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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)

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Dantes on 05-07-2004

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Reviews: 217 | Ratings: 402
Photo of tigg924
4.15/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage. Pours hazy, orange-brown in color with minimal head. Taste is deep caramel, toffee, raisin, port, and alcohol. Sweet and sticky. Really tasty barleywine. My first JW Lees, but I see myself getting several more in the future.

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Photo of Vonerichs
4.46/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Murky reddish brown with no head, but does have active carbonation. Lots of floaters.

Really pleasant aroma and deep flavor so that showcases the port. Raisins, grape, brown sugar. Add caramel and cane sugar. Light apricot.

I'm not one to throw out fives for nothing, but I can't think of a beer with a better body. It's so smooth and creamy, almost like a liquor with light carbonation. Sweet and dry.

A damn fine beer that I enjoyed as a sipper.

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Photo of jmasher85
4.49/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. Pouring a dark, murky red with a head that starts decent and quickly fizzles, this beer has the classic scent of a barleywine - a bit sweet with nice bready malt, hints of raisins, and a lot of booze. Not unlike the Bourbon County Stout I had earlier today, though without the richness of the stout/chocolate/coffee profile.

The port comes through nicely in the flavor. It's balanced and smooth, with more grape and raison flavors and that sweet red wine fruitiness, but not at all overpowering or tannic. The finish is a hint dry and very lingering, and is almost the only thing that reminds you that you're drinking a beer and not a "port spritzer." Those casks really did their share of the work here!

Overall, this is really delicious, especially for a port drinker. It's strong, but remarkably smooth. It's sweet but not cloying or harsh, and not too sticky or thick. It's a beer that, for what it is, is made almost perfectly. A bit more carbonation might have been nice, but in the interest of authenticity of being barrel-aged, I suppose there's the tradeoff.

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Photo of tbryan5
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

My second favorite of the Barrel Aged variants next to the Laguvalin Whiskey Cask. The port added a pleasant sweetness and a slight dryness in mouthfeel to this big beer in a little bottle. Pretty nice.

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Photo of BIll_Currie
3.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

pretty good beer. im usually not a big fan or port but it was a great compliment to this one. very good smell and went down very smoothly. wish i had bought more

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Photo of smakawhat
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass. Vintage 2013.

Slightly murky and muddy orange, with a big rust brown hue and edge to it. Opaque. Light tan fleeting head goes to a simple collar with a whispy and slightly oily top.

Sweet notes of apricot, and mild sugar. Light hints of booze and grape like warmth. Hints at port but not really distinct, but with excellent big grape aromas. Light toasty brown sugar just peaking out.

Palate brings a lot of sweetness. Slight prickly tongue at first, with the first sips consisting of brown sugar with a hint of spiced clove action coming on the finish. Silky and large honey coating mouthfeel. Deep notes of plum and fig, marmalade action as well excellent fruit flavors throughout. Spicy finish comes as well with a hint of wood and splinters feeling.

Overall real nice barleywine, but doesn't remind me of much Port character. Still a solid brew.

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Photo of Roguer
3.91/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a tea-like clear brown; minimal head, leaving only an oily sheen and a bubbly edge.

Boozy, nutty aroma you can smell from a distance. The cask is quite strong, but it isn't clearly identifiable as Port. Caramel malt provides the bulk of the remaining aroma.

The flavor pulls no punches! It's sweet and strong right off the bat: plump, juicy white grapes; chewy caramel; white and wheat bread; pecans; brown sugar. It's extremely sweet, with the Port flavor really shining through on a fruity English barleywine base. Much less alcohol heat than with more typical barrel choices for aging (e.g. bourbon).

Surprisingly thin body; very easy to drink; only a touch of back-end chest warmth indicates the very high ABV. Sticky finish. Exceptionally easy to drink.

The appearance and aroma don't portend great things, but this is overall a very tasty brew. It's likely too sweet for some.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.1/5  rDev -1.2%
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 +1.2%
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 +1%
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 -2.4%
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 -4.8%
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 +20.5%
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 +4.1%
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 +15.9%
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 -4.6%
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 +11.1%


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 +5.5%

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 -2.7%
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 -34.9%
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 +1%
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 -1.7%
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 -2.9%
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 +10.4%
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 +15.2%
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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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 217 ratings.