Sisyphus | Real Ale Brewing Company

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648 Ratings

Brewed by:
Real Ale Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by aracauna on 12-18-2002

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Ratings: 648 |  Reviews: 324
Photo of CrellMoset
3.42/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sisyphus 2007, bottle courtesy of and split two-ways w/ dkachur. My portion poured into a brandy snifter.

Appearance: A surprisingly light orange/bronze body, very hazy, though with practically no head, no collar of lace, and no lacing on the sides of the glass. Color's nice, fits in well with the aroma and tasting notes that follow, but I'd like a little more out of my lacing.

Aroma: Very light but fairly pungent - fruity notes, stone fruits, light citrus, toffee and brown sugar maltiness. Slight hints of spice and salt. As it warms, a little bit of hot, estery alcohol breaks through, but unless you're really stickin' your nose in there, it's not too bad.

Taste: Very English. Hops are muted, fruity, citrusy, and only slightly bitter, malts are well roasted, buttery, but slightly lighter than in the nose - toffee is still dominant, brown sugar is slightly more muted. Apples, pears, lots of light, random fruity esters. Faint saltiness, and a few estery alcohol notes.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, but with plenty of prickly, bright effervescence to even things out. And even it out it does, both in terms of thickness and in terms of bubble structure.

Drinkability: Not a terribly good barleywine, in my opinion, though perhaps this one just didn't age well. It was interesting enough, intensely fruity and malty, but just a little too light over all, a little too alcoholic, and a little too salty.

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Photo of angelmonster
4.43/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

My first review of this beer was the 07 vintage, it was about a year old at time of consumption. A-4 S-4 T-4 M-4.5 D-4
Overall score was 4.05. New review is the 08 vintage with two years cellaring on it 12/10/10

Pours a 1/2 finger sand colored head. Body is clear and honey colored. Head retention is good and lacing is amazing.

Smell is very sweet. Hops have faded greatly and linger in the background.I'm getting lots of honey and some candied yams. I've had beers that smelled like hop bombs or malt bombs but this is like a sugar syrup bomb. Booze are almost not detected

Taste is slightly less sweet than in the nose. Hops leave a bitter lime taste to the beer which nicely counteracts the sweetness of everything else. Bready malts have a spicy rye flavor and candied apricots start to come through halfway.The more I drink this beer the more I start to taste fruitcake which is really weird. For 11 percent the alcohol is lightly noticed. Actually tastes like 7 percent at the most

Mouthfeel is syrupy, but not too rich. Carbonation levels are good despite the high gravity and prolonged aging. Head is present but isnt much of a contributing factor to the overall body

Drinkability is insane. I've had different vintages of this beer aged between 1 and 1 and a half years but never one over 2 years aged and it definitely smoothed this beer out alot. This is almost like liquid candy, so smooth and flavorful, sad that this was my last one. Must trade to get more of this beer and looking forward to aging it longer to see how it changes

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Photo of Ruslanchik
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle marked 2007.

I learned my lesson this time. Instead of keeping it in the fridge and warming it, I kept the bottle out and put it in the fridge about 45 mins before drinking. It is warm enough to release its secrets, but not enough to spoil them.

Poured from the bottle into a wine glass. A fairly gentle pour produced a small off-white head. This died away fairly quickly leaving traces hovering on the surface surrounded by a strong collar. The beer is translucent brown, with ruby highlights. Much lighter than I was expecting. There is no haziness at all.

The aroma is complex and delicious. The presentation is citrus hops, a smell that reminds me of strawberry jam. There is a delicate malt backing to the aroma; a sweetness that complements the hop spice. The final impression is of the slightest bit of alcohol. Very nice.

Like the aroma, the taste the very complex. Hop spice and bitterness are both present. The bitter character is perfectly balanced--definitely evident, but not overpowering. The malt character is pronounced and delectable. A subtle sweetness with a strong nutty background. Following it all is alcohol warmth--no alcohol flavor to speak of, just the warming of the mouth and throat.

This beer surprisingly thin. It looks thin and feels like it looks. It is slightly oily, coating the tongue just a bit. I would like a bit more body. Carbonation is low, which is good.

Definitely a drinkable brew. Leaves me wanting another sip, but I'm not sure I would want more than one.

Overall, a very nice brew. The guys at Real Ale have impressed me with their session beers and now this heavier one.

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Photo of everetends
3.98/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle I ot from the great hopsleeroy. Served this one up in the good ole Terrapin snifter. Lets do this.

2007 vintage.

A: Pours a really nice caramel, brown. When held to the light, you get a hazy, glowing orange. Just really pretty. At first, after the vigorous pour there is no head. Then, slowly a light, white head bubbles up to the top. What comes up recedes to a thin ring that throws a little lace on the glass. Not bad lookin'.

S: Smell is of some really nice, lightly toasted malt. Lots of buttery, cracker goodness. There is also some really nice lemon and grapefruit sneakin out as well. A bit of caramel comes out as well in the nose.

T: Taste is really nice. Once again some nice, light malt goodness with nice notes of buttery cracker, caramel, brown sugar, etc. A bit of really ame hops coming out in the form of lemon and grapefruit. Then comes the clincher for me, a flavor I can only describe as a key lime pie. Sweet sugary, lime flavors with lots of cream and whipped cream. Just very good and interesting.

M: Light side of full bodied that is very nice and slick. Carbonation is light. This beer is almost oily as it coats your mouth with sweet, malty goodness. ABV is amazingly nonexistant for it being so high. There is a touch of warmth that bubbles up in the stomach and warms you a bit.

D: For this beer being a barleywine and so high in ABV it goes down incredibly easy. This beer is tasty and just complex enough to keep it interesting. So damned drinkable. I am a bit taken aback by this. Just great. Highly recommended.

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Photo of lysistrata
4.47/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 version

A= Ruby reddish copper tint. Huge head which maintains itself a while for such a highly alcoholic beer. Beautiful!

S=Ripened figs, stonefruit, citrus flavor in the hops to give it some balance.

T=Taste is alternately sweet and tangy without being unpleasant. Certainly falls more on the English Barley Wine style than its American counterpart

M=Thick and chewy without being overly so. This is a smooth not overly carbonated barley wine that coats the tongue in sweet malt and fruit goodness.

D=For the chilly late fall and winter months here in texas, its a perfect evening sipper or would go great with a hearty dessert. Sopapilla cheesecake anyone?

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Photo of whoneeds8
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Bottle poured into Chimay glass.

Pours out ruby red with very little head. Smells very fruity. Taste is very smooth fruit flavor. The lacing from the minimal head disipates rather quickly, much like the head. Good balance of carbonation, the feel is very thick, not quite syrup like, just thick.

Overall, this is a very good example of a specialty beer from the little Real Ale brewery. They've definatly got a good one here.

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Photo of pwsoldier
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2007 vintage, poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pours a clear, deep red with a decent off-white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Plenty of lacing though.

S - Lots of pine with other wood notes. Some earthy sweetness comes through as well.

T - Pine and spicy wood notes dominate with some malt sweetness coming through in the finish. Very well-balanced. The alcohol hides itself very well, providing just a touch of phenolic spice to compliment the woody flavors.

M - Full-bodied and smooth with a dry finish. Some spicy pine notes linger very gently on the palate.

D - Very smooth and enjoyable. Not harsh at all like some barley wines are. I was very impressed and would have this one again in a hearbeat.

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Photo of beachbum1975
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Got this one from BA'er brewdlyhooked13 as a gift a few months back while we were enjoying a night at the Dilly Deli in Mariemont (Cincinnati), Ohio. Thanks man, you're the best! This one says it's a 2007 vintage. I tasted one at Dilly Deli that night and remembered it tasting very bretty, possibly bad, but after opening this one, it's smells tasty!

A: This one pours a gorgeous, semi-hazy reddish copper with a super thick and creamy tan head that shows off some pretty serious lacing up my traditional pint glass.

S: Rich, thick and pounding waves of malts all over the place followed by hints of honey, brown sugar, some spiciness and piney & grapefruit hops (all blended gracefully). You can tell how thick this one will be just from the nose!

T: Much like the nose. There's a lot going on with this one, as planned. Rich, lightly toasted, sweet malts, malts and more malts followed by a pang of hoppy and citrus-filled bitterness. Wow, this is a serious barleywine! Very interested twist of sweet, sour and bitterness throughout with alcohol coming to the forefront as it warms.

M: Thick bodied, full flavored and ample carbonation mixed with a chewy , lingering bitterness in the mouth.

D: Wow, nice sipper and okay for the season, but too thick any other time of the year in my opinion.

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Photo of mcallister
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Burnt orange with some ruby notes and an overly large yellow off white head. The enormous eruption of head is a little offputting. Goo dlace sticky and thin cover the entire snifter.

Full of stone fruit aromas, caramel, and spicey hop character. Floral with even a bit of orange rind. Acidic aromas.

Same stone fruits in the mouth with a lot of hop bitterness in the finish. Slightly sour and not sure if it should be. However it is still very tasty and full of flavor. Mouth is very tight and full of hop bitterness. Too much so for my barley wine style preference.

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Photo of warmstorage
4.13/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, 2007 edition.

Appearance: deep hazy orange with reddish hints, significant, moderately dense head leaves significant lacing. Maintains an impressive head for such a high ABV beer.

Aroma: big fruit, stonefruit, citrus, figs, plums. Some very slight latex notes are the only reason I don't give the aroma a 4.5.

Taste: Again, significant stonefruit, plums, slight cherries, figs. A distinct warm alcohol. Thick sweet maltiness. Very drinkable. Finishes with a hint of overripe peach or apricot.

Mouth: Thick and almost creamy, a distinctly warming alcohol. Could use a bit more carbonation, but it's hard to ask for in such a huge ABV beer.

Overall: A delicious beer, I'd place it closer to English style barleywine, with a solid bitterness. Reminds me of the solid in-between barleywines, like Rogue Old Crustacean.

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Photo of bassmantin
3.68/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy golden orange with a huge frothy creamy head. Looks very creamy. The smell is very sour. It smells like a lambic. Wow, that's not what I was expecting. Some fruitiness, but overall quite a bit of sourness.

The taste is unique. It tastes like a mixture of a mild lambic and a harsh barleywine. Highly unusual. Drinkability is very low because of the harshness of the barleywine-esque aftertaste.

I think this is still probably a bit fresh, which would explain the harshness. Lay it down for a year or two, and I bet it will mellow out and the clever mix of flavors will emerge and blossom.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clouded orange brown with a creme head. Nose is very reminiscent of Hitachino XH. That odd woody fruity thing. Flavor has a very unique roasted smoky thing to it. Kind of an alcohol-tar aftertase that rests in the back of the mouth. Feel is well bodied on the liquid and the carbonation is appropriate with an oh so slight bite. A very unique barleywine. Definitely worth trying for it's unusual qualities.

Thanks to ballewblake for this one.

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Photo of chemmie
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Hopsleeroy for this 2007 beer.

It pours out an opaque burnt orange, like a roasted pumpkin, with no head and leaves little lacing. The smell is of aged hops, burnt sugar, a little orange peel and just a hint of the alcohol. The mouthfeel is thick like syrup with just a little carbonation tingling on the tongue. The hops come through in the taste, but they are sweet and mellow. There is some vanilla and a hint of figs. Overall, I really enjoy this beer. The alcohol is hidden well and there is a bit of complexity to the taste. A great beer.

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Photo of AustinBeerLvr
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Poured a 2007 vintage into a brandy snifter style glass.

A: Very nice deep red, amber body, minimal head.

S: Big notes of toffee, butterscotch, caramel, strawberry ester like flavors and fairly mellowed out piney hop notes.

T&M: A surprisingly fairly tame toffee and caramel malt flavor start off this big brew, followed by citrus, strawberry like ester flavors that ride through as the hop bitterness kicks in. Hops are fairly mellow, but still do an excellent job of balancing out the malt sweetness. Bitterness rides through to the end and is accompanied by a hint of dry alcohol flavor that melds nicely with the bitterness to leave you wanting another sip.

The mouthfeel is the only thing I might say needs just a bit of work, as some sips it seemed to be just a tad thin for a big barleywine. Still, plenty of body, I just tend to prefer a bit more for the style. (I am nitpicking this brew to death since I like it so much!)

D&Notes: This one deceptively strong beer! By far, the most balanced barleywine I have ever had, as the huge malt body is perfectly balanced by a good dose of hops, but yet even with 77IBUs (as claimed by Real Ale Brewing's Website), the hops are not overdone at all. I would love to get my hands on a 2008 vintage bottle to compare it to this 2007. Reminds me of Charlie Papazian's saying regarding that a barleywine not aged enough is like a mountain without its peak.

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Photo of blackie
4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

vintage 2007

a: into my Brooklyn snifter, pours completely placid with essentially no head, bright orange-copper in color

s: initial aromas are pretty promising, caramelized malt sugars, sugar cookies, pineapple cake (love this part), dates, hops take a back seat, gentle waves of booze, very well constructed

m: low carbonation, body on the full side but not overly thick, silky

t: pretty damn tasty, sugar cookie iced with malted caramel, well on the malty side with a conservative dose of pine hop in the finish to give a moderate bitterness...enough to keep it American

d: a pleasure to sip, abv well integrated

from wickedpete in beer-o-cache v1.0

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

2007 vintage. Hazy ripe apricot with a wee splash of cherry juice. This tropical sunset-like hue is one of my favorite beer colors of all-time. The upper third of the snifter is occupied by a creamy crown of pale caramel colored foam. Even though less than one inch of the glass is visible (so far), it's coated with a thin sheet of unbroken lace.

It's obvious from both the appearance and the nose that this is a golden fruity barleywine as opposed to a medium-dark fruity barleywine or a quasi-old ale. Orange and peach are most prominent, along with their respective fruit brandies. Very nice.

Sisyphus is a fairly gentle version of the American barleywine style. I was going to say that it's a gentle giant, but it isn't that big. More malt would have given the beer more intensity and depth of flavor, a longer finish and a more lush mouthfeel. On a positive note, the alcohol is hidden exceptionally well.

Apricot and peach take over on the palate, though bitter orange peel is still present and accounted for. I'm betting that Amarillo hops are at least one member of the five member hop bill. A sugar cookie and English toffee-like sweetness is prevented from being cloying by a still considerable hop bitterness. This '07 vintage probably has at least a few more good years on it. This particular bottle has another 30 minutes on it... max.

Given the absence of overwhelming sweetness, the well-hidden alcohol, and the light to medium mouthfeel, drinkability is anything but Sisyphean. Warming brings out a bit more viscosity and a subtle lushness that allows the beer to get into my good graces by the midway point of the bottle.

Given what else I've had from RABC, my hopes for Sisyphus were less than high. Having said that, I'm pleasantly surprised. This is a good little sipper that should warm the bones of craft beer lovin' Texans during those frigid, 35 degree winter nights.

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3.77/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Only about an inch of light tan head forms with a strong pour. Body is a pure ancient amber tone. Nose is syrupy sweet with lots of boozy dark fruit, honey and vanilla. Enters the mouth with noticeable raisen pie notes and toasty biscuit tones. The flavors swirl around the tongue with a mixture of yeasty spice and slightly soured dark fruit and long carmalized richness. Mouthfeel is thick and very nice. Alchol is well hidden in the flavor porfile. Enjoyably drinkable.

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

2007 bottle drunk on 8/10/08 - slight rust oxidation on the inside of the cap

Got in trade from Ben4881!! thanks so much!!

12oz to goblet, pours a nice deep reddish golden amber brown shade, creamy white head fades to nice lacing, decent carbonation

smells of hot alcohol, tobacco, barley and other delicious malts, caramel, sweetness

tastes of hot alcohol on the front, warms down the throat, sweet apple, lingering hops and alcohol on the finish, tobacco, heavy malts, weight isn't as heavy as i would expect given all the elements, but that doesn't change my view of it.

mouthfeel is bitter, heavy, hot, sweet, after half a bottle the alcohol became apparent. A very nice barleywine from real ale, i'd love to get my hands on more bottles.

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Photo of Douglas14
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours out a rich, tawny color with almost no head whatsoever. Because there is now head, there is no lacing or retention, obviously. The smell is heavily of malted barley with alcohol also. The taste follows the smell identically. It is an incredibly rich taste, nothing over the top, but very well done. I'm really happy I was able to try this. Great beer.

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Photo of charlesw
3.71/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 bottle

Pours thick and rich. You think there will be no head then slowly, oh, so slowly, the tiny bubbles make it to the surface. Low head that's gone pretty quickly. No lace.

It smells just like it should - thick and sweet with caramel. Spicy, zingy nose - the promise of the hop!

Tastes, well, shucks. It doesn't have the bitterness that I expect from a 'merican barleywine. Still, it's obviously much more highly hopped than an English one. Maybe it's a barley to drink really really young? Do they still make this? I'd like to try a fresh one next time - to compare.

Pretty thick in the mouth. A nice trick given that it's not so sweet as that. Or maybe it is but it has enough bitterness to balance it out. I'll have to think about it...

Anywho, many thanks to Deuane for the opportunity to try this one out!


2008 bottle and I love trading and traders and I don't thank people in reviews any longer. No offense intended in any way.

Beautiful tallish head of tiny cream bubbles. Good staying power. Kind of a deep amber mixed with light brown and orange (um, anyway). Score just got bumped up.

Very very light in the nose. Grassy and maybe a little earthy. That score just got bumped down.

Same taste comments to a t - very little hop bitterness detected. It's pleasant and easy going but doesn't quite have the bite I think an American BW should have to it.

Pretty spot on in the mouthfeel and not bad to drink. But, yah. Hey, if they made it with some more bitterness to balance the sweetness and to give it a little tang, well, this would be great.

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Photo of orcasteve
3.34/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

nice sour malt on the 2007 vintage this one isent as ruff as most barlywines are usaly, and at 11.5 abv ther is no noticable aolhocal burn in the after taste, but for me this one needs more hops, dont get me wrong, i enjoyed every last sip, but i like a hoppy barleywine better.

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Photo of ckeegan04
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up in a trade with mcfisty. 2007 bottling.

A - Orangish-brown color with a very thin off-white head. Quickly fades and leaves very little lacing.

S - Faint aroma bready malts and an even weaker smell of earthy hops. Faint alcohol aroma as well.

T - The malts definitely dominate this taste. A sweet bready taste up front. Some earthy and spicey hop taste slides in but is still dominated by the maltiness of the beer. Alcohol is masked very well and can hardly be tasted.

M/D - Medium bodied with a nice lingering aftertaste that coats the mouth. Very drinkable barleywine but the alcohol is rather steep.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2007 Vintage; Sampled July 2008
Wow this is one viscous brew, you can tell it is thick just by pouring it. This foamed up a bit as soon as I popped the cap, but it was slow enough that I was able to pour it into my glass before losing any beer. The head forms a three finger thick, tan colored head in my 25cl tulip glass. The beer is a red tinged, full amber hue that shows a lightly hazed, reddish, copper color when held up to the light. The aroma is quite hoppy, but also as a sticky fruitiness to it, or is that a touch of funk. Candied citrus notes start to take on a vegetal edge and then move to a funky, plastic edged phenolic character towards the finish. The funk and hop notes combine to form aromatic notes of berries, juniper, sour apple & watermelon jolly ranchers, pine sap and some light notes of acetone.

Thick and rich tasting, fairly sweet too, though not quite as sweet as the thick body might suggest. Amply hoppy, though this has a funky edge to it with some plastic and lightly smoky phenolics. Flavors of grapefruit, lychee and orange zest are purely hop driven, while flavors of pine, typically associated with hops alone, are actually accentuated by the phenolic notes. Sweet malt sugars take a caramelized edge and accentuate the hoppy citrus fruit flavors. Underneath the phenolic notes in the finish are malty-driven notes of biscuit malt and lightly, toasty grain.

I'll admit to being forewarned about possible contamination & as I was staring into the beer fridge after have a disappointingly unfunky / uncomplex Weyerbacher Riserva, I figured what the heck, might as well have a beer were the funkiness plays a distinctive role even it was unintentional. Judged purely to style this is a monumental failure, funk has no place in a modern Barleywine, but taken as a hedonistic experience it is not half bad. This will get substantially more funky with time as it seems to be at the beginning of its funk journey; proceed with caution, but with an open mind this can be at least somewhat enjoyable.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 vintage. Pours into my glass a deep hazy red/orange with a small off white head on top that falls to a thin layer atop the brew. A bit of a syrupy pour. Aromas start out with roasted malt along with rich nutty scents. Dark fruits, molasses and sweet bread. Lots of caramel and toffee accents as well. Herbal, earthy sort of piney hops sit in the background. A rich, deep aroma for sure.

First sip brings roasted malt upfront that moves into big caramel and toffee flavors. Quite a bit of sweetness upfront as it flows down the nutty, fruity flavors come out more as well. Sweet bread melds into a herbal, piney hop bitterness on the finish with some citrus accents as well. The bitterness can't cut through the sweetness here though unfortunately. Good barleywine, just a bit too sweet/syrupy for my taste.

Mouthfeel is quite thick and viscous with a slight syrupy quality to it as well. This one really takes hold, coats the palate and doesn't hold back. Mellow carbonation works in well. Overall, a tasty barleywine from Texas, albeit a bit on the sweet side Thanks to dmeadows for sending this my way. I wish I had another one to hang onto for a bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sisyphus from Real Ale Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 648 ratings
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