J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
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Ratings: 327 | Reviews: 200 | Display Reviews Only:
5/5 rDev +21.4%
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.
09-14-2006 23:33:34 | More by k75
5/5 rDev +21.4%
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.
12-03-2011 20:29:07 | More by scottyshades
5/5 rDev +21.4%
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.
10-21-2007 15:40:06 | More by dogger6253
4.97/5 rDev +20.6%
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.
05-23-2008 13:46:08 | More by jim102864
4.97/5 rDev +20.6%
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.
10-31-2007 01:16:50 | More by brdc
4.95/5 rDev +20.1%
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.
01-11-2010 02:50:57 | More by bonsreeb85
4.93/5 rDev +19.7%
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.
10-24-2008 07:07:28 | More by PatrickJR
4.88/5 rDev +18.4%
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!
07-28-2004 21:35:03 | More by putnam
4.88/5 rDev +18.4%
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).
10-29-2008 05:27:36 | More by ccrida
4.85/5 rDev +17.7%
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!
05-06-2011 04:41:03 | More by bobhits
4.83/5 rDev +17.2%
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
11-28-2007 23:48:20 | More by blackie
4.83/5 rDev +17.2%
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.
11-25-2006 18:12:59 | More by BEERchitect
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 327 ratings.