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

148 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 148
Reviews: 101
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 9.77%
Wants: 13
Gots: 5 | 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: 148 | Reviews: 101 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of FightingEntropy
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
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.

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.2/5  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 JVoyager
3/5  rDev -24.8%

Photo of allforbetterbeer
4/5  rDev +0.3%
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 yen157
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
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!

Photo of sacfly
3.43/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

500mL, no fresh date
Pours an opaque black/brown color with a medium head of small brown bubbles. Aroma is nutty with a hint of roasted malt sweetness. Taste is sweet and chewy. Slick on the tongue. Full body and sweet, sticky aftertaste.

I have to admit, I really enjoyed about half of this. After that, it just got to be too heavy and sweet. After a while all I could really perceive was the syrupy nature of the brew. Good to split with someone and move on to something. Too much of a good thing.

Photo of xav33
3.65/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

J.W. Lees Manchester Star Ale
English Pint bottle
Unknown bottling, savoured 08/06.
Medium pour in an English pint.

Poured black with a slight dark brown rim, with a mostly lasting fizzy 1 inch mocha head.

Smelt of roasted grain and molasses, a hint of fruit.

Taste was smokey and raisiny upfront, with a sweet and sour and bitter body, like a slightly creamy dark coffee roast. Finish was above average length, with the bitterness holding on tight, a hint of fruit and tobacco, and the alcohol showing through. Mouthfeel was creamy and lively.

Overall, a great sweet porter that is bold and complex, whose only flaw may be that the different flavors that are thrown at the drinker are unbalanced and haphazard.

Notes: This could be cellared for a 1/2 year to a year.

Photo of ianjsullivan
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
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 wo87810
4.75/5  rDev +19%

Photo of Toddv29424
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark, dark brown color with little to no head. The smell is roasty and robust, with distinctive notes of chocolate and a hint of yeast. Like most english porters this beer does not develop any real definition until about half way through the mouth, and as it warms up to room temperature you notice many nuances. The first noticeable taste is alcohol, followed by very smooth dark malts. There is zero sweetness as this beer goes down, and it seems as though the sweet malts dominate the whole tongue.

Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer has the look of a Porter.
It pours Bible black.
Produces a frothy head that lasts a long time and laced the glass.
The nose is slight with hints of toasted malt and a bit alcohol.
Blindfolded and tasting this beer I declare it a porter or perhaps some sort of an ale-- although the signature of a porter is dominant over that of a strong ale.
While the bitterness of hops is unmistakeable the toasted malt shows through with a hair of sweetness as an undercurrent. I might venture to say I tasted some caramel as well.
The finish is long with a bitter hops note yet tempered by a porter's signature.
Mouthfeel was good but I wish there was more to the flavor body- I suppose that porters are not supposed to be particularly robust or dense.. as a stout should be.
Drinkability was fine-- the alcohol was not overwhelming and the entire presentation was interesting enough to motivate me to look for another bottle of this porter.
Next time I'm at my fave packie-- I'll very likely buy a bottle or two-- unfortunately the price of this import dampens my enthusiasm for stocking my stash with too much of the same brew.

Photo of zillo043068
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of ImperatorScab
3.75/5  rDev -6%

Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.4/5  rDev +10.3%

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 tillmac62
4.03/5  rDev +1%
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 CharlieMopps
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a deep, opaque blackish brown hue that's topped by a about a finger of head that recedes fairly quickly to about a centimeter.

S: Toasted malt aroma, bit of biscuity scent with an underlying hint of caramel.

T: Big taste of toffee, fairly sweet, but the intro is all roasted malt. A hop bitterness in the finish that leaves some residue on the palate.

M: Carbonation is limited. Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy in the middle, and has kind of a thin quality to it, but the texture remains smooth throughout.

D: A pretty easygoing beer, nothing too spectacular about it, but still solid nonetheless. I'm not sure this is good enough to warrant another one, but it definitely has its time and place.

Photo of EvilKeith
3.38/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours from the bottle a dark brown, nearly black in color. The head is a creamy mocha color that falls to a cap.
Smell is rich caamel, and more caramel, ripened dark fruits, roasted, and a bit of smokiness.
Taste is sugary sweet, chewy malts, caramel, dark fruit, prunes, and hints of ethyl alcohol. Faint hop bittering in the finish.
Medium-heave body. Mild carbonation. Fruit juice-like mouthfeel.
I could probably sip a couple of pints before the fruit juice-like sweetness got to be too much for me.

Photo of drperm
5/5  rDev +25.3%

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 FriedGold2112
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of Manosbeeroffate
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Was not what I was expecting, seeing it says ale on the bottle. Poured pitch black, very sweet burnt malt/caramel smell. Tastes like sweet malt, dried fruit, raisins and a little bit of cocoa. Overall pretty good. Again I was a bit surprised since I was not expecting a porter, but it's good stuff. Seek it out.

Photo of ByTor2112
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Photo of cmannes
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of dprophet
4/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of donmonkey1
3.45/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours black with a frothy tan head that takes a few minutes to dissipate. There was almost no smell, yet there was a hint of sweetness. There was a dominant, almost total taste of strong molasses/raisins. Although I could see thousands of super tiny bubbles in the black ale, I couldn't feel any carbonation on my tongue.

I would enjoy one or two of these at a time. This is a quality product that many people love. Having said that, it's a little too much like drinking molasses water for me.

Photo of waldoiverson
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

bottle into nonic

A: Dark brown, almost black in the glass, dark creme head with tiny bubbles which held up for a minute then broke down rapidly

S: The smell of dark porto, cream and a bit of alcohol,

T: somewhat of a leathery star with a bit of the dark fruit flavors and a nice bitterness,

M: Smooth but with serious carbonation bite

D: an interesting beer with a robust presence and could be food in another time and place, a bit carbonated and heavy for a daily drinker, but worth a shot at something tasty and reasonably unique.

Manchester Star Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
89 out of 100 based on 148 ratings.