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Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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

Not Rated.
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

209 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 209
Hads: 371
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 10.29%
Wants: 55
Gots: 81 | FT: 7
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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Reviews: 209 | Hads: 371
Photo of k75
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The only beer I've considered giving straight fives.

2003 vintage from The Farmhouse in Emmaus (brought this home after a Shangy's run)

pours an amazing rich amber that could be mistaken for bourbon or Grand Marnier

aromas of toffee, sweet leaf tobacco, overripe orange peel and brown sugars.

Flavors are deep, rich, full bodied and well married. caramel, toffee, orange, (candied yam sauce?)

WOW - just perfect. Thomas Hardy was always my favorite, and J.W.
is just so much smoother and more palatable.

finish is smooth without an alcohol burn (even at 11.5%)

Truly a masterpiece.

k75 (611 characters)

Photo of scottyshades
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage

A: Pours a semi-opaque toffee/mahogany color with a tiny white cap. Much lighter than I expected. Floaties in the snifter

S: Heavy and rich port wine right off the bat. Plums, cherry, white grape juice, toffee, caramel, leather. Overall very dark fruity and sweet. Unfathomably complex. Impossible to summarize.

T: "Wow" was the first thing that I said. Much richer and sweeter than expected. The beer obviously soaked up that port in the casks. Toffee, butter, honey, tons of candy caramel. To sum it up: port wine, sweetness, delicious

MF/O: Thick, velvety, flat carbonation. Plummy/port wine finish. A masterpiece. (635 characters)

Photo of RochefortChris
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at a barleywine tasting event. It was late in the night so specifics on this beer are a bit fuzzy but I do remember it was a world class example of an English barleywine. (179 characters)

Photo of dogger6253
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 edition:

Dark, orange color. Sort of a depth to it. Gradients of orange swirl among the glass. Not much more than a thin ring for a head, tons of yeast floating around. Gorgeous and inviting.

Immediately smell grapes and plums. Raisins and alcohol come to the front very quickly though. This has a very fruity aroma with a little bit of cherries, oranges, bananas, prunes, figs, pears and apricots. There can also be a strong wood presence described. It's almost like oak, pine and cedar combined. The scent is interesting to say the least, but it just happens to impress me a lot.

The flavor is hard to elaborate on. There's a lot of the same going on with the tongue as there was with the nose. Cherries, plums, apricots, bananas, oak, hops, pine, grapes, lemons, butterscotch and dates. Very sweet, but also kind of sour and tangy. There's not much bitterness going on. The noticeable hops don't really bite at all, they just kind of wipe the palette for new flavors. The tinge of alcohol serves this purpose well also.

This beer feels wonderful in your mouth, very creamy and thick with a little bit of carbonation. It also leaves you with a great warming feel. Amazing taste and the slight dryness to it all keep you going back for more and more. The alcohol doesn't hit nearly as much as the sherry cask Harvest did. Even with this being an obvious "special occasion" beer, I would drink this quite often if it were affordable and available. (1,456 characters)

Photo of jim102864
4.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This has become a favorite after discovering it while on business in Milwaukee. It's pricey; it's a small bottle but it's worth every penny. Poured into my Allagash tulip glass, I found lots of floating yeast but it was clearly my bad as I likely was too aggressive, but frankly, who gives a shit with this beauty? A thin pond head but very suprising how much yeast came out of this tiny bottle. The nose was awash with abundent dark, delicious fruitiness; prunes, blackberries, currants; and licorice. The taste was earthy and of course, yeasty, yet sweet like a Dutch chick's.... Mouthfeel was full with cherry sweetness. Viscous and satisfying. Very drinkable but too many rupies to enjoy as a session brew. But what the f, pony up the bucks and have a party. Highly recommended. Never a dissppointment. (806 characters)

Photo of brdc
4.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Small bottle, poured into a snifter. 2005; aged one year.

Beautiful orange, although not as clear as some other reviews (?), it is a little turbid, with some small floating particles. Minimal head, as expected given the very high alcohol content.
Comparing to other reviews, it got me worried, but just briefly. After all, it is a little different but still beautiful. The the aroma.
Ah, the aroma. Rich; sweetish malt, honey right up front. Port-like at times, some caramel, alcohol, citric fruits.
Full bodied and incredibly creamy, sweetish malt, mostly honey all over again. Warmingly alcoholic, with port wine notes, some slight bitter tones to keep it in balance.
Incredibly drinkable for something so powerful and tasty; a fantastic nightcap, if not terribly complex, utterly delicious.
I will be getting a case of this to age the next time I have a chance. (867 characters)

Photo of bonsreeb85
4.94/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this brew poured with virtualy no head(the only notch in it's otherwise flawless score) the body is a light tawny, murky peach/honey color. lots of sediment.

The nose is honey, caramel, toffee, molases, cherries, stone fruit. vanilla, tobacco, oak and some alcohol too.

The flavor is just as complex, sweet and boozey as the nose. there is a nice woody almost smokey flavor to go with the warming of the finish. this is world class flavor!

sticky feel almost like a mead or a wine, with carbonation very low.

This is one helluva brew. if it weren't for the steep price tag I would drink this all the time. Definately one of my favs. I highly recommend savoring one of these delights if you can. (698 characters)

Photo of PatrickJR
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into oversized snifter. 2006 vintage, served just below room temperature.

A - Translucent, cola-like brown. A quarter-inch of off white foam forms on the surface and dies rather quickly. Surprisingly though, this brew leaves a bit of lace and legs (reminiscent of wine and spirits) on the glass.

S - Amazing. Fruit is very abundant, spanning a wide range. Everything from apples, peaches, and pears to berries, raisins, and figs are in full swing. Generous amounts of Demerara sugar, molasses, fresh baked dark bread, and almonds come to mind also. There is just a hint of wood hiding as well.

T - Huge fruity flavors come on first, dominated by apple cider, overripe berries, and generous topping of brown sugar. By mid palate the fruit is fading though the syrupy sweet malt remains, accompanied by nuts and dark bread. Late palate the wood from the aging creeps in and reveals oxidized and vinous notes hinting at the port that once rested in the barrels. A very slight alcohol heat appears momentarily, but one would never know it was 11.5%. Finish is of sweet, fermenting fruit.

M - Rich and full bodied with a very low carbonation. Actually, this feels a little more carbonated than other offerings from JW Lee's which isn't a bad thing at all.

D - This stuff could not be any better. JW Lee's never fails to amaze, and this is the best I've had from them so far. Perfect for sipping all night long. (1,439 characters)

Photo of putnam
4.87/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Upon first opening:
deep honey color - a temporary blanket of cream - Almond butter and butter aromas - Very fresh - Dessert of marzipan whipped cream on caramel pie on a butter pastry shell.
___

After 24 hours open at room temperature:
Not as desserty on the nose as when first opened. Mild butter and noble nut perfumes emanate from within the tarnished brass liquid. Much chewier and more viscous than a freshly opened bottle, Utterly round, solid, enormous movements of texture that release the most delicate, lyrical cascade of flavor. Fruit wood smoke, apple strudel, allspice, butter, cream and oak appear in turn.
___

This sample was left out on the bar for 10 days, after which it was consumed with great surprise and enthusiasm. The sweetness converted to pure, molten glacial texture and the lack of fizz revealed a spicy, sherry flavor... reminiscent of WIlliams and Humbert's 15 year old solera Dry Sack. Unbelievable! (941 characters)

Photo of ccrida
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 vintage bottle poured into my Delirium snifter, the port cask harvest ale is a hazy orange with some small floaties and a decent sized off-white head that settles to a thick, bubbly collar and leaves very light, scattered lace. For the style it's a fairly impressive amount of carbonation, even if scant by most other standards. Still, the skim stays alive (aided by the etched glass) and the collar strong, and has a nice glow.

Smell is sweet honey malt, with some toffee, pineapple and other tropical fruits, slightly vinous. Pretty subtle at cellar serving temp, but it opens up nicely.

Taste is incredible, wow. Cherries, blackberries, tangerines, honey, vanilla, This might be the best barleywine I've ever had! Big flavor, sweet and complex, but so well blended together, a perfect balance. A great fruitiness comes out from the port and goes great with the intense sweetness of the malt, very smooth with none of the biting finish that I noted in the Calavados cask. I much prefer the lighter influence of wine barrels to spirits, and this is an excellent example of what can happen. This is one of the world's greatest beers.

Mouthfeel is slick and smooth, with a medium-light viscosity and dry finish. Goes down like a ghost.

Drinkability is excellent. I can appreciate this whole line-up, but the port cask is the only one that I really love to the point of catching myself drinking it too fast! If this wasn't expensive and rare, I'd give it a 5. Scratch that, this drink is so good I want to drink more of it in spite of it's availability, plus I think it would appeal to almost anyone who drinks any type of alcohol, regardless of what they thought of beer (or were told it was). (1,704 characters)

Photo of bobhits
4.84/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Bottle.

Classic color and body for this beer. Just enough carbonation so I know it’s there (have to say the non port aged version does have better head). A lot of sediment in the glass, merky, beige head and a nice deep dark amber orange color.

Dark fruits, dates, raisins, figs, brown sugar, not a spice or hop to be noticed in this nose. Some grapes and a smell that I just think of as English barley wine.

Amazingly smooth, just wow. I don’t know what port tastes like, but it has done wonders with this beer. A creamy, fruity, vanilla numbed master piece. The fruity flavors mix with a subtle alcohol and buttery note that just blow my mind. A bit of a hop kiss at the end, earthy and bitter to balance things out. The port has mellowed some of the harsh notes in the regular version of this beer, and perhaps cut years of aging out of the need. I think a bit of nutty flavors has been added her as well.

Creamy thick syrup is the best way to describe this beer. Carbonation is very lacking and who cares? This is an English barely wine and it just works.

I’m not sure where this ranks with different ages and all, but this is about as great a beer drinking experience as I can recall. I just want more in my bottle. 9.99 gone in 30 minutes, I need a raise to keep this pace up! (1,301 characters)

Photo of blackie
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage

been wanting to try this one for awhile, but was always put off by the price; but since I like port and love barleywine i finally took the leap

a: Produces a low head with a rough pour into my snifter, only a small flotilla of large bubbles clings to the side of the glass. Even after a week or more of settling and gentle handling, some haze remains in the medium honey-amber beer.

s: First thing I notice is a big, concentrated plum preserve presence, presumably, or obviously, from the port. Very much like juicy prunes had been fermented with this quite malty barleywine. A pleasing wet oak aroma is woven with the sweet caramel malts and dark prune notes. Spicy, dark sourwood honey aromas in the back. Perfect level of booze influence brings to mind a fine liquor. Comes across as rustic and refined at once.

m: low, delicate carbonation over a full body...very slick and ridiculously smooth

t: Wow. The last beer that made me say that was probably the Dark Horse Apricot Whiskey Richard at the Great Taste, which to me shares many parallels with this one. It's better, but this one comes close. Very rich caramel malts give a sweetness that I would, in most cases, call overdone...but here it blends so well with the plummy port notes, and brings to mind spiced dark fruit pies and such. Great wood presence. The syrupy malts clean up pretty well, leaving caramel booze soaked prune flavors in the long finish. I love the complete lack of hops. Ridiculously complex, more than I feel like getting into, and highly recommended.

d: A great beer but definitely a sipper, if only to prolong enjoyment, as the alcohol presence is very well integrated and actually essential to the beer...want more.

single bottle from Peace Street, Raleigh (1,761 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

About as good as a beverage can get. A serious winter warmer that has tons of flavor, texture, and complexity. Shows much more port characteristics up front than beer. Very sweet, rich aromas of grape, brandy, heavy malts, plumbs, prunes, figs, dates, and raisons. Folows up with a vineous alcohol with the sweet brandy hotness. Looks a typical low carbonated, hazy rust color with slight head retention and more legging than lacing. Tastes teeth-hurting sweet with a rich grape, vineous-brandy flavor and strength. Back-up characters found in the aroma are reinforced in the flavor. The power in these flavors are as strong as will be found in any beer, yet very smooth and delicate. The feel is a mouth-numbing alcohol with a light prickle from the carbonation. A late astringency keeps this beer from perfection. This bite might come from the unexpected bittering hops, grain hulls, wood barrels, or wine tannins. This beer is almost as perfect as a beer can get. (966 characters)

Photo of tedsox31
4.82/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a 2005 vintage I poured from a 9.3 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance is a rust colored, with no head at all. There is lots of floating stuff that is sure to provide some Vitamin B.

There are lots of scents that are coming out to me on this, overall very malty. I am noticing raisins and figs foremost, followed by brown sugar, and ending with a strong toffee presence. It smells delicious.

The taste is quite sweet at the front. Lots of caramel that is followed by the darker fruits and ends with a nice, slightly burnt caramel or toffee finish. I would imagine the sweetness that is present up front probably comes from the Port cask aging and the amount of malt used. As I drink more sips there is a nice warming effect from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel is quite full, and also quite smooth. There is not much in the way of carbonation, but it is not flat either.

Overall, I really am enjoying this beer. I could drink this all night if it weren't for the higher alcohol percentage. For me, the taste is just fantastic. There are so many flavors going on that complement each other, for me this can do no wrong. (1,129 characters)

Photo of floridadrift
4.81/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2005 POOF!

Nine point one ounces of decadent dessert. Buy a case if you can, so it doesn't hurt so bad. In my own opinion, a real panty dropper. Pour more for yourself but share with your girlfriends or boyfriend and then do it. Not to be drink on a week day, too much when into this beer, especially with time. (312 characters)

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a very fine orange colour, with a filmy, but incredibly fine head of pure white. Bubbles form on the top, giving a limpid appearance to the very thick body. Powdery fine carbonation through the body, along with some disturbed floating sediment.

Nose is sweet and rich, cut with pleasant bright characters of peach and oak. The barrels give it a lovely decadence—a refined quality to go along with the heavy sweetness. Hints of greenness, dust and a touch of pepper work really nicely too. It's very complex, and rich but very refined and sophisticated.

Taste is gorgeous and very different. Instead of the bold sweetness, it has a bright acidity through the centre, giving more of those peachskin characters, and a brightness much like a really nice dessert wine. On the back, however, comes through a slightly brassy, almost vegetative character like fresh celery. This mingles pleasantly with the oak and the sweet, fruity dried apricot flavours and cleanses the palate ready for the next sip. Wow, what a great beer.

So smooth, so sweet, and so perfectly cut with freshness to balance. It's gooey, luscious, exciting and dangerously drinkable. Lovely brew. (1,170 characters)

Photo of Afterburner
4.79/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Very light for a barley wine. Very much a beige color rather than a yellow or an orange. Thin, crackly head with minimal head retention.

Smell: Robust malt character with some winy notes. Rounded, unspecific fruitiness, along with a mild smoke character.

Taste: Strong malt character at the beginning, not unusual for a barley wine. Very firm, sweet malt aspect that stays with you throughout. Pronounced woody texture shows up mid-palate and stays to the mildly bitter finish, accompanied by a rounded fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Thick, viscous, syrupy. You can see that the carbonation bubbles rise more slowly to the top of the beer than they do in other beers. I like thick, viscous, and syrupy, but others may find it cloying.

Drinkability: Outstanding beer, wonderful flavor. The only drawback is the heaviness, which would get wearing after two or three, assuming you were still sober. (911 characters)

Photo of joepais
4.79/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 2005 bottle poured into my snifter produced no head at all and not a bubble coming up from the bottom of the glass. The body was amber in color with a few yeast floaties in it

Aroma lets just say that so far all I get is brandy and heavy at that. As it warms I get more raisins and some honey, vanilla, oak and port.

The flavors are incredible, it is sweet but with the warmth of the alcohol it is not to sugary. Frak this is good I can't believe my wife even likes it. Of course its 8 bucks a 9 oz bottle it better be. To name a few flavors found: honey, dark fruit, figs, plums, and raisins. It has the perfect feel in the mouth for a barleywine.

Wow this is excellent a tad pricy but a quality barleywine. I need another one of these for the cellar (758 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from 275mL bottle into a pint glass. This is the 2008 vintage, so it's got a cool 5 years of age on it.

Appearance: murky medium brown with lots of haze and an indistinguishable effervescence. Head pours a finger of frothy tan foam which subsides somewhat slowly. Pretty good indeed.

Smell: involuntarily, I uttered "oh yeah, holy shit" upon my first smell of this brew. Rich, sumptuous malt, with an amazingly enticing and complex aroma of raisin, raw tobacco, dates, cherries, vanilla and excellence. Buh.

Taste: mother of God. I don't know if it is the aging or what, but twelve bucks for 275mL almost seems too cheap for this stuff. Complex and challenging flavors of dates, tobacco and perhaps a lapsang souchong smoke-like character. This beer is amazing. I'm gobsmacked.

Mouthfeel: pretty rich body with a decent creaminess. Listen, I try to gauge mouthfeel separate from flavor on beers which I think are pretty non-tasty, so I have to do it here too. It's not brilliantly creamy, just appropriate and enjoyable for the style.

Overall: I would like three cases of this and a deserted island, please. (1,120 characters)

Photo of nickfl
4.73/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage

A - Amber-orange body with a half finger of white foam floating on top. The foam settles quickly and leaves a thick film of bubbles on the surface of the beer. The body is hazy and contains a few large chunks of yeast.

S - Rich, dark fruit aroma with notes of plums, figs, and raisins. A slight woody note is hiding behind huge chocolate, caramel, and toffee aromas.

T - Thick, rich fruity notes of raisins and dates, backed by a lot of chocolate and caramel. A spicy note of hops is lingering in the background along with some mild roasted grain and smooth alcohol warmth that lasts through the finish.

M - Thick, syrupy body, low carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - This is a wonderfully drinkable sipping beer. Complex and delicious, the port flavors work beautifully with the base beer, especially in the outstanding aroma. (846 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
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! (897 characters)

Photo of GClarkage
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

03/23/09- Purchased at Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa, AZ.

Presentation- 9.3oz bottle, vinatge 2004. Poured into my JW Lees glass.

Appearance- The lightest of caramel coloring. Very liquor like in appearance...kinda like a cognac. 1/4 inch head on pour with a light rim...minor lace patchwork and a bit of watery spotting.

Smell- Caramel, figs, light alcohol and a note of dark chocolate. Super sweet as usual.

Taste- Identical to both the calvados and the sherry aged versions, except this one has a nice chocolaty port-like flavor in the aftertaste. Has the noraml caramel flavors with the least detectable alcohol.

Mouthfeel- The most carbonated out of the 4 versions...was expecting it to be the least. Great port chocolate-like aftertaste.

Drinkability- Wonderful as usual. Was nice to have these in back to back days. Liked the calvados the best, but all were very similar, with the exception of the lagaluvin, which was quite different in barrel flavor. (961 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours foggy brown. Nose is mildly sweet. Flavor is extremely smooth. Firm sweet tones. Just unbelievably smooth. Feel is smooth as well with tiny bubbles of carbonation caressing the tongue. This is just a magnificent beer. Well worth the coin. I would drink this every day if there weren’t so many other things to try. (320 characters)

Photo of Pahn
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
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. (3,057 characters)

Photo of cjgator3
4.67/5  rDev +11.7%
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! (384 characters)

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
93 out of 100 based on 209 ratings.