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

Not Rated.
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,221 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,221
Reviews: 793
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 206
Gots: 173 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 12-18-2000)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,221 | Reviews: 793 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by weizenbob:
Photo of weizenbob


4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This 275 ml bottle (incorrectly labeled 2.75 ml) was purchased at Beertopia in Omaha, NE. It is the 2008 vintage and was purchased for $3.99. It was served at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The cap was popped and the bottle was poured into a Duvel tulip glass. I poured aggressively to rile up as much head activity as I could muster from this high gravity ale. I was rewarded with about a finger's worth. The downside of my pour is that I also ended up with an excessive amount of chunky sediment that remains suspended in the beer as though frozen in time. Unsurprisingly, head retention is poor, though lacing grips mercilessly to the glass. The beer is amber tinted with little translucence and (unfortunately) a lot of floating dregs. The chunks are a result of my pouring faux pas and will not be counted against this beer's score. It is otherwise average looking per style. Pour with care!

Though this bottle is over three years old, the aroma is still incredibly alcoholic. The potency is near-gag inducing. I cannot imagine what this must have smelled like when first released. Intense blasts of butterscotch put up a good fight but are no match for the alcohol. It is vaguely reminiscent of paint thinner in aroma and nasal-clearing power. Hmm; I wonder if I'll get high off of the fumes. I enjoy the richness and complexity of a good strong ale but this is too much of a good thing for me.

Being a little bit of a health nut I've often enjoyed organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches prepared on whole grain bread. The flavor of this ale is strongly reminiscent of that PB&J experience. Honey-like sweetness aggressively fronts the flavor of this beer. As the honey melts in the mouth, literal impressions of whole grain bread emerge on the tongue. Nutty undertones prime memories of peanuts, sunflower seeds, rye and flax. A hint of woodiness fills the nostrils with each breath after the first sip. Despite its dominance in the aroma, alcohol is incredibly well-hidden amid the powerfully sweet and grainy flavors of this strong ale. If hops were added to the boil, there is no evidence in the finished product. It is pretty darned tasty.

Yes, this is a heavy ale, but the feel is not as heavy as one might expect from a brew of 11.5% ABV. The body is medium-heavy. Carbonation is relatively low, yet ample for the style. Sweetness coats the mouth like honey, but the overall effect is thankfully not syrupy. There is no alcoholic burn. It is a sipper that feels like magic in a bottle.

My overall impression of this legendary ale is positive, despite the rocky start. It looks average and smells over-the-top, but the taste and feel are both excellent. The price equates to $5.15 for a 12 ounce serving. That's pricey for lesser brews, but for a beer of this quality I call it a bargain. The small bottle is even enough to split with a friend and still not feel cheated. Just be sure to pour the bottle with a lot of caution.


The Two-Schlitz Scale: (reference my profile for an explanation)
I give two Schlitz about the 2008 JW Lee's Harvest Ale.

Serving type: bottle

12-28-2011 01:12:56 | More by weizenbob
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4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Harvest Ale 2012, cellar temperature in a snifter.

This barley wine has a modest one-finger white head of foam which subsides unhurriedly. The color is a marvelous brownish, brackish, deep amber orange that looks clear and gem-like, though it isn't totally translucent.

The aroma is a superb one, filled with vanilla, caramel, toffee, ripe red apples, butterscotch, raisins, cider, and lemon zest. There may be a subtle earthy, leathury oak note too. Truly a pleasure to take in.

I taste sweet fruits at first; the sweet, juicy apple mixes with dark red cherries and, surprisingly, a grape flavor that bursts more in the middle, right before the finish sets in, which is something quite special: caramel, smoky leather, and earth abound, lingering prominently with some wonderful toasted nuttiness. And all the while those sweet fruits remain light in the background.

The feel is full, substantial, and a bit sticky.

A brilliant British barley wine with distinctive fruity and nutty traits.

Serving type: bottle

07-06-2014 06:58:19 | More by Kuaff
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06-15-2014 00:38:17 | More by amalburg
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06-13-2014 02:46:34 | More by monketeeth
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06-13-2014 01:06:25 | More by 22Blue
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06-10-2014 08:50:13 | More by woodenbones
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06-01-2014 20:27:02 | More by emalc
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4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006, finally! I could not wait more, but anyway it should be excellent by now. Let's see if it holds true against my expectations...
Brown ochre color with an almost inexistent head, so far no sediments. Almost showing some lacrima effect falling down the glass.
Wonderful aroma of Port wine, lots of high grade cocoa chocolate, licorice, molasses, oak, dry fruits, a hint of cinnamon and plums. I could mistake this by a chocolate panettone. I cannot get tire of sniffing this.
Surprisingly, flavor doesn’t entirely follow nose. Some new slightly smoked notes of charred wood or even tobacco. Also, molasses, very subtle earthy English hops, Port Wine, walnut, coconut, figs, cinnamon, prunes, apple juice, pears, licorice and maple syrup. Maybe some pleasant musty. Dry and sticky aftertaste with residual notes that mutates a bit.
Liquorish body with a very low carbonation, but it is still there. Alcohol of 11.5% abv is much better hidden than a bottle of wine given its malty body.
Extraordinaire beer, a sweet malty sipper with great complexity. Bold but still mellow. Highly recommended if you are into Barley Wines. This was in perfect condition after roughly eight years, I can’t wait trying one much younger and another one older.

Serving type: bottle

05-31-2014 01:10:28 | More by FLima
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4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2000 Vintage. 275 ml bottle poured into snifter, very excited to try this one.

Pours dark reddish brown, no murkiness, very little sediment. Leaves lacing and has a very quickly dissipating pinky sized head.

Nose is strongly of sherry, very very slight alcohol presence. I think there would be more to say, but I have a poor sense of smell.

Up front is the butterscotchy sherry flavor, dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar. Possibly a slight tobacco note in there that I didn't expect.

Mouthfeel is not particularly thick, leaves a coating of flavor on your tongue and lips which is pleasant.

This is a wonderful beer. I spent 8.50 on it and I was satisfied. Definitely a sweet sipper for a special occasion. I haven't had this before now but I suspect the age did this beer wonders. Very satisfying.

Serving type: bottle

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4.76/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage.

Look: A beautiful reddish orange color. Almost like a honey color. I poured it straight out and it developed a nice head that went away immediately.

Smell: Sweet, dried fruit.

Taste: Follows the smell. I've been sipping on this 750 ml for about an hour and a half, so it has changed as it has warmed (and as I have warmed). Rich malty sweetness that is in line with dried fruits. The booze is well hidden. This is not a terribly carbonated beer but it does go down easy. I am glad I bought two more bottles to age!

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,221 ratings.