Sisyphus | Real Ale Brewing Company

very good
323 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by aracauna on 12-18-2002

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Reviews: 323 | Ratings: 644
Photo of masterhomebrewer
5/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 bottle received as an extra in trade from JosephLondon. Thank you, kind sir.

A -- Bottle gushed minimally. Pours a beautifully clear, copper-golden color with one-inch head. Really, really pretty.

S -- Wow, what a surprise. Big, huge Brett funk right up front followed by bready malts. Just an outstanding surprise. I glanced at other reviews and see no mention of Brett, so I must assume that this was unintentionally infected with Brett. But it smells goood....

T -- Holy god. Huge Brett funk, dark fruits, salty, delicious, earthy, tobacco-y complexity that finishes with a perfectly-balanced bitter bite. A multitude of flavorful delights that all seem to work in unison to create one of the most interestingly complex tasting experiences I have ever enjoyed. I am just blown away by the way the (unintentional?) Brett has added to the complexity and perfectly tied together all the diverse elements of this beer. The 11.5% alcohol is not even noticeable.

M -- Creamy and smooth. Just delightfully warm and tingly with the perfect amount of carbonation.

D -- Exceptional. It's such a delicious taste experience that I can imagine drinking two of these every night for the remainder of my days. Unfortunately, since this beer is not available in my area, and I seem to be the only one who got the Brett-infected bottle, this appears to be a one-night love affair, sadly.

Edit: I see now that a couple of others have picked up a wild Brett influence. If you have 2007s of this, drink 'em or send them my way!

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Photo of joefuzz
5/5  rDev +27.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewing 2009 and 2010 vintages side by side both sent to me as extras by a very generous Jefferz5000...Thanks Jeff

09-5- Pours a very nice hazy gold with a way larger than expected off white head for the ABV with great retetion.
10-5- Pours same hazy gold as as the 09 with a larger more suddy lumpy off white head great retention and lacing

09-5- Smells of apircots and sweet caramel with a suprising hop presence.
10-5- Fairly large hop presence for the style upfront with rasins and sweet toffe

09-5- Slight hop taste up front that quickly gives way to caramlized sugar and sweet plum tastes
10-4.5- Little larger hop taste than the 09 with lots of sweet candy sugary aftertaste not much fruit presence

09-5- Mouthfeel is perfect creamy and smooth the huge head led me to believe this would be pretty over carbonated but its just right.
10-4.5- Mouthfeel is pretty on point with a fresher barleywine not as creamy as the 09 and a little thinner and more carbonated but still pretty stellar

09-5- Overall very happy with this beer, one of the best barleywines i have had recently.
10-4.5- Overall great beer as well, prefer it with a little more age on it. its nice to see what a beer turns into with a little age.

Thanks again Jeff

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Photo of kbub6f
4.9/5  rDev +25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage, fresh.

The head is small, thick and creamy white. The beer is amber-copper-brownish and a touch hazy. Wow! Huge, sweet, buttery, caramel, syrup, fruity nose. Unbe-freakin-lievable. Sweet butter-caramel syrup in front. Super thick, fruity, caramel middle. Substantially bitter finish with alcohol kick. A very bitter aftertaste. Man, this is freaking awesome: so buttery, caramely. Sweet, but not too sweet for me (I'm pretty sensitive to over-sweet beers). Big hoppy finish. Absolutely fantastic.

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Photo of LiveOakMarket
4.72/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

First time I have had this beer. It was quite amazing. Beautiful color, feel, taste, smell. Everything about it was gooood. I'm very happy that Real Ale is finally bottling up more of their beers. I have a lot of people that love the Real Ale company and I think it's about time that they all get to taste them on the go. 2008 was the year of Sisyphus that I had. Gold label.

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Photo of stumac
4.7/5  rDev +20.2%
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!

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Photo of Sven_Darinski
4.65/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Tried the 2012 and first try was less than favorable as the alcohol seemed to overwhelm any flavor but for the sour hops. The second and third glass (not the same night) however changed my mind. Seems the hops tame over time and an added caramelized or sweet note balances the hops. But make no mistake the punch in this barley wine is not for a "sisy."

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Photo of Buebie
4.63/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 2007 bottle courtasy of gford217

Poured from a brown longneck into a pub glass. The pour produced a 1'' tan head. The beer itself is a buetiful unfiltered redish copper, very hazy, not at all transparent, glows well when held to light. Retention is stellar with a quarter inch of milky foam and thin streaks of lace.

Aroma is ultra sweet with grains and honey. Caramel and biscuity bread tones. Faint grapefruity hops. This smells absolutly delicious, very rich and malty.

Mouthfeel is super thick and creamy, with a slickness to it. Probably the best mouthfeel to any barleywine I've ever had. Exceptionally thick and creamy! If 6 were an option for the feel on this, then a 6 it would get.

Taste upfront is more sweet and pronounced cereal grains,with honey and carmelised sugars. Just a touch of warm alcahol into the swallow, there really is no heat on this and thats also quite remarkable for an 11% beer.
Finishing with sweet malt and plenty of grains and buttery caramel rolls. Hops still do live and provide some balance to this ultra sweet delight. A bit of bittering grapefruit, not a whole lot, but its noticeable and not sudued. So, yes, this has done well with age, I have nothing to compare it to as far as a fresher bottle, but for a 2 year old bottle it is damn good.

Thanks Grant!

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle

a murky orange with a finger of head (holy crap, carbonation!) which quickly diminished. nutty, malty, sweet caramel smells coming right up front.. almost an almond like scent. the taste is a complex mix of grains.. barley, i taste some oats, some rye as well.. holy crap this is like drinking a world class bread. not even tasting the abv at all on this one but i know it's high. very sweet, honey like hints, mixed in with bready flavors. best tasting barley wine i've had in a long time.

medium to full in body with a modest amount of carbonation for the style of beer this is.

a great sipper, a wonderful barleywine.. way breadier than most i've tasted.

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Photo of burnerfinger
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bought myslef a single bottle of this having no idea what I had found:

A: poured from the 12 oz bottle into my new belgium goblet. Thin yellowish head leaves, well, heroic lacing. nice oraange-amber hue - noticable sediment at the base of the goblet

S: HMMM! nice, sweet malt (caramel?)

T: (think of Mr. Burns) Excellent! Nice tart showing of hops, with a huge malt backbone.

M: lots and lots of body here. easy on the carbonation - almost no ABV burn.

D: this is the best example of a barelywine that I have found!! really, reallyl great. But I cant honestly give it hi marks for drinkablility - what with the hi abv and huge body this is just too rich for sessioning.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.59/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Petrol Station in Houston. It's a clear golden color with a thin cap of foam. The thin cap looks appropriate for an American barleywine, but the light color surprised me a little bit.

Really nice aroma, well hopped but not over-hopped. The hops come across as grassy, maybe a little floral, rather than citrusy. Really nice sweet malty notes beneath that, lighter rather than caramelly, maybe a hint of ethanol. Am I starting to come around to this style of beer, or is Sisyphus just my style of barleywine? Probably the latter more than the former. And probably due to a combination of non-citrusy hops and non-caramel malts.

Same in the flavor, this is excellent stuff. All kinds of delicious, there is just not a bad flavor in this barleywine. I so wish I had bought some bottles to take home, damn this is delicious.

As drinkable and approachable an American barleywine as I have come across. Highly recommended.

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Photo of JosephLondon
4.57/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Bottle from the cellar.

This one has aged beautifully! Foam released from the bottle as soon as I popped the cap. I poured it immediately into my New Belgium snifter. Fire burnt orange with a creamy, thick off-white crown. Sediment floats around which I am not a big fan of so, that took away from the appearance for me. Incredible lacing thus far.

In the nose I detect orange, major barnyard funk(which I like), coriander, sourdough bread with lots of yeast, some alcohol. The nose is actually so complex I am staggering, trying to do it justice.

The taste replicates the nose...many dimensions. This Barleywine stands out from the others. Barleywines are actually becoming one of my favorite styles. I used to not like them. It has a funk(good funk)that the others don't. I anticipate you will either love this one or hate it.

The feel is somewhat heavy, more so coating, I should say. It stays with you. There is a very elegant feel.

For an 11.50%er, this one is smooth and drinks perfectly. This one drinks flawlessly.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.56/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Joshua (HopSchnapps) for this one. 2007 vintage. Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a Darkness snifter.

A: Tall pour yields a billowy 2 finger creamsicle colored head with fantastic retention. Beer is a semi-clear dark reddish-orange. Lacing is thick and layered with incredible stick.

S: Nose is subtle but noticeably sweet. Sappy resin hops, caramel, brown sugar, and some toffee notes. Also green raisin thrown in for good measure. Tree sap and syrup.

T: Opens brown sugar and caramel. Sweet toffee and dark fruit flavors towards the middle with some lingering resiny hop bite. Sappy towards the end with some syrup and green raisin sweetness. Finish is tree sap and resiny hops with a slightly bittersweet aftertaste.

M: Medium to full bodied with minimal carbonation. Oily, frothy, and substantial in the mouth. Super smooth going down and not the least bit of heat. Hides its ABV incredibly. Finish is subtle with a muted, lingering aftertaste.

D: The new year is still young but this has to be the frontrunner for the surprise of the year so far. An incredible beer from start to finish and it achieves near perfection in every aspect. I've never had it fresh but aged, this one is a masterpiece through and through. Amazing!!

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Photo of nizzle8287
4.56/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 7-31-14, consumed 12-19-14. After agitating the sediment in the bottom of the bottle, it was then poured into a tulip at 60 degrees. It poured an opaque rust-reddish-orange with about an inch of creamy off-white colored head that dissipated into a thin film, leaving nice and sticky flecks of lacing all around the glass. Smells like pear, apple, apricot, sweet malts, and a slight hint of alcohol. Medium thick and creamy mouth feel with light carbonation, and it's definitely a sipper. I taste malty sweetness blended with ripe pears and apricots, followed by a mild lingering hint of toffee, with mild hop bitterness staying on the palette for a while. This beer is less than 5 months old and the hops and malts work together nicely, but I can imagine this beer might become overly sweet with too much age. Alcohol is noticeable but it blends well considering that it's 11.5%. Overall this is a very good barleywine, and I will be ageing the other two bottles from this four pack.

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Photo of champ103
4.54/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love this beer. This is a composite of several vintages. 2007-2009. Just a wonderful beer that ages with the best of them.

A: Pours a beautiful hazy orange color. A one finger white head gently rises and sticks around for a minute. The foam gently recedes to a ring that sticks throughout. Light lace.
S: Oh man the smell is wonderful. Citrus hops but not overly bitter. Tons of dark malt and dark fruit to make the mouth water.
T: 09: Fresh this is has a Bigfoot like hoppiness. This really mellows and lots of complexities come out as time goes on though.
08: A lot more passion fruits come out. Pineapple, melons, and citrus. A bit more malty toasted flavors are coming out.
07: Tons of dark fruit, and toasted malt. Some chocolate and toffee as well. Ever year is something new.
M/D: A big thick and full body that is very creamy. It is a bit syrupy as well. Fresh the heat is a bit much, but really mellows with less than a year. A treat to sip on.

A really complex beer that I love. A seasonal release that I garb a bunch of every year to enjoy fresh, and age for later. One of the best beers made in Texas. Highly recommended.

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At brewery taproom. 2014 version, cask conditioned and dry hopped with centennial. I probably shouldn't be reviewing this version here, but it's so good I wanted to show some love.

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Photo of allengarvin
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
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.

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Photo of HardTarget
4.53/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2005
Bottle Inspection: Standard Real Ale brown 12 oz bottle, only real info is the 10.7% abv.

Aroma: Very hoppy, standard American Barley wine in that respect. Mostly citric and floral hop notes and the underlying butterscotch-like malt base. Not a whiff of alcohol.

Appearance: Thick amber orange glass that held a small white head longer than expected, but dropped to a thin collared and laced just a touch.

Flavor: Hops on top, but quickly fade away to a sweet pillow of sugary malt. It has just the slightest hint of alcohol that serves to intensify the flavors with spiciness, but has no burn whatsoever. Bright orange juice notes with an allspice and noble hop whispers.

Mouthfeel: Medium-heavy body with a thick syrupy texture. Alcohol slowly evaporates into a clean finish a good 15 seconds after the swallow.

Overall Impression: Man, DANGEROUSLY drinkable. One of the easiest barley wines in this respect. Have to consciously slow down and take enjoyable sips. Alcohol can be noted, but only in a playful way that seduces you into a happy buzz. Flavor is very enjoyable. Me want more. The 12 oz bottle went way too quickly. I normally like to age the Sisyphus a bit, but this one is a gem fresh.
Another reason to be proud of Texas brews!

Vintage 2007 (sampled July 2008)
Bottle Inspection: Considerable sediment at the bottom of the bottle. A careful pour into an oversized pint glass left most behind.

Aroma 4.5/5: Fairly phenolic, a musty floral element, heady with alcohol vapor and a caramel orange candy base.

Appearance 3.5/5: Dark amber copper, murky clarity, only a trace head with a thin halo.

Flavor 5/5: Dried citric peel, orange, lime, grapefruit, hops are still sappy and potent. This was made in the days when hops were cheap and barley plentiful. Real Ale house yeast comes through a bit. Malty caramel sweetness supports all the above and keeps everything fairly well balanced.

Mouthfeel 4.5/5: Medium heavy body dries quickly to an airy finish. Warm alcohol numbs a touch. Some carbonation holds through the glass, but the body grows and takes a syrup like quality which gets a bit phlegmy.

Overall Impression 5/5: Holding up nicely. Checked this bottle due to reports of problems with this batch; this bottle is just fine. Heavy handed, full flavored, lots of hop flavors holding, no oxidation noted, hope the rest in my cellar are fairing as well.

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Photo of depechemode1983
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009

A - Beautiful copper color with an fluffy off-white head that last an eternity. There are curtains of lacing all over the tulip glass. Also there are some particle floating around.

S - The nose is of sweet apricots, orange, a little bit of bitter grapefruit. Undertones or caramel, maple syrup and wood. Picking a slight alcohol scent as well. Amazing nose.

T - Very fruity taste. Sweet white grapes, sweet-sour apricot and bitter grapefruit. Along with some woody notes in the middle and a slight boozy finish

M - So damn creamy and so damn smooth. Bordering full bodied with medium carbonation. Coats the palate completely and evenly.

O - If I had regular access to this beer it would be a regular purchase. Worth more than the 3.99 I payed for the bottle. Excellent beer right here.

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Photo of Onslow
4.52/5  rDev +15.6%
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! the way, is this really 11%..????

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Photo of diamondc
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 version.

A: Orange, copper hue. Lots of lacing and good head retention. A few floaties dancing around.

S: Candied fruit, mainly pineapple and peaches. Some cotton candy and toffee in the mix. Excellent.

T: More tropical fruit flavors, cherries, toffee, moderate pine flavors.

M: No heat despite being 11.5% abv. Medium body, almost chewy.

O: Sweet, almost like candy. Just a great barleywine, reminds me of Hog Heaven. Gonna buy more to drink now and cellar.

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Photo of gman1602
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into stemmed glass
LOOK: Burnt copper with receding head
SMELL: Honeyed toffee. A bit of fresh pine resin.
TASTE: Really nice upfront sweet malts with a bright and refreshing hoppiness at the end. They truly play beautifully together. Excellently designed barleywine.
FEEL: Decent thickness, nice and creamy as others have noted.
OVERALL: Nice barleywine off the shelf that is ready to drink. I can't guess what age would do to this but for the availability and price in Texas, it would be worth trying. Love the brewers at Real Ale.

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Photo of Ruslanchik
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle marked 2007.

I learned my lesson this time. Instead of keeping it in the fridge and warming it, I kept the bottle out and put it in the fridge about 45 mins before drinking. It is warm enough to release its secrets, but not enough to spoil them.

Poured from the bottle into a wine glass. A fairly gentle pour produced a small off-white head. This died away fairly quickly leaving traces hovering on the surface surrounded by a strong collar. The beer is translucent brown, with ruby highlights. Much lighter than I was expecting. There is no haziness at all.

The aroma is complex and delicious. The presentation is citrus hops, a smell that reminds me of strawberry jam. There is a delicate malt backing to the aroma; a sweetness that complements the hop spice. The final impression is of the slightest bit of alcohol. Very nice.

Like the aroma, the taste the very complex. Hop spice and bitterness are both present. The bitter character is perfectly balanced--definitely evident, but not overpowering. The malt character is pronounced and delectable. A subtle sweetness with a strong nutty background. Following it all is alcohol warmth--no alcohol flavor to speak of, just the warming of the mouth and throat.

This beer surprisingly thin. It looks thin and feels like it looks. It is slightly oily, coating the tongue just a bit. I would like a bit more body. Carbonation is low, which is good.

Definitely a drinkable brew. Leaves me wanting another sip, but I'm not sure I would want more than one.

Overall, a very nice brew. The guys at Real Ale have impressed me with their session beers and now this heavier one.

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Photo of lysistrata
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 version

A= Ruby reddish copper tint. Huge head which maintains itself a while for such a highly alcoholic beer. Beautiful!

S=Ripened figs, stonefruit, citrus flavor in the hops to give it some balance.

T=Taste is alternately sweet and tangy without being unpleasant. Certainly falls more on the English Barley Wine style than its American counterpart

M=Thick and chewy without being overly so. This is a smooth not overly carbonated barley wine that coats the tongue in sweet malt and fruit goodness.

D=For the chilly late fall and winter months here in texas, its a perfect evening sipper or would go great with a hearty dessert. Sopapilla cheesecake anyone?

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Photo of brurevu
4.46/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From my tasting notes on a 2012 vintage: I know barleywines are usually better with some age, but the word on Sisyphus is it is incredible fresh since it is made with a load of hops. The bottle I sampled was about 3 months old according to the bottle date, which is not a lot of aging time for a barleywine. The pungent citrus hop aroma crept out of the bottle as soon as I popped the top. The beer poured a copper color with very little head. There was a nice citrus, grapefruit hop bitterness at the front that quickly dissipated into a smooth caramel and toffee malt body. It had a full mouthfeel and medium to full body that you would expect from such a substantial brew with no harshness and not overly boozy. It is definitely a hoppy Barleywine. Maybe the 3 months took a bit of the hop edge and bitterness out of the Sisyphus because I thought it was just the right amount without being overly biting. The typical barleywine flavors were allowed to assert themselves and play nicely with the grapefruit hop undertones. A really wonderful brew that keeps Real Ale on the forefront of the Texas brewing scene.

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Photo of hoplover82
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Pours a deep hazy orange color with very little carbonation and very little lacing.

S-The aroma is nice with sweet caramel malts and some hops to balance. With a touch of alcohol aroma. But not hot alcohol.

T-The taste is much like the aroma, with strong caramel notes and and woody, earthy hops. Pretty nice taste indeed.

M-Full bodied indeed with a creamy smooth texture. Has a little alcohol in the palate which is to be expected, but in no way is it hot. Very smooth for 11.5 ABV. They did a good job on this one. My wife really likes it. And she has been into wheat beers for a while. So that should tell you something.

D-This one goes down too well.Man it's smooth.

I said this one was on tap because it was a 2007 vintage. It was in a bottle. Very good. Get some if you can find it.

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 644 ratings.
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