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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

1,193 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1193
Reviews: 788
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
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Ratings: 1,193 | Reviews: 788 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of GClarkage
GClarkage

California

4.63/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12/5/08- Purchased at Weimax Liquors in Burlingame, CA. $4.99 price tag.

Presentation- 2001 Vintage from a 11.2oz bottle. Poured into my JW Lees Harvest Ale snifter type glass.

Appearance- Pureed raisin color. Slightly murky with a small layer of sediment on the bottom of the glass. Poured with a 1/4 inch head which fades to the slightest of rims. Leaves some light watery lace streaks behind.

Smell- Deep sweet caramel nose...roasted marshmallow malt. Light nose of alcohol at the end of the scent. Soaked dark fruits of raisins, dates and plums. Wonderful.

Taste- To the smell to a "T". Caramel sweetness is pushing the boundry of almost too much. Mild taste of butterscotch at the back of the tongue seems like the only drawback...and it's minimal. Lots of booze soaked raisins and dates. Maybe even a slight bite of hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel- Sticky and ultra sweet. Lips are sticking together. Keeps the mouth nice and moist. Just the perfect amount of minimal carbonation.

Drinkability- I have a 11 year vertical going of this and I will be really happy the day I decide to have them. Excellent beer.

Serving type: bottle

12-05-2008 22:52:42 | More by GClarkage
Photo of Mebuzzard
Mebuzzard

Colorado

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

This is a 1999 vintage, bought and drank on the same day (today). With a medium chestnut brown body this beer looks perty darn good. The semi-soapy head does have some density to it, yet it vanishes in a couple minutes never to return. No colar lacing or anything. Too bad...but still the taste is great. A bit of an alcohol nose on it. Caramel and toffee.
A nice calm caramel sweetness surrounds the malt in the taste. Some mocha and faint vanilla as well. Rich, but not thick. I get a hint of smokiness on the end, with a peppering of spices. This is a darn fine beer. At $10 a bottle it's a good beer to enjoy over a celebration or special occasion. Which is what I did.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2009 10:11:34 | More by Mebuzzard
Photo of ArrogantB
ArrogantB

Colorado

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

9oz bottle 1999 vintage $4.99. Dark, red, chestnut, whatever. Smells like syrupy barleywine, nuts, cardboard, oddly good. Taste is syrupy, malty raisins, reminds me of aged Old Stock. Only problem with this beer is the ABV, too high but its a good English barleywine. I ate some Oregonzola and Blue Stilton and preferred the Oregonzola.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2008 01:46:04 | More by ArrogantB
Photo of Gmann
Gmann

New York

3.5/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 Vintage. Pours a murky brown color with some yeast floaters, small white head that settled quickly into a ring. The aroma is meaty, marinated in soy sauce, and raisins. Quite strong. The taste is of candied cherries and honey which slowly transforms into a savory marinade. A bit salty and peppery and sort of like teriyaki sauce. Brown sugar is present and a brown bread malt. The brew has a full body, a bit thick and almost syrupy. The carbonation is still kicking after 7 years. Very sweet and then savory. I feel like I am drinking a candied marinated steak. Definitely has bold flavors but not sure this is what I am looking for in a beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2009 03:58:32 | More by Gmann
Photo of rudzud
rudzud

Massachusetts

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

Sampled various vintages at a Julio's weekly tasting.

A - They all poured nice copper hues with various amounts of head. Considering the ABV this was quite impressive that even after years there was still SOMETHING there.

S - Each one smelled delicious. Good carmelly malts and various amounts of dark fruits. There was some nice alcohol on the nose.

T - Excellent flavours throughout. More sweet, tasty malts (carmel, toffee). There were more nice dark fruits (especially figs) along with a slight alcohol finish.

M - Surprisingly smooth mouthfeel. Not too thin, not too syruppy.

O - Overall I really enjoyed this beer. It is a bit out of my price range, but very glad I got to try it.

Serving type: bottle

11-09-2011 04:51:57 | More by rudzud
Photo of mynie
mynie

Indiana

3.85/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001.

Pours dark red and hazy like blood or a Fruit Roll Up.

Smells like very, very intense sweet yeast fruit, molasses, and hops. Good god, this has been aged for five years?

Tastes grainy, very sweet. Candy sweet. Belgian yeast sweet, only sweeter. Brown sugar molasses white can sugar sunshine sweet. Intense, to say the least...a bit too overwhelming to describe.

Too intense to enjoy it as you would a normal beer, but the pure splendor of the whole thing makes this beer more than worthwhile.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2006 06:01:05 | More by mynie
Photo of laituegonflable
laituegonflable

Australia

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

Pours a dark orange, turbid colour. Head is a thin film, with nice clingy lace. Nice haze, looks alright, not great.

Smells quite intense. Liqueury sweet with apricot, almonds, some licorice as well, marmalade and a slight tartness. Slight edge of smoke as well, just subtly underlying. Very syrupy. Intriguing, but not too excited by it.

Taste is a wham-pack whallop of flavour in the gullet. Huge syrupy liqueury flavour with loads of nutty character - almonds, walnuts and pistachio with rich complex jammy sweetness, lots of apricot and pear. Fair hit of cinnamon as well, and some burnt orange flavour coming through towards the late-mid. What an intriguing palate, it's heavy and massively potent, but finish is very pleasant and just trails off gently leaving you with a big hearty warm smile.

Very syrupy and viscous on the feel, as one would expect. Nice body that suits the style and the palate. The whole thing is just like a dessert wine.

Very sippable beer, but not much more. There isn't any heat though from the alcohol which is wonderful. Nice beer, well handled. Not over the top which would have been such an easy trap into which to fall.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2010 04:44:02 | More by laituegonflable
Photo of Suds
Suds

Pennsylvania

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 Bierman9
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

*** ***

Bottle...
(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)

160

Serving type: bottle

05-20-2002 17:39:35 | More by Bierman9
Photo of merlin48
merlin48

Kentucky

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

Limited Edition, first bottling of December 1, 1999. Served at cellar temperature into a snifter on October 20, 2004. Bottle cap opens with a mild pop, indicating some carbonation. Indeed, a two finger tightlyknit, beige head forms atop a clear, ruby chestnut body that is effervescant with atomic sized, bubbles rushing to the surface. The attractive head is longlasting, eventually falling into film and collar lace that is tightknit and easily aroused into sheet lace on the sides of the snifter with a gentle twirl. The appearance is absolutely stunning.
The aroma is appropriately complex, and sinfully inviting. Molasses, toffee, burnt brown sugar, and some fresh fruitcake aromas are initially noted. Coffee, tobacco, rum, prunes, and a vinous note of port wine are also picked up. Some smoky, peat rounds out the exceptional nose. Wow! This is a serious undertaking.
Mouthfeel is effervescent, with a mild carbonation that is ideal. A presence of strong alcohol quickly appears and kickstarts a vinous character that reminds you that this has an abv of 11.5 %.
The taste yields an extraordinary, sweet malt character that is exceptionally complex, and complicated by a mild, alcohol burning sensation. Molasses, maple syrup, dark honey, tobacco, and freshly tanned leather comprise the dominant flavors. Pithy, dark fruits are also evident with essences of figs and raisins. This Harvest Ale becomes heavy and syrupy toward the finish, but is never cloying. The taste, overall, has a definite sherry character that compliments the malt complexities.
This is an exceptional example of British craftmanship at its best. At its current age of five years, I can't imagine how this can be better, but I'm definitely curious how this will age. I suggest buying as many bottles as you can afford, and laying down a few for aging. My only complaint is the size of the tiny, 9.6 oz bottle, but this is being greedy.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2004 11:19:52 | More by merlin48
Photo of Vancer
Vancer

Illinois

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

The big bad boy of English BWs, whata great brew.

A very lite amber, had a nice head for a 11+ abv brew, but it was the aromas that start this one off. Massive amount of bourbon, raisins, plums, cherries, i.e. the works.

Whoo, is this cherry bourbon or beer? Has hints of porter wine. The alcohol is very present, but not overpowering at the same time. Smooth, full bodied and an unambiguous sipper – be sure to have this by a winter fire. This has been quite the treat, a brew that one does not quickly forget.

Damn bottle was only 9.3 ounces. #600 on a great journey.

Serving type: bottle

01-13-2007 01:14:24 | More by Vancer
Photo of canucklehead
canucklehead

British Columbia (Canada)

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

It is so nice to find a 1999 bottle of this great beer at Archers Ale house in Bellingham. The bottle opened to produce a tawny brown that looks like heaven in a glass. Nose was malts, old fruit and remnants of hops. The taste was sublime, very big yet smooth as silk. Not as complex as Thomas Hardy but the sum of the parts make this a world class beer. A great reminder why I love beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2005 17:35:29 | More by canucklehead
Photo of DavoleBomb
DavoleBomb

Ohio

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

Poured into a perfect pint. 1999 vintage. The older beer I've had.

4.0 A: Deep amber color with good clarity. Maybe a 1/8 inch head forms, but that's not too bad given the elderly status of this.

4.5 S: This smells absolutely wonderful! Big aggressive caramel and toffee. Minerally earthiness. Lots of honey and a light sherry. This is oxidized surprisingly little. Plum, prune, and date fruitiness with a slight grape and raisin combo. Moderately sweet and quite clean. Very well rounded.

4.5 T: Taste is even bolder than the nose. Big syruppy sweetness to kick things off. Loads of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Even more honey in the taste. I don't know if they even used honey in this. Again just a slight sherry. Plum galore with nearly as much prune and date. Fig, raisin, and tobacco underneath. Earthy mineral. Still has a mild alcoholic tinge. Quite pleasant and shockingly bold after all these years.

4.0 M: Heavy body. Very good carbonation for the age. A little overly syruppy, but otherwise creamy and smooth.

4.5 D: Really enjoyed this. I'm going to have to pick up a few to age.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2012 21:52:21 | More by DavoleBomb
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 cpetrone84
cpetrone84

Pennsylvania

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

1998 Vintage

A-extremely dark ruby red beer with a creamy light kahki colored head leaving some light lacing.

S-the nose is huge and brings a ton of dark fruits. those fruits include plum, raisin, and dark cherries. there is also a whiff of candied fruit and brown sugar.

T/M-extremely full bodied and quite syrupy. very smooth on the palate and a low level of carbonation that I actually very much enjoy. the taste is also huge and very sweet. tons of candied and dark fruits. a light note of caramel malt, tons of plum and raisin. there is some cherry taste in there as well. notes of molasses and brown sugar towards the back. a hint of alcohol comes in at the finish; but not much at all.

D-this is actually going down extremely easy and I have to catch myself to drink slowly. huge alc content is hidden nicely, although after about 11 years you would expect that. tons of sweetness, almost more than i can handle; but so tasty. wouldn't want to drink it all night; but I do wish I had another.

Serving type: bottle

02-13-2010 02:18:00 | More by cpetrone84
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter. 1999 vintage out of the cellar. I've had a few versions of this and 99 was my favorite so it's time for a review.

A- 1999 J.W. Lees pours out extremely thick. Not thick like a stout but thick enough for an over the top barleywine almost resembling syrup. A very dark tan to brown out of the bottle while in the glass it appears a dark mahogany. No head whatsoever leaving no lace presumably. Some bubbles are seen popping up at the surface. A few twirls of the glass, this looks like a watered down syrup.

S- The smells on this are out of this world unique. The only brew comparable to this is thomas hardy and even at that they are different. Every smell from this is strong with nothing holding back leaving as bold aroma. The main factors include raisins, caramel malt, molasses, maple syrup and on the lighter side chocolate. A lot of alcohol is packed in the smell as well. I enjoyed smelling this so much I almost did not want to drink it.

T- I'm so glad that I decided to drink this instead of smell it all night. The taste is just as bold as the smell coating my palette with English barleywine goodness. Up front a lot of that maple syrup, molasses and caramel malts make this quite sweet. This is also joined by some raisins at some point. Figs and dark cherries come to mind. A bunch of dry fruits in the middle with some chocolate sneaking through. the alcohol comes out in the finish and is ever present even after 10 years in the bottle.

M- extremely thick and heavy handed. The sweetness coats the mouth and ligers for quite some time while the alcohol creates a overall warming effect. Not much in terms of carbonation which is fine with this old of a bottle. Not bitter in the least bit and I wonder if a fresh bottle would show some hop bite as there is non in this. Why would there be any hops this is 10 years old, they are long gone.

D- The only way I can drink this is in very small sips over a lot of time. Everytime I have a JW I have no desire for anything else be it beer or water or whatever. In other words I am spent after the 10oz or so and ready for bed. This is the best night cap beer ever in my eyes. I can see how the sweetness of this could be off putting for others and it is slighty for me after time. I still love this stuff though and want to try a 20 year old bottle.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2009 21:50:56 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
brewdlyhooked13

Ohio

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

Appearance - pours a muddy, murky brown, nearly the same color as the beer bottle. Some decade-old carbonation is still kicking. It manages little more than a scant swirling cover and ring, but for ten years old I'm impressed it's got any action at all.

Aroma - a chocolate and fruity, earthy (musty?) kind of aroma. Settling a bit, fig and raisin slowly come to the fore, almost a grape-like mix with the cocoa. A restrained but detectable vapory alcohol in there, too.

Taste - I'm stuck on where to start. What a full range of flavor all at once! Molasses and brown sugar are the easiest to pull out. Raisiny, with some roasted nuttiness trying to get through but the stage is just too big. Cherries hit about mid-palate with a light bite to them, undoing the sweetness a bit. As the flavor moves to the back, some hops work alongside the cherry flavor to bring a nice balance to the beer. A drying effect with alcohol warming, it takes on a cough syrup effect. The finish shows off the cocoa, the fruit, the hops, and the abv in rare fashion.

Mouthfeel - heavy and viscous, a low key carbonation tickles the tongue while letting the flavor abound.

Drinkability - a fine selection for Valentine '07's nightcap. My wife chose a Beaujolais Noveau tonight, I picked a ten -year old ale. If opposites attract, that's proof we were made for each other. Cheers to you, sweetie on this, our 13th V-Day as a team.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2007 20:46:18 | More by brewdlyhooked13
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GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

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

Brewed in 2004.

The beer poured into the chalice clear deep golden amber with a low and wispy off-white head that formed slowly and never grew.

The aroma was malty with an intense caramel and old ale characteristic of ruby port. The aroma was fruity and contained a sherry presence. The aroma was also strongly sweet like a freshly cut juicy apple.

The flavor was malty with a strong caramel sweetness and an intense caramel presence. The sweetness the attacked the palate at first swallow begins to dry as the beer lingers on the palate. The bittering, while in the background, was strong enough to lend a drying character to the beer.

The finish was even, oh heck, just a bit on the not dry side with lasting caramel and malt long and pleasantly into the aftertaste. The body was full and viscous. The alcohol was mainly present in the warming that occurred after consumption. A very nice beer, but could have used a bit more head retention.

9.3 ounce bottle.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2006 23:37:27 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of KarlHungus
KarlHungus

Minnesota

4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage. This brew pours a cloudy dark amber color. The head is large, creamy and off-white. The lacing is thorough. The aroma is very hoppy. The taste is a bit more balanced than the aroma. It is still hoppy, and there is a distinguishable malt backbone. The mouthfeel full bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this is a fine barleywine; one of the best I have had to date.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2005 00:30:48 | More by KarlHungus
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ngeunit1

California

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

A - Pours a very cloudy orange-brown with a thin layer of fizzy tannish head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind a touch of lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of raisins, prunes, other dark fruits, maple, caramelized malts, brown sugar, caramel malts, a bit of light citrus fruits, and some booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet raisin and prune with some brown and maple sugars with some dark caramel malts and a bit of citrus fruit. Through the middle, some more caramel flavor comes through with some more maple syrup and molasses. The finish is a mix of dark fruits with some caramelized malts and other dark malts, molasses, a touch of citrus and earthy hop, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation. Feels smooth and syrupy with a warming and sweet finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice rich sweet malt backbone with a great balance of sugars and dark fruit flavors.

Serving type: bottle

07-11-2012 05:17:38 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of Metalmonk
Metalmonk

North Carolina

4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage, poured to a snifter.

Having a good bit of age on it, I gave this a harder pour than normal, and still only got a wispy head. The bubbles are bigger than usual, and most disappear while the rest form a thin crown. The liquid looks like mud-spiked caramel-colored water complete with floaters. I don't mind floaters, but overall this isn't very appetizing looking (although I'm not going to be totally unfair to it, given its age).

But my, that aroma...strong suggestions of vanilla, freshly-cut wood, real aged apple cider, and strong spirits, with hints of sprearmint, cherry blossom and toffee. Robust, bold and complex. Enticing. Perfect.

Flavor is a faithful mirror of the prominent aromas: vanilla, wood, apple cider all there...alcohol is merely a warming element. At 11.5% + 5 years, the alcohol avoids any sort of hotness, thankfully. Caramel brings up the back end, and big-time, providing a candy-like bed of controlled sweetness for everything else to mingle upon. Further back are cellar-stored liqueur-soaked fruits (fig, currant, plum, cherry). A little musty, not the longest finish, but pretty much as comforting a barleywine flavor as I've ever experienced. Depth, balance, deliciousness and, quite apparently, top quality ingredients...this rules.

The feel is pretty much perfect; excellent balance of round, buttery silkiness, a little bit gooey, and just a kiss of carbonation to keep things lively. As soon as it hits the lips, I didn't want it to leave. Hangs in the mouth just perfectly, never too thick or thin, never too carbonated or too dead.

I wondered if 5 years was even too young, but I think this has been poured at just the right time. Lovers of exquisite big beers, especially old ales and barleywines, seek it out (if you haven't already).

Serving type: bottle

09-07-2010 20:55:37 | More by Metalmonk
Photo of GbVDave
GbVDave

Illinois

4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 9.6oz bottle into a Caracole tulip. Extra special thanks to Killer for giving this to me after laying it down for 10 years!

1997 Vintage

A: Pours a dark and opaque, burnt-orange highlighted brown with a tiny hint of a khaki-colored head which quickly disappears to a faint, swirly skim and unbreakable ring.

S: Huge aromas of tobacco, caramel, rum soaked raisins, plums, molassas, oak, chocolate, bourbon, and cherry. As it warms, a slightly boozy alcohol aroma emerges. It only adds another layer of complexity to this wonderful beer.

T: Sweet oaky caramel and tobacco hit my tongue right off the bat. After this I'm greeted by a rush of dark fruit, sherry, chocolate covered cherry, pear, tart apple, coconut, dark chocolate, and finally, spicy hops.

M: Smooth, slick, and oily, but not syrupy. Very sweet and coating with a spicy hop bite towards the finish.

D: Absolutely incredible! This a perfect example of a beer that's completely inoffensive to the palate yet hugely interesting and compelling. I loved the tobacco aroma and flavor. Once again, hats off to Killer. Thanks brother!

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2007 23:08:30 | More by GbVDave
Photo of morimech
morimech

Minnesota

4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

Pours a deep copper color with no head. Some particulate matter is suspended in the beer. No lacing is left on the glass.

Aroma is all malt with hints of caramel, figs, and brown sugar.

Intense flavor of caramel, toffee, and figs. Very brandy like in flavor and alcohol presence. Warming going down. Slightly oxidized with a slight stale flavor in the finish.

Still carbonated. Body is full and rich. Enough carbonation to let the drinker know he is consuming a beer.

This example seemed past its peak. The flavor was powerful and delivered some rich flavor. I will have to try a more recent vintage someday.

Serving type: bottle

10-23-2011 18:36:31 | More by morimech
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srandycarter

California

4.28/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2001 Version

A - Dark caramel, not much head. Ring is left. Thin leggy lacing.

S - Friggin wow. Deep meaty dark fruits, sweet and thick, booze evident. Yum.

T - Beautiful high volume flavor, sweet and complex, giving you a meal in rich deep fruits and booze.

M - Medium to full, great coating, wish a little more carb.

D -Not a session by any stretch.

1997 and 2000 Version Very similar! :), except the carb was better. LOVE THIS BEER.

Happy to say.

Serving type: bottle

12-08-2008 05:22:00 | More by srandycarter
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oline73

Maryland

3.3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Max's. Poured into a tasting glass. This was the 2010 batch.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber with almost no head at all.

Smell: Extremely sweet. Some malt and dark fruit along with caramel, port, and some alcohol.

Taste: This one is just a bit too sweet for me. I understand it comes with the territory, but this is a bit much. Malt and ripe dark fruit/wine flavors. The finish is slightly bitter with some warm alcohol and still really sweet.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick and mildly syrupy. Very mild, tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I thought this was way too sweet. I'd like to try an older version to see if things mellow out at all.

Serving type: on-tap

11-22-2011 22:49:55 | More by oline73
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,193 ratings.