Real Ale Brewing Company

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American Barleywine
Ranked #118
Ranked #7,736
3.97 | pDev: 11.84%
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 327 | Ratings: 656
Photo of darocny
4.41/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 bottle.

Copper orange color. Small head that dissipates quickly leaving a bit of lacing.

Smell of caramel, toffee, light fruitiness. Deeper inhalation brings a strong nuttiness and syrup soaked bread.

Taste follows the nose. Fresh 2011 was more hoppy than 2012, but a couple years has allowed the hops to mellow after two years. The sweetness of the beer really shows through here. Definitely not out of balance since some light hops coats the tongue, running on the surface of the sweetness.

Very creamy. Minimal carbonation. Perfect.

I've had Sisyphus fresh and aged up to 5 years. Both are very delicious. Sisyphus is a fantastic barleywine. With years on it, Sisyphus is a very special treat.

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Photo of StaveHooks
4.29/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2009 vintage
12oz green label bottle served in a snifter.

A - Pours a bright reddish orange color with a few floaties. Small head vanishes but allows for a solid collar and a thin island of micro bubbles.

S - Candy caramel, old white bread, toffee, muted citrus hops, minor hints of oxidation(nothing bad) toast comes out as it warms, very nutty, toasted walnuts, woody strawberries, dry herbs, caramel cotton candy.

T - Dense nutty caramel, creamy toffee, fruity butterscotch, passion fruit. Very sweet but the has a toasted pecan like bitterness and notes of wood in the middle, counteracting the sweetness. Roasted barley comes in strong toward the end with some resinous hops, finishing dry.

M - Full bodied, thick and viscous, low carbonation kicks up quite creamy when you hold it in the mouth.

I haven't had a fresh one but this is an incredible beer with 4 years on it. Only slight oxidation that hardly detracts from the synergy of all the other components. Awesome mouthfeel that demands sipping. This is drinking fantastic right now and seems like it could handle a couple more years of aging.

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Photo of BigBarley
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 10.01.12
Pours like honey-colored motor oil, coming out to be a deep orange/ honey blend, with a nice, sticky, imperial white crown of foamy goodness. Looks like cloudy, delicious goodness.

Aroma is one of sweet, citrus hops, backed by a buttery, bready malt character. It even smells syrupy, but delicious and intriguing,

Indeed! Candy-like zest, lemon, orange, slight hint of grapefruit... citrus candy syrup all over a malty, buttered cracker. Alcohol is prominent, and gives a general spicy texture to the flavor. I bet that rounds out nicely after a little age. Not for someone who hates booze presence on the tongue.

Thick, thick and thick. Carbonation is explosive and lively, which works well with the alcohol spice to give it a real kick. Good fun to drink.

All around impressive barleywine, enjoyable on all fronts. I'm glad I took the chance and grabbed this local gem, it's pretty nice.

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Photo of deg
4.07/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer poured a good amber color, and I could smell the hops. The smell had a fruit tang, like citrus, more like orange than grapefruit. I could taste the hops. I could not pick up much of a malt taste. The beer had a creamy feel to it. I felt very little alcohol warmth. Since I don't like American Barleywine (I prefer English Barleywine when I get Barleywine style beers), I probably would not buy this again. If you are someone that likes American Barleywine style beers, this would be a good one to try out since it matches the style (with the exception of alcohol warmth) well.

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Photo of charlzm
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Consumed on January 24th, 2013. Bottle dated 3.24.12. Purchased Austin, TX in May of 2012 at Whip In. Poured into a Klokke Roeland goblet at 50 degrees F.

Beer pours a nearly-clear orange-amber. A bashful head of white foam becomes a ring around the edges in short order. This beer has some legs when swirled.

Aroma is sweet with vanilla and cane sugar notes.

Flavor is big and thick. As in nose, vanilla and brown sugar are up front. Fruitiness I can't pin down (Pears? Peaches? Raisins?) swims in a sea of alcohol warmth. Finish is oddly clean with only a little sweetness lingering behind. Not particularly bitter.

Mouthfeel is thick and still and a little oily.

Not my favorite barleywine, but a significant one. Damn, that's strong!

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Photo of Sven_Darinski
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
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 facundoCNB
4.62/5  rDev +16.4%
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 davey101
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 vintage. 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass and allowed to warm up a bit.

A - Pours a hazy dark red/orange body. Small one finger off white dissipates quickly into some thin edging. Solid lacing and retention.

S - Sweet caramel malt, dank hops, citrus, and raisins. The finish is a bit warming from the alcohol.

T - Similar to the nose with caramel malts and raisins followed by some dank and citric hops. Very much an American barleywine with the hops still clinging on with some light bitterness. Aftertaste is piney and grapefruit juice and slightly off putting.

M - Medium bodied and slightly syrupy. Carbonation is a bit too high. Alcohol isn't very noticeable.

O - A solid example of the American Barleywine. I'm really just not subscribed to the idea that they are worth aging though. Thanks for the chance to try this gtermi!

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Photo of BrewerB
3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to miikezombie for sending this beer out via trade. Tonight feels like a sipping beer evening so I figured it'd be a good time to crack one open.

This is the 2009 version.

Pours a crystal clear medium orange with a thin off-white foam that couldn't keep it together. Slight wet cardboard notes in the early aroma hint at oxidation. Saltine cracker and toffee. Also detecting some dark fruity esters, blackberry. In the cup, I'm picking up citrus fruits, caramel, lightly toasted bread, and a small amount of butterscotch in the background. Touch of vegetal in the finish. Medium in body, carbonation is fairly low.

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Photo of kemoarps
3.96/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage
Orange rusty amber with a decent almond meat head. Simmers down to just a cap, laces decently.

Smell is sweet initially, caramel and figs, toffee and a touch of green tobacco.

Flavour follows suit. More of the tobacco leaves here. Sweet still. Honey and some mild dark fruits. A touch of hops still left, but not overly so.

Mild carbonation, medium body. Sweet, but pretty drinkable. Wait, wat? 11.5%? Well that was masked well.
I love barleywines. This is a solid one, but not particularly spectacular.

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Photo of gtermi
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This beer pours a nice dark orange body with a thin white head that quickly fades to nothing.

S: There are tons of sweet malt on the nose, with a nice amount of caramel and a slight bit of alcohol.

T: The flavor has a strong amount of booze and also a strong amount of sweet caramel malt.

M: The beer is very smooth and has a nice full body. There is a tiny bit of crispness on the back of the throat and tip of the tongue.

O: This is a solid beer. I bought several bottles so I can age them and see how they turn out with time.

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Photo of KKB
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A – It has that really nice really light brown, or dark orange with some yellow mixed in there, sunset aspect to it. Looks quite good, with some slightly off white, orangy colored head at the top. The head doesn’t last very long before receding with just a thin layer at the top.

S – You get peach and malt smells in the nose, with only the slightest pang of alcohol (has a slight brandy fragrance to it) witch is impressive considering the high ABV.

T – What a delicious taste. Sort of a candied light caramel sweetness/toffee in the start, with some bitterness and hoppiness with a biscuity quality and a wonderful alcohol warmth that flows down so easily.

M – Full-bodied, very light carbonation that lasts throughout. I has a gooey almost syrupy body to it that obviously makes it the barley wine that it is. Very nice mouth-feel overall.

O – Very good barleywine. I cannot believe the ABV, because you really cannot taste it throughout. It only has that nice alcoholic burn to it that indicates that it’s there. A lovely barley wine overall and it is different as well, not like barefoot that has that hoppy quality to it, this is much sweeter and has much more malt present. I will definitely be getting this again.

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Photo of DRyan
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 edition poured in a Jester King Tulip glass

A: Copper yellowish orange with good white/very light tan head. The head “drips” cloudiness into the beer, as if all of the yeast were in the head and making their way to the bottom of the glass slowly. The head recedes slowly and laces nicely.
S: Almost smells like a farmhouse ale, a bit funky a bit sour-ish with a strong malt and a strong alcohol scent coming through
T: The malts play well with the hops in this one. There is a strong malt flavor to it, but it is balanced nicely with an aggressive hop profile that does not go over the top. The alcohol also makes an appearance. The aftertaste is first alcohol, then caramel and toffee, a bit sweet.
M: Smooth and velvety. The carbonation profile is mild and the beer itself goes down easily.
D: Very nice for a barleywine. Not too overpowering to be drinkable, but still not a summer afternoon chugger in any way.

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Photo of Dope
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 batch.

A: Super cloudy mahogany pour. Small tan head. Fades slowly with just a few spots of lacing.

S: Lots of toffee, and raisin with some molasses and a bit of caramel. Pretty boozy even with 3 years on it.

T: Super sweet caramel and toffee up front. Hints of molasses. More caramel and burnt sugar in the middle with the raisins kicking in. Finishes slightly bitter and drying with a little piney and resinous hops I think. Some spicy alcohol lingers between sips.

M: Heavy, thick, syrupy, cloying. Sipper for sure.

O: A nice mellow, sweet, slow drinking barleywine. Very smooth, though that might be the age. A little bit of nice bitterness to balance the sweetness. All good things. Just a little simple, that's what keeps it from garnering higher numbers. I enjoyed it.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this from KungFuMike quite a while ago. Cheers for the beers man!

From a bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2009
Pink label

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, off-white head with good retention. Head fades to a faint, swirly wisp and ring. Deep burnt orange in color, hazy, with no carbonation evident. A slight wisp and ring remain leaving some small dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Bolder nose of caramel, toffee and melon aromas. Some pineapple and piney hops as well. Pretty nice.

TASTE: Caramel and toffee sweetness up front, with some melon and spicy booze at the swallow. Bold and persistent aftertaste of sweet caramel, nuts, honeydew melon, some piney, bitter hops and a touch of spicy alcohol. Loads of nice, balanced, bold flavors. Enjoyable.

PALATE: Fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Quite creamy smooth, goes down fine with a bit of a scratch and burn at the swallow, finishing slightly mouth coating. Some heat lingers. This is a big, heavy, oily palate, though the burn is still a little much.

OVERALL: Great stuff! Big, bold, balanced and flavorful, this one drank away far too easily. Less alcohol burn would put this one onto another planet, but it was still fantastic. If you get the chance to try this vintage, don't hesitate. Very glad to have had a chance to drink this one KungFu. Cheers!

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Photo of GregBlatz
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 - Bottled on 3/24/12

A - Cloudy orange color. The head grows very slowly but gets to 1/2" of thick off white foam.

S - Sweet fruity esters are the dominant smell. Citrus and maybe a little resinous hop aroma. Smells 'sticky'. Does not smell like a 10+% beer. More like a malty IPA with subdued hops. No alcohol warmth in the smell. A slight burnt caramel smell is in there as well.

T - Wow, OK, alcohol heat is smack in your face. I didn't get that from the smell at all. I should have known better. Very sweet but also very thin. It is way more balanced than those double or imperial IPA's. Caramel is the dominant flavor but the hops add both flavor and bitterness that balances out this barleywine much better than an Engish style IMO.

M - Thin and slick. Alcohol warmth is not hidden by any means.

O - Pretty darn drinkable. As I get older I'm not as crazy about high gravity beers as I used to be. This one is a very nice sipper. It is aggressive but pretty balanced. I'll take this over a Double IPA any day.

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Photo of thagr81us
3.62/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks goes out to lnashsig for sending me this one as an extra in a past trade! 2010 Vintage! Served from bottle into a Boulevard tulip. Poured a deep yellow-orange with a half finger white head that subsided to a minimal amount quickly. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and sweet alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, caramel hop, and sweet alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with medium carbonation. Overall this was a pretty decent brew. I really enjoyed the aroma on this one as it was spot-on for the style and quite inviting while still letting you know that it packed a punch. The flavor seemed to follow suit, but didn’t really do anything else for me which was kind of a letdown. There was a nice touch of sweetness, but the alcohol presence definitely made itself known in it which hurt the overall appeal of this one for me. If you like Barleywines you owe it to yourself to try this one.

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Photo of Lawl3ss
2.84/5  rDev -28.5%
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 DavidST
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter glass, bottled on 3.23.12. This pours a nice copper / amber color with a small off white head. The smells are of caramel, citrus hops, alcohol. The feel is almost thick nice carbonation. The taste is pretty good nice amount of hops and grapefruit, along with a nice caramel / toffee good stuff.

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Photo of Intrik
4.38/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a shaker pint glass with a finger and a half of head that left super lacing along the side of the glass as it receded. Alcohol legs still show as it settles further while typing this.

A: Lighter orange/amber compared to what I was expecting with a barley wine, but still very sexy looking. Gives me quick memories of some home brew mead with the golden highlights in the light. Head was great and it stuck to the glass the whole time with a great film.

S: An overpowering fruity sweetness right off the bat. The hops are present, but its a very string citrusy sweet fruit hop presence that gives way to a more caramel/toffee sweetness right away. You can almost get a sense of the mouthfeel when you smell this beer.

T: Hops right in the front that give off a slight piney-ness then move straight into all the sweet fruits and toffee from the smell. Smooths out on the end with a hint of maltiness.

M: Straight coats your mouth in a syrupy thickness. My lips are sticky like I just ate cotton candy. But the sweet fruits linger in all the stickniess and make you want more.

O: Wonderful beer. I'd love to grab a few more of these to age and compare. Most definitely gonna get another pack for celebrations this year.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 2010 vintage 12 oz. bottle poured into my Bruery tulip glass. Served chilled in the refrigerator for about half an hour so its nicely cool.

Appearance: Bright orange to very light brown in color with nice orange highlights throughout. Leaves a nice, two finger, sticky lacing that adheres nicely to the glass.

Aroma: Some bright citrus and pine notes from hops stand out. Really interesting that the hop character is still holding up after over a year in the bottle. Some nice caramel and toffee candy backing notes.

Taste: Much like the aroma, a pretty strong hop presence. Really nice citrus and pine blend nicely with the sweet caramel and toffee backing. Really smooth and drinkable.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied and nicely creamy.

Overall, a really nice barleywine that holds its hop character very well. The 2010 vintage is definitely holding up nicely and drinking well. I would definitely have this again. The hop notes fresh must be very nice.

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Photo of waldoiverson
3.73/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 12 oz bottle into Tulip

A: startlingly clear, rather active carbonation, with a color of a good Rosé, reddish gold but so dang clear

S: a bit of citrus hop sweetness, lots of light toffee/caramel

T: first hit is a bit bitter then toffee, but with more burnt flavors than the color would suggest, hit of light hop citrus then mostly sugar sweet finish

M: a bit sticky but cleans off the palate nicely, thought the carbonation would be more present than it is

O: This was a good, clean barleywine that doesn't get too introspective but also stays away from alcohol burn and only malt. Worth it.

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Photo of Durge
4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another goody captured on tap at the Whip In in Austin, Texas, this barleywine is a solid amber color, slightly hazed with a modest white head and fair lacing. The aroma offers deep rye malt with hints of sweet whiskey. Very nice. Thick cloying rye whiskey jumps out on the palette, I love it. Simple and nicely balanced with vague banana bread and orange subtleties. This barleywine approaches full bodied with peaceful carbonation with a calm, near whiskey-like feel. This is a little bit of a different take on barleywine but very tasty and highly recommended.

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Photo of mindspin315
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

First off I must say that this looks like no other barleywine I've seen. Very light in color compared to other barleywines. Golden orange with the lightest of brown in the body. Looks like a nice DIPA. Head disappeared quicker than Jimmy Hoffa. Some lacing and no alcohol legs.

Aromas of sweet malts, sugar candy, grapefruit and light pine from the hops. Faint leather and wood glue aroma as well. Don't take that to be off putting...they're actually pleasant and intriguing.

Upfront some nice IPA like qualities. Sweet orange, grapefruit, and citrus flavor. The lightest of pine sits on the tip the tongue. One flaw to me here is the mouthfeel. I'm left wanting more on the back of the tongue. A sticky hop resin or thick maltiness to lay on the back of the tongue or coat the mouth would be highly welcome here. Very clean and smooth with a light bitter touch on the back of the palate in the finish.

To me this is a hop driven barleywine where the malt rides more in the backseat. This is both positive and negative here. The hop flavor/profile is quite nice and provides great aromas/flavors but the lack of maltiness leads to less body and mouthfeel. I'd like more on the back of the tongue and fullness in the mouthfeel. When all is said and done this is still a really good beer. A bit more body and feel would make this a truly stellar beer instead this is just a really good beer. Nothing to bat an eyelash at in a negative way. Very enjoyable and lots of good qualities. I'd choose this over plenty of barleywines, if possible. (not available in NJ, this come via trade).


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Photo of bmwats
3.59/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, into tulip.

A: Dark amber. Pours without a head, and leaves a beer ring around the rim of the glass, and a smattering of effervescence on the surface. No real lacing.

S: Maple syrup, molasses, orange, and a little hint of parsley or oregano or thyme or something of that sort.

T: Bittersweet, syrupy malti-ness and black licorice.

M: Thick and sweet in the front, with a dry, pungent finish.

D: Sipping experience, here.

Atmosphere is decent. Not much to look at, but nose is full with maple, malt, orange, and a hint of spice. Full, thick pungent and sweet body. Overall, this is a pretty good quaff.

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 656 ratings