Pope Crisco: Sisyphus 2008 and 2011 Barleywine by Real Ale Brewing

Hope everyone, or at least their spouse, had a good Valentines Day, For myself, it included a trip to the store to pick up flowers, my wife’s favorite beer, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, and a healthy dose of a number of different flu and cold medications for myself.

Luckily my cold has broken for the most part, and as my reward for joining the ranks of the working dregs, I have decided to open a couple bottles of Real Ale Brewing Company’s Sisyphus, a bottle from 2008 that was gifted to me by my brother and another from 2011, bought last week from Central Market in Southlake, TX.

The bottle from 2008, which is to date the only intentionally aged bottle of beer I’ve had the opportunity to drink, pours out a nice amber hue that is cloudy with minimal signs of active carbonation outside of the dense, silver dollar thick head that formed.

Reminiscent of artisanal honey, the up front bouquet of this barlywine style ale is sweet with a floral and fruit like essence.

Carried on a thick, syrupy body, the flavors of the 2008 variety offers a strong honey sweetness that is augmented by light clove, green apple, and caramel notes, creating a very busy profile on the palate.

Where the ’08 bottle is somewhat overpowering with a bright, saccharine profile, the ’11 example is more balanced and refined.

As the first bottle knocked out the olfactory glands with aromas, the latter is quite a bit subtler, only suggesting malt and floral hoppiness, as opposed to beating the drinker over the head.

Pouring out with a less impressive crown, more active carbonation and greater translucency is present than in the older bottle of Sisyphus, but is similarly hued.

With a more medium bodied mouthfeel, the primary notes are of a caramel maltiness with an almost strawberry like tilt. While still sweet, a nice, welcomed somewhat floral bitterness adds a wonderful sharpness to the back end that I feel was lacking in the earlier bottle.

Ultimately though, the wide range of flavors, complexity, and overall quality put in both of these beers is wonderful, and make this a limited release ale that is a must grab when I see the next year’s offering.


I brew and drink beer, smoke pipes and cigars, eat till I’ve had more than my fill, and escape in pulp rags till my eyes turn buggy. I don’t claim any expertise in any subject other than the chase of my own earthly pleasures. I write to help others find their own pleasures so that together we will decay in spirit with these lesser pursuits.