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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.

341 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 341
Reviews: 202
rAvg: 4.11
pDev: 14.6%
Wants: 47
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: 341 | Reviews: 202 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of kirok1999
4.47/5  rDev +8.8%
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
4.3/5  rDev +4.6%
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
3.83/5  rDev -6.8%
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
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
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 +9.5%
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
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
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
3.63/5  rDev -11.7%
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 +8.3%
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
4.05/5  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
4.83/5  rDev +17.5%
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
3.88/5  rDev -5.6%
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 +21.7%
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
4.7/5  rDev +14.4%
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!

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.9/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

Photo of dedrinker
3.5/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

Photo of Sephiroth
4.38/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

Photo of Jredner
3.75/5  rDev -8.8%
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.

Photo of kaimcm
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

Photo of Crosling
4.2/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

Photo of scruffwhor
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

Photo of taez555
3.53/5  rDev -14.1%
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.

Photo of xgrigorix
4.15/5  rDev +1%
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.

Photo of sulldaddy
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
92 out of 100 based on 341 ratings.