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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

Not Rated.
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

184 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 184
Hads: 317
Avg: 4.05
pDev: 19.26%
Wants: 41
Gots: 61 | FT: 6
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.
View: Beers (22) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 184 | Hads: 317
Photo of shbobdb
2.06/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

Well . . . it said that it was conditioned in a sherry cask and . . . it tasted like sherry! My girlfriend likes cream sherries and this beer tasted like a cream sherry that I'd expect to pay around $8 for (that's not a lot for sherry). Yeah, it tastes like a cheap cream sherry. It feels, in terms of mouthfeel, like a fine, full, rich english beer on a delightful beer-engine.

Yeah, not cool. The only thing about it that didn't feel like cheap sherry was the mouthfeel. Not worth it unless you really like sherry.

Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention . . . beer isn't sherry.

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Photo of bgold86
2.55/5  rDev -37%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

Was really excited to try this, 2013 vintage, served in a snifter glass at about 55 degrees. Was waaayyyy too sweet, just overly powerful in the sweetness. Unfortunately, this was terrible.

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Photo of fx20736
2.71/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into a pint glass,served at cellar temp.

Bronze Orange, small head, signs of decent carbonation. Beer was strained prior to serving which may have reduced head somewhat.

Aroma: I smell mellow alcohol which must be the sherry cask.

mouthfeel: soft and syrupy

taste: cloyingly sweet with a warming alcohol vibe. Like a plum flavored syrup.

Notes: Darker, sweeter with less sediment than the Port version of cask aged JWL Harvest. This is simply too sweet to enjoy.

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Photo of GreenWBush
2.72/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

16 oz. pint on special - $5.50.

This particular beer, served from what could have only been an ancient cask (literally a wood cask), seems to contradict everything I know and love about beer. Its a high-gravity barleywine, aged like scotch, that I just did not like. All signs led to "i'll love this one", but that surely was not the case.

This beer pours out an onyx mahogany with absolutely no head whatsoever, and was completely devoid of lace throughout. The nose is strongly sherry-influenced, to the point that I thought the marking was wrong and this was in fact no barleywine, but a sherry. Loads of alcohol in the nose as well, along with plums, raisins, slight tones of malt vinegar. Oaky, cherry, vanilla tones all come through as it warms from cellar to room temperature.

As nice as the nose was, I was shocked when I gagged on the first tipple. There are just too many clashing cloyingly sweet elements for me to distinguish them all. Rotten fruit abounds. Rich, meaty malt character blended with overly alcoholic oaky, sherry.

It looked and tasted like sherry, with no satisfying elements. The mouthfeel is sweetly cask-like, with a slightly slimy liquefied candy.

I've been defeated by a beer. I will have to have this in bottles to either affirm my lack of sophistication or confirm my suspicion that this cask was way long in the tooth.

I had to gag this down to finish.

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Photo of MuddyFeet
2.73/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Overwhelming. Palate overload. Good God, what is this? Is this a barleywine or a bad sherry or a dessert port? Definitely a dessert beer. This is an instance of something that was good product and having what seems like is a great idea, but it backfires. Poured brown with a slight red tinge it to. Slight bubbly head on top. Nose is like a glass of sherry or port wine. Flavor is all the wine with a slight hop kick towards the end. The bittersweetness also provides a slight curl to the taste. Very heavy in the mouth and oily--almost greasy. Definitely a slow sipping dessert beer. Aging in a sherry barrel destroys this as a decent barleywine.

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Photo of Sammy
2.74/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Disapointing version of something I normally like. Big full mouthfeel, but sourish aroma and only average taste. I cellared with for about 20 months and it has a long shelflife. A bit of sherry, but not too complex. Sorry, not finishable. I guess I am not a sherry fan.

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Photo of herman77
2.75/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2008 vintage

A: Clear orange amber with a small off white head. No lacing.

S: Lots of honey, molasses, sugar, raisins. Sherry, candied sherry. A tiny bit of oak

T: Wholly hell is this sweet. Just when you think it can't get any sweeter, it does. Pretty much tastes like complex simple syrup. Has a slight oaky, wet tobacco, wet cardboard taste in the finish that isn't pleasant.

M: Fuller body, low carbonation, but there is some left for sure. Sticky.

O: It's just way too damn sweet for me. I would have liked to try the others, not sure if I want to now. But maybe this is just so sweet from the sherry?

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Photo of PatYoda
2.81/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

On the handpull at downtown Indy's BW3. Appearance is a nice deep mahogany with a little bit of foam at first that disappears pretty quickly. Smell is...sweet! A few different types of sweetness combine to create a pretty sickeningly sweet smell. Of course the usual JW Lees toffee and caramel smell is very strong in there, and there is a little bit of malty sweetness, but there is also a strong maple syrup type smell and the sherry cask they aged this in must have been an extremely sweet sherry because it has a very strong influence on this beer. There is also a powerful spiced rum smell in there. The smell is very much in your face and powerful, but not appetizing at all to me. Taste is cloyingly sweet, as expected. There is some definitely depth and complexity here, and I'm sure this is probably what the brewers intended to achieve with this combination, but I can hardly stomach it right now. This is more rich and sweet than almost any dessert I've ever tried. Hardly any balancing bitterness in this one. Mouthfeel is nice and full and slippery without any carbonation. Drinkability is not great. I finished my 10oz goblet and decided that I could potentially enjoy it with dessert, but I definitely won't be ordering one again.

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Photo of Rastacouere
2.9/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Golden amber liquid wears no head. Oxidized wine aroma where floral undertones come hidden under strong alcoholic suggestions and milder bread ones. Light liquorice and wood hints. Taste contains a mild grape tartness that is overshadowed by a strong dry wood character, sometimes reminiscent of paper. Bitter alcohol finish imparts an appealing though rough cigar-like aftertaste. Mouthfeel is creamy, full bodied.

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Photo of seeswo
2.99/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2006 bottle. Pours brown with floaties and no head. Ehh. Smells like sugar, apple, caramel. Smells pretty good. Taste is very sweet and smooth in the front - very tasty up front, then the finish dries a bit with a touch of smokiness, though it's still sweet. I can't help but notice the "ham" flavor in the finish. It drives me nuts as it just lingers. Gross. Sugar just hangs out on the tongue with a heavy mouthfeel and almost no carbonation. Not very drinkable because of the ham, but definitely hides booze well. The ham just kills it for me...Hard to get through.

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Photo of cproioi
3.02/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured in a snifter this beer boasts a dark red body with such a little tan head that quickly shrinks to nothing. The aroma is of big sticky malts. Huge sweet fruit notes little to no hops present at all. The taste has faint alocohol notes with a huge malt flavor that reminds me of a lifesaver. Pleasant sweet aftertaste with a large amount of residual sweetness and a slight alcohol warming sensation. This is a sipping beer that would pair wonderfully with a big blue cheese (stilton, anyone?)

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Photo of meathookjones
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

After trying the other 3 cask aged versions I figured this one could use a little time to sit. I guess that might not have been the case. Fairly clear orange with a light tan head that quickly bubbles down leaving no lacing. Very strong syrupy sweet aromas. Some vinous and buttery notes were there but overpowered for the most part by the sweetness. Taste upon first sip was way too sweet. Light fruitiness and more syrupy sweet flavors follow. Light buttery notes before the sweet finish. Cloying but still drinkable. Mouthfeel is pretty thick and sticky sweet. Drinkability not good at all. It was hard enough drinking this bottle let alone ever wanting another one. Oh well maybe this might have been better earlier.

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Photo of leroybrown10
3.05/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy medium amber. No head even with fast pour into a snifter. No lacing on the glass as I swirl the beer.

Aroma of sweet malt and caramel. No hop notes at all. Some mild sweet citrus notes. Orange, oak, vanilla, and dry red wine.

Taste is syrupy sugar. Almost sickeningly sweet. Caramel, oak, vanilla are prominent. Sherry & barrel comes through on the finish. Sherry provides a dryness after the sugary beginning.

Thick mouth feel with little carbonation. Leaves a chewy coating behind.

Not a beer I was very impressed by especially given the $10 price for a 250ml bottle. Sweetness that is quite unpleasant and so strong that it detracts from the flavors that are more enjoyable like the vanilla, caramel and oaky barrel notes.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.16/5  rDev -22%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

275 mL bottle poured into a Hunahpu snifter. 2009 vintage.

Appearance - Just a hint of a head that got me so excited that I forgot that the chunks would soon start to flow. Sadly, a giant lump of something gross fell into my glass. It burst into smaller chunks and suspended itself into the murky amber liquid. Like a water sample from Lake Erie. Yum.

Smell - Huge sherry aroma. Like an oxidized barleywine, but without some of that cardboard. Harsh alcohol in the back of the aroma. Lots of raisins and sugars.

Taste - Intense sherry flavor up front that fades to raisins and brown sugar. Then the back end kicks in. Bitter cardboard. Rather unpleasant.

Mouthfeel - Syrupy as every other Harvest Ale. The sherry does nothing to cut the sweetness. Definitely a rough finish with the bitterness and the cardboard. Almost a burnt oak flavor.

Overall - Big beer. A sipper. A sugary sipper. It's complex, though. It's one of those beers you can ponder for a while. Maybe the result of the pondering isn't the best, but the activity of drinking it is nice.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.18/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2008 vintage, 9.3 oz. bottle poured into a taster glass. Tried side by side with a 2008 Calvados version.

a - Pours a dark reddish amber color with a few bubbles of off white head and light carbonation evident. Darker then the Calvados, and with less carbonation and head.

s - Smells of sherry, oak, clay, light fruity malts, dark fruits, sugar, and molasses. Not bad, but the clay smell is a littl weird. I think I like the Calvados smell a little better as it is a little sweeter and doesn't have that clay smell to it.

t - Tastes of sherry, sweet dark fruits, fruity malts, molasses, sugar, clay, light smoke, and toasted malts. Again decent, but I think I like Calvados better again.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Thick and some alcohol to it.

o - Overall a decent beer but my least favorite of the variants so far. I like the normal Harvest Ale, and love English barleywine's in general, but for some reason can't get into the variants at all; I really don't think they add anything good to the base beer. This one had some weird clay-like smells and tastes to it. I'd personally rank them the normal Harvest Ale, Calvados, Port, and then Sherry. Wouldn't seek it out again.

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Photo of BeerNinja007
3.18/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2005 vintage aged in sherry cask. 9.3oz bottle for $12 at Discount Beverages on Hoosick St in Troy NY. Shared with me by a friend.

A: Tawny brown color, like fresh apple cider. Chunky precipitate is slow to settle, floats slowly around the glass. Thin eggshell head.

S: Thick, heavily aromatic, toffee, molassas, caramel, apples. Sweet.

T: Brown sugar, creme brulee. Sweet. Not hoppy, not very beerish. More like a sweet malty brandy. Barley port?

M: Light carbonation, mostly flat. Thick and syrupy. No alcohol apparent.

D: Thick and sweet.

Obnoxious price does not buy a good review. Disappointing, not recommended. Sure glad I didn't pay for it. Unbelievably overpriced.

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Photo of Hop_God
3.21/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

L: ruby amber brown
S: big time sherry. Bread. Brown sugar. Candied fruit.
T: very sherry prominent. Tart fruit. There is a saline acidity I'm not enjoying.
F: moderate carbonation coats the mouth. Finishes crips and tart
O: not too fond of this. Has a licorice like quality and the Sherry is too heavy for my liking.

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Photo of bobhits
3.21/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sometimes I love people that don't get beer. I really don't know what this was supposed to be (8-11 bucks I suspect) but the girl at the register couldnt' find it so she gave it to me for 50 cents...I tried to tell her it was wrong but how hard can you fight about a deal like that?

2007 poured into a new style stone old gardian glass.

Thick, cloudy, huge chunks of yeast, and a dirty orange and red mix leaning toward well nasty water. That said nothing wrong with the beer, I just can't think of a discription that sounds nice. A very thin head poured and quickly vanished.

Red wine like sweetness coming off, subdued by yeast aroma. Gone is the fruity complex nose from a normal one. I suspect this is greatly a result of the sherry barrels and well I really don't even know what sherry is.

Sweet, yeasty, ummm...well that's it? The alcohol is nearly gone, which is impressive. There are some hops in the back but they are only adding a slightly bitter feel and mostly just a part of the sugary sweet malt finish. The sherry plus the age seems to have more or less just left us a very mellow and tame beer.

I mean it's as drinkable as a flat beer that's got a very high density can be. It's a sipper if you want or you could drink it pretty fast (would be a wast if you did). Seems thinner than the normal beer which is odd. Again could be an age issue but I somewhat doubt it.

I certainly won't be trying this again (unless it's at 50 cents a bottle cause i'll drink it nightly for that!!!).

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.22/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2005 Vintage. 9.3oz bottle. Pours a rusty brown color with tons of sediment floating around. Thin layer of head that dissipates rapidly. Kind of smells like a boozey caramel apple. Strong alcohol aroma. Flavors of caramel, sherry, alcohol, apple, and slightly bready. Pretty boozey tasting. Even with this beer being less than 12oz the booziness make this a sipper for certain. Overall it is an alright brew but the price helps make this time probably the only time I will drink it.

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Photo of kornkid8600
3.3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2009 Vintage

Looked amber color, no head, no lacing, like a glass of sherry wine.

Smelled very sweet, sticky, toffee, minimal wine characteristic, some alcohol.

Tasted very saccharine, too much. Lots of toffee, caramel, vanilla, less sherry. Dominated by the grain sugar far too much. All you can taste is sugar.

Mouth feel was in the middle, some weight, barely any carbonation.

This beer ends up being too one dimensional, the amount of sugar overhelms in the beer, and takes away from any other characteristics.

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Photo of akorsak
3.36/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The barleywine has a garnet orange-red color with no head and little carbonation.

S: The ale has an unusual alcohol smell. Never having had sherry, I'll say that it is a sherry-like aroma.

T: The ale has the malty sweetness of a barleywine. Mixed into that is a slightly vinous, sharp flavor. The flavor is full-bodied and somewhat unpleasant. I don't think that I will like sherry.

M: The mouthfeel is sweet with a sharp, vinous edge..

D: The ale weighs in at over 10%, making drinkability difficult. Add to that the sweetness of the malts and the intense alcohol of the sherry and this is a one and done beer.

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Photo of brystmar
3.39/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


A: hazy orangeish gold with TONS of sediment. Minimal white head and lace, looks very oily.

S: smells of sweetly aged booze and malts. Oaky too.

T: woah, sherry cask overload! Woody / oaky flavors absolutely dominate everything else here. The deliciously aged, boozy malty notes I loved from the regular Harvest brew are apparent but take a backseat to the cask's presence. And by backseat, I mean they're actually 3 cars behind this one in the caravan.

M/D: creamier than expected; syrupy. Would be easier to drink if not for the cask flavor dominance.

Should probably note that I'm not a big fan of the flavors imparted from cask conditioning in general, but I really love the JW Lees Harvest ale.

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Photo of Kooz
3.41/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque orane color with a creamy, tight-packed head. Not too much of a nose, but a bit boozy and warm. Tastes sweet with caramel hints. The boozyness continues throughout, but it gives it warmth and isn't unpleasant. The beer isn't over-carbonated, and is nice. It's really smooth and I'd enjoy drinking this again. It's a pretty good beer overall.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.43/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 275ml bottle. 2004 vintage.

Appearance- Pours a semi-film over the beer with no retention. But I don't expect any kinbd of decent head from a barley wine. Color is a deep amber, copper color with the bottom reminding me of maraschino cherries.

Smell- A mix of reduced brown sugar sauce, something sour, and very dark fruits. I don't know what sherry tastes like, but I assume its tart.

Taste- Starts out with a very sweet apricot flavor and leads to a straight brown sugar and apricot mix. This slowly leas to a more and more vinous flavor that eventually develops into just a sour aftertaste.

Mothfeel- A little too tart for my liking, the finish at least. But the gradual build up to the sherry like finish was pretty cool. Very syrupy mouthfeel.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.49/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from 2010 shared tonight at the cookout.
Slightly hazy deep brown color with a minimal bubbly off white head. Aromas of caramel and brown sugar with bits of fruity esters and a touch of earthy and sherry. The flavor is rich and sweet with caramel maltiness offset with some fruity vinous notes. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. Decent beer, my first time having the sherry version. I think its either inferior to the regular harvest ale or in a weird aging stage that leaves a bit to be desired before its a stellar brew again. I'm hoping for the later and an opportunity to try this again with some more age.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
90 out of 100 based on 184 ratings.