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

Manchester Star AleManchester Star Ale

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

134 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 134
Reviews: 97
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 9.8%

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)
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Ratings: 134 | Reviews: 97 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of NeroFiddled


4.7/5  rDev +18.1%
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!

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2005 15:09:54 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of bigsilky

South Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow, really impressed with this one. Poured into a crown-viking imperial pint glass. An off-white head forms and settles to a velvety blanket that perches itself atop the beer for a short time...

Enough with the poetry. I absolutley love this beer. I am usually a nut for porters and this is spot on. The dark-reddish hue that seems to entrance the imbiber. Winey notes of caramel apple and minerals spiral into a smoky english malt body. Just enough hops on to bitter and work with the judicious carbonation to give a snappy finish. Was the water Burtonized???

Who cares, the only thing that sucks is the price, but I think it's well worth it.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2006 19:57:44 | More by bigsilky
Photo of ccrida


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

550ml poured into an imperial pint, Great Manchester Star is a dark, brown murky black with a massive, long lasting, burnt tan head that leaves heavy lace, big chunky rings. Gorgeous. A fresh bottle from a new shipment, served at cellar temp.

Smell is strong, fresh raisins, rum, honey, prunes, very nice. Rice pudding, yum. A little sweet, but cut by the seltzer like lightness, a great winter/desert beer feel overall.

Taste is also very robust, big sugary malts, dark but not roasty. Honey, chocolate, caramel, cream, and leather, a touch of tobacco, diacetyl and pine tar, wow! This is a fantastic porter, I really love the depth of the dark malts without being to sweet or burnt.

Mouthfeel is slick, full, viscous but not too heavy, but really coats the tongue for a lingering aftertaste.

Drinkability is great, wow am I loving this beer! I could drink these all night, and will have to next I hang with Simon, who would love them also. I would take this over pretty much any RIS stout out there, and appreciate the price and reasonable strength. This is really a fantastic beer, without even considering the historical tie-in and back story. I love how satisfying it is, I'm in no hurry to finish this, and would surly have a second if I could!

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2008 22:21:59 | More by ccrida
Photo of bruachan

District of Columbia

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!

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2011 01:01:49 | More by bruachan
Photo of drpimento


4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Luscious beer. Full rich - fetid? Definitely not the usual porter. Lots of character. Huge aroma of all manner of dark things... coffee, chocolate, dark ripe fruits, earth, burnt sugar, old leather. Gnarly beer. But good. Actually a velvety texture. Great finish. Very close to the commercial description. Love to try it on draft.

Serving type: bottle

07-29-2007 02:22:36 | More by drpimento
Photo of eweneek83

West Virginia

4.47/5  rDev +12.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-08-2008 06:28:39 | More by eweneek83
Photo of BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

4.4/5  rDev +10.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2013 12:36:10 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a two-finger light tan head that fades quickly leaving no lace. Black - totally opaque. Light carbonation, medium-heavy bodied. Nose is molasses/raisin. Starts sweet, didn't really notice the hops, smooth molasses finish, excellent porter. Pricey, $6.99 for a 500ml bottle from Julio's Liquors, Ma.

Serving type: bottle

12-11-2005 00:05:36 | More by jdhilt
Photo of jwc215


4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown almost black - a thin tan head soon disappears to a small patch.

The smell is of chocolate, molasses, toffee with balancing dark fruit and earthiness.

The taste is of a complex maltiness - chocolate, molasses, toffee and caramel. Dark fruitiness balances it well - plums/prunes. Licorice/anise notes come through to add to depth of flavor and complexity as it warms. Earthy notes come through in the finish.

Medium to full bodied, this has a nice malty texture. Very smooth with the alcohol pretty well covered.

Very tasty brew - malty but with enough balance to it. A fine one to sip on a cool evening.

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2007 16:02:32 | More by jwc215
Photo of FightingEntropy


4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: guest beer on tap at Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

A: No head at all when it arrived, but a slight ring around the edge that was brown like the inside of a malted milk ball.

S: solid toasted malt, biscuity and a spiceness (alcohol??), and very prominent on top was a sourness like a lambic. Interesting.

T: Sourness is continues in the front of the mouth, strong but not overwhelming at all. Tasted and slightly roasted malt, a bit of chocolate and burnt cherry underneath. Complex.

M: medium plus but not chewy or oily at all. Light enough to clearly be a porter.

D: slow sourness builds and lingers with the malt in the mouth. Very pleasant.

Overall: an excellent and very unique beer. It's like the flavor are in a tug of war but in a stale mate. I can see that some of the scores for this one would be low because of the shock of the sour notes, but if you like lambic and porter, jump on this one.

Serving type: on-tap

09-23-2007 03:20:56 | More by FightingEntropy
Photo of RblWthACoz


4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours totally black with a miniscule brown/tan head. Nose is one dimensional molasses and malts. One odd thing that hit me on the flavor: vanilla!? Wouldn't have expected that with an English Porter, but hey: Garrett Olivers name is on the back label. This is going to bring something like you would expect it to as an American. (to the non-Americans, this is a prime example of the prowess of what the best American brewmasters can do with old world styles - just be ready for something a bit 'more') Feel carries a slightly thicker liquid body. Carbonation is lower, but it's appropriate. Very easy to drink. I like this beer. I like it a lot.

Serving type: bottle

09-11-2008 07:43:39 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of yen157

New Jersey

4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Based on an 1884 recipe, revived in 2001 at the Brooklyn brewery and brought back into regular production by JW Lees.

Impressively dark brown with only the faintest cola-colored highlights shining through. Foamy beige head quickly melts back into the pint. Rich, sweet, treacle-y nose with notes of buttery toffee and artificial coffee (you know, like a coffee scented candle or somerthing). Decently sweet up front with the flavors reminiscent of chocolate. Finish is very coffee-n-cream with bitterness coming from the dark malts.

Pretty nimble mouthfeel considering the depth of the malt contributions and the 7.3% alcohol. I would love to come across this on tap or even cask conditioned. Great beer!

Serving type: bottle

03-17-2005 01:06:40 | More by yen157
Photo of yoko


4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The pint, point 9 oz. (can't forget the ounces) pours a dark brown/black with red/orange highlights not allowing for much light to come through. The short foamy tan sudsy head melts to a collection of varing size bubbles that collect around the glass leaving a thin whisp wash center. The nose was not tremendously big yet rich and soft of coffee mocha/cola and a subtle banana. The mouthfeel was rich with taste coming midway through as the malts reached high up in the palate. This is where the taste was greatest and remained. The finish was clean. What filled the senses was a soft, smooth, short, almost a creamy coffee yogurt/cola float. The dark malts synergestically brought a spicy/bitter to the sweet harmony of malts. Nice. The alcohol was woven well in the mix.

At $6.95 a pint I won't be revisiting as I would like to. Enjoy!

I appreciated the weight of the empty bottle, which energetically I find adds to the rootedness of the brew.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2005 11:18:48 | More by yoko
Photo of HappyHourHero


4.3/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1 Pint .9 oz bottle with a short little story on the back that says the recipe was reintroduced after J.W. Lees visited Brooklyn Brewery in 2001. This is the second batch since then.

Pours a small dense light brown colored head that fades quickly to a film. Roasted malt aroma mixed with some vinuous tobaco notes. Deep black colored beer with a ruby hue when held to the light. Roasted malts, some cocoa and marshmallow, and some vinuous tobacco mix and mingle up front. Soft light body. Tons of flavor that reminds me a bit of Storm King, only a bit sweeter.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2005 23:04:42 | More by HappyHourHero
Photo of ypsifly


4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Undated pint bottle purchased at Merchant's in Dearborn and poured into a pint glass.

Black under an inch or so of tan that settles to a couple CMs and just sits there. Good retention with thick webs of lace.

Roasted malts and some lactic aromas that turn a bit sour. Suggestion of lightly roasted nuts and coffee. I like the complexity and aromas overall.

Roasted malts upfront that is briefly tempered by hazelnut and then balanced out by a slowly building hop flavored dryness that lingers in the finish yet doesn't block out some bitter chocolate residuals.

I especially like the mouthfeel as it works very well with the flavors despite the low carbonation. A very enjoyable English Porter that I will be sure to revisit.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2006 01:05:53 | More by ypsifly
Photo of FanofHefe


4.28/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a pint bottle into a Duvel tulip. Very carbonated and produces a two-finger, dense dark tan head. The head has decent retention and leaves rings of lacing along the glass. The body is dark and no light gets through. Dark brown, almost black body, with just a hint of red hue along the edges.

Superb aroma. Dark, roasted malts and sweet dark fruit. Plum and raisin are prominent along with some light notes of toffee and chocolate.

The flavor is very solid overall, but just a little less than I would have expected from the aroma. Dense, dark malted flavors combine with some earthy fruitiness. No real coffee flavor, but the toffee notes are present. The rich flavors blend nicely and are even better as it warms up a bit.

Dense mouthfeel that is very smooth overall. Great brew that is one I would love to have for an after dinner drink. Would pair well with a nice mild pipe tobacco.

Serving type: bottle

05-27-2011 21:58:52 | More by FanofHefe
Photo of Brad007


4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black color with a thin head into my glass. It's certainly a porter.

Aroma has hints of cream, chocolate and roasted coffee upfront. Very inviting on this cold night.

Hints of chocolate and roasted coffee greet the mouth. It's slightly coarse from the alcohol but otherwise on target style-wise.

Mouthfeel is full of chocolate and roasted coffee notes. Very mellow. The malt shines as it should for the style.

I really enjoyed this porter. I don't drink as many porters as I used to but it's always nice to have a subtle, drinkable example.

Serving type: bottle

01-23-2011 03:57:31 | More by Brad007
Photo of brentk56

North Carolina

4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a stout-like dark dark brown with a bubbly tan head that leaves some shard of lace

Smell: Burnt brown sugar and dark fruit (fig, black raspberry and prune) aromatics supplemented by some vanilla, maple and a touch of anise

Taste: Starts out treacly, with a dark fruit character that has a touch of Flemish Red to it without the sourness; vague hints of maple, vanilla and anise also appear underneath; after the swallow, the flavors converge into a sweet, but complex, flavor combination

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A really interesting combination of flavors; really like the unusual fruit character that blends with the sweet malts

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2007 21:36:36 | More by brentk56
Photo of GreesyFizeek

New York

4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-29-2013 23:49:31 | More by GreesyFizeek
Photo of francisweizen


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

500ml Bottle.

Cola brown with not much of a head to speak of. The aromas remind me of an interesting melange of things. Tire rubber, biscuity malts, cocoa, weak coffee, a bit of smoke, and more. The taste is more coffee and chocolate than the aroma leads on to belive. But the malts are there in full force, and the interesting rubber flavor comes back on the back side as well. Well integrated and nice, but a bit thin in the mouth. Drinkability remains good though. Truly an interesting brew, that I hope to sample again. I wonder if they will produce casks of this for the UK market? One can only hope!

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2005 23:12:20 | More by francisweizen
Photo of silver0rlead

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev +6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-09-2006 04:28:39 | More by silver0rlead
Photo of cvstrickland

North Carolina

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

500 ml bottle poured into a pint nonic glass yields an opaque brunette body with faint brown-amber highlights and a thick finger of fine-bubbled khaki foam that scatters a little lacing onto the glass.

Smell is sweet and earthy with dark raisins, sugary dates, and overripe figs dusted in cocoa, then drizzled with molasses.

Taste is chewy, sweet, and nutty with caramel, husky toasted malt, cola nuts, and a twang reminiscent of unsulphured molasses. As the drink warms, flavors of dark wheat toast with a little butter, and a dry, powdery note of unsweetened instant hot cocoa mix emerge. This might make a great breakfast drink! J

Medium-bodied, milky, mouth-coating, and just a bit sticky, this savory drink is a prince among porters.

Serving type: bottle

07-13-2008 14:26:32 | More by cvstrickland
Photo of Monkeyknife


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

Poured from the bottle a deep dark black with red highlights and two fingers of frothy tan head.

Aroma of sweet malts, raisins, caramel, and a hint of butterscotch.

Tastes of sweet malts, molasses, vanilla, cocoa, raisins, nuts, and dark ripe fruit. Finishes surprisingly clean.

Full bodied, rich and creamy, with a modest fizz to the carbonation.

You'd be hard pressed to stop after only one of these. This is a quality porter from J.W. Lees. Try one when you get the chance.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2008 01:50:05 | More by Monkeyknife
Photo of merlin48


4.2/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-18-2005 12:13:08 | More by merlin48
Photo of MrHurmateeowish

New Hampshire

4.18/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

500(?)ml brown bottle from Florian's in Auburn. Completely opaque black body with only a thin film of light tan head. Smells of burnt and caramel malts with hints of black licorice. Burnt malt, caramel malt, coffee and chocolate flavors dominate with just a hint of black licorice on the finish (along with coffee flavor). Full bodied, almost to the point of chewiness. Bears some similarity to Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout IMO, though lighter in body and alcohol slightly, and a bit more complex. Fantastic. The great mouthfeel and complex array of flavors make this beer a clear winner. I'll be getting it again - a new favorite porter!

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2007 05:28:52 | More by MrHurmateeowish
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Manchester Star Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 134 ratings.