Harveys Elizabethan Ale - Harvey & Son Ltd.
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Ratings: 136 | Reviews: 117 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by weizenbob:
4.72/5 rDev +18.9%
This 275 ml bottle was purchased at Beertopia in Omaha, NE for $3.89. According to Harvey’s website this barley wine was originally brewed to mark the Queen's Coronation in 1953. The label states that this contains malted barley and oats, and at 8.1% ABV, I imagine a lot of it. No bottling information could be located, despite the label’s insistence that it should be on the bottle top. This bottle was served at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It was poured into a Duvel tulip glass.
An aggressive pour yields less than a finger of tan-colored head. Retention is poor, but at this gravity I’m not surprised. Lacing maintains the high water mark on the glass. The brew is a deep amber hue, with surprisingly little translucence.
As soon as the cap came off, this bottle was gushing with aroma. In the glass, this smells richly alcoholic with a high degree of malt complexity. Sweet aromas of caramel and toffee overload the senses while a healthy amount of alcohol quite literally tickles the nose hairs. The combination is mildly paint thinner-esque but not in a way that implies that I’ll be drinking chemicals (or getting high off fumes for that matter). I’m a sucker for big ales that bludgeon the senses. You can throw subtlety out the window; this is uniquely big.
It is also a very tasty brew. The dominant impression that I get from the first sip is that I’m chewing on rye bread. It is a literal bread flavor to a degree of which I have never tasted in any beer. Sweetness ensues, bringing along a complex range of fruity esthers. A mild but persistent woody character adds a nice subtlety. Alcohol is on the tongue but contains absolutely no harshness whatsoever. Hop bitterness is non-existent. It finishes as sweet as any beer I’ve tasted, yet not cloyingly so. I cannot believe how smooth this is. It’s like a big jelly sandwich in a glass.
In the mouth this feels fantastic! It is full bodied and quite heavy. The carbonation level is low. For 8.1% ABV it is not the least bit harsh. It is rich and smooth, yet in no way a burden to drink. I’ve not had a barley wine that was this close to perfection without any required extended cellaring. The price works out to about $5 per 12 ounce serving, and I concede that this is easily the best $5 barley wine that I have ever had the pleasure of imbibing. In this case the small 275 ml (9.3 ounce) bottle actually felt like an unnecessarily large serving. By the time that I was finished, it had warmed to room temperature and was no worse for the wear. This is world-class.
11-28-2011 22:24:43 | More by weizenbob
More User Reviews:
4.2/5 rDev +5.8%
Bottled in 1998 pours a deep chesnut brown with a few reddish tints but pretty murky looking,caramelly sweet aroma along with perhaps some dried fruit with a light whisky note,very appetizing.Nice subtle sweetness but not overpowering with some oaky flavors with brown sugar flavor in the finish and aftertaste,the alcohol becomes nice and warming after awhile as well.A nightcap beer for sure very very nice.
04-04-2004 01:51:14 | More by oberon
4.1/5 rDev +3.3%
Appearance The dark brown body looks like sugar syrup. Its gorgeous and very inviting. The head though was non-existent.
Smell Strong woody/alcohol notes kick things off here. This is followed by big, dynamic sugars of every kind. There are the overripe fruits such as apricots, dates, cherries, browned (sugared) pears, maybe some green apples, and lots of raisins. Chewing tobacco comes to mind as well. These overripe, darkened fruits are soaked in a bath of brown and white table sugar. Theres some toasted malt in there as well but its cowering somewhere towards the bottom of the glass.
Taste The tartness really comes out in the taste. Im getting a significant increase in the apple characteristic here. Everything else from the nose finds their way to the tongue.
Mouthfeel Chewy and full in the mouth with a significant alcohol aftertaste. It tastes likes its a 10 or 12 ABV instead of the advertised 8.1.
Drinkability Definitely a winter warmer. This was a nice experience.
Comments I thought this ale was on the edge of greatness but a few things got in the way. The alcohol flavor was way too much for an 8.1 ABV, and the taste was too tart for my preferences. Otherwise, this was a phenomenal bottle (although a measly 275 ml).
11-07-2003 02:16:53 | More by RoyalT
3.63/5 rDev -8.6%
Looked for information on the bottle cap as indicated - nothing there. I'm not alone! Would love to hear the trivia behind this.
A: 275ml bottle. No head to speak of - kinda expected that. Murky, dark chocolate brown. Some lacing and spottiness on the glass.
S: I definitely got the alcohol - Sherry. There is also a strong sweetness like a diacetyl butter scotch. Maybe some licorice, vinegary and some nuttiness. Very complex smell.
T: The strength came through pretty quickly. The taste follows the smell pretty closely which seems impossible but it's not.
M: Nice full bodied drink. Very smooth. Finish is very strong alcohol.
D: I get the feeling that this beer can be polarizing to the BA's who sample it. I personally do not like Sherry, so even though I appreciated what a work of art this brew was, I just couldn't enjoy it like I wanted to.
10-19-2008 04:04:38 | More by sgoodship
4.5/5 rDev +13.4%
1999 bottle # 3975.
Appearance: Mildly hazed profound brownish amber thin tan bubbly and patchy lace from a hard pouring, sediment is well compacted and stayed at the bottom of the bottle.
Smell: The aroma is of lemon pound cake, alcohol soaked raisins and the maltiness flexes with caramel and again that cake like aroma. As it warms up more there is a mild solvent and woody smell to the brew.
Taste: Full bodied with a smooth and creamy mouth feel off of a light carbonation. A woody flavour wants to be first but everything else crowds in with it. Big cookie maltiness with caramel and honey coming through next. Sweetness is big but the woody and nutty yeast flavour tame it a bit. Alcohol has a big hand in both sides to balance with big fruity esters and a slight spicy undertone. Hops are a faded memory but still seem to put in a touch of bitterness. In the finish there is a good share of residuals but not in an excessive way, the warmth of the alcohol comes through stronger in the finish also but in a balance level with the sweetness.
Notes: This beer is as close as you can get to beer heaven, the beer gods have blessed this brew as well as me for I have partaken of such a special brew. Three years is a nice ripe age for this vintage. I have a few more of the same but feel now is a good time to partake.
1996, bottle # 0298.
Appearance: Slightly hazed deep brownish amber with a creamy yet patchy off white lace from the hard pour, sediment was well compacted and did not get stirred up while decanting.
Smell: Hearty alcoholic fruit aromas, pungent and tropical in smell with a mild tart twang in the nose. Vodka soaked raisins and pineapple can be picked out with an undertone of caramel.
Taste: Exceptional creamy mouth feel with a somewhat heavy syrupy malt palate, carbonation is minimal and adds to the smoothness. Ripe pear fruitiness, hints of pineapple and caramel with a vague hop bitterness and flavour that gives an earthy flavour. Hops have faded significantly though have not degraded and have added to the complexity. Alcohol is deceiving though starts to warm more and more towards the bottom of the glass. Handful of residual sweetness helps the fruitiness linger, husk of the grain and remnants of hop bitterness bring up the slack in the finish.
Notes: Big and chewy, a serious beer for all you beer geeks out there. Fours year later and this brew still has held up very well, oxidation is not noticeable. The time is now, this beer is ripe and ready for full enjoyment!
05-06-2002 19:16:48 | More by Jason
2.35/5 rDev -40.8%
Bottle cap has three letters which are the key to brewing date, according to the label. No idea how to decipher the code.
Pours a dirty brown body with no head, but a persistent beige film. No lacing at all.
Aroma is malty with toffee, molasses, and rum.
Mouthfeel is very vinous, full bodied, and lacking in carbonation.
Taste features caramel and toffee, and a raw alcohol presence of soured apple cider. Some hop bitterness is apparent, but the raw alcohol is overwhelming and one dimensional.
Must be an inferior bottle, based on the rating. This one is not very drinkable.
10-29-2004 20:22:04 | More by merlin48
4.45/5 rDev +12.1%
1998 vintage. Bottle #1010.
Sadly, with the purging of the beermails within the last few months, I lost the e-mail from the wonderful BA who sent me this beer as part of a trade some time ago. Rest assured, somehow I will thank him.
A: Poured into my Duvel tulip glass (thanks AKSmokedPorter!), H's EA is a mesmerizing blood-tinged deep copper color. Very thick and impressively sticky layer of bone-white lace billowed up on the pour and settled slowly to a respectable finger-thin height, all the while leaving a trail of lace on the glass.
S: Notes of ripened dark fruit, mixed with lots of sweetness. Caramelized sugar and hints of medicinal alcohol. As it warmed, fresh honey shows up.
T: Immediate fresh-from-the-hive honey flavor assaults the palate. Tart apple juice flows in next, mixing with a brown sugar sweetness. Finish sees just the barest hint of warming from the ABV, and the aftertaste is a combination of a drying bitterness mixed with a chco-toffee-covered apple and drizzled with fresh honey. Complex? You betcha. Enjoyable? Umm....yes.
M: I expected a bigger, fuller....more "chewy" mouthfeel from this one. Slightly on the thin side, but still does an impressive job of coating the palate.
D: This was a beer I really savored. It took forever to consume and was an excellent sipping beer. Nothing out-of-whack anywhere and a joy to experience as the flavors change during the tasting profile. A complex tapestry of aromas and flavors that mesh into one unforgettable beer.
06-19-2005 02:26:41 | More by OldFrothingSlosh
4.2/5 rDev +5.8%
Vintage 1998, bottle # 0508...
Sedimented dark ginger brown, small tannish head settles out in about 40 seconds to a skim, but leaves big drip laces. Nice spicy brandy aroma, deep and complex. Out of the gate, this packs thick mouthfeel and fundemental alcohol. Flavors combine oak smokiness, vanilla sweetness, and a distinct arid stewed prune fruitiness. Bitterness catches up in the swallow as much as the back of the mouth. Whew, big bad beer here, stresses the vanilla extract part of the profile a little too much to my tastes -- but one of these bottles is just the right amount for cool weather sipping.
10-14-2003 13:25:43 | More by ADR
4/5 rDev +0.8%
1996 vintage bottle purchased at Green's on Buford in Atlanta.
Pours a slightly hazy copper color with a thin off-white head. The head quickly recedes into a thin ring around the glass leaving light lacing - I chalk this up to the age on the bottle.
Smells of sweet caramel malts with good amounts of booze-soaked fruits - apricots and golden raisins mostly. Hints of sherry waft out every now and then and as the beer warms deeper chocolate malt aromas kick in.
Tastes similar to how it smells. Sweet caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by solid amounts of medium fruit flavors. The fruit is leaning more toward darker varieties than the smell, golden raisins and plums with hints of lighter apricots. Midway through the sip a solid booze burn makes an appearance and carries through to a mildly bitter ending.
Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with moderate carbonation.
Drinkability is also good. I didn't have a problem finishing my glass and could have another.
Overall I was impressed with how well this beer held up and would bet that I like it more now than I would have 14 years ago. Worth a shot if you see one around.
04-08-2010 04:34:55 | More by glid02
4.03/5 rDev +1.5%
Bottled in 1998.
Appearance: Hazy, dark-brown/amber body with ruby highlights. Substantial, frothy, tan head fades to a broken cap with lots of thick, dripping lace.
Smell: Fusel alcohol tends to overwhelm the old schnoz, an oakey smokiness, drunken raisins and prunes.
Taste: Sweet malt with carmelized sugar, dark fruits and sherry at the start. Light and fluffy at the top. Finish dries to semi-dry with some bitterness and leaves with a spicy/woody dried-fruit aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Lighter in the mouth than expected, very smooth and creamy. Appropriately light and fine carbonation. Alcohol well hidden in spite of strong presence in the aroma.
Drinkability: Price makes it a sipper, but lightness makes it quite drinkable. Very similar to their Christmas Ale, but lighter.
01-02-2004 03:39:41 | More by DagFishHead
4.28/5 rDev +7.8%
Obtained via trade with Ngandhi. It pours a deep swampy brown with light cream colored bubbles and froth, no real head here. Smell is intense, upon prying the cap off of the bottle I was instantly reminded of the Sherry cask JW Lee's Harvest ale that I enjoyed a month ago. Warm notes of wood and cinnamon are well balanced with alcohol. This is what the holiday season should smell like. Taste echoes this beers woodiness. A slight smokiness fades into a warm spicy finish. Some chocolate is present as well. Nice. Slighty oily mouthfeel. Pleasurable to sip on.
Bottled in 1998, batch # 1064
11-30-2004 00:44:22 | More by soper2000
3.95/5 rDev -0.5%
Quite nice old ale, not too mellow, not too spicy nor too barleywiney. Nice dark colour and malty/spicey aroma. Good late nightcap. Woody, complex with cinammon and ginger, apple, raisin, vanilla, cardammon, starfruit. Sweet spicey dry aftertaste. Modest carbonation.
02-02-2005 03:15:12 | More by Sammy
3.68/5 rDev -7.3%
Poured into an oversized wine glass. No head or lacing. cola brown body. The first thing that comes to mind in the aroma is run and coke. Smells strongly of spiced rum. Taste is surprisingly weak at first but then spicey malt/alcohol flavors come through. No hop pressence, just strangely complex malts (I didn't know beer could be like this). Almost no carbonation, but this makes for an unbelieveably smooth beer, reminds me of cask ale.
This beer didn't register as really good or bad, it was just kind of odd and fun to drink. Worth a try if you don't mind the high price and like rum.
03-07-2006 15:14:56 | More by tempest
4.1/5 rDev +3.3%
1998 vintage. pours out a hazy deep amber with a small tight creamy head. looking in the bottle you can see lots of goobers stuck to the bottom. the aroma is nice and alcoholic, fruity (raisins, plums, dates and the like) with some toffee and vanilla. taste wise? spicy, sweet and alcoholic. but pleasant all the same. malts and honey, raisins, fruits and alcohol battle it out but none reign supreme. very balanced overall even though big flavors are running all over the place. chewy hearty mouthfeel, smooth and filling. a big beer and a great one to sip on and unwind. a great find.
$2.99 a bottle ( 9oz i believe )
12-08-2003 23:22:53 | More by DESTRO
3.98/5 rDev +0.3%
Pours a hazed brown/chestnut with minimal cream colored head. Some head retention & lacing
S: Dark fruit, figs dates, raisins
T: Rich dark fruit, a touch of pears, & woody hops, plus a bit of toffee up front. Some treacle sweetness as this warms, leafy hops, pears & figs. Finishes very dry with woody hops & figs with jammy notes
MF: Zero carbonation & medium bodied, sticky, a little warming
This is good English Old Ale, a proto-type for the style
08-02-2012 01:17:10 | More by russpowell
4.7/5 rDev +18.4%
The 1998 vintage of this beer pours with no head, just a slight flourish of carbonation and a slightly murky brown color. (Note: a second pour created about a quarter-inch thick layer of foam that slowly settled. This pour also greatly enhanced the mouthfeel.) The first whiff of the aroma smells of marzipan and toffee, along with alcohol-soaked fruit. The taste is full of caramel and toffee notes with a raisiny character, which fades to a more nutty, woody character suggestive of walnuts. This is a very complex beer. I'm surprised by the dryness of the finish, which is also a bit tannic. I love the complexity of this beer. There are more flavors here I can quite isolate, but all of them combined make for a very complex an flavorful beer. The strenght is up there a bit and is noticeable, too. To sum up, this is an outstanding old ale and worth seeking out.
09-07-2006 01:03:19 | More by marcobrau
3.78/5 rDev -4.8%
Harveys Elizabethan Ale (2002 Vintage) pours up smoothly with a light carbonation that creates a modest tannish-brown head that proudly tops the ruby-tawny brown body. Lots of tight, lacy bubbles that cling to the sides of the glass. The inviting multi-layered aroma is quite complex with notes of fruitcake, caramel, chestnuts, cherry jam, sourdough bread, oiled leather, oak, vanilla, dry sack sherry, et.al. The flavor starts off with a nice treacle character carried by some dusty maltiness that's underscored by an earthy bitterness. Subtle hints of leaf tobacco, maraschino cherry, figbar, turbinado sugar & molasses keep this one interesting. This medium-bodied old ale has a dry mouthfeel with a touch of astringency. It's lightly warming with a bittersweet, slightly tart finish. Here's to Old Lizzie, may she have a glorious slumber!
01-15-2009 06:48:45 | More by Beertracker
3.98/5 rDev +0.3%
A ruby amber on the pour with a small short lived head. Aroma is very fruity, with a bouquet of dark fruits, plums, dates, some yeast, caramel malt, and sweet alcohol esters are present, almost like a brandy. Taste is caramel malt, yeast, dark fruits, plums, dates and some light bitterness. Palate is a full body with a rich creamy texture and soft carbonation. Finish is sweet caramel malt, dark fruits, dates, plums, maybe some light chocolate notes, ending with some sweet slightly bitterness and a lingering alcohol presence, flavors become more pronounced as it warms up. Overall a good ale to sip on cold winter nights
02-10-2012 20:00:13 | More by Samp01
3.15/5 rDev -20.7%
A: Poured a dark caramel apple with absolutely no head, lacing or visible carbonation observed. Overall not much going on here, flat, lifeless and rather unexciting best sums up the appearance.
S: The nose reeked of fusels with a strong acetic nature (vinegar). Think of dying eggs at easter time. Unfortunately the acetic nature pretty much masks up any other aroma that may have been present.
t: The intial flavor was sweet caramelized grain juice and vinegar (acetic twang). Sour green apples add acetaldehyde hints while a warming alcohol spiciness of apple cider and cinnamon chime in as well. The beer proceeds to finish on notes of caramel raisins, dates, and a bit of syrupy sweetness which does add a bit of complexity to an otherwise mundane start.
m: The mouthful was flat, void of any carbonation and presented a medium fullness that had an oily texture.
D: Overall drinkability was fair if you understood the direction of the beer. Would not recommend to the casual craft drinker as you may get the impression that this beer is bad. I would not consider drinking more then one of these at any given sitting and it is highly unlikely I would be a repeat purchaser here, just not my style.
10-19-2009 22:32:27 | More by beerthulhu
3.05/5 rDev -23.2%
Thankfully there was a decent head on this, I was afraid it would be flat and oxidized. That would be only half true.
It pours into a tulip a really lovely ruby jewel tone, with a finger of offwhite foam (not flat, whew). It receded fast, and left some spotty, soapy lace on the sides, retaining a ghostly skim across the surface. Aroma was unusual, tea leaves, molasses, cookie spice, and sherry. Certainly smelled old. Not much trace of alcohol, but some indistinct fruits and caramel.
Flat, waxy taste, with hints of what might have been. Nutty, raisin... eh. Some tobacco bitterness in the aftertaste, followed by more grape/raisin. Kind of a gross slick/waxy feel to the liquid. Probably won't be finishing this.
12-09-2009 02:28:23 | More by emerge077
4.33/5 rDev +9.1%
Aroma is musty and dusty like an old book. There are also notes of prunes and caramel. Opaque red/brown color with a small, but quickly fading, white head. Flavor is much nicer than I expected. Lots of sweet raisin and prune laden malts. Slightly spicy. Tastes a lot like a liquid rum laced fruitcake. Finish is especially raisiny and even a little white grape and cherry tinged. It is very slightly oxidized, but it doesnt hurt the flavor any..just adds a hint of mustiness to it.
02-09-2006 22:55:46 | More by Jredner
4.65/5 rDev +17.1%
Deep malty aroma, low and slightly musty. Almost smells wine-ish, as if it were a strong cabernet.
Dark, cherry-red body, mostly clear, khaki head. Thick lacing.
Coffee, brandy, plums and raisins mix in the mouth, all chewy and frothy, with a tip of the tongue bitterness. To me, this rivals the best of the dark Belgian beers.
If this were available to the citizens of Elizabethan England, one has to wonder how they stayed sober enough to beat the Spanish... or even to leave port!
09-15-2003 16:02:53 | More by Darkale
3.88/5 rDev -2.3%
Bottle 1998 drank in 2005: Poured a dark brown color ale with a small brown head with minimal retention. Aroma of strong roasted malt and some alcohol is easily distinguishable. Taste of strong malt, molasses and sweet caramel makes up for a nice warming drink. Alcohol is evident but not as much as to ruin it for me. Body is quiet full with some very light carbonation. I suspect a minimal used of hops since there is not much bitterness or maybe this is due to aging. Nice English style barleywine overall.
08-17-2005 14:19:27 | More by Phyl21ca
2.35/5 rDev -40.8%
275ml bottle. No date or lot number on the top (anymore).
Pours nice. Dark copper with a loose, off-white head. Looks like an old ale.
Smells of strongly molasses and alcohol. I'm worried that it may be too sweet, but we've all smelled a Thomas Hardy's and still loved it.
Hmmm... Molasses and water? No CO2 to pick the flavor up off the tongue. Slightly bitter finish. Cloying. Gross.
It has a thick, chewy mouthfeel, but I would expect that from anything with this many residual sugars.
I can't drink this. Its going into the sink as soon as I finish typing.
It was a risk. Perhaps fresh this beer would shine, but as it is I'll never know.
09-21-2004 22:53:37 | More by krberg
Harveys Elizabethan Ale from Harvey & Son Ltd.
89 out of 100 based on 136 ratings.