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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
89
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 AEK
4.7/5  rDev +28.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

M. Full.

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).

Photo of 7ways
2.95/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Gotta say I expected more from Harvest Ale's little brother. This bottle is 1.5 years old, but others have given this vintage at least decent marks, and it's certainly not oxidized. Someone please BM me if this is supposed to only be consumed fresh.

Pours murky brown with a quickly vanishing head. Oily. Maybe I swirled too much, but it leaves only tiny pin pricks of lace. The constant swirling was because I can barely smell this damn thing; what I do get is pretty cheesy, with raisins and fruit X in the background.

The cheese plate aroma does not carry over to much into the taste. It's much more nutty and malty, with a vinous, not quite tart quality. Consumed cold it's quite metallic, but at the proper temp it vanishes. Nice caramel and bread notes, but they're just too weak. There is something that distracts from the taste as soon as I swallow; it's not exactly bad, but it hurts drinkability. Low but lively carbonation.

While not bad compared to most English beers available in the US, there is something essential missing here. With every sip I wait for something to happen, or to change, but it never does.

Photo of avalon07
4.33/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Zimbo
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

In the bottle the nose is deep with some appetising fruit. In the glass it is more cola like. There is a contant head on top of this reddish brown beer and body is slightly carbonic and quite thin for a 7.5% ABV beer. Slight banana quality to the tasty but not much else of interest. Decent complex lacing. Eventually coats mouth with a slight sappiness. There is development over time in the glass as it opens up. At least I didn't serve it chilled.

Certianly is Moonraker. Too bad I was expecting From Russia With Love.

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 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 Offa
4.8/5  rDev +30.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

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

Pint bottle into an ale glass.

Poured a hazy amber/brown with a fizzy, off-white small head which remained until I finished the glass.

Smell is of malt with some hints of fruit, spice and candy. I think I detect some grape in there too.

Taste is overall pretty malty with some bread and cherry. Not bad.

Medium to high level of carbonation, mouthfeel is pretty fizzy.

Medium finish with a hint of booze. Somewhat bitter on the finish as well.

Not a bad beer, but the spices and malts flavor in this beer seemed to clash for me.

Photo of sisuspeed
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled on 8/13/09

Poured into a Foothills signature glass. Clear, dark, cherry-brown in body with a thin, off-white head on top. Light lacing left behind.

Aroma consists of cherries, sweet malts and a bit of spice. Some slight cider and grape notes as well. Overall sweet.

Sweet, bready malts wash across the tongue, mixed with a cherry cola flavor and a touch of spice bitterness on the finish. Ever so slightly tart at times, hints of banana, mostly sweet.

Mouthfeel has lots of small tiny carbonation, otherwise smooth and on the lighter side. Sweet with bitter aspects and slightly warming alcohol.

Drinkability is about average. I like the bready malts but the rest of the flavor doesn't really do much. However, this is one of the better winter warmers I have had. The spice is toned down and there is a bigger malt presence. One bottle is all you would want.

Overall, this is a decent beer. Nothing about it really stands out, but it will warm you up and has above average flavor. Not a beer I would seek out, but if you happen upon it you might as well give it a shot.

Photo of bcorrieri
3.23/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Small to medium head.
No Lace.
Color is medium dark brown to a pale carmel rim.
Opacity is medium.
Smell is nutty and malty.
Taste is of heavy malt and pecans.
Carbonation is medium to medium-heavy.
Finish is light medium to medium.
Overall a good winter/early spring beer.

Brewed on 12 aug 09 and drank on 5 mar 10.

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

Pours a flat looking slightly hazy brown. small to tiny white head

Smell of yeasty toffee and some dark plum. slight booze presence in aroma, grassy hops. some port aromas?

Taste of a sweet malty brown ale with some brandy/port flavors. Not sure if these are from spices or from barrel aging. Slight funk presence sa well. Smooth drinking , light carbonation. A decent beer, but not my favorite Winter Warmer. A lighter Old Ale IMO with some additional spices.

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 Brad007
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mild brownish-amber color with a two-finger head that fades down, leaving some lacing in the glass.

Aroma is full of malt that seems quite sweet and perhaps mildly hoppy/aromatic in nature.

Taste is full of sweet, chewy malt with a reminder of molasses and caramel in the middle. Seems quite average.

Mouthfeel is full of the same lingering tastes. Carbonation is rather high. Not quite desirable.

Meh. I've had much better examples of the style. It's not horrible but look elsewhere.

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes, January '09.

Pours a very cloudy brown, with a very thin off-white head.

Nose is a bit boozy, with notes of toffee and some over-ripe dark fruits.

Taste is rich with a sweet, bready malt character that sits somewhere between bready and toffee sweet, with a fruitiness like dark fruit that's been lightly soaked in rum, a bit tangy in the finish, with just a bit of yeast in there.

Mouthfeel is smooth, a bit of moderate carbonation - really well done.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

P: 16.9oz brown pop top; nice, classy label; a date is clearly stamped; whether it's best-by or bottled on, I'm not sure. If it's best by, this is a couple of months out-dated, but with the I'm thinking this is probably ok

A: Hazy dark mahogany beer with a nice light beige cap with good retention

S: Lots of dark caramel, sticky sweet dark fruits, medium-toasted bread; simple, but not unpleasant.

T: Flavors match the aromas, with just a hint of minerality on the finish as well; this is much maltier and more full than the only other time I've tasted it, when I suspected that it was way past it's best-by date and sufficiently oxidized. I still feel this might be just a bit past its prime, but is still pretty tasty. Nothing out of this world, but rustic and tasty in a wonderfully English way

M: Medium-bodied

D: Medium-high

C: Again, this MAY be a bit out of date, or it may not; even if this is a bit past it's prime, I don't detect a lot of oxidation here; I'm just not completely blown away by this beer, which is kind of unexpected, as J.W. Lees is such a renowned brewery. Due to this, perhaps I'm being a bit hard on this beer. Bottom line: it's tasty, it's classic, and it's delightfully British. Is it worth almost six dollars for a pint? Meh.

Photo of cvfish
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This beer poured a reddish brown color that produced a white foamy head that had decent retention and left a good lace on the side of the glass

S - The aromas produced by this beer were some caramel and malts, some fruitiness and toffee

T - The taste of this beer was a good bit of caramel malts, a bit molasses and toffee, and a bit of hops on the finish

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had a medium body that was smooth, and had a moderate amount of carbonation

D - This was a good beer, very drinkable, this was another good example of a beer from JW Lees

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

500ml bottle into nonic.

Deep, dark and cloudy mahogany color with a one finger tan head that rises to just even with the rim of the glass. It slowly settles to a thin cap.

Roasty malty background along with a bit of burnt caramel and cinnamon.

Toasted grains which load in the caramel flavor. Some light spices are in the middle, but a lot so they are noticed. The feel is slightly tart. Hops are on the low end - this is a mostly sweet beer. Full bodied.

Somewhat of a spicy Winter Warmer. Not overdone though. Some roastiness, but mostly sweet caramel.

Photo of Amalak
2.93/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The beer poured reddish black in color, mainly opaque, and it doesn't have much head to it. Very hoppy scent to it, very nice.

The taste was hops and and berry, actually grape almost. Too grape in fact. It was also mixed with an oak barrel, slightly sweet scot taste to it.

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

Cloudy amber pour, very little white head. Nutty, citrus with some malt aroma. Upfront is a little bitter with some citrus, green apple. Mellows out into a real nice maltiness. The fruit continues to fade as the beer warms, the maltiness increases with some toffee and prune like flavors. A solid medium body. The abv isn't exactly strong ale like, but I thought this one was a bit under rated. Would recommend a try to anyone who likes a traditional old ale style brew. For those that prefer a strong ale as basically an Imperial IPA, than this is not for you.

Photo of ccrida
4.65/5  rDev +26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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.!

Photo of DefenCorps
2.48/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

16.9oz bottle received from hwwty4 as the Ugly in the GBU BIF. Thanks, man (maybe?) Into my Duvel tulip

A: Pours a deeep brown with a thin tan head that dissipates very quickly to a ring. Deep crimson highlights. Not much carbonation.

S: Smells loaded with molasses and jaggery sweetness with none of the spices one would expect from a winter warmer. Sweetness is pretty complex but not necessarily appealing with some peaty, smoked notes

T: Starts off with a watery cola sweetness along with a lot of varied sweetness with molasses, jaggery and cola. Finish is thin, sweet and watery

M: Flat, sweet, thin, watery. Nothing to like here

D: Fuck that, 8 sips is about all i can do.

Photo of gueuzeonhigh
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a dark beer-- pours with a black walnut brown color and a foamy but short lived head.
There was a small aroma of fruit and hints of malt in the nose.

The flavor was predominantly sweet malt with very little underpinning-- giving the flavor profile a thin "appearance". The flavor is also rather sedate-- other than the sweet malt I am at a loss to coin any other discerning features.

The finish is mild with the sweet malt tinging and slowly fading. Like the flavor start- the finish had a one dimensional characteristic-- that of predominantly sweet flavor.

The mouthfeel was cordial-- in part due to the sweet malty character.

The drinkability was "good"-- this beer is a very mild mannered character. Although I think that the sweetness would prove tiring after a pint. I don't think I'd reach for another.

Photo of n00tz
4.4/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

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