Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

Not Rated.
No picture.
Have one? Upload it now.
very good

318 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 318
Hads: 622
Avg: 3.9
pDev: 17.18%
Wants: 46
Gots: 135 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company visit their website
Texas, United States

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 (46) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 318 | Hads: 622
Photo of litheum94
3.24/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. 2010 vintage. Reviewed 11/9/11.

Slow, to form, very small, off-white head that disappears in an instant. Amber body. Nothing special.

Sweet nos, with caramel malts, toffee and some tropical fruit. Light spicing as well, with some bready malts. Like a winter dessert loaf. Good amount of floral hops as well.

Very malty at first, with flavors of caramel and bread. Toffee sweetness leads into a hop profile, redolent of flowers and pine, with a smattering of citrus.

Slightly above average. There are so many better barleywines out there, I couldn't see myself reaching for this too often.

 606 characters

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of the 2009 vintage. Pours a very hazed copper color with a yellowish, tight-bubbled foam. Contiguous lacing is pretty nice.

Nose is caramel and candy sweet malts with still a bit of floral hops. Fruit is pretty low and a little oxidation has crept in here and actually enhanced the aroma.

Wow, this is a very smooth beer at this point! The ABV is well hidden and the beer leans sweet, but is not cloying by any means. A little hop scrubbing on the finish does wonders for the drinkability. Rich and semi-complex, it really offers a fun ride all the way through. I am shocked at how much I am enjoying this bottle and will have to pick up more than the one or two I do each year. I have had this at a few different stages including a 6-year old version on tap, I think this might be the best bottle I have had. Maybe 2 and a half years is right in the wheelhouse? Hmmmm, more research is in order I do believe!

 925 characters

Photo of elNopalero
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage.

Pours a roasted tan color, like darkened straw. Caramel would be apt, as it also describes some of the aroma and flavor I picked up. There’s a wonderful smell to this that’s sweet and complex. Some earthy leather that balances the sweetness, just enough effervescence to keep it light, a malt backbone to mellow things out, and no discernable alcohol despite being a strong beer.
I’m looking forward to my planned vertical down the road, and I’ll be sure to update my tasting notes at that time.


2011 vintage (reviewed Dec 2011)

I don’t know if this should have a separate entry for each vintage. But I just found out that the recipe has gone through some changes over the past few years. Apparently the rye bill has dropped, but it’s still present. For 2011’s vintage it pours a light caramel color. There’s some light, pleasing aromas, a delicate hoppiness, with a chew, big DIPA flavor. It’s piney and slightly sweet, not warming for it’s ABV. More hoppy but with a touch of rye spice. It warms exceptionally well and I can only imagine it improving with age.

Below are my notes from my Sisyphus “vertical” –cellared Sisyphus, enjoyed periodically.

2011, aged 2 years:
This is cloudy gold tan in color with thin foam.
Aroma is a bittered orange marmalade with piney evergreen and a hint of toasted coconut. The bitterness is still present. Somewhat off.

2010 Sisyphus, aged 4 years:
This was what I had hoped for. Even at the 4 year mark it held up exceptionally well. The hops became dialed down, with a nutty toffee character complementing candied oranges and a caramelly malt backing. Warms wonderfully, without heat or any of the off notes I caught in the 2011. Wish I had more.

2009 Sisyphus, aged 5 years:
This pours an intense copper color with light foam.
The flavor mellowed out but still maintains an intensity. I get candied orange, some light chocolate dusting, a present bitterness but the hops have faded. Some light oxidation and a long, long finish. A surprising treat.

 2,049 characters

Photo of MEsquandoles
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

$5 for 9oz snifter at Black Star Co-op. 2010 vintage, kegged Jan 2011.

Gorgeous orange-amber with an abundance of fine bubbles. Great head retention.

Very English, but with a higher hop presence than a standard English Barleywine. Earthy. Toffee, orange marmalade, apricot, other fruits carmelized with Brandy. Taste lingers for an impressive while.

Feels creamy and full. Not too sweet. Rich.

Incredibly smooth, incredible drinkable given the ABV and style. Drinking very nice right now.

 492 characters

Photo of billab914
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured into my CBS snifter. It poured dark orange in color with a thin, spotty head scattered across the top of the beer and clinging to the sides of the glass.

The aroma has a rich malty, caramel and toffee presence to it with just a hint of brown sugar sweetness. I still get some hoppy flavors coming through that add some bitter, citrus rind like qualities to it. It felt pretty balanced for the style.

The taste shows more of the caramel and toffee notes to it up front. In the finish I get more of a bitter grapefruit hoppiness lingering. I get a little bit of a malty, dark fruit, slight raisin like presence to it as well.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being below average. Overall it was a pretty solid beer of the style all around. It felt pretty balanced for the style as well. Both the malty and hoppy qualities shined at one time or another while drinking it. Pretty enjoyable beer to sip on this evening.

 960 characters

Photo of bradjoiner
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 pours orangish amber with 1/2 inch white head dissipates into very little lace. aroma of toffee. taste of fruits and toffee. mouth feel is at a medium slightly sticky to the tongue. overall a great barley wine another year might make an improvement.

 254 characters

Photo of cosmicevan
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

big thanks to cfh64 for the hookup.

2010 vintage

a - opened the botle and filled my E snifter. poured a transparent orange with a thin off-white bubbly head. didn't hang long, but left nice lacing on the glass.

s - classic toffee caramel malt. quite nice. little bit purple grape. nutmeg. whatever hop was there has since faded. sweet and candy like.

t - big medley of purple fruits...somewhat sangria like. finishes with some hop bitterness. it isn't the classic flavors that i look for so much, but i quite like it.

m - medium bodied. leaves a bit of a tingle..SUPER smooth.

o - overall, i dig it. it is easy to drink, the abv is invisible. i'd love to try it fresh...but the year or so on it certainly couldn't have hurt it since it is so tasty and smooth.

 765 characters

Photo of AgentZero
3.39/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Really murky, cloudy orange colored beer with minimal head that faded quickly and left some minor spots on the glass.

S - Bright fruits, some phenolic yeast, a bit of hops for bitterness. Little bit of burnt caramel.

T - Taste is pretty sweet and fruity with phenolic notes. There is a touch of burnt caramel and malts and a little bit of hops on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, sticky, moderate carbonation.

O - A little to phenolic for me, kind of sweet and sharp made it a bit difficult to get through the entire 12 oz. Not a bad beer.

 545 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sending me this one!

2009 vintage.

Pours a murky honey brown with a 1 inch fizzy light beige head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel/toffee, alcohol, and citrus zest. Taste is of bready malt, brown sugar, caramel/toffee, and citrus zest hops on the finish. There is a very mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a light carbonation and a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine with a nice balance between the malt and hops.

 634 characters

Photo of Chaney
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2009 vintage.

I got this one from OakedCanuck in one of my very first trades over a year ago. Thanks Colin!

A: About the color of fall actually: Peppery orange, extremely murky, and with a slight, nearly solid white head that stained the glass with its contribution as the contents below it was being siphoned.

S: Pretty earthy actually.... strange descriptor for this style for sure! Hoppy and bright, with sort of a mulch-like quality imbedded as well. Bready and sweet also.

T: Not hoppy or bitter... at least, compared to Bigfoot and Old Ruffian anyway. Sugary, and with very little yeast to cushion some of that heat. Therein lies the problem to my mind.

M: Bitter on the aftertaste, but it was sort of a stale, musty bitterness. Tons of soapy lacing on the glass and my mouth was a sugar bomb by the end of the session.

O: I think this was pretty well crafted overall, but it is still no match for its rather stiff competition in the BW category. I'll have this one again, but definitely won't seek it out.

 1,018 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010. Gregg AKA Hannydawg is the man. trade him all your whales.
Pour is a very clear, body is very light in color for what i was expecting, it is a sunburst orange and yellow color. only a small collar is lasting after the cap receded.
Aroma gives off oranges and spices, along with a malt background that balances wit some sweetness and caramels.
Flavors have a bit of a burnt caramel flavor, that slight charred note is easily identifiable, charrred toffee. only a bit of the 10.5% is noticable, the hops bring some balance with the orange notes.
mouthfeel is rather light in body but creamy and is a bit low in carbination for my standards.

An average barleywine, has a few things to work out and it could improve.

 719 characters

Photo of eclipse54
3.4/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 12 ounce bottle that I won in an LIF put on by the generous turfy. He sent me a box of Texas-brewed products and included this 2010 bottle. Thank you! Into the DFH signature glass it goes...

A moderate pour yields about an inch of eggshell white heat, comprised of abundant tiny, nay, microscopic bubbles, atop a burnt orange and copper colored body. The body is rich enough in color to appear nearly opaque, giving off a warm, deep orange glow when held to the light of the computer screen. Legs of wet lacing are left clinging to the walls of the glass.

The smell is prominently of spicy hops, even having been stored this long, some caramel and toffee undertones, and bits of brown sugar. Really, the hops just carry this nose though.

The taste is strongly reminiscent of an older DIPA, with the hops leading on the tongue before some faint caramel takes hold. The toffee that was present in the nose really isn't noticeable on the tongue, and the taste is actually somewhat thin and watery. A warming alcohol presence finishes it off.

Mouth is much lighter than I expected for the style, being quite thin with seemingly little carbonation. Not bad, just unsuspected.

Overall, a decent American barleywine, but it certianly reminds me of why I like their English counterparts so much more.

 1,303 characters

Photo of jale
3.77/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 bottle thanks to my great friend Eric.

A: Pours a thick cloudy amber with very little white lacing.

S: Sweet smelling malt with a hint of hops.

T: Initial sweet malt followed quickly by nice herbal hop bitterness. The alcohol is well hidden. I get a little grass in the finish.

M: Medium body with a small amount of carbonation.

O: Glad I was able to try this.

 370 characters

Photo of roodie
3.62/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Great Divide goblet

A: pours a clear orangish brown with almost no head, no lacing, some legs when swirled.

S: malty vanilla, subtle and sweet. bitter hops round out the nose. enticing!

T: as with the nose, sweet and malty vanilla flavor, but a stronger hop presence at the end. very nice!

M: very smooth, due to lack of carbonation. hops linger on the tongue, sweetness is but a memory.

O: a great offering, one I'd seek out again, only wish there was more carbonation. I'd like to try a fresh one to see the true hop profile.

 580 characters

Photo of bayougutter
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle to a snifter, an aggressive pour yielded a large two inch white head that had great retention for abv. Color is a hazy golden color.

Smell is mostly sweet fig-date with some caramel- toffee in the mix. No real alcohol or hop aroma.

Taste is ripe dates, not as sweet as smell, with the caramel and toffee coming thru as well. No alcohol or hop on the palate either.

Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with the abv hidden well. Very drinkable but at 11.5 abv you had better watch it.

Overall a very good barley wine. Taste as if it had a year or two on it, smooth with the taste melding together well. Better than most, not as good as some. Worthy

 664 characters

Photo of tjkinate
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a review of both 2009 and 2010 vintages in a 12oz bottle drank at different times, but comparing notes.

A: Pours a creamy, hazy, golden amber that produces a one and a half finger white frothy head. The 2010 produced a slightly larger head, but both colors were similar.

S: Caramel is the most dominant smell and is backed up with sweet heavy fruits. The 2010 has a more robust hop scent, although other scents are still present.

T: Both have slight initial bitterness more dominent in the 2010, but the bitterness is quickly replaced with a potent punch of caramel, plum, and apricot.

M: Medium bodied, fairly high carbonated, but still coats the throat without burning while it goes down.

O: Highly underrated Barleywine, I think that Real Ale has been perfecting their recipe over the years and now it is among the best of the variety. If you are a fan of Barleywines than I suggest you ask for one (or five) during your next trade with someone from texas. They're fairly abundant from what I can tell, just FYI.

 1,028 characters

Photo of fatmcb1
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from 09 poured into a wine glass

Pours a hazy golden color with a light white head. It leaves a ring and lacing stands strong despite the 13% abv.

Sweet carmely malt and brown sugar are up front. Toasty smell is in the background as well alcohol. A bit of citrusy hops creep in at the end.

Caramel sweetness dominates as it did in the nose. Hop bitterness is more pungent and provides a lasting aftertaste. The alcohol provides a serious warming affect. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, and sticky.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer a lot. It's the first 2+ year old barley wine I've had, so I don't have a ton of comparison. I would seek this out again.

 661 characters

Photo of SkipWeathers
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - brilliant red-orange color, almost luminescent; no head

S - very full; brown sugar, some tart citrus, bread, roasted tomato

T - about like it smells - really good. Caramel, roast, hops, wheat bread, some citrus notes

M - very velvety, not overly sweet but very satisfying, became a little less fizzy as the bottle emptied (drank in a goblet); alcohol noticeable but smooth

O - a diamond in the rough; must get more of this to age. It's not harsh or overly hopped like some barleywines. I'd love to try the French Oak aged barleywine, "Kraken."

 551 characters

Photo of joefuzz
5/5  rDev +28.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewing 2009 and 2010 vintages side by side both sent to me as extras by a very generous Jefferz5000...Thanks Jeff

09-5- Pours a very nice hazy gold with a way larger than expected off white head for the ABV with great retetion.
10-5- Pours same hazy gold as as the 09 with a larger more suddy lumpy off white head great retention and lacing

09-5- Smells of apircots and sweet caramel with a suprising hop presence.
10-5- Fairly large hop presence for the style upfront with rasins and sweet toffe

09-5- Slight hop taste up front that quickly gives way to caramlized sugar and sweet plum tastes
10-4.5- Little larger hop taste than the 09 with lots of sweet candy sugary aftertaste not much fruit presence

09-5- Mouthfeel is perfect creamy and smooth the huge head led me to believe this would be pretty over carbonated but its just right.
10-4.5- Mouthfeel is pretty on point with a fresher barleywine not as creamy as the 09 and a little thinner and more carbonated but still pretty stellar

09-5- Overall very happy with this beer, one of the best barleywines i have had recently.
10-4.5- Overall great beer as well, prefer it with a little more age on it. its nice to see what a beer turns into with a little age.

Thanks again Jeff

 1,242 characters

Photo of glid02
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle. I can’t recall the vintage but the label was green (2009?).

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a light tan head leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with good amounts of fig and pear aromas. Also present are slight hints of butterscotch and leafy hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Moderately sweet caramel malts up front with booze-soaked pear flavors. Hints of toffee come into play near the end of the sip. The ending is mildly bitter. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall I think this was closer to an English barleywine due to the pronounced sweetness and fruity notes, but even so it wasn’t near the top of the style. A solid beer but one not worth seeking.

 724 characters

Photo of TenHornsProud
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Bottle

Pours a light orange/amber with a small amount of white head.

Smells of sweet, caramel malt and fruity hop. It has a nice bready smell.

Tastes of sweet malt, alcohol, and balanced up front bitterness. The taste is sweet, toasted malt with some lingering hop character. It's quite nice actually...really balanced.

It has a medium body with a sticky sweet character that is great for the style.

I actually like this quite a bit. The malt-forward profile, balance, and booze character is what I want when I think of a barleywine. This years was better than previous that I've had. Recommended.

 607 characters

Photo of hdelavega
3.44/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage poured from a bottle into a tulip glass, thanks to lnashsig.

An aggressive pour rendered about an inch head that sat atop this cloudy burnt orange brew.

The aroma on this 2009 brew is very mild for what I normaly encounter in an American barleywine, even after letting the brew warm up for awhile. I do get a slightly warm aroma of malt and barley, a bit of sweet fruit and carmalised sugar.

Taste is sweet with a suprising bitterness. The same carmalised sugars from the nose are apparent in the taste. I am surprised by the hoppy bitterness on this 3 year old beer. As the beer continues to warm the bitterness fades alittle and a sweet malty flavor starts to shine.

Mouth feel is pretty warm with a bright carbonation, and a warm and bitter finish.

Overall I enjoyed this brew but think it could use a couple more years on it.

 849 characters

Photo of Brez07
4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage. Thanks to callmemickey for sending this to me. 12oz bottle poured into a mini snifter

A: Pours a dark reddish-orange. Slightly murky. There is a scant amount of head that disappeared before the pour was finished. Swirling gets 1/4 inch, but that also leaves quick. No lacing left

S: After all this time, still has a decent hop presence. Definitely fading, but some citrus starts this off. Love the amount of dark fruit, specifically figs. Balancing this all out is a great amount of sweet bready malt. Pretty sure there is some chocolate here too

T: The nose is a perfect preview of this beer. Brief start from the hops, which have some citrus left but are mostly slighty bitter. Again, very balanced with the amount of malt, which has flavors of bread, caramel and raisin. Wet cardboard flavor in the finish, although given the time this has aged it doesn't have that much oxidation

M: Medium bodied. Not much carbonation left in this one, but enough to notice. Slight bitter hop and malt finish

D: A solid barleywine, that has aged well. Maybe a year past it's prime. Would like to try this fresh to see how far it's come

 1,142 characters

Photo of theboozecruise
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a goblet. Labeled as 2010 vintage.

It's a hazy deep orange color with hardly any head.

The aroma is rich with malty toffee notes and very warm. There's a little hop presence there but not insane.

The hops are much more strong on the tongue, very bitter with floral notes to start out the sip. The toffee malt is there but overpowered by the hops.

The bitter aftertaste leaves a slightly less than ideal mouthfeel.

A good barleywine but not the best I've tried.

 502 characters

Photo of DearthVader
3.69/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage courtesy of kspongeworthy.

Poured aggressively into my Stone Old Guardian glass. The aggressive pour produced a tightly wound 1 1/2 finger head that was an off white color. The body is a beautiful murky burnt orange that glows brightly around the edges. Leaves tremendous lacing. Very nice start.

Smell is ok. The sweet caramel malts cover up a lot in the nose. I pick up the slightest bit of hops and orange peel when I really get a good swirl.

Upfront with the sweet caramel malts and definitely orange attributes in this one. Nice subtle orange peel bleeding into the slight hopped finish. I enjoy the after taste in this quite a bit. Its mostly of orange rind and slight burnt sugar.

Very nice feel for a barleywine. As smooth as I could ask for. This was still a little hot for me though. Probably could've let it sit for another 6 months and that would've been untraceable.

This was a decent offering of the style. Its good, but nothing to write home about. Always grateful to try beers I can't get here though, so thank you for the opportunity Hector.

 1,078 characters

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