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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)

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282 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 282
Reviews: 171
rAvg: 4.05
pDev: 15.31%
Wants: 34
Gots: 53 | FT: 4
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: beveragecaptain on 09-27-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 282 | Reviews: 171 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Like all other J.W. Lee's Harevest Ales, this one is also a joy and privilage to drink. On a lazy Saturday night, reading some homebrew books and sipping on this English Barleywine -- It's a good night. The beer begins with the expected malty-sweet aroma with slight hints of hops, ripe (or over-rippened) fruits, and a light peppery / alcohol note in the nose. Aromas are quite similar to 1-year standard Harvest Ales. The flavors follow up on the heavy sweetness, but a tawny port wine-like woodyness, booziness, and mustiness soon follows. None of these sherry notes dominate the beer, but add just a hint of added variety. The hops are still young and over-bearing and will need some time to simmer, but the beer is still sublime. The feel is a weighted sweetness that, at times show syrupy textures, and at others a rich maltiness. The hops add a distracting bitterness, metalic, and bitey feel that will fall out over the next year or so. Overall, the beer is terrific but is still quite young and has some maturing to do.

BEERchitect, Nov 25, 2007
Photo of MCDuhamel
4.68/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 bottling. Poured from a 9.5 ounce bottle into a snifter at cellar temperature.

A: Pours a deep copper, quite clear except for some suspended yeast picked up despite a gentle pour. A small, very white head forms but quickly fades to a ring with some film on the center.

S: Smells more like a nice ruby port than a beer. Pronounced fig, dried cherry and raisins hit the nose, with a slight underlying note of vanilla.

T: Again, very port-like. Fig and dried fruit are very prominent, with very little alcohol noticeable. Hop bitterness is barely detectable, yet the beer remains balanced; there is no discernible hop flavor.

M: Fills the mouth, but does not become viscous. Carbonation is not really noticeable, except that it seems to lighten the beer somewhat.

D: Obviously a sipping beer, but very easy to drink and enjoy.

Overall: This is an excellent barley wine. The sherry cask aging does not contribute odd or "gamey" flavors as sometimes happens with cask-aged beers. Worthy of a place of honor in any collection.

MCDuhamel, Nov 17, 2007
Photo of mpyle
3.58/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brewed in 2005...drunk in late 2007

Brilliantly clear with a rich amber color. Fairly modest head with very little retention.

A strong sherry/hard alcohol aroma. Definitely no hop.

Malty sweet flavor with a bit of raisin. Bitterness is subdued, and sweetness toys with being cloying. A bit of a coffee/Kahlua flavor, with some caramel as well. A very rich, sweet flavor.

Mouthfeel has heavy body and limited carbonation. No astringency. Some alcohol warming, but the alcohol character is well controlled for such a strong beer.

Overall really tastes more like a Scotch Ale than a EBW to me. Pure malt sweetness, and too strong/sweet for anything more than slow sipping.

mpyle, Nov 11, 2007
Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer is more of a "sipping" beer rather than one that's poured into a pint glass-- I can imagine a brandy snifter rather than the typical beer glass as the best way to present this brew.

Beer poured a red-amber color with a thin shot lived head.

The nose was a delightful treat of raisins, prunes, sherry, hops and other sundry notes.

The flavor was somewhat sweet perhaps even malty with hints of raisins, sherry, hops and malt.

The finish was a nice long lasting clean completion of the flavor.

The mouthfeel was cordial-- perhaps because of the sweetness.

I down-graded the drinkability because of the sweetness. The sweet flavor was not that of malt but rather that of some other element defying my tastebuds. It just didn't seem like something I expect from a beer.

Finally, I have to factor in the price in the over all enjoyment. I doubt this beer will find a spot as a regular in the beer enjoyment line up. As an occasional treat-- perhaps.

gueuzeonhigh, Oct 25, 2007
Photo of KarlHungus
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a reddish-brown color. The head is very small, an recedes into nothing within seconds. The aroma is of caramel, choke cherries, dates, and brown sugar. The taste is of caramel and brown sugar with strong sour cherry notes in the finish. The mouthfeel is full bodied, velvety smooth, and carbonation is moderate. Overall, this is a nice beer, but I am not overly impressed with its flavor profile. However, it should probably be taken into account that I am not a huge sherry fan. I would drink this beer again, but I would much rather have the port aged version.

KarlHungus, Oct 14, 2007
Photo of ColoradoBobs
3.98/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

2004 brewing.

9.3 ounce bottle (275ml) as shown. Moderate pour into a tulip glass yields hardly any head, which fades immediately to a thin ring around the edge. Hazy mahogany body.

Smell is strong sweet oak-vanilla, burnt toast, raisin-cream pie and charred wood. There is a malty-biscuity note as well. Black pepper. Caramel. Potato chips (really!). Perhaps the most unique aroma I've ever smelled in a beer. Really fascinating.

Taste is sweet cherries with vanilla, strong vanilla. The sherry is very evident, as is the oak-vanilla. The caramel note is balanced by an interesting sour-apple note. The potato chip aroma even comes up in the mid-flavor. Finish is black pepper on caramels, then a slight bitterness.
Vanilla accompanies every aspect of the many complex tastes of this unique brew.

Mouthfeel is delightfully deep and rich, round and full, slurpaliciously smooth. This is like melted ice cream.

Drinkability is diminished a bit by the overt vanilla that pervades the whole experience, and by the ABV.

Definitely a sipper, like its calvados-cask aged cousin. This one is, if you can believe, even more sweetly vanilla-y.

ColoradoBobs, Jul 29, 2007
Photo of dirtylou
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage, my last of the 4 varietals

appearance: pours into a snifter...light bodied ruby-mahogany, frothy beige head with decent lacing, clear body. wonderful looking beer from JW Lees, per the usual

smell: a little funky, full of oak, sweet sherry influence on the nose leaves this a bright exciting smelling beer...sweet syrupy malts conistent with what one would expect from this series

taste: very nice...sweet and fruity, berries and cream, vanilla and oak, sherry influence brilliantly placed...super syrupy and boozy, potent and sweet caramel. very lovely beer here, maybe my favourite of the 4 variations

mouthfeel: thick, sweet, and syrupy

drinkability: just fine

dirtylou, Jul 03, 2007
Photo of John_M
4.33/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours an impressive, interesting color of cloudy amber brown, with a hint of orange. While there is not much head, what there is lasts and lasts, and the lacing is superb. The beer has a huge nose of honey, brown sugar, cocoa and melon. This beer smells incredibly rich and sweet, with almost a drambuie aroma. Just incredible. The beer tastes every bit as wonderful as it smells, and is very rich and sweet. I get flavors of vanilla, chocolate, melon and bacon fat. Incredibly decadent beer. The beer has a long, lingering finish, and on the palate it is very rich, plush and smooth. The abv. is noticeable, and this beer is definitely a sipper, but the beer is so flavorful, you hardly notice the acohol. The only thing that really detracts from the drinkability is the sweetness. After a while it started to get to me a bit. However, this is one outstanding beer from J.W. Lees.

John_M, Jun 04, 2007
Photo of mcallister
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Fiery orangish/scarlet in color nearly opaque. Hard pour results in a small off white head that fades quickly. Nice looking BW.

A sour cherry dominates the aroma and to me is slightly off. However this beer is very nice except for the "jerk" effect if taking a large whiff. Golden raising, with very sweet melted toffee, bits of nutty esters and again big bing cherry aromas. Hints of wood with a nice bit of alcohol as well.

I have been enjoying sweet Barley Wines way too much lately and from previous samplings of the barrel series by JW I wasn't sure what would come of this one. Well I sure do like it. However RS is enormously high. Definitely a dessert sipper here. The sour cherry from the nose is now more of a dried black cherry in flavor. Various dried figs and raisins. I wish I knew what type of sherry was used for the aging although it was obviously a dessert type. The wood is lightly toasted with vanilla and sweet. Speaking of the this huge caramel, toffee flavors are having a war of which one is more supple.

Very thick and syrupy but not overly robust. Finish are very long as well.

I like this beer alot but not for any long term drinking. Amount of RS in this will make it an easy hour and a half sipper. However it has good complexity and really let's you relax.

mcallister, May 13, 2007
Photo of BretSikkink
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Rich brown-dark amber brew, clear but for some yeast debris. Pushed up about a sideways finger of lace, big for the style.

Oaky malt sweetness, yeasty dark fruits in the aroma. Hop and alcohol each punch in their own peppery bites into the nose. Like a steroidal Extra Strong Bitter.

Thick viscosity, gets fairly syrupy to an extent. There's some honey in the malts, also a lot of caramel and a little diacetyl flavor, toffee with a lot of alcohol. The sherry doesn't show up specifically, there's not much wood flavor, but there is an added dimension of dessert wine decadence.

Smooth in the mouth and overall, though somewhat like a dessert wine this too can get a little warm and sticky. Lots of fruit, and a little bready reminder also from the yeast.

Somewhat balanced, though in good English tradition, towards the malt; hops are backseat drivers. Alcohol is a big presence, but for a seven dollar bottle you expect it to go a long way. Fine brew.

BretSikkink, May 11, 2007
Photo of dogger6253
4.9/5  rDev +21%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in 2005, this beer poured into my snifter glass a dark peach color with a half-inch of off-white head. The head faded into a ring of large bubbles after a little while. There was a decent amount of lacing left behind. Particles of yeast float calmly near the bottom of the glass. This beer seems to glow, calling out to me. Very appealing.

Up front, I noticed dark grapes in the smell. Plums, raisins, peaches, bananas, cloves, green apples and pears all dance around the nose. On top of this, we get a spicy touch of alcohol and a bread-like, yeast quality.

Intense. Sort of grainy at first, but develops into several fruity flavors; grapes and plums, with pears taking the stage through most of the sip. There's also some other dark fruits mixed in, raisins and cherries... Diving even deeper into the flavors, I find apricots, dates, bananas, corriander, apples, and a sort of woody taste, cedar perhaps? As the beer warms a little more, I can taste a slight hops bite in the finish, mixed in with a peppery, alcohol taste. Even a little bit of cane sugar too... I also can taste brown sugar, molasses, ginger, and honey. The balance is exquisite. No one flavor kills another, each one making its presence known on your palate. Great taste.

Pretty heavy bodied, didn't really notice any carbonation. Very syrupy as well, lingers in your mouth for a while. While this was very tasty and refreshing, the high alcohol makes this a very 'specific occassion' ale. Almost felt like a waste not being able to share it with others, but I thoroughly enjoyed each sip. Very impressive.

dogger6253, May 10, 2007
Photo of kirok1999
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2003 edition. Pours a brandy colored dark copper with a few small islands of thin head floating on the top. This one needs a snifter and presents well in my Maudite. Smells of super sweet malts, old wood, earthy musk, dark fruit, alcohol. Taste is exactly the same, super sweet just as an English barleywine should be, massive dark fruit, sweet candy, I'm gonna get diabetes from drinking this! Mouthfeel is thick and slick and it is easy to sip slowly on a cool evening. Wish I had a fire going.

kirok1999, Apr 27, 2007
Photo of cproioi
3/5  rDev -25.9%
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?)

cproioi, Apr 24, 2007
Photo of jdhilt
3.93/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a four finger cream head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving very little lace. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and very heavy bodied. Sweet sherry nose. Flavor is sweet sherry, cloying but easy to drink. Pricey - $6.99 for a 275ml bottle from John's Grocery Iowa City, Ia.

jdhilt, Apr 17, 2007
Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.75/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2004. In the glass, an apple core tannic bite. With sharp vinous notes and a lot of aged raisins and pudding. Somewhat subdued over oak. Pours crystal clear with dispersed carbonation and a rim of creamy white. Flavor is dense, as is the texture. A lot of syrupy cream alights over gentle fusels and a bowl of dark fruits. Not entirely complex. The sugar is too dense and rich. There aren’t many nuanced notes here. Some plum and pear juices in a rice mixture. Seemingly more confused. After the cloying mixture a brief reprise of light vinous character, a bit of bittered oak resins and then a wash of old hops. This one seems unbalanced. The sugars too abundant, the malt character not forward enough, the barrel character somewhat unpleasent and the hops kind of rotty tasting. A real shame for the price. I appreciate some of the figgy nuts and almonds brought in by the barrel, but I don’t think the beer reacted well. Mostly too sticky. Otherwise, clean.

CharlesDarwin, Mar 08, 2007
Photo of sacfly
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz, 275ml Brewed in 2003
Pours an orange/reddish color, much lighter than expected. Hardly any head to speak of, but it does seem to have a very slight carbonation. Nose is a wonderfully sweet grain. Just a hint of the oak and sherry cask. Creamy, rich mouthfeel. Wow. Almost chewy. Flavors are more subtle than anticipated. Sweet maple with maybe a touch of vanilla. Pears. So smooth. Thick, full body. Alcohol is extremely well hidden. This was one of the more satisfying and enjoyable beers I have had in some time. Grab one to sip by the fire after a long days work and a hearty meal.

sacfly, Feb 15, 2007
Photo of kwakwhore
4.3/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2004 bottling poured into a snifter. Reddish brown with almost no head. sweet fruit, sherry scents. Flavors are similar lots of sweet caramel, very understated hop bitterness. Sweet flavor predominates. Silky mouthfeel. Alcohol is mostly present as a warming factor but extremely understated in the flavor. I had this beer for dessert tonight and it fills that role perfectly. A true sipping beer, one to savor for as long as possible. If you don't like sweet beers you won't like this one, but I do and this one is exceptional.

kwakwhore, Feb 15, 2007
Photo of karst
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden orange and the tan head fights the inevitable loosing battle with 11.5% abv. Brewed in 2005 this costly 27.5 cl bottle meets my hopes.

Lace and legs on the 0.4 L. rastal sniffer that confines the Sherry cask aroma and gives the impression that this barleywine was laid down 10 yrears ago and well cared for until opening. Velvety mouthfeel with medium full body that is high enough in dextrins to counter alcohol. Hops are not apparent. Just enough bitterness to help the alcohol dry the finish. Oak and Sherry linger.

A fireside sipper that should be savored on a winters night. A classic English BW.

karst, Dec 11, 2006
Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.28/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

For the long thanksgiving holiday I thought I'd try this brew. I had only one 04 sitting in the cellar waiting for a reason to drink it.

A - Nice brown / red brew, darker towards the middle of the glass. Small white head which quickly disappears.

N - Rich sweet malts, ripe fruit, molassas and a vinous quality which combine to an enticing aroma!

T - When compared to the standard harvest ale, there is a definite difference in taste. Not being a sherry drinker I'm leaning more towards an influence of oak, vanillay and maple syrup. The big sweet malts are definitely dominant with a continuance of the primary aromas of dark ripe fruits

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.

I liked this a lot and will add this to my harvest ales in the beer cellar. I can't wait to see how this improves over time.

barleywinebrewer, Nov 27, 2006
Photo of akorsak
3.38/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

akorsak, Oct 26, 2006
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.55/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2004 Harvest Ale matured in Sherry Casks (tried on 8/2/06)

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

Appearance: A dark ruby mahogany torso plays host to an off white ½” cap which quickly settles in a controlled manner to reveal a thick halo head and a broken surface. Finely dissolved conditioning looks great.

Nose: Molasses, sweet malts, sugared plums, raisins and crushed brown sugar enhance a very intriguing nose. Boiling fruit preserve litters the aromas with a warm working kitchen feel.

Taste: Not sure I really “get” the Sherry, but assuming it was a Sweet Sherry Cask I can go with it. High levels of dissolved sugar add a thick sweetness. Maple syrup, dark fruits and sweeter malts. Finish is cloying.

Mouthfeel: The texture is of syrup, thick fruit preserve and Grandma’s jams. Thick deep pile carpet feel but a little sickly at times.

Drinkability: 275ml was just about enough to handle.

Overall: 2004 Sherry – as with the fresher versions of the Harvest Ale and the especially the Calvados, this is just a little too sweet for my own personal taste profile. Nice enough but just a little heavy on the syrupy sugary sweetness

TheLongBeachBum, Aug 02, 2006
Photo of geexploitation
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark amber, with a head that has no staying power. Aromas indicate sweetness -- candi sugar and spice, with a Macallan sherry bite. On the palate, sweet sherry flavors come out first, follwed by figs and sugared pears. Hot alcohol and a dirt/tobacco finish, but not one that's overdone. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, except for the finish, which runs too hot to be called "smooth". Sticky. Overall, a bit too simple compared to the other JW Lees barley wines. The sherry seems to have robbed this beer of some of its complexity. Still, it's a very decent beer.

geexploitation, Jul 23, 2006
Photo of Matthew
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours out of the 2003 sherry cask aged bottle a orange color with ruby hues. At first there is 1/4 inch thick white head that immediatley settles to be only noticable around the edges of the glass.
The biggest and by far most prevelant aroma is sherry. The dominated sherry aromas cover subtle hints of caramel, sugary sweetness, sovlent alcohol, and minimal toffee notes.
The taste of sherry is very noticable but not as dominating as in the nose. The sherry flavors are wrapped with sticky caramel, toffee, and bready malt. This is a very sweet tasting beer that is best drank with complimenting foods.
The mouthfeel is nice and full but soft and smooth. Carbonation is mild.
This is a great sipping english barley wine, but it very sweet and full of potent rich flavors that may be too much after a glass.

Matthew, May 18, 2006
Photo of Sephiroth
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brewed in 2003. Pours with slight head, body is orange. Aroma is of rich, buttery sherry and complex fruits.

Tastes of oaked sherry, and vanilla flavored caramel covered biscuits covered with toffee and tobacco. Mouthfeel is thick, viscous, and chewy. Drinkability is as I expect from any JW Lees Harvest Ale.

Sephiroth, May 10, 2006
Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The Sherry dominates the aroma but you can smell lots of caramel beneath it. Red tinged amber in color this beer appears vaguely luminescent. There is just a slight filmy white slick of a head in the middle of the glass, but the outer edges are a uniform dime sized thickness. Fore is very sweet with caramel, sugar and cream. There are subtle woody notes in the middle and the finish is again very sweet with rich caramel and candy sugar notes. I’m starting to dig English barley Wines.

Jredner, Apr 24, 2006
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
91 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.