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

Not Rated.
Moonraker AleMoonraker Ale

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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:
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 nmann08
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of metter98
3.8/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: The beer is rather hazy mahogany in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that quickly died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a ring of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light but interesting aromas of dark fruits (plums and prunes) and toffee are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but the flavors are a bit stronger and also include notes of caramel and mineral water.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit thin and watery on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation (similar to what you would expect from a cask ale). No alcohol warming is detectable.
O: This beer is quite easy to drink compared to others in the style because it isn’t that full-bodied and there are no traces of alcohol in the taste.

Note: 2009 vintage

Photo of brentk56
2.95/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a ruby tinged mahogany color with a little head that quickly disappeared and left no lacing behind as a remembrance

Smell: Burnt caramel, molasses and rum-soaked raisins

Taste: Dried dark fruit flavors, up front, with the burnt caramel and molasses flavors arriving by mid-palate; develops a tartness, after the swallow, that adds an herbal tone

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied but syrupy; low carbonation

Overall: I didn't really care for the flavors profile as the dark fruit, molasses and herbal elements really clash

Photo of BEERchitect
4.05/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard English Pint glass with an initial plop, releasing a fluffy off-white head that reduced to 1/4" then held firm. Big aromas of ripe and dark fruits with a bold malt base that hinges on toasty and caramels. A mild, tart fruitiness (berry-like) shows complexity and age. The flavors verify the caramel, toffee, toasted character. Fruit flavors of figs, peaches, almonds, and raspberries swirl around the malts and add varity to the taste. The feel is a solid and persistent bold maltiness with firm creaminess that is tempered only by the berry tawny tartness. Finishes quite malty flavored, yet intriguingly light and dry on the toung. Good Warmer for any season.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Swampy root beer brown that looks as if it could be dark amber-bronze if it ever clears. There's a tremendous load of what looks like flocculated yeast in suspension, which makes me think that this bottle might be a bit long in the tooth. The respectable looking cap of foam is the color of sand and is a solid one finger at present. Lace doesn't look likely, but I'll chime in with a lace update if needed.

While it isn't a bad nose, it's nothing too exciting. Malt is uppermost with a stale, somewhat earthy, dark fruitiness that is flinty rather than sweet. No hops to speak of. There might be a hint of spiciness (nothing specific comes to mind). The nose reminds me in some ways of Anchor OSA; a beer that I don't love. The more I smell, the less I like, so I think I'll stop now and take a drink.

I'm not sure what the target flavor was here, but it's one that doesn't appeal to me. Moonraker is still dark fruity with vodka-soaked raisins in the pole position. The malt tastes overroasted with a bitter astringency that appears in some stouts (though this beer isn't at all stout-like). The word stale keeps coming to mind as I drink. It's also moderately metallic, firmly woody and has a too-prominent ethanol presence. It isn't as bad as I'm making it sound, but it isn't much better either.

The mouthfeel makes an attempt at full and rounded... and then loses its way by the finish. It's also slightly more carbonated than I like my winter warmers to be. Lace alert: the thick band at midglass gives some visual interest, even as I'm losing interest in the rest of the beer.

Moonraker is okay, but there are much better winter warmers than this. In fact, I've had a few from lesser known American brewers that could kick its ass to the dark side of the moon and back.

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

Appearance: Pours a very dark reddish-brown body with a rather short-lived, thin head.

Smell: A malty, refreshingly fruity aroma full of sour cherries, dark fruits, caramel, anise, port wine, and molasses.

Taste: Smooth, sweet malt-driven flavors are really allowed to shine here. Toffee, chocolate-covered raisins, light molasses, rum cake, blackberries, dark fruits, and sherry all wrapped up with a gentle, though noticeable sourness in the background. Only the faintest oaky bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Not much in the way of carbonation here at all.

Drinkability: An enjoyable, highly quaffable beer. I'm not sure this really belongs in the Winter Warmer category, but what's done is done, I guess.

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 JAHMUR
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of zeff80
3.08/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I've been sitting on this review for awhile because I feared I had an old bottle, but upon reading through other reviews I think it was relatively fresh.

A - It poured out a clear, dark brown color with a small, short-lived tan head.

S - It smelled of fruit (cherry) and of sweet malt.

T - The taste was even more sweet and malty than the nose. Very fruity, too.

M - It was soft and almost syrupy or sticky. A medium-bodied beer.

D - Not impressed. Again, I thought I had an old bottle but several other reviewers noted the intensely sweet flavor and syrupy feel.

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 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.

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

Slightly darkish red in color, with a nice, fluffy, softly settling, creamy tan head.
Aroma: malty, sweet, caramelly, traces of nuts and fruit, luscious and appetizing, while giving off clues to alcohol content within.
Taste: a big entry on the palate, bold, sweet, fruity, malty, with a neat, brisk hoppiness, but that's pale compared to the forceful-ness of the malt's in here.
Overpowering flavor, that finishes a touch tidily and a bit dry. Medium to full body, nice little texture, and resounding flavor, ever-recurring, ever-pleasing. Though I really had no clue what I was getting before pouring the bottle out, this was a very happy little surprise, one I might be tempted to return to again, on occasion. (But not for the price, for I paid about $6 for this 500ml bottle, though the contents are rather intriguing.)
It's a malty one, and a tasty one, and near the end, the 7.5% ABV starts to get up and drag you out by the trousers....

Photo of WesWes
4.22/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of jwc215
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours ruby with a bubbly patch.

The smell is of caramel, dried fruits, slightly vinuous (red wineish):

The taste is of stewed prunes, dried apricot, sweet caramel with a hint of toffee in the back. Malty, for sure. A touch of alcohol is there, but mellow. Sweet, with some intangible balance.

fuller side of medium bodied with mild carbonation. Smooth.

Very drinkable despite sweetness and booziness.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +36.2%

Photo of InspectorBob
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.23/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown 500ml bottle, best before Oct 2008, drank May 2008.

Poured into a Westmalle Trappist Chalice glass.

looked fine, tan head on top of a deep ruby red body, clear and seethrough when held up to the light. The head soon turned to a rim and wisp covering, pity.

Aroma was fairly sweet, toffee and caramel, with chocolate malts.

The taste seemed very alcoholic and little else got through. There was some hops and a malt flavour as it warmed in the glass, but a dryness came with it.

Strange but not unpleasant. Too much alcohol for me, in a watery body. The sweetness of the smell doesn't appear in the taste, which detracted me at first.

Not something I'd rush out and buy a crate of, but for a change and a headache it is just the ticket.

Photo of wl0307
4.15/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

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

Pours with a two-finger light brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Deep clear amber color. Good carbonation. Nose is sweet and raisiny. Medium-heavy bodied. Starts sweet and raisiny and finishes on the dry side. $5.75 for a 500ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

Photo of BillRoth
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of John_M
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Don't see this on tap too often, so thought I'd give it a whirl at Max's today.

The beer pours a dark ice tea color with fair head retention and some decent lacing. Don't get a great deal on the nose... mabye some brown sugar, cherry and orange citrus. Really, this beer has a bit of a sweet ice tea aroma to it. The flavor profile is a bit more straight forward and one dimensional, but with a fair amount of brown sugar, vanilla and light sherry. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, and drinkability is OK. The beer is a bit heavy, and in fact the alcohol feels as if it's a higher than it actually is.

I don't know... nothing wrong with this beer, but it just isn't doing a lot for me today. It's really not much better than a lot of English style brown ales out there, which is what this beer reminds of. Nothing wrong with that, but... just seems like it could be so much more.

Photo of ppoitras
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle bought from Harrington's Wine & Liquors, Chelmsford, MA.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a minimal uneven tan head over the cloudy, deep red brew. Head and lacing are both lacking, to say the least. Aroma is vinous and dark fruits, reminds me of their Harvest Ale. Taste is somewhat bitter for the style, with a slight spicy flavor. Mouthfeel is relatively creamy, but the bitterness is somewhat off-putting, and drinkability is similar. Not as overly spiced as some Winter Warmers are, but this one has room for improvement.

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