Real Ale, a brewery in Blanco, Texas (about 50 miles west of Austin) has risen in my estimation over the past couple of years, especially with the success of their Fireman's 4 blond ale. That rise continued at the Bobnoxious Christmas Beer tasting this year when I tried the 2007 version of Sisyphus, their seasonal barleywine. This stuff is just great, and I got a full bottle of my own today from Central Market.
I've really gotten to be a fan of barleywines in the past year. There's something about that strong alcohol taste that I just love, epecially if it's done well. And this is. There are some wonderful, complex flavors going on here. A good dose of malt, of course, but also rich, ripe fruit — especially bananas, with a touch of dark plums.
If you want some, they have a whole bunch of it at Central Market. (And, I noticed, a case or two of Anchor Old Foghorn, the first barleywine I ever tried many, many moons ago.) This isn't nearly on the level of North Coast Old Stock, and is perhaps even half a step behind Criminally Bad Elf, but it's still well worth your time and money and a beer of which Texas can be proud.
Woodchuck Dry Hop
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