Sisyphus | Real Ale Brewing Company

very good
644 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 644 |  Reviews: 323
Photo of DearthVader
3.69/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage courtesy of kspongeworthy.

Poured aggressively into my Stone Old Guardian glass. The aggressive pour produced a tightly wound 1 1/2 finger head that was an off white color. The body is a beautiful murky burnt orange that glows brightly around the edges. Leaves tremendous lacing. Very nice start.

Smell is ok. The sweet caramel malts cover up a lot in the nose. I pick up the slightest bit of hops and orange peel when I really get a good swirl.

Upfront with the sweet caramel malts and definitely orange attributes in this one. Nice subtle orange peel bleeding into the slight hopped finish. I enjoy the after taste in this quite a bit. Its mostly of orange rind and slight burnt sugar.

Very nice feel for a barleywine. As smooth as I could ask for. This was still a little hot for me though. Probably could've let it sit for another 6 months and that would've been untraceable.

This was a decent offering of the style. Its good, but nothing to write home about. Always grateful to try beers I can't get here though, so thank you for the opportunity Hector.

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Photo of Phoptos
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Won in a "beer bracket" contest for March Madness. 2010 bottle.

A: Poured into my Pretty Things goblet. One finger off white head that fades fast to a thin lace. Rusty burnt brown color in the body.

S: Toffee with citrus caramel. An almost metallic tinge lingers a bit beyond the earthy sweetness.

T: The alcohol burn is pretty forward with the toffee and sweet dark fruit flavor coming out of it. The burn might be laid back a bit given some age but for now, even after about a year, the booze is anything but smooth. The guy sending it out said to give it a bit of time and I should have taken the advice a little more wisely.

M: Even after the booziness, the creamy smoothness is a nice surprise. The complex and rigid flavor gives way to a subtle dry sweetness that is actually quite pleasant.

O: Being that it's my fault not giving it enough time I can't be TOO harsh. That being said, the harshness of the booze is a bit much. Given time I'd like to try this again.

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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 JayAre46
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 sisyphus poured into DFH snifter
A - Great amber color with some orange shining throughout the edges, product of a 1 finger egg shell colored head with good lacing.

A - caramel malts up front, hops are rather subtle, more strong caramel and toffee aromas in the back for the last impression

T - combination of toffee sweetness and caramel malt, light hop bitterness that pushes for balance. Biggest surprise was that their is not a lot of heat....

M - medium to full bodied, light carbonation very creamy pretty typical and expected. soothingly covers the palate with great ease.

O - Real Ale has a solid barleywine here, interested what some age will bring. Only a couple a day at most after I noticed the 11.5 abv Jesus Christ this beer could put you in danger with its easy drinkability. It is a definite American style barleywine although brewed with english malts.

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Photo of harrymel
3.03/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

vintage 2010

A: Pours a copper ale with excellent clarity. Medium sheet off-white head with rope lacing. Above avg.

S: Caramel, alcohol, sweet, sharp and little hops. What hops hang out are resiny and pine forward. Fairly simple. A slight hint of green apple skin.

T: Alcohol is a bit strong in this one. The beer is still hot, but has the beginnings of a sweetness and maltiness I enjoy in a well aged BW. The toffee is hiding in there somewhere. There's the slightest hint of vanilla at the back.

M: Medium body with Low carbonation. Middle of the road.

O: Decent BW, could use a little higher SRM to add to some of the malt potential on this beer. Okay. Not the best.

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Photo of ejyoung
3.59/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Shared at a tasting with AZ BAs - thanks ottovon.

Poured a dark amber color with no head, lacing or much of anything to note. Just a trace amount of off-white bubbles on the surface.

Smelled of toffee and caramel with some citrusy hop that I caught every once in awhile.

Big toffee notes in the taste, finishing with a bite of bitter hop. Strong amount of alcohol too. Medium body with light carbonation.

Overall, I did enjoy this, but would like to try it with some age to lessen the alcohol presence.

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Photo of Phelps
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at a recent tasting of Arizona friends, this was poured from the bottle into a tulip. Made with five different strains of hops at a rate of two pounds per barrel, Sisyphus was Real Ale's first seasonal product.

Pours a light, rosy amber, perfectly clear, with almost no head and no lace, although there is a microscopic light tan ring.

The aroma is smoothly citrusy, with orange juice, grapefruit peel, caramel and toffee. Smooth, rich and citrusy, like caramel-coated orange slices.

In the flavor, hops drop off at first, replaced by heavy toffee and caramel. Then, orangey hop bitterness returns at the finish with lingering grapefruit. Surprisingly dry finish. Very boozy.

The medium-light body's a little thin. Lightly carbonated, with a very subtle fizziness as it moves. The 11 percent ABV blazes through the nose as well as in the flavor.

Overall, a rather malty barleywine. Not bad, but it seems like it needs a little time to mellow out.

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Photo of Fenris244
2.76/5  rDev -29.4%
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 garbercury
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for knocking off another one of my wants, yeah Todd! 2008 bottle...

A--Nice amber hue to this one with sticky lacing that coats my snifter...

S--A little bit medicinal, hops, sweet nose.

T--Tad bitter and though the hops have faded, still present. Good flavor, really nice balance, the age has worked well.

M--Smooth, but a tad thin maybe.

D--Hot beer, would not be able to drink too much of this, but good version of this style, glad to have tried it...

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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 beerpirates
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage , 12oz poured into my stemware glass

It poured a clear amber color with a thin beige head that faded to a ring , very nice lacing , very thick brew

Aroma of sweet malts and a very nice fruity undertone, including hints of orange, apricot, and pear, with a light alcohol on the nose as well. Moderate caramel malts lead into a strong fruit presence consisting mostly of citrus (orange and apricot) giving way to a nice, bitter hop finish. Smooth on the palate, with a nice drying finish.

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Photo of youradhere
3.35/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours cloudy orange, head is good and beige. Smells floral, fruity, melony, cucumber, sweet goodness. Taste is fruity and floral, slight mango, hop bittering, sweet tangerine, some dominating flavors combating subtile ones here. Mouthfeel is medium and carbonation is high. Due to the flavor amplification this brew suffers on the drinkability, but a pretty solid brew overall.

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Photo of irishtimepiece
4.16/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured into a goofy looking Dogfish Head glass.

I poured this beer probably ten minutes ago and haven't touched it yet. A rough pour yielded a small creamy off white head that after ten minutes is larger than when poured. Steadfast.
Color is of a raw honey. Clear.

Aroma is faintly hoppy and fruity(grass, citrus), but big on the standard malt aromas(toffee, caramel, plum, etc). Diverse without being muddled.

Taste starts off grassy hoppy, transitions to sweet, fruity, and bready, then fades back to piney/citrusy hops upon swallowing with some alcohol in the finish. A sweetness lingers.

(Note: At this point I am a third of a way through the glass and the lacing is more like sheeting and the head is still a strong, full cap. This differs greatly from some of the other reviews. Guess the way you clean the glass makes a big differences. I don't hand out a lot of fives, but on this particular pour it all came together.)

This beer is full bodied and slick with mild carbonation.

As far as barleywines go, they don't get much more drinkable. This is not cloyingly sweet or palate shredding bitter. Balanced flavors and subtle concealed alcohol make it an easy sipper.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured into a snifter. 2009 vintage.

This beer pours a copper colour with a nice off white head. Smells of caramel, toffee and some dark fruits. The dark fruits come through strong in the taste, mainly raisins and plums. The back palate hosts toffee, caramel and butterscotch. It is like a dessert! Mouthfeel is light heavy with warming alcohol presence, perfect for a cold day. A true sipper and this one will catch up to you fast but it is worth it!

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Photo of JAXSON
3.9/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 bottle, extra'd by Jim. Pours a clear guava, pinkish orange color with a head that quickly settles to a collar. Nose is a fairly round malt, sweet apples. Very nice feel in the mouth -- rich, thick, tingling bubbles, kind of evaporates on the tongue. Medium-heavy body, quite a bit of honey, I get this apple quality. A touch of bittering hops that's somewhat at odds with the flavor profile. Fairly large, but I want more aggressive malt and darker fruits here. It's nice, but I'm not sure this particular year is going to get better.

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Photo of JMad
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got a 2009 bottle from Hall's and poured it into my snifter...

The liquid was a vibrant orange, the head was white, thin and leave some nice web lacing on the glass.

I smelled a boatload of sweet toffe-like malt, lots of citrusy hops, and a hint of alcohol.

Taste has lots of piney hop flavors, caramel, toffee, and some alcohol heats things up a bit.

It feels silky, heavy, warming, and alcoholic.

This is a beast of a beer, but very enjoyable, take your time with this one.

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Photo of Beertracker
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Real Ale's Sisyphus (2007) pours up with a bit of a wallop, lacking much in the way of effervescence but with enough carbonation to create a small, thinnish ring of beige head around the glass above a hazy, deep copper-orangish amber colored body. The aroma is hugely malty & sweet with a ton of apparent caramel and plenty of pleasant fruitiness (e.g. caramel apple, dried apricot, Seville orange slices) & just the faintest wisper of hop character (e.g. Willamette) and some notable warmth that comes through after it warms in hand. Hint of sherry-like oxidation that adds to the complexity. The flavor starts-off very fruity with plenty of sweet-bready character and lots of rich caramel notes along with a perceivable nuttiness (e.g. cashews, caramel peanuts). The maltiness has a clearly defined caramel maltiness from apparent kettle carmelization and some toastiness that adds an extra dimension to this grain fed monster. There's a moderate amount of underlying bitterness that never seems to balance this one out, but it does prevent this one from being overly cloying. The finish is bready, creamy & intensely warming with a wisky-laced kick. This full-bodied American-style barleywine is a rich & chewy, caramel dominated barley treat that is as big & bold as Texas yet seems as refined as a country English gentleman. Here's to the mighty Sisyphus!

CHEERS! Beertracker

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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 augustgarage
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to lnashsig for these:

2008 vintage:

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my snifter.

Very cloudy rust body, not quite opaque, which becomes a luminous glowing tangelo orb when held up to the sun. A whispy but persistent head is ringed by a ivory velodrome of cream.

Lovely citrus aromatics with faint toffee, very light brandy, and perhaps a whisper of hops. Rather subdued.

Sweet unctuous palate entry, estery and rich with light oxidization coming out more as the beer warms. Grassy, orange-peel-filled hops evolve into a spicy earthy finish with leather, fennel, figs, and prunes all dancing around the periphery. Again, delicate but well balanced and full flavored. Would rate the taste slightly higher by my own preferences, but being mindful to style, the hops are a little weak for a proper American Barleywine (and the malt isn't as intense as the best examples of English Barleywine either).

Soft, creamy, full-bodied, with light steady carbonation. The ABV is perfectly integrated into the whole, making this dangerously drinkable.

Will compare soon to the '09 vintage and revise my rating if necessary...

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Photo of 7ways
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2009 vintage.

Can't remember the last time I saw an orange barleywine. It appears to be so thick that the bubbles traveling up the glass are moving very slowly, like through gel. Lots of solid sediment and no head.

The aroma is primarily sweet caramelized malt with some buttery toffee, citrus, and earth The alcohol is undetectable in the aroma.

Not so much in the taste though. I can feel and taste the slight alcohol after burn when I start swallowing. Bleh. It's not overpowering, but it is distracting. There's a good beer on top of it though, pretty much tastes like it smells, only with a vodka addition in the middle and finish. Pretty sweet, with a grapefruit hop burst at the end helping to mitigate the booze.
Nice almost full, syrupy mouthfeel.

I'm surprised with the heat. Looks like I'll be waiting another 2 years to open my next bottle.

This is a good beer, but really fades into the background compared to the ever increasing amount of really great barleywines out there.

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Photo of deadliest
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2008 Vintage.

A: Poured hard, producing 2 fingers of creamy head that lasts a good while and leaves attractive lacing down the walls of my Duvel tulip. Body is cloudy medium amber.

S: Caramel maltiness, toffee and biscuit.

T: sweet caramel malt and bready toffee, but unlike with the smell the hops are more present. The piney hop bitterness is a great compliment to the more dominant sweet/rich flavors up front.

M: Silky smooth. Still has the carbonation it takes to keep the feel from laying a little too heavy.

D: Just about perfect drinkability for either a barleywine or any 11.5% beer for that matter. The taste of alcohol has been aged into the other flavors while still having a warming presence.

Just incredible.

(Also tried a 2009 recently as well and while it was pretty good, it wasn't nearly on the same level as the 2008. Either 2008 was an especially good batch, or this ages incredibly after 2+ years goes by. Definitely recommend buying some of this up and drinking it after it's 2 or more years old.)

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Photo of pwoods
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for the nice extra.

12oz. brown bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a tangerine copper with some clarity but mostly glowing. Nice head on the pour with lots of retention and lacing.

S: Sweet strong malts with a nice touch of alcohol. Lots of fruitiness... some from the hops and a bit from the malts and yeast character. Body is about full and is pretty chewy. Carbonation is about average or a touch higher.

D: Tasty brew and a solid barleywine. A nice sipper.

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Photo of StoneBrewFanatic
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage:

A - Pours a light copper color into my chalice with just a thin layer of head that dissipates rather quick, however it does leave quite a nice ring of lace around the glass.

S - Nose is rather soft with notes of caramel malts, caramelized sugar, subtle orange, dark fruits and some alcohol.

T - Lots of caramel malts, like the nose somewhat subtle on the flavors as well. Caramelized brown sugar, some citrus and dark fruit, and a funky bitterness that lingers on the palate.

M - Smooth and creamy, really well rounded even though I believe it has lost a little carbonation over time.

D - Amazingly drinkable for a barleywine, not overwhelming at all and although you can't really taste the alcohol it still is a slow burn to it.

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got as an extra in a trade with OakedCanuck. 2009 vintage.

A: Hazy, amber-brown color with a small ring of off white head and mountains of lacing.

S: Classic prunish/sugary malt mixed with subdued citrus hops. Theres a definite pastry type of smell here, like a bunch of different sugary desserts smells mixed.

T: Not an overly big flavor. Candy coated raisin, malt, some citrus (faint) bitter at the end, leather, and definite lager malt/yeast tastes.

M: Medium, really bitter finish, smooth.

D: Not too bad, but hard for me to get through since it isn't the tastiest barleywine out there.

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Photo of redraider2323
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - reddish brown, fairly opaque, thick foam

S - raisins, dates, plums. Lots of dark fruit.

T - alcohol, plums, dark candy. It almost has a Belgian yeast character with all the dark fruit, even though I don't think they are using Belgian yeast with this beer.

M/D - pretty thick mouthfeel. Very flavorful and tasty, although the drinkability isn't great. A good beer I'd recommend though.

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