J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

363 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 363
Reviews: 211
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 51
Gots: 80 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Dantes on 05-07-2004

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 363 | Reviews: 211
Reviews by BigMcLargeHuge:
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 vintage consumed Dec. 2007. Pours a clear copper with weak off white head. The aroma is full of fruity esters like fresh ripe plums, figs, dates and prunes. A brief caramel malt note is noticed amid a background of port and wood notes that run the length of the aromatic experience. Very nice smooth tasting barleywine. It seems to begin with ripe cherries, sweet dark grapes, figs, sugar coated plums and stewed raisins. I then get port mixed with maple syrup and wood. The taste winds down on the sweet side with increasing maple syrup, alcohol warmth, wood, caramel and residuel dark fruity esters.

More User Reviews:
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage. Perfect pumpkin orange topped by a compact beige crown that doesn't come anywhere near the top edge of the snifter. These 275 ml bottles barely wet my whistle. The foam has some creaminess, and a few shards of lace reach the glass, but the appearance is more good than impressive.

The same can be said for the nose. It's starting out on the chilly side, so let's see what happens once it gains a few degrees. The beer smells moderately caramel malty and is wonderfully fruity. Too bad the port cask aging isn't immediately obvious.

Good old J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale never lets me down. Forgot appearance, forget aroma, it's flavor that matters most. This version delivers just like the Sherry Cask version did. I'm not sure how long these classic English barleywines hold up, but 5 years of rest has done wonders for this little beauty.

Such a riot of flavor! Each sip is a muted explosion of deliciousness that is hard to fully wrap one's taste buds around before the finish of the finish arrives. The flavor profile includes toffee pudding, golden brown sugar, candied figs, candied cherries, raisins, sugared pecans and a splash of tawny port. Just like an aged Christmas fruitcake.

The concentrated vinousness of the port is unmistakable on the palate and is what sets this beautiful sipping ale apart. Aging their Harvest Ale in various casks was a stroke of genius. A hint of oxidation lends authenticity and adds much more than it detracts. If there is any beer worth more than 75 cents per ounce, this one is.

The mouthfeel (as with much barrel-aged beer of a certain age) lacks a little fullness. It makes up for it, though, by being velvety, silky smooth and wonderfully sticky on the finish. The understated carbonation is damn near perfect.

Of the four wines and spirits that J.W. Lee's chose to accent their outstanding Harvest Ale, my favorites are (from least to most) sherry, port, Calvados and Lagavulin Scotch. Sherry Cask and Port Cask are spectacular, so the final two should be out of this world.

Photo of kaimcm
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bottle edition 2004 poured into St Berny goblet

A: rich brown, almost turning to amber body, creamy whipped egg white head. dissipates quickly, no surprise however at 11.5 % ABV. this beer has a lot of mystique to me and it even looks like a piece of history in my goblet.

S: decadent malt, carmelized sugar, raisons, vanilla, oak, and buttery cream. slight alcohol burn in the nose, gets stronger as the beer warms.

T/M: huge rush of heavy, viscous, dense, and oily malt and sugar. very light alcohol spice on the middle tongue. mouthfeel is full bodied, but also concurrently heavy and prickly. provides a nice frame for so much sugar. a hint of coffee on the finish, which dries slightly. grapes, raisons, and cream all over the place. vanilla extract in thier from the wood, butterscotch, and even a bit of tropical fruit. the cask ageing is evident in the maturity of this beer, though so far of the 3 Lees casks Ive had, the Lagavulin has been the most unique and characteristic.

D: extremely sweet, lots o' booze, and even more money make this a special occasion nightcap at best. I love it and think its extremely drinkable when I have it...which is rarely ever. if I could get half a bottle for half the price I would drink this all the time.

Photo of shapudding
3.66/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beautifully golden-honeyed and clear. Carbonation seen rising in nice straight streams. Not much head, just slight bubbly white foam and then a bit of a ring and just clear. Clean aroma, cannot smell anything at all really. Bit of smooth carbonation, silky and smooth. Fresh and nice, juicy flavors, apricot, orange zest maybe, and hoppiness. Honey sweetness and darkened caramel, yet not cloying. Nice sipper, great flavor with a lot to think about and enjoy. The flavors expand through your mouth and are so enjoyable. Shared this one with my parents who I recently went to a port tasting with, they both really enjoyed it with Mom commenting that she got apricot on the nose with bitter on the tongue.

Photo of Billolick
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a wooden cask sitting behind the bar at Spuytin Duyvil (sp?) in Brooklyn! Pours still, no carbonation , no lacing. Nose is buttery malt and a hint of warm rum. Mouthfeel is smooth and well rounded. Notes of rum, butter, vanilla and more butter, rum and vanilla. Smooth and warming, tasty stuff. A world class after dinner beer, go find some and enjoy!

Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, picked up at Knightly Spirits in Orlando.

Poured into a short ale glass. An amber, slightly opaque brew, with a dusting of sediment on the bottom. A thin white head, leaves a ring after a few moments. When settled, it looks a great deal like sherry.

Nose is caramel, grapes, sugar, port, a touch of oak.

Tastes and feels just like a glass of sherry. The big caramel and fruit flavor is offset but a smoky, oak backing, which prevents the sweetnes from running away with things. Alcohol is difficult to detect. Very tasty, and with only a slight bite to the finish makes for an enjoyable sipper.

Great stuff, one of the better barleywines I've come across. Would love to check out the older vintages.

Photo of magictrokini
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vitnage. Poured oily copper, darker than the calvados, with the same sparse ring of bubbles. Again, it was impossible to coax a head out of the beer. A tiny amount of lacing. Caramel and honey in the nose, less fruity, but figs and raisins are present. More oak and vanilla in this one. Much more subtle tastes than the calvados. The grain and malt of the beer show through much better. The alcohol is up front, with the port taking hold in the middle and finish. Somewhat vimuous and fruity, but less sweet. Lovely malt and dried fruit flavors blended nicely with toffee and butterscotch. Less vanilla in the taste, but the oak shines throughout. Same lactic mouthfeel, but less stickiness.

Photo of beerman240
4.54/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 batch..

A. Roughly same color as.bottle..molasses,a strong sweet tea.

Smell. Smells great..vanilla,grapey,maybe some earthy mushrooms.

Taste.. I really enjoy the sweetness with the alcohol. Reminds me of strong Bourbon or whiskey with big splash of Pepsi. Grilled plums.maybe over baked sweet potato with brown sugar.Would go great with cigar.

Mouthfeel.. not alot of fizz. Thick,juicey..enjoy!

Overall.. bought one in Birmingham Alabama..my home town..tomorrow I'm going back to buy all they have and ask them to buy more.. will take this punkin next hunting trip with cigar.. Cheers!

Photo of kpantz
3.82/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2005 Series

Executive Summary: My second tasting of the Harvest Ale series. This one is a little nicer on the palate, though it's a little over the top w/r/t sweetness. Cloying, even.

Appearance: Pours an uninspiring deep, cloudy amber with no head - just a few bubbles. Are those floaters I see in there?

Smell: Nice deep barleywine aroma. Dates, figs, grapes. No notes of port here.

Taste: Very, very sweet. Now I get some of the port. Very curious flavor here. I can pick up the figs and dates. Toffee and caramel, too. No hop flavor or bitterness. I wonder if they even used any :)

Mouthfeel: Sticky, but not overly syrupy. Little to no carbonation.

Drinkability: This one's a sipper. Tasty, but a sipper. Watch out for those floaters!

Photo of glid02
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a mildly hazy dark copper color with a half-finger off-white head and some floaties. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving light lacing and decent legs.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with good amounts of medium to dark fruits, toffee, and butterscotch.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sticky caramel malt flavors up front with strong contributions from toffee and butterscotch flavors. Midway through the sip the Port shines through a bit more with sweet and boozy dark fruit flavors. The ending is on the sweet side.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a smooth thickness with soft and grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I split the bottle but could have a whole one myself.

Overall this is my second favorite of the three I've had so far behind only the Laguvalin. Well worth a shot.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A-This beer pours a warm reddish-brown body that has a slight haziness to it. The head is a creamy off-white that quickly disappears. No real legs on this beer.

S- This beer has a sweet thick caramel maltyness that has a note of dark fruit and a very faint dark vinous note.

T- This beer has big malty flavors of caramel and sweetness. This beer finishes with a hint of sweet port and some earthiness. As it warms note of honey and lighter flavors start to come out.

M- Medium mouthfeel but a velvety texture that adds a nice compliment to the faint alcohol warmth.

D- This is a wonderful Barley Wine but I think that the port adds a bit to much sweetness to the already sweet B-wine. The others in this limited series all had nice compliments to off set the sweetness but I feel that the port cask adds more sweetness.

Photo of CoalPorter
4.44/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2007, drunk Aug 14, 2011. Poured carefully from bottle into Harpoon tulip glass.

A - Light brown yeast sediment swirls and settles slowly in pretty large chunks. Just a wisp of head, not much carbonation evident, small bubbles rise fitfully from the depths. Color is a lovely tawny burnt orange base with reddish overtones. Drops quite clear and inviting.

S - Here is where this beer really excells. Alcohol esters and honey sweetness hit first followed by notes of resiny tar and black cherry. The port undertone is fruity and magnificent.

T - Again we find the black cherry and fruit flavors with the alcohol kick. The "beeriness" reasserts itself in the back end as the hops suddenly show up in a lingering bitter finish.

M - Medium feel, made a little slick by the port sweetness. Not much carbonation left.

O - Quite impressive in appearance and aroma, and the first few sips were intensely enjoyable. However as I worked my way through the glass the complexity diminished somewhat I was left with only the impression of sweetness and fruit. I love port and beer so this was a great combination for a special occasion, but will only be a one time sipper.

Side tasting note: One favorite pairing for port is chocolate. A good dark chocolate and a tawny port both compliment and enhance each other's flavors. This experiment did not work very well for this beer. The chocolate overwhelmed the port character and left a muddled impression.

Photo of pourmeup
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

A- pours a deep reddish burgundy copper color, maintains a thin white ring of head around the glass, very fine lacing is left behind
S- very sweet and honey-like, slight notes of wood and spice
T- sugary sweet from start to finish, a slight hop character in the beginning that resides into a nice dark fruit and wood flavor that really lingers
M- has a thick syrupy start with a heavy carbonation, really coats the pallet
D- very very tasty, but the alcohol shows through just a little so I can't drink them terribly fast, they're also very thick so one is plenty for me in an evening

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

brewed in 2005 consumed on 12/26/09 9.3 oz fl. bottle for *gulp*....$11.45

a deep amber brown-ish color with a ton of floatie bits, very thin and bubbly head, scatters fast and is gone, which is expected for an older brew.

The age is present in the aroma with sugary, fermented fruits and some slight oxodization with slight cardboard effect. musty, tarnished-hard wood, caramel in the malt, wild tanginess zesty herbs with a zingy heat, kinda hot.

This one is very Port flavored with maple syrup in the malt, sugar-coated plums, deep woody flavored edge. Zesty heat, very warming, not vodka hot but buzzy, with a dry earthy wheat and hop flavor for good balance. a heavy, thick feel, aged indeed! Deep, mature malt flavor's abound!! lazy, heavy feel, grainy in the finish with a malty sweetness with many subtle flavor's to be found.

go slow, sip this one, it's worth it's $$$.

Photo of AKBelgianBeast
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

this is a unique barley wine, but i dont think it has quite the strength or power of the flavor of the lag whisky cask version. pour murky amber, and smells like caramel. no head at all, as expected, and lots of lees in the beer. taste of dark fruits and caramel, and a noticable port cask taste. good brew, but if you want the full experience I would get the Lagavulin whisky cask version

Photo of Sammy
3.67/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very nice aroma of a barleywine, pleasant appearance with lace. Alcohol, sweetish, some Rum, figs, Vanilla.Full mouthfeel. Would go well late in a meal. I am encouraged to try the other barrels. Thanks Tim (IPFreely) for sharing. I am still tasting it a day later.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Stunning! It's crystal-clear golden-orange body resembles a glass of Cognac - and the flavor's not too far from the same. It's almost completely headless, but some bubbles are visible, slowly rising from the base of the glass. The nose is rich with honeyish malt; lightly grassy and floral hops; and a slap of alcohol. In the mouth it's creamy and exceptionally smooth with a full body and lightly tingly,restrained carbonation (but it's not bottle conditioned). Lush, juicy, dripping honeyish malt is accented by low-level notes of grassy hops; and peppered with spicy notes of alcohol. Notes of Port are discernable, but quite restrained. Some woodiness does come through, however; yet it's far from overdone, and it just lends enough character to give it a little life while also helping it to dry out in the finish. It's not overtly complex, but it is exceptionally rich and satiating. Superb!

Photo of spacecake9
4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2010.
Wonderful flavor, great sipper. They sure pack a lot of goodness into those little bottles.

Photo of scott
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

You need only read a review in any of the collection to appreciate this beer.
Ruby and viscous. Awesome barley wine counter-balanced with a cask profile. My only bitch - where's the port? It's completely lost. In a blind tasting, this tastes exactly like every one of the other in the collection. Nothing here gives it a unique name. Poor job as far as the port profile.
Great sipper, though. Perfection.

Photo of dirtylou
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz bottle...obtained from either BeerBeing or timtheenchanta, each of which shipped me 2/4 different aged varieties

2004 Edition

600 reviews, jesus christ I have a problem

appearance: pours into a snifter...a nice murky amber-mahogany body suggests a smooth monster. gold tint comes through in the light - lots of colour complexity... creamy beige head with moderate lacing

smell: holy moses...phenomenal aroma to say the least that jumps right out and gets you by the nose...all malt, no hops (which sure is nice sometimes in a barleywine)...tons and tons upon tons of sweet sugary fruit - cherry, caramel covered apple, fig, raisin. brown sugar mixed with booze. Unfortunately, i dont even know if ive ever had a glass of port (on the to-do list at cafe montmarte) so i cant really comment on that

taste: phenomenally smooth, almost impossibly smooth...raisin, fig, brown sugar are big up front. caramel covered apples, booze soaked cherries, smooth candied malts...very vinous flavours which work out really well. hop presence is almost nothing. light woodyness, very enjoyable!

mouthfeel: insane, smooth as silk, no bitterness, nice booze in the followthrough. very nice indeed

drinkability: high

Photo of cjgator3
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage. Pours an orangish amber color with a small amount of white lace. Aroma is very sweet malt, fruit and a good dose of alcohol. Mouthfeel is very rich, smooth and creamy. After the first taste I am in heaven! This brew is so rich and complex it makes my head spin. The 11.5% is dangerously missing from the vast array of flavors. Overall, this is an absolutely superb brew!

Photo of Brandt
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage

this beer poured a med. caramel color with thick white head

the smell is mostly of dried fruits and follows up with a faint oakyness. has an astringent smell to it and sweet maltyness as well

the taste here is rich toffee and figs in the front with a warming port like taste as well as oak out of the cask. it is astringent to a small degree and also has faint notes of plum and grape.

the finish here is a strong full body that about knocks you over with a warming booze side to things. the aromatic port notes hang in the nasal cavity as the beer fades away. this was such a treat to get my hands on and such an interesting beer to taste, i wouldn't hesitate to have another.

Photo of cjacobsen
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2008 Vintage poured into a snifter.

(A) Pours a deep orange with some dark red hues toward the middle. Like a blood orange. Not much of a head. Huge chunks of shit floating around, I'm talking car sized yeast cakes here. Not pleasant. Asteroid field.

(S) I could smell this one coming out of the bottle. Smells super sweet. Candi sugar. Regular sugar. Yeast. A decent amount of Port, which is quite nice. Alcohol.

(T) You can REALLY taste the Port. It's big and upfront in the flavor. Super sweet light malts and unfermented sugars help boost the sweetness of this beer. Does taste a bit yeasty, not gonna lie.

(M) The term chewy comes to mind. There's definitely some substance here, and I'm not just talking the clumps of land floating around in there.

(O) Really turned off by the fact that I had to strain this brew. I was really looking forward to it as I had never had a JW Lees before and I love Port, which I will say that it had a great Port characteristic to it. It had some really good flavor, just a bit sweet.

Photo of nickd717
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 port barrel bottle from City Beer Store in SF. Well worth the high price tag ($12)

A - Rusty reddish-copper color with a small off-white head.

S - Sweet malt on the aroma with port, toffee, and wood.

T - Very sweet and tasty with sweet toffeeish caramel malt, port wine, spices, sweet fruits, and barrel notes. Really complex and good. I know a lot of people are going to be saying, "Too sweet!" for this one, but not me. I love it.

M - Creamy and fairly full on the palate. Really smooth.

D - High for a barleywine. Can't get enough of this stuff. Will have to try other variations of this beer.

Photo of mdvatab
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in '05.
Took 11.2oz bottle from cellar, and placed in the fridge for ~10 min., then poured into large red wine glass.

A: Sweet caramel, freshly-squeezed apple juice (not cidery, though), and a flash of booze. Lip-smackingly sweet.

A: Pours a clear light brown, between weak iced tea and apple juice. A slightly-over zealous pour sends chunks of yeast into the glass. I simply waited for the yeast to settle to the bottom of the glass. Next time, I'll be more careful when decanting, though. No head, but thick, clear legs drip down the inside of the glass.

F: Fruity, sugary sweetness with a touch of booze. Delicious caramel and vanilla through the middle, and an interesting candied yam note on the finish, with a touch of smoke. (I believe this is the port.) More than one bottle would become cloying quickly, but that initial glass is heavenly.

M: Medium-full, syrupy body. Low carbonation, but does not fall flat.

Overall: Again-- delicious! I will definitely be keeping a bottle of this on-hand for when I have the taste for a sure-fire winner. Highly-recommended for someone who likes their barleywines on the sweeter side! Cheers!

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 363 ratings.