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Sisyphus - Real Ale Brewing Company

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

591 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 591
Reviews: 317
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: 12.18%
Wants: 42
Gots: 126 | 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: 591 | Reviews: 317 | Display Reviews Only:
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.)

Photo of drseamus
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
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
3.49/5  rDev -11.4%
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
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
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
3.82/5  rDev -3%
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
3.86/5  rDev -2%
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
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
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
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
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
3.41/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

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
3.61/5  rDev -8.4%
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
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
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
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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

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
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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!!!

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.

Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 591 ratings.