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Sisyphus | Real Ale Brewing Company

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646 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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 646 |  Reviews: 323
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.17/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Courtesy of RB's own lb4lb via trade. Pours with initial explosion of foam upon opening with slightly hazy copper body and thin off white head. The aroma is pretty big with odd tart fruitiness, mild malt sweetness, over attenuated honey and urine. The odd tartness and urine notes seems out of place (maybe I didn't need to include "out of place" here) and creates a very different aroma compared to most barleywines I've had. The taste isn't nearly as tart and has sweet malts to start followed by fruity tartness that enters early and only becomes more tart as the experience progresses. I get a hint of caramel too but it is far too meek a note

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Photo of Duttonic
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was my first barleywine experience. It was the 2008, and I can't wait to get my hands on some more of it. It is absolutely amazing. I drank it out of the bottle, so I can't say anything about the appearance.

It has an amazing taste and mouthfeel. I never knew a beer could be so smooth. I assuming true to style that because it is a barleywine is the reason that it is so intriguing and slightly fruity.

This is a must try.

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Photo of OlieIPA
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured and shared with Pehlman into a Bruery tulip glass.

A: A nice and deep copper hue accompanied by a cream colored head and considerable amounts of lacing.

S: Dead hops followed by light and delicate sweet malt character.

T: Extra pale-ish; similar to a tone down version of Mirror Mirror with a slight bottle taste at the finish. Pretty smooth for a barleywine with subtle hints of alcohol presence.

M: Much lighter than I had anticipated with mild carbonation.

D: Could probably down a whole bottle of this with no problem. Sounds weird, but I would consider this a good session beer...especially for a barleywine.

Overall: A good tasting brew that I could pick up and enjoy anytime. Cheers!

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Photo of philipquarles
3.31/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On tap at the Gingerman Houston. Pours clear copper with a thick white head that looks like a nitro product, though it's not. Great lacing. Smells caramel-sweet with plenty of hop character. Plenty of light fruit, especially orange. Almost candy-like. Tastes both sharply sweet and somewhat bitter at the same time. Full caramel malt flavor against resinous hops; both sides are quite strong, and almost clash rather than balance one another. Full, borderline-syrupy body. This one seems like it could use a few years to mellow out the hop notes...glad I picked up a few bottles for the cellar.

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Photo of mhatters
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into an English Badger pint glass

Pours a light copper, thin head that sticks around for a while, slightly hazy

Nose is very balanced, sweet chocolate, dry sugar, a bit of malt

Very well balanced, a bit of sweetness but not oversweet, a bit dry, a bit malty, some bitterness but not too much of anything, very good flavor profile

A bit thin, easy to drink, the alcohol is well hidden, a good drinking barleywine - bummed I can't get more as I bought this on a trip to Dallas. Get it if you can,

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Photo of DeathbySexyBT
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Reddish blond with a gentle head.

S: Fruity and floral. Obviously hoppy.

T: Biscuity malts are complemented by sharp fruity hops. Piney hops and flavors that include sweet oranges and rind.

M: Healthy...does that help. The alcohol is felt, but neither tasted nor smelled. The head is creamy and the beer is sharp which makes for a nice sipping barleywine.

D: Not overly complicated and fairly well-balanced for a barlywine. I like it.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 vintage poured into a snifter. Thanks again xpimptastikx!

A- A mild pour coaxed out a small 1/4'' peach head that arrived late and didnt stick around. No lacing.
This barleywine is a stunning deep ruby red with no transparency at all. Very nice looking.

S- Sweet and sour, fruity nose. Hints of honey, apples, alcohol and cider

T- Sweet and malty up front. The fruitiness found in the nose comes out here. Some tartness like apple cider. Alcohol and bitterness on the finish. The thickness makes the bitterness and alcohol stick in the mouth after a swallow.

M- Looks viscous, feels viscous. The carbonation is low and just enough to liven this up. It goes well with the fruity characteristics.

D- High ABV but it doesnt feel as high as it is. Some residual bitterness hurts the drinkability for me, although it is appropriate for this style.

In all a really nice barleywine and my first tasting of something thats been aged.

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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 hoplover82
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
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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Photo of markaberrant
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 bottle

A - deep amber, clear, small cap, recedes to a ring, looked viscous on the pour, no lacing

S - thick, rich, boozy malt, pears, fresh apples, I can't say any hops are jumping out at me

T - pretty much the same as the aroma, but even thicker malt, carmel flavours are restrained, hop flavour is way in the background, really just providing complexity, still lots of bitterness and alcohol in the finish, but both are very smooth

M - THICK, viscous, heavy body, just enough carbonation to keep this monster moving down your throat, really smooth alcohol, gentle warmth

D - I'm quite happy with this, pretty much what I'm looking for in a barleywine

I never tried this fresh, but all thats left for hops is bitterness, but it doesn't matter because the malt is so good. Really good, not sure why the rating is relatively low. This pretty much destroys every Canadian barleywine I've tasted (except for Rudge's creations).

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Photo of Buebie
4.63/5  rDev +17.5%
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 srandycarter
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3


A - Pour bright amber, off white head, leaves to ring. Clear and pretty.

S - Strong sweet alcoholic smell of booze, malt and sugar.

T - Taste does not disappoint smell. Clearly a big beer, full of heavy sweet malt and bittering finish.

M - Heavy, almost a little clingy in the mouth, nice little burst of bitter at end, but still a little one sided.

D - Big beer, not a session by any stretch. Nice, though.

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Photo of elniko
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage poured from bottle into goblet.

A: Ruby golden amber with half finger oily head. Lacing and light carbonation apparent. Good looking brew.

S: I do pick up some alcohol notes along with some serious malty tones. I don't pick up any really hoppy notes but it might be due to the fact that my nose is a little stopped up.

T & M: For a fresh vintage I was really surprised by the balance of this barleywine. The high alcohol is not really apparent at all. Really nice not overbearing barleywine.

D: For a barleywine quite drinkable, I'm curious what the 2007 that I have will taste like since this was already pretty mellow.

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

Viggo shared this bottle. thanks eric!

12oz bottle. 2008 vintage. sampled may 18/09.

pours deep orange, pretty much crystal clear until the bottom of the bottle. a small dense off-white head forms, quickly dropping to a ring around the glass and leaving tons of spotty lace.

aroma is good. tons of citrus and tropical fruit. orange, tangerine, pineapple, mango, pear. bit of grapefruit. orange zest. light alcohol. lightly toasted whole wheat bread with orange marmalade. bit of cracker.

taste is good. like the aroma, it starts off with plenty of citrus and tropical fruit. the same components are all represented, with the addition of a subtle bit of pine. actually, the themes from the aroma are all carried over here. just under medium bitterness level. light alcohol.

mouthfeel is good. medium-large body. medium well-integrated carbonation.

drinkability is great. the alcohol is well hidden, and the tropical fruit aspect gives it a nice depth and new dimension not typically seen in american barleywines. good stuff.

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Photo of Viggo
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, vintage 2008, big thanks to GregMcQ for sending my way!

Pours a mostly clear orange, very vibrant colour, thick white head forms, quickly settles down to a medium ring around the glass, tons of lace spots stick to the glass, real nice pattern, looks pretty damn good. Smell is nice, lots of caramel, very fruity, lots of sweetness, brown sugar, peaches and apricot, alcohol, oranges and grapefruit, maple syrup, mangoes, pretty nice. Taste is neat, caramel and brown sugar sweetness, grapefruits and orange peel, some spiciness, very malty, biscuity, mango, very tropical, touch of raisin and alcohol, very fruity in the finish, solid balance, pretty nice barleywine. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with medium carbonation, pretty smooth for the ABV, not spectacular but definitely enjoyable. Last 07 bottle I had was somewhat infected so its good to see that isn't a lasting problem. Thanks Greg!

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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 Kromes
4.26/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sisyphus 2007. Poured a cloudy amber with a thick tannish head. Great lacing down the glass. I noticed some white chunks floating around in the beer even though I stopped short on the pour and it had been sitting upright for a while. Lots of woody, sour beer, horse blanket notes in the aroma, some malt and hop, but overpowered by Brett. this is when I looked in the bottom of the glass and notiched the little round blackish brown and white chunks sitting there. This bottle is definitely infected with Brett. It's a good thing I happened to like the Brett flavor. I risked it and drank it and it was pretty tasty. A slight caramel flavor that is quickly overcome by the combination of alcohol, woody pine hop and a heavy wild Brett flavor. Nice and oaky and barnyard sour. Mouthfeel was a little thick but I couldn't imagine it any thinner for this style. Drinkability is alright however since this seems like it is an infected batch so I'm a little wary.

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Photo of nlmartin
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to MiguelMandingo! This was a very thoughtful extra included in a recent trade. I love classical referances. Sisyphus was a greek king who was punished by the gods for hubris. In his pride Sisyphus thought he was an equal to the gods. The gods punished Sisyphus to spend and eternity in hell. While in hell Sisyphus would push a stone up a hill only to see it slide to the bottom. A Sisyphean task is one that could be said to be both pointless and meaningless. The real ale brewing company may have misnamed this beer. Consuming this beer was in no way a Sisyphean task. This beer was the 2007 vintage. The beer was served chilled and allowed to warm to a pleasing temperature. The beer was served in a wide mouthed goblet.

Appearance: The beer pours an amber / orange coloration. When held to the light the beer has a glowing fiery reddish coloration. The head was about a quarter inch high. This head resolves to a thin merangue. Freckles of lacing remain to mark its passage on my glass.

Smell: Very nice!... Now to get out of Borat mode. The beers aroma has a nice carmalization fortified with citrus. Along for the ride is floral honey on biscuits, a bit of pepperyness.

Taste: The beers taste is definately a malty treat. The caramel, honey infused orange and grapefruit lead the charge. A bit of raisins and apricot as well as butterscotch and some other undefinable fruit are present. The alcohol is well incorporated in this beer.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would like. I think this should have just a little more viscousness. The carbonation is on the lower side and isnt a problem. The alcohol is invisible. The drinkability is really just short of fantastic. The beer disappeared at an alarming rate. I would have never pegged Texas as the location for the brewer of a big bold barleywine.

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Photo of brokenleadedcask
4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage. Thanks to xpimptastikx for the extra. Reviewed from notes

I poured this fairly hard because I wanted to get a nice aroma release. The head formed slow, late and very little appeared. It did have the typical barleywine color, a cloudy dark amber. The first smell to arrive was honey and lots of it with raisins and figs to back it up. (Note to self, do a blind tasting with aged barleywines and old ales.) More raisins in the taste, hid the alcohol well and had a delicious caramel malt presence. It had a sweetness to it but it wasn't overboard and not too syrupy. There wasn't much carbonation left but was velvetey smooth and had some viscosity. Every sip was very enjoyable and didn't want to reach the bottom

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really this is in a bottle, but I want to review the 2008 version.

I may add this as a yearly thing.

Pours a nice 1 1/2 finger head with excellent retention and a clear amber color.

Smell is of some spicy hops, some caramelized malts, and a hint of fusel alcohol and some dark fruit. I smell a little bit of raisin.

Taste is nicely balance. The alcohol is slightly warming. Nice strong malt balance with adequate sweetness followed by a balance of hop bitterness and flavoring. 11.5% abv does not come off too strong at all.

Nice slick mouthfeel.

This is a solid offering. I look forward to trying it every year. The local store still has a 2007. I may buy it each year then do a vertical.

In fact I think I will.

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Photo of HoustonTX
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Was lucky enough to grab the last bottle of the 2007 edition off the shelves at Downtown Specs. Been wanting to try this one for a while.

This one pours out nicely with nice ample carbonation and a nice fluffy white head. The body is amber in color, with shades of ruby seeming through.

Smell is spot on for the style. HUGE malt presence here, sweet extremely aromatic caramel, along with a huge phenolic toasted blast. Highly malty, and very complex.

Taste is quite balanced. Chewy, and full-bodied. Lots of caramel malt, a hint of roasted grains, a hint of citrus, along with sweet fruity phenols. Flavors all meld together well, and the 11.50%abv is not even noticeable.

A solid representation of the American Barleywine style. Very impressive display of malts. All while a sickly easy to drink, drinkability. Good stuff here Real Ale.

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Photo of stoutfiend27
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2007 and 2008 tonight both bottles sent by the ever so courteous ottovon..big thank you to him..


a-dark brass color..no head which i expected...good bubbles..the carbonation held up well on this one...

s-sweet...malty and old and musty...different

t-starts off sweet like raisins or something then fades to a old ale type flavor....this beer is quite balanced..the alcohol is quite tame on this one...warms as it goes down but nothing rough at all

m-nice and thick perfect for a barleywine..oily and resiny

d-i actually like this beer i may not have more than one in a night but its not because i wouldnt want to..


a-brighter copper color than the 2007..better carbonation and a slightly better head 1/8 inch thick with some lacing..

s-fruity and hoppy in nose..a little alcohol here as well

t-sweet, fruity and malty the followed by a nice hop bitterness..alcohol more prominent than the 2007 as well and warms more

m-thick but semi slick and oily from the hop presence...nice

d-unlike the 2007 i wouldnt want to have more than one in a night....but it is very tasty

im gonna go out on a limb and say the 2007 is one of the tastiest barleywines ive ever had...age has done wonders to this beer imo but then again i havent had it fresh...kudos to real ale on both of these

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Photo of mjl21
4.15/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at the Ginger Man in Fort Worth, TX. Poured into a 1/2 pint snifter. This is the 2008 version and according to the bartender, it is the only cask in North Texas. Didn't catch abv.

A-Pours a really nice amber that veers heavily towards the orange side of the spectrum. Has a very thin foamy off white head from the hand pump.

S-Orange juice. This is without a doubt the most citrusy barleywine that I have ever smelled. There is also sweet caramel malt going, but the oj smell dominates.

T-A whole lot like it smells. The citrus hits upfront and gives way to some sweet malt in the middle before it reappears.

M-Smooth and creamy due to it being on cask. A tad bit of booze, but not much.

D-Apparently previous version have come in around 11.5%. The alcohol was barely noticeable. Very good beer to sip on. Could have had two of these easily due to the fact that it is not overly sweet.

This was my first time trying this beer and thought it worked well on cask. As previously mentioned the high abv was well hidden and the citrus kick helped make this a great beer. Will have to search out the bottled version the next time I am in TX.

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Photo of jdoncbus
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


Visiting sis-in-law in Austin and just got back from an excursion in San Marcos. Pours a burnt orange (makes sense) mild carbonation and smallish head. A few bubbles cling to the glass with little lacing.

Aroma is a sweet biscuit smell. Notes of sourdough, funk, apricot, caramel, and butterscotch. Faint pine.

Filmy and tart on the palate. A sweet, leathery flavor that leans into molasses, dark fruits, & sweet booze. It finishes with pine, bark, and warm burn down the throat.

A solid barleywine and a sweet offering. I would age it some more and see if the bite relaxes and the sweet mellows out.

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Photo of atsprings
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to wagenvolks for the trade of both 2007 and 2008 bottles. Each one is poured into a Brooklyn tulip. '07 pours a quite hazy dark orange with a razor thin off-white head. '08 pours a tad less hazy with a slightly more well-defined head. Aroma is burnt caramel and brown sugar with '07 much more abundant than '08. The taste is loads of brown sugar with sweet fruits and as expected, the '08 possesses a more defined almost cloying sweetness that has greatly subdued in the '07. The beer is medium bodied, with '08 being a bit heavier. This one is a decent Barley Wine, but I have had better.

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 646 ratings
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