Real Ale Brewing Company

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American Barleywine
Ranked #119
Ranked #7,724
3.97 | pDev: 11.84%
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Very Good
Reviews: 326 | Ratings: 655
Photo of Ungertaker
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Darkness snifter.

A- The color is a hazy blood orange with a sudsy white head that ends up as a thin, white layer on the top of the glass. Lacing is left until the last sip.

S- pecan rolls, vanilla, and a hint of pine

T- Sweet caramel, vanilla, bread, a slight astringency. There is a background piney hop presence throughout.

M- The carbonation is light, but consistent. The thickness is medium.

O- A good barleywine that has enough differences from others to make it interesting. I think this would age really well; maybe the astringency in the taste would fade. Thanks to Texasclimber for this sweet extra!

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Photo of diamondc
4.5/5  rDev +13.4%
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 2378GCGTG
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottle poured into a brandy snifter at 48 degrees

Appearance: Golden brown color with a 1 inch white foam, great retention and good lacing.

Smell: Bitter hops full of grass, light malt and a lemon finish over a slightly spicy/peppery note.

Taste: Malty backbone, caramel, sweet citrus and bitter hops. Hints of dark fruits which are lightly masked by the hops, there is a slight hint of alcohol in the taste.

Mouthfeel: Light and very drinkable for a barley wine, crisp clean malt presence on the tongue with a great supporting carbonation throughout.

Overall: A great barley wine, and it's consistently good too, the 09 and 10 were excellent too. I think these will benefit from a few years in the cellar.

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Photo of CopeTech
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in 33ml bottle, nice barleywine but not stunning.

Excellent flavor, and appearance, served cold at a local bar, gibson.
a little bitter for my tastes.
nice amber color, nice head, a classic barleywine/imperial mouthfeel which I love. Different label than shown in picture, gray foil background.

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Photo of obrike
3.93/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bought a single at Specs in Round Rock.

Poured a dark honey color...soft billowy one inch head in my Chimay glass that left a nice sheet of lace.

Scent is quite light...too bad there's not more here. I'm getting some sweet caramel/toffee, a bit of citrus...but way too buried.

Super smooth, creamy. Carbonation is very light, alcohol is extremely well hidden for such a big beer. Very dangerous. Sweet toffee up front followed by apricot/orange/pear on the backend.

A very nice barleywine brewed right here in the heart of Texas!

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.06/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2007 Vintage.

A: lighter, copper colored, I opened it slowly at cellar temp but it gushed, off-white creamy head with particles in suspension (from gushing)
S: full-nose, pronounced brett that is unmistakeable
T; very unusual taste for a barleywine, seems to have some infection, deep, aged roasted sweeter malt up front with underlying brett qualities that make it more of an amped up Orval
M: unusual sharp bite in finish that is probably from brett

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Photo of drpimento
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Good beer and thanks to friend Jax. Poured at a great temperature and with decent, cream colored, fine, head that lasted for a while and lots of lace. Color is a slightly hazy amber. Aroma is malt, hop, yeast, fruit, caramel. Flavor's like nose, with mild carbonics and super balanced. Body and carbonation are perfect. Finish is like flavor, tapers nicely, sooo good.

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

Poured 12oz bottle 2010 vintage into maudite snifter

A- Pours a hazy orange color with some of the sediment from the bottom floating around. Barely any white head.

S- Smells very interesting. Toffee, caramel, hop citrus.

T- Starts out sweet and malty but fades to some delicious hop flavor. Not too bitter, almost like an English rendition.

M- Creamy, full-bodied, and easy to drink considering the abv

O- A good barley wine. Lots of interesting tastes in this one. I would be interested to see how this one tastes as it ages even longer.

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Photo of litheum94
3.24/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. 2010 vintage. Reviewed 11/9/11.

Slow, to form, very small, off-white head that disappears in an instant. Amber body. Nothing special.

Sweet nos, with caramel malts, toffee and some tropical fruit. Light spicing as well, with some bready malts. Like a winter dessert loaf. Good amount of floral hops as well.

Very malty at first, with flavors of caramel and bread. Toffee sweetness leads into a hop profile, redolent of flowers and pine, with a smattering of citrus.

Slightly above average. There are so many better barleywines out there, I couldn't see myself reaching for this too often.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of the 2009 vintage. Pours a very hazed copper color with a yellowish, tight-bubbled foam. Contiguous lacing is pretty nice.

Nose is caramel and candy sweet malts with still a bit of floral hops. Fruit is pretty low and a little oxidation has crept in here and actually enhanced the aroma.

Wow, this is a very smooth beer at this point! The ABV is well hidden and the beer leans sweet, but is not cloying by any means. A little hop scrubbing on the finish does wonders for the drinkability. Rich and semi-complex, it really offers a fun ride all the way through. I am shocked at how much I am enjoying this bottle and will have to pick up more than the one or two I do each year. I have had this at a few different stages including a 6-year old version on tap, I think this might be the best bottle I have had. Maybe 2 and a half years is right in the wheelhouse? Hmmmm, more research is in order I do believe!

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

2010 vintage.

Pours a roasted tan color, like darkened straw. Caramel would be apt, as it also describes some of the aroma and flavor I picked up. There’s a wonderful smell to this that’s sweet and complex. Some earthy leather that balances the sweetness, just enough effervescence to keep it light, a malt backbone to mellow things out, and no discernable alcohol despite being a strong beer.
I’m looking forward to my planned vertical down the road, and I’ll be sure to update my tasting notes at that time.


2011 vintage (reviewed Dec 2011)

I don’t know if this should have a separate entry for each vintage. But I just found out that the recipe has gone through some changes over the past few years. Apparently the rye bill has dropped, but it’s still present. For 2011’s vintage it pours a light caramel color. There’s some light, pleasing aromas, a delicate hoppiness, with a chew, big DIPA flavor. It’s piney and slightly sweet, not warming for it’s ABV. More hoppy but with a touch of rye spice. It warms exceptionally well and I can only imagine it improving with age.

Below are my notes from my Sisyphus “vertical” –cellared Sisyphus, enjoyed periodically.

2011, aged 2 years:
This is cloudy gold tan in color with thin foam.
Aroma is a bittered orange marmalade with piney evergreen and a hint of toasted coconut. The bitterness is still present. Somewhat off.

2010 Sisyphus, aged 4 years:
This was what I had hoped for. Even at the 4 year mark it held up exceptionally well. The hops became dialed down, with a nutty toffee character complementing candied oranges and a caramelly malt backing. Warms wonderfully, without heat or any of the off notes I caught in the 2011. Wish I had more.

2009 Sisyphus, aged 5 years:
This pours an intense copper color with light foam.
The flavor mellowed out but still maintains an intensity. I get candied orange, some light chocolate dusting, a present bitterness but the hops have faded. Some light oxidation and a long, long finish. A surprising treat.

Final bottle update:
Sisyphus 08, enjoyed 10/15
This might very well be the oldest beer I’ve tasted. At least at this point. And for a six and a half/seven year old barleywine it held up pretty well. However, it did not reach the high points of the 2010 and 09. I get thin foaming, a muddled, faded aroma with a big upfront bitterness and a drying finish. The chocolate and coconut notes I expect to find don’t appear, even after warming to ambient temperature. Might have sat on this one too long.

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

$5 for 9oz snifter at Black Star Co-op. 2010 vintage, kegged Jan 2011.

Gorgeous orange-amber with an abundance of fine bubbles. Great head retention.

Very English, but with a higher hop presence than a standard English Barleywine. Earthy. Toffee, orange marmalade, apricot, other fruits carmelized with Brandy. Taste lingers for an impressive while.

Feels creamy and full. Not too sweet. Rich.

Incredibly smooth, incredible drinkable given the ABV and style. Drinking very nice right now.

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Photo of billab914
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured into my CBS snifter. It poured dark orange in color with a thin, spotty head scattered across the top of the beer and clinging to the sides of the glass.

The aroma has a rich malty, caramel and toffee presence to it with just a hint of brown sugar sweetness. I still get some hoppy flavors coming through that add some bitter, citrus rind like qualities to it. It felt pretty balanced for the style.

The taste shows more of the caramel and toffee notes to it up front. In the finish I get more of a bitter grapefruit hoppiness lingering. I get a little bit of a malty, dark fruit, slight raisin like presence to it as well.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side with carbonation being below average. Overall it was a pretty solid beer of the style all around. It felt pretty balanced for the style as well. Both the malty and hoppy qualities shined at one time or another while drinking it. Pretty enjoyable beer to sip on this evening.

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Photo of bradjoiner
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 pours orangish amber with 1/2 inch white head dissipates into very little lace. aroma of toffee. taste of fruits and toffee. mouth feel is at a medium slightly sticky to the tongue. overall a great barley wine another year might make an improvement.

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

big thanks to cfh64 for the hookup.

2010 vintage

a - opened the botle and filled my E snifter. poured a transparent orange with a thin off-white bubbly head. didn't hang long, but left nice lacing on the glass.

s - classic toffee caramel malt. quite nice. little bit purple grape. nutmeg. whatever hop was there has since faded. sweet and candy like.

t - big medley of purple fruits...somewhat sangria like. finishes with some hop bitterness. it isn't the classic flavors that i look for so much, but i quite like it.

m - medium bodied. leaves a bit of a tingle..SUPER smooth.

o - overall, i dig it. it is easy to drink, the abv is invisible. i'd love to try it fresh...but the year or so on it certainly couldn't have hurt it since it is so tasty and smooth.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.39/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Really murky, cloudy orange colored beer with minimal head that faded quickly and left some minor spots on the glass.

S - Bright fruits, some phenolic yeast, a bit of hops for bitterness. Little bit of burnt caramel.

T - Taste is pretty sweet and fruity with phenolic notes. There is a touch of burnt caramel and malts and a little bit of hops on the finish.

M - Medium bodied, sticky, moderate carbonation.

O - A little to phenolic for me, kind of sweet and sharp made it a bit difficult to get through the entire 12 oz. Not a bad beer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sending me this one!

2009 vintage.

Pours a murky honey brown with a 1 inch fizzy light beige head that settles to a film on the top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace form on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel/toffee, alcohol, and citrus zest. Taste is of bready malt, brown sugar, caramel/toffee, and citrus zest hops on the finish. There is a very mild bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a light carbonation and a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good barleywine with a nice balance between the malt and hops.

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Photo of Chaney
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2009 vintage.

I got this one from OakedCanuck in one of my very first trades over a year ago. Thanks Colin!

A: About the color of fall actually: Peppery orange, extremely murky, and with a slight, nearly solid white head that stained the glass with its contribution as the contents below it was being siphoned.

S: Pretty earthy actually.... strange descriptor for this style for sure! Hoppy and bright, with sort of a mulch-like quality imbedded as well. Bready and sweet also.

T: Not hoppy or bitter... at least, compared to Bigfoot and Old Ruffian anyway. Sugary, and with very little yeast to cushion some of that heat. Therein lies the problem to my mind.

M: Bitter on the aftertaste, but it was sort of a stale, musty bitterness. Tons of soapy lacing on the glass and my mouth was a sugar bomb by the end of the session.

O: I think this was pretty well crafted overall, but it is still no match for its rather stiff competition in the BW category. I'll have this one again, but definitely won't seek it out.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2010. Gregg AKA Hannydawg is the man. trade him all your whales.
Pour is a very clear, body is very light in color for what i was expecting, it is a sunburst orange and yellow color. only a small collar is lasting after the cap receded.
Aroma gives off oranges and spices, along with a malt background that balances wit some sweetness and caramels.
Flavors have a bit of a burnt caramel flavor, that slight charred note is easily identifiable, charrred toffee. only a bit of the 10.5% is noticable, the hops bring some balance with the orange notes.
mouthfeel is rather light in body but creamy and is a bit low in carbination for my standards.

An average barleywine, has a few things to work out and it could improve.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.4/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A 12 ounce bottle that I won in an LIF put on by the generous turfy. He sent me a box of Texas-brewed products and included this 2010 bottle. Thank you! Into the DFH signature glass it goes...

A moderate pour yields about an inch of eggshell white heat, comprised of abundant tiny, nay, microscopic bubbles, atop a burnt orange and copper colored body. The body is rich enough in color to appear nearly opaque, giving off a warm, deep orange glow when held to the light of the computer screen. Legs of wet lacing are left clinging to the walls of the glass.

The smell is prominently of spicy hops, even having been stored this long, some caramel and toffee undertones, and bits of brown sugar. Really, the hops just carry this nose though.

The taste is strongly reminiscent of an older DIPA, with the hops leading on the tongue before some faint caramel takes hold. The toffee that was present in the nose really isn't noticeable on the tongue, and the taste is actually somewhat thin and watery. A warming alcohol presence finishes it off.

Mouth is much lighter than I expected for the style, being quite thin with seemingly little carbonation. Not bad, just unsuspected.

Overall, a decent American barleywine, but it certianly reminds me of why I like their English counterparts so much more.

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Photo of jale
3.77/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2009 bottle thanks to my great friend Eric.

A: Pours a thick cloudy amber with very little white lacing.

S: Sweet smelling malt with a hint of hops.

T: Initial sweet malt followed quickly by nice herbal hop bitterness. The alcohol is well hidden. I get a little grass in the finish.

M: Medium body with a small amount of carbonation.

O: Glad I was able to try this.

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Photo of roodie
3.62/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Great Divide goblet

A: pours a clear orangish brown with almost no head, no lacing, some legs when swirled.

S: malty vanilla, subtle and sweet. bitter hops round out the nose. enticing!

T: as with the nose, sweet and malty vanilla flavor, but a stronger hop presence at the end. very nice!

M: very smooth, due to lack of carbonation. hops linger on the tongue, sweetness is but a memory.

O: a great offering, one I'd seek out again, only wish there was more carbonation. I'd like to try a fresh one to see the true hop profile.

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

Poured from a bottle to a snifter, an aggressive pour yielded a large two inch white head that had great retention for abv. Color is a hazy golden color.

Smell is mostly sweet fig-date with some caramel- toffee in the mix. No real alcohol or hop aroma.

Taste is ripe dates, not as sweet as smell, with the caramel and toffee coming thru as well. No alcohol or hop on the palate either.

Mouthfeel is nice and creamy with the abv hidden well. Very drinkable but at 11.5 abv you had better watch it.

Overall a very good barley wine. Taste as if it had a year or two on it, smooth with the taste melding together well. Better than most, not as good as some. Worthy

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Photo of tjkinate
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a review of both 2009 and 2010 vintages in a 12oz bottle drank at different times, but comparing notes.

A: Pours a creamy, hazy, golden amber that produces a one and a half finger white frothy head. The 2010 produced a slightly larger head, but both colors were similar.

S: Caramel is the most dominant smell and is backed up with sweet heavy fruits. The 2010 has a more robust hop scent, although other scents are still present.

T: Both have slight initial bitterness more dominent in the 2010, but the bitterness is quickly replaced with a potent punch of caramel, plum, and apricot.

M: Medium bodied, fairly high carbonated, but still coats the throat without burning while it goes down.

O: Highly underrated Barleywine, I think that Real Ale has been perfecting their recipe over the years and now it is among the best of the variety. If you are a fan of Barleywines than I suggest you ask for one (or five) during your next trade with someone from texas. They're fairly abundant from what I can tell, just FYI.

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Photo of fatmcb1
3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from 09 poured into a wine glass

Pours a hazy golden color with a light white head. It leaves a ring and lacing stands strong despite the 13% abv.

Sweet carmely malt and brown sugar are up front. Toasty smell is in the background as well alcohol. A bit of citrusy hops creep in at the end.

Caramel sweetness dominates as it did in the nose. Hop bitterness is more pungent and provides a lasting aftertaste. The alcohol provides a serious warming affect. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, and sticky.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer a lot. It's the first 2+ year old barley wine I've had, so I don't have a ton of comparison. I would seek this out again.

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 655 ratings