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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 kpantz
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
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!

kpantz, Oct 09, 2006
Photo of k75
5/5  rDev +21.4%
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.


k75, Sep 15, 2006
Photo of cjgator3
4.7/5  rDev +14.1%
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!

cjgator3, Aug 29, 2006
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 Harvest Ale matured in Port Casks (tried on 7/9/06)

Presentation: 275ml bottle (9.3 fl.oz.) 11.5% Alc/Vol. Single obverse cream colored label with word Harvest in black text and a small black rectangle below which has the words ‘Ale matured in Port Casks’. Below that ‘Brewed in 2004 – Limited Edition’. Sealed with a black crown cap.

Appearance: A clear orange-amber body with bright clarity when backlit. Superb conditioning and a stiff off-white head formed a nice and ring on the surface. Gently relaxing, the head forms a long staying halo covering. Carbonation is firm and supports the good looks with gentle swirls.

Nose: Sweet malts and Devon toffee with a rich honey background. Mellow hints of alcohol and malts support the sweeter aspects of the nose.

Taste: Soft toffee, caramel and brown sugar, I don’t get much from the Port, I expected more actually after trying the Calvados earlier. Finish is smooth and this is a very satisfying well-rounded brew.

Mouthfeel: Creamy texture with a super-rich texture. It has a smooth feel, syrup like consistency and a thick swallow.

Drinkability: Enjoyable, one bottle is enough though, the sweetness melds with the alcohol nicely but the sweetness is still a little higher than I could live with in the long run.

Overall: 2004 Port – as with the fresher versions of the Harvest Ale and the Calvados, this is also little too sweet for my liking. An interesting experiment.

TheLongBeachBum, Jul 10, 2006
Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

For a beer that already has a strong tawny port-like flavor, I found this one to be a bit of overkill. Poured directly from the port cask at Spuyten Duyvel in Brooklyn, I took this one back to my table with trembling fingers. Deep maple syrup-looking color and serious almond/ maple/ port aroma and flavor. There was no head whatsoever. I did enjoy it, but the overall effect was a bit cloying with all that sweetness of the port added to sweet barleywine maltiness. Mouthfeel was somewhat syrupy and almost sticky.

dedrinker, May 28, 2006
Photo of Sephiroth
4.38/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brewed in 2003. Pours with slight head, body is orange. The port aroma masks the usual scent of this beer(non BA.) More alcohol in the nose than usual.

The port adds sweetness to an already sweet beer. The oak profile is big, with earthy, leafy, tobacco laden sugars. Mouthfeel is full and chewy. Drinkability is as good as that of any beer.

Sephiroth, May 10, 2006
Photo of Jredner
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma has a sharp apple, pear fruitiness along with a stiff port smell and mild cocoa notes. A red-tinged brown in color with a dminishing finger thick head. Lots of white fruit and chocolate malt in the fore with some muted port notes and gobs of caramel notes. Coats the tongue with a sticky sweet film. Not lacking for flavor. Quite sweet though.

Jredner, Apr 24, 2006
Photo of kaimcm
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bottle edition 2004 poured into St Berny goblet

A: rich brown, almost turning to amber body, creamy whipped egg white head. dissipates quickly, no surprise however at 11.5 % ABV. this beer has a lot of mystique to me and it even looks like a piece of history in my goblet.

S: decadent malt, carmelized sugar, raisons, vanilla, oak, and buttery cream. slight alcohol burn in the nose, gets stronger as the beer warms.

T/M: huge rush of heavy, viscous, dense, and oily malt and sugar. very light alcohol spice on the middle tongue. mouthfeel is full bodied, but also concurrently heavy and prickly. provides a nice frame for so much sugar. a hint of coffee on the finish, which dries slightly. grapes, raisons, and cream all over the place. vanilla extract in thier from the wood, butterscotch, and even a bit of tropical fruit. the cask ageing is evident in the maturity of this beer, though so far of the 3 Lees casks Ive had, the Lagavulin has been the most unique and characteristic.

D: extremely sweet, lots o' booze, and even more money make this a special occasion nightcap at best. I love it and think its extremely drinkable when I have it...which is rarely ever. if I could get half a bottle for half the price I would drink this all the time.

kaimcm, Apr 17, 2006
Photo of Crosling
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2003. Dark golden color. Rich, deep and vibrant port wine aroma, with hints of toasted oak, caramel and toffee, along with a hint of slightly overcooked smores, which gives a suggestion of smoke, marshmellow and chocolate. Wow, I am shocked with this one as it really took on the essence of the barrel. Soft palate, with an incredible diversity of flavors. Port wine flavor is discernible, but pretty restrained, giving the juicy and sweet, honey-like malt a very approachable mid-palate base, with toasted oak, apple brandy and coconut notes coming across on the finish. The port cask aged Harvest ale, is most definately my favorite of the four.

Crosling, Mar 18, 2006
Photo of scruffwhor
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A 2004 vintage poured from a 275ml bottle.

Appearance- Pours a quick foam that receds to nothing. No lacing, but a few bubbles grab hold to the side of my glass. The color is a deep amber, sienna, russet color.

Smell- A sweet, but not as sweet as the calvados barrel ale, fruit smell. but with a jostle of acidity in the mix. Like adding a splash of vinegar to a dark fruit salad.

Taste- Starts out as a almost potting soil mixed with candi sugar. Apricots, black cherreis, candied apples, and plums make the biggest impression. Have to also note that there was mark of acidity in hthe flavor. This helped to distinguish between the calvados and the port.

Mouthfeel- Smooth oil-like start and finish with a little warming on the back of the tongue and fruit all over.

scruffwhor, Mar 05, 2006
Photo of taez555
3.53/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick off-white head that dies almost completely within a minute. Body is a beautiful clear ruby/tan.

Rich malt smell. Almost reminiscent of a German double bock. Mild wine and subtle wood smells. A muted earthy hop smell again gives it a very German bock beer smell.

THICK!!! OMG. This is like drinking beer syrup, or slightly watered down LME. A very sweet and sugary malt taste. Sort of like rock candy with touches of honey. Has a slight toasted flavor in the finish with a mild lingering alcohol burn. Very little bitterness and almost no hop taste. This beer is malt, malt and more malt. You can't really taste the port barrel aging to much. It has a very slight woody flavor with mild hints of an aged sugary port, but it's hard to tell how the port effects it as the port flavors mirror the barleywine.

This is beer is one of the most dangerous beers I've ever had. 11.5% You can't taste it at all. This tastes like liquid malt extract before it's been brewed with. You really can't taste the port barrel aging. Although I think it would be interesting to taste the other 3 beers side by side.

Overall a nice traditional English Style Barleywine. Big, Huge and malty with very little hop taste.

taez555, Jan 19, 2006
Photo of xgrigorix
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Brown 275 ml bottle.

Medium copper, clear. Thin white head quickly collapses into a neat halo. Small sporadic bubbles meander to the surface.

Nose has hints of caramel, clover honey, & phenols.

Honey & caramel dipped apples. A touch of nuttiness. Syrupy with very gentle carbonation. Sweet finish, slow sipping, & enjoyable.

xgrigorix, Oct 19, 2005
Photo of sulldaddy
3.8/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I split a bottle of this beer with Stopper. I am surprised it is retired as we both thought it would improve tremendously with about 3 years of aging.
I am sampling a chilled bottle in a snifter. The beer pours the clear gold color of apple juice with just a hint of rose color as well.
The aroma is biscuits and graham cracker with some white grape and pear as well. No wood as could be expected. First sip reveals a big syrupy body with mild carbonation that rolls across my palate. Flavor is VERY sweet up front mostly fruity sugar. The middle gets some hot alcohol and more fruity syrup like in a fruit cocktail. By the finish the alcohol heat is covered again by sweetness that lingers a litte. Truly the definition of a sipping beer.
Again I would let this bottle sit for at least 2 years and try again.

sulldaddy, Sep 04, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the sniffer crystal clear almost medium golden with a white and low head that lasted well and laced the glass.

The aroma was much less than expected. A very low malt character coupled with some sweet fruit impression. No real port character to mention.

The flavor was light and fruity with a port flavor, but not a tawny port character, more of a white port. The flavor contained a nice bittering component and a nice maltiness, but was missing complexity in the beer. Not a bad beer at all, but nothing to become excited about. Some fruit and a good bittering, but no more than an English Barleywine or Old Ale.

The finish was almost dry with a lasting malt and light bittering impression. The body was full and almost viscous. The alcohol was lightly present in the aroma, stronger in the flavor and in the warming after consumption.

9.3 ounce bottle. $7.75 at Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville, VA. This one was good, but sadly, extremely overpriced. Not a very complex beer, opt for the Sherry version if you have a choice.

GCBrewingCo, Aug 07, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A-This beer pours a warm reddish-brown body that has a slight haziness to it. The head is a creamy off-white that quickly disappears. No real legs on this beer.

S- This beer has a sweet thick caramel maltyness that has a note of dark fruit and a very faint dark vinous note.

T- This beer has big malty flavors of caramel and sweetness. This beer finishes with a hint of sweet port and some earthiness. As it warms note of honey and lighter flavors start to come out.

M- Medium mouthfeel but a velvety texture that adds a nice compliment to the faint alcohol warmth.

D- This is a wonderful Barley Wine but I think that the port adds a bit to much sweetness to the already sweet B-wine. The others in this limited series all had nice compliments to off set the sweetness but I feel that the port cask adds more sweetness.

rhoadsrage, Aug 01, 2005
Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
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.

Sammy, Jul 04, 2005
Photo of Billolick
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
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!

Billolick, May 15, 2005
Photo of Sixpoint
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one "on-cask" at Spuyten Duvyil. Tiny, 4 oz. pour.

Butter, butter, butter! This one smelled exactly like butterscotch!

My sample had no head and no carbonation at all; it was basically flat.

My sample also had a tinge of oxidation.

Basically, I felt like I was drinking a licquer and not a beer...

The complexities from the malt and the nuances from the port made this a very interesting beer.

However, I think I would like more balance in my barley wine, and as a result, I did not find it as drinkable as a mellowed, mature barley wine usually is.

Sixpoint, Apr 05, 2005
Photo of lou91
4.28/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer looks just like the others – golden and completely clear with a slight rosy color on the head which formed nice on a forced pour. Thick, sweet and boozy. The port works really well – maybe the best so far. The oak, brandy and grapes all provide a great backdrop to the beer. Honey wine comes to mind immediately – very sweet but not too syrupy. This is like a fine dessert wine with the intense tastes, sweetness and satisfying buzz. Delicious . Not sure how these might age but this one is my favorite so far of the series.

lou91, Mar 31, 2005
Photo of shapudding
3.7/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beautifully golden-honeyed and clear. Carbonation seen rising in nice straight streams. Not much head, just slight bubbly white foam and then a bit of a ring and just clear. Clean aroma, cannot smell anything at all really. Bit of smooth carbonation, silky and smooth. Fresh and nice, juicy flavors, apricot, orange zest maybe, and hoppiness. Honey sweetness and darkened caramel, yet not cloying. Nice sipper, great flavor with a lot to think about and enjoy. The flavors expand through your mouth and are so enjoyable. Shared this one with my parents who I recently went to a port tasting with, they both really enjoyed it with Mom commenting that she got apricot on the nose with bitter on the tongue.

shapudding, Mar 20, 2005
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

Gueuzedude, Feb 17, 2005
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.72/5  rDev +14.6%
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!

NeroFiddled, Jan 23, 2005
Photo of Rastacouere
2.8/5  rDev -32%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Light orange color, no head. Strong red wine emanations capture the nostrils. Fruit syrup (apricot, pears) make up for a powerful liquor flavour. Extremely sweet palate, like apricot juice over an oxidized grape liquor. Syrupy medium body contributes to the cloying aspects.

Rastacouere, Jan 22, 2005
Photo of dgallina
3.68/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 2003. Sampled 1/2005.

Pours a translucent golden copper with non-existent head and very minimal lace. Smells very much like the regular Harvest Ale 2003; syrupy sweet and port-like with wood and alcohol undertones. Flavors begin slightly sour and acidic, gradually developing very sweet sherry tones and finishing with alcohol spice and huge alcohol warming. The aftertaste is nicely drying and has good port notes which are lacking in the regular version. Body is quite rich (nearly syrupy really) and somewhat oily. Surprisingly well carbonated for a barley wine, however.

A more interesting drink than the regular Harvest Ale 2003. The port-aged variant is a bit rounder, with less sharp initial bitter notes and a *much* better aftertaste. Not the best barley wine I've had, but significantly more palatable than the "plain" Harvest Ale 2003.

dgallina, Jan 17, 2005
Photo of benmiliron
3.13/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Paid $6.99 for a 9+ oz. bottle.

Ruby-brown color. Smell isn't as strong as I expected, slightly grapy. Taste is had to describe. Very sweet, sticky, syrupy & sugary. Still a beer, but just barely. More like a liqueur. An interesting experience nonetheless. I'll not try it again though.

benmiliron, Dec 20, 2004
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 331 ratings.