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

Not Rated.
Manchester Star AleManchester Star Ale

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BA SCORE
89
very good

158 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 158
Reviews: 105
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.8%
Wants: 14
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  7.30% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: yen157 on 03-17-2005

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (20) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 158 | Reviews: 105
Photo of LagerCognoscenti
4.04/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good head. Dark brown porter like colour.

The smell is sweet, with suggestions of raisins and booziness.

The taste is sweet with dark fruits, ash, booze and earthy bitterness combining nicely. Very much like a strong English Porter and reminded me a little of Fullers London Porter.

Overall a very enjoyable beer and a great winter warmer. Nice strong abv with rich but well balanced flavours.

87/100

Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle into snifter, bottled on 10/27/2010. Pours nearly opaque dark brown color with a 1-2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big molasses, caramel, toast, toffee, brown bread, chocolate, raisin, plum, light cocoa, light nuttiness, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and fruity yeast notes; with good strength. Taste of big molasses, caramel, toast, toffee, brown bread, chocolate, cocoa, raisin, plum, light nuttiness, and yeast/roasted earthiness. Light earthy herbal/roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toast, brown bread, toffee, molasses, raisin, plum, and yeast/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast flavors; with a great malt/yeast balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding English porter style. All around awesome balance, complexity, and robustness of dark/bready malt and fruity/earthy yeast flavors; and very smooth to drink for the ABV. This held up very well for it’s age considering the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of Malt_Man
3.64/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Served at cellar temperature from 500ml bottle into straight pint glass.

A) Looks just like a glass of coke - slight reddish-black, no head, lots of small bubbles.

S) Sweet malts are the only smell.

T) At first you think it is too sweet in the foretaste, but it is soon rescued by a distinct but subtle hop bitterness shortly after. Interesting taste profile. High ABV is masked well in the mouth.

M) Quite fizzy, but with a substantial weight in the mouth. A subtle but nice warming aftertaste.

O) A beer of two halves, but they add up to something distinctive and enjoyable. Recommended.

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.37/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Aroma malt, dark chocolate, hint smoke & fruit, molasses. Taste chewy leather, ash, malts, prunes, faint spice, licorice, & bitter finish.

Photo of tillmac62
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours an opaque dark brown similar to a stout, but not black. Well below average head, lacing and retention. Outstanding nose of dark fruit (plum, fig), sweet chocolate, slightly burnt molasses and just a hint of alcohol. The nose is similar to that of an Olde or Scott Ale, but lighter - as is the flavor profile. Light medium body with a hint of slickness. Normal carbonation with a bit of effervescence in the finish. The outstanding flavor profile is reasonably intense, very complex and masterfully balanced. The beginning to middle is a blend of flavors that slowly fade allowing subsequent identification. All flavors of the nose are present and basically cascade from burnt molasses to dark fruit and then into a light bitterness followed by a chocolate note and associated sweetness. The finish is a slow fade of malty sweetness with a hint of alcohol and a bit of hop and alcohol bite.

Photo of drperm
5/5  rDev +25.6%

A: dark dark brown, nearly black save for the caramel-russet hue that's evident when you hold it up to the light. Dissipating brown head that lingers as a thin layer.
Sm: Toffee, madeira, warm spices, caramel, Christmas pudding
T: Complex, smoky, toffee (again), raisins, with a nice English-hop backbone that keeps it from being sweeet. Excellent complex, bitter finish.
P:Lingers pleasantly on the palate, encouraging you to take another sip. At over 7%, it's a tiger lurking in the shadows, but a friendly, cuddly tiger.
O: The best beer I've had IN A WHILE. Original and classic at the same time. I'd put this up against a robust steak or venison dinner OR a dessert such as creme brulee.
There will be more of these in my future. It's f%^&ing righteous.

Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.4/5  rDev +10.6%

A: Almost completely black with a quickly dissipating light beige head.
S: Port-like fruit, soy sauce, and some smokiness? Not a particularly strong nose though.
T: Ooer. It’s port-like, smokey, silky smooth and yet snappy on the tongue. Nice and sweet for the strength. There’s even a hint of ginger beer in there, and some earthiness. Quite a bitter aftertaste. Gets sweeter as it warms, and less bitter, and the liquorice appears.
O: Old Peculier is the closest thing I’ve had to this, although this is slightly better. The interesting thing is that it's almost as flavourful when chilled as when it's warmed up.

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.19/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a somewhat unique brew (or at least the style is). Not sweet like an English Barleywine (such as the superb J.W. Lees Harvest Ale). Not bitter like an ESB. And nothing like an English porter or stout, although it looks like a stout. It starts just a little hoppy or sweet but grows in complexity and fruity and wine characteristics as it warms. In fact it gets better and better as it goes down. Another excellent offering from a superb brewery.

Photo of thecheapies
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

This beer is quite dark! Has a rich dark brown/black color with some thin purple light seeping through. Sepia foam gathers with some difficulty around the surface.

British maltiness with some scotch ale notes, roastiness, spicy hops, gooey toffee, chicory coffee, dark fruits, meaty nuttiness, and some soft chocolate. Subtle alcohol. A very good nose.

Toffee malts with a browned apple backing. The hops are very mild, very aged, but with a husky spiciness. Nuances of nutty coffee and chocolate and cognac. Hints of dried fruit and black strap. Not too sweet; very balanced. Yeast has a drier, powdery finish that really sops up leftover flavors.

The body could use sturdied up, a bit. It feels a little thin. The carbonation is definitively too weak. There's room for improvement.

One of the better English Strong Ales that I have had. Worth buying.

Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.16/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Aug 2013, so it's a bit out of date. Picked up from Sainsbury's last year as part of their 2012 Beer Hunt and stored in my garage. I'm hoping its strength has helped to keep it in good condition. Described on the label as a revival of an original recipe from 1884 - this beer was one of the two winners of the 2012 Beer Hunt.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A dark chestnut-brown hue that appears almost black in the glass. Produces a large head of creamy beige foam that lasts for a few minutes before reducing to a surface layer. Aroma of rich, fruity malt with hints of prunes, dried fruit, mild molasses, fruitcake, caramel, ale yeast and faint stewed hops. Slightly sweet, with a warming whiff of booze lurking in the background. Fantastically deep and delicious - superb.

Tastes of sweet, fruity malt with a lingering finish. Notes of prunes, raisins, dried fruit, port, fruitcake, caramel, subtle molasses, ale yeast and stewed hops. Faintly sweet, with a hint of warming alcohol in the background and a restrained bitterness upon swallowing. Amazing balance. Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with well-judged carbonation and good body. Mildly astringent, followed by an aftertaste of fruity malt, port wine, yeast and booze.

A first-rate effort; just what a strong ale should be. It looks lovely, while the aroma and flavour are rich, sweet and fruity. The booziness adds depth. Great balance and a smooth body. A perfect sipper for a winter's evening - the age of the bottle clearly did this no harm. A top-notch brew; don't pass it up if you see it.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Acme Bar and Pizza in Rochester, NY.

Pours a dark black, with a light brown slowly rising head that sticks to the glass as I gulp this beauty down.

Smells include sweet, earthy dark fruit, chocolate, and coffee.

The taste follows suit. Roasted malt, along with chocolate and some mild coffee, come to the forefront, with the dark fruit flavors coming on the back end of each sip. The fruit gives the beer a slightly sour twang. Some licorice too.

Medium bodied, creamy mouthfeel. Very drinkable. Low carbonation.

One of the best English porters. Awesome.

Photo of StJamesGate
4.01/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Chocolate black with a motionless clingy tan carpet of froth.
Raspberry, grilled steak, and wood on the nose.
Purple plum, liqueur-filled chocolates, sweet liqourice, then a big cream soda hit, followed by tea leaf and cedar chip hops.
Sambuca finish with undertones of port and vanilla and drying woody linger.
Medium, smooth, plenty of chew.

A tug of war between the sweetness - both fruit and chocolate - and the bitterness - both roast and hop, with the sweetness winning. I've read there's some impressive hop character in this, but with a Dec 15, '12 bottling date, that was never going to happen here. Real depth - even some old ale notes - out of a historic recipe, though, and one I'd be willing to investigate again fresh.

Photo of mjryan
3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

First off, a porter this beer is not. Sure, it's dark and well, that's where the porter comparison needs to end. Then what the hell do we call this thing? Not sure actually. Maybe an historical English black ipa? It is pretty hoppy, has the tell tale muted, well traveled old school English hop character. A bit fruity, a bit earthy or even herbal, English is what I call it. Fairly bitter as well. Tastes a bit like chocolate (ok, score another point for porter), but it's mild, smooth, nuanced even. Not at all roasty, no acrid burntness (burntness? Maybe someday it will be a real word). It's sweet chocolate, milk chocolate lite. Hops in the flavour as well. Quite hoppy actually, or perhaps surprisingly. Bitter end, lingers. Ok, perhaps porter might be the best place to put this thing. As it warms, the roast wakes up and yawns a bit before going back to sleep. Also, I have no idea how old this shit is. Really fresh I'm sure it's easier to define, maybe. I'll sum it up here. It's very dark, pleasantly hoppy, has some nice milk chocolate notes, faint roast, bitter and sweet at the end. It's a super bloody strong, hoppy English porteresque beer! Oh, it's also very good no matter what it is.

Photo of BlackHaddock
4.39/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Chilled 500ml bottle with three days to go before it's BBD: poured into an Abbot Ale glass tankard at home on 1st Aug 2013.

Looked great: lovely dark body with a huge tanned head of large bubbles, smooth foaming top to the head.

Dry but malty nose and taste: bitterness comes through from the start. Mild burnt feel to the flavour, but not overpowering. Dark chocolate and young Port came to mind mid-tasting, very nice!

Really impressed: full of interesting flavours and although my palate is on the sweet side this beer still hit the spot for me.

It is warm and sunny outside as I drink and write this: even though this is a coal fire and winter brew in my eyes, it can also be taken during the summer months.

Photo of metter98
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is close to near black in color—reddish colors are visible near the edges of the glass when it is held up to a bright light. It poured with a thin tan head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of dark fruits—raisins seem to stand out in particular—are present in the nose along with notes of dark malts.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has bits of sweetness along with additional flavors of dark fruits. No bitterness is detectable.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This porter is quite flavorful but really sets it apart is its drinkability.

Photo of Dope
3.77/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No bottling date that I can see. Probably around a year old.

A: Pours a dark brown with a very light brown head. Head is quite light and fluffy. Head fades somewhat quickly, leaving zero lacing behind. Decent retention at least.

S: Mild roasted malt with a little bit of smoke in there. A little bit of umami.

T: Again with the mild roasted malt. Touches of smoke, char, umami and even a little chocolate. Flavors turn a little drying and bitter in the finish, more of an acrid smoke along with bitter cocoa powder. Lingering chocolate between sips along with an odd metallic taste. Might be due to age?

M: Medium bodied, smooth.

O: Not a bad english porter. Flavors are mild but well integrated and balanced. Smooth and drinkable.

Photo of chinchill
4.12/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from an undated 16.9 oz. bottle into a snifter. The beer is clear and a deep brown colo but looks essentially black in the glass. The modest light brown head has about average retention and leaves some lacing on the glass. The rich, if not strong, aroma is very appealing and mainly consists of dark (and lighter?) malts and some dark fruits (particularly raisins and dates), sweet and not smoky.

T: The taste {4+] is nicely rich and malty, with plenty of dark fruit flavor (particularly plum, dried plum, raisin and date), some caramel, a touch of spicy hops, and a hint of chocolate. Some coffee and a faint hint of smoke in the finish. Excellent sweet/bitter balance.

M: Smooth with a medium carbonation that makes it lively and crisp for style. Medium-to-heavy body.

O: Flavorful and goes down easily. Has some qualities that overlap with a Baltic Porter, including a fairly well-hidden high ABV. Readily recommended.

Photo of nickfl
3.97/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one finger of light tan foam on top of an opaque, dark brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves light rings of lace.

S - Roasty brown malt with hints of molasses, licorice, and caramel.

T - Dark, sweet malt up front with some caramel. Molasses and red apple in the middle with some spicy notes of clove and plum towards the finish and a lingering roast and licorice character.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a fairly sweet finish.

D - This is a really unusually thick and dark British ale with spicy character that is reminiscent of a winter ale. Like the other J.W. Lees beers I have had it stands out as better than most examples of the style and it has a rich complexity that would probably do well with extended aging.

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.83/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

ST: 1 pint 9oz poured into a pint glass. The bottle lists ABV but does not list DBD.

A: A fingernail of off-white slight brown head sits on top of a dark, almost black, color with red tints at the bottom of the glass. Within thirty seconds the head settles down to a thin, but fully covering, line.

S: Very nutty with milk, malt, smoke, and toffee.

T: Starts out sweet and nutty; the malt really shines. Some coffee bean bitterness joins in the middle. A little bit of bitterness from hops rounds out the finish with some smoke.

M: Surprisingly light and not as creamy as the aroma indicated.

O: Manchester Star is a very pleasant and drinkable beer. It is easy to see why porter was popular with the workers of Industrial Revolution England. This particular porter blends its 7.3%ALC very well, while still offering nice and mild flavor. Its nutty slightly smokey and meaty flavor would do well with most food. A small negative is that the body of this beer could be a wee heavier.

Photo of shand
4.07/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

Pours a very deep brown color with a tiny head. Aroma is a nice, sweet malt with roast, chocolate, and a touch of dark fruit. The taste is a very nice, slightly amped up English porter. The signature sweet malts and dark fruits are ever-present, backed up by some milk chocolate and just a touch of coffee. The mouthfeel is smooth, and the drinkability is very good. Overall, it's a very good English porter.

Photo of MoreThanWine
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Poured an eighth inch of mocha head which vanished fast. The body is a clear burnt umber brown almost as dark as coffee. It smells very mildly of roasted malt and I'm not picking up the menagerie of other smells others like to point out. The taste mirrors the smell and I'd have to say this is the absolute mildest porter I've ever had. It's best attribute is the body which is smooth and creamy and a nice mouthfeel. In the finish a very sublime English hop bitterness sneaks in.

Photo of Zorro
3.27/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Clear brown colored beer with next to no head.

Smell is sweet with a lot of molasses aroma in the scent. Patent malt, coconut and faint butter. Caramel and chocolate with a faint fruit aroma.

Starts out mildly sweet with mild flavors of vanilla and molasses. Like most British beers the tastes are subtle and not strong. Leather and some tobacco flavors. Still this needs more taste.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall it smells better than it tastes. Doesn't taste bad it is just under flavored

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. No date on bottle. I bought this at Wilbur's in Ft. Collins, CO for ~$6.

This beer produces a soft-looking and compact finger of tan head (looks the color of latte foam) over a pure black body that shows very slight ruby highlights when held to strong light. Tiny streams of very small bubbles can be seen rising around the edges of the beer.

Smells of soft roasted malts and small helpings of dark fruit. A whiff of hops rises with a swirl, but otherwise the above aromas make up the nose. Smells very English and very pleasing.

The flavor is well rounded and feels soft from the overall low level of bitterness. As in the nose, non-acrid roasted malts, a touch of hops, and dark fruit take center stage. I find this quite like a Baltic porter, expect the hop levels are far lower, and there are no notes of coffee or smoke in this flavor. Not quite like anything I have had before, and tasty.

The mouthfeel is medium with lower residual sugar, but not thin or weak. It seems that there is something slightly lacking, but maybe this is part of what the style is meant to feel like (not being a stout).

Conclusion: This is an excellent English porter, and I believe it is the strongest example of the style I have tasted to date. I like it is actually different from conventional porters and stouts, and tastes like the original style is described.

Photo of bruachan
4.55/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

skinnypinky of nice bone-colored (not the desert-bleached kind), tight foam. patches of opaque lacing. the liquid itself is not quite opaque: deep chestnut

excellent roasty, chicory aromas escape the brew. this beer smells like brown should smell! bread crust

surprisingly, hops are the first (or at least near to) thing i taste. a tasteful (i.e. not excessive) roasty sweetness takes over promptly. mostly dry and certainly all about the nutty/bready flavors. and since we don't want too much malt holding up those dynamite flavors, we ask the hops the do the work. they hold everything together

man, what a classy beer!

Photo of avalon07
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick texture. There was a half inch of creamy, tan-colored, fairly long-lasting head. Average lacing.

S: A decent aroma of malt, caramel and some fruit.

T: Tasted mainly of malt, with hints of caramel, plums, figs, and other dark fruits with it. A nice, warm generally well-balanced flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is a solid, but not spectacular English Porter. Very drinkable, though.

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Manchester Star Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 158 ratings.