J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
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Ratings: 320 | Reviews: 198 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Pahn:
4.75/5 rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
2008 vintage. 275ml bottle into Duvel tulip.
Appearance: Free pour yields a 3/4 inch fluffy and fizzy white head that dissipates quickly leaving no lacing. Pours the characteristic chestnut-y red of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale, hazy and full of sediment.
Smell: Preeminently sweet, mostly grapes, raisin, and caramel. Faint orange in the background. Deep malt aroma characteristic of the base beer. A little restrained in the nose, over all.
Taste: First sip is surprisingly smokey and nutty; pecan-like. Lots of caramel and raisin as well. Loving this smokiness... where is this coming from? It's remarkably complimentary to the base beer. Not at all as sweet as expected, but the finish brings out a large honey note that's accentuated by the thick, sticky feel. Mild heat threads the long, complexly malty aftertaste.
I don't know if it's the port, the wood, or what, but this version of J.W. Lees has an excellent balance to it. Further sips bring out chocolate covered raisins, a distinct port note, some underlying vanilla, all beautifully in harmony. The sticky sweet finish has just enough hop bitterness to hold it back, and plays off the lingering smokiness perfectly. That long, rewarding aftertaste exemplifies what you should receive from a high alcohol sipper.
The flavor of this beer is outstanding.
Mouthfeel: Full side of medium bodied. Low but noticeable carbonation. Sticky finish leading to a long, full bodied but mildly hot aftertaste that resolves into lingering dryness. Just right for these flavors.
Overall: Just beautiful. This is the second barrel treatment of J.W. Lees I've tried. While the Lagavulin was a worthy and interesting experiment that vacillated between soaring greatness and garish travesty, the port version is amazing and delicious balance from start to finish. Every sip is just about as good as beer gets.
It doesn't seem to make sense that one could improve upon perfection, but the brewers at J.W. Lees do just that with this beer. It's scoring lower than I did the usual version via technicality; the smell is a little worse (just in magnitude, not in quality), but I'd give the Taste and Overall sections higher than a 5.0 if I could.
Also of note, while I love a nice 10 year old Vintage Harvest Ale, I think the base beer is just old enough for this treatment at around 3~4 years as it is now. The alcohol is a little tamed, the complexities are starting to come out, but oxidation really hasn't set in too much and the flavor is punchy and vibrant enough to elevate the sweet and nutty nuances of the port casks.
I will definitely be buying this beer again. This is the kind of beer that validates the whole "beer hobby". I sat down an hour ago to begin tasting and reviewing this beer, and thought (as usual) about what kind of activity I'd engage in while I drink--and just found myself sitting and sipping the entire time. The beer commanded my full attention, gracefully and endlessly rewarding me for the entirety of the glass (which still is not finished). I am in love with this beer.
Serving type: bottle
08-19-2011 05:28:12 | More by Pahn
More User Reviews:
2.63/5 rDev -36.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5
9.3 oz bottle poured into a Tired Hands wine glass. Brewed in 2008 per the label. Lots of chunky sediment at the bottom of the glass.
A: Pours a thin head fizzy head with some bubbles and a ring. Body is a copper/amber brown with lots suspended sediment.
S: Sweet wine, savory sweet malts which brings to mind sticky honey and lots of dried fruits. Think old raisins and honey.
T: So hard to drink. There’s an almost overwhelming taste of cooked vegetables. There is some cloyingly sweet honey in the background but it’s largely overtaken by the gross vegetables.
Mf: Almost no carbonation, slick and smooth. Sticky sweet. Warming.
O: This is the third time I’ve had JW Lees and it’s always the same issue, overwhelming nasty vegetables in the taste. As it warmed it began to smell better, like a liqueur, but the taste was horrendous. Not finishing. Purchase these little bottles at your own risk.
Serving type: bottle
04-29-2014 02:10:35 | More by CowsandBeer
4.2/5 rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
Brewed in 2010 on label. Decanted into a Rochefort challis.
No head to speak of, no lace. No legs like a good wine or cognac might have. A hazy nice dark brown color but lots of flotsam. I tried to decant, but still got a fair amount of yeast sediment. The glass has a nucleation point so there is a very small patch of lingering foam, but it's basically flat. By the end of the glass even that patch was gone.
Smell is not too strong, but sweet. Very fruity. Dates, Plumbs, dark bread, and red wine. Smells delicious. A lot of the characteristics of a Trappist quad, but even more fruity.
Taste is wonderful. It's quite sweet, flavors of port, prunes, a little bitter hops, yeast. Pretty complex. Involving. Very well balanced. Bottle says 11.5% but I can't taste it.
Mouthfeel lacks any fizz. It's medium body, and full flavor, but there needs to be some effervescence. It's almost flat.
The lack of bubbles and the high amount of sediment detract from an otherwise complex, flavorful, well balanced, and interesting brew. I'm glad I tried it, and it would make a great conversation piece, but it's hard to justify the high price.
Serving type: bottle
04-03-2014 02:45:26 | More by DougT
4.1/5 rDev -0.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
2012 bottle from my visit to Jersey. Poured to a generic tulip glass. Pour is murky amber orange colored with a small ring of yellowish khaki head. Sweet caramel brown sugar, oak, vanilla, toffee, brandy, nuts, but of a vinous note but more of the brandy fortification here. Flavor follows with a malty caramel vanilla port wine, a bit of marshmallow, brandy, some pecans. Sone alcohol heat with a nutty vanilla finish. Yum. Mouthfeel is full bodied with low carbonation.
Serving type: bottle
03-13-2014 01:37:56 | More by BMMillsy
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 320 ratings.