ends up as a skim that doesn't cover the entire surface and leaves trace lacing.

Aroma is very "malt generic," meaning lots of caramel and toffee notes without much else to speak of. Average fits the bill for this one as there are many beers I've had that smell exactly the same.

Taste is a bit better. Still has lots of caramel malts and toffee flavors, but it's nothing special really. Some hop bitterness comes in towards the end, but all the flavor has basically diminished.

Mouthfeel is full as hell, a thick syrup. I never thought I would say that is a bad thing, but this thing is thick even for a Barleywine. The carbonation would be better if it was slightly higher as well.

This was an alright Barleywine, but there are certainly better ones. It seems pretty generic and lacks complexity.

01-17-2009 06:15:49 | More by roadhouse
Photo of CrellMoset


3.43/5  rDev -12.9%

Sisyphus 2007, bottle courtesy of and split two-ways w/ dkachur. My portion poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: A surprisingly light orange/bronze body, very hazy, though with practically no head, no collar of lace, and no lacing on the sides of the glass. Color's nice, fits in well with the aroma and tasting notes that follow, but I'd like a little more out of my lacing.

Aroma: Very light but fairly pungent - fruity notes, stone fruits, light citrus, toffee and brown sugar maltiness. Slight hints of spice and salt. As it warms, a little bit of hot, estery alcohol breaks through, but unless you're really stickin' your nose in there, it's not too bad.

Taste: Very English. Hops are muted, fruity, citrusy, and only slightly bitter, malts are well roasted, buttery, but slightly lighter than in the nose - toffee is still dominant, brown sugar is slightly more muted. Apples, pears, lots of light, random fruity esters. Faint saltiness, and a few estery alcohol notes.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, but with plenty of prickly, bright effervescence to even things out. And even it out it does, both in terms of thickness and in terms of bubble structure.

Drinkability: Not a terribly good barleywine, in my opinion, though perhaps this one just didn't age well. It was interesting enough, intensely fruity and malty, but just a little too light over all, a little too alcoholic, and a little too salty.

01-16-2009 05:52:18 | More by CrellMoset
Photo of angelmonster


4.45/5  rDev +12.9%

My first review of this beer was the 07 vintage, it was about a year old at time of consumption. A-4 S-4 T-4 M-4.5 D-4
Overall score was 4.05. New review is the 08 vintage with two years cellaring on it 12/10/10

Pours a 1/2 finger sand colored head. Body is clear and honey colored. Head retention is good and lacing is amazing.

Smell is very sweet. Hops have faded greatly and linger in the background.I'm getting lots of honey and some candied yams. I've had beers that smelled like hop bombs or malt bombs but this is like a sugar syrup bomb. Booze are almost not detected

Taste is slightly less sweet than in the nose. Hops leave a bitter lime taste to the beer which nicely counteracts the sweetness of everything else. Bready malts have a spicy rye flavor and candied apricots start to come through halfway.The more I drink this beer the more I start to taste fruitcake which is really weird. For 11 percent the alcohol is lightly noticed. Actually tastes like 7 percent at the most

Mouthfeel is syrupy, but not too rich. Carbonation levels are good despite the high gravity and prolonged aging. Head is present but isnt much of a contributing factor to the overall body

Drinkability is insane. I've had different vintages of this beer aged between 1 and 1 and a half years but never one over 2 years aged and it definitely smoothed this beer out alot. This is almost like liquid candy, so smooth and flavorful, sad that this was my last one. Must trade to get more of this beer and looking forward to aging it longer to see how it changes

01-06-2009 07:14:20 | More by angelmonster
Photo of Ruslanchik


4.5/5  rDev +14.2%

12oz bottle marked 2007.

I learned my lesson this time. Instead of keeping it in the fridge and warming it, I kept the bottle out and put it in the fridge about 45 mins before drinking. It is warm enough to release its secrets, but not enough to spoil them.

Poured from the bottle into a wine glass. A fairly gentle pour produced a small off-white head. This died away fairly quickly leaving traces hovering on the surface surrounded by a strong collar. The beer is translucent brown, with ruby highlights. Much lighter than I was expecting. There is no haziness at all.

The aroma is complex and delicious. The presentation is citrus hops, a smell that reminds me of strawberry jam. There is a delicate malt backing to the aroma; a sweetness that complements the hop spice. The final impression is of the slightest bit of alcohol. Very nice.

Like the aroma, the taste the very complex. Hop spice and bitterness are both present. The bitter character is perfectly balanced--definitely evident, but not overpowering. The malt character is pronounced and delectable. A subtle sweetness with a strong nutty background. Following it all is alcohol warmth--no alcohol flavor to speak of, just the warming of the mouth and throat.

This beer surprisingly thin. It looks thin and feels like it looks. It is slightly oily, coating the tongue just a bit. I would like a bit more body. Carbonation is low, which is good.

Definitely a drinkable brew. Leaves me wanting another sip, but I'm not sure I would want more than one.

Overall, a very nice brew. The guys at Real Ale have impressed me with their session beers and now this heavier one.

12-19-2008 04:40:25 | More by Ruslanchik
Photo of everetends


4/5  rDev +1.5%

12 oz bottle I ot from the great hopsleeroy. Served this one up in the good ole Terrapin snifter. Lets do this.

2007 vintage.

A: Pours a really nice caramel, brown. When held to the light, you get a hazy, glowing orange. Just really pretty. At first, after the vigorous pour there is no head. Then, slowly a light, white head bubbles up to the top. What comes up recedes to a thin ring that throws a little lace on the glass. Not bad lookin'.

S: Smell is of some really nice, lightly toasted malt. Lots of buttery, cracker goodness. There is also some really nice lemon and grapefruit sneakin out as well. A bit of caramel comes out as well in the nose.

T: Taste is really nice. Once again some nice, light malt goodness with nice notes of buttery cracker, caramel, brown sugar, etc. A bit of really ame hops coming out in the form of lemon and grapefruit. Then comes the clincher for me, a flavor I can only describe as a key lime pie. Sweet sugary, lime flavors with lots of cream and whipped cream. Just very good and interesting.

M: Light side of full bodied that is very nice and slick. Carbonation is light. This beer is almost oily as it coats your mouth with sweet, malty goodness. ABV is amazingly nonexistant for it being so high. There is a touch of warmth that bubbles up in the stomach and warms you a bit.

D: For this beer being a barleywine and so high in ABV it goes down incredibly easy. This beer is tasty and just complex enough to keep it interesting. So damned drinkable. I am a bit taken aback by this. Just great. Highly recommended.

12-16-2008 06:49:36 | More by everetends
Photo of lysistrata


4.47/5  rDev +13.5%

2007 version

A= Ruby reddish copper tint. Huge head which maintains itself a while for such a highly alcoholic beer. Beautiful!

S=Ripened figs, stonefruit, citrus flavor in the hops to give it some balance.

T=Taste is alternately sweet and tangy without being unpleasant. Certainly falls more on the English Barley Wine style than its American counterpart

M=Thick and chewy without being overly so. This is a smooth not overly carbonated barley wine that coats the tongue in sweet malt and fruit goodness.

D=For the chilly late fall and winter months here in texas, its a perfect evening sipper or would go great with a hearty dessert. Sopapilla cheesecake anyone?

12-07-2008 03:37:42 | More by lysistrata
Photo of whoneeds8


4.1/5  rDev +4.1%

2007 Bottle poured into Chimay glass.

Pours out ruby red with very little head. Smells very fruity. Taste is very smooth fruit flavor. The lacing from the minimal head disipates rather quickly, much like the head. Good balance of carbonation, the feel is very thick, not quite syrup like, just thick.

Overall, this is a very good example of a specialty beer from the little Real Ale brewery. They've definatly got a good one here.

10-27-2008 02:34:27 | More by whoneeds8
Photo of pwsoldier


4.43/5  rDev +12.4%

2007 vintage, poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a clear, deep red with a decent off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Plenty of lacing though.

S - Lots of pine with other wood notes. Some earthy sweetness comes through as well.

T - Pine and spicy wood notes dominate with some malt sweetness coming through in the finish. Very well-balanced. The alcohol hides itself very well, providing just a touch of phenolic spice to compliment the woody flavors.

M - Full-bodied and smooth with a dry finish. Some spicy pine notes linger very gently on the palate.

D - Very smooth and enjoyable. Not harsh at all like some barley wines are. I was very impressed and would have this one again in a hearbeat.

10-24-2008 03:28:09 | More by pwsoldier
Photo of beachbum1975


3.88/5  rDev -1.5%

Got this one from BA'er brewdlyhooked13 as a gift a few months back while we were enjoying a night at the Dilly Deli in Mariemont (Cincinnati), Ohio. Thanks man, you're the best! This one says it's a 2007 vintage. I tasted one at Dilly Deli that night and remembered it tasting very bretty, possibly bad, but after opening this one, it's smells tasty!

A: This one pours a gorgeous, semi-hazy reddish copper with a super thick and creamy tan head that shows off some pretty serious lacing up my traditional pint glass.

S: Rich, thick and pounding waves of malts all over the place followed by hints of honey, brown sugar, some spiciness and piney & grapefruit hops (all blended gracefully). You can tell how thick this one will be just from the nose!

T: Much like the nose. There's a lot going on with this one, as planned. Rich, lightly toasted, sweet malts, malts and more malts followed by a pang of hoppy and citrus-filled bitterness. Wow, this is a serious barleywine! Very interested twist of sweet, sour and bitterness throughout with alcohol coming to the forefront as it warms.

M: Thick bodied, full flavored and ample carbonation mixed with a chewy , lingering bitterness in the mouth.

D: Wow, nice sipper and okay for the season, but too thick any other time of the year in my opinion.

10-19-2008 02:21:37 | More by beachbum1975
Photo of mcallister


3.48/5  rDev -11.7%

Burnt orange with some ruby notes and an overly large yellow off white head. The enormous eruption of head is a little offputting. Goo dlace sticky and thin cover the entire snifter.

Full of stone fruit aromas, caramel, and spicey hop character. Floral with even a bit of orange rind. Acidic aromas.

Same stone fruits in the mouth with a lot of hop bitterness in the finish. Slightly sour and not sure if it should be. However it is still very tasty and full of flavor. Mouth is very tight and full of hop bitterness. Too much so for my barley wine style preference.

10-15-2008 20:00:29 | More by mcallister
Photo of warmstorage


4.13/5  rDev +4.8%

12 ounce bottle, 2007 edition.

Appearance: deep hazy orange with reddish hints, significant, moderately dense head leaves significant lacing. Maintains an impressive head for such a high ABV beer.

Aroma: big fruit, stonefruit, citrus, figs, plums. Some very slight latex notes are the only reason I don't give the aroma a 4.5.

Taste: Again, significant stonefruit, plums, slight cherries, figs. A distinct warm alcohol. Thick sweet maltiness. Very drinkable. Finishes with a hint of overripe peach or apricot.

Mouth: Thick and almost creamy, a distinctly warming alcohol. Could use a bit more carbonation, but it's hard to ask for in such a huge ABV beer.

Overall: A delicious beer, I'd place it closer to English style barleywine, with a solid bitterness. Reminds me of the solid in-between barleywines, like Rogue Old Crustacean.

10-08-2008 04:46:38 | More by warmstorage
Photo of bassmantin


3.65/5  rDev -7.4%

Pours a hazy golden orange with a huge frothy creamy head. Looks very creamy. The smell is very sour. It smells like a lambic. Wow, that's not what I was expecting. Some fruitiness, but overall quite a bit of sourness.

The taste is unique. It tastes like a mixture of a mild lambic and a harsh barleywine. Highly unusual. Drinkability is very low because of the harshness of the barleywine-esque aftertaste.

I think this is still probably a bit fresh, which would explain the harshness. Lay it down for a year or two, and I bet it will mellow out and the clever mix of flavors will emerge and blossom.

10-08-2008 02:20:20 | More by bassmantin
Photo of RblWthACoz


3.9/5  rDev -1%

Pours a clouded orange brown with a creme head. Nose is very reminiscent of Hitachino XH. That odd woody fruity thing. Flavor has a very unique roasted smoky thing to it. Kind of an alcohol-tar aftertase that rests in the back of the mouth. Feel is well bodied on the liquid and the carbonation is appropriate with an oh so slight bite. A very unique barleywine. Definitely worth trying for it's unusual qualities.

Thanks to ballewblake for this one.

10-06-2008 20:37:31 | More by RblWthACoz
Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 561 ratings.