I am a fan of Real Ale Brewing Co., and I am particularly a fan of their Sisyphus Barleywines. The 2011 vintage is hot off the bottling line, and is a tasty little treat. At over 11% ABV, it is a warming drink for a cold night, with plenty of toffee, dried fruit, and floral hops in the flavor profile. If anything, it may be a tad too hot, and will probably age nicely. It is not as good as the 2009 Vintage (one of my top beers of the past year), but it is still an excellent barley wine, 8/10.
After enjoying the 2008 vintage, and being knocked out by the 2009 vintage, I was eager to try the 2010 Sisyphus Barleywine from the always stellar Real Ale Brewing Company. Like the previous versions, this is a boozy barleywine. It has a mild hop aroma that is amped up a bit in the taste, lots of caramel malts, and some orange peel and raisins and other dried fruit as well. It is just a bit too fresh and hot tasting right now, and could stand another couple of months aging in the bottle. Luckily, I have a bottle tucked away for just that purpose. I am giving it 7/10 right now, and will revisit this again in a few months.
Texas’ Real Ale is becoming one of my favorite brewers. With the sole exception of their Octoberfest, I have loved every one of their beers, and as I tend not to enjoy the Octoberfest style, Real Ale gets a pass for that one.
I recently stumbled upon these limited release barleywine style ales while I was wandering around my local beer emporium, and I am happy to report that Real Ale’s record of excellence continues.
The 2008 Vintage was smooth, with prominent dried fruit flavors and just a trace of hoppiness to it. It had a mild green apple aftertaste that counterbalanced the alcohol burn. The 2008 retained enough carbonation to make it a velvety smooth and highly enjoyable drink, 7.5/10.
As much as I enjoyed the 2008 Vintage, and I truly did, the 2009 Vintage moved on a higher plane. This beer was damn near spiritual. Smooth toffee and bread malts are up front, coupled with a butterscotch and hot caramel aftertaste. This is the smoothest 11% ABV I have ever had, 9.5/10, and if I can track down any more bottles, I am going to lay them down to age.