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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,189 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1189
Reviews: 787
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)
View: Beers (18) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Ratings: 1,189 | Reviews: 787 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of feloniousmonk


4.75/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The creamy tan head doesn't stay long in the glass, but the color beneath is a gorgeous deep, dark plum. Aroma is potent and vinous, giving off great reminiscences of port wine, sherry, cognac, even as it sits on the table, before I even bring it to my nose. On closer inspection, we get a full, thick, lush feel of black licorice, a profound winey flavor. Thick texture, like raisinbread, or plum pudding! A slow sippin' beer, with a slightly oily mouthfeel. At 11%, it's a whopper, but the alcohol sits behind the profound, commanding flavors, and only later does it slowly emerge.
Perfect thing to put in your hand and slide down the lips on cold-as-bejeezus days like things..
I was supremely satisfied with this one.
1997 vintage

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2003 20:20:13 | More by feloniousmonk
Photo of purplehops


4.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1992 Vintage
The 92' pours a sparkly red-orange (pms 1675c) with very fine particles of yeast in suspension. There is no head to speak of and no lacing on the glass. The aroma is honey and orange with alcohol and prunes/raisin smells. There are also some floral notes like those from a Belgian Triple yeast. The taste starts off very very malty with a mead like alcohol kick and lots of effervescence on the tongue. The finish is dry with alcohol being the main player here. There are some notes of citrus and very faint bitter hop flavors. The aftertaste is alcohol warmth and sweet. Some hints of corriander like spice flavors and hops float in and out of the alcohol glow. You can feel the alcohol in your esophagus long after the last sip. The mouthfeel is full with tongue tingling and a hint of syrupy, but not in an unpleasant way.
Overall a very nice and complex winter sippen' ale. Full of alcohol warmth with lots of malty, citrus, and spice flavors. The 92' may be starting to go. There were a few medicine and metallic flavors trying to get out as if the yeast was done and the malt was ready to start breaking down.

Serving type: bottle

01-17-2003 19:41:25 | More by purplehops
Photo of maxpower


2.83/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1988 must have not been stored right, flat no carbonation, sweet sugary caramel aroma, tasted like maple syrup, too sweet two sips and dumped the rest.1997 was much better, very small head, strong caramel aroma, smooth, sweet caramel- toffee flavor, this is what I will rate, the 1988 was ruined.

Serving type: bottle

12-13-2002 18:36:34 | More by maxpower
Photo of Suds


4.83/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage. A very dense, thin, tan head sits atop this dark-ruby beer. The smell is fantastic...a woody, complex, malt and grain aroma. Big on the malt sweetness, but also considerable butterscotch and toffee tastes. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Exceptionally complex. Simply outstanding: a beer to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately.

Serving type: bottle

10-12-2002 20:39:05 | More by Suds
Photo of Shiredave

New York

4.72/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 vintage. Not bottle conditioned, (ie no yeast )but cellarable, I'm sure the 11.5% alc / vol ensures it's longevity, but I question whether the flavors change.We will see in time. The condition of this bottle was near perfect. Dense and clingy, slighlty off white head, mega malt to start but fresh earthy hop aroma fights it's way through around the alcohol notes. Label states only "the choicest East Kent Goldings" hops are used. This Brarley wine is as close to a US / W. coast barleywine
( more malt than Ol Crusty, more Hop than Ol Foghorn..)as I've ever tasted from the UK. This beer explodes w/ hopflavor and bitterness - all EK Golding grassiness and fruity pine. Massive amounts of malt must be used in this brew and much remains in the sweet, honey like , full bodied flavors that stack up to the uncommonly strong hop presence. As this beer warmed the alcohol notes came through a bit more ; but only a bit as the thickness and hoppiness hide the alcohol very well. If there were dyacitals and funky alcohol flavors, I couldnt find them. The warmth down the throat and into your veins keeps you aware of the Hugeness of what your sipping. This is without a doubt the best British barleywine Ive ever had and quite possibly one of the best made beers. Aged before release, exceptionally well balanced, Humongously Massive in every way... as the bottle states this beer is brewed " as a Celebration of the Brewers Art". IMHO, I think JW Lees has done just that.

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2002 11:25:07 | More by Shiredave
Photo of ZAP


5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

F#@ck Yeah!!! I love drinking a GREAT beer for the first time...OUTSTANDING....High in alcohol...the type you want to sip, but the type you can't keep your hands away from grabbing the minute you put it down..fascinating drinking experience....I get a sweet fruity nose with some hints of brown sugar and molasses....the taste is incredible...huge dark fruits...definitely plum...maybe some prunes...dark cherries...the brown sugar is there...as is the molassis....and dare I say some odd hints of coconut....the nose immediately reminded me of a champagne or wine or something...the flavor though is more like a port...or Brandy with a nice hit of brown sugar...this is one of those beers that transcendes the entire beer drinking experience....there is no Barley Wine finer..

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2002 22:46:19 | More by ZAP
Photo of marc77


4.1/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1997. Hazy chestnut hue, topped by a thin, but persistant tan head. Intensely aromatic-- a waft of oaky vanilla is followed by darkly caramelized fruit & carob. The complex flavor profile is comprised of diacetyl butterscotch, nutty, almost peanut - brittle like caramel notes, mellow banana & plenty of residual sweetness. Hop bitterness asserts itself welcomely in the pleasantly bittersweet finish. A soothing alcohol warmth rounds everything out.

1998. Beautiful clear deep ruby hue w/ flecks of suspended yeast aggregates. The head settles into a tight ring. Vinous, intensely caramelly sweet, buttery, toffeeish aroma, w/ hints of caramelized fruit & licorice. Mild, but heaty fusels round out the aroma. The malt profile is quite deep. Residual unfermented sugar and caramel malt sweetness provide the foundation for subtle vanilla notes, date - like fruitiness & carob. The body is rich, dextrinous & almost viscous. Although faded, hop bitterness eeks its way towards the end, preventing syrupy sweetness. Finishes bittersweet & fruity, w/ sugary sweetness on the lips.

1999. Hazy deep garnet hue, w/ a beige head quickly receding into a glass coating ring. Assertive dark caramel malt and nutty biscuit malt lend an upfront toffeeish sweetness in aroma, then notes of prune like dark fruity esters follow. Trace heaty, solventy fusels prevent the aroma from reaching perfection. Syrupy, molasses like sweetness hits the palate at first, then is ensued by a deep, dark fruity melange of figs, dried dates and raisins. Hop bitterness is muted, and is overpowered by malt sweetness. Moderate to full in body, w/ plenty of residual dextrins for a smooth, rich mouthfeel. Finishes w/ a snap of sugary sweetness, but otherwise clean. Mellow alcohol warmth emerges slowly.

Serving type: bottle

07-02-2002 06:05:10 | More by marc77
Photo of Bighuge


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 Murph


4.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999. Pours a clear bright amber with a thick creamy tan head that refuses to go away. Intense sweet chocolate and caramel malts dominate with some raisins tossed in and some very slight alcohol. Intense maltiness right away. Chocolate and caramel. Some fruitiness; raisins, faint cherries, and some other dark fruits. Extremely chewy mouthfeel and nicely drinkable. Not quite up to par with its older brothers yet, but still an awesome brew. A couple of years of cellaring would do this brew very nicely.

1998. Pours a clear dark amber/brown with a thick, rocky, tan head that retains very well. Smells are of cherries, raisins, toffee, chocolate, and some barely noticeable warming alcohol. Tastes start off with some sweet, chewy malt then fade to chocolate before going fruity. Cherries, raisins, and apples are the big ones. Woody and slightly smokey. The chocolatey malty flaovrs stay pretty much throughout. Great creamy smoothness in the mouth and very drinkable for the style. Damn do they ever know how to make a barley wine at this brewery. The best I have had of the style. Some might like it aged some more but I like the somewhat raw characters of the fruits.

1997. Beautiful light brownish/amber with a nice tannish head. Smells of malty sweetness, apples, smokey/wood, light alcohol, and a touch of honey. Taste is unbelievably complex. Tart fruits, smokey character, big maltiness, some earthy hops, honey, chocolate, and more maltiness. Those are just a few of the flavors that I am pulling off of this one. I can't even identify some of them. Incredibly smooth and creamy and pretty damn drinkable for a BW. This was an absolutely awesome brew, if you love barley wines like I do then you have to get some of these. A great special occasion beer.

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2002 18:36:21 | More by Murph
Photo of Bierman9

New Hampshire

4.38/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle reviews....
(08JAN05) Another nice bier to warm up with on a cold, snowy night! Label states 1st December 1997. Bottling date, or brew date? Anyhow, label also states best before Nov 2002. Oooops, just a bit late. Oh well. Better nate than lever....

Into the snifter she goes, and it's a dark brown, opaque brew, with a very thin, wispy head congregating only around the rim of the glass. Upon closer inspection, with a little light turned on, I see that the Harvest has a deep ruby hue. Quite nice! Nose is a potent, sweet, rich combo of dark fruit and malty sweetness. Mmmm! Body is more than medium, almost chewy, and silky smooth. Oh yeah! And the flavor is replete with fruity notes, like plum and raisin. Not quite as sweet as the nose suggests, but bulging with dark fruit notes. The high abv is oh-so-well concealed! Don't feel any real warmth, though it's early yet! Along with the fruit is an undercurrent of caramel/toffee sweetness. Real nice! Gotta sip it though; take your time! Tasty bier!!

overall: 4.35
appearance: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | mouthfeel: 4.5 | drinkability: 4

*** ***

(20FEB03) This is a 275ml bottle of 1997 vintage. Poured a very rich, dark brown color, with little transparency to it. Head is a finely bubbled, tan layer, with more head ringing the outer rim of the snifter. It leaves a fair amount of lace, yet nothing spectacular. Upon taking a whiff I am inundated by raisiny, dark fruit aromas, as well as the unmistakable nose of alcohol. Sweet and rich....quite nice! The body is medium to medium-plus, and the biers' passage across the tongue ruffles nary a feather....nice and smooth! The taste itself is loaded with creamy, rich, sweet flavors...lots of dark fruit and some toffee notes as well. A verrry nice sipping bier, which has aged well since '97. Cheers!! (4.5/4.5/4.5/4.5/4.5 = 4.50)

*** ***

Cask sample from 20MAY02... This beer was sampled at the Boston Beer Summit. The following, courtesy of Matthias Neidhart of B. United: "It was 2001 vintage , 11.5% alc./vol. The wooden cask was primed with E.Dupont's
calvados from Normandie,France, prior to its filled with JW Lees Harvest Ale." Lovely mahogany-like color; minimal head and lace, though. Assertive sweet nose, with alcohol quite present. Very nice body, and the smoothness caresses the tongue. Rich, sweet, malty, oaky, nutty flavors with the ever-present alcohol. A wonderful brew! (4.0/4.5/4.5/4.5/4.5 = 4.40)


Serving type: bottle

05-20-2002 17:39:35 | More by Bierman9
Photo of Viking


4.68/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I must say my first experience with JW Lees Harvest Ale was a great one! This beer is dark reddish-brown, yet not cloudy. The head was a bit weak, and dissolved quickly. The aroma was rich and saturated with molasses. The beer is thick, but not overly surypy. It has a strong, sweet, buttery caramel flavor with some odd fruit flavor hiding away inside. Damn good at nearly 3 and a half years old!

I might have to pick up a couple more bottles and save them for next fall.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2002 15:06:29 | More by Viking
Photo of mattmaples


4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1998. OK, I love this just as much as the 97. Both are great beers. I was fortunate enough to have this beer on tap this summer and baby was it good.

1997. EEEXcelent! I like Todds rum rasin comment, malty smooth nice alcohol presence. Complex, asertive flavors but easy to drink (unlike some barley wines). This is what an aging beer should taste like. Lucky for us B United (the US Importer) ages these beers for us and periodically releases some of them. Rumor is that they are still sitting on some 88. I currently have 97 and 98 on the shelf due to these wonderful people. It's still out there to be had, go hunt some down.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2001 23:54:33 | More by mattmaples
Photo of Todd


4.75/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 275ml brown bottle. Limited Edition - 1st December 2000. No sediment in the bottle.

Appearance: A rich, slightly hazy, copper coloured beer with a magnificent foamy, creamy head. Initial pour is about 3-4 fingers thick! Head retention is outstanding -- seems to last forever.

Smell: Raisins, molasses, raw honey, buttery toffee, rich fruity esters and an almost pungent raw hop aroma.

Taste: This is a huge beer! Silky smooth and ultra-creamy with a gentle carbonation that attempts to break through a thick syrupy malt profile of rich caramel, toffee, molasses, coffee and chocolate milk, honey and raisin. All sorts of toasted malt flavours play the palate, with baked sweet bread flavours. Alcohol notes follow, and try to hide in a cornucopia of big sweet ripe fruit flavours (pineapple and sweet honey dew melon come to mind). Bitterness is just enough to tame the malt from dominating 100%, with light citrus notes. The ale finishes with a touch of buttery diacetyl, toasted malts, coffee, milk and a bit of grain flavour.

Notes: Last time a tried one of these it was a bottle of the 1986, I believe. It was staggering. For being around a year and a half old at the time of this review, the 2000 is simply to die for. There's so much complexity of flavour going on that you almost need to stop analyzing and simply enjoy it before the glass is empty.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2001 00:00:01 | More by Todd
Photo of Jason


4.47/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Alcohol is still a bit boisterous as well as the forceful fruitiness. Jam packed with flavour with a similarity to a port or sherry minus the carbonation. I preferred this year over 1997 due to it being a bit more robust and over the top for a barley wine.

Serving type: bottle

12-18-2000 23:26:04 | More by Jason
Photo of reebtaerG


4.29/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had on draft at Columbia Ale House in a tulip

A-Pour was cloudy orange/brown with LOTS of sediment. Thin head that stayed thought drinking. Decent lacing.

S-Aroma of brown sugar, dark fruit, raisin, caramel.

T-Taste started sweet and transitioned to tart.

M-Mouthfeel was buttery/oily and full with a lively subtle carbonation.

O-Overall a great barleywine a must get.

Serving type: on-tap

03-19-2014 12:31:22 | More by reebtaerG
Photo of Scotchboy


4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap @ Bittercreek Boise ID. 25th Anniversary blend, unsure of vintage.

A: Opaque, dull gold with no visible carbonation and nonexistent head/lacing.

S: Dark fruit, raisin, rum, caramel, apple, spices, and bready, sweet malt.

T: Malty, with faint booze, notes of red wine and rum, spicy and fruity. Plenty of apple, raisin, toffee, brown sugar, wet oak, tobacco, with a warm finish.

MF: Full, sticky body, viscous with low carbonation.

O: Reminiscent of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, without the Belgian yeast; plenty of dark fruit and malt, with an oaky, rummy undertone. Pretty nice sipper overall.

Serving type: on-tap

12-12-2013 14:26:40 | More by Scotchboy
Photo of DrinkSlurm


4.21/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from tap into goblet at pizza plant in buffalo ny. Not sure of the vintage...i tuink its rather young. Great orangey brown murky color with no head but ever so slight lacing. Aroma of caramel and toffee with slight vanilla and hops. Taste is sweet fruity caramel vanilla. Its pretty well hopped for an English barleywine. Some citrus notes shine in the finish.
Pretty boozey...you notice it right away. Its deff very sweet...which is a big comment about this brew and its true. Not bad but it can weigh on you. I now understand why these come in small bottles...strong sweet brews shouldn't be consumed in large quantities.
Lucky to have this on tap.

Serving type: on-tap

06-28-2013 00:05:00 | More by DrinkSlurm
Photo of Beer-A-Lot


4.14/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Birch.

My first barleywine, and it didn't disappoint.

A - Honey color, huge head, great first impression.

S - Smells of sugar, cider.

T - Smokey taste, honey, brown sugar. Can't taste the alcohol at all. For 11.5 %, this can be dangerous.

M - Very rich mouth, medium body, works well with the style.

O - Really good. This (style) could be the start of a beautiful freindship.

Serving type: on-tap

02-04-2013 17:46:58 | More by Beer-A-Lot
Photo of martyl1000


4.98/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap (actually a bottle, but I had to review this again) at Amsterdam Cafe, SF. A beautiful pour into a goblet, with a barely discernible white head. The delicate lacing is wiped clean from the glass by the high abv. The aroma is all sweetness, with a shag carpet of roasty malt.

The most feel is what's most immediately remarkable in the mouth. A slippery, syrupy viscosity hugs the tongue like that of an ice wine. Creamy, God! And a light fizzy carbonation.

The full body is a precursor to the port wine sweetness. Mild molasses. Cotton candy. Ripe Fuji apple. Toffee. Surprisingly floral hop flavor keeps the package from sickening territory. Expanded by the baked-bread toastiness.

I haven't enjoyed a sweetness like this since the last Sauterne I had with a Danish blue cheese and white grapes.

Serving type: on-tap

11-03-2012 03:21:59 | More by martyl1000
Photo of ummswimmin

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this at the Ginger Man. The review is taken from notes.

This beer had a pretty brown color with minimal head. The head was just scum when it got to my table. They poured this in a small snifter glass which worked perfectly for a stong, fragrant beer.

There was minimal smell here. I picked up brown suger and general sweetness. You can pick up the alcohol when you provide movement to the glass.

The flavor is incredibly rich and very complex. The taste is strong, but the balance works really well. There is a ton of alcohol notes.

This is an awesome barleywine. I recommend it to sip by the fire while narrorating a classic english novel. Just be careful because this beer is still very smoothe.

Serving type: on-tap

09-08-2012 01:47:01 | More by ummswimmin
Photo of jrenihan

Ontario (Canada)

4/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Ginger Man in NYC. 2011 Vintage.

Beer is a deep copper/caramel colour. Small white head. The head that does exist stays a long time.

Smell is big. Lots of caramel malt, quite boozy. Wood.

Taste is malty, lots of caramel. Bready and heavy. Very rich. Caramel is pretty dominant, but a bit of fruit is there as well. Surprisingly simple, but huge and good.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Bready and thick.

Overall, good but a disappointment. Perhaps tap is not the way to have this beer, but I found it was all power and no subtlety.

Serving type: on-tap

08-16-2012 22:16:42 | More by jrenihan
Photo of UCLABrewN84


4.1/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, CA.

Billed as the 25th Anniversary edition of this beer.

Pours a slightly murky honey orange-brown with a foamy off-white head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, and some light apple-like fruit aromas. Taste is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and some fruity flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and full bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is quite strong and rich and has a better smell than taste in my opinion.

Serving type: on-tap

07-07-2012 02:47:45 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of Firkin-Bunghole

New York

5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the "beer" that both inspired my user name and converted me into the world of craft beer. Here's my story if anyone cares to read. Time to spread the Karma around.
Back in May 2009 an ignorant 33 year old man (ME) thought craft beer was buying Guinness, Harp & Heineken. His friend "the Enlightened One" told him of a Craft Beer Fest. Fortunately, the ignorant one was smart enough to purchase a ticket and despite his ignorance was allowed entry through the door.

During the week before, the ignorant one started to read Beer Advocate and learned this event would have a firkin of a 12 year old JW Lees (1999). The ignorance permeated my brain: Beer that is 12 years old would be bad. Only when I started to read the reviews of BA here did I start to understand my ignorance.

On the day of 10 tasting tickets were provided to sample and luckily for me the "Enlightened One" guided me and I went to the firkin first. At this time the epiphany happened. I had 3 samples from the Firkin and my eyes started to open to the amazing world of craft beer.

This beer was perfect in every way. From the hammering of the wooden firkin to the cask pour to the smell of dark fruits/caramelized sugars to the syrupy full mouthfeel without any unnecessary head or carbonation. My words can't even begin to describe the depth of my experience. Heck I'm not a writer and only starting to learn how to be a BeerAdvocate.

Lastly, I can't even begin to thank JW Lees enough. Maybe 1 person will read this or the other reviews here and pick up a bottle of this. This beer is special! At $9.99 bottle its bargain priced. If ever in my life a firkin comes near Albany, NY again I'll be there. Cheers to all.

Serving type: cask

04-11-2012 02:27:46 | More by Firkin-Bunghole
Photo of TheManiacalOne

Rhode Island

3.68/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-cask 2/17/2012 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep coppery brown color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves very little lace on the glass which is expected from a cask beer.

S: The aroma contains brown sugar, bourbon, caramelized malts, alcohol and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a burnt malt flavor followed by sweet flavors of caramel, brown sugar and bourbon. The hops presence is mild but complementary and the malt character is hearty but there isn’t much balance. The after-taste is slightly smoky and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, I can appreciate the smokiness and aging of the beer but the flavors just didn’t seem to come together well for me. There are several less-expensive alternatives in the style that I enjoy a lot more.

Serving type: cask

02-21-2012 04:34:25 | More by TheManiacalOne
Photo of Kegatron


4.38/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask, via hand pump, @ the Mad Fox Brewing Company (Falls Church, VA) on 2/11/12 during their 2nd Annual Barleywine Festival. Served in a small footed Pils glass. 2010 Edition.

Pours a clear coppery gold, with a thin covering of off-white head. This fizzles out pretty quickly, leaving nothing back in terms of retention or lacing. The aroma smells woody and herbal, with some earthy hops and alcohol up front. This works into sweeter notes of toffee, sugary dough, brown sugars, and dark fruit. The fruit and brown sugar elements are standing out to me the most here, as the nose on the whole here is very rich feeling.

The taste is quite similar, with notes of caramel, dough, brown sugar, dark fruit, vanilla, and herbal hops along the back. The finish is woody feeling and very dry, with an almost parching quality to it. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a slick firm creaminess that glides along quite easily for the size. Some alcohol does start to emerge as this warms but the overall robustness of the flavors do their best to overcome its overall heady presence here.

Wow, this was good. Maybe the quintessential English Barleywine here, this just brings in droves of complex flavor to the senses, with a heavy yet still approachable alcohol presence to it. I think that I tend to enjoy this bear a little fresher before too much heavy sweetness sets in. Having this on cask was a real treat and one of the true highlights of the fest for me.

Serving type: cask

02-14-2012 15:28:58 | More by Kegatron
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