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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.

353 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 353
Reviews: 205
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 13.8%
Wants: 49
Gots: 79 | 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:
Beer added by: Dantes on 05-07-2004

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 353 | Reviews: 205
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

Photo of Stoneman78
3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Brewed in 2004, poured into a Duvel tulip glass
A- Pours a cloudy brown hue with ruby orange highlights, head is very minimal and it seems to be lacking in carbonation, no noticeable lacing
S- Wow! Big caramel tones, tons of dark fruits and molasses, some cherries and maple syrup, stiff alcohol presence
T- Initial taste is overwhelmingly sweet and reminiscent of cough syrup, filled out by licorice, prunes, figs, big raisins, cherries, plenty of sweet sugary malts, a very complex beer due in part to the port barrel conditioning, finishes with a mostly sweet flavor with subtle bitterness
M- Full-bodied beer, smooth and oily texture, under-carbonated
D- Wow, I don't even know where I stand on this beer; first off, this truly has the feel of a dessert/after-dinner drink that is to be sipped in small quantities, this is about as complex and different as you can get, I probably won't go out of my way to pick this up again, but I am still intrigued. . . this may be improve with a few more years of aging.
Buy again? Undecided
Personal score- 81/100

Photo of brdc
4.97/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Small bottle, poured into a snifter. 2005; aged one year.

Beautiful orange, although not as clear as some other reviews (?), it is a little turbid, with some small floating particles. Minimal head, as expected given the very high alcohol content.
Comparing to other reviews, it got me worried, but just briefly. After all, it is a little different but still beautiful. The the aroma.
Ah, the aroma. Rich; sweetish malt, honey right up front. Port-like at times, some caramel, alcohol, citric fruits.
Full bodied and incredibly creamy, sweetish malt, mostly honey all over again. Warmingly alcoholic, with port wine notes, some slight bitter tones to keep it in balance.
Incredibly drinkable for something so powerful and tasty; a fantastic nightcap, if not terribly complex, utterly delicious.
I will be getting a case of this to age the next time I have a chance.

Photo of dogger6253
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 edition:

Dark, orange color. Sort of a depth to it. Gradients of orange swirl among the glass. Not much more than a thin ring for a head, tons of yeast floating around. Gorgeous and inviting.

Immediately smell grapes and plums. Raisins and alcohol come to the front very quickly though. This has a very fruity aroma with a little bit of cherries, oranges, bananas, prunes, figs, pears and apricots. There can also be a strong wood presence described. It's almost like oak, pine and cedar combined. The scent is interesting to say the least, but it just happens to impress me a lot.

The flavor is hard to elaborate on. There's a lot of the same going on with the tongue as there was with the nose. Cherries, plums, apricots, bananas, oak, hops, pine, grapes, lemons, butterscotch and dates. Very sweet, but also kind of sour and tangy. There's not much bitterness going on. The noticeable hops don't really bite at all, they just kind of wipe the palette for new flavors. The tinge of alcohol serves this purpose well also.

This beer feels wonderful in your mouth, very creamy and thick with a little bit of carbonation. It also leaves you with a great warming feel. Amazing taste and the slight dryness to it all keep you going back for more and more. The alcohol doesn't hit nearly as much as the sherry cask Harvest did. Even with this being an obvious "special occasion" beer, I would drink this quite often if it were affordable and available.

Photo of KarlHungus
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 2004, poured into a tulip glass and consumed in 2007. This beer pours a bright brown color with ruby hues. The head is one inch in height, and recedes slowly leaving a centimeter high cap of lacing. The aroma is strong. Caramel, dates, black currants, maple syrup, a hint of alcoholic heat. It is hard to tell where the beer ends and the ports starts, as all of the aromas I detect can be found in both. The port is a lot more identifiable in the taste. Caramel, dates, currants, vanilla, oak, tannins, alcohol. The mouthfeel is full bodied, lightly carbonated of silky smooth. Overall, this beer in many ways reminds me of Avery's The Beast. It has its beer qualities, but it mostly reminds me of a dessert wine. I like it, as I enjoy ports and dessert wines.

Photo of RedHaze
3.79/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very hazy/murky brownish color. The head is very thin, and is quick to recede to a thin ring and some thin wisps on top. With such a small amount of foam there's hardly any lace to speak of.

Smell; I can smell this from halfway across the room. Huge caramel and brown sugar aromas just come wafting out of my glass. as well as a little bit of cherries. I can also smell the port and oak form the barrels. Very nice.

Taste; wow is this thing sweet. as with the aroma there's just a ton of brown sugar, caramel and toffee. Some of the cherries are noticeable, but they get a little overrun by the sweet malts and the port barrels. Overall I have to say that this is just a little bit to sweet for my taste.

Mouthffel is full bodied and definitely on the syrupy side, and with the sweetness and the very high alcohol content the drinkability of this one suffers a bit for me.

Photo of kwakwhore
4.4/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours with a color like unfiltered apple cider. Hazier than it should have been because I let some yeast pour into the beer. Small amount of head. Scent of sweet fruits, raisiny, pruny sorts of aromas. Sweet malt dominates the flavor, again some fruit accents with some candy sugar. Not much hop presence, but it isn't missed. A wonderful light syrupy feel in the mouth. For 11.5% this beer goes down quite easily. A wonderful after dinner/ desert beer. Worth every penny even at 8 dollars a bottle.

Photo of Westsidethreat
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2004 stylie

A: Uber muddy cider color with a very low carbonation level. There is a simple swath of bubbles across the top with an ultra fine ring of white bubbles around the side of the glass.

S: Strong molasses odor dominates this beer. In a blind test, this could pass as a doppel. Deep caramel, butterscotch, pungent oak with vinous qualities, crab apple and bittering hops.

T: Starts off massively sweet, perhaps the sweetest beer I’ve ever had. Cough syrup sweet with that same overbearing cherry flavor. Rambunctious dark fruits ramble in, throwing copius amounts of prunes and pureed raisins all over the effing place. Nobody will ever accuse this beer of being boring, that’s for sure. This beer is one big malty backbone with a sweet streak to it. Could it be the port making this beer so sweet? Maybe…I’m not familiar enough with this beer to know. Finishes mildy bitter with a little bit of a dirty streak, but who could really tell underneath all this sugar.

M: Full and syrupy.

D: Well, I won’t be drinking my other JW Lees for a years now. That was WAY too sweet and apparently needs quite a bit more time to chill the hell out.

Photo of rallison
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage. Served at cellar temp, poured into an EKU28 snifter.

Beautiful pour - golden amber color with a 1/2 finger head (from a semi aggressive pour) that actually lasted a bit (not expecting that!).

Smelled wonderfully boozy and sweet. Taste followed up with quite a bit of sweetness - but a nice, complex sweetness. A nice kick of port sweetness for sure - red grapes and raisins soaked in port. But, this was nicely held back by a good bit of toffee-like malt. Alcohol is definitely evident, but also helps to reign in the sweetness. Hops were mostly non-existent, and only served to keep it from being too sweet. Still, this is a sweet beer - one meant for sipping at the end of the evening.

Mouthfeel had just enough carbonation to keep it from being dull, and drinkability was pretty good.

Highly recommended. Can't wait to try the older vintages I picked up.

Photo of joebrewer
4.19/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The 2005 vintage. No head. Lots of sediment. Wonderful port feel and flavor. I prefer this to actual port as there's more sweetness and some malt character to add depth and flavor. Little bitterness and I have trouble picking out the hop flavors and aromas.

I tried this to see it's suitability in cellaring. I think it would age very nicely.

Photo of BretSikkink
3.98/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Looks like a real menace, no head on a viscous body, tawny golden orange. Perhaps I should have decanted more carefully, but good amount of sediment floating in the beer. I'm not squeamish. 2005 vintage, harbored myself for a couple months until I was unable to keep my hands off (ok, ran out of non-cellared beer before payday).

Huge malted sweetness, like a strong doppelbock. Bottle says "fully fermented" which seems true. Rather German nose overall, big on the caramel malts, less so on earthy type hops, with alcohol apparent but clearly going to be smooth Berry fruits, a grape fullness, and some lighter but very ripe fruit character as well.

Really very sweet, took on a lot of the port character as far as that smooth and creamy, almost chewy fermented grape. Mouthfeel, finish and aftertaste all have that same port-cork flavor. Otherwise, some very rough honey flavor, great balancing hops, and a slight woody character with, obviously, a lot of alcohol pepper.

Malts are a little too pronounced for me, definitely a huge British beer and a great barley wine. The port touch adds a layer of complexity, and has kept my fingers busy unwrapping chocolate

Photo of geexploitation
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep mahogany color with a surprisingly large head that maintains a collar around the beer. Aromas caramel malts, honey grahams, and more than a little winey fruit. Some savory spice and marshmallow, along with a bright fruity candy note whose exact nature I can't pinpoint. On the palate, a touch too heavy, with huge thickness and stickness that crosses over into the territory of "cloying". Quite sweet, with no discernible flavor or aroma hops: the most dominant notes are those fruity, winey notes. Plenty of sweet flavors are there, too, but they are more expressive in the nose. Overall, this is a very good barleywine, but not up to some of the other JW Lees cask offerings IMO. The fruit character is nice on the nose but too forward on the palate, while the other, darker flavors I expect from a wood cask are undeveloped in the taste department. Very good but not great.

Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003. Pours a clear dark copper, very little head and no lacing. The port smell jumps out of the bottle and leaps out of the glass. Dark, musky port nose, sweet medicinal alcohol notes.
Taste is exactly what the label says it is. The wonderful, sweet barleywine, mixed perfectly with the musky port notes of the barrels, caramel, nuts, dark fruits, simply wonderful. Mouthfeel is slick and thick, just a touch of carbonation. A sipper in the extreme.

Photo of jaxon53
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 Vintage.
Served at cellar temperature in a snifter. Poured a beautiful dark ruby reddish orange color with brown highlights. A very thin and loose head sat atop this brew. No retention, no lace. Smell: Port wine, some short oaky tones, cherries, fig , plum with some noticeable alcohol in the nose. Smells closer to a fine wine than a barleywine. Taste: More port wine, oak, slight oxidation, sweet dark fruits, hints of malt, and maybe a touch of rich molasses. Very smooth. Almost zero carbonation. Plenty of smooth alcohol in the dry finish. Was pretty syrupy, thick and full in the mouth. Pretty drinkable actually. Sip and enjoy this one.

Photo of AaronHomoya
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Harvest 2004 aged in Port barrels.

Pours an orange-auburn color with little carbonation or head. Aroma is sweet with dark fruits, figs, and a hint of caramel. Taste is sweet and strong of figs and fruit with a noticeable hint of wine/port in the finish. Mouthfeel is a little syrupy but with a fairly dry finish. Hides alcohol pretty well.

I liked this better than the regular Harvest 2004 ale. I might be inclined to try one of the others, like Calvados.

Photo of brentk56
4.37/5  rDev +5.8%
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

Photo of dirtylou
4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz bottle...obtained from either BeerBeing or timtheenchanta, each of which shipped me 2/4 different aged varieties

2004 Edition

600 reviews, jesus christ I have a problem

appearance: pours into a snifter...a nice murky amber-mahogany body suggests a smooth monster. gold tint comes through in the light - lots of colour complexity... creamy beige head with moderate lacing

smell: holy moses...phenomenal aroma to say the least that jumps right out and gets you by the nose...all malt, no hops (which sure is nice sometimes in a barleywine)...tons and tons upon tons of sweet sugary fruit - cherry, caramel covered apple, fig, raisin. brown sugar mixed with booze. Unfortunately, i dont even know if ive ever had a glass of port (on the to-do list at cafe montmarte) so i cant really comment on that

taste: phenomenally smooth, almost impossibly smooth...raisin, fig, brown sugar are big up front. caramel covered apples, booze soaked cherries, smooth candied malts...very vinous flavours which work out really well. hop presence is almost nothing. light woodyness, very enjoyable!

mouthfeel: insane, smooth as silk, no bitterness, nice booze in the followthrough. very nice indeed

drinkability: high

Photo of DogFood11
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

9.3oz brown bottle. Brewed in 2004. Copper body with a hazed up body. An aggressive pour produces a thin loose head that leaves a central island. Minimal sliding lace.

Butterscotch was my first thought. Cherries were my second thought and truth be told that was the better of the two impressions. Cherries are everywhere. Caramel covered cherries. Caramel covered apples. This is sweet, but it works. This brew has held up very nicely. I wish I had a fresh one to compare it to. To the folks that consider cellaring this I can only say that its excellent 3 years in the hole.

Notes: I did not think once about the 11.5% abv during the consumption of this brew. I am shocked that it is that high based on the whole experience. The only hint I got was a touch of warming after the final pull and late in the aftertaste. Drinkability is amazing for such a big beer. A gem in so many ways but overall for my palate it was above average.

Photo of akorsak
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The ale is a deep red, almost plum-like purple. Let's settle on cranberry-esque. The hear is small and does not retain for long.

S: The aroma is a strong yet very sweet maltiness. There are definite hints of something sweet and sugary here, beyond the normal concentrated sweet malts of an EBW.

T: The taste is very much in line with the rest of the JW Lee's, sweet and strong in malty toffee and nuts. The port is not as intense as the calvados or sherry. Here the port adds a bit of distinct sweetness at the end of the sip. The finish is sweet malts and a hint of port's sugary strength.

M: The mouthfeel is good, providing mere hints of the port without going overboard.

D: The 11.5% is well hidden, completely overshadowed by the sweetness of the malts. I could drink two or so and really regret it in the morning.

Photo of scott
4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

You need only read a review in any of the collection to appreciate this beer.
Ruby and viscous. Awesome barley wine counter-balanced with a cask profile. My only bitch - where's the port? It's completely lost. In a blind tasting, this tastes exactly like every one of the other in the collection. Nothing here gives it a unique name. Poor job as far as the port profile.
Great sipper, though. Perfection.

Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

For the long thanksgiving holiday I thought I'd try this brew. Like the Sherry version, had only one 04 sitting in the cellar waiting for a reason to drink it. Why not a two day in a row JW Lees tasting!

A - Nice ruby red brew. Small white head which quickly disappears.

N - Vinous port, rich sweet malts. Definite alcohol presence.

T - When compared to the standard harvest ale, there is a definite difference in taste. As a fan of the occasional port, I'm leaning more toward a blended porto influence with a very faint oak trace. The big sweet malts are definitely dominant with a continuance of the primary aromas of dark ripe fruits. Very interesting having just had the Sherry version. The port aging seems to almost cut the malts some and although thick, make this brew less syrupy.

M - incredibly thick. Not quite syrup but very thick.

D - I would say this is a love it or hate it brew. I happen to love the thick strong brew and the complexity of all the flavors swirling around on each sip. I poured this into a chimay chalice and slowly savored over an hour. Unlike the sherry version, I think this 04 needs more time in the bottle for the flavors to really meld.

I liked this and will add a few more of this to my harvest ales in the beer cellar. I'm curious to see how this improves over time

Photo of BEERchitect
4.82/5  rDev +16.7%
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.

Photo of kpantz
3.82/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2005 Series

Executive Summary: My second tasting of the Harvest Ale series. This one is a little nicer on the palate, though it's a little over the top w/r/t sweetness. Cloying, even.

Appearance: Pours an uninspiring deep, cloudy amber with no head - just a few bubbles. Are those floaters I see in there?

Smell: Nice deep barleywine aroma. Dates, figs, grapes. No notes of port here.

Taste: Very, very sweet. Now I get some of the port. Very curious flavor here. I can pick up the figs and dates. Toffee and caramel, too. No hop flavor or bitterness. I wonder if they even used any :)

Mouthfeel: Sticky, but not overly syrupy. Little to no carbonation.

Drinkability: This one's a sipper. Tasty, but a sipper. Watch out for those floaters!

Photo of k75
5/5  rDev +21.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The only beer I've considered giving straight fives.

2003 vintage from The Farmhouse in Emmaus (brought this home after a Shangy's run)

pours an amazing rich amber that could be mistaken for bourbon or Grand Marnier

aromas of toffee, sweet leaf tobacco, overripe orange peel and brown sugars.

Flavors are deep, rich, full bodied and well married. caramel, toffee, orange, (candied yam sauce?)

WOW - just perfect. Thomas Hardy was always my favorite, and J.W.
is just so much smoother and more palatable.

finish is smooth without an alcohol burn (even at 11.5%)

Truly a masterpiece.


Photo of cjgator3
4.67/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage. Pours an orangish amber color with a small amount of white lace. Aroma is very sweet malt, fruit and a good dose of alcohol. Mouthfeel is very rich, smooth and creamy. After the first taste I am in heaven! This brew is so rich and complex it makes my head spin. The 11.5% is dangerously missing from the vast array of flavors. Overall, this is an absolutely superb brew!

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 353 ratings.