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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.

210 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 210
Hads: 378
Avg: 4.16
pDev: 18.27%
Wants: 57
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.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 210 | Hads: 378
Photo of clayrock81
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured an orange, copper tinted body with minimal head and no lace. A boozy, similar to butterscotch aroma (the combo of caramel and toffee sometimes reminds me of butterscotch) with some dark fruits like figs and the port wine/wood notes are slightly noticeable. This is a sticky, full bodied beer that requires slow sipping and is best suited for an after meal drink. The sweetness comes across as figs, dates, candied raisins (they still exist), caramel, toffee, possible cherry/vanilla aspect from port wine/wood, and finishes a little hot thanks to booze. Enjoyable beer that was worth the price since it took me a long time to kill the nine ounce bottle b/c it is so thick and sweet.

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

275ml bottle into tulip glass, 2012 vintage bottling. Pours hazy deep ruby red color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, prune, fig, apple, date, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, toffee, toast, leather, tobacco, red wine, oak, light vanilla, and oak/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, and wine barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of huge caramel, raisin, prune, fig, apple, date, brown sugar, molasses, brown bread, toffee, toast, leather, tobacco, red wine, oak, light vanilla, and oak/toasted earthiness. Slight spicy oak/herbal hop bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, molasses, dark fruit, brown sugar, brown bread, toffee, toast, leather, tobacco, red wine, oak, light vanilla, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible robustness, complexity, and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, and wine barrel flavors; with a great malt/oak balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, fairly slick/syrupy, and slightly tannic mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an awesome English barleywine. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity yeast, dark/bready malt, and wine barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of DIM
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Brewed in 2011. I left the bottle in the basement for at least six months to make sure that the sediment had all settled firmly on the bottom. I was then able to pour all but an ounce or so out of the bottle with no yeast chunks.

This was a slightly hazy amber tinted golden color; it poured with a short lived fizzy head that faded to a ring around the glass.

I found a somewhat subdued aroma, oxidation, sugary toffee, and lightly vinous quality all are in balance and harmonious.

The taste offers all that the smell promises and a bit more. There is oxidation present and there is sharply sweet toffee aplenty. The port barrel presence though is more prominent than the smell suggested it would be. I taste a little oak, some grape and musty port that has a lingering hint of smokey char

The mouthfeel is lightly carbonated and syrupy. Overall this is a pleasant surprise, the port barrel is a beautiful addition to the overly sweet base beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.05/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

2013 edition. The fourth stop in our trip through the Lees Harvest horizontal, following the standard, Lagavulin, and Sherry editions. This one pours a clear tawny-orange topped by a finger or so of khaki foam. The nose comprises rich caramel, sweet honey, mild ruby port, vanilla bean, and a touch of wood. The taste brings in more of the same, the port lending a nice bit of subdued jamminess to the proceedings. The body is a hefty medium, with a rather light moderate carbonation and a full feel. Overall, a very nice variant on the classic, one that adds some Porto goodness without overdoing the addition.

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Photo of brianmandell
3.95/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2011. Murky pour. Strongly sweet with notes of brown sugar, fig, date, sherry and a hint of tobacco and port wine with a tannic oaky dryness in the finish. Nice as a nightcap or dessert.

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Photo of RochefortChris
5/5  rDev +20.2%
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.

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Photo of SaisonRichBiere
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage poured into a snifter.

Look- Dark amber color pours with a few soapy bubbles that totally disappear. This looks totally still and flat, but the color is deep and rich and nice.

Smell- Tobacco, cedar, dates, figs, caramel, butterscotch toffee, candied nuts, and finished with big spicy grape port notes.

Taste- Big fruity port grape sweetness at first, and the rest is all brown sweetness. Figs, Dates, caramel, pralines, and cane sugar. Muted coffee and cane sugar notes linger on the palate.

Feel- A bit dense and slippery. If there's a lower point on this one, this is it. A bit much, but only solidifies this one as a sipper.

Overall- Very well done beer. I am just now breaking my palate into barleywines, and this one is a true gem. A bit on the candy-sweet side, but pretty remarkable. A benchmark for the style for sure, considering all that the American craft brew scene has done with barleywines. A great barrel-aged barleywine.

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Photo of floridadrift
4.81/5  rDev +15.6%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2011.

Pours a murky dark orange with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of caramel, toffee, dark fruit, port wine, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with sweet caramel, toffee, honey, dark fruit, wood, and slight port wine flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of earth bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a solid but sweet port wine presence that is more noticeable in the smell, but the flavors are a bit more well integrated to me.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.61/5  rDev +10.8%


It pours close to a pitch black. good tannish head of foam, near a finger's worth.

The nose is sweet Port. Just as intended, I suspect.

The taste is very much of the Port, strictly....Port. Meant to be, eh? Maybe a tad too sweet as my rating will reflect. Never the less, a grand brew.

Full bodied, light carbonation. Superb mouth feel.

My first variant of the JW Lees Harvest Ales. A winner.

Beautifully sweet Port notes in the taste. Perhaps a bit too sweet, as my rating will reflect but grand all the sam

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Photo of zac16125
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%

275mL bottle into a snifter
Brewed in 2011

A: Pours an opaque dark copper with less than 1/2 fingers width of slightly off white colored head. Head dissipates down very quickly and leaves essentially zero lacing. 3.75

S: An absolute huge degree of sweetness. Nutty, caramel/toffee, candied sugar, port wine. Some booze to balance it out. Love it. 4.5

T: Interesting, not what I expected the aroma in that its got an herbaceous, oaky, and a bit of hoppy characters. But like the nose, there is also a lot of sweetness with tons of port characters, accompanied by lots of toffee/caramel, some dark fruits, and a cocoa like component. Very nice. 4.25

M/D: Fairly smooth, carbonation on the lower end, a bit syrupy, ABV is noticeable but not in a bad way and it helps to balance the sweetness, drinkability is pretty good. 4

O: Excellent beer. Im a big fan of the original and this variant didnt disappoint. If it wasnt for the price these would be lining my fridge on a consistent basis. 4.5

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Photo of Rollzroyce21
4.04/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

- Brewed in 2012
- Bought from Hi Times (Costa Mesa, CA) on 4-Aug-14 (do not know cellar conditions)
- 275mL bottle poured into stemless wine glass on 8-Aug-14

Fine English BW and I definitely get the port influence, so much so that's it's almost a teeny bit too sweet, but that's what I expected from a port. Would've preferred a bit more barrel influence, but overall this was nice.

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Photo of CowsandBeer
2.7/5  rDev -35.1%
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.

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Photo of DougT
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2007 vintage 275mL bottle

medium brown in color. clear, with yeast floaties. no head at all, looks like iced tea. rich boozy complex aroma - tobacco, leather, honey. taste is more brown sugar and tobacco, but not overly sweet as those flavors normally are if that makes rest. a bit of fig and grape flavors as well. just a touch of carbonation, almost flat, and fairly thin, body could be better.

overall - not quite as good as the normal version, but definitely different - less sweet certainly so check it out if you don't like that characteristic of the base beer.

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Photo of Sludgeman
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip. 2011 vintage. Started a little cold but let the beer warm to proper temperature.

This is a very good barley wine. Complex. Nicely balanced. Drinks like a port, but not boozy. – 4.5

A – Pours a cloudy (maybe some chill haze) orange amber with almost no head. Zero lacing. – 3.75

S – Vinous, port, some alcohol, dark fruit – 4.5

T – Malty goodness, huge port notes, raisins, some sweetness but cloying, slight bitterness, a touch of spicy pepperiness. – 4.75

MF – Smooth even a bit velvety. Medium-heavy bodied. Not a dry finish but not overly sweet. – 4.75

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Photo of flagmantho
4.78/5  rDev +14.9%
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.

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Photo of Jonada
3.24/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

9.3oz bottle. Brewed in 2009. Served in a Teku

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with less than a finger of an eggshell colored head. Head dissipates quickly to a collar of thick bubbles. Body is extremely murky with lots of chunky yeast sediment floating throughout.

Smell: Big port aromas, caramel, raisins, ripe apples. The aroma would rate much higher except for a moderately strong alcohol presence, almost like nail polish remover

Taste: Extremely sweet, overripe fruit, toffee. It has a sort of funky, oaky, smokey aftertaste that's pretty off putting. Alcohol is hidden well in the sense that it's not hot going down.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, syrupy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low. Finishes with a cloying sweetness.

Overall: This was a miss for me. Cloying sweetness and an off putting aftertaste really took away from the good things this had going for it. It's not awful, but I definitely wouldn't have it again.

This one's just not for me I guess

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Photo of jrenihan
4.11/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 Vintage

The beer is dark amber in colour. Lots and lots of floaties. Almost no head- just a bit of off-white bubble.

Smell contains toffee, caramel, oak and, yes, port. Smells a bit sweet, quite rich.

Taste is similar to the nose. Port, caramel, toffee, oak. Fairly sweet, quite malty. The port nicely complements the base beer, and is at the right level of strength: clearly present but not overpowering.

Full bodied but not heavy, Low to moderate carbonation level. Slick.

Overall, very nice flavour. A bit on the sweet side, but very good stuff.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.47/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz bottle poured into a snifter.
Vintage 2007.

Oops...I poured it too quickly. Tons of yeast just plopped in there. Other than that it's a nice burgundy color with no head and very little carbonation.

Rum raisin, caramel, butterscotch, vanilla and overwhelming malty goodness.

Rum raisin and syrupy sweetness. Very vinous. Caramel loaded with notes of butterscotch and vanilla. Some musty basement and a hint of oak. Hints of fig. Malty, malty, malty, malty.

Full bodied, lush, syrupy, smooth and warming.

An excellent night cap. Put on your smoking jacket and bust out the pipe. This will turn you into a fancy pants! Pinky out.

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Photo of Higy
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Vintage 2004. Enjoyed in a wine glass @ about cellar temperature.

appearance: very low carbonation. Head, only a slight dusting. Murky leather brown color.
Aroma: sherry & port, umami or a light soy sauce, vanilla & whiskey, MUSTY, earthy & slight oak. I thought the bottle was soured when I smelled it.
Taste: tart cherries, plum, hugh brown sugar & slightly smokey @ the finish
mouthful: SWEET! Cloying & coating
Overall:I expectrd there to be residual sugar, but mistakenly thought that the sweetness would have died back. Was I wrong to think this?

Definitely glad I enjoyed after dinner. Still wanting to try the others. Cheers.

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Photo of Pencible
3.34/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: This poured an opaque light mahogany, with almost no had and lots of chunky sediment.
S: It smelled like sweet honey wheat bread and toffee and tart apples, with some metallic copper hops and berries.
T: It tasted like sweet honey wheat and moldy blackberries, with some funky oak and earthy toffee. It had a lasting sugary and musty aftertaste.
M: It was oily with a little carbonation. Full body but a little flat.
D: This was not nearly as awesome as I hoped. Only a few years old and already seems ancient. The scent and taste had great elements, but they were canceled out by some undesirable oxidation notes. The body was good, not great. The finish was kind of rough, with some alcohol noticeable, so it was challenging to drink. A shame, this had a lot of potential but ended up being sub-par.

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Photo of maximum12
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my lovely wife who gave this to me for Christmas over a year ago, along with two others from this series. This is the last, saved because I adore a good port. Short, slender 9.3 oz. bottle, 2007 vintage.

Pop the cap: if there was a whisper, I'd have needed to turn up my hearing aids to detect it. Pours a lovely copper piping into the glass, hypnotizing me so that I react an instant too late, & wind up with fist-sized yeast glaciers hovering in the now much darker liquid. Carbonation between non-existent & barely-imagined. After a puff of aroma after its release, the nose settles right where the head is, hard to detect. Straining, one might find sweet malts & a port bottle left open two doors down. Not much.

Harvest Ale (Port Cask) hides the port - but how? After hiding out from the nose, the port is the overwhelming taste here. Port/sherry/mild oxidation melt together into a tasty after-dinner treat. Brown sugar, white sugar, enveloping sweetness, candied caramel. Flatness is somewhat distracting, but this small bottle won't be any problem at all, thank you.

Taste is definitely the high point, but this scarcely tastes like beer at all, more like a port cut with brown sugar & water. But hey, I like port. I like brown sugar. Ergo, this is a good beer. 'Beer'.

UPDATE: just cracked open a 2008 & whether this was a better year or simply good younger, it's a good .25 points improved upon the older vintage. Everything: port, caramel, sweetness, unrefined sugar, are all brighter & stronger. Up to 'very good' territory.

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Photo of Zraly
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2010.

Chunky, tawny ale poured into my CCB snifter. Lots of sediment: no head and ugly as hell. Sounds like the makings of a good aged barleywine.

Smells like a good bottle of booze -- maybe the trub of a bottle of dessert wine. A bit of earth and dead, dried flowers. A touch of must. Something comforting about the combination of these things. I feel like putting on my slippers and lighting a fire. Maybe.

Sweet and earthy in flavor. Alcohol is buried so I fully expect to stumble when I get out of my chair. It's a sipper, but it goes down smooth. But she ain't cheap! $9 to make you holler.

A sweet, full-bodied mistress. She and blue cheese will make you swoon.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 210 ratings.