J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
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Ratings: 1,170 | Reviews: 782 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by khiasmus:
4.08/5 rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3
Reviewed from a tasting, vintages 1997-2008.
it's odd, really, when you think back on it, at first the very fact that there is a past, and second that you, the same you, existed then, and third, that you now have bits of it stuck in your head, and no one else has those same bits. The random things we remember, you know. Take 1997, for example. It was a nut brown year, much darker than most, but not in a bad way, just more mahogany. Brown and cloudy in the remembering. Those were nights of sherry, molasses, dates and raisins, back in that wet cardboard box. A good year. I think it is my favorite. 2003 was different. it was thinner, more boozy, and a lighthearted golden, a much more serious year and less complex, but certainly little to no cardboard. There were, of course, the old girlfriends that one never thinks about, and then the old friends that one tries never to think about lest they feel guilty for not making contact in so long. 2002 was about when I started brewing, I suppose, there's that dense haze of pure grain sugar mash, definitely the most grainy year, by far. The absolute sweetest was 2004. Orange marmalade and syrup, and a nice amber hue. 1999 was an odd year. So many licorice sticks that year, I dread to think on it. I got into almonds then, or was that 1998? No, 1998 was almonds, Muscat grapes, and anise.
Then there was the millennium. What a strange year! Everyone was concerned about y2k and the end of the world and why we weren't yet living in space and driving flying cars... lots of booze in that one. Lots of it. Lighter and fruity, more white grape than the rest. Then back to the usual of nuts, grains and amaretto in 2001. They all had just a soap-bubble ring of head, except for the 2000, which had ample head that stuck around. The 2006 was the darkest, a nut brown and with a good bit of sediment, murky. 2005 was a cheery gold, but 2007 was the lightest of all of them.
It's sheer madness, as we look back on these years and see the steady march of time in our own lives, and how we have so much yet that we'd always dreamed of accomplishing, yet so little that we originally set out for has been obtained. There is an answer, you know. There is, in fact, a Reason. So different though, looking at all of the differences in yourself and the brew as the years go by, and being able to say "that was a good year." You, and they, had little idea in the moment what each minute would bring to pass years thence, but each action continues to make you into who you will be tomorrow. You have a choice, you know.
I think the 97 was my favorite, despite the oxidization, or perhaps 2002 because of the lovely grain-husk aromas. The 2004 really stood out as one of the best vintages by far. The 2000 was the oddball, and didn't seem really to belong. There are huge variations in flavour and colour year to year, not simply the minor nuances I was expecting. I certainly recommend a tasting of this magnitude if you can possibly set it up. Cheers!
Serving type: bottle
09-11-2010 00:24:11 | More by khiasmus
More User Reviews:
4.48/5 rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Appearance: opaque copper/brown, large cream head that dissipates rather quickly
Smell: rich malt, woody/spicy hops
Taste: a lot of malt flavor. rich, dark fruits, light earthy tones. finishes with a caramel/biscuit flavor lingers at length afterwards
Mouthfeel: thick, heavy, moderate carbonation.
Overal: the aroma matches the taste for the most part. Picked up more earthy hops on the back of the palate that I couldn't detect with the scent. Nice bittersweet and caramel finish after beginning with tons of malt and dark fruit flavors.
Serving type: bottle
02-21-2014 01:29:02 | More by KevBot89
4.11/5 rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
I love the color in this Barleywine as it has a wine like texture and a cloudy rusty amber hue. Perhaps its the age but the head was virtually non-existent.
The aroma keeps in the barley vein as the barley maltiness is strongest but then a rich dried fruit scent becomes apparent. Date and fig seem more prevalent at the end.
The flavor is strongly malty, earthy and musty with caramel malt, a dry nutty and biscuity flavor. This ends with wine like alcohols and dried prunes.
This is very thick in feel with a bit of alcohol bite but no alcohol warmth.
This is my first try at this Barley wine and am interested in how it evolves from year to year.
Serving type: bottle
02-08-2014 22:11:19 | More by KYGunner
3.98/5 rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
Vintage 2010 (approximately 3.5-4 years aged)
As a celebrating for cracking 1,000 beer karma (like I need a reason to drink good beer). Bought this gem just a few days ago at Little's Wine and Liquor store in Denver, CO. They have a great cellaring program and this is the oldest beer I've seen them put on the shelves. Poured into a snifter (after letting it sit and warm a bit). Paired with pretzels to cleanse the palate.
A&S: You can see a ton of unfiltered specks floating around the bottle (even when undisturbed) before opening the beer. After cracking this beer there is a immediate and powerful rush of sherry-like red wine tones, cherry fruitiness, very intense sweet. The beer is a semi-transparent murky burgundy color. Understandably not really much going on with the head, pours a fizzy off-white and drops to nothing in a few seconds. Globs of sediment settle to the bottom. As it warms you get whiffs of bitterness, but it is mostly overpowered by sweetness.
T&M: Initially similar to the aroma sherry-like, super sweet, some dark fruit raisin tones. Alcohol is present, but well hidden (but I can feel my face getting flush). But then BOOM surprisingly earthy (and not good earthy, it pretty much tastes like dirt), somewhat metallic tones kick in at anywhere from the mid-taste to the initial finish. The most likely corporate of the not so great taste is oxidation (but it is still hard to get over). Not getting a ton of complexities in the taste cause the flavor is cut so abruptly. The very, very finish is becomes very pleasant (still doesn't make up for the initial finish). Low carbonation, high body. Last sip was pretty good, some of the settled parts actually cut the oxidation characteristics.
Overall: I really have no idea what this beer is like fresh, but at this age I wasn't a huge fan (especially for the price). I trust that Little's cellared this beer properly so I don't think that is the issue. I wouldn't buy this beer again at its price (10$ for less than 10oz), but I'm still glad I experienced this old of a brew. To date this is the oldest aged beer I have ever tasted. After submitting (usually only check rating after reviewing) there seems to be a ton of pDev on this beer, probably due to pushing it past it's limits. Maybe this beer is only meant to be set aside for a couple of years and not a half to a whole decade... just my two cents. I guess I also questions J.W. Lees, I know brewing over seas is based more on tradition, but why not try waxing or corking a beer that everyone is so eager to age... again just my two cents. The smell and initial taste are great, the finish is not, which kinda spoils the beer, which is unfortunate cause I can imagine how awesome this beer could be.
Serving type: bottle
02-01-2014 04:57:25 | More by minterro
4.36/5 rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
2011 batch - drank January 2014
a: a mixture of golden amber, ruby red, brown, with a hit of crisp bright yellow. no real head - just some bubbles that collect around the side of the glass
s: tons of caramel and toffee here. alcohol. fresh bread. plums and raisins. hint of baking chocolate, fig, brown sugar, molasses. more sweet caramel. the aroma here is rich, and packing a lot into each sniff
t: flavor is just as rich as the aroma. this is a heavy beer, and a sipper. TONS of caramel and toffee malt flavors assault (in a good way) you up front. then maple syrup, brown sugar, figs, raisins, sweet berries. finish has a hint of alcohol
m: heavy, like syrup. almost no carbonation
o: great evening beer, use this as a nightcap to sip on. its rich and packed with a bunch of nice mellow sweet flavors
Serving type: bottle
01-18-2014 07:17:36 | More by hopsputin
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,170 ratings.