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Moonraker Ale - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

Not Rated.
Moonraker AleMoonraker Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

153 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 153
Reviews: 116
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 16.62%
Wants: 8
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  7.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 10-15-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 153 | Reviews: 116 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
Photo of Todd
4.4/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 275ml brown bottle. No freshness date. It's got a little "Camra" logo on it -- I guess stating that this is a "real ale."

Appearance: Rich, dark amber, near absolute brown in colour. The off-white head is crazy, thick, foamy, creamy, patchy, sticky and it seems to not want to go away. There's some clumps as this is a bottle-conditioned ale. Pour carefully.

Smell: Huge caramel, toffee, coffee and esters in the aroma.

Taste: Smooth, with some bittiness in the mouthfeel. Body is rich, thick and full. Malt profile is very sweet and robust with toffee, coffee, caramel, honey, chocolate, vanilla, oak/wood, fruity esters and raisin. Toasted and roasted notes tag each other into the tastebud ring as the complex flavours shift around the palate. Bitterness is just enough to balance things out, but not too much as to spoil the malt character -- a sort of semi-herbal, raw hop flavour and feel. Alcohol presence is strong, prickly and warming. Finishes with residual malt flavours, then turns dry.

Notes: This is an insanely delicious ale! A must for big beer lovers, and a fine addition for any beer cellar. Too bad it's so damn expensive at $5.45 a bottle here in the US.

On the back it says it won as a winter ale, and as a barley wine. I'll just call it a strong ale and straighten things out.

Photo of Jason
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deep and dark reddish colour that fringes on brown. Fruity with a bubble gum and medicinal aroma. Smooth with a creamy back, nearly full body with a big maltiness ahead. Estery and yeasty in flavour with a husky grain and leafy hop that is a bit bothersome. Sweet from the large amount of malt but the all of the astringent flavours bashes that to hell. Not a bad brew, its just all over the place … not held together well at all.

More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.03/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice clear deep amber with a big fluffy off white head that sticks like glue to the sides of the glass leaving globs of lace behind,hints of caramel malt and brown suger in the nose but it doesnt really stick out just there if you know what I mean.A big English malt bomb here brown suger and some butter toffee,the flavors dont hit ya in the face but pleasant and slightly subdued a nice butter toffee aftertaste makes this beer even more tasty.I really like this English strong ale its very drinkable for the style.

Photo of RoyalT
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Beautiful dark brown in color and full of carbonation and sediment. The tanned head was huge and relentless, lacing the glass wickedly on its slow ride down. It was a thing of beauty for sure. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Smell – The aroma is very muffled, even after warming. I can pick up a solid malt base though with maybe a bit of yeast to it. There’s also some sherry and dark fruits, most notably figs.

Taste – The oak comes out in the taste. The sherry is there as well, and they both work to compliment the strong malt base. This ale is a lot bigger at the tongue than it is at the nose. There’s a warming alcohol flavor to go along with the huge sugars.

Mouthfeel – I liked the fullness of the body here, but the carbonation was quite annoying. It kind of fizzled without satisfying. Otherwise, this felt good.

Drinkability – This is definitely 9 ounces of sipping ale. I enjoyed it very much, but the flavors are a bit strong and clumsy and may not be to everyone’s liking.

Photo of merlin48
4.13/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark mahogany body that reveals a radiant ruby tone when backlit. Active carbonation is seen when held to a strong light. Sturdy, one inch ecru head is creamy and inviting, having excellent retention. Sticky sheets of lace coat the glass.
Aroma is on the malty side, with notes of brown sugar, toffee, caramel malt, figs, and stewed apples. A floral note of rose water adds some intrigue.
Mouthfeel is almost full bodied, but not quite chewy, with moderate carbonation.
Taste begins sweet, with dark fruits like figs and raisins up front. Some warming alcohol is apparent. Brown sugar and toffee are evident, and some smoky peat adds a nice complexity. Some fruity red apple notes appear in the middle. Earthy and floral hops serve to balance. Roasty malts and mildly bitter hops on the finish.
Very classy Old Ale that is a very nice sipper. Lots of complexity. Another fine English ale from J.W.Lees. Try this with some English sharp cheddar or Cheshire cheese for a real treat.

Photo of fionn13
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.03/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Jan 2012, although given the strength of this brew I prefer to think of it as vintage rather than old. The label mentions a tale of farm hands attempting to rake the moon from a stream, thinking it was cheese.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep ruby-brown hue with medium carbonation. Forms a huge head of creamy light-tan foam that remains for a few minutes before reducing to a surface layer. A sweet, slightly cloying aroma of dark malt with notes of molasses, dried fruit, brown sugar, liquorice and yeast. A background whiff of booze. Posseses a vinous, wine-like quality.

Tastes of rich dark malt with a dry finish. Notes of dried fruit, molasses, prunes, liquorice, dry yeast and stewed hops. A dry, slightly harsh bitterness upon swallowing, with a warming hint of alcohol in the background. Fruity and vinous. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, with a pleasing creamy sensation and tingly carbonation. Pretty astringent; dries the palate. Aftertaste of sweet, fruity malt.

A rich, fruity experience - quite intense, definitely one to sip and savour. A pleasing blend of flavours that rounds out nicely. A quality strong ale; goes down nicely on a cold winter night. Well worth trying.

Photo of ADR
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark mahogany brown color, appears slightly clearish overall with light transmission at the bottom of the pint glass. Very soft yellow head of about 1/2 inch to start. Laces thickly. Some cocoa to the deep smell, some carob as well. Lighter mouthfeel than I expected but the flavor is decently full, expressing chocolate powder, light coffee tones, and a burnt profile close to the end. Some slight sense of alcohol but relatively smooth and easy drinking. A good enough beer but I have to admit I was expecting better mouthfeel and a little more complexity to write about.

Photo of stereosforgeeks
2.55/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – Dark brown with a mild red hue. There was very little carbonation. Nonexistant lacing.

Smell – The aroma is very muffled but from what I can tell there are some caramel malts, with some nuts and fruit (fig or raisin?)

Taste – The caramel malts provide a strong backbone for some sherry and oak notes. This is pretty sugary and while the nuts and dark fruit seem present they are in the background.

Mouthfeel – The full bodied beer was almost sticky in the mouth and there didnt seem to be anything to help light the load on your palate some sort of carbonation would have been nice. Maybe this beer was a little too old?

Drinkability – This one was a bit lackluster. Maybe a fresher bottle will change my mind.

Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Porter in Atlanta.

Pours a hazy brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of red wine barrels with dark caramel malts with hints of toastiness. Also present are slight amounts of dark fruit aromas that intensify as the beer warms.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Medium malt flavors with solid amounts of toasted malts kick things off. Joining in shortly thereafter are mildly tart fruit flavors that segue into softer dark fruit flavors. Finally, hints of indistinct spices and cocoa powder come into play before a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I didn't know what to expect from this beer and was pleasantly surprised by the complexity. An interesting beer that's well worth a shot.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle says 13 Aug 09 (Served in a dimple mug)
A- This beer has a dense opaque brown body with a bubbly porous head that soon fades to a thick bubbly ring and a few tiny bubble that stick to the base of the glass.
S- The woody brown malt and caramel aroma have toffee note to them and some light dry raisins come through as the beer opens up. There is a faint vinous note in the finish and a soft buttery hint to the woody brown malt.
T- There is a light toffee and vinous note with some slightly sweet caramel malt flavor and a very light tartness in the finish. The flavor of apple cider vinegar grows as the beer warms.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a tight fizz and a soft alcohol warmth.
D- This beer is dark and dry with some light sugary notes and soft woody/toffee raisin qualities. The softer characters make this easy to drink and beg for another sip to try and figure it out.

Photo of ggaughan
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a deep brownish color with a slight white head with good lacing. The beer had the smell of deep fruit and the strong alcohol content. Impressive. The taste is a nice balance of a malty sweetness but with a kick of the ABV which is refreshing and gives you a good mouthful.

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.53/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Strong ale brewed on 8/13/09 and consumed on 12/27/09

A hazy and vibrant amber, deep color and a minimal, off-white head, dissipates quick, gone later on.

Fermented red fruits and candy apples, Port cask like sweetness, more dank fruits, wild yeastie fruitiness in the middle along with some tang. The malt holds a bunch of fruity sweetness with some minor cork-like aroma's that are pretty subtle.

This one has a very aged and complex malt flavor, sweet caramel along with a fruity edge that is sweet and sour. there is a gentle, very subtle hop balance but it's very subtle. the feel is full, smooth, more medium to full and it certainly feels like an aged brew. Huge complexity, fermented dates, sugar coated raisins, and dank bready malt with a rather heat for being 7.5%.

A great brew, huge complexity, thank you J.w lee's for serious quality.

Photo of cokes
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chocolate hued with a layer of lively tan foam.
Nose of prune and leather, with rotting raspberries and carob clues in the distance.
At the fore, its a big toffee-coated plum malt monster. It ebbs to a husky raw graininess as the body fades, with an encompassing oak note. Metallic elements appear in the afterwash along with a caramel-chocolate continuation of the malts. It end with a coarse hopping that signals dead weeds. Brandy-ish grapey flares of alcohol pop up on occasion.
Medium bodied (on average), feeling fat up front, but whittles away to a stick figure close.
Ok, but a bit rough around the edges.

Photo of Sammy
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I accept the description on the bottle - this must be great in pies and such. Straight drinking - a suitably hopped dark beer with distinct sourness, smooth mouthfeel. Nice dark colour. Secondary malt and licorice. Somewhat drinkable. Must be shared. Not for everybody.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.18/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle conditioned; enjoyed at 50F.Carefully poured, the body is a slightly hazy, rich mahogany with an orange-cast and crimson highlights. It's topped by a thin but creamy light-tan head that holds surprisingly well and leaves thin and spotty lace throughout the glass. The aroma displays toffee, mild dark fruit, and alcohol. It's quite estery. As it warms, however, some more caramel notes begin to appear. A full body, coupled with a very fine and gentle carbonation, gives an exceptionally soft and creamy mouthfeel that emphasises the maltiness. The flavor is far more complex than the nose alludes to with notes of dark fruit (prune, raisin), toffee, scortched caramel, honey, oak and a touch of alcohol. It finishes with a rising bitterness and unique hop flavor that's not unlike wet, leafy, whole hops left in the wort at the end of the boil... lightly earthy, herbal and resiny - but dripping with malt. It combines with the residual semi-sweet dark malt to give a lingering licorice note. Well balanced and quite unique. A splendid, rich and complex old ale that's not quite accessible as Old Peculier, but ultimately more rewarding to those willing to delve a little deeper. If old ale is your tipple, this one is not to be missed!

Photo of Fatehunter
3.95/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Copper to dark brown color with barely any head.

Smells of hay, mild caramel and musty malt.

Packs a malt punch, but retains a lighter body. Sweet, like overripe plum. Malt all the way through. Despite a relatively low ABV there is a little alcohol heat to it.

Lots of bubbles but not very carbonated. A sticky texture, clings to the mouth.

A great winter warmer sipper. Dark and sweet.

Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

Pours a very deep brown that still allows some light through. About a 2 inch head rises.

The smell includes some sweetness, some hay, and some cream.

Taste is similar to an aging barley wine. The sweetness is barely starting to poke through. Hops are calm, not heavy. Tastes like whole wheat toast that is lightly toasted and still has a moist center. Very dim caramel that may be more apparent after a few more years.

Mouthfeel is much like bread. Mouth is full and busy, the beer is not syrupy but is still thick.

Photo of russpowell
3.05/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One I remember having on cask in England, let's see how this bottled offering compares... Could not find a date anywhere on this bottle...

Pours an effervescent chestnut, with extremely thin cream colored head. Murks up, some lacing, zero head retention

S: Figs, dates & raisins

T: Figgyness & jammyness up front & faint leafy hops as well. More fruittyness, jammyness & a touch of treacle sweetness as this warms, mildly warming booze. Finishes fruitty, dry, & jammy

MF: Fairly thin considering the abv, minimal carbonation, some stickyness

Fails to impress, this bottle didn't fare well on this side of the pond. I remember it being somewhat better on cask, some beers may not be worth revisiting...

Photo of dgallina
3.28/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

500ml brown bottle with no freshness dating.

Pours deep red-brown with zero head or lace, weak carbonation. Smells syrupy sweet; perhaps medicinal cherries candied in caramel. Sticky sweet fruit up front, works through some astringent sourness in the center, but leads to a drier leafy and lightly nutty finish. Flavor is better-balanced than you might hope from the aroma. Medium oily body with bigger carbonation than expected.

Not very well integrated or especially appealing.

Photo of Imbiber
4.13/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruby in colour with a healthy white head that lasts quite long before diminishing. Aroma hops and a hint of alcohol on the nose. Rich, roasty, malty flavours on the tongue; chewy even. A nice, warming ale supposedly named for some Mancunians who apparently tried to rake the Moon's reflection out of a river.

Photo of andrewm190
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I have toned down my points because I am not sure a beer should taste so much like grape. The beer reminds me very much of a barley wine.

It pours a nice color, a very dark purple/black, that closes towards red as you hold it to the light.

The smell is entertaining. I sense grape, as I said, I am very much reminded of grape juice. There is something else, chocolate? I don't think so, but thats the only other thing coming to mind. So very fruity, the taste matches the smell. There is definitely a high amount of flavor. The bottle boasts a roast malt finish; I however, cannot discern it.
The beer feels fine to the palate, small carbonation. There is no "bottled by" or "freshness" date on the bottle. My only real complaint is that it tastes a little too much like grape juice, or wine. I find it to be sort of a curious ale.

I give it low marks for drinkability because it is so much like grape juice or wine. I hesitate to call it a beer drinker's beer. I can certainly enjoy a pint, but its a beer I can only appreciate in small doses (relatively, i guess), I wouldn't want to have one followed by another.
All in all a good beer; not a bad pick-up.

Photo of Nage37
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%

Photo of Beertracker
4.03/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

J.W. Lees Moonraker is best served at warmer cellar (50-55°F) temperatures from a brandy snifter or pint glass. This award-winning offering from J.W. Lees from Middleton pours up with ample carbonation followed by a long lasting tannish-white head that engulfs the deep russet-brown body. The sweet, caramel malt aroma is filled with a nice intermingling of fruitiness (candied yams, Shropshire plums, treacle pudding) and spicy (ginger, mace, cinnamon) notes. In addition, there's some notable alcoholic warmth underlying the slightly winy (oxidized) character . The rich, satifying flavor starts off with a wallop of caramel/nougat maltiness which evetually gives way to a light touch of bitterness from continental hops with a light alcoholic warmth to color the cheeks. J.W. Lees Moonraker is a finely crafted example of the style and is the perfect accompaniment to some tangy Stilton cheese. James Bond (007) never had it so good!

CHEERS! Beertracker

Photo of JamLand
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

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Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
83 out of 100 based on 153 ratings.