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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.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,188 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1188
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)
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Photo of Firkin-Bunghole
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
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
Kegatron

Pennsylvania

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
Photo of Jimmys
Jimmys

Pennsylvania

4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

had on cask at the brewpub for the 2nd Annual Barleywine Festival. review from Sunday, 2/12. 2010 vintage.

A: flat, rich orange hue. virtually no carbonation can be seen in the glass. no head. i thought cask beers were supposed to have a nice frothy head....?
S: honey. lots of honey. toffee. a little bit of smoke? sugar in the raw. brown sugar. not a hop in sight.
T: honey, molasses. sesame seeds linger from start to finish and then after that. really unique. maybe even some burnt popcorn.
M: fine bubbles. full bodied.
D: almost drinks like a mead. very sweet, but super complex. great range with sweet, nutty, slightly roasted aromas and flavors. my favorite beer of the evening. #1 of the 4 tried.

Serving type: cask

02-13-2012 15:33:24 | More by Jimmys
Photo of DCon
DCon

Missouri

4.65/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enjoyed on-cask @ the iTap House in Chesterfield, MO for $6. Tapped from the Stainless Firkin into a 12oz Snifter Glass. Enjoyed two back to back to capture all the characteristics.

2010 Vintage.

Aroma- Tons of complexity and strength hits the nose. Big time fruit and figs with a ton of malt start it out. Even though its high in ABV's, the nose only picked up dried fruits, figs, and an intense blend indescribable. Nice.

Appearance- Received both times with a 1 finger, bubbly head that had average head retention. Leaves a small amount of suds behind.

Flavor- This is when the brew becomes VERY complexed. The upfront taste that I'm getting is a big time Fig fruit with the seeds included. TONS of flavor hit the mouth. Then there is a slight pepper taste on the backend. Alcohol isn't at all a factor in here and the hops are blended in to an unnoticeable state. Light bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium-Full Bodied, Light Carbonation, Smoother than any other Barleywine, and has Figs again in the finish. Awesome!

Overall Impression- Wow. Just when I had an unreal Barleywine last week (with the Commander), this one becomes one of my new favorites! The fruit and fig characters that I sought out stayed with me in both glasses. A very strong brew too! After drinking these, I was surely intoxicated and had to ask for my tab. I HIGHLY recommend the 2010 Harvest Ale if you get a chance. Not sure about the other years or the variety of cask offerings for the 2011 line up, but this was out of this world!

Serving type: cask

02-01-2012 23:04:40 | More by DCon
Photo of smakawhat
smakawhat

Maryland

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

Poured from the cask into a medium sized snifter at ChurchKey DC. Vintage 2010.

No head presented but filled to the brim nearly, giving off a dull dark slightly opaque red rust color, and maintaining just a faint tan collar. Shaking it up or bumping produces some more carbonation, giving a slight fizzy faint body.

Nose is stupidly butter rich and apple jam. But not of the diacetyl variety. Rich rum soaking spirits seem to come out in abundance. Smells fantastic.

Taste is just soft an luscious on the palate, bringing in that warm apple butter richness. Some faint licorice that is chewy on the aftertaste too.

Great drink right out of the cask just wonderful.

Serving type: cask

01-05-2012 23:53:48 | More by smakawhat
Photo of Zono
Zono

Rhode Island

4.58/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The 2010 release, served from the cask in a 12 oz. tulip glass.

The bar-tendress was good enough to give it a generously patient, two-stage pour.

I was impressed by the foaming thickness of the head. It does not last for too long, however, dissipating about halfway through.

The color: pale, ruddy gold, with a fair degree of cloudiness.

The first whiff is strong with cider-y esters. A spiciness prevails amid a fairly hot alcohol presence.

Upon tasting, the malt quality has a distinctly sharp, acidic fruitiness to it. Indeed, the flavor of cider is remarkable, receding to a more fully spicy, almost vegetal character.

The mouth-feel is lightly syrupy. A papery sort of presence is detectable -- herbaceous to woody. Deeply reminiscent of mouldering autumn leaves; apples fallen from trees left to gently rot on an orchard's ground.

Vinous "legs" are virtually discernible. Interestingly, a small amount of sediment was evident in the bottom of the glass.

Overall, I was intensely impressed by this ale, the first, as far as I can recall, I've ever had by JW Lees. I would consider it a fantastic, and fascinating, exemplar of a barley-wine. I look forward to sampling other "vintages."

Serving type: cask

12-31-2011 17:35:17 | More by Zono
Photo of DoubleSimcoe
DoubleSimcoe

New York

4.28/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2009, on cask at Blind Tiger, New York, on June 15 2011. Outrageously priced at $12 per mug (about 12 ounces, so you do the math). $11 at happy hour, but still... I foresee this beer lasting on the line for a long while.

Appearance: Totally differet from any J.W. ale I have ever had before. Almost a whole finger of foamy bubbly head, good retention, some thick lacing... yeah! Color is a murky orange, like diseased horse piss and expired warm orange juice. Love it!

Smell: Funk, a bit of sour, also clear hops, which I would have never expected in this beer. Lactic acid, wet grass. Very rural! A tad of caramel sweetness/crystallized sugar at the end. Citrus, orange juice, and a whole lot of fruit-flavored soft drink (Fanta, mostly)!

Taste: In the mouth it is much more sweet and less balanced than in the nose, but still delicious. Very flat, again- like a soft drink, Sunkist or the likes. Very bright and citrusy. Barnyard all over! Dirty cow pen, and I suspect even the mythical and elusive horse blanket is present. Funk for sure! A tad of tangy hops at the very end of the sip. Mushroom, umami, earth. "Live cultures". Real ale, baby!

Mouthfeel: Well balanced and beautiful, with full body, flavor and low-but-perfect carbonation. This is a pretty perfect, ideal cask, wet and funky.

Overall: Top rating, because it is so drinkable it is ridiculous. Chuggable, actually! Absolutely no trace of that 11.5% ABV! Wow. Were it not for the nasty price, I would gladly have a TON of this. Much, much more enjoyable than the bottled version.

Serving type: cask

06-15-2011 05:18:41 | More by DoubleSimcoe
Photo of Bouleboubier
Bouleboubier

Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pretty stunning - first time having this - very interested now to try some other vintages. Delighted to find this, unadvertised, by chance, on cask at a Shelton Bros event. 2009 vintage.

Served in a small wine glass - half serving. Chill haze adds cloudy tan highlights to the eventual weathered (less hazy) mahogany color that emerges. Visual carbonation is absent. A still liqueur stance, though lacking legs.

Stale, oxidized worty aromas (which could be a wooden cask derived element, really) prove not, to me, flaws when put up against some of the most wonderfully complex, deep, rich, dried/dark fruit essences I've experienced. I mean, you could present a believable argument that they mashed as much if not more pulpy, stringy dried fruit as malt to come up with this. But I know better. I suppose it falls short of perfection due to the balance of those old, stale smells snuffing out some of the technicolor potential of the dark fruity malt...

Absolutely floored at how stealthily the alcohol slinks into the depths below its thankfully not-anywhere-near-somewhat-sweet, stewy-fruity malt, 5/7ths thick-bodied lusciousness. Port can't help coming to mind, but it's not quite...

This drinks like something that's been sitting around - the dregs, the leavings, a fortunate hodgepodge - very pleased. It's inspiring. I'll say again that I'm super curious to see what older versions offer.

Serving type: cask

06-11-2011 20:22:41 | More by Bouleboubier
Photo of photonicgnostic
photonicgnostic

New York

4.93/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure and privilege of pouring this 1999 vintage at Albany Craft Beer Fest (thanks to the organizers for giving us all this treat). Poured into 5oz mini-Pilsner tasting glasses.

It poured hazy gold with very little head. Strong fruity nose with banana in the fore. Tastes more like an aged sherry or mead than what you might normally think of as barleywine. The sweetness is dominated by honey and balanced by the complexity of flavors and good old Kent Golding hops. Mouthfeel is silky smooth and leaves sticky honey-like sugar on the lips and glass. It's easy to forget the high ABV of this barleywine.

One of the most complex and biggest beers I've had. This made me a very popular pourer.

Serving type: cask

05-15-2011 05:41:50 | More by photonicgnostic
Photo of rtepiak
rtepiak

Poland

4.78/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pour is a solid orange with about a finger of head. This is a head unlike anything i've ever seen. I girth of a bubbles that hovers just below the head like an american RIS... But longer. Settling after about 8 seconds. Nose pollen, whiskey malt, old furniture and subtle banana. A palate of sweet honey in a transition of floral to thisle bitter earth. There is a nice tang in the finish. A baltic porter hint. A finish of pomagrante earth bitter seeds and hints of lingering toasted sesame. A wonderful earth note in the cask.

Serving type: cask

04-20-2011 22:17:44 | More by rtepiak
Photo of CharlatanSin
CharlatanSin

Connecticut

4.08/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage on cask at Rattle N Hum. $7 (I think) for a 12oz pour. Excited to finally try it.

A: Poured a hazy, murky bronze. A few soapy bubbles around the edge.

S: Sad to say I'm not impressed. It basically smells like a big tub of raisins that's maybe been sitting in brandy for a while. Pretty overwhelming and one-dimensional. Maybe secondary aromas come out with age.

T/M: Way way better than the smell. It's like a delicious liqueur. Instead of the pure raisin in the aroma, it's like candied, boozy dark fruit. There's a slight toasted nuttiness. The brandy-like booze holds it all together. I was very afraid it would be too sweet based on the aroma, but it's not cloying. The mouthfeel is thick, smooth and a little sticky. The natural carbonation from the cask is perfect, any more carbonation would throw it out of whack.

D: A fantastic sipper. Would be an ideal treat after a fancy dinner. Anything more than the 12oz pour would be too much, though.

Serving type: cask

12-19-2010 17:14:45 | More by CharlatanSin
Photo of OnThenIn
OnThenIn

Ohio

3.38/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 served on cask.

A: It was an extremely orange color and a bit hazy. Did not have a head when it arrived at my table.

S: Smells very sweet with a ton of a caramel and brandied plums. There was also a fig aroma the was present.

T: Tons of caramel with a solid backing of fruits. I mean this was almost painfully sweet. The fruits seemed like plums with a bit of apple as well.

M: Full bodied without a lot of carbonation, which made the beer a bit syrupy.

D: The mouthfeel made this is a sipper and the sweetness really made it difficult to drink. I was expecting a bit more from this beer. I thought it was going to be mind blowing, especially on cask; however, that did not happen. The sweetness was too much and I ended up cutting the last bit of my glass of this with a sour beer to make it more palatable.

Serving type: cask

12-14-2010 02:24:54 | More by OnThenIn
Photo of Daniellobo
Daniellobo

District of Columbia

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

Beautiful cask serving, 2009 vintage.

Presentation: 10 oz cask serving. Menu notes offers a succinct description of the brew, and Alc. by Vol. (11.5%) Served into a snifter.

A - Rich deep amber to amber brown pour with a nice frothy head, good retention and fair lacing.

S - Sweet malt caramel nose with faint notes of dark dried fruits with a light earthy sense.

T - Caramel, caramel, with a nicely integrated earthy sense, musty even that works in great sync. Classic syrupy range over its malty base. The long sweetness is broken by a dash that feels a bit more musty than earthy, compared to the 99 vintage, but working again very well.

M - Medium to full body with small but fair carbonation, light stickiness over the syrupy memory.

D - Nice sipper rich without a dash of boredom. The highlight of the day.

Notes: Remembers me of some nuances of the 99 vintage that I had bottled not too long ago, and compares very well to the 06 vintage I´ve tried on tap before. All in all the J.W. Lees Harvest Ale remains a classic work trying, comparing and enjoying.

Serving type: cask

11-30-2010 23:53:23 | More by Daniellobo
Photo of glid02
glid02

Georgia

3.9/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cask at the Brick Store.

Pours a hazy honey-golden color with a one-finger slightly off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet medium and dark fruits with large amounts of sticky sweet caramel malts. Also present are slight amounts of toffee and even slighter amounts of oxidation (the cask was about six hours old).

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Very sweet caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by good amounts of sugar-coated pear flavors. Midway through the sip faint amounts of darker fruit flavors - plums mostly - make a brief appearance before giving way to caramel malts and hints of toffee that carry through to a decidedly sweet ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with soft carbonation.

Drinkability is OK. I finished my glass without too much of a problem however I'm not sure about another.

Overall I found this beer to be on the sweet side from the bottle and the cask version - even though it's the 2009 version and doesn't have much age on it - is overly sweet. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where the British guy tells Lisa and Bart that "our sweets are different than those across the pond" and then they proceed to go into an LSD-like trip after eating the candy. Very sweet, but if you're a malt-head this may be right up your alley.

Serving type: cask

11-16-2010 23:43:14 | More by glid02
Photo of Deuane
Deuane

Pennsylvania

4.4/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I can remember back in the day waiting every year to enjoy the J.W. Lee's cask offerings at KClinger's Tavern in Hanover, PA. Ahh...the tastes and aromas of the Calvados aged Harvest and the richness of the Lagavulin aged and the sharp dryness of the Sherry version. Back then I simply "enjoyed" beer and didn't take detailed notes. I finally got the chance to try the "regular" Harvest Ale served on cask, what memories!

A-Hazy, golden orange copper with a thin, wispy white head that reduced to a minuscule ring of retention and left very spotty flecks of lace.

S-Powerful alcohol vapors give a ride to rich, sweet vanilla, astringent oak, deep caramel malt sweetness, some apple/pear noted and toffee.

T-Much like the aroma. Massive, sweet caramel malt base takes the center stage. Along the edges an array of characters form an impressive supporting cast. Toffee, turbinado, black strap molasses and fructose sweetness adds amazing depth. Oak dryness and and alcohol burn in the finish add to the ensemble.

M-Medium-heavy, soft and silky smooth. Rich and luscious with a syrupy viscosity.

D-Rich and bold with a boatload of flavour, what is not to like? A slow sipper for sure and this unfortunately detracts from its drinkibility. I love to have one and maybe two snifters but more---no thank you.

Serving type: cask

04-09-2010 13:22:53 | More by Deuane
Photo of ToasterChef
ToasterChef

Maine

4.93/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in my Uprising Chalice at Novare Res' First Anniversary Party. Reviewed from my tasting notes. The keg this was served from did not have any marking to indicate what year vintage this harvest ale is. It's also possible that this was aged at some point in port casks, as port flavors and aromas were all over this beer, but because it was advertised as J.W. Lees Harvest Vintage, I'm reviewing it here.

It has an opaque golden/orange/copper color with a thick white, soapy head. There is a port-like aroma that is very sweet and slightly alcoholic. The taste is mostly of port, but also some malt. It has a thick full-bodied mouthfeel that I rather enjoyed. The alcohol lingers in your mouth after you swallow, letting you know this is complex, finely crafted beer that demands your respect. I know it is strong and expensive, but I could drink this beer all night. After great beer, port is my next favorite beverage of choice, and this harvest ale combined them in a way that I love. This beer has become one of my favorites.

Serving type: cask

05-22-2009 12:57:00 | More by ToasterChef
Photo of spointon
spointon

Illinois

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

Had this one on cask at FFF Dark Lord Day 2009.

A= This ale poured a cloudy orange-gold color with just a 1/4" white head. The head disappeared in about 5 minutes, but did leave a few rings of stickage on my glass.

S= A lot of hot alcohol in the aroma, but also present was a complex array of oak, vanilla, malt sweetness, ripe fruits, treacle, and some wonderfully fruity esters.

T= Very much similar to the aroma. The sweet malt base was huge and delicious. Lots of candy-like sweetness (caramel, toffee, treacle, molasses, etc). Ripe fruits added a lot of depth. The oak barrel provided a dryness in th emiddle as well as a mild vanilla note. The finish dried considerably and exhibited lots of warming alcohols.

MF= Heavy side of medium bodied with a soft low carbonation feel.

D= A big, delicious, ballsy ale made even more interesting by its time in the cask. Truly a sipper and the very definition of World-Class.

Serving type: cask

04-28-2009 04:46:23 | More by spointon
Photo of DrDogbeer
DrDogbeer

Massachusetts

4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on cask at Ebenezer's 4th annual belgium beer fest. Should be noted- I beleive Chris said the beer was from 98 and the cask was about 150 years old. Holy Sh*t. 6 oz pour into a snifter. Pours a dark brown with little to no head. Smell is bordering on obscene. Bartenders did not even want to pour it. High alcohol, gasoline, oak and bourbon on the nose- who knows what else. Taste was strong as hell. Lots of whiskey or bourbon, some oak, some smoke and a whole lot of alcohol. Unlike anything I have tried before. Definitely a sipper. Oily mouthfeel and super filling. Would drink more, but might pass out.

Serving type: cask

09-05-2008 13:51:36 | More by DrDogbeer
Photo of BeerIsland
BeerIsland

Pennsylvania

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

I got a taste of the '99 at Max's a few weeks back, this was quite a brew. Even though it was on the handpump, it poured very flat and brown to garnet in color. There were some nice honey smells that got a little sweeter as I progressed. The '99 is a rich, deeply flavored beer with butterscotch and toffee flavors all the way through. I'm not sure about the drinkability since it took me 45 minutes to do 5 oz and a companion 5 oz of the 2004 Lagavulin. But who's in a hurry ??

A Very Neat beer drinking experience!

Serving type: cask

08-04-2008 19:34:09 | More by BeerIsland
Photo of Bierguy5
Bierguy5

Ohio

4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask conditioned, served in a 10 ounce goblet at Buffalo Wild Wings in Indy. Lighter mohogany color, with some ruby edges. Not much head at all on this monster. Huge oaky, coconut aroma. Also seems slightly somkey. Very sweet, fruity and oaky. Alcohol is not hidden, it is certainly there. Full body, low carbonation. This is outstanding. Not the most drinkable, but complex. A definite sipping beer.

Serving type: cask

08-07-2005 18:37:54 | More by Bierguy5
Photo of soper2000
soper2000

Texas

4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on cask 12/03 at the bw-3's in downtown indianapolis. Pulls a deep dark amber with that special frothy off white head that a proper pull provides (although it quickly dissapates). Aroma is intense cinnamon, alcohol and notes of chocolate. Taste is very warm. Massive flavors of cinnamon are most prevalent. Hints of alcohol, dark fruits and syrup are also lurking around. Although a slight hint of alcohol is present, this beer remains super drinkable. excellent brew.

Serving type: cask

12-03-2004 22:58:59 | More by soper2000
Photo of ChrisBowers
ChrisBowers

Virginia

4.65/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 1999 oak cask at the Brickskeller in Washington DC on October 7th, 2004. I've had several invarnations of this brew in bottles and in a calvados cask, but this one was by far the best. Aged in new oak I believe, not port or calvados casks, this allowed the beer to express more of its subtle characteristics. BeerGuyDave served this baby at just the right temperature for a smooth, silky but viscous experience. Notes of ripe fruits, port wine, brown sugar and finally some vanilla in the finish make this a wonderfully complex sipper. Its scary how drinkable this stuff was at 11.5%+ ABV. Has a certain sweetness though that would prevent me from downing too much however. Besides, all good things are best in moderation!

Serving type: cask

10-08-2004 14:40:57 | More by ChrisBowers
Photo of Jon
Jon

Illinois

4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cask-condtioned from a former Port wine cask. 2002 vintage.

Pours a brownish-copper color that yields no head and shows no hopes of carbonation. Not to worry, however.

Incredibly complex nose -- the port has shown its influence. Rum, vanilla, caramel, toffee, port wine, alcohol and nutty aromas all come through, creating a brilliant effect. The oak aging certainly did a number for this batch. Simply phenomenal.

Rich, complex, and profound flavors. More caramel, vanilla, nuts, rum, port, and definite hints of oak and alcohol are all there. This is one deep barleywine on its own, and the introduction of port and oak influence... wow.

Viscous, minorly syrupy mouthfeel. Super smooth and thick. Mouth-coating.

Drinks exceptionally well for what it is. Very warming. The aromatic and flavorful nuances kept me coming back for more, scratching my head along the way. Is this stuff for real? It simply must be experienced in this rare form.

Serving type: cask

02-29-2004 04:04:56 | More by Jon
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mikeys01

Colorado

4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had the privilege to drink some cask '96 J.W. Lees Harvest this weekend at the Moan & Dove in Amherst, MA. Poured directly from the cask, there is no visible head or carbonation, it's a serious cask barleywine. Color is a gemlike clear mahogany, and it appears to be fairly thick from the way it clings to the glass. Aroma is a mixture of whiskey and brandy and a little bit of sweet vanilla. Mouthfeel is fairly thick, without being syrupy however. My cask Lees was served appropriately at room temperature, which allowed the flavors to fully blossom immediately upon sipping. Taste is very oakey and reminiscent of a fine brandy at first, then is rounded out with ample sweetness and notes of coffee in the finish. Alcohol presence is certainly noticeable in the before, during, and after sipping, but it does not overcome any of the complex flavor and the Lees is actually quite smooth. A rare treat to say the least....

Serving type: cask

11-03-2003 04:22:56 | More by mikeys01
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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,188 ratings.