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

Not Rated.
Manchester Star AleManchester Star Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

142 Ratings
THE BROS
88
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 142
Reviews: 98
rAvg: 3.97
pDev: 9.82%
Wants: 13
Gots: 3 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: yen157 on 03-17-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 142 | Reviews: 98 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Sludgeman:
Photo of Sludgeman
4/5  rDev +0.8%

Sludgeman, Apr 09, 2014
More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a deep brown nearly black with some ruby tint when held up to the light a thinner mocha colored head atop.Deeply roasted malt,molasses and bitter chocolate aromas dominate,somewhat drier porter here starts out very roasty with some raisin quality along with a touch of brown sugar but finishing very earthy with notes of unsweetened chocolate.Just a solid beer thru out nice balance of sweet to earthiness.

oberon, Mar 21, 2006
Photo of RoyalT
3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – This one is medium-brown in color with a modest dissipating head, which according to the BJCP is typical of the style.

Smell – The light roasty notes are brightened up with some broken down sugars. They are very sweet and smell like regular table sugar. The malts themselves are very easy on the olfactory bulb and exceptionally smooth.

Taste – This Porter is very easy at the taste as well. The sugars are really big and dominate this brew. The light malt that survives the nose makes a decent backbone.

Mouthfeel – This ale is well below medium-bodied but I wouldn’t call it light. It has a noticeable bitterness in the middle and finishes smoothly.

Drinkability – I liked the last sip a lot better than the first. This one kind of grew on me in the hour or so it took me to drink it. If you love Porter and want something to session, this is your baby.

RoyalT, Jun 25, 2005
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #44 (Sep 2010):

A beer of resurrection. Big, brown, heady start ... such a dark, inviting brew. Tart plums to spiced molasses cake to caramel make for a showy aroma. Hefty body and a deep smoothness. A little burnt, with more of a burnt sugar flavor in the end. Maltiness is all over the place with bread, caramel, brown bread and unsweetened dark choco- late flavors to sort out. Some modest hopping is helped along by the fruity alcohol, keeping it on an even keel. Caramelized pineapple. Fading burnt grain finish with a long lingering of ripe fruit. Super tasty, this one is--a keeper, a sipper and an absolute delight.

BeerAdvocate, Jan 11, 2011
Photo of merlin48
4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Replicated from an 1884 recipe, in association with Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver, according to the label.
Pours a dark and opaque ebony body with a small beige head that quickly falls into a collar. No lacing.
Aroma is interesting, with notes of dark chocolate, molasses, Concord grapes, and creamed coffee. A few roasty notes appear as it warms.
Mouthfeel is thick and coating, somewhat chewy. Medium full bodied with low carbonation.
Taste is excellent. Medium milk chocolate sweetness, dark fruity figs and dates, soft grassy hops, Concord grapes, and a note of molasses. No hint of the higher abv. A few roasty dark malt notes finally emerge near the finish.
Very tasty and dangerously drinkable. Taste is superlative, but slightly on the sweet side with the dark fruits, Concord grapes, and milk chocolate. Wish this one was not so expensive.

merlin48, Sep 18, 2005
Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.16/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

jazzyjeff13, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of wo87810
4.75/5  rDev +19.6%

wo87810, Feb 20, 2013
Photo of chinchill
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

chinchill, Feb 04, 2013
Photo of ByTor2112
4.1/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark brown with some reddish hues coming with the light. No significant head formation except for a thin film of carbonation that pools in the middle atop the ale. A ring of beige bubbles hang around the edge.
Big aroma of dried fruit and caramel? No, check that, it is molasses or brown sugar. Not really bready but there are some great sweet malt aromas that smell like a fresh baked muffin!

Mouthfeel- Low to medium carbonation gives it a smooth texture. Malty sweet with the dried fruit-figs and raisins coming through in the taste as well. A froth on the palate barely reveals some earthy hop bitterness. Flavors remain the same with some of the alcohol giving a mild warmth on the finish. When I poured it I thought it looked like a Porter and apparently it is! Does not mention Porter on the bottle that I recall. With sub zero temps outside this is a great winter warmer, perfect at 7.3% abv. I would also enjoy this as a robust cold quaffer. Not sessionable but I could do one or two at a sitting.

ByTor2112, Jan 17, 2009
Photo of ianjsullivan
3.85/5  rDev -3%
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.

ianjsullivan, Feb 21, 2012
Photo of rhoadsrage
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an Imperial pint glass)

A-The body is a deep dark brown almost black with a nice bubbly tan head and a good carbonation with tiny bubbles.

S- Nice toasted malt aroma with a hint of roasted malt. Almost a sweet malt hint aswell.

T- Nice sweet toasted maltyness with a hint of black malt and a faint hint of hop flavor. Not hop bitterness just very smooth malt flavors.

M-nice medium mouthfeel with no alcohol warmth and no astringency

D-Wow this is a nice smooth beer. It has wonderful malts that blend together but are not overly complex. A good solid porter that has a nice quality but shows its uniqueness from brown ales and stouts.

rhoadsrage, May 31, 2005
Photo of eweneek83
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours an opaque brown, the head modest and creamy tan, as it evaporates, the lacing provides a concealing curtain to drape the glass.

Nose has a sweet malt aroma, molasses, caramel, and a touch of earthiness, with the roasted grain present.

taste -Start is rich in sweet malt, a bit of bitterness at the back; touch of bitterness, top is rich and full in feel to the palate. Finish has a benignant acidity, the hops understated but noticeable, quite dry and sweet until the end.

mouthfeel - very nice, a smooth full body with a creamy carbonation. no aftertaste

drinkability - exceptional. Just try it.

eweneek83, Sep 08, 2008
Photo of cokes
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Somewhere between cola and mud, this pitches forth a barely translucent brown. The head is beige and fast to fade.
The nose is subtle, or perhaps just weak, but lurking around with bark, carob, and liquorice. It gathers toffee as it warms, and dankens with more mossy wood.
The first draught befuddles, then the same with each additional sip. Strewn with watery molasses, tobacco, and carob flavor, but seemingly willy-nilly, and not adhered together. It's malty, but loose. Whiskey-drenched maplewood appears late, traced with vanilla. Any sort of elevated ABV is masked. Booze flavors are by suggestion only. In simple summary, it tastes good, but it doesn't taste enough.
The mouthfeel is obtuse, with a suggestion of heft undercut with a general sparcity of everything: flavor, carbonation, depth. This need to be broadened. It needs acuity. It's not awful by any stretch, but there are vastly superior English porters, both from there and statestate. See Sam Smith and Arcadia for two real lessons.
Hmmm....I'm deeply disappointed here. The near 6-pack price for the single bottle lead me astray, expectation wise.

I let it stand for a good long while, and all that developed was carob flavored maple water.

I'm more or less indifferent of the actual brew. It is drinkable, and a fair example, but my wallet holds a grudge like a motherfucker and it won't let me buy this again.

cokes, Apr 30, 2005
Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours black with off-whit generous head. Licorice and malty aroma. Above average mouthfeel. Good representation of English porter, most drinkable black licorice mostly, some chocolate malts. Not very sweet, understated roast and that bit of tabacco that remains on the palate.

Sammy, Aug 25, 2009
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

J.W. Lees's Manchester Star Ale pours an almost completely opaque, dark mahogany body that borders on black but doesn't quite make it there. The glowing ruby-crimson highlights along the sides and base of the pint are slightly muddled (bottle-conditioned?); and it's short head of creamy ivory foam rests lazily atop.

The nose is intriguing with notes of molasses, toffee, sweet dark chocolate, and some mild dark fruit.

It's medium-full body and gentle carbonation leave it dextrinous and smooth in the mouth.

The flavor is richer than the nose indicates, and it's clear that there's Maris Otter malts being used here. The dark caramel, molasses, demerara sugar, toffee malt appears upfront and dominates throughout. It's sugary sweet but balanced by a solid, underlying bitterness and some leafy and grassy hop flavors.

There's an earthy/mineralistic character to it, as well as some leathery, almost barnyard-like character; and I wonder if they've perhaps added some Brettanomyces in the secondary to give it some "antique", or "authentic" quality. Additionally, perhaps there's a small amount of smoked malt added to give it a touch of something extra... although that might be coming from just a touch of roasted barley or even very dark kilned chocolate malt such as Paul's.

It's dark fruitiness arises towards the swallow, and it's juicy like a plum or prune, but there's also a kind of bitter-skin quality to it as well. It fades rather easily in the finish, however, with alternating residual flavors that include the molasses, leafy hops, minerals, leather, dark fruit skin, toffee, and even a hint of coffee.

Overall, this is a really intriguing, complex, satisfying, and enjoyable pint that would make a great finish to a night; or perhaps an after-dinner drink, or even cigar-beer. Very nice!

NeroFiddled, May 29, 2005
Photo of mick_cooper
4/5  rDev +0.8%

mick_cooper, Jul 22, 2013
Photo of silver0rlead
4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with a descent tan head that doesnt retain well. The aroma is mostly composed of roasted malts, chocolate and coffee, with some dark fruits, floral hops, and minerally burtonized water. The taste starts off with expresso and milk chocolate notes, as well as dark fruit (plum, fig, raisin), burnt bread, and some minerals and metallic water. I was dissapointed initially, but this is supposed to be a traditional porter that the english would have drank in the late 19th centruy. This beer feels very authentic, the mouthfeel is lighter than expected and the drinkability is good. A very nice interpretation of a late 19th century english porter.

silver0rlead, May 09, 2006
Photo of ImperatorScab
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%

ImperatorScab, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of zillo043068
4/5  rDev +0.8%

zillo043068, Dec 07, 2011
Photo of Bung
3.58/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From notes.
Pours a grainy dark brown with a slight tan head. Malty, molasses, raisin aroma. Similar in taste, with light grains/nut and sweet chocolate. Subtle carbonation. Some tobacco like qualities in the finish. Pretty drinkable, mellowed and balanced out more as it warmed. Not bad, but too much sweet malt and not enough roast for me.

Bung, May 08, 2010
Photo of beerthulhu
3.75/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a dark opaque coffee color with a thin sudsy beige head.

S: On the nose was black coffee with dry dairy creamer.

T: There was a nice coffee bitterness for initial flavor with a light touch of lactic milk sweetness to finish. There is rich dark chocolate, cocoa and a moderate sweetness per style. The beer finishes with a fresh dunkin donought coffee flavor with a dry coffee mate lacing and fade along with dry bitter chocolate notes. drinks very smoothly.

M: The mouthful is moderate with a soothing roasted malt palate and bitter hoppiness.

D: A great English style body with a great drinkability factor.

beerthulhu, Feb 03, 2008
Photo of akorsak
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a 500 mL bottle, poured into an Ommegang Hennepin glass. The porter is close to room temperature.

Appearance: The ale is a deep black color with deep ruby highlights, especially when held to light. There is a nice ring of head around the glass.

Smell: The ale has an unusual aroma, a cross between the roasted porter that I am used to and an older, almost Rodenbach-esque aged ale. Very interesting...

Taste: The ale tastes as intriguing as the smell, a mixture of old and new. The old provides a nice quasi-stale taste, while the new gives a sweet character.

Mouthfeel: The ale's unusual provenance allows it to sit quite well on the palate.

Drinkability: I intend to grab another bottle or two at my next stop at Wells.

akorsak, Apr 17, 2006
Photo of bluejacket74
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours very dark brown with a tan head. It smells like roasted malt, molasses, coffee and bittersweet chocolate. However, the aroma isn't very strong. The taste is sweeter than I anticipated, with it tasting like molasses, plums, caramel and chocolate. There's also a small coffee-like bitter finish, but the sweetness overpowers it for the most part. The mouthfeel is creamy, with low/medium carbonation. It's very easy to drink, and it goes down nice and smooth. The alcohol isn't very noticable when I'm drinking it, even though it hits you later. I think this is a pretty good beer, I'll have to buy it more often.

bluejacket74, Nov 12, 2006
Photo of Jredner
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Aroma has lots of dark fruit sweetness and some low intensity roasted malt aromas. Deep black with a quickly diminishing head that compresses to a fine dime thin line. Fore is both malty and fruity with lots of prune and raisin and a bit of molasses for good measure. The alcohol is unoticeable. Tobacco elements do come out, but only as it warms a good bit. Found it quite tasty.

Jredner, Jan 18, 2006
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.68/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Hogtownharry: Poured a light black color ale with a big foamy head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of black chocolate is very enticing with some nice English malt also noticeable. Taste of lightly sweet chocolate malt is very good and dominated the taste spectrum. Body was slightly watery with some medium carbonation. This was a very good beer but it is lacking a little something to be truly great.

Phyl21ca, Jan 05, 2007
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Manchester Star Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
87 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.