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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.

212 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 212
Hads: 383
Avg: 4.15
pDev: 18.8%
Wants: 58
Gots: 83 | 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 (22) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 212 | Hads: 383
Photo of Sammy
3.67/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very nice aroma of a barleywine, pleasant appearance with lace. Alcohol, sweetish, some Rum, figs, Vanilla.Full mouthfeel. Would go well late in a meal. I am encouraged to try the other barrels. Thanks Tim (IPFreely) for sharing. I am still tasting it a day later.

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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 kylehay2004
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: no head on a deep brown murky body with lots of debris/precipitate floating in it.

S: port and red wine, sour cherry, tart fruit, and yes, A1 sauce.

T: very very sweet. I was expected sour or tart and though this one has a subtle tartness, it is mostly cherry and strawberry fruit sweetness. This one really took on the character of the port. It is the lead flavor as oppose to a "note". caramel and brown sugar notes.

M: light to medium body and very light carbonation.

Overall: all of these are hard to drink for me. Either too sweet or strong. This is a "sipping" beer and definitley worth a try.

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Photo of metter98
4.22/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is cloudy amber in color and lots of yeast particles are visible floating in suspension. It poured with a thin layer of bubbles floating on the surface.
S: There are aromas of brown sugar, figs and raisins in the nose along with some notes of port.
T: The taste generally follows the smell, but flavors of port are stronger, but not overpowering. The finish is rather sweet and fruity with some hints of oak and bitterness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate with a light amount of carbonation.
D: This is a good beer to sip with dessert; there's no way that I could have more than one of these at a time due to the alcohol content and amount of sweetness.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours out as a copperish orange color with a very minimal head on top that fades quickly. The smell of the beer is sweet, malty, a little smokey and has some light wooden aromas coming off of it. The taste of the beer had a faint tart flavor in there with a big syrupy sweetness overlapping the tongue. The mouthfeel is slick and creamy feeling. Overall this beer is pretty good, Much like the others it's something that needs to be enjoyed over a period of time and probably best split with a friend.

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Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2004; tasted in 2010

Appearance: Pours a hazy amber color with a prodigious, thick head that coats the glass with lace

Smell: Caramel with grape and cherry tones and a touch of wood

Taste: Starts with a toffee flavor that builds into rich butterscotch, grape and cherry tones; after the swallow the wood and port flavors kick in to mellow out the sweet flavors; long-lasting finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation and some warmth down the gullet

Drinkability: Perhaps a tad sweet but nevertheless a very nice English barleywine; my second favorite in the series after the Sherry casks

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.82/5  rDev +16.1%
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.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.08/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On cask at Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle. Served in a snifter.

Pours an insanely cloudy light turdish color. This seriously looked like dirty dishwater. It was really disgusting looking. After I got past that, it was decent, but not all that good. The nose had some nice port notes along with plenty of oak and a bit of oxidation. The flavor was more port and some sweetness with a bit too much oxidation, leading to a bit of cardboard. Medium body and close to flat. Sweetness and a bit of cardboard dryness. Really disgusting to look at, and an okay beer after that.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy amber color ale with loads of floaters and a small head with minimal retention and light lacing. Aroma consists of sweet malt with some light dry fruits also discernable. Taste is also a mix between some sweet English style malt with some notes of dry fruits such as figs and raisins. I was expecting port to be more prominent but it was very subtle. Full body with limited filtration and some low to medium carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Well done overall even thought port was not overly discernable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.35/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage. Perfect pumpkin orange topped by a compact beige crown that doesn't come anywhere near the top edge of the snifter. These 275 ml bottles barely wet my whistle. The foam has some creaminess, and a few shards of lace reach the glass, but the appearance is more good than impressive.

The same can be said for the nose. It's starting out on the chilly side, so let's see what happens once it gains a few degrees. The beer smells moderately caramel malty and is wonderfully fruity. Too bad the port cask aging isn't immediately obvious.

Good old J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale never lets me down. Forgot appearance, forget aroma, it's flavor that matters most. This version delivers just like the Sherry Cask version did. I'm not sure how long these classic English barleywines hold up, but 5 years of rest has done wonders for this little beauty.

Such a riot of flavor! Each sip is a muted explosion of deliciousness that is hard to fully wrap one's taste buds around before the finish of the finish arrives. The flavor profile includes toffee pudding, golden brown sugar, candied figs, candied cherries, raisins, sugared pecans and a splash of tawny port. Just like an aged Christmas fruitcake.

The concentrated vinousness of the port is unmistakable on the palate and is what sets this beautiful sipping ale apart. Aging their Harvest Ale in various casks was a stroke of genius. A hint of oxidation lends authenticity and adds much more than it detracts. If there is any beer worth more than 75 cents per ounce, this one is.

The mouthfeel (as with much barrel-aged beer of a certain age) lacks a little fullness. It makes up for it, though, by being velvety, silky smooth and wonderfully sticky on the finish. The understated carbonation is damn near perfect.

Of the four wines and spirits that J.W. Lee's chose to accent their outstanding Harvest Ale, my favorites are (from least to most) sherry, port, Calvados and Lagavulin Scotch. Sherry Cask and Port Cask are spectacular, so the final two should be out of this world.

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Photo of nickfl
4.73/5  rDev +14%
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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a clear, deep ruby-colored body with a thin, wispy white head.

Smell: Aroma of caramel blended with honey and tossed with candied raisins. Port scents along with a hint of wood and some slight oxidative notes in there, too.

Taste: Rich, expletive-worthy caramel and honey sweetness. Full raisin flavor with a further fruitiness provided by the port. Mild notes of wood. There's a layer of earthy bitterness underneath, nearly obscured by the luscious sweetness. The alcohol on the palate is quite potent though complimentary (and dare I say, necessary) to the final flavor of the beer.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Syrupy mouthfeel. Mild carbonation.

Drinkability: Though still admittedly quite excellent, the overall flavor doesn't seem too far removed from the original J.W. Lees Harvest Ale.

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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 NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
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!

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Photo of russpowell
4.36/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up at Goebbels in Wichita

Pours a semi-hazed brown with finger of sand colored head into my duvel tulip. Above average head retention & average lacing

S: Lovely oak & port notes, raisins & other dark fruits

T: Dark fruits by the bushel, brown sugar, dryness up front. Some leafy hops as this warms, a touch of boozeyness, some cinnamon, brown sugar oranges & plums. Finishes dry, plummy with candi sugar, rich toffee, & a little more booze; a little more depth & this would've pulled 5.0

MF: Chewy, slick, low carbonation, some booze warmth

Drinks easy, but I could feel the booze grabbing me from the get-go. Super English Barley Wine from a great English brewery! About a buck an ounce, but a nice indulgence

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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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 mdfb79
3.65/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 03/25/11 notes.

a - Pours a clear amber color with less than one inch of off white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet fruit, grain, bready malts, oak, and wine.

t - Tastes of sweet fruit, molasses, light wine, and alcohol.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

o - A pretty good variation of JW Lees, but not my favorite. A sipper for sure and one to share with some friends.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brewed in 2010

A: Pours a cloudy golden orange in color with significant amounts of visible sediment (yeast) in suspension. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that quickly reduces to a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Very light lacing is observed.

S: Some brown sugar malt sweetness, dark fruits - raisins and figs, and finally some port aroma as well. The beer has quite a sweet aroma and a slight hint of the oak.

T: The flavor of this beer is quite interesting... The beer starts out very sweet, almost cloying so with lots of malt sweetness including tastes of caramel and brown sugar. That is followed by the flavors from the port, sweet dark fruit. The finish of this beer is quite bitter and oaky with a much too dominant wood flavor (in my opinion).

M: Medium bodied with low to moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Like the port whose casks this beer was aged in, this beer would be best served in a very small glass after dinner for sipping. I like the taste of this beer but it is a little too sweet and too high in ABV to be a beer that you could have multiple in a session.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.7/5  rDev +13.3%
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.

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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 Billolick
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a wooden cask sitting behind the bar at Spuytin Duyvil (sp?) in Brooklyn! Pours still, no carbonation , no lacing. Nose is buttery malt and a hint of warm rum. Mouthfeel is smooth and well rounded. Notes of rum, butter, vanilla and more butter, rum and vanilla. Smooth and warming, tasty stuff. A world class after dinner beer, go find some and enjoy!

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a Hunahpu snifter. 2005 bottle.

Appearance - The darkest of the Harvests that I've had. Mahogany with a few bubbles as I pour. They fade quickly as the chunks start to stream in.

Smell - Raisins and sweet dark fruits. Deep brown sugar and a nice red wine aroma keeps it from being too sweet.

Taste - Well, it's still really sweet. Raisins and brown sugar. Like brown sugar dissolved in the water. The port is not very prominent, but it seems to have tempered the sweetness. A little drier and a touch of red wine in the finish. Really, the port just gives a depth to the fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel - Still ungodly sweet, but it doesn't seem as oppressive here. Low carbonation.

Overall - The best barrel treatment I've had so far. The only one worth the money, I'd say.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich copper color that is brilliantly clear. It is fairly well carbonated and is topped by a frothy light tan colored head. The aroma is predominantly one of rich concentrated malt and hops, but at the end there is an aroma of concord grapes and tannic red grape skins. The grape aromas seem to meld with the hop notes. The taste is sweet and finishes with a port like finish. This beer has a definite port note to it, it doesn't quite meld with the beer aspect though. The other cask aged versions where better integrated though. The malty notes of this beer remind me of caramel, lightly toasted biscuits. There is a nice bitterness here in the finish that melds with a slight tannic. There also seems to be some subtle hop notes of pine and a hint of citrus. This is still good, just not quite as good a combination as the other beers in this series.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I liked this far more than the Lagavulin cask (and I'm a Scotch drinker). Beautifully balanced and it really benefits from the cask. Pours thick and sticky with a good initial head that fades to a ring. It is so thick and viscous that bubbles rising up almost look like they are in a lava lamp. Smells of very sweet malt up front which blends beautifully with a ruby port finish. Taste is similar,and exuberantly sweet and liquory. This could age very, very well. Mouthfeelis creamy, fruity,and big. A delight, but it is a huge fireside sipper.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 212 ratings.