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

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Dantes on 05-07-2004

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Reviews: 189 | Ratings: 334
Photo of MrSeth
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brewed in 2003 Enjoyed in 2005

There was briefly a white head of a small size, but it has quickly become the familiar thin ring around the glass. The lacing doesn't run, but walks slowly back down the glass. The color is a deep dark and rich orange, transparent, but with an eerie murkiness to it.

The nose is nice. It's not blatantly sherried. With the malt aroma there are wafts of molasses and orange marmelade. A little musk, it's really not bad though. Where the malt meets the sherry in the nose I am reminded of scotch whisky. One of the heavily sherried ones, like older Macallans. The similarity continues into the taste.

Here in the taste, again there seems to be two levels of the profile. The most obvious is the sweet, fruity, brown sugary overtones. But on a second try, there are dry, woody, scotch undertones.

The mouthfeel is syrupy and sticky. This collects on the back of the tongue, hanging on with bitterness. I'd say it's a 3.5 because it's better than average, but could be better. If the sticky were replaced with some more bubbly conditioning that would be a really good improvement.

Drinkability? Don't go crazy with this one. As with many of the classic big ales, this one is best savored in moderation.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled February 2005
Pours with a frothy light tan head that is fairly thick, and held up by a persistently beading carbonation. The beer itself is brilliantly clear rich copper color. The aroma is a heady mix of concentrated malt, alcohol, and surprisingly, it smells of sherry. I also pick up some notes of soft vanilla. The taste is quite viscous and has a strong malty sweetness to it. The sweetness is accentuated by notes of nutty sherry, and a rich fig-like fruitiness. This beer finishes with a lingering hop bitterness that is not overwhelming but provides a nice counterpoint to the sweetness found up front.

The mix of nuttiness from the Sherry and vanilla notes is really quite nice. This beer is a nice dessert beer, and even reminds me of a liquor with its alcohol notes in the finish. This beer has some serious malt notes as well, it tastes of toasted malt, caramel, and toffee. This beer, as one would expect is rich and filling, it is quite thick and almost coats my mouth. I really like the extra dimension that the sherry adds to this beer.

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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 shapudding
4.56/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

No dating, but stamped on the cap is L4082
Clear and dark golden wit not much head, only a dusting with some swirling, itsy bitsy bubbles in a thin ring at the edge. Wonderful scents of whiskey going on, or maybe rum? Makes me think of drinking a rum and coke. Bit of some dark fruits and maple syrup or dark karo syrup, very nice. Wow! This is so thick and creamy, but not heavy, just smooth and lovely! There is a bit of bite from the carbination. I am surprised by the caramelly sweetness that the sherry brings. Tastes of a cream sherry and oakyness. Blackened toast in the aftertaste. After each taste there is a bit of both the dark and the sweet, -NICE! There is so much wonderful flavor in this. Man, I was scared that this would not live up to what I was hoping it would taste like. I love the taste of cream sherry -yeah, so sue me, it is fun chilled with a wedge of lime every once in a while! Pull out the Harveys! Glad that this turned out to be as good as I wanted it to be. Maybe not a session beer, but a wonderful sit down and relax and sipper. Enjoyed this one alot. -Especially after the crappy birds game today, this really took the edge off!

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.8/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Label Lingo and bottle babble: Triple labeled 9.3 oz. 275 mL browner topped off with a decorative L4082 cap. Back label is nothing but US Gov blah. Neck label “limited Edition.” Body label Ale matured in 2003 Sherry Casks”

Wrestled off the cap into a slender Saison Dupont mini nonic. Amber clear countenance with some sporadic bubbles rising capped off with a wafer thin yet retentive craggy khaki head.

Medium brewed tea & wood notes. Barely discernable leafy awl-kee-hawl notes.

First Swigs: Balls out malts over all else. Maple syrup detection like an out of control Barley Wine. Some background *shrug* sherry notes thanks to the label telling me. Sugar rush is out of control. Malt sugars run amok.

Overwrought with malt sugar blasts that my tongue is cooked. This took the pendulum swing over and above enjoyable levels to overdose. Too thick to be palatable.

Last Swigs: So little to sip. So little time. Practically a 2IPA with confectioners sugar thrown in to the mix. Ever drink Karo syrup straight from the bottle? Me neither, but if ya did, this is what I imagine it to tastes like. If only I got a nickel for everytime I mentioned sugar. This missed the Cask mark. One dimensional throughout from start to finish. A bit of a disappointment.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Photo of aracauna
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I may like this one the best of the four barrel-aged Harvest Ales. It’s the same gorgeous amber glow with the wispy, white head. The aroma is caramel and alcohol and a bit of oak. The flavor is sugary sweet, just like the rest of them, with a touch of slightly overripe peach supporting it. I can actually taste a bit of the wood from the barrel and a slight wine-like character from the sherry. This flavoring from the barrel is subtle, but not as subtle as the rest. A fine barleywine, but the sweetness, like in the rest, makes it a definite slow sipper.

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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 lou91
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 sherry. This is the second one I tried after the calvados. The look and rich thickness were identical. The taste was much different. The alcohol was not as powerful and there was a pleasant dried plum sweetness that makes you forget what you are drinking. The sweetness lingers in a way that can be over the top but it is a very good mind numbing drink. Also 6.99 in NJ.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle from Vienna Whole Foods, Vienna, VA.

Poured into a Rapscallion snifter, formed a 1/8" head over the clear copper brew, with slight lacing. Slightly sweet malt aroma initially, quickly overpowered by alcohol notes, with some fruity components as well. Taste is of sweet malts, followed by the alcohol warmth, and a tad of fruitiness at the end, I assume from the sherry cask, but hardly noticeable. Mouthfeel and drinkability are good for the style. Not much different than how I would present a rating for regular harvest, not much effect from the sherry cask, in my book.

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Photo of deejaydan
4.77/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Wow.. got this one on BIF 10. Smells of fruit and alcohol and something else.. probably sherry, but I'm not sure what sherry is supposed to taste like.

This is one great treat on the tounge. Slightly spicy and sweet, with a crisp alcohol finish. With the gravity of this beer, no wonder there is some alcohol, but it is well managed.

Mouthfeel is exceptional. It is thick, but carbonated enough so that it doesn't totally coat your mouth.

I think it gets hurt on drinkablilty though... this is a rare treat, but I couldn't see it as an everyday drinker.

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Photo of gueuzegeek
4.27/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

To drink this beer, I poured it into a 22 oz nice round red wine glass--I figured it was rather fitting. I HIGHLY recommend doing this to bring out the aromas. It was reddish in color and did not have much of a head, which was just fine for the style.

The sherry aromas were very vibrant, and there was no doubt this ale had been barrel aged. There was a bit of an oaky aroma as well.

This was a bit light in body, which was really unpleasant, but just something I noticed.

There was a certain sweetness to it, but it was not overly sugary or anything. It was definitely wine-like in taste, and at 11.5% it was more like drinking a nice glass of wine to me than having a beer. The alcohol content was not so obious as in other high ABV beers.

They managed to make this ale delicate in its flavors rather than just slapping you in the face with barrel taste. It was rather buttery as a side note, but not like a california chard.

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Photo of putnam
4.75/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed after 24 hours open at room temperature, this "beer" really starts to show what it's got. It can be left open for weeks at room temperature. This is a densely sweet beer with a deeply toasted, burned sugar bitterness. It is peach-tinted brass in color. There is - of course - no "head." It is an unattenuated, high gravity, pure malt, resinated, viscous, aromatic, intensely flavored, orange-colored liquid.
Scorched pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts on the nose fold into concentrated butter, maple and pound cake aromas. On the palate it is sweet and fabulously rich in a viscous, oily-textured way that is not quite accounted for by its evident residual sugar, nor any flavor of alcohol. On the finish it is supported by seed oil-flavored bitterness reminiscent of arsenic-laden apricot and peach pits.

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Photo of LuckySevens82
4.23/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275 ml bottle
Poured into a port wine glass.
Pours an almost rosy golden color, with a beautiful, small head. Lacing is very nice as well. Carbonation is very nice for such a high abv. I can hardly find words to describe the way this looks. This is perhaps the best looking beer I have ever seen.

Smell is heavenly: sherry dominates, of course. There are notes of sweetness, fruity esters, and alcohol. With a brew this big, it is no wonder that alcohol is a component, but I would have expected it to be more prominent than it is. There are also some nutty notes that I was not expecting, but are apperently quite common with the Harvest Ales.

Taste is extremely complex. Notes of sherry sweetness, and that certain nutty quality that doesn't so much go over well with me, but is interesting nonetheless. The alcohol warming and lingering sweetness make the finish of this beer quite nice.

I was actually expecting this brew to be a lot sweeter than it was. However, I do think that the flavors marry quite nicely and I would love to let this one sit for a few years and see how it tastes. The complexities as they stand now are amazing, I can only imagine them becoming more intense as time passes.

Overall a stupendous beer. I have 2 of each of these fellows and look forward to trying each of the others to compare. Really the only "gripe" (and I hesitate to call it a gripe), I have with this beer is that nuttiness that I was not expecting.

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Photo of Dantes
4.37/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Package:275 ml brown, crowned bottle, much like a 7/8ths scale longneck. Parchment-like, cream-colored label with burgundy lettering. Boldly labelled “Harvest Ale 2003" and “Sherry.”

Cost: NA

Presentation: Riedel Port glass at ~50°

Appearance: I expected this to be darker from the sherry, but it poured a leathery, reddish-brown with a dense, beige head, which decayed slowly. Not remarkably different from older vintages of J.W. Lees. Head is nice and sticky.

Smell: The sherry is quite noticeable on the nose, buoyed by the classic Harvest Ale nutty maltiness. The sherry blends nicely with the full, “beery” aroma.

Taste: The first sip is quite sweet, with the expected Sherry component. However, the nuttiness and yeasty tang quickly blend in the mouth, alleviating some of the syrupy qualities. Still young and a bit less-integrated than I would like. The talk on the BA forums compelled me to open these a bit earlier than I had thought I would. The finish is long, sweet, and warming. I expect that this will improve greatly in years to come.

Mouthfeel: Extremely full-bodied and syrupy. The carbonation is fine-grained, light, but persistent. It should survive for some time. A bit cloying and sweet, but promising great things to come. The Alcohol is noticeable, but warming and well-integrated.

Drinkability: This is a beer to savor, slowly and comtemplatively. Again, I would have loved to have a great corona gorda with this, but refrained. A bit young and sweet, this can be filling, so the smaller bottle is just about perfect.

Backwash: When VENOM first posted these upcoming arrivals, I hustled to the local store that carries a good range of B. United’s products. It took some wheedling, but they eventually got it in. Now that I’ve opened one (I bought 2 of each variety), I’ll have to find more. I’d love to find a place that offered this on draught, from the wooden casks.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
90 out of 100 based on 189 ratings.