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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)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

331 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 331
Reviews: 201
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 13.83%
Wants: 45
Gots: 69 | FT: 5
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: rhoadsrage on 08-01-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 331 | Reviews: 201 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of joepais
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%

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

joepais, Feb 14, 2009
Photo of magictrokini
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%

2006 vitnage. Poured oily copper, darker than the calvados, with the same sparse ring of bubbles. Again, it was impossible to coax a head out of the beer. A tiny amount of lacing. Caramel and honey in the nose, less fruity, but figs and raisins are present. More oak and vanilla in this one. Much more subtle tastes than the calvados. The grain and malt of the beer show through much better. The alcohol is up front, with the port taking hold in the middle and finish. Somewhat vimuous and fruity, but less sweet. Lovely malt and dried fruit flavors blended nicely with toffee and butterscotch. Less vanilla in the taste, but the oak shines throughout. Same lactic mouthfeel, but less stickiness.

magictrokini, Jan 05, 2009
Photo of timbro81
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%

2006 vintage, poured into a tulip glass. Pours a soft hazy caramel color with the head of a frothy iced-tea. Little to no visible carbonation. Like most every other JW Lees I've had the aroma lingers across the table. Smells of chewy raisins and dark bead, a subtle sweetness is present, small amounts of candied fruits. Genius. Wow, the port really comes through in the after taste and mingles very well with the barleywine flavors. On the tongue it almost has an uncarbonated soda sort of feel, I'm thinking Dr.Pepper or Coke. Mostly malts, sweetness, and candied fruits before the port comes into play. Top notch beer for sure.

timbro81, Nov 22, 2008
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%

2005 vintage consumed Dec. 2007. Pours a clear copper with weak off white head. The aroma is full of fruity esters like fresh ripe plums, figs, dates and prunes. A brief caramel malt note is noticed amid a background of port and wood notes that run the length of the aromatic experience. Very nice smooth tasting barleywine. It seems to begin with ripe cherries, sweet dark grapes, figs, sugar coated plums and stewed raisins. I then get port mixed with maple syrup and wood. The taste winds down on the sweet side with increasing maple syrup, alcohol warmth, wood, caramel and residuel dark fruity esters.

BigMcLargeHuge, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%

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.

BuckeyeNation, Nov 12, 2008
Photo of ccrida
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).

ccrida, Oct 29, 2008
Photo of PatrickJR
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.

PatrickJR, Oct 24, 2008
Photo of JoeCeez
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%

This bottle is two years old

A: tawny ruby with copper edges, a thin off white head leaves sticky lacing

S: very sweet malt, a hint of alcohol, some sherry-like oxidation, dried fruits

T: extremely rich and luciously sweet, butterscotch, toffee, dried cherries, raisins, figs, brandy, mildly oaky, finishes with slightly tannic port notes

M: very sticky and viscous yet with a surprising amount of carbonation.

D: the extreme sweetness makes it a little tough to drink more than one of these at a time and alcohol is very hidden but after finishing the bottle you can definitely feel it.

I like these barrel aged harvests but I really prefer an bottle of the regular harvest with 5-10 years on it.

JoeCeez, Oct 16, 2008
Photo of Naerhu
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%

Extremely dark with no head at all and no visible carbonation.

Rich chewey malts with an ever richer dark red wine aroma. No hoppyness.

The rich port wine flavors strongly dominate the sticky malt. Are they sure they emptied out the barrels of all the port before brewing this beer? Although this there is sweetness to this beer, it is by no means cloying. Very well balanced.

This ale is so think on the palate I almost need a spoon. Considering its concentration and intensity, this beer went down very nicely.

Naerhu, Sep 30, 2008
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -2.9%

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.

Phyl21ca, Sep 23, 2008
Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -2.9%

I have been holding onto this bottle for 3 years now.
Poured a maroon and copper with a small dirty head. Lots of sediment found. Nose was sweet and malty with dark fruits and wallop of alcohol. Taste is exactly the same, super sweet just as an English barleywine should be, massive dark fruit, good malts and plenty sweet.

barleywinefiend, Jul 17, 2008
Photo of nickfl
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

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.

nickfl, Jun 05, 2008
Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%

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

russpowell, Jun 04, 2008
Photo of jim102864
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.

jim102864, May 23, 2008
Photo of mcallister
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%

2004 Vintage

A cherry colored elixir that pours with little head of white that leaves a thick ring around my GLBC snifter.

Big caramel and toffee in the nose with fresh date, fig, brown sugar, honey, wood, crystalized ginger, and the slightest bit of milk chocolate.

Delicious and very sweet. A definite dessert beer. A bit of bitterness on the finish that may be from the port. A thick glyceryl quality that I'm assuming is from the port casks as well as a decent amount of alcohol in the mouth. So lush with dried cherry and other fruits, fig paste, orange marmalade, cream, port, brown sugar, honey, and on and on. Very complex and involving. Would be difficult to drink many of for the mere amount of residual sugar but you sure as hell can enjoy a single bottle of it. Rich lush middle and finish. Great beer.

mcallister, May 19, 2008
Photo of Traquairlover
4.63/5  rDev +12.4%

9.3 fl oz botle poured into a snifter.

A = Orange, dark honey gold liquid, light coating of foam interspersed on surface.

S = Maple syrup, honey, light oak. Would have been higher but a little more subdued than I was looking for.

T = Awesome tasting beer. Strong maple syrup, molasses, treacle, honey, bitter bite of oak, floral notes. Long sweet finish but still with a tart bitter aspect to it. Very good.

M = Heavy body, excellent mouthcoating, carbonation stings just a little too much.

D = An excellent dessert beer, Very good drinkability.

Traquairlover, May 13, 2008
Photo of sleazo
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%

2006 Batch

A_Pours a rather orange brown hue with a decent bit of foam for the style. Lacing is non existant but should be expected.

S_Smells strongly of a good port wine. Sweet concentrated wine, with notes of vanilla, chili peppers and a bit of alcohol.

T_Fairly sweet and with a definite port kick. There is a bit of alcohol here but not in a bad way as it is once again, expected. The strong sweet malt and port remain throughout but nuances of vanilla, wood, grapes, subtle spice and a bit of smoke.

M_On the medium side and not as thick as I thought it would be.

D_The main point of this beer has been to confirm and deny expectations. I have to say it works a lot better with the port barrels than the Lagavulin version. Outstanding and a good match for some Lagherino and Tomme berger

sleazo, May 12, 2008
Photo of blakesell
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%

Poured from the 11.2oz bottle into a brandy snifter. Bottled in 2004.

Appearance- Beer pours a rich caramel colour with virtually no head. A rim of tiny bubbles rise up from the bottom of the glass. Lacing is gluey and laces the glass with legs showing the alcoholic presence. Red hues and thick clumps of something (yeast? sugar? caramel?) swirl through the glass.

Smell- Sugary sweet with rich malty caramel and alcoholic phenols. Brown sugar and many malts to the point that one can't be detected from the other. This is one complex brew! Vanilla possibly from the oak comes through, there are hints of cherry as well. It really smells a lot like port wine.

Taste- Sweet and hot with thick caramel warmth. Plums and raisins mixed with oak and maple syrup with a heavy port sweetness. Hops are nowhere to be tasted. Clean and thick with a creamy honey and brown sugar malted goodness.

Mouthfeel- Thick and gluey, chewy and sweet. Low carbonated and warm. This tastes like wort. Very syrupy.

Drinkability- Nice to taste but impossible to session. Sweetness and that high 11.5% ABV overpower the beer.

blakesell, Mar 05, 2008
Photo of charlzm
3.93/5  rDev -4.6%

2004 vintage, consumed at Lucky Baldwin's Pasadena on 8/17/07.

Nose is all port goodness - vanilla, cherry, brown sugar. In fact, smelled so much of port that I might not be able to tell this from a port wine in a blind sniff test. Poured murky light brown with almost non-existent head. Very low carbonation. Thick, clingy mouthfeel - almost syrupy. Flavor was all port wine. Try as I might, I couldn't taste anything but sweet port wine. There might have been some maltiness in there, but I couldn't definitively say so. Long finish that didn't change flavor or reveal anything new.

A big, impressive taste but one-dimensional. Not to be drunken lightly.

charlzm, Mar 02, 2008
Photo of francisweizen
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%

From notes, sampled at city beer store a few weeks ago

Dark crimson tobacco with flashlight edges. Aromas of HUGE English malts, toffee, caramel, and nice port notes as well. The flavour is awesome with a nice mix of spice, tobacco, leather, porto, and more. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and super warming. Drinkability is great, as JW lees normally are!

Aces mate.

francisweizen, Feb 09, 2008
Photo of MCDuhamel
4.6/5  rDev +11.7%

Poured from a 9.something ounce bottle into a snifter at cellar temperature. Bottle says "Brewed in 2005."

A: Dark orange/medium amber in the glass. Despite a very careful pour, tons of heavy sediment in the glass. No head whatsoever. Visible carbonation is very light.

S: Huge nose. Lots of fig, dried fruit, honey, toffee and caramel. No hops present. No alcoholic spice.

T: Again, dried fig and ripe, red fruit, with a sweet toffee or honey note in the middle. Leads to a lingering finish of toffee and fruitcake. Throughout, there is just a hint of citrus or acidity that prevents the beer from becoming cloying and provides a little structure. After about half the glass, some alcoholic warmth becomes perceivable, but it is quite subtle given the strength of the beer.

M: Medium heavy mouthfeel that coats without quite becoming sticky. Carbonation is light and not directly noticeable; it is in the background as a counterbalance to the sweetness.

D: Definitely a sipper, but easy to nurse without developing palate fatigue.

Overall: This is a very intensely flavored barley wine, but still nicely refined and well-balanced. Excellent, world class winter beer.

MCDuhamel, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%

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.

Georgiabeer, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%

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.

RblWthACoz, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of Nutleybeer
4.08/5  rDev -1%

Pours smooth with little to no head. The color is reminscent of maple syrup; rich dark coppery appearance.

Interesting, unique smell. Hints of oak and whiskey in the armona. There is also a sweetness that lingers there.

Upon tasting, there is an explosion of flavors. Absolute smoothness. Mellow, yet strong. Like an American barleywine, it is somewhat sweet and quite potent. Very creamy taste. A sherry-like quality comes to mind.

Wow, it packs a punch. ABV at 11.5%. It is a nice sipping ale. I enjoyed it, but it is heavy and strong. To the person who can down 3 or so of these in a sitting, I take off my hat.

Overall, a nice, different drinking experience

Nutleybeer, Dec 30, 2007
Photo of JayQue
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

Reminds me of both a Belgian Ale and a smooth dessert wine. Pours a murky orange / light amber color with little head or lacing. Smell was of caramel and Belgian sugars - very nice aroma. Taste was very good. The alcohol is noticeable but not harsh. The sweetness is just right, not too cloying. Taste included dark fruit, sugars and caramel. Mouthfeel is incredibly rich and smooth. Drinkability is good for a barleywine. At 11.5 abv, one is enough for enjoyment, a great nightcap and winter warmer.

JayQue, Dec 16, 2007
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 331 ratings.