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

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,186 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1186
Reviews: 786
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 14.08%


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: 1,186 | Reviews: 786 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of budgood1
budgood1

Minnesota

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

vintage 2001

pours out a a dark and slightly hazy amber colour. no carbonation and no head or lace. sweet malty aroma...candied figs, rum cake, molasses, ripe dark fruit and the like...brandy like booziness...and all the other wonderful aromas associated with fine barley wines. the taste here outshines the aroma...a very sticky sweet malty base of flavour...toffee and caramel, hints of chocolate and anise. sweet fruity plums, grapes and raisins....black cherries, currants, and an alcohol spice. the hops haven't totally faded; they provide a well placed floralness in the taste and just a ghostly hint of bitterness in the back end that melds beautifully with that alcohol spice. the mouthfeel is outrageous...sublimely smooth, and velvety. the body of this barley wine is full and curvaceous. my god does this taste outstanding. the perfect sipping brew on a cold and wintry night in the northern great plains. a stashfull of these are required in any advocates cellar. sad to say this is my only bottle...saved for the right night to end the year that has been 2004.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2004 03:01:59 | More by budgood1
Photo of phisig137
phisig137

Virginia

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage poured vigarously into a tulip, produces a thin 1/2 finger head on top of a murky reddish brown body. Head falls quickly, and doesn't leave any lacing.

Aroma is massive. Burnt sugar, caramel, dark fruit, chocolate, figs, alcohol, and tobacco are present in abundance.

The flavor is simply incredible here. One of the most complex beers that I have ever tasted, hands down. Huge notes of vanilla, cherries, caramel, toasted grain, wood, raw sugar, honey, and others fill your mouth, and change as you drink it. Everything in there is incredibly concentrated, to the point that this tastes like a "beer reduction". I can't even begin to pick out everything in there... the complexity and concentration are making my head spin. Alcohol is present, but not overwhelmingly. Mouthfeel is very thick, heavy, and syrupy. Drinkability is pretty good, but I wish that it were not... this is meant to be savored for a couple of hours.

I paid $7.99 for this bottle, and now that I've tasted it, I would gladly pay double that. I really find it interesting how this changes the more you drink, and are able to pick up on more and more subtle nuances. Despite the fact that this is already 8 years old, I could easily see this going for at least another five years.

Without a doubt, one of the 5 best beers that I have ever had.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2006 00:59:25 | More by phisig137
Photo of xgrigorix
xgrigorix

Michigan

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Brown 275 ml bottle, 1997 vintage (10 years old).

Rich, dense burnished amber topped by a thin white halo.

Wonderful aroma of nuts, alcohol and dried fruit.

Layers of tropical fruit, raisins, lush malt, oranges, rum, and plums. Finishes sweet but not cloying. Moderate bitterness. Rich and syrupy, with incredibly easy carbonation.

Serving type: bottle

12-21-2007 03:02:52 | More by xgrigorix
Photo of dasenebler
dasenebler

Maine

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage.

Pours a clear, rich ruby hue with a tight tan head. A thin layer retains.

The aroma is incredibly malty, with notes of dark fruit and leather. Bit of alcohol, but not very much.

The flavor is astounding. This is such a rich, succulent malt bomb that is also incredibly drinkable and smooth. Almost syrupy, but in the best possible way, that is, with no cloying character. There are fat notes of molasses, caramel, fig and tobacco. Very layered and deep. Not bitter whatsoever, with a lingering woodiness on the palate. The alcohol is beautifully integrated and incredibly mellow. The mouthfeel is weighty and velvety, with low carbonation that cascades over the palate. Absolutely pleasurable, with no overpowering alcohol flavor.

The oldest beer I've ever sampled, and also one of the best. Fantastic.

Serving type: bottle

09-01-2010 02:58:17 | More by dasenebler
Photo of skivtjerry
skivtjerry

Vermont

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2001 vintage drank in late 2010:

Looks rather viscous while being poured. Forms a sticky 1" head that persists until the glass is empty (actually, who knows how long it would last - I drank the foam too). Smells wonderful, a humungous malt bomb with luscious sherry notes, toast and alcohol too. Taste is mind-blowing good. Waves of malt attack the tongue and surrender feels great. Figs, rich desserts, chocolate, melons, and a nice grainy note. No hint of hops left, the alcohol provides as much bitter dryness as the IBU's. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, low carbonation and enough alcohol to balance the immense weight. I could drink this stuff until I collapsed, which probably wouldn't be that long. The ultimate beer for a cold evening.

Serving type: bottle

12-27-2010 23:31:29 | More by skivtjerry
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
NittanyBeerFan

Pennsylvania

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

All tastings poured into tulip glasses...

Bottle from 1998 - Reviewed 4/25/2011 (5, 4.5, 5, 4.5, 5)

Pours a rich brown with garnet hues, almost no head at all, though there are hints of bubbles that do form after the pour. Leggy appearance on the glass after a quick swirl. The aroma is toffee, caramel, sweet syrupy malt, raisins, and dates, along with molasses and some absolutely awesome port/fortified wine character. On to the palate, where this is one of the most delicious and complex barleywines that I have ever tasted. Toffee, caramel, raisins, dates, and that brown sugar syrupy flavor all translate from the aroma. Followed by sherry-flavored oxidation and port-like notes, the fruity and sweet flavor is top-notch. Not even a touch of booze after 12 long winters in the bottle. Thick and syrupy and smooth on the palate that leaves a sticky residue, this beer deserves all the accolades it gets.

Bottle from 1999 - Reviewed 4/28/2011 (4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5, 4.5)

Appearance as far as color is much the same as the 98, though there is far more carbonation in this that there was in the 1998 vintage. The aroma, as a result is far more open. There are the same aromas of toffee and caramel, more evident here, with lighter fruit, mainly dates and plums. Again, the port-like aromas are evident. On the palate, this is much more concentrated as far as the toffee and caramel go, with the fruits fading a touch to the background. The palate does open up more bringing in some plums and dates, molasses, a touch of leather, and a hint of vanilla. The finish is syrupy and sweet, but not cloying; I find the sweetness in this vintage more balanced with the malt character than it was in the 98. Overall, I prefer the 98 vintage slightly, though this is no slouch.

Bottle from 2000 - Reviewed 6/28/2011 (4.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 4.5)

Bottle opens with a tiny pffft indicating an undercarbed barleywine, but the pour shows otherwise. Light carbonation, but a nice fizzy head does form before vanishing. The aroma is somewhat less integrated than the two previous vintages, even at 11 years in the bottle. Caramel apple, dates, brown sugar, and some molasses. On the palate, the caramel sweetness is especially notable, bordering on candy-like. Deep fruity notes complement brown sugar and molasses in the finish, with just a touch of vanilla and some sherry-nuanced oxidation. Slick and oily, but smooth and lush on the palate. The candy-like sweetness is somewhat tempered by the vanilla and fruit notes, balancing this nicely. This is my second favorite vintage overall behind the '98.

Serving type: bottle

04-26-2011 02:51:23 | More by NittanyBeerFan
Photo of BeerNemesis
BeerNemesis

New York

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale | 275 ml. | 11.5% ABV | 2002 vintage

Brewer: J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Style: English Barleywine
Glass: fluted snifter

Appearance:
Hazed mahogany with a vanishingly thin head and no lacing. The sediment swirling around the glass is either exciting or a major turnoff depending on how you look at it. I'm going with exciting.

Aroma:
Molasses, honey, toffee—everything dark and sugary. There is a nice raisin fruitiness, and an almost brandy-like alcohol aroma.

Taste:
As I expected, this would be a journey. Harvest ale is a deep beer. Toffee, honey, and molasses are back in full force. But then there is also a raisin and chocolate mid-layer that's just delicious. Ripe fruit—pineapple especially pushes through, only to be followed by a somber, brandy-like alcoholic finish.

Mouthfeel:
Creamy and resplendent in a tactile-sensory sort of way. The sediment adds a few bumps to the ride.

Harmony:
This, in my humble opinion, is the consumate English Barleywine. It is incredibly flavorful and deep, without being rude or showy. The barrel-aged offshoots it's spawned don't fall far from the tree.

Would I get it again?:
Oh yeah.

Bottled: 2002
Served: August 11, 2011

Price = $20 at The Modern (NYC)

Serving type: bottle

08-12-2011 22:26:28 | More by BeerNemesis
Photo of superspak
superspak

Michigan

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

700th review! 275 ml bottle into tulip glass, 2002 vintage(12/1/2002). Pours a murky dark brown color with a small dark khaki head with decent retention that reduces to a ring of lace as expected. Some slight bits of lacing on the glass. Aromas of huge caramel, molasses, biscuit, wood, toffee, raisin, earth, whiskey, chocolate, and light herbal. Damn nice aromas with good strength and complexity. Taste of HUGE caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, wood, raisin, butterscotch, chocolate, biscuit, honey, and slight herbal hops. Lingering notes of molasses, caramel, toffee, raisin, honey, and butterscotch on the finish for a good while. Insane complexity, balance, and smoothness; with no cloying sweetness at all; despite this being a 100% malty beer. Light carbonation and full bodied; with an absolutely beautiful creamy, slick, and thick mouthfeel. Alcohol is insanely well hidden with no warming noticed at all. Definitely a sipper, but I can’t even consider drinking this fast at all. Overall this is an absolutely mind blowing barely wine that was pushing 10 years old. I will not turn down purchasing older vintages of this in the future. Absolutely fantastic.

Serving type: bottle

04-19-2012 04:16:30 | More by superspak
Photo of rinhaak
rinhaak

Massachusetts

4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage.

Nose is musty with loads of sherry, oak, wood notes, alcohol. Amazing mouth with prunes, raisins, brown sugar, brandy, and a maple finish. Smooth as velvet in the mouth, and despite drinking like a dessert beer, there isn't a cloying sweetness.

This would be perfect with a creme boule or fine dessert. Amazing beer through and through.

Serving type: bottle

09-25-2012 02:01:47 | More by rinhaak
Photo of Bighuge
Bighuge

Minnesota

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage. This beer is a murky looking deep scarlet color. A slight brown head edges the glass. Very sweet caramel candy aroma. Also get cherry and wood on the nose. These Harvest Ales never cease to amaze me. This is the third vintage I've tried over the past month and they were all wonderful. This beer is so damn smooth for 11.5 a/v. These Harvest ales are truly works of art. This beer is vinous and heavy on the fruits and sweet characteristics. Dark cherry and plum. Vanilla extract. Candied apple. Dry cedar. The more I sip this the more I feel the dominant taste here is cherry-vanilla. Wow. It's great. The mouthfeel is a titch syrupy and almost a full bodied brew. But this is a highly drinkable beer given it's a/v. Another winner from JW LEES.

1998. Appearance is dark burgandy. Thin laced off-white head. The nose is piney, malty and perfumey. And oh yeah, alcohol is there too. My oh my is all I can say when this beer hits the palate. Beautiful. Surprisingly, I get no sign of alcohol whatsoever. And this is 11.5 a/v. This is an incredibly smooth and easy drinking barleywine. This is my first experience with JW LEES and it is very positive. I seem to get some spicing on the palate. Sweet spices like cinamon. This beer has a really nice sweet taste to it. Fairly low on bitterness. Very little aftertaste. This beer is almost a Masterpiece of the Brewing Art.

1997. The beer pours a deep garnet with a decent head. Unbelievable sweet fruity tones on the nose. And some alcohol and brown sugar. The taste is very sherry like. Very nice. Residual sugars are evident. Tastes of brown sugar and candied apple. Very nice taste. A little bitterness perceived. Alcohol is present but not overbearing. This is very good, but the '98 vintage I had a couple nights ago was better.

Serving type: bottle

06-10-2002 22:13:35 | More by Bighuge
Photo of scottum
scottum

Vermont

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle of the 1997 vintage.

Pours out a hazy brown with a very small quick fading head. Wow! wow! wow! This is not an overrated brew. So damn good on so many levels. Huge malts are so complex. If only all six year old beers were to be this good! I wish I could drink this liquid gold every day. Certainly one of the best barleywines I've ever sampled. Gots to try me some other years.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2003 23:00:38 | More by scottum
Photo of francisweizen
francisweizen

Arizona

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage, 12 ounce bottle, purchased at Bierkraft in NYC for $6 or so. A good purchase for sure! This classic brew poured out a nice dark reddish colour with plenty of inherent carbonation. The aromas were all across the board, and very Hardy's like at times. The aromas consisted of dark fruits, spicy alcohol, deep, deep roasted malts, and very freshly cut, bitter, herbal, grassy, sappy, piney, hops. Over the years the hops have been cut down to size and the malt really dominates in this brews taste, but that is OK to me, this is a classic brew, that 6 years of aging has totally rounded into a new dimension of complexity and balance. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, but i'll knock a point off for the lack of liveliness. The drinkability is only marred by the super strong ABV. A classic!

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2003 17:10:50 | More by francisweizen
Photo of nomad
nomad

Kansas

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1988 vintage

Blowing the dust off of the little nip bottle, this beer poured flat but a lack of carbonation is expected after 15 years of aging. Most surprising was its very dark brown color, much darker than any other vintage I've encountered, especially in its thick body shading toward translucent.

Smelled of a sherry or port profile, impossibly lean but impenetrably complex. Had big notes of butterscotch, dark honey, rum, and each truly so. These are the most recognizable out of the stealthy and heady mix; tough to paint the picture of its scent in more than large strokes. Enough to say that it is quite nice, maybe muddled, and lacking the dizzying pungency of younger vintages.

The taste is just as complex and lean, immediately giving off flavors of buttery rum and hops that have turned into alchol infused floral fruits with aged bitterness. Has a smooth and caramelized sweetness with a buttery touch with opening, and distinct from the rum notes. Like younger bottles, this beer is still malty first then hop cleansing in the finish, though most impressive is the dark alcoholic roastiness that becomes almost mocha-like. Again, so complex, thick, but sleek that its hard to be exacting - instead you get a supreme drinking experience.

A slick, thick, and smooth mouthfeel like none other, after aging for 15 years this is a heavenly syrup. The heights of aged beer, standing up to any liqueur, this is the beer I use to wow my friends that are uninitiated to beer. I would not enjoy vintages older than this, and I never venture younger than 4-year old bottles - maybe 7 to 11 years is the peak.

A comforting beer every time out, so my scores reflect other vintages as well as the particular one reviewed. Thanks to JimD for the assist on the bottle of 1988.

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2004 18:16:34 | More by nomad
Photo of santoslhalper
santoslhalper

Pennsylvania

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy reddish amber with a nice offwhite head. Smells very fruity and malty. Hints at prunes and rasiens. Quite a sniffer. Tastes exceptional. A true delight to the palate. An explosion of taste. Tastes very fruity and datey. Such a complex brew my taste buds are baffled by what they are tasting. This is an interesting, unique brew. A barrage of flavor. This is one of the best out there. Unbeatable complexity, very smooth and creamy in the mouth, and it hides the 11.5% almost too well. This is a world class knock you on your ass beer that can't be matched. Many, many thanks to GClarkage for sending me this one. A+++

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2004 02:08:22 | More by santoslhalper
Photo of brentk56
brentk56

North Carolina

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 Bottling

Appearance: Pours out a dark amber color with a modest head that dissipates and leaves little lace; not surprising for this type of beer

Smell: Gosh, where to begin...rum-soaked candied fruit, honey, caramel, tobacco

Taste: A very complex liqueur washes over the tongue, almost like drambuie, but not as sweet or alcoholic; flavors of sugary burnt fruits such as apricots, raisins, pears, prunes and then some tobacco bitterness strikes up to balance the sweetness through to the finish

Mouthfeel: Thick and syrupy; moderate carbonation

Drinkability: One small bottle would last an entire evening; a wonderful concoction

Got to try the fabled 1998 bottling on 9/21/12 and was blown away by how tasty a 14 year old beer could be

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2005 01:09:10 | More by brentk56
Photo of hckyfn9999
hckyfn9999

Missouri

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

What better way to celebrate the new year than to go back in time with this 2000 edtion of the Harvest Ale. Pours a hazy deep amber color with a small cream colored head that leaves some nice lacing. There are also some golden hues when held to light.

Intense malt aroma with some caramel, honey, molasses, toasted malt, raisins, and alcohol. Wonderful aroma. Taste is very sweet. Definitely some molasses, caramel, raisins, and a little citrus (grapefruit) in the finish.

Mouthfeel is smooth and full.

Very drinkable despite the sweetness and high alcohol.

This is an incredible beer. Im glad I could buy a beer this old in the store because there is no way I could hold onto it this long. Definitely worth the purchase despite the high (nearly $6 a bottle) price tag.

Serving type: bottle

01-02-2007 03:54:14 | More by hckyfn9999
Photo of basica
basica

Singapore

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

J.W Lee's Harvest Ale (AGED: Vintage 2002) (Rating 10/10) - 11.5 ABV - 11 October 2007

I had my 2005 Lee's a few days ago and now trying to cross compare with this one which is 3 years older. Generally the looks between the 2 differed significantly but the taste difference was not really detectable except that I can sense that the 2002 is somewhat a slightly more mellowed down version. I again served this top notch Barley wine in my dainty little snifter glass. The 2002 poured out with an unexpected dark ruby color compared to the 2005's orange color; it had a small head which quickly reduced to mild lacing and finally nothing whereas the 2005 had no head at all. It smells fruity strong of the same fruit composition - Plums, Prunes and maybe raisins; but the difference here is the smell is not as overpowering like the 2005 one; I believe it is more
mellowed down. The taste again hits me first with strong maple sweetness followed by a nice malt backing and the fruits flooding into my palates; plums, prunes, raisins and the malt backing was clear and blended very well with the fruitines. I believe the malts were more pronounced here than in the 2005. The alcohol is definitely less pronounced here as the finish did not leave an alcholic taste and the only aromas driven up my nose was sweet fruity aromas of honey, sugar and fruits including plums, prunes and raisins. The malts were nicely evident in the finish and after taste and clearly the taste is well mellowed down and not as stinging nor alcoholic as the 2005. The after taste was malty, fruity, syrupy and the first thing that hits me is the syrupy candied taste followed by the clear malt backing and of course the multitude of fruits which started off really plumy and ended with a raisiny note with the malt backing and honey candied taste pretty evident. Generally, I think the level of sweetness is just as high as the 2005 version though I think I would have expected it to go down a little over the 3 years. The mouthfeel was clearly rich and thick like the 2005 and was definitely almost syrupy thick but the mellowing also brought down the clear alcohol strength as evident in the 2005. The alcohol is definitely not
jumping out anymore; definitely a prefered property. the 2002 was also surprisingly very smooth, even smoother than the 2005. I guess that the aging mellowed it pretty well; it could use a tad bit more of mellowing and slight downing of the sweetness and syrupy though it is not cloying.
Now, I have sky high expectations for my final 1998 bottle of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale!

Serving type: bottle

10-11-2007 16:16:59 | More by basica
Photo of BiereBlanche
BiereBlanche

Colorado

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A flight of shared 12 oz. bottles of the Dec. 1 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2006 Whiskey-aged (comments under that specific style) courtesy of the owner at Deep Ellum, Allston MA. Served just below cellar temp and allowed to warm in small flutes.

An excellent flight and nice to pick out the subtle differences. All the vintages shared the same great characteristics. The pours were dark, caramelly ambers of slightly varying shades. Cloudy, with yeasty sediment evident at the end of the bottles. Light head was impressive in size for an easy half bottle pour and took minutes to fall. All these drinks were incredibly rich with complex, sweet malt characters, little hops, little carbonation and slight alcohol. Filling and incredibly smooth.
The 1999 was my favorite, the smoothest, richest and sweetest of the flight. The nose and taste were incredibly complex and I'd love to see an ingredients list for all the wonderful flavoring that was picked out for the brew. It brought to mind sweet potato and brown sugar so strongly I could almost picture it in front of me. The drink would be a great desert for a holiday feast. Caramel, lightly burned brown sugar, buttery toffee, a tiny bit earthy. The aging had mellowed and smoothed this vintage so nicely. Almost no alcohol or bitter flavors. Absolutely delicious. To this point, my perfect desert beer.
The 2002 was a little darker, and just the tiniest bit of bitter. Again, almost no carbonation. A bit less caramelly, less burned and a little smoky flavor picks up. This vintage seemed to be the sweetest and least bitter.
The 2005 was the first to have a little alcohol bite to it, surprising in the earlier two, given the still high 11.5 ABV. A bit less smoky. Still really delicious and along side any other beers, this would have been incredible, it was only in this flight that I was able to pick out that it was missing a bit of the complexity of the 1999 and 2002. Caramelly and sticky.
The 2006 had less of the caramelly, burned-brown sugar sweet potatoes notes that were so distinct in the 1999 and was the most different of the flight. Clearer appearance than the rest, lighter malt characteristics. There was an earthy note in aroma and taste that was distinct to this vintage, it was fitting and fairly mild but stood out. Tiny bitter and alcohol bite.

These were all a real treat, I would have been happy with any one of them and having the flight brought out details that wouldn't have been noticed otherwise. Incredibly flavorful, smooth, rich and delicious. They could all drink like fine liquors and I can't think of anything I'd rather have for a desert beer than a bottle of the 1999 vintage.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2007 00:24:35 | More by BiereBlanche
Photo of Lupe
Lupe

New York

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2000

Copper brown colored, with a tight and creamy ivory head that leaves behind some lace. Size of the head was a surprise considering the abv and age. Beautiful amber-red hues shine through as it's held up to the light.

Sweet aroma of dark fruit, toffee, and caramel. Doses of honey, raisin, fig, brown sugar, and alcohol are all mixed in. Very inviting.

Lots of sweet malt flavors, like the aroma - dark and tropical fruit, toffee, caramel, and mild coffee. Some honey and brown sugar along with a touch of vanilla and faint woodiness. Herbal hop bitterness as well as spicy alcohol and yeast round thing out. Absolutely delicious.

Full-bodied - velvety smooth, creamy, thick and syrupy. Start with juicy burst and finishes dry with a lingering spicy tickle.

Incredible drinkability for such a big and complex sipping beer. Alcohol never gets in the way. Truly special.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2007 01:38:23 | More by Lupe
Photo of Risser09
Risser09

Pennsylvania

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled shared at the homebrew club • Vintage 2000 • Into a tulip

Appearance: This beer pours a hazy brown color with red hues. It has an ivory head that is small and short lived but produces alot of residual lacing.

Smell: Boozy with a strong malt aroma. Caramel, oak, dark fruit, molasses, raisins, fig and licorice. Lots going on and a pleasure just to smell.

Taste: Molasses is quite strong and shares room with all the same aromas above. This beer is a complex one. It is complex and warm. Awesome dark fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel: Vinous, syrupy and boozy. This beer has lots and lots of legs. It is juicy and complex and sugary. Perfect for a sipper like this one.

Drinkability: Best served in a snifter and warmed to room temperature. Quite frankly, I could drink a ton of these. Perfectly aged beer is a beautiful thing.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2007 13:21:10 | More by Risser09
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AKBelgianBeast

Alaska

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! This is an intense brew.

Vintage 2001.

Pours a deep brown with ruby red haziness through the light. appears very thick and has little head. The nose is a glorious mix of dark fruits with raisins and dates. Caramely and sugary with some slight smoke taste. liquid candy. mouthfeel is very, very thick and creamy as hell. goes down smooth and is very drinkable for its 11.5 abv. The finish lingers forever and leaves a sugary residue on the lips that takes a while to lick off. An excellent offer from JW Lees. Much better than any of the recent cask aged lees brews. I would say this is my favorite english barleywine behind arctic devil. Great brew.

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2007 02:39:54 | More by AKBelgianBeast
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largadeer

California

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

'98 vintage.

Appearance - Oily and thick, mahogany in color, hazy but still transparent. Pours with a small, short-lived head.

Smell - Earthy and sweet. Caramel and raisins with woody undertones. Very bold, similar to a nice port or sherry.

Taste and mouthfeel - Layers of flavor unfold with each sip. Strawberries, followed by caramel, wood, iron and raisins. Bitter earthy hops provide a necessary touch of dryness in the finish that prevent this from being cloying. Very full-bodied, almost syrupy, with just enough carbonation to keep the mouthfeel lively. Very drinkable despite the syrupy texture and sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2008 21:38:07 | More by largadeer
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Greggy

Minnesota

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review on 11/20/08. Sampled at cellar temp. 1998 vintage

A- Very nice thick 1 finger head with some nice clinging lace. Dark maroon/brown color with some suspended sediment. After a bit, the foam recedes to a thin cap.

S- Initially I get a huge fresh flour component and sweet brown sugary goodness. I also get some nice cherry and chocolate, with some plum or fig. I also get some nice peppermint aromas.

T- Sweet plum, cherries, maple syrup, brown sugary smoothness. with a very smooth dryness in the fining. Very sweet malt as well. This is outstanding.

M- this thing is the definition of smooth. It has basically no carbonation but is very well balanced and sweet. It's amazing what 10 years on a beer can do for smoothness.

D- 11.5% is pretty high, but it's hidden VERY well. I am Very glad I have 3 more of these.

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2008 02:00:11 | More by Greggy
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AleDrinkToThat

Tennessee

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage.

A: As soon as I cracked into it (catching the alcohol presence right off the bat), I poured it with care into my DFH snifter. Deep mahogany hue which could only be seen on the sides and bottom in the evening sunlight, and about one finger of creamy smooth head.

S: Again, the alcohol made itself known immediately upon opening the bottle after 10 years of waiting in the darkness. While it was present, it was not utterly dominant. Caramel malt, molasses and raisins permeated and nearly overwhelmed my olfactory senses. I swear I could almost smell how sweet it was.

T: The aroma is great, but the taste is divine. The caramel malt & molasses burst forth immediately with a slightly cloying sweetness, opening up into strong raisin notes and the warming alcohol presence. It finishes beautifully on a warm note and the aftertaste is full of sweet raisins.

M: Again, it is just a little cloyingly sweet. One of the sweetest beers I've had and without the tartness of wild yeast that balances out a lambic. Very low, but not entirely absent, carbonation. But the intense thickness and warming alcohol presence make it a different and wholly fantastic experience altogether.

D: Alas, I cannot recommend more than one a week. It's just too sweet and complex. (English barleywines are right up my alley, so take all this with a grain of salt.) It's best to enjoy this flavor on occasion so one doesn't get to the point that it tastes somewhat pedestrian, which is certainly far from the case. Also, there's just no sessioning an 11.5% monster like this.

I'm not sure if all the vintages are this sweet (I've heard the 2000 is less so), but it was time to drink the '98. I don't think it could have gained much more by sitting longer. Excellent!

Serving type: bottle

03-23-2009 04:40:23 | More by AleDrinkToThat
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Pecorasc

Oregon

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1999. Split two ways and poured into a Leffe glass.

A- Medium to deep amber in color with swirls of thin film and some streamers of lacing thrown up the sides of the glass. Swirling or tipping the glass to the side move the lacing around and show that this beer has quite a bit of viscosity. The beer is clean, but not polished and shows no noticeable signs of carbonation. A very nice looking English Barleywine that looks more red than other examples of the style.

S- Dominated by a pleasant dust and cardboard-like oxidation. Those aromas are complemented by a cherry and pear sweetness. Some woodiness is present in the background and there is only a slight amount of alcohol. Very unique, somewhat confusing, but certainly a 5.0.

T + M- Right away, this beer distinguishes itself with a thick and creamy mouthfeel that makes it drink like a stout. Wonderful flavors of cherry liqueur, wood, and cardboard. Think grenadine soaked cardboard; sounds gross, but tastes amazing. Transitions to heavier wood and alcohol on top of the malt and cherry flavors and finishes sweet and smooth with very little alcohol burn.

D- Fantastic drinkability on an 11.5% barleywine. No alcohol burn, but the big body makes this a fuller beer that falls between a sipper and a beer with average drinkability. This could make a classic pairing with so many cheeses and cigars. This beer was surely made with an eye to aging.

Serving type: bottle

01-25-2010 02:23:08 | More by Pecorasc
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,186 ratings.