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Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

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very good

607 Ratings
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 607
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: 607 | Reviews: 320
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.

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

thanks to Rick Sawyer for this!

2007 bottle > Chimay Goblet

Deep red hued amber color, very vibrant. i love how vivid the color of Barleywine's can get! The crown is thin, about 1" high but very sticky, off-white to tan in color. Dissipates quick to a thin, scattered cover to reveal mild carbonation.

Wow, Very aromatic! rich, heady caramel sweet malt, ripe tropical fruits, campfire smokiness, butterscotch candies, fresh, earthy herbs and only a slight heat buzz. wonderful.

The flavor is that of cedar wood smoke, toffee and caramel flavored malt...very smooth and thick feel from the malt. Overall, full feel, smooth and thick. not overlly sweet, in fact, the balance is right on target. The fresh, earthy herbs flavored hops gives a slight bitter hop punch right at the end.

Might fine Barleywine.

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

A - Poured a dark amber color with a tan head that leaves lacing

S - Is of citrus, fruits, hops, and a touch of alcohol

T - Some alcohol bite then the sweet malt comes through and fruit flavors

M - This has a thicker body with medium carbonation to it

D - This is only the second Barley Wine that I've tried and I must say that its pretty damn good I've had it a few other times since I first took notes and I'll be getting more of it again

Photo of wcudwight
4.06/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to wolfman17.
Copper/amber in color with some gold and orange hues. Nice coloration. Large sticky ivory colored head. Recedes and holds at about 1/2". Sticky tight lacing.
Caramel malt and orange juice in the aroma. Also has a creamy smell to it. Maybe orange sherbert.
Big full malty taste. Sugar cane. Tangerine. Also a bit of hop sharpness and alcohol burn in the finish. I love the way the flavors of this one melts together. Very flavorful and balanced like Bigfoot but a completely different beast.
Slick oily mouthfeel but not as filling as other barleywines which I like.
It doesn't taste like an 11.5% beer but it's still an 11.5% beer so watch out.
Very nice barleywine. One of the better ones I've had.

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

12oz bottle. $3.50 at Whole Foods Austin. Gorgeous copper body with a steady off white skim. Slightly hazed. Aroma of toffee and oranges. Not particularly boozy. Toffee flavored body with a well hopped spicy/citric finish. Peppery. As it warms rich fruit flavors develop and caramel and biscuit malt flavors become more pronounced. Sweet booze balances well with the hop bitterness. Full bodied. Low carbonation. Smooth and dangerously easy to drink. Mellow for its size. Very good beer.

Review Number 900!

Photo of russpowell
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Cheers to Finnman for this 2007 vintage offering!

Pours an effervescent orange/caramel with a rapidly disappearing off-white head, that settles in as a layer of bubbles. some oily aspects to this as well as some haze at the bottom of the bottle.

S: Cakeyness & some dark fruit

T: Fruittyness (dark fruit & orange slices), honey dryness, raisins & much cakeyness up front. More dryness, a hint of pinapple,oranges, some lemony & piney hops. Finishes with piney, leafy & orangey hops, plus oakyness, cany sugar & caramel also there; almost pulled a 4.5

MF: somewhat chewy, with minimal carbonation, some slickness as well, balanced great

Drank really easy for the ABV & style, but should be consumed with caution, could prove a wolf in sheep's clothing.

American BW aspects showed up subtly versus in your face. I let this one warm up, quite a bit too prior to consumption, so this late game hop surge took me by suprise

Photo of stumac
4.7/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2007, aged, cracked open April '08

Pours a murky orange with very delayed, great ivory colored 1 inch head. Head quickly melts away into an uneven layer of bubbles. Great lace staying all over my Duvel glass. The weight of this beer is tremendous and obviously screaming "I'm so damn full bodied!"
Aromatics of faint, citrusy hops, sweet malt characters, notes of caramel.
Taste is great! Light tangerine flavor, sweet caramel that sticks to your lips, slight spicy hops, floral hops, slight alcohol spice, mellow carbonation, long long long lingering finish.
A great beer. Masks the high alcohol fantastically. You can tell that aging this beer for a really long time will be in order. Snatch the '07 while you still can!

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to turbine2475 for the bottle. Pours thick and viscous and a beautiful dark orange color. Very little head but excellent lacing. I wonder if the brewery has some quality issues with this brew. Some of the reviews seem to be reviewing a different beer, and I had this last weekend at the brickstore where there was a pronounced band-aid taste. Happily, my 2007 bottle is clean and fresh tasting. Nice aromas of sweet citrus and honey, but a little light. The taste has more oomph, with the same sweet orange and honey, but with more vibrancy and the addition of some floral flavors reminiscent of wildflower honey. Not overly sweet, as there is a nice bitter flavor to balance on the finish. The mouthfeel is smooth, abit sweet, but very clean and not sticky at all. Quite nice, a pleasure to drink, and no hotness at all even with the fairly big abv.

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

Received this one a little ways back in a trade, and being that it was a nice barley wine and I had never heard of it, I had to get a hold of it. Simple bottle, with a blue reflective label with just the name and the 2007-year on it. The pour was rather uninspiring if I am going to be honest. There was a nice amber orange with a decent amount of cloudiness to it, however, it looks rather lifeless to be honest. No head to speak of, no lace at all. No carbonation visible. Not sure, what's up with that, but one of my pet peeves is the lifeless liquid look, I know some are supposed to be that way, but I still cannot get past it. I would like to see something in the glass.

Anyway, the aroma was very sweet, bordering on sickeningly sweet at times. With a huge sugary, cotton candy like aroma coming off it, that was blended in with a light floral hoppiness. This reminded me a lot of Burton Baton when it ages a bit, and the hops come down, really coming on strong. The flavor was a dead ringer for the smell as well. Really sweet and rich. There was just loads of sugar dumped down upon a very hoppy profile, or what might have been at one time. I could pick up still the faint traces of a piney like hoppiness that were still lingering way in the back, but was overrun with this candied sugar like flavor. The body was fairly light, and not as flat as I was expecting it to be, but still needed a little more weight behind it to push it through. I was easily able to polish off the bottle, not sure what the ABV is one this one, but if its high, it was well masked.

Overall, it was not bad by any means, just a little too sweet for my tasting. Maybe it was better fresh, or maybe it needs a couple years to figure it self out. Either way it was an above average beer, but nowhere near, the big flavorful barley wines I have had in the past. I would say grab one and sit on it and see what happens.

Photo of Atlas1
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I'm not sure what a barleywine style brew from the Texas hill country has to do with a character from Greek mythology who's punishment from the gods was to roll a huge boulder up a hill for eternity. But let's see.

The Sisyphus pours a pretty copper-orange color with some reddish hues. Thick two-finger head on top with lots of sticky residue lace. The nose holds scents of candied fruit. Strongly malted strawberry and orange. Bold and sweet, with a funky hop scent lingering somewhere in there. Yeah, this smells good, but perhaps a bit too sweet for some. Tastes delicious. Strong but not boozy. Sweet and malty, but with a very nice balance of hops and spice. Lots of dark fruits. Some pleasant tanginess as well. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy.

Definitely the best beer I've had from Real Ale BC. Not that they do any bad beers, but the Sisyphus is a rung higher on their ladder than the others. A fine example of the American Barleywine. Seek this out and give it a try.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got a couple of 2007 bottles in a recent trade with mhewes, thanks. Nice simple label, hopefully the beer speaks for itself. The color is a nice cloudy orange and has smells like candy, cherries and syrup, a slight bit of fumes. The flavor is interesting at first and then a little medicinal,aspirin and then hoppy bitterness. It seems hot but it does have a nice cinnamon flavor which is weird and as it wamrs it starts to taste better. It feels warming once it hits the stomach. I am going to let the other bottle sit for awhile to see if this tames it down some.

Photo of Jwale73
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to JDV for the opportunity to try this one.
Served in my DFH snifter. Poured burnt-orange/copper in color. Quarter-inch off-white head with copious ringlets settled into a thin an oily swirl; no lacing. Scent is sugary sweet, with dark fruit (raisins/prunes) and a slight bready quality. Taste similar to nose (so sugary sweet) as well as a hint of caramel. Extremely viscous mouthfeel, almost syrupy, followed by a little bitterness at the finish. Drinkability is somewhat limited by it's consistency and abv, which was surprisingly well-hidden.

Photo of Overlord
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a sweet, sweet, nectar. Thanks for the trade!

Pours a bright amber/orange. Not much head (maybe a thin white rim). Some lacing. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. Not much carbonation.

Smells like sweet/dark fruits with caramel malt. My favorite combination! The taste adds a bit of hops to the sweet fruit backbone. The malt is robust, and caramel-ly. The flavor adds in dark roasted fruits: plums, figs, etc. There may be some tropics in here, too. Mangoes come to mind.


Photo of Bitterbill
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I got this in a trade with JDV. Thanks Deniz!

This is the 2007 vintage:

It pours a clear deep amber/copper with about a 1" head of foam from a vigorous pour. Good lacing here.

The smell is very fruity(dark fruit) and yeasty?
I also get a touch of cramel and some alcohol.

The taste is loaded with dark fruit...plum, black cherry, some fig, and they're pretty tart but tasty but I also get some sweetish notes from the malt and some tobbaco. Nice. I think this is the fruitiest BWSA I've tried so far and it's a nice slant on the style me thinks.

The mouthfeel is kind of on the thin side and the carbonation is low(appropriate for a BWSA)and it finishes on the tart side because of the dark fruit. Pretty tasty fresh and I could see this would be interesting as to where it would go with a bit of aging on it. I'm certainly glad I got the chance to try it!

Photo of Risser09
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a wine glass - 2007 bottling - Cellar temp

Appearance: Pours a semi cloudy brown with orange highlights. " ivory head with good retention. The lace is sticky and clings to the glass with every sip.

Smell: Strong, sweet caramel, dark fruits of plum, fig, raisin soaked in dark rum. Smells like an aged JW Lees. Dark cherry os a very strong aroma. Very authentic and biscuity.

Taste: Strong tobacco and leather, immensely malted beer has just enough sugar not to be cloying. Bitter coffee finish mixes with an alcohol burn. Slight fruit flavors of cherry and raisin.

Mouthfeel: A big bodied beer with lots of chewiness and biscuity goodness. Alcohol is high and noticable, it provides a nice burn.

Drinkability: This is a sipper, if the taste matched the aroma, it would be a much better beer. I wish I had another one to lay down for awhile. Worth a try!

Photo of DIM
4.44/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

note: This was the 2007 vintage.

a: This poor over-worked bastard is a somewhat clear reddish copper color; lighter than most barleywines. It pours with a thin light tan head that can be revived by a vigorous swirl.

s: Subtle aromas of piney hops and alcohol. Big sweet fruit smells of raisins and plums soaked in brandy. This one is sugary, bitter, and bit sour all at the same time.

t: Very ripe dark fruit flavors dominate, raisins, plums, and cherries. All are sugary and tart at the same time. It has a nicely balanced pine hop finish, along with some very welcome warming alcohol.

m: This is one of the most viscous barleywines I've tried. Fantastic body and some well done subtle carbonation.

d: Big thanks to JDV for the chance to try this one. One of the best so far for me.

Photo of nrbw23
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Poured kind of thick, with a nice copper color. Small white head with very little lacing.

S-Smells malty and maybe a little bready.

T-Nice and sweet at first and then it turns bitter. Great balance with a nice hop crisp finish.

M-Medium body and goes down nice and easy.

D-Really easy to drink of all the Barleywines this one is very drinkable. Watch out on this one it can easily sneak up on you!!

Big thanks to JonathanL9870 for this one.

Photo of soultrain19
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sisyphus pours rather thick. It does have a rather pleasant copper color. Very light carbonation with very little head and even less retention. A powerful malty aroma with distinct smell of raisins.The first sips were slightly sour. As I continued to drink it the sweetness really piqued my taste buds. The mouth feel wasn't quite my to my liking but not bad. Overall the complex vanilla, caramel and raisin flavors complimented more than contradicted. All in all a good beer from a good brewery.

Photo of brentk56
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2007 version (tasted 11/9/09)

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange/amber color with just a film of a head despite an increasingly hard pour; the head disappears quickly although it did manage a few strands of lace

Smell: Caramel dominates but there are some fruity hops underneath

Taste: Starts out with a caramel flavor that bends in a fruity, bitter direction by mid-palate; there is an unusual lychee and pineapple flavor in the middle that is quite interesting; after the swallow, the caramel re-asserts itself but is joined by the lychee/pineapple flavors add a nice balancing dimension to the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous, almost velvety; low carbonation

Drinkability: Despite all of my criticism, the beer is somewhat tasty; just nowhere near the top ranks of barleywines, primarily because of the carbonation/mouthfeel issues; I have tasted this barleywine both when it is fresh and with a year or two of age and I have to say that it takes a couple of years for this beer to shake off some of the fusel characteristics that make it awkward in its youth

Thanks, MiguelMandingo, for the opportunity to re-visit this as it certainly changed my opinion

Drinking the 2009 version in early 2011, I find that this version has resolved the carbonation issues I noted earlier so I am bumping the Appearance and Mouthfeel scores by .5.

Photo of DrJay
3.93/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this as an extra in a recent trade with JDV. Thanks!
2007. Poured really thick and viscous, tiny beige bubbles formed a solid cap, settled to a thin skim and ring. Spotty lacing, good head retention, particularly for the abv. Slightly hazy orange colour. Herbal/floral aroma with mild malt and alcohol in the background. Kind of weird, but interesting. More malt in the flavour, caramel sweetness with moderate bitterness. Hop flavour was forward, again with the herbal character. Sort of reminded me of the grassy/herbal flavour of Jagermeister, just not as intense. Heavy body with fine, low carbonation. Alcohol was restrained and mostly contributed a pleasant warmth and hint of spice in the finish. Definitely not a clone of every other American BW out there. The herbal quality really sets this one apart. It was kind of strange at first, but it really grew on me and came into its own as it warmed.

Photo of khiasmus
3.35/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a deep amber into my chalice, and boasts a half-finger of white head that retains fairly well but affords very minimal lacing. Slightly cloudy.

The aroma is good. No more, but good. hints of biscuit in the whelming malt sweetness, complimented by just a tinge of grapefruit and spicy phenols: clove, nutmeg, cinnamon.

The flavor is where it begins to fall apart. Initial malt character is tasty, but overwhelmed by spice; almost like gingerbread with nutmeg... even egg nog. The finish is nutty, biscuity, and hop-bitter without having much hop flavor. This is a very strange, unexpected beer--and I've had a barleywine or two in my time.

The mouthfeel is at first syrupy, then a bit thin, then extremely astringent, adding to the intensely herby and spicy finish.

It's not an undrinkable beer, but could be better called an American strong ale--or even a winter barleywine. The spice is simply overwhelming this beer, and while it's not bad tasting.... it doesn't taste like a barleywine.

Photo of hoppymeal
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007. Pours a hazy rusty copper in color, a small cream and butter colored creamy head fades to a ring. Aroma is raisins and sweet plums, sugary caramel maltiness, and a mildly bourbony alcohol. Taste is a light fruitiness, some berries and cotton candy and sugary maltiness. Some light appley tartness blends well with the sugary caramel malts. Mouthfeel is medium to heavy, somewhat sticky sugariness coats the mouth, creamy full feel from the large malt content and low levels of creamy carbonation. Some alcohol warmth in the finish as well. Great barleywine, easy to drink, but then I love barleywines. Would love to lay one down for 2-4 years and let it thin out a bit. Thanks Steve for the opportunity.

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

Pours a beautiful amber-copper. I'd give it a 5 for color. However, despite my EXTREMELY vigorous pour, I got essentially no head. Boo.

Big molasses tones offset by a sharp hop aroma. This smells like a very well balanced brew indeed, with toffee and lemon intermingling in the nose.

Interesting. I would say it definitely leans more towards the English varietals of this style. Massive toffee and bready malt as opposed to overwhelming hoppiness in the American versions. Generally, I prefer the American B-wines, but this is quite a tasty treat. Very well balanced, with hops coming in on the tail in a strong attempt to even this one out. Excellent... and where is the alcohol? Perhaps it sneaks up on you toward the end, but is certainly not as in your face for a fresh, 11.5% brew.

The mouthfeel is spot on. Big and thick and mouthfilling with a kick of hops on the palate to make sure your tongue isn't too overburdened by the weight. Well done.

Enjoyable, but I think the abv is going to prevent me from saying its "drinkable" per se. Still, very very solid from one of my favorite Texan breweries. Glad I have another of these stashed away.

Photo of timbro81
4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to RickSawyer for the opportunity. A bottle of 2007 that pours a slight hazy amber/orange with little to no head. Smells big and boozey with a good fruitiness to it, maybe candied apricots? Also some rich malts in the nose. Taste is MUCH mellower than expected. Slightly silky on the tongue, refined malts with a little carmel and toffee. Well balanced with the hops, which are tough to discern. Ends with a really nice warmth. Very enjoyable, would have really liked to tried this one fresh to compare it to this. Very smooth drinking, could easily sip this throughout the night.

Photo of ballewblake
4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 tap to the 2007 bottle/tap.

I used to drink this at the Flying Saucer in Addison like it was going out of style. Usually followed a DFH 90 Minute. Super smooth and incredibly drinkable. I don't remember the alcohol being over powering on the pallet until the 2007 came out.

Had the 2007 on tap at Rutz in Houston and wow what a difference from the 2006. Taste is more reminiscent of that barley wine taste you'd expect, much harsher on the alcohol side than before. Drinking from a bottle I get the same thing. This variant almost seems to be a different beer to me. Drink ability is still there but I'm more hessitent with it now, Not something you want to over drink in a session, and hard to go through fast (I got to the bar late and it was one of two places in Texas (they said) that got a keg of the '07. So got one glass, drink it, last call, got another thinking they'd let me finish but no, had to slam it and it was a challenge.)

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 607 ratings.