Sisyphus | Real Ale Brewing Company

Liked This Beer
3.94 w/ 645 Ratings

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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Ratings: 645 |  Reviews: 323
Photo of Lebowskied
1/5  rDev -74.6%

Photo of alexgash
1.69/5  rDev -57.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

12 oz. bottle. 2007 edition.

Pours a semi-cloudy apricot copper. Thick, creamy, rocky, light beige head. Nose is fruity, but in a tart sort of way. Medicinal notes. Some caramel. Forgot to mention that there are little white spots on in the foamy head. Hmmm...could this be infected? Let's see. Yep. Big time band-aid and fusel alcohol flavors. Astringent, electrical fire bitterness. Blechh! Sorry, but this is a drainpour.

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Photo of johnnnniee
1.89/5  rDev -52%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

2007 Vintage
Received in trade from RickSawyer and BeerZack, thanks for the opportunity.

I've had this beer, 2007 vintage multiple bottles from different sources and each time I open a bottle it is infected. I opened two tonight to be sure. Opens with a crack and a foaming, have to pour quick so as not to spill any. Pours a dark golden/copper color with a huge bubbly off white head that sticks around forever. I can smell the phenolic as soon as I crack one open. The nose is so Belgian-esque, spicy phenolics solventy, medicinal.
Drain pour for me

If I ever manage to get one that isn't clearly infected I will revisit this.

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Photo of Sinewave
2/5  rDev -49.2%

Photo of DefenCorps
2.05/5  rDev -48%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

2007 vintage graciously provided by PHawk at DLD08. Thanks, Parker! This barleywine had a nice pellicle in it and proceeded to gush as I cracked the bottle, filling my glass with a hazy amber beer capped with a thin beige head that doesn't really leave much lace.

The nose is big and sour with a rather big funk character. Bretty, bandiad-like and grassy, this is nothing like a barleywine, but I wasn't expecting it to be. Mildly plastic-like as well, this reassures me that this beer is just a "regular" unintentional hostile take over rather than a case of botulism in a bottle. The Brett has really eaten all the sugars away, leaving a beer that has some caramel characteristics, but is dry. A touch of alcohol is apparent as well.

The palate opens medicinal, plastic-like, burning-rubber like and bandaidy with a burning unpleasantness. A harsh medicinal astringency is present. Thoroughly unpleasant, there are characteristics of caramel and some citrus hop, but this is all just a big Brett funk. Sourness is low. As unpleasant as it is, the scarier part is that I'm risking my life drinking this, and for that reason, this beer fares poorly. Surprisingly medium bodied with plenty of carbonation, this beer finishes dry and medicinal with some caramel. The visions of me in the ICU tomorrow with multiple internal organ failures is something unique to this beer, but I really can't grade this any higher.

**Edit 03 September 2012**

It's funny how these things work. Last time I had a huge move, one of the last beers I drank at my apartment was the 07 vintage of Sisyphus. Two years later... it's still the same beer and same vintage. This one, however, isn't infected. It is, sadly, rather mediocre. Utterly lacking in definition and identity, this beer is a blend of nondescript aromas and flavors - brown sugar, a little honey, some caramel - on the nose and on the palate. Modestly sweet, this beer is medium-full on the palate, and an utter disappointment. S/T/M = 2/2/3.5

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Photo of stbernardus
2.46/5  rDev -37.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

not a favorite too light

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Photo of kojevergas
2.48/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.25

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with green label and simple label art acquired at a local HEB Grocery. The cap is a branded green pry-off pressure cap. 2013 vintage; bottled 06/06/13. Reviewed live. Expectations are low; I reviewed Real Ale's Blonde Barleywine last night and wasn't a big fan. No ABV is listed on the label so I can't confirm that it's 11.50%.

Served cold, straight from me fridge, and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No liquid gushed out upon removal of the cap. Carbonation seems adequate.

A: No bubble show forms as I pour.

Pours a half finger wide head of white colour. Okay creaminess and thickness. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes; it falls without sticking, so I guess it isn't true lacing per se. Head retention is pretty decent considering the high ABV - about 3 minutes; it's above average.

Body colour is a clear translucent copper of average vibrance. No yeast particles are visible.

Looks about right for the style, but there's nothing unique or special here. No obvious flaws.

Sm: Amber malts, English pale malts, caramunich malts, caramalts, toffee, butterscotch (diacetyl?), and a surprisingly prominent floral hop presence. Also some orange rind citrus esters from the hops. Vague grapefruit. Plenty of residual sugars; this one is definitely on the sweeter side. Relatively low yeast attenuation is suspected; I'd guess an American yeast was used as the fermentation doesn't seem to have the clean feel an English barleywine yeast would impart. Vague alcohol. Fruit sugars. Fairly syrupy.

The aroma isn't great for the style, and suggests that syrupy alcohol sweetness I can't stand in barleywines. I'm not certain I'm going to enjoy this one. The aroma is moderate in strength.

T: Plenty of fruity alcoholic sweetness. Orange rind, rough grapefruit, tangerine. Some piney hop character. Generic floral hop character. Cane sugar, brown sugar. Plenty of biscuit malt, caramunich malt, and caramalt sweetness along with unwelcome English toffee character. Plenty of sugars bring this one towards the sweeter end of the bitter/sweet spectrum. This one could do with some age. The fruity alcohol is obnoxious. It's not a pleasant or approachable flavour profile by any means. Has a bit of cohesion, but it's far from gestalt, and I wouldn't call it balanced. I wouldn't say I like it. Lacks complexity and subtlety. There's no nuance or inspiration here. A pretty pedestrian flavour profile for a barleywine. Quite boring.

Shallow depth of flavour. Average duration of flavour. Above average intensity of flavour.

No yeast character comes through. Aside from the alcohol, there aren't any off-notes; the butterscotch suggested by the aroma never surfaces in the flavour profile.

Mf: Sticky, smooth, and wet. Too thick and syrupy. Overcarbonated, but not quite biting. Unpleasant, but not offensive. It's got too much alcohol warmth. The texture doesn't really suit the flavour profile too well, but it doesn't work against it per se. Bad presence on the palate.

Not oily, gushed, harsh, or astringent.

Dr: As pedestrian a barleywine as you'll find. Real Ale's shelf offerings have yet to impress me. I wouldn't get this again, nor would I recommend it to friends or trading partners. Its below average quality coupled with its alcohol presence makes it somewhat difficult to drink. Age would likely help, but I wouldn't waste the cellar space on this. Pretty boring, underwhelming, forgettable stuff.

High D+

 3,590 characters

Photo of jkane101
2.5/5  rDev -36.5%

Photo of craytonic
2.64/5  rDev -33%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance: Hazy apricot, nice head that fades quickly. Great lacing.

Fruits on the palate, and not enough malt. Maybe some coconut? I was immediately turned off of this one and didn't spend the time to investigate. Something a bit off about this one - possibly because it needs more of everything (but fruit and alcohol). It does have a nice creamy mouthfeel but a bit too much syrup, everything else needs a good bit of work. Certainly doesn't stick to the style.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
2.69/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to mhewes for this bwine. He provided my daily bwine fix.
Sisyphus 2007:
Poured an orangish/copper color with a tan white head. Carbonation was good upfront and even as I sip the head stays with it. Nose was hops, bitterness and a funky sourness(not sure if this was intended or what). Taste was a little sweet, hoppy up front and then midway through as I swish it around the sourness I smelled came through in the taste. It was almost like a tart bitterness fruit orange peels, unripened fruit even. It went down smoother than the taste. Interesting bwine indeed. Another bwine down. Thanks mhewes.

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Photo of nickd717
2.71/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Someone threw me this as an extra in an in-person trade late on DLD. Who? Hell if I know, I was shit-faced beyond shit-facedness. I probably traded a Cable Car vertical for this for all I know. I forced this on largadeer, bring, chswimmer, Nanoslug, Nick3, and Bubba83 at a tasting, despite cries of, "NOOO! Please don't open that god-awful concoction!"

Pours a great clear amber color with a nice lacey white head.

Aroma is sweet. Lots of caramel, sugar, and some hops.

Flavor is very sweet caramel and brown sugar. The sweetness overpowers just about everything else.

Average palate for the style, but the sweetness gets to you.

This was listed at 480 calories for the bottle, which is insane. You can feel every last calorie too in sugar and in alcohol, packing pounds on you as you down each drop. Decent, but not worth it if you're on a diet...or if you're not. Just drink an aged Bigfoot, like I did right afterwards, which was way better.

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Photo of Marti403
2.75/5  rDev -30.2%

Photo of Techichi
2.75/5  rDev -30.2%

Photo of Fenris244
2.76/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I've. Really been looking forward to having this on tap, finally got my chance with a 2010 version

Light amber in color, 2 finger head, decent retention

Sweet malty character in the aroma and some cherry notes, hops are present but in the aroma at least are subdued.
It's hot and hoppy with some malt on the finish, had one of these that was a few years old and this a far cry from that. Needs some age

Light in body, and smooth, the alcohol inhibits the drinkability and knowing what it could be hurts it as well. With 1- 2 of age it starts to drink fabulously, new however I'll pass

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Photo of nomad
2.82/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Pours out a murky color mixing amber, orange, and caramel. Had a light, thin head with a surprising amount of carbonation underneath.

Smelled of deep, rich caramel and toffee, hints of butterscotch, and spicy hops. Left a good impression of English malts: husky, sweetish, and full of body, but slowly the alcohol showed up too much. Also, smelled of some nascently fruity esters with time.

Taste is very spicy, of astraight-up alcohol mostly with some hops as well. Very little malt at all, though a small sum had a roasted quality. The alcohol flavor and effect is supremely dominant, hitting you quickly and continually. Quite drying in the finish as oily, nasty hop bitterness turns over while the alcohol pulsated with heat on my tongue. Then again, a wondefully thick mouthfeel.

Maybe it shouldn’t be aged... but thanks to aracauna for the bottle.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
2.84/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Lightly chilled longneck into a 12 oz tulip. Bottling date 3.24.12.

Look- Hazy medium amber, three fingers of dense, frothy head that gets increasingly soapy-looking as it falls. Excellent retention and the lace is nearly opaque.

Smell- Faint white bread and green apple with a touch of bubblegum. Takes on a stronger cidery scent, almost vinegary as it approaches room temp.

Taste- Mellow, grainy flavor couples with caramel, buttered toast, navel orange and a bit of white chocolate. A hint of bitterness comes out on the finish. Aftertaste is lightly sour and vaguely fruity, perhaps brandylike.

Mouthfeel- Medium body, soft carbonation, slightly mealy texture. Something of a soft, juicy feel. Mild dryness on the end.

Overall- Mild, mellow, high drinkability, but malt isn't very complex and it's neither spicy nor fruity. Needs something to kick it up a notch. Worth trying, but I don't really see it developing much over time. I'll hang on to one and see if it proves me wrong, however.

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Photo of PeprSprYoFace
2.85/5  rDev -27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Got a 2007 vintage from Jefferz5000. Thanks man.

Pours an amber cloudy color with a very thin tan head. Nice lacing.

Aroma is very sweet. Lots of malti sweetness and sweet caramel.

Taste is ok. Lots of sweetness and a weird bitterness. I can't put my finger on it. It's getting harder to drink the glass as the sip count increases. I don't think I'll finish this one.

Mouthfeel is ok. A little cloying after a while.

Overall this wasn't that bad at first and then it started getting cloying. Don't think I'll be having this one again.

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Photo of Metalmonk
2.87/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Not sure why this is named Sisyphus. The greek god Sisyphus was sentenced to perform a difficult task over and over again for all eternity, one that was totally futile...and if something is "Sisyphean" it's endless or repetitive. So...a Texas barleywine? I'm not making the connection.

The 2007 bottle (graciously sent by msubulldog25) pours out a magnificent rusty cherry juice that glows with burnt ruby highlights. Don't know if I've ever seen slower bubbles in a beer: these are fat and lazy and take their damn time moving from bottom to top. They eventually reach an insanely creamy head that is thicker than most beers of this style, and huge walls of lace form around the snifter. Looks totally incredible.

The aroma is wonderful, but not at all typical BW. I swear they used a Belgian yeast strain, even something approaching Brett, as there's a distinct band-aid smell, kind of leathery, mildly herbal and fruity, and that's it. No huge hops or big-ass malt sweetness detected. I like it, but it doesn't scream or even whisper "barleywine" to me.

Flavor is also far the funkiest barleywine I've ever had. There's a sourness present, but more like a Belgian sour ale (with funk!) and not really like a poorly-brewed or infected beer. But also not like a great funky/sour Belgian. Darn. Hops are present but hidden underneath the dominant yeast, and a mild malt sweetness has trouble pushing through. Succulent fruits are somewhere in here, big and juicy, yet all but silenced by the dominant Dr. Strange. Alcohol comes through fine with a warming glow. Thankfully it's not overbearing, because that's the last thing this weird, unbalanced mess of a beer needs.

Mouthfeel is just fine, very soft, also creamy, which I always love, but considering the flat-out bizarre flavor, it's hard to gain any lasting impression when fighting through all the stuff that's out-of-whack with this beer.

Not sure about this. If the brewer were in front of me right now, I'd take a sip, look at him with sympathy, and say "Innnteresssting!" It seems wayward, like a barleywine that left home with good intentions but ended up mixing with the wrong crowd and going bad for life. I have no idea what's going on here first I thought maybe it was me, but I'm in fine health as usual, my sniffer and tastebuds seem just fine, I got plenty of sleep, I'm in a good mood, I served this at the right temperature (barely chilled) in appropriate glassware...but it sure looks fantastic! Can't wait to read others' reviews and see if this is just a bad batch or the way it's supposed to be. I dig the funk, so I can't totally trash this beer, as I enjoyed the dirty sweat-sock madness...but I was hoping for a barleywine that actually tastes like a barleywine. Maybe now I'm a step closing to figuring out why this is called Sisyphus...

[In reading the reviews of barleywinefiend, alexgash and JohnGalt1, it seems I'm not the only one detecting a lot of uncharacteristic funk. In reading a lot of other reviews, there's no mention of sourness/funk, so perhaps this is an infected batch...or the guys from Jolly Pumpkin sneaked into the brewery late one night.]

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Photo of jujubeast6000
2.92/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed 8/11/2008 (2007? bottle):

Pours a light brown colored body. Had to work to get the head. Off-white color, good lacing, not very lasting. Somewhat lacing. Strong hoppy aroma, sweetness. Some dustiness, some syrupyness. Some malts. Dusty sweet taste. Not as strong as a typical barley wine.

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Photo of Qabil
3/5  rDev -23.9%

Photo of FlyingKelly
3/5  rDev -23.9%

Photo of Steimie
3/5  rDev -23.9%

Photo of Dutch55
3/5  rDev -23.9%

Photo of bbadger
3/5  rDev -23.9%

Photo of radioscooter
3/5  rDev -23.9%

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
Beer rating: 76.6% out of 100 with 645 ratings
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