Confounded Mr. Sisyphus | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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Confounded Mr. SisyphusConfounded Mr. Sisyphus
Very Good
55 Ratings
Confounded Mr. SisyphusConfounded Mr. Sisyphus

Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
We brewed this beer as a single batch in 2009, our first full year of brewing. We only brewed it once, then we decided not to do it again. It’s hard to say why, except it seemed like the right thing to do. Maybe we’ll make it again one day.

Anyway, for the sake of history, here is our description:
Confounded Mr. Sisyphus is a subtle beer, full of yeast, bacteria, leafy hops and grains. Mr. Sisyphus’s roots are Vienna-style lager malts, which give a golden orange colour and a malty nuttiness. Light esters and phenols from four strains of yeast give fragrance, and a malolactic bacteria has softened the acidity during conditioning and will continue to do so in the bottle. At his extremities you’ll find herbal German Hallertau and American Crystal hops, like leaves basking in the sun. Finally come Balaton cherries, with their spicy, musty, earthy character.

This is a beer to drink at sunset, be it in the quietness of a darkening forest or with the stillness of the city surrounding you. We even wrote Mr.S his own bedtime story…

“A gentle breeze blew through the forest. The leaves fluttered, and the ripe cherries on the Sisyphus tree bumped against one another. Then all was still. A tiny, contented sigh then came. It would only have been audible to a bird close by, or perhaps a child standing amongst the blossoms near the ground. But a sigh it was, and a most extraordinary sigh, for it came from Mr. Sisyphus.

If you stand at the bottom of the Sisyphus tree, close in beside the trunk where leaves surround you, and gaze up into its depths, you might notice that amongst all the cherries hanging there, one is not quite the same as all the others. Perhaps you will notice a tiny foot, a twig-like hand, or even, if your crane your neck, an eyeball twinkling there amongst the hanging balls of fruit. Unpluckable, never picked by hand, nor pecked by bird, nor pitted and preserved in a pie. Never to fall gently and bounce on soft moss, to be planted and grow again. For there hangs Mr. Sisyphus, the cherry who cannot fall.”

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 47
Photo of gory4d
4.29/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky orange with a billowy white head. The smell is funk and clean grains and something fruity. The taste is crazy: nutty malts, mild funk, some tangy hops, and then every fifth sip or so a huge hit of dank tart cherry. Really, I've never had a beer like this. The mouthfeel is full, foamy, a little slick. A beer like no other - glad to try it at last, glad I have a couple bottles more.

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Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -16.5%

Photo of t0rin0
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of imperialking
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of rmalinowski4
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of JAHMUR
3.5/5  rDev -10%

Photo of TIJAE
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of deapokid
3.5/5  rDev -10%

Photo of waiting4lunch
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of kkipple
3.28/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle got in trade with I-forget-who, sorry! But thanks.

Single batch, June 2009, so this is over a year old by the time we got to it. Drunk with Todes and Bobby8405 from Florida. Note the bizarre bottle art; a cherry playing a flute. Hmm.

A. Clear gold; active carbonation and a fat head that falters but does stick around for the duration. Some specks of lace.

S. Weird. Golden-strongish ale, sweet, sour cherry notes and tons of vague smells I can't pin down. Is that vanilla? Almond? Pilsner malt, it seems, the fruit is minimal but there, and the experience is head-scratchingly vague, but not unpleasant.

T. This is quite odd. No real fruit flavor in this haltingly sweet ale, a decent amount of bitterness but zero hop flavor, and some sour-funk going on plus caramel malt sweetness in the finish. Simply defies easy description.

M / D. Seems till under attenuated, even after those 4 yeast strains... effervescent carbonation, a bitter-sweet flavor lingers with hints of sourness.

Not totally sure what Pretty Things was going for here, heck, maybe they don't even know. Everything about this beer is off-kilter and a bit bent, and while Confounded Mr. Sisyphus is surely confounding, I'm less eager to call it a good beer. Certainly stays with you after you drink it. Recommended to drink if you have one, but I wouldn't seek it out.

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

22 oz bomber, bottled June 2009

A - Pours perfectly clear and golden colored; with a foamy white head that settles to a thin layer with sticky lacing

S - Aroma has a saison funk to it, and a yeasty, bready note. A semi-sweet smelling malt aroma and the faintest bit of hop aroma round things out.

T&M - Carbonation feels brisk and lively; medium bodied. The fruit (cherry) is very well done; there is a very authentic cherry flavor without any added sugary sweetness, but the sweetness is there in the form of the malt; any added fruitiness would be too much I think. The yeast adds a bready and somewhat cracker like quality. At the end is just a bit of funk and grassy hop. Finish is dry and yeasty.

D - Wonderful beer with lots of flavor and a reasonable ABV. I'm sad that this is a one off, and very happy I found it pushed to the back of the shelf in a beer store.

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Photo of nickd717
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber via trade.

Excellent appearance: hazy golden with a well-formed white head and good lacing.

Great saison aroma - light and floral with good funk and malty sweetness.

The flavor is pale malt, very slight cherry, barnyard funk, pepper, and floral hops.

Decent mouthfeel, not as lively as I'd like but well-carbonated with medium body.

A very good saison, and after drinking this I've now ticked all 9 Pretty Things beers. I should get a gold star or some shit for that.

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Photo of largadeer
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks, Nick. Cloudy blond appearance with a large white cap.

Soapy, yeasty nose with a touch of cherry and spice. Pretty mild.

Dry, yeasty, peppery. The cherry is subtle and well integrated, lending the essence of the fruit without any sweetness. Light-bodied and well-carbonated. Light maltiness up-front, with a spicy, fruity finish.

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Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy honey color with a prodigious head that leaves plenty of lace

Smell: Rustic aroma that is vaguely fruity, vaguely spicy, vaguely grassy....nothing jumps out but there is quite a bit of complexity going on

Taste: Unlike the aroma, the taste is much more disctinct; starts out tart and fruity, with stone fruit dominant, but by mid-palate, the tart funkiness starts to dominate like a wild ale, but with nuts and bread underneath and just a hint of sweetness; after the swallow, the cherry flavors become rather assertive and drive home all of the other flavors into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Too bad this is a one off as it would be interesting to see how it would develop over time; as it is, it is drinking beautifully right now with just the right amount of wild sour flavors

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Photo of mountdew1
4.32/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a golden amber with a thick 2 finger foamy off white head. The head lasted 5-10 minutes then left a thin layer that clung to the sides. Copious amounts of carbonation rose from the bottom, that switched to lesser amounts after 10-15 minutes. Aroma was fruity sweet mostly, but occasionally had sour undertones. Taste was slightly sweet, small amounts of cherry type flavors. A very small hint of vanilla milk sweetness. Felt great in the mouth. Very smooth, coated extremely well. Just a touch of carbonation remained. Very pleasant to drink, kept wanting more.

June 2009 One Off on Neck Label

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Photo of womencantsail
3.46/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Bobby for sharing this one.

A: The pour is a hazy golden color with a fluffy white head.

S: The nose is rather bland and unimpressive. There's some light notes of orange peel, yeast, and a mild spice.

T: The flavor is certainly an improvement over the nose. There is a slight hop bitterness which goes along nicely with some sweet malt and orange flavor. The "Belgian" is there too with some spice and yeast notes.

M: The body is medium with a high level of carbonation which tingles the tongue.

D: This had some nice flavors, but nothing spectacular. I enjoyed my sample, but I wouldn't seek this one out again.

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Photo of sulldaddy
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Split a cellar temp bottle with Stopper. Poured into a snifter the beer pours a slightly hazy golden hue with tightly packed bleached white head. The head fades quickly to a wispy surface layer.
Aroma is musty with some bready yeast notes and hints of tart cherry but less fruity than expected after reading the label.
First sip reveals an average body and fine tingly carbonation with relatively smooth texture.
Flavor is some fruitiness but not distinctly cherry, bready doughy yeast notes which remind me of a scone. SOme light tartness and bitter hits on the finish. Maybe hops but not very distinctive flavor just a faint bite on the end of each swallow.
The beer is a fairly easy drinker, but isnt as much cherry or complex as I expected. A decent beer but not an outstanding brew.

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Photo of BTPete
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle shared by friend at weekly tasting.

Confounded Mr. Sisyphus

A: hazy golden, little head, some slight reddish hues.

S: funky and fruity, not as Cherry as expected

T: sweet, funky and tart. Smooth nice and malty.

M: nice and active in my mouth, medium bodied

D: great beer, I have yet to be dissappointed by Pretty Things.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

"The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

--Albert Camus

Bottled June 2009. Sunny apricot orange that isn't too far removed from rich honey gold. The ivory colored cap would not look out of place atop a world-class Belgian ale. The foam is firmly creamy, impressively rocky, and is responsible for a pretty decent display of lace.

The nose is a certified humdinger that is rife with all sorts of herbal, earthy, musky, spicy and faintly funky aromas. Interestingly, no cherries are noted. The beer's complexity may be due to the use of four different yeast strains and malolactic bacteria. Pretty Things can call it whatever they want, but it smells most like a saison. And a damn good one.

Confounded Mr. Sisyphus is delicious, drinkable beer if you prefer well-crafted Belgian ales that showcase spicy Belgian yeast esters (the brewery makes a point to say that no spices are used in any of their offerings). The flavor profile could go either way between Belgian pale and saison.

Golden grains hold down the bottom end and don't get lost in the kaleidoscopic top notes provided by German Hallertau and American Crystal hops, yeast, bacteria and Michigan Balaton cherries. Anyone looking for a cherry-flavored ale will be disappointed, because they aren't any more prominent on the palate than they are in the nose. Tangy pear, melon, lemon zest and meadow grasses become bolder as the beer warms.

Confounded's finest feature may be the interplay between sweet, bitter, tangy and spicy. The brewers did a great job keeping so many balls in the air without bobbling, much less dropping, any of them. In the final reckoning, this 'one off' brew doesn't quite compare with the world's best, but it tastes and feels authentically Belgian, so kudos to Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project for that.

The mouthfeel is well done. It's at least medium in heft and has the expansive creaminess that is needed in beer of this sort. The score could just as easily have been one notch higher. The same is true of the taste score, by the way.

Confounded Mr. Sisyphus is not confounding at all. The brewers have allowed us a peek behind the curtain to see just what makes this complex (yet still accessible) Belgian-style ale tick. Too bad it won't be brewed again because it's a sure-fire winner as far as I'm concerned.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Loterbol tulip. Special thanks to gnOsis for this from our recent trade!

Bottled June 2009
One Off

A: Pours a completely lovely looking, hazed and glowing apricot color with four fingers of creamy bight-white head perched on top. Retention is excellent and sheets and multiple rings of lace were left behind.

S: Spicy/fruity yeast is the dominator here. Aromas of biscuits, floral hops, and candi sugar round it out with fresh cherry wrapping it up into a nice little package.

T: Same as above. Spicy/fruity yeast and candi sugar with some earthy/floral hops, toasty malt, a hint of funk, and slightly tart cherry.

M: Medium carbonation makes for a spry, zingy mouthfeel. Dry hops, sweet candi sugar, tart funk, and bittersweet cherry.

D: An excellent beer. I loved how the fruit was so no way overpowering.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.56/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in a trade a while back...I forget the trader who sent it but thank you again.

Crystal clear light amber color with a fizzy finger of head. Smell is biscuity malts, belgian yeast, and the very slightest hint of cherries that I really only can pinpoint because I know they are there.

Taste is dry malts with a lot of earthy and grainy qualities. The cherries are subtle, I wish I would have drank this a bit fresher...I'm not sure if they faded over the last few months. This has a nice clean taste, nice and easy to drink but not a standout really. If there was a bit more cherry taste I could see myself really enjoying this a lot. Mouthfeel is light to medium. This one might be hard to acquire since it was a one-off, and I have to say it probably isn't worth tracking down. But if you have one drink it now. It is tasty.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle into Sam Adams lager glass. Purchased at Table & Vine in W. Springfield, MA.

Pours clear gold with a huge, dense, rocky head and massive effervescence - cascading waves rise up the glass. Very nice retention, nice lacing.

Nose is yeasty, very peppery, dry, tart, sour cherries underneath. Zesty and full, tangy even.

Taste is really interesting - tart cherries sit underneath tangy yeast, peppery, dry, grainy malt note- the cherries are an accent in this beer rather than the focus. Light, grassy bitterness on the finish that meshes up well with the light cherry and tangy yeast notes. "Rustic" works well here - there's an unrefined quality that works in the beer's favor. The kind of integrated simplicity you get in the best farmhouse ales. Better than 4, but not quite 4.5.

Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied, dry on the finish, balanced carbonation that's a bit sharp but works nicely with the beer. Nice drinkability, tasty, cherries are used really well.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Thirstybird for sharing this brew. Served in my Allagash tulip. Poured a hazy orange-gold with a quarter inch, frothy, white head that dissipates into a skim with a bubbly band that coalesces around the edges. Nose is somewhat muted - some wheat, citrus and tartness revealed as tannins. Taste consistent with nose. Mouthfeel is light-medium with some citrus astringency and a lively background carbonation that approaches fizzy. Flavorful, but a little too fizzy. In terms of the line-up, I found Mr. Sisyphus to be somewhat middle of the road.

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Photo of philipquarles
3.33/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle. Pours hazy gold with a medium white head that dissipates quickly. Decent lacing. Smells of yeast and cherries. Slightly bready and faintly spicy. Stronger cherry in the taste, with some light medicinal phenols. Again, some yeasty character over pale malt. Traces of alcohol. Light-medium body with high carbonation. I was expecting more from this one.

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Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

poured into a chalice,hazy golden with a nice persistent head.

nose has a faint whiff of cherries, spicy yeast character,bit of funk to it.

taste has like,a slightly medicinal cherry flavor to it.bit of some bacterial funk,some bread like malt flavor. finishes dry with a lingering cherry/funk.

medium bodied, moderate carbonation. good drinkability. a fairly funky take on a belgian pale ale, but good nonetheless.

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Confounded Mr. Sisyphus from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Beer rating: 3.89 out of 5 with 55 ratings