Confounded Mr. Sisyphus | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

very good
47 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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.”

Added by Patrick on 06-18-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 55
Photo of gory4d
4.29/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

 397 characters

Photo of kkipple
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

 1,349 characters

Photo of ZeroSignal
4/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

 873 characters

Photo of nickd717
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

 479 characters

Photo of largadeer
3.88/5  rDev 0%
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.

 338 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
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

 856 characters

Photo of mountdew1
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
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

 640 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.46/5  rDev -10.8%
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.

 627 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

 788 characters

Photo of BTPete
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

 333 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.22/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 2,377 characters

Photo of GbVDave
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

 859 characters

Photo of alcstradamus
3.56/5  rDev -8.2%
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.

 847 characters

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

 972 characters

Photo of Jwale73
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

 555 characters

Photo of philipquarles
3.33/5  rDev -14.2%
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.

 365 characters

Photo of wyattshotmaker
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
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.

 419 characters

Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - this pours a hazy golden yellow, like sunlight on hay, there is plenty carbonation feeding a huge, billowy white head

S - the typical belgian wheatiness is what i notice first, this characteristic is supported by a dry-leaf-autumn-walk-esque aroma and the light essence of fruitiness that is discernible as cherry, as faint as it is

T - there is far more cherry in the taste than in the aroma, its a sublime blend of cherry and wheat (unlike the cough syrup variety of certain other unnamed beers), such a sweet, chewey, wheaty flavor, throughout the entire sip, very tasty

M&D - smooth with a bit of liveliness on the tongue, a bit of chewiness gives it nice body, ABV is right in that midrange, a great brew. i am excited for the rest of Pretty Things lineup and following their growth, well brewed!!

 809 characters

Photo of DIM
3.51/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

a: This was a chill hazed dark straw color that glows a bit. It poured with a big rocky head that left clumps of lace behind.

s: Very much yeast forward I think. The most noticeable aroma was a very dry, lightly funky yeast note. I also got a little herbal hop with a little lemon. The cherries were very faint at first, but they did become stronger as it warmed. They were dry, tart, and a little medicinal.

t: Very dry overall and not all that complex. Yeasty, sour cherry flavors that degrade into a sharply bitter, roughly spicy finish. I had 7 or 8 ounces left for the second glass, so I decided to swirl in the dregs. This helped enough to up the score by .5. For the second glass, the finish was more mellow and it was a little sweeter overall.

m: Lightly fizzy carbonation and a fairly viscous body.

d: Not sure what to make of this one. Too dry, not bad but not for me.

 882 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle split into several glasses at a recent tasting. Thanks go to Deuane for this one.

Pours a clear, honey gold, with thin brite-white head. Thin yet creamy layer of retention, leaves a thickish cascade of lacing behind. Aroma is subtle cherries and yeast, spice, extra fruity esters, and sweetness. The spiciness of the yeast is really adds some sharpness to the nose here.

The taste is candied sweetness, fruits, and spice, giving off a light dryness. Much like the aroma, the slightly tart cherry flavoring is very subtle but does get a little stronger as this warms. The profile is fairly sweet overall. The mouthfeel is lighter-medium bodied, with a very easy creaminess to it, that helps the higher ABV and relative sharpness of this go down nicely.

Nicely done. I liked how the cherries never dominated the flavors, instead nicely blending a soft tartness in with the other characteristics of this. It was pretty amazing to me as well, how much spicing they got in this, just from the yeast strains. I enjoyed this.

 1,037 characters

Photo of mjl21
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Acquired via trade...thanks Russ. 22 ounce bottle poured into a Chimay goblet. The label says it is a one off and bottled June 2009. Comes in at 7%.

A-Pours a hazy muddy yellow with a one finger off white head that is fairly foamy. The foamy head eventually loses its bubbles and forms a nice filmy layer that covers the entire glass and lasts throughout the session. A few dots of lace are left on the glass.

S-There is a lot going on in the nose. I pick up on lots of yeast, some sweetness from candy sugar, funk, green apples, and pear. The Balaton cherries used in the beer are subtle at first, but become more pronounced as it warms. The cherries never dominate the nose.

T-The cherries are very evident from the first sip. They possess a subtle level of sourness that is not puckering. There is some definite funk in the middle. In the middle the apple and pears really shine. It is quite dry and spicy on the finish. There is some lingering bitterness from the hops in the back of my mouth. In between sips there is some lingering fruit taste and some funk.

M-It is medium bodied with a nice creamy mouthfeel. It is quite dry with a good level of carbonation. It is a tad grainy in the back.

D-This is a very refreshing and crisp beer. This one can be consumed during a hot day or cold night. The 7% is not noticeable.

Another great beer from Pretty Things. So far I am 2 for 2 with these guys. Hope the last 3 are as good.

 1,436 characters

Photo of Deuane
3.85/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Bright copper with a thin off-white head that left spotty lace.

S-Spicy pop with hint of sour cherry. Not overly aromatic or complex.

T-Much like the aroma with a fairly robust yeast spiciness and subtle backing from the slightly sour cherries.

M-Medium-light bodied with a sharp, crisp, dry finish.

D-Nice...the fruit is not overwhelming and this is a pleasant drinking, spicy affair.

 391 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle split with oglmcdgl, poured into some small snifters.

Sisyphus boasts a light tan golden color with some hazyness mixed in. It produced a nice white head that stuck to the glass without coating it. The smell was that of alot of yeast with some fruity flavors. Some malt sweetness in the background. Nothing huge but nice none the less. Im blasted with the yeast once I first sipped this, it's pretty big, almost a bit too much. The cherry flavor is light and im also getting some light banana mixed in as well. There is some bacteria used in this which imparts just the slightest hint of something "off" which is not a bad thing in this case. The feel is a step below medium with some carb going for it. What bothered me was that there seemed to be a clump of yeast sitting on my tounge after every sip which detracted things a bit. Good drinkability as I could of handled the bomber on my lonesome. Good stuff, one of the better pretty things in the line up

 966 characters

Photo of Billolick
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle. Pretty label, nice touch on the label over the cap giving Bottling date info, and "one off" decleration. Pours hazed dull tangarine with a green olive oil hue. Quickly departing head, then not even a film a NO lacing, unusual. Subtle nose of light fruit (cherry?) Unusual, interesting brew. Rich and somehow heavy mouthfeel, notes of ripe, dense fruit, moderatly sour in the mid section, then more fruit and seemingly a hint of dull spice in the finish. Yeasty final pours clouds things up and adds a hint of nut and adds to the intrigue. Complex in a delicate fashion. Boutique and arty. Ever so precious and feminine, interesting brew.

 652 characters

Photo of tpd975
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Will start with the label, pretty cool like the way this one looks. It pours a light golden yellow hue with a nice tall white head. Okay retention with a lite hint of lace.

S: Bready, yeasty up front. Hints of sour cherry and brett.

T: Bready malt for sure, toasted biscuit malt and bread up front. Hints sweet summer fruit like apples in the middle. Spices, and sour cherry in the finish. Not great but pretty good.

M: Medium in body, wonderful carbonation to carry the flavors.

D: Not bad, glad to finally try one of the Pretty Things brews. Great no, do I want to try more, hell yes.

 593 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Confounded Mr. Sisyphus from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
3.88 out of 5 based on 55 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.