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)

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340 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 340
Reviews: 201
rAvg: 4.12
pDev: 14.08%
Wants: 48
Gots: 72 | 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: 340 | Reviews: 201 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of grub
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

got this one from Aprilluvsbeer as part of the BC2. thanks april!

275ml bottle. 2004 vintage. sampled may 13/09.

pours deep red-brown, crystal clear until the end of the bottle. a small very fine dark caramel head forms, quickly dropping to a ring around the glass. spotty lace.

aroma is great. definitely port here. tons of dark fruit - date, fig, raisin, plum. caramel and dark toffee. light alcohol. bit of rum-like character too. big wheat bread and biscuit malt. light cracker.

taste is nice. big sweet caramel and port character. dark fruit - date, fig, raisin, plum. the malt is still there, but it's been buried behind the sweet sweet front end. very low bitterness level. light alcohol, but surely not 11.5% worth.

mouthfeel is good. big body, a bit chewy. very fine medium-low carbonation level - much better than in some of their other barrel-aged harvest ales.

drinkability is nice. the sticky sweetness makes it a real sipper. it helps to keep the alcohol at bay. not all that balanced. this might be better with a little more age. still, as a dessert beer it works pretty well as-is. i'll definitely be picking up more of this.

Photo of tedsox31
4.83/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a 2005 vintage I poured from a 9.3 oz. bottle into a snifter.

Appearance is a rust colored, with no head at all. There is lots of floating stuff that is sure to provide some Vitamin B.

There are lots of scents that are coming out to me on this, overall very malty. I am noticing raisins and figs foremost, followed by brown sugar, and ending with a strong toffee presence. It smells delicious.

The taste is quite sweet at the front. Lots of caramel that is followed by the darker fruits and ends with a nice, slightly burnt caramel or toffee finish. I would imagine the sweetness that is present up front probably comes from the Port cask aging and the amount of malt used. As I drink more sips there is a nice warming effect from the alcohol.

Mouthfeel is quite full, and also quite smooth. There is not much in the way of carbonation, but it is not flat either.

Overall, I really am enjoying this beer. I could drink this all night if it weren't for the higher alcohol percentage. For me, the taste is just fantastic. There are so many flavors going on that complement each other, for me this can do no wrong.

Photo of JohnQVegas
4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pin Cask @ Beer Table, 2007 Vintage. From notes April 15, '08.

Pours red-brown with minimal head.

Aroma is heavy sweetness, thick honey, fruits, some alcohol.

Taste is all kinds of sweetness -- honey, caramel, brown sugar, figs, dark fruits.

Palate is heavy, syrupy. Coats the palate. Delicious for what it is, but a small glass goes a long a way.

Photo of aubuc1
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9.3 oz bottle dated 2007 poured in to a goblet.

Pours a hazy light brown/orange with a very thin head.

Smell is a slightly winey with a woody finish.

Taste is woody and portlike, just like you can imagine.. Pretty clean.

Very full mouthfeel and a very sippable beer.

A classic beer that is worthy of its reputation. I can't wait for the other to age and smooth even more.

Three years later, the same beer...

Some sediment. Smell is sweet and portish. Taste is extremely English and mellow, but full of flavor. Slight sour, but not grabbing. Tastes like a drinkable port.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275 ml (9.3 oz) bottle, brewed in 2006. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a cloudy orange/brown color with pretty much no head at all. Not much lacing either. It smells like dark fruit (raisins, figs), brown sugar, molasses and a bit of oak/wood. It's a very sweet smelling brew. The taste is similar to the aroma, I can taste brown sugar, dark fruit (figs, raisins), oak, butterscotch and a bit of port. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's rich and a bit slick and velvety. The low/medium carbonation makes this easy to drink. It's a bit boozy, but not too much. Overall I think this is a good brew. I'd buy this again, and I'll try to age the next bottle longer to see how it holds up over time.

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.55/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 bottle.
Pours a reddish brown in color. No head to be found, probably due to the high ABV and the aging. Smell is all JW Lees Harvest Ale. Not a lot of port in the nose. It's nothing like the Sherry cask version which has one of the best nose's of any beer that I've had.
Taste is a bit of a letdown. There's no sign of the Port cask at all. You're still left with some nice vintage JW Lees Harvest Ale, but the influence from the cask is not to be found. The alcohol is very well hidden in this beer. Plenty of toffee and is very subdued and smooth from the aging. Good beer, but nowhere could I find any influence from the Port cask.

Photo of GClarkage
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
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.

Photo of WilliamD
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. Amber color with tons of floating yeast. No head.
Smells of sweet malts accompanied by a slight peat aroma. Faint smell of alcohol as well.
Taste is sweet with a twinge of sourness. Malts and that same peat twinge as well. Leathery tones on the exhale. A complex taste that will require at least several more samplings to figure out.
Mouthfeel is fairly flat- no carbonation on this one. Slightly sticky as well.
While the alcohol is well-concealed, this is, of course, a sipper. Even if I possessed an abundance of this one, I'd only have one per sitting. But that's how it's meant to be consumed.

Photo of roadhouse
4.68/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 9.3 oz. bottle into a snifter. 2005 vintage.

Appearance is a murky reddish brown, with next to no head even though I poured straight down from about six inches up. All that's there is some soapy looking white bubbles. Quite a bit of floaters as well. No lacing.

Aroma is overall not that different from the regular Harvest Ale. Lots of brown sugary sweetness, candied fruit, raisins, figs, and a boozy presence. The port is present but it seems to get lost or it simply blends so well that it's not noticeable alone with the regular flavors.

Taste is very sweet up front, huge caramel and dark fruit presence with raisins, figs, pears perhaps. Some oak comes out towards the finish along with a touch of vanilla that surrounds the booze.

Mouthfeel is medium-full in body, very soft and smooth. Not very carbonated, but it's good as it is.

It's pretty similar to the regular Harvest ale, but just an added dose of the Port. It's not overly present, but I guess it's hard to be in a beer that is already as complex as Harvest Ale. This one that I can rarely say is actually worth the $10 per bottle cost.

Photo of joepais
4.8/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of magictrokini
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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.

Photo of timbro81
4.47/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
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.

Photo of ccrida
4.88/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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).

Photo of PatrickJR
4.93/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of JoeCeez
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Naerhu
3.95/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

Photo of barleywinefiend
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of nickfl
4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

Photo of russpowell
4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
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

Photo of jim102864
4.97/5  rDev +20.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of mcallister
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Traquairlover
4.63/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 340 ratings.