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Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

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very good

606 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 606
Reviews: 320
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 12.18%
Wants: 44
Gots: 131 | 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:
Beer added by: aracauna on 12-18-2002

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 606 | Reviews: 320
Photo of drxandy
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 bottle drunk on 8/10/08 - slight rust oxidation on the inside of the cap

Got in trade from Ben4881!! thanks so much!!

12oz to goblet, pours a nice deep reddish golden amber brown shade, creamy white head fades to nice lacing, decent carbonation

smells of hot alcohol, tobacco, barley and other delicious malts, caramel, sweetness

tastes of hot alcohol on the front, warms down the throat, sweet apple, lingering hops and alcohol on the finish, tobacco, heavy malts, weight isn't as heavy as i would expect given all the elements, but that doesn't change my view of it.

mouthfeel is bitter, heavy, hot, sweet, after half a bottle the alcohol became apparent. A very nice barleywine from real ale, i'd love to get my hands on more bottles.

Photo of Douglas14
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a rich, tawny color with almost no head whatsoever. Because there is now head, there is no lacing or retention, obviously. The smell is heavily of malted barley with alcohol also. The taste follows the smell identically. It is an incredibly rich taste, nothing over the top, but very well done. I'm really happy I was able to try this. Great beer.

Photo of charlesw
3.71/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 bottle

Pours thick and rich. You think there will be no head then slowly, oh, so slowly, the tiny bubbles make it to the surface. Low head that's gone pretty quickly. No lace.

It smells just like it should - thick and sweet with caramel. Spicy, zingy nose - the promise of the hop!

Tastes, well, shucks. It doesn't have the bitterness that I expect from a 'merican barleywine. Still, it's obviously much more highly hopped than an English one. Maybe it's a barley to drink really really young? Do they still make this? I'd like to try a fresh one next time - to compare.

Pretty thick in the mouth. A nice trick given that it's not so sweet as that. Or maybe it is but it has enough bitterness to balance it out. I'll have to think about it...

Anywho, many thanks to Deuane for the opportunity to try this one out!


2008 bottle and I love trading and traders and I don't thank people in reviews any longer. No offense intended in any way.

Beautiful tallish head of tiny cream bubbles. Good staying power. Kind of a deep amber mixed with light brown and orange (um, anyway). Score just got bumped up.

Very very light in the nose. Grassy and maybe a little earthy. That score just got bumped down.

Same taste comments to a t - very little hop bitterness detected. It's pleasant and easy going but doesn't quite have the bite I think an American BW should have to it.

Pretty spot on in the mouthfeel and not bad to drink. But, yah. Hey, if they made it with some more bitterness to balance the sweetness and to give it a little tang, well, this would be great.

Photo of orcasteve
3.34/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nice sour malt on the 2007 vintage this one isent as ruff as most barlywines are usaly, and at 11.5 abv ther is no noticable aolhocal burn in the after taste, but for me this one needs more hops, dont get me wrong, i enjoyed every last sip, but i like a hoppy barleywine better.

Photo of ckeegan04
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up in a trade with mcfisty. 2007 bottling.

A - Orangish-brown color with a very thin off-white head. Quickly fades and leaves very little lacing.

S - Faint aroma bready malts and an even weaker smell of earthy hops. Faint alcohol aroma as well.

T - The malts definitely dominate this taste. A sweet bready taste up front. Some earthy and spicey hop taste slides in but is still dominated by the maltiness of the beer. Alcohol is masked very well and can hardly be tasted.

M/D - Medium bodied with a nice lingering aftertaste that coats the mouth. Very drinkable barleywine but the alcohol is rather steep.

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2007 Vintage; Sampled July 2008
Wow this is one viscous brew, you can tell it is thick just by pouring it. This foamed up a bit as soon as I popped the cap, but it was slow enough that I was able to pour it into my glass before losing any beer. The head forms a three finger thick, tan colored head in my 25cl tulip glass. The beer is a red tinged, full amber hue that shows a lightly hazed, reddish, copper color when held up to the light. The aroma is quite hoppy, but also as a sticky fruitiness to it, or is that a touch of funk. Candied citrus notes start to take on a vegetal edge and then move to a funky, plastic edged phenolic character towards the finish. The funk and hop notes combine to form aromatic notes of berries, juniper, sour apple & watermelon jolly ranchers, pine sap and some light notes of acetone.

Thick and rich tasting, fairly sweet too, though not quite as sweet as the thick body might suggest. Amply hoppy, though this has a funky edge to it with some plastic and lightly smoky phenolics. Flavors of grapefruit, lychee and orange zest are purely hop driven, while flavors of pine, typically associated with hops alone, are actually accentuated by the phenolic notes. Sweet malt sugars take a caramelized edge and accentuate the hoppy citrus fruit flavors. Underneath the phenolic notes in the finish are malty-driven notes of biscuit malt and lightly, toasty grain.

I'll admit to being forewarned about possible contamination & as I was staring into the beer fridge after have a disappointingly unfunky / uncomplex Weyerbacher Riserva, I figured what the heck, might as well have a beer were the funkiness plays a distinctive role even it was unintentional. Judged purely to style this is a monumental failure, funk has no place in a modern Barleywine, but taken as a hedonistic experience it is not half bad. This will get substantially more funky with time as it seems to be at the beginning of its funk journey; proceed with caution, but with an open mind this can be at least somewhat enjoyable.

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage. Pours into my glass a deep hazy red/orange with a small off white head on top that falls to a thin layer atop the brew. A bit of a syrupy pour. Aromas start out with roasted malt along with rich nutty scents. Dark fruits, molasses and sweet bread. Lots of caramel and toffee accents as well. Herbal, earthy sort of piney hops sit in the background. A rich, deep aroma for sure.

First sip brings roasted malt upfront that moves into big caramel and toffee flavors. Quite a bit of sweetness upfront as it flows down the nutty, fruity flavors come out more as well. Sweet bread melds into a herbal, piney hop bitterness on the finish with some citrus accents as well. The bitterness can't cut through the sweetness here though unfortunately. Good barleywine, just a bit too sweet/syrupy for my taste.

Mouthfeel is quite thick and viscous with a slight syrupy quality to it as well. This one really takes hold, coats the palate and doesn't hold back. Mellow carbonation works in well. Overall, a tasty barleywine from Texas, albeit a bit on the sweet side Thanks to dmeadows for sending this my way. I wish I had another one to hang onto for a bit.

Photo of Metalmonk
2.87/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Not sure why this is named Sisyphus. The greek god Sisyphus was sentenced to perform a difficult task over and over again for all eternity, one that was totally futile...and if something is "Sisyphean" it's endless or repetitive. So...a Texas barleywine? I'm not making the connection.

The 2007 bottle (graciously sent by msubulldog25) pours out a magnificent rusty cherry juice that glows with burnt ruby highlights. Don't know if I've ever seen slower bubbles in a beer: these are fat and lazy and take their damn time moving from bottom to top. They eventually reach an insanely creamy head that is thicker than most beers of this style, and huge walls of lace form around the snifter. Looks totally incredible.

The aroma is wonderful, but not at all typical BW. I swear they used a Belgian yeast strain, even something approaching Brett, as there's a distinct band-aid smell, kind of leathery, mildly herbal and fruity, and that's it. No huge hops or big-ass malt sweetness detected. I like it, but it doesn't scream or even whisper "barleywine" to me.

Flavor is also Brett-like...by far the funkiest barleywine I've ever had. There's a sourness present, but more like a Belgian sour ale (with funk!) and not really like a poorly-brewed or infected beer. But also not like a great funky/sour Belgian. Darn. Hops are present but hidden underneath the dominant yeast, and a mild malt sweetness has trouble pushing through. Succulent fruits are somewhere in here, big and juicy, yet all but silenced by the dominant Dr. Strange. Alcohol comes through fine with a warming glow. Thankfully it's not overbearing, because that's the last thing this weird, unbalanced mess of a beer needs.

Mouthfeel is just fine, very soft, also creamy, which I always love, but considering the flat-out bizarre flavor, it's hard to gain any lasting impression when fighting through all the stuff that's out-of-whack with this beer.

Not sure about this. If the brewer were in front of me right now, I'd take a sip, look at him with sympathy, and say "Innnteresssting!" It seems wayward, like a barleywine that left home with good intentions but ended up mixing with the wrong crowd and going bad for life. I have no idea what's going on here really...at first I thought maybe it was me, but I'm in fine health as usual, my sniffer and tastebuds seem just fine, I got plenty of sleep, I'm in a good mood, I served this at the right temperature (barely chilled) in appropriate glassware...but it sure looks fantastic! Can't wait to read others' reviews and see if this is just a bad batch or the way it's supposed to be. I dig the funk, so I can't totally trash this beer, as I enjoyed the dirty sweat-sock madness...but I was hoping for a barleywine that actually tastes like a barleywine. Maybe now I'm a step closing to figuring out why this is called Sisyphus...

[In reading the reviews of barleywinefiend, alexgash and JohnGalt1, it seems I'm not the only one detecting a lot of uncharacteristic funk. In reading a lot of other reviews, there's no mention of sourness/funk, so perhaps this is an infected batch...or the guys from Jolly Pumpkin sneaked into the brewery late one night.]

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.69/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to mhewes for this bwine. He provided my daily bwine fix.
Sisyphus 2007:
Poured an orangish/copper color with a tan white head. Carbonation was good upfront and even as I sip the head stays with it. Nose was hops, bitterness and a funky sourness(not sure if this was intended or what). Taste was a little sweet, hoppy up front and then midway through as I swish it around the sourness I smelled came through in the taste. It was almost like a tart bitterness fruit orange peels, unripened fruit even. It went down smoother than the taste. Interesting bwine indeed. Another bwine down. Thanks mhewes.

Photo of msubulldog25
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A 12 oz. bottle with one of the more straightforward label designs: "Sisyphus 2007 Barleywine Style Ale" in silver type on a cobalt blue background - 'nuff said! ABV is not listed on the label. Poured this to a snifter - thanks to BeerZack for toting a couple bottles northward back in late March.

A: I like the color (I think...), kind of a fuzzy ruby-orange with only enough clarity to show some miniscule bubble streams heading briskly up the sides of the glass. Head tops off around 1/2-finger, ends as a wispy film and clinging light tan ring. A few bits of dark yeast settling on the glass bottom, not much to get worked up about.

S: Has a sugary candy and light cocoa aroma. Actually smells a bit of the caramel/corn syrup in a can of Pepsi... Some fruits, (maraschino cherries, plump raisins) and hints of...allspice? Yeah, this has the vague aroma of a spiced pumpkin beer/ Which isn't necessarily a bad thing...

T: Hmmm... for all the sweetness in the aroma, this one starts well: a fruity and leafy green hoppiness. Yet along the way, an odd tartness enters, reminiscent of green grape skins or an unripe cherry. Those are quite a bit different, I know, but they are the two flavors that come to mind midway-through. Finish is a drier, more of a medicinal/leafy bittering. Overall, it's a good barleywine - but there were moments when I'd have scored lower. Then again, there were moments I could have scored higher...

M: Good creaminess, fine carbonation. It's how I want a barleywine to feel: robust, full, lasting bittering. Alcohol is pretty well concealed; you know it's a big beer but doesn't have a notable fusel heat.

D: In a world of excellent barleywines, this falls in the range of 'good' ones: not one I MUST return to, but definitely one I'm glad to have tried. Drinkability? What can I say? It's an 11%+ ABV barleywine that's pretty tasty. Grab one for a try, if you can find it.

Thanks again, Zack...

Photo of gford217
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of mhewes and finnman poured into a snifter.

Pours a deep hazy amber with a thin dense head that dissipated to a ring quickly leaving a fair bit of delicate lacing. The aroma is dominated by a massive candied sugar scent that had a hint of hops in the background, but not much. The flavor is also dominated by the candy sugar with hints of caramel malts. There is also a little bit of hop bitterness in the finish though a medicinal taste lingers in there as well. The mouthfeel is light to medium for the style but still nice and creamy. This is a decent example of a barleywine though the sweetness is certainly higher than most.

Photo of objectivemonkey
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a 2007 bottle, 12 oz.

Into an imperial pint, pours a lovely dark peach orange, a nice off-white half inch head that settles to a thin film, lots of lacing down the glass and sticks in arches and blots. The aroma is a nice boquet of floras and leafy hops, sweet with caramel and bready malt, and some nice fruits. The taste similarly satisfies, but the mouth is extraordinary. Velvety smooth, the effervescent carbonation, the light warmth, supple body, all support richly malty, sweet and fruity flavors, with floral, spicy hops to follow. Everything solid but far from overbearing. If it is possible to make a high alcohol sessionable barley wine, this is it. Much thanks and praise to BeerZach for this.

Photo of BigJTrucker
3.02/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up this bottle in trade with BA "Turbine2475" a few months back. Poured a reddish honey color, thin light tan head. Nice foam lacing. Aroma is very yeasty. Some malt sweetness in the back, but the bready aroma overwhelms. Taste has some dried apricot notes, faint alcohol presence. Mouthfeel is somewhat syrupy, a bit astringent too. It's far from being my favorite barleywine. I doubt very much i would buy it if offered. The aroma kind of ruined it for me

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.2/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2007 12oz received in trade from hopsleeroy back in early March.. cellared for a few months.. moved to the fridge a couple weeks ago.. tonight is the night.. Let's end with a bomb... Listening to the beer party mix.. Public Image Ltd; Rise as I pour.

Alot of "bottle neck funk".. not sure what to make of it.. I am sure it won't matter but just wanted to get it out there... Poured into my New Belgium snifter with a good taste to Brenda... 1.5" head dies pretty quick... nice long lasting lacing atop a hazy copper brew.. the "bottle neck funk" has made 20-30 white spots on the top film of the brew.. again... never seen this before.. but it isn't gonna hurt.

I may be wrong about my above comments about the bottle neck funk... Aroma is soapy and slightly oxidized.. some caramel and bandaid.

Flavor is better .. caramel and background spicy hops .. big malts.. quite a bit of caramel and toasty notes.. yeasty fruitiness .. a little white pepper... starting to remind me of a Mammoth Saison... more than noticeable oxidation.. Did I get an infected bottle? I've had crappy/infected bottles before, and this probably isn't one.. bugs/bacteria typically don't grow in beers this big... None of the overcarbonation issues commonly associated with infected bottles.. still something is off.

Big thanks to Lee for trading me the 6'er of Sisyphus.. that said, none of my last 3 bottles show "bottle neck funk". I won't hold it against you. :-) I still have another Chicken Killer to get to.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance - pours a cloudy amber/orange. A thin layer of creamy bubbles on top, it spots up the glass a bit with some dotted lace, but not a whole lot.

Aroma - the first of three bottles that did *not* smell funky, this has a malty, sweet biscuity, caramelly smell.

Taste - sweet candyish malts and heavy grain. Belgian yeast and alcohol follow, and still some nice citrusy character on the swallow. Some hop bitterness into the finish along with dried fruit. Ends with a nice little roasty chocolate flavor.

Mouthfeel - slightly syrupy, a nice heaviness befitting the style. Low carbonation.

Drinkability - an enjoyable bottle, I hope the other three are intact as well.

Photo of jordoo
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one in a trade with mhewes, thanks!

12oz bottle poored into beer mug.

Huge everlasting head for a barley wine nice lacing as well. Comes off as a deep amber with red hughes sporting a hazey look. Smells very nice, floral and piney notes right away with fruity hops and heavy sugary sweet carmal malts smell. Little bread/biskut as well. Beautifully ballanced flavor throughout everything in the nose comes into play. Very thick on the palate yet still drinkable for a barley wine.

Photo of alexgash
1.69/5  rDev -57.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

12 oz. bottle. 2007 edition.

Pours a semi-cloudy apricot copper. Thick, creamy, rocky, light beige head. Nose is fruity, but in a tart sort of way. Medicinal notes. Some caramel. Forgot to mention that there are little white spots on in the foamy head. Hmmm...could this be infected? Let's see. Yep. Big time band-aid and fusel alcohol flavors. Astringent, electrical fire bitterness. Blechh! Sorry, but this is a drainpour.

Photo of champ103
4.54/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer. This is a composite of several vintages. 2007-2009. Just a wonderful beer that ages with the best of them.

A: Pours a beautiful hazy orange color. A one finger white head gently rises and sticks around for a minute. The foam gently recedes to a ring that sticks throughout. Light lace.
S: Oh man the smell is wonderful. Citrus hops but not overly bitter. Tons of dark malt and dark fruit to make the mouth water.
T: 09: Fresh this is has a Bigfoot like hoppiness. This really mellows and lots of complexities come out as time goes on though.
08: A lot more passion fruits come out. Pineapple, melons, and citrus. A bit more malty toasted flavors are coming out.
07: Tons of dark fruit, and toasted malt. Some chocolate and toffee as well. Ever year is something new.
M/D: A big thick and full body that is very creamy. It is a bit syrupy as well. Fresh the heat is a bit much, but really mellows with less than a year. A treat to sip on.

A really complex beer that I love. A seasonal release that I garb a bunch of every year to enjoy fresh, and age for later. One of the best beers made in Texas. Highly recommended.

Photo of Tilley4
3.66/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to yonderwanderer and hopsleeroy for bottles of this one..

Pours out a typical murky brownish barleywine appearance, not much of a head but at 11%, I wasn't expecting much...

Weakest point of the brew here... Not bad, but not...anything...nosweet malts, no pungent hops, not much of anything...

Nice balance of sweet malts and spicy hops make me forget the non existent aroma... Different than most barleywines I've had but in a good way..

Pretty good little brew here... A good solid little barleywine..

Photo of tpd975
3.65/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Joey R and ibrew2or3 for this one.

A: Pours a cloudy murky orange brown color with a nice big bold head.

S: Wow how can a brewer meld one of the best with one of the worst scents in a beer. The aroma starts of very floral and candy like. Kind of like jasmine laced cotton candy. Just as I am enjoying the flowery sweetness BAM... Cat piss over takes me.

T: Not your average barleywine which to me normally is a good thing. Nice floral flavors with a blast of malt and candied fruit sweetness.

M: Full bodied and smooth.

D: Hmm I am not sure about this one. I think most of the group at the tasting hated it, but I liked it. I have to admit the cat piss aroma is hard to get by but it's a rather unique tasting barleywine.

Photo of JonathanL7890
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Figured I'd audit my stock of 2007 Sisyphys and I was surprised that I hadn't reviewed it.

Poured into a pint glass. 1 finger head lasted about 3-5 minutes before dissipating. Left good lacing around the glass. Color is a deep amber -- similar to a pale ale. There was some sediment floating around in the glass.

Aroma: I get Gummy bears. Floral, cotton candy. Becomes more citrusy as it warms up.

Taste is very nice. The hops blend nicely with the sweetness of the malt to give a good balance. A little caramel in it.

Moutfeel; nice silky mouthfeel. A nice bit of carbonation to lighten it up.

Drinkability : Very easy drinking for a barleywine.

The only defect I see in this beer is the strange sweetness in the aroma.

Photo of ttu94
4.29/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty solid beer. Pours a heavy orange color with small to no head. Love the smell. Full of hops I would almost call this a double IPA but whatever. Very solid tasting brew. Lots of hops followed by some very very nice understated citrus tones. Really a good beer in almost all aspects the ABV is too high but oh well what the hell I'm going to bed now anyway. Best thing made by this brewery by far.

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

2007 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a clear, amber, near-still body. Keepin' it simple!

Smell: Caramel maltiness backed by triple sec, a few tired raisins, and fresh-cut lumber.

Taste: Grainy, dry caramel malt taste with a fairly restrained sweetness. Light hint of dark fruit. A sip of orange liqueur followed by a few drops of grain alcohol. Medium-high, earthy bitterness. Touch of wood. Warm, bitterish finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Rather mild carbonation.

Drinkability: While not a bad barleywine, it doesn't quite display the grace or complexity I look for in the swanky barleywine style.

Photo of Vancer
3.09/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to YonderWanderer for the brew sent as we BIF race, 2008!
Even at 11%, this brew had a massive tan head on top of a hazy amber.
But the aroma and quaff on this one were quite baffling, lots of soapy woody citrus - I've never had a Barleywine with these aspects. I have to really concentrate to pull some fruit through the soap suds.
Strange brew, and from the reviews, I must have got a weird bottle.

Photo of ATLbeerDog
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Version - Pours a deep a red/orange color with an average head, and below average lacing and slighty under carbonated. Smells of citrus and bitter hops. Tastes of rich malts complemented nicely with a lot of hops. The 11.5% ABV is very well hidden. A great beer.

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 606 ratings.