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Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

Not Rated.
SisyphusSisyphus

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

582 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 582
Reviews: 314
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 12.44%
Wants: 42
Gots: 122 | 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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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 582 | Reviews: 314 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of drseamus
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to littlebreeze for sharing this bottle.

Nice amber body topped with a white head. The aroma isn't as strong as I'd like. It has a bit of malt in the aroma. The flavor has a good spicy malt base with nice bitterness. The balance is great. The body is a touch light for a barleywine but it's about medium. This is a very smooth and balanced barleywine; very easy to drink.

Photo of satowns
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First, thanks GregMcQ for the quick and easy trade!

Small pssst upon opening; poured into a pint glass...this beer is viscous! Sisyphus is topped with an extremely minimal and quick fading head. It has a beautiful coppery orange color.

Caramelized malt and a touch of chocolate are immediately noticed in the nose. Deep inhalation reveals a sharp EtOH aroma and a little solvent. Hop presence is indistinguishable; based on other reviews I was left scratching my head on that.

At a reported 11% abv, this beer still has a ton of body. I'm guessing the final gravity was in the 7-8 Plato range. Pretty complex flavor profile, its hard to identify the individuals, but I get a bit of white bread crust, oak and nice repasado tequila in the finish.

A nice barleywine, but not typical of the style of barleywine or strong ale I would normally gravitate towards. I wasn't wowed by the aroma. I wasn't impressed by the flavor either (at first), but it quickly grew on me. Although, I think the price of nearly 4 bucks a bottle might send me elsewhere.

Music enjoyed whilst sampling: Maggie's Farm by Bob Dylan

Photo of skittlebrau
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ok I've been wanting to try this for several weeks now. 2007 vintage.

A: Very thick, looks like honey pouring out of the bottle. No substantial head, although one tried to form after the beer had been poured.

S: Lots of strong aromas. Flowery hops, and honey...again.

T: Bitter and hoppy with a little bit of sweetness. The flowers are there again with some fruit. I hate to say it but...honey. Very strong flavor.

M: Thick.

D: Ok, this beer is slow to drink. Definitely a sipper. I can't see having more than one of these in a night.

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

thanks to DIM for this via trade! I always love to try new to me barleywines and this one comes all the way from TX!

A - cloudy orange brown with a minimalist off white head.
S - sweet caramel malts, solid orange / citric hop notes dominate.
T - much the same as the aroma but with a bit of dark fruits and toffee.
M - full bodied, modest carbonation, strong warming effect, bit raw.
D - a bit on the warm side but it is over 11%. Smooths out some at the halfway point.

judged on the basis of this 2007 bottle. seems like a perfect candidate for cellaring to round out the body. alas, I only have this one.

Photo of aerozeppl
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to LittleBreeze for this bottle.

A: Copper color with very minimal head.

S:Malt bomb. Not much else going on.

T:Very smooth for a barley wine. Doesn't even really taste like a barley wine. Very well balanced.

M: Med body with a syrupy feel that coats the tongue.

D: One of the most drinkable barley wines I have ever had.

Photo of IBUnit63
3.55/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice, heavy mouthfeel expected for a barleywine with excellent viscosity - almost has the feel of a light-medium body dessert wine. Fresh, balanced, malty taste with good hop aroma, although masked by slight over-abundance of alcohol. Well-made, solid effort.

Photo of BeerBelcher
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Barleywine at 11%, huh? I didn't realize that when I ordered off the big board late a few nights ago at the Austin Gingerman (on tap). But I did really enjoy it. It was hoppy and rich and roasty and good.

It poured a red-brown opaque color and had 2cm of whitish head. Aroma was more hoppy than anything else, but was slightly sweet as well. Flavor was more sweetness, but also with some roastiness and a significant amount of hoppiness. Mouthfeel was substantial; a bit astringent (maybe the ABV asserting itself).

Very good; I'd recommend it. I had this on-tap at the Austin Gingerman.

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

I had this on tap at The Dancing Bear Pub, a new beer bar/ brew pub in Waco.

Appearance: Pours a hazed amber-copper with a beige head that thins to a film leaving patches of lace.

Smell: Light overall, dark fruit, a nice caramel maltiness, and hints of alcohol.

Taste: Sweet caramel malts, vague notes of dark fruit. The finish has a bit of citrus character, with notes of earth and a moderate bitterness. The alcohol is well hidden.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, moderate carbonation, creamy.

Drinkability: Sweet, and a little strong. Could have used a little more hops.

Overall: I really liked the maltiness in this beer, but I thought it could have used a bit more hop bitterness.

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

Out of a bottle because I stupidly didn't order it when I was at a bar that had it

A - cloudy, darker amber

S - fruity, sweet, malty, bready due to yeast I imagine

T - fruity, sweet, malts come through, some alcohol present

M - medium bodied, tiny bit of carbonation, feels pretty nice

D - pretty good. This is more sweet than I normally drink, but then again I don't drink barleywines all the time. Real Ale have been doing good things, and this is one of them. I'd have it again and regret not grabbing it while it was on tap. There's always next Christmas I suppose. Check it out if you can find it.

Photo of ppoitras
3.43/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle obtained as part of Secret Santa 07 package from RickSawyer. Thanks for the opportunity... 2007 Vintage.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1/4" beige head over the cloudy reddish amber brew. Head is quickly down to an uneven layer of bubbles, with average lacing. Aroma is sweet, slightly vegetal, with some smokiness. Taste carries on in the same vein, smoky sweetness with a slight off flavor. Mouthfeel is smooth in a low carbonation way, and drinkability is okay. Age seems to help this one, get some and hold it for awhile.

(4.5/4/4/3.5/3.5,2/12/05)
12oz bottle obtained as part of BIF 14 from Assurbanipaul. Thanks for the opportunity... 2004 Vintage.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 2" yellowish-beige head over the 10W30-hued brew. Head tightens up to about 1 1/2" and holds steady, with nice lacing for the style. Aroma is syrupy sweet, with some fruity alcohol notes, but not overpowering by any means for an 11.5abv. Taste exhibits sweetness firstly, fading to the fruity alcohol, which is a bit more pronounced than the nose led to believe. Lots of warming going on. Mouthfeel and drinkability are pretty good for the style, although the sweetness becomes a bit off-putting as warming occurs, and you'll not be having many of these in a sitting, although the complexities make revisiting a cool option, at another time. Good barleywine.

Photo of pheggeseth
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: cloudy orangish amber, no head, very little carbonation

S: alcohol with strong caramel and raspberry notes

T: alcohol again, but followed closely by a hop bitterness and faint caramel

M: creamy, but a little thin, bitterness a little too much

D: my first barley wine, so I can't comment much about the style, but I know the bitterness in the aftertaste was a little too much for me

Photo of DarthMalt
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Ye...Ha. Texas has a real micro."

Well, I'll admit I had some doubts, but, sure enough, this one delivers.

Musty yeast aromas lead the pack, followed by the requisite tannin and rosin flavors. Alcohols pinch nasal and glottal as well but not as strongly as more established barleys. Finish is vague, if non-exisitent. Oh, well.

But, still. A barley from Texas? "Never would'a thunk it."

Keep on truckin' Real Ale!

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

Thanks JDV for sending this

Color is a warm glow between orange and an amber depending on how the light hits. Nice lace. Sweet candy and fruit aroma. Not overly sweet.

The candy and fruit taste is wonderful. Right now this is a pretty well balanced. But...it seems a little light on the tongue. There is no after taste. Sort of like it is just there.

Beware - the 10-11% is well hidden. Sisyphus goes down (the hill) pretty easy.

I enjoyed this one and I'm interested in tasting how it ages.

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

Pours out an orangey honey with a thin ring of "head" and tiny spots of "lace." Nose is of brown sugar, plums, sherry, and grassy hops. The plums come out in full force in the flavor. High piloncillo sweetness is perceived. I get touches of melon and a grassy hop finish with some nice bitterness on the back. Some alcohol warmth, but it is impressively subdued considering the gravity on this one. Good flavors here, but I'd like a little more complexity, I guess. Mouthfeel is thick, syrupy, and has an ever-so-gentle carbonation. Tasty beer, but the sweetness holds me back from giving this a higher drinkability.

Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2007-12-06
Nice hop in the nose - perfume-like and floral with citrus hints. Sweet, chocolate, roasted malt. Citrus and chocolate make a nice pair. Muttled amber/honey color. Good clarity. Very little head. Great mouthfeel, but the flavor is on the light side. Chocolate malt tones mix again with citric hop tones for a neat flavor sensation. Roasted malt is subtle and soft. Hop flavor is quite subtle too, but hop bitterness is pronounced. Body is thick and mostly uncarbonated - borderline cough syrup - which is totally awesome, that insane feeling of viscosity in my mouth. The flavor, though, just never amounts to much - the malt and hop flavors are so light that the hop bitterness overpowers them.
2.5 | 3.5 | 2.0 | 5.0 | 3.0

Vertical tasting 2007 & 2008:
2009-06-22 | 2007 Vintage
Nose is dark and malty with lots of caramel-like sugars. Perhaps mild oxidation. More roasted sugars with each sniff. Some alcohol. Smells good. Pours a deep tangerine color, moderate clarity, almost no head. Looks pretty good. First sip brings a crazy thickness to the tongue. Initial flavor is soft with a good bit of tart floral fruit and bitterness. There's a surprising lack of malt flavor for the body, just some mild chocolate and faint nuttiness.
Lots more malt in the nose as well as vanilla, oaky wood, and some toffee/buttery scrumptiousness. More sour and tart, with an amazingly lusciously thick body. Must have had a hell of an OG! Still little flavor for a BW.
Whiffs now of old books... must be oxidized. Some chocolate comes through.
As it warms it gets increasingly wet/damp/old tasting which is wonderfully interesting. To say it tastes like a moldy piece of wet cardboard would be a gross overstatement, but not terribly far from my impression.
A little yeast cake on the bottle bottom.
3.7 | 3.75 | 3.1 | 4.8 | 3.2

2009-06-22 | 2009 Vintage
Nose is floral citric hoppy with some fruity esters, a mild spiciness, and very mild alcohol. Smells pretty good at best. Pours a deeper tangerine color, almost amber, good clarity, almost no head. Looks pretty good. First sip shows a slightly thinner body with lots more flavor and some carbonation. A moderate dose of hops brings citric, piney, spicy, herbal and pungent oils to the tongue. Carbonation foams the thick body into a creamy mouthfeel. Drinkability is extremely high for this hop lover - which might make this a dangerous ale. Soft alcohol hints, but no real malt flavor yet. How odd.
Bright citrus tones shine though the dark thickness giving light to some very shy darkly roasted malt; impressions of chocolate and coffee over a nutty malt body.
Good, clean, and pronounced hop flavor shining through a reluctant malt base.
A little larger yeast cake on the bottle bottom.
3.75 | 3.55 | 3.85 | 4.8 | 4.3

Far from a good Barleywine, Sisyphus has everything except 'flavor'. It just doesn't taste like much of anything. It feels wonderful, but goes down like thick muddy water. The 2007 exhibits almost no positive flavor; but given the time it's been sitting around since it was bottled, maybe in Majestic Liquor's coolers, maybe not, I can sympathize (this is supported by my review in 2007). The 2008 does have some good fresh hops, but not even enough for an American Pale Ale... so maybe it's an English Barleywine? I still think it's weak. If this is the best that the boys at Real Ale can churn up then they need to hire a real Brewmaster. At least it wasn't really over-priced.

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

1/28/07
Sure, 2x months isn't a TON of time, but I can say that even in this short amount of time, this barleywine is really mellowing out. Booze has mellowed and a wonderful, port-like quality is blooming!!!

12/03/07
Nice baseball glove leather coloring. Pours a tiny carmel creamed head that escapes to a thin ring around the glass. Initial smells of sweet bread, very fresh, malty, doughy smell. Don't detect any hop notes in the nose of this barley wine. Nice, thick, sticky mouthfeel. Initial taste is still quite boozy, could use some time to really balance out. Taste is buscuity malts, sweet whole wheat bread flavors. Very faint hint of raisin and lemon zest in the swallow. More than enough booze to light up the throat after the swallow. Some people might not enjoy this but it doesn't bother me too much. Its not overbearing and doesn't deter from the enjoyment of the flavors. This is a very drinkable barley wine as is, but I can't wait to try this in a year or two.

Good job Real Ale.

Photo of allengarvin
4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage, just arrived in Dallas yesterday. Poured into a wide-mouthed chalice, at first it looked like no head was going to develop... but then as it settled, a large, rich, creamy topping of foam formed, long-lasting, with excellent lacing. Very rich, malty aroma, with some piney hop notes and a moderate fruitiness. Likewise, a thick, sweet, caramel-toffee flavor is evidenced on first taste, sweet and sticky, but there's a good deal of bitterness to balance it out. Hops never completely come to the forefront: the emphasis is on the malt. There's a honey-fruity yeast character, with a lingering mix of flavors at the finish. Texture is exceptional: creamy smooth, not too big despite the strength. Very drinkable.

This gets better each year. It's a shame it gets such a small, limited release.

Photo of Onslow
4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

hahahaha! a case was sent to my local after talking to my head beer honcho of the whole city! Pours a dark tan-brown, has a constent foam layer... The aromas that emanate are fan-freakin-tastic! ... yahoo!..''maybe she's sleepy??'' ... for an american barleywine, this has to be the most drinkable in all of man kind!!! .. i could drink this after a 90 min soccer game or with breakfast in the morning, its that f*ckin good and SMOOTH!!! balnced and tasty, I recommend this to anyone who even considers a barleywine once and a while because this is the definition of: beauty! ...by the way, is this really 11%..????

Photo of hopsleeroy
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Tried a bottle right off the shelf. Being in Austin, I've tried quite a few Real Ale brews and have found them to be inconsistant sometimes. Pours a copper body, off white head, and little carbonation A very vicous pour. Smell is toffee, caramel, hints of fruit and alcohol lurking-hops are understated but have a nice bit of pine/citrus aroma to them. Tastes like the smell-fairly sweet with the toffe and brown sugar and almost being too sweet and then being rescued by some piney hops that finish in the back of the throat. Mouthfeel is very full and this beer coats the entire mouth. Fairly drinkable, but maybe a little syrupy to have more than 2. Overall a very good effort by Real Ale.

Photo of JDV
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

'07 bottle
Pours dark amber to brown in a snifter with a big creamy head after a violent pour. Pours into itself like dense syrup or oil, in that it doesn’t splash, but rather silently is enveloped. Smell is of rich toffee, caramel, and a hint of fresh hops.
Taste is smooth, creamy, friendly earthy sweetness with a nice mouthfeel and a nice mild grassy hop finish. Not cloying, or overly hopped like many barley wines seem to be. Very balanced, and a bit tame, but the drinkability is high. Hops kick in a touch more as it warms, and the alcohol is extremely well hidden. Nice beer and looking forward to seeing how this one ages.

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

Wow, hard to believe that it has been year since anyone reviewed this beer. This is a delicious barleywine, and definitely my favorite offering from Real Ale. I drink barleywines regardless of the season, so it is a shame that this isn't a year-round offering.

Poured a 12 oz. bottle into a Old Guardian barleywine glass.

Appearance - The initial pour is thick. Really thick. There is no head at first, and then the bubble stream starts - a 1/2 finger head appears and then quickly dissipates again. It gets a point or two knocked off for the head life cycle, but then gets points added for the beautiful lacing it leaves behind. The color is a transparent caramel amber.

Smell - Enticing. Toffee, caramel, vanilla, brown sugar and burnt sugar are contained in the initial scent, and dominate start to finish. There is a fruit scent in there as well - raisins and sweet cherries. The end of the scent is very grapefruity citrusy hops.

Taste - The taste is very similar to the scent. I get lots of toffee, brown sugar and caramel in the initial flavor - very sweet. The hops come in very quickly and last until the end of flavor - very piney, grapefruity and citrus-like. The alcohol peaks through the flavor as the beer warms to room temperature.

Mouthfeel - Full bodied. Very full. The beer is very oily and coats the mouth throughout the entire course of the brew. The carbonation level is a little low for my taste, but suits the beer pretty well. Goes down extremely smooth.

Drinkability - For as strong as this beer is, it is extremely drinkability. The mouthfeel and the flavor just keep bringing me back for more.

I was impressed with this one. Real Ale has never really wowed me until I tasted this beer. I am going to the store tomorrow to buy them out.

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

12oz. bottle thanks to MUSHROOMCLOUD

Pous a thick orange amber with a small white head that thins. Nice lacing on the glass.

Monster fruity aroma of citrus hops with a sticky sweet malt background. The booze becomes present as it warms.

Sweet and fruity upfront with a big citrus hop flavor. It leads into a caramel malty flavor as it finishes sweet with another blast of hops. The alcohol makes itself known as it warms.

Fat body, slightly syrupy. Good carbonation.

For such a big beer, it's rather drinkable. I wanted to let it sit another year, but curiosity got the best of me. Certainly a good American barleywine, that fans of the style should seek out. Definitely the most impressive beer I've had yet from the state of Texas.

Photo of apmurphy
4.43/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Opal Devine's in Austin. Pours a deep hazy orangey amber with minimal head. Aroma is sweet with significant fruity hop. 11.5% is well hidden in the tasty malt/hop balance, tons of both. Not unlike a well aged Bigfoot. The best beer brewed in Texas? I can't think of one that's better.

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

Traded this with HardTarget. Thank you very much!

When I opened the bottle I was overwhelmed by American hops.
Poured out in a pilsner glass, but I didn’t receive a head. There is some lacing on top, a very thin layer.
The colour is a dark misty peach. No carbonation present.
The odour gives a very strong hop odour, alcohol, spices (coriander) and orange peel.
Very deep hop tones, combined with malt and alcohol. Continues with dark chocolate and scotch orange marmalade.
The mouthfeel is very earthy and meat like.
The aftertaste is less on bitterness and more on mature tones. Oak wood, honey, dried orange peel, sea salt and earth.

Still struggling with the American hops, but I know a good brew when I taste one.

Photo of bditty187
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It is hard to believe that one year ago today (July 11th) I was sitting at my computer finishing a glass of Founders Devil Dancer. I thought it was a damn great beer. Moments later I got a phone call from my dad that my grandfather had taken a surprising turn for the worse. He died later that night. It is funny; I’ll never forget Devil Dancer.

In the wake of my family’s mourning and a delayed trip to Colorado I completed a trade with assurbanipaul. I don’t even remember what we traded or how it came about. I do remember though, a bottle of Sisyphus 2005 with a hand-written note explaining this beer was adding to our trade in memory of my grandfather. I don’t think I ever planned on saving it for a year, it just worked out that way. Well, one year later, on the day my grandfather died I finally opened and reviewed this beer.

---

Tawny-gold in hue with a smattering of amber as well, the liquid is slightly hazy; while far from turbid it is not clear either. The foam was a modest half-finger tall and the head retention was fairly poor as only after a moment or two all that remained was a thin soapy collar, naked in the middle. There wasn’t any subsequent lacing to speak of. Overall, the appearance is right-on for the style but nothing all that special either.

The nose doesn’t blast out of the glass as I’d like a barleywine to do. I have to work for the aromas a bit but I finally detect a pleasant orangey-plumy fruitiness encased in caramel. Either the hops were never present or they have faded. The alcohol is also well-hidden. Based on the nose either this barleywine is going to bore me or shock me to the core with raw, restrained power that is for some reason, hidden. I am hoping for the latter because the bouquet is awfully soft spoken. What I smell is inviting.

The palate is… very nice. It is not boring (thankfully!) but it isn’t overbearing either. After a few sips I can sum up the palate as “barleywine.” This beer shows everything I love about the style. It has massive alcohol notes and equally large malt sweetness with plenty of devilish caramel. I like the fruitiness… raisins, figs, dates, plums, oranges, and even a random apple. Candy heat near the finish, I swear there is a brief tickle of bitterness which fades back to sweetness for the aftertaste, which is also fairly hot (but in a good way). In some ways the palate is kind of restrained and tame but this beer is tasty nevertheless. This is not one of the better barleywines I’ve tasted and yet it is the perfect beer to drink right now (even sentimental reasons aside). I mean regardless, this is a really solid barleywine.

About medium in body, kind of thin for the style but not detrimentally so; low, smooth carbonation… the mouthfeel works well with this beer. I’d like a richer feel but I’m really picky with barleywines. I mean perfection is hard to attain putting a smile on my face is much easier. I am smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

Drinkable, yummy… tasty as all hell but I do wonder if this would’ve been better fresh? Maybe not. I’ll never know. Regardless, it was fitting I drink this one year removed. I like it very much but I think I like the gesture much more. Sometimes the pursuit of great beer is kind of silly and superficial but I’ll never forget Sisyphus. Thank you again, assurbanipaul. This was a special beer from TX.

Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 582 ratings.