Moonraker Ale - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 151 | Reviews: 116 | Display Reviews Only:
4.8/5 rDev +30.8%
This is an excellent, flavourful, well-rounded ale with good depth and complexity. Called a winter warmer here, the brewer calls it "strong ale" and it could easily be a lower ABV barleywine, somewhat similar to Young's Old Nick (although I can't currently compare the two side by side since Old Nick hasn't been available 'round these parts for some time). Like many "strong ales" the categorising it is rather vague.
Slightly hazy red-brown amber, it has a big tan head shrinking steadily to a foamy ring and wispy top with a little fleeting lace.
Aroma is strong whole wheat bread, fermented prunes and raisins, sweet flowery tea and leaves, sweet rummy hint.
Taste is spicey raisin & prune, with fermented rich whole wheat bread dough and leafy-woody-peppery-spicey character. On the swet side up front, it becomes drier in the middle before a slightly sweet finish nevertheless backed up by a light spicey bitterness with the hop traits noted above. Aftertaste is initially drier and toasty, leafy and peppery with some caramelised prune, before becoming sweeter. Feel is just right, a slight oiliness is just enough to give it enough body without making it heavy. Drinkability is exceedingly high. This is excellent.
09-03-2010 04:35:21 | More by Offa
United Kingdom (Wales)
4.7/5 rDev +28.1%
500ml brown bottle poured into a JW Lees bitter pint pot.
A. A clear, autumnal red-brown beer topped by a slightly tanned bubbly head.
S. Vine fruits, fruity malt and some sherry notes in the background.
T. Honey, cloves, figs, spice and kirsch blend harmoniously with the alcoholic warmth this ale gives off.
D. A delicious strong ale from Manchester. Although good in bottled form this comes nowhere near to its cask counterpart which is a REAL brute!! 3 pints of this beast on draught and you will know about it (so will your pocket).
04-18-2011 10:53:46 | More by AEK
4.65/5 rDev +26.7%
Caveat - I really love English barleywines, which is what I considered Moonraker for this review.
550ml poured into an imperial pint, Moonraker is a dark garnet with an off-white head that leaves pretty nice lace for the first inch or two.
Sweet malt, sugary esters, damp leafy hops. Simple but nice.
Taste rich malt and wet, herbal hops. Coconut, pears, cotton-candy, honey, fresh grassy, leafy hops, cedar, clean and sweet, wow! This is a really nice balance of full flavors with a rounded softness.
Mouthfeel is slick, pricky hop oils, some drying alcohol, medium bodied.
Drinkability is exceptional, because this beer is exceptional. We just got a new shipment of a bunch of different J.W. Lee's, before which I'd only had them at festivals. Now that I've worked though what they were offering, they might be one of my favorite breweries period, let alone from the U.K.!
11-05-2008 22:29:10 | More by ccrida
4.53/5 rDev +23.4%
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.
01-09-2010 01:21:21 | More by GratefulBeerGuy
4.47/5 rDev +21.8%
Had three of these on cask at Redbones. Didn't know it was as strong as it was, but after the first few sips, I knew it had to be a pretty big beer.
Cola colored, with a nice head that quickly dissipated, this brew was pretty easy to drink, and I kept right at 'em.
This was one of the best casks I've had in a while: very smooth, a bit of malty sweetness, not bitter. I liked it because the taste was fullbodied. Little bit of a hopkick and slight alcoholic taste in the finish. I want to go back to England...now!
Try this on cask if you can.
04-20-2003 07:07:22 | More by PatandDavid
4.4/5 rDev +19.9%
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.
10-15-2001 00:00:01 | More by Todd
4.4/5 rDev +19.9%
Appearance - Dark brown translucent (not opaque, mind you) body with tan head that lingers for a minute or so. Carbonation is a little hard to detect without good light, but is actually very alive and inviting.
Smell - Roasty, smoky, toasty, biscuity all come to mind.
Taste - My first Winter Warmer, so I wasn't sure what to expect, needless to say I was very pleasantly suprised. It had a smoky/toasty flavor. No hops overtones. It would go great with some mild or smoked cheese. I am definetly not looking forward to losing this flavor in favor of eating my dinner shortly.
Mouthfeel - Perfect presense on my palate, smooth going down with no bite afterwards. Exactly how I want my beer to feel. It begs me to keep it in my mouth. Not much reaction to a little tongue motion, so perfect carbonation.
Drinkability - I sooo want more. At 6.69 a bottle it's very likely to show up in my fridge many more times. I think I'm in love.
08-26-2008 23:38:28 | More by n00tz
4.38/5 rDev +19.3%
poured a clear, deep copper-maroon with a large, billowy off-white head that stuck around. malty, raisiny sweetness on the nose which was quite strong at cellar temperature. smooth, creamy, full body give quite an inviting mouthfeel. the taste was caramel, sweet malt, dark red fruit and a bourbon quality. all that malty sweetness then snaps to a very dry finish. a nice warming brew that i'll go back to again on a cold night.
01-21-2004 23:31:33 | More by dannyvee
4.38/5 rDev +19.3%
Beautiful roasted sweetness on the nose is characterised by buttery, sweet, toasted brown bread notes.
Velvety, slightly sweet caramel flavors are lifted by creamy mousse and shaped by tangy, roasted bitterness. White raisins, caramel creme and roasted seeds play supporting roles. AS it warms the roasty element begin to assert a stronger counterbalance to the sweet malt.
Well balanced brown ale... a bit sweet. Nice with pudding.
11-19-2003 02:48:06 | More by putnam
4.33/5 rDev +18%
Pours a slightly viscous cloudy brown with a medium lasting tan head. Aroma toasted caramel malt, dark fruits, plums, figs, and some liquorice notes. Taste is toasted caramel malt, dark fruits of plums, dates, black figs with some mild bitterness. A full bodied brew with a slightly viscous and sticky mouthfeel with some moderate carbonation on the palate. Finish is sweet toasted caramel malt, dark fruits, plums, dates, black figs followed by some sweet alcohol esters and some mild bitterness ending. Flavor and aroma of liquorice, dates and figs becomes more evident as it warms up. Overall an excellent, flavorful nicely balanced, and delicious brew, very enjoyable.
05-17-2012 18:39:47 | More by Samp01
4.33/5 rDev +18%
A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a orange-red color and a thick, cloudy texture. There was an inch of fairly long-lasting, foamy, head. OK lacing.
S: A nice aroma of malt, caramel, and some spices.
T: A solid, focused flavor of caramel and malt up front, with toffee and spices in the finish. A bit more noticeable alcohol than I would have expected, but not overly so. A very sweet, pleasant taste.
M: A good amount of carbonation with a super dry finish. Medium-bodied.
D: A surprisingly flavorful and balanced beer. Drinkable.
12-16-2010 14:06:40 | More by avalon07
4.33/5 rDev +18%
Presentation: 9.89 oz bottle. Unknown vintage.
Appearance: Hazy, cararmel brown with light tan (off-white) foam.
Smell: Sweet malt with a hint of fruit (mild banana) and yeast.
Taste: Sweet, malty, yeasty. Hint of oak and musty grapes. Slight hop bitterness in finish.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth, mellow, and creamy. Low carbonation. Full body. Warming, but with a dry finish.
Drinkability: Very good. A ver nice strong ale.
02-07-2003 19:32:57 | More by UncleJimbo
4.28/5 rDev +16.6%
A very smooth and drinkable strong ale from Lees. I liked this beauty very much.
A hazed and deeply bronzed body is crowned by a nice, tightly formed ivory head. The head lingers long and filmy enough to do tight lacing.
The nose is initially fuity and malty and as it warms the maltiness becomes distinctly of a caramel nature, giving deep and rich malt notes. This follows in the flavor that strengthens with warming and builds a very strong sweet maltiness barely in balance with the light hopping. There is no sense of alcohol here, making this a deceptively dangerous brew.
The feel is distinctly smooth and creamy, with no sense of overload from the fullness of the body. This is a delightfully rich and drinkable ale. Very nice.
10-17-2003 22:54:58 | More by AtLagerHeads
4.28/5 rDev +16.6%
Aroma is rich, smoky, with hints of molasses and coffee - what I call "stouty" since I am partial towards porters and stouts. It pours a dark, semi-opaque mahogany with a fine-bubbled and fairly persistent head. Flavor is smoky and malty with a fair amount of sweetness. When it goes down the hatch, it leaves a touch of hoppy bitterness, which complements the sweet rather than clashing. A flavorsome and enjoyable beer, one should sip and savor it, and preferably without a distraction like a party or game.
03-15-2008 03:45:35 | More by Cyberkedi
4.25/5 rDev +15.8%
Two year old properly cellared bottle. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark, nearly opaque brown with a half-finger fine light tan head that actually increased in size as it warmed. Massive lacing. Looks nice. Aroma of dark toasted and caramel malts, slight dark and dried fruit. Flavor follows with dark, toasted and sweeter malt, dark fruit. Finishes with malty dark fruit and a hint of wood, spice and hops. Nice medium body. Very pleasant. I would call this an old ale, not a winter warmer. I don't taste much spicing. I really enjoyed this. Wish this was available more often.
02-28-2012 04:59:20 | More by LiquidAmber
4.22/5 rDev +15%
The beer pours a dark ruby red/brown color with a thick frothy offwhite head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice rich, malty scent that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It's warm and slightly fruity. The taste is great. It has a warm, yet highly smooth malty flavor that is sweet at the start and dry at the finish. It has a nice roasted feel with some subtle fruity hints. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a good seasonal brew. I love the roasted character as well as the complex flavors; a good drinker.
08-28-2005 23:32:15 | More by WesWes
4.2/5 rDev +14.4%
This dark and inviting ale pours a ruby-tinged mahogany with a smallish off-white head. A resinous hop aroma mingles with a bit of caramel malt and fumy alcohol. The slightly biscuity caramel malt reveals a nice nutty flavor, with a light herbal quality to it. The hops are in abundance. Sharp-edged white grapefruit and lemon zest bitterness mix with hints of a metallic bite. A candy sugar sweetness begins to peek through as it warms. A mild dose of a warming sherry-like alcohol backbone stays throughout. I can only guess that J.W. may have a quality control issue, based on the many high and low ratings it has received. This particular bottle is quite good...good to the point where I can't imagine anyone not liking it.
12-23-2003 03:42:43 | More by BeerResearcher
4.18/5 rDev +13.9%
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!
01-19-2003 13:16:27 | More by NeroFiddled
4.15/5 rDev +13.1%
Appearance- A Deep, dark amber with a very merlot highlight when held to the light. Very little bubbling. Only a small island of foam after the head disappears.
Smell- A lovely fruity aroma. A well developed malt presence with the usual English hop aromas present.
Taste- A pretty good fruity character. Lots of dark fruits like prunes and black cherries. Maybe a hint of dryness here and there. The hops just adds a dash of bitterness to keep the super sweet malts at bay from cloying the palate.
Mouthfeel- A very surprising mix of drynes and fruity sweetness all over my palate. This was a barley wine ith the drinkability of a bitter or pale ale.
06-20-2006 05:42:57 | More by scruffwhor
United Kingdom (England)
4.15/5 rDev +13.1%
Purchased at the Trafalgar Wines, a pretty good beer shop in Brighton. The bottle is 500ml now, BB 07/01/2011, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.
A: coming in a dark ruby-brown colour, great clarity, gentle yet constant streams of fizz ascending from the bottom to support a 2cm thick creamy beige froth to last throughout the drink.
S: sour-sweet prune-ish fruits and berry fruits (plus jammy sweet cherry liquor) dominate the nose, but not without a good balance from the influence of malts, hinting at creamy toffee, sweet licorice, melted treacle, sweet nutty brown malts... all in all almost like that used in a Scottish Wee Heavy Ale. A good swirl would bring out the really aromatic hoppy (as of Styrian Golding really) and estery elements, while the old-ish woody odour stays in the remote corner. Overall, the complexity does shine through, although the overall balance gives way to a touch of sweetness too much.
T: cleaner and less sweet than the nose, the foretaste hints at liquidy caramely malts, sweet herbs, and a bitter edge of licorice, backed by bitter-sweet maltiness, lightly salty-sweet nuttiness, burned malts, black cherry's aroma, sweet jammy berries, etc., yet turning very quickly into a dry-ish, bitter and semi-rough aftertaste, on a par with a deepening and lingering dry-ish palate presumably rendered by long maturation as well as considerable hop bitterness. In some ways, the finishing touch is reminiscent of a slightly nutty yet old-ish aftertaste as of oloroso sherry - but only just.
M&D: being semi-clean on the palate, or at least "cleaner" than the smell would tend to suggest, coupled with a very mildly carbonated mouthfeel and a refreshingly dry-bitter palate, this med-plus bodied old ale is as well-structured as it is delicious. I would very much like to try the cask-conditioned version of this once Champion Winter Beer of Britain.
07-04-2010 19:56:43 | More by wl0307
Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
83 out of 100 based on 151 ratings.