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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

819 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 819
Hads: 1,378
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 10.56%
Wants: 250
Gots: 201 | FT: 15
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:
Beer added by: Todd on 12-18-2000

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 819 | Hads: 1,378
Photo of Halcyondays
4.78/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

275 mL bottle, 2001 Vintage, brewed when I was a senior in high school,

A: Pours a dark brown with a light head that doesn't last too long. Not murky.

S: Sweet nose with caramel, raisin, maple syrup and Pedro Ximenez sherry. Hints of fig and apricot, very mild oxidation character. Great nose.

T: Caramel, brown sugar syrup and dark fruit for the main flavour. Delicious, still has plenty of residual sugar left. Great note of cocoa on the finish. The ultimate beer for malt lovers.

M: Thick, viscous and chewy. Has a really similar feel to a Port wine on the tongue. Mild carbonation works wonders here. Nice amount of warming alcohol in the tummy and going down.

D: An easy sipper for an after dinner drink. Even at 9 years old this is still drinking very young and I could see it lasting another 10-30 years simply because of the sugar content, liken it to a vintage Port, Sauternes, Tokaji - classic dessert wines. The '99 I had of this a few years back was one of the best beers I've ever had; that beer had a little more complexity and oxidation character, but this '01 is still a damn fine beverage. (1,112 characters)

Photo of smakawhat
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. (669 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
4.59/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage from a 275 ml bottle. That says it all. On to the beer:

No head on the pour. The glow of orange is a nice sight though. But don't base your first thoughts on the look, take in its aroma. The nose is loaded with all sorts of flavors. There is apricot, sherry, vanilla, and oak. And if the aroma isn't for you, taste it! Amazing and full flavored at first impression. And smooth as well. Sweet, sherry, apricots, grapes, butterscotch, cherries, a touch of oak. There is a very light touch of bitterness at the very end, but overall this is very sweet. The alcohol is nowhere is be found despite the listed 11.5% ABV. Thre's very little carbonation in this beer. but it's so smooth, and it's medium-heavy malty feel keeps the beer being sipped on.

I expected some very good things from this beer. Not only did this beer do that, it went beyond very good and become of the most tastiest, thought provoking beers that have crossed my palate. An outstanding example of the barleyewine style, and one that everyone should have the opportunity to taste. (1,061 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.32/5  rDev +1.4%
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. (673 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.75/5  rDev -12%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. 2008 vintage.

Appearance - Pours with no head and no lacing. Sticky legs down the side, but not much else redeeming. Looks syrupy in the glass. Huge chunks of sediment come out of the bottom. Suspending in my maple-syrup looking beer. Kinda gross.

Smell - Oh wow. Raisiny goodness. Like a dense fruitcake. Definitely booze to it. Some caramel behind all of it, but it's all about the fruits.

Taste - And it's sweet as hell. Like a dense fruitcake. Deep raisin and dark fruit flavors. Quite a nice taste, but golly it's sweet.

Mouthfeel - Did I mention the sweetness? Thick and syrupy. Took me a really long time to finish this bottle. Low carbonation.

Overall - I can only hope some more years of aging will do this nicely. Maybe dry it out a bit. I love the flavors, but they get masked by the sugars. (848 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.45/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 vintage. Wonderful dark amber with a thin head. Smell is heavy with malt and a touch of soy. Overripe fruit and a whiff of earming alcohol. The flavor is rich with sugars and warming alcohol and rich malt. No hint of soy in the flavor,just big brandyish fruit flavors and honeyed malt. Utterly delicious and meant for a snifter after dinner. Very rich and creamy mouthfeel, but not sticky at all- floats on the palate. Dry and drinkable by this point, but big and rich as well. (482 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.54/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2001
A few months back this bottle mysteriously appeared on the shelf and found its way home with me. Pours a muddy brown color with a minimal tan head that forms a ring on the top. This smells great! Sherry and toffee mixed with some brown sugar and a touch of alcohol to keep it from smelling too sweet. Caramel and dark dried fruit with a slightly earthy aroma round out the nose quite nicely. Taste is sweet up front with brown sugar and dark fruit coming in first. Hints of sherry and earthiness hit before the palette goes almost completely dry. Finish leaves a long lingering molasses prune sweetness that is offset nicely with a touch of alcohol. Big thick body with a surprisingly dry finish. Light level of bubbles, sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. I am a sucker for an aged barleywine, and this one really impressed me, this is a beautifully aged beer. Now the regret sets in when I realize that I only bought one bottle. (938 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.37/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 Harvest Ale...
Appears a dark amber and crimson with a 2 finger beige head that fades to a fluffy cap. Scattered streaks of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is syrupy, lightly oxidized, maple syrup, caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, cherries, red grapes, nougat, and rich toffee.
Taste is of rich, boozy, caramel, vanilla, cocoa powder, rum soaked raisins, nougat, and cherries.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, syrupy, sugary, dessert like, with cherry concentrate and a boozyness that hangs on. This is the equivalent of a tawny port wine. Delicious stuff. (564 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A generous extra from rsquared618. 1998 vintage. The beer appears dark copper with a light beige head.

The aroma is of toffee, dates, figs, and dried fruits. It smells very sweet and sugary, with some notes of oxidization and alcohol. Hops are nowhere to be found.

The taste is very sugary sweet, reminiscent of dates and toffee, with a strong alcohol presence. Other flavors are of candied sugar and dried fruits. This is a classic English Barleywine that's mellowed with age. The finish is sugary sweet, almost cloyingly so, with toffee and alcohol.

The beer is medium-full bodied with low carbonation. (607 characters)

Photo of Zorro
4.82/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Year 2000 Version here.

Pours a deep ruby brown with more carbonation than expected.

Truly powerfully smelling beer! BIG dark fruits and Tutty-fruity smell, and big malt smell. Almost like being punched in the nose by it and it stealing your lunch money! You could really spend an entire day just sniffing this beer.

TASTES LIKE A TOP NOTCH PORT WINE. This is like a $40 bottle of old port wine with a bit of carbonation. Also means this is top notch for any recipe calling for Port or Marsalla wine. Strong nutty and floral tastes, yet not too sweet.

Mouthfeel is big, but you NEVER chug this, to good for that!

Very drinkable, but sip it, you will want to taste every drop. (690 characters)

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

2009 Vintage, purchased in the USA and brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @thescotdownunder. Served alongside the 2005 Vintage Calvados Cask version to compare.

Pours a hazed deep orange-gold colour, with a fine-bubbled if filmy head of slightly tenuous yellow-white. Lacing is suprisingly good for the gravity of the brew, and it has some crackling large bubbles to it. The colour is divine, however, and the haziness makes it glow. It's a lovely looking brew.

Nose is pungent with booze and a ripe mandarin orange acidity, which underpins a profound and syrupy sweetness. It's very deep and extremely rich, but surprisingly stays away from the huge malt backbone I expected. Instead, the phenolic notes and the acidity drag it into an unusual lightness, which is welcome, and very appealing.

Taste is ripe with an amazing blend of light citrus on the front - the mandarin makes its presence felt - before delving into this amazing almond nuttiness that gives off all the malt sweetness without the heaviness. Indeed, it balances extremely well between these flavours, lending light grain organics, crushed tea tannins and candied citrus to the syrupy body. The feel, from the syrupy body to the bite of light acidity, is divine, and it makes an absolutely impeccable companion to the flavour.

This is a bloody amazing beer - one which both refines and expands the brewer's art. Such fantastic flavours, such a depth of character, and so well balanced. It's an artisanal item; something to be cherished. Truly remarkable, and one of the very best beer experiences it has been my pleasure to have. (1,627 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage sampled on January 21, 2010.
Poured a hazy deep orangish brown color with good carbonation and a dirty white head. Nose is tons of honey and brown sugar, caramel and maybe some dark fruits. Very complex.
Taste was a punch of sweetness,burnt brown sugar, molasses, alcohol, sweet malts, wood, raisin, prune. Motuhfeel is sweet.
///

1998 vintage sampled on August 5 2008. Heavy oxidation,dried fruits,malts and subdued hops. Ten years is to much for me. Bigger dried fruits here, caramel, molasses burnt brown sugar. (528 characters)

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

1998 Vintage opened for Thanksgiving - October 13, 2008.

Against and away from the light reveals two completely different looking beers. What sits in front of me is a beer dismal and dreary. It is a muddied, cheerless ocher brown that refuses to refract any light what so ever, denying even the slightest of highlighting. The beer's collar, even along its fringes, can scarcely be noticed.

To the light, however, it quietly erupts with colour. Tones of raspberry and red apple appropriate the 'Harvest Ale' moniker with thoughts of fall time fruit bounty. I can't help but think two different scores for appearance would only be appropriate. It is rather astounding the sparkle it conceals.

This is less a beer than it is a sweet, sugary nectar of over-ripened fruits and sticky butterscotch pudding. The above does little justice to describe the character of an aroma that seems to incorporate elements of tawny-port, dark rum, calvados, sherry, and especially cognac unto itself.

Smell alone will warn you that what you're about to encounter is rich, but only after tasting it will you realize the full extent of this. Its likeness to a full bodied cognac, vintage tawny-port, or five star brandy really can't be overstated. This is as rich as it is complex.

The flavours are so numbered that one could associate this to a long list of things. I would venture to say foremost on my palate is: mushy pineapple, plum pudding, molasses, shortbread cookies, maple syrup, browned sugar, wine grapes, pecan pie, raisin bread, choke cherries, caramelized fruits as well as dates, figs, and plum all coated in a bitter cocoa fondue. It's a nearly endless list.

It makes me think of oak-aged honey, and whether or not there exists such a thing. It is sweet and nectar-like with a complex depth of flavour. The carbonation has long faded which leaves the tastes to stick on palate. The lingering bitterness adds more persistence. It is both intensely bitter and sweet at the same time. The alcohol is quite well pronounced - especially in smell - but as it should be, no?

This ten year old vintage is my only taste of the J.W. Lees Harvest Ale to date. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of it, it is definitely something special and considerably unique. It isn't like other barleywines, it is a beer of its own, one that I can't define yet. Luckily I have a number of other vintages still waiting in the cellar to better become acquainted with. (2,457 characters)

Photo of John_M
4.52/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This is for the 2001.

The beer pours a dark cloudy brown, with minimal head, but with good retention and lacing. There is the usual rich, sweet smell, this time with sherry, chocolate, toffee, prunes and maple syrup. On the palate the beer is nothing less then incredible. There is an intense flavor of chocolate, interwoven with vanilla, toffee and butterscotch. The beer has an exceptional mouthfeel, and is just luscious. It is incredibly soft, plush and creamy. Absolutely decadent. The beer ends with a very long, lingering finish. Exceptional beer. Just incredible. (574 characters)

Photo of wl0307
4.23/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

* 2007 Vintage
Served cool in Gulden Draak's tulip-shaped bowl sniffer; the ingredients for this vintage include Maris Otter malts and East Kent Goldings hops.
A: slightly cloudy dark amber in colour, coming with very soft carbonation, lots of cottony yeast sediments, and a thin sheet of off-white foamy cap settling to a rim.
S: densely sweet, like honey-drink infused with Chinese pale prunes, sour pears, figs and Aiyu herbal jelly; a swirl brings up a more pronounced theme of stale-sourness as of a well-aged ale.
T: a lubricating, semi-oily swallow of honey-ish and toffee-ish pale malts, estery elements of pale dates and prunes, lightly phenolic yeastiness and semi-sweet longan-fruit tea leads towards a most exciting aftertaste of green asparagus juice with a touch of mashed green beans that concludes the whole palate effortlessly with so much aroma to savour... Also lingering in the end is a chewy palate of hop bitterness that helps result in a harmonious balance with the slightly nutty edge of lingering maltiness.
M&D: it's hard to believe that simple ingredients could result in such a heavenly-tasted ale, an art in a glass, with melting beauty and a slightly down-to-earth approach on the palate. Yeasts and ageing have contributed lots of nice complications to the overall drinking experience, which is different from the Belgian way but all the same enticing. A must-try English Barley Wine for any beer lover, regardless of the vintage!

* 2000 Vintage - Tasting Date: 28/08/07
Served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.
4 A: black-tea-ish dark brown hue, with a light beige head that settles fast to a rim of foam, on top of light and gentle carbonation.
3.5 S: perfumy fruit-esters (full of pineapples and bananas) lie on top of dried plums, prune-ish honey, and mead, while the overall aroma is mainly astringently fruity, thickly malty (hints of caramelised sugar), laced with a touch of smoked wood-chips.
4.5 T: thick longan-flower honey, light roast coffee beans, black prunes, over-ripe pineapples come upfront; gradually brown sugar, a soothingly bitter-sweet taste of tea-smoked longan-fruits (on shells) and toffee develop, backed by a delicate touch of herbal bitterness of hops, roasted malts, quietly spicy hints of yeastiness and phenol. Almost in parallel and more subtly, the mildly coffee-ish and nutty aftertaste also lends some complexity, leading to a sherry-like finish.
5 M&5 D: creamy in fizziness, lubricating (not syrupy at all), full-bodied yet still mellow; this ale shows a lovely contrast b/w the sweet nose and superbly-balanced flavour full of 3-D hop bitterness to balance out the heavily malty body, while the finishing dryish palate makes the beer lighter than it actually tastes. All in all, this vintage ages simply too well; a truly sensational nectar to savour, IMO. (2,837 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the 2004 edition drank on 11/17/2005
(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a nice warm deep coppery brown body that is crystal clear with a nice thin wispy film of bubble on to that loosely form a head.

S- This beer has a nice vinous, sweet caramel nose that has hints of pear and brown sugar.

T- A smooth sweet sugary toasted caramel malt flavor hits at first and then it finishes with a nice warm alcohol taste in the finish. A slight hint of cherries or dried fruit is noticed in the finish aswell. A nice vanilla oaky quality add another layer to the complexity.

M- A medium-full body with some slippery texture in the finish. The alcohol is a smooth note in the finish, not harsh and no hot.

D- This beer has nice sweet complexity with a nice balance of alcohol to balance the malt sweetness. The tastes of dried fruit and toasted malt really meld nicely.

1999 Vintage drank on 2/14/2010
(Served in a sifter)
A- This beer pours a deep dense brown body with a glow of soft auburn at the base. There is a light bubbly beige head that turns to a thick ring after a bit.

S- A soft tart hint gives way to sherry like sweet malt with some caramel malt sweetness that grows as the beer opens up. There is a soft hop hint in the background.

T- This beer has a rich caramel flavor with a mellow dark toffee note and hints of dark roasted malt buried underneath. There is a nice malt bitter note at the finish that takes on more sherry qualities as the beer opens up.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with no alcohol heat until the beer is pretty warm and a soft fizz note. There is a slight watery texture when the beer is pretty warm but the alcohol warmth is good.

D- Great rich caramel flavor with a good depth and some nice age characteristics. (1,773 characters)

Photo of jdhilt
3.97/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage 1/23/2012 similar to 2009 Vintage but flavor is alcohol, sweet dark fruit and hints of cardboard. Also $8.99 for a 275ml bottle from Julio's Liquors, Westborough, Ma.

2009 Vintage 1/5/2012. Pours a one-finger cream head that fades quickly to a ring leaving traces of lace. Brown murky color. Light carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Alcohol and dark fruit nose and flavor is alcohol and sweet dark fruit, paper like finish. Pricey, $8.99 for a 275ml bottle from Julio's Liquors, Westborough, Ma. Rates a 4.

2005 Vintage 10/26/2010 Straight up pour and no head, no lace. Cloudy dark brown color. No carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Dark fruit and alcohol nose. Flavor is sweet dark fruit and alcohol, slightly cloying with no carbonation. $13.99 for a 275ml bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT. Rates a 4.

2008 Vintage 10/12/2010 Pours a one-finger cream that fades quickly to a ring leaving a little lace. Cloudy amber color. Very light carbonation and medium bodied. Dark fruit and alcohol nose. Flavor is sweet raisins and alcohol, almost cloying because there is not enough carbonation. $7.99 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates a 4.

2002 Vintage 9/22/2010 Pours with virtually no head and no lace. Cloudy brown color with some yeast left in bottle. Very light carbonation and heavy bodied. Sweet alcohol and dark fruit nose. Flavor is dark fruit and alcohol, almost cloying. $10.99 for a 275ml bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT. This rates about 4.

2007 Vintage 3/21/2010 Pours a one-finger white that fades quickly to a ring leaving a little lace. Almost clear amber color with a ton of floaties. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Alcohol and raisin nose. Flavor is dark fruit and alcohol. Cellared well. $11.60 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates about 4.5

2006 Vintage 3/17/2010 Pours without a head so no lace. Deep brown/amber color with a ton of floaties. No carbonation and medium bodied. Alcohol nose. Flavor is sweet alcohol, with some dark fruit; strong alcohol finish. Did not cellar well, good flavor but the carbonation is gone. $10.40 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates about 3.5.

1999 Vintage 12/31/2009. Pours a two finger cream head that fades slowly, leaving some lace. Deep brown color. Good carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Dark fruit and alcohol nose. Flavor is dark fruit and alcohol with a strong alcohol finish. Cellared very well. $10.40 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates about 4.5

1998 Vintage 12/31/2008. After ten years this is as fresh as the day it was bottled. Pours a three finger brown head that fades quickly leaving no lace. Deep mahogany color. Light-medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Raisin/plum nose. Flavor is sweet raisin almost like a port. The high ABV comes through but does not overwhelm. Pricey at $6.99 for a 275ml bottle from Tully's Beer and Wine Wells, ME. This rates about 4.5

2000 Vintage 3/31/2007. Pours a two finger light brown head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Almost clear mahogany color. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Raisin/rummy nose. Flavor is sweet rum and raisins with alcohol overtones. Pricey - $5.99 for a 11.5oz bottle from John's Grocery Iowa City, Ia. This rates about 4.5 (3,349 characters)

Photo of kscaldef
2.75/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Odd to see I'd somehow failed to transfer my notes over here, although I don't have them for all the vintages I've tried.

2010 (consumed June 2014) - Not terribly good. Maybe needs more age, but there's some funky phenols, as well as sickly sweetness. 2.0.

2006 (consumed Nov 2013) - An okay vintage. Needs a little carbonation. 3.5. (336 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a 1998 vintage, purchased today from Wells Discount Liquors (n.b. they have an impressive selection of vintage JW Lees, 1998 through 2001 at least, as well as the 2004 vintage). I am drinking it from my Devil's Milk snifter, served cold.

Appearance: Dark ruby red in color, lighter colors emerge when held up to light. The ale poured with a decent head (1 finger's worth) that dissapated quickly and left no lace.

Smell: A veritable malt bomb here. The malt aroma make themselves abundantly known. I also see an undercurrent of licorice (albeit slight).

Taste: The ale is seven years old. In that time, the heady malt in the aroma has mellowed dramatically in the taste. Malt is still the predominant flavor, but it does not numb the mouth. Instead, it leaves a light refreshing taste in the mouth that is very well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Exquisite! The ale has aged so well that the alcohol does not overpower, nor do the malts used.

Drinkability: I need to make a return trip to Wells to purchase this vintage as well as those before (and after) that they stock. I'm gonna age a few of these up to 10+ years, they are that drinkable.

In my opinion, this is the standardbearer for vintage/cellared ales. (1,228 characters)

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

Thanks goes out to Bitterbill for this one.

12oz. Bottle
11.5% ABV
1997 Vintage

Poured into a chalice a dark mahongy color, thick, syrupy, some carbonation, no head, some oil slicks hanging around. The nose is malty, oakey, roasty, some licorice, and caramel. The taste is pretty sweet at first, syrupy. Then the oakey/licorice tones come to play. Nice balance of malt/caramel. Nice warming effect going down, alcohol is hidden pretty well. Full body. Very drinkable, this is a delicious brew. This is also the oldest brew I've had to date. Highly recommended. Thanks again buddy.

Thanks to Bitterbill for this brew.

Vintage 1998

Poured into a chalice a dark brown color, nice carbonation, little fizzy off-white head, basically no sticky lacing, but some oil slicks. The nose is malty, slight licorice/toffee/vanilla, slight dark fruits, and caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, some dark fruit, and caramel. The alcohol is hidden pretty well. Medium body, a complex brew. Very drinkable, another awesome brew, highly recommended.

Thanks to Bitterbill for this brew.

Vintage 2000

Poured into a chalice a dark brown color, nice carbonation, little fizzy off-white head, basically no sticky lacing, but some oil slicks. The nose is malty, slight licorice/toffee/vanilla, slight dark fruits, and caramel. The taste is sweet, malty, some dark fruit, and caramel. The alcohol is hidden pretty well. Medium body, a complex brew. Very drinkable, another awesome brew, highly recommended. (1,488 characters)

Photo of Tone
3.96/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 2000 version of this brew.

Pours a cloudy brown. 1/2 inch head of a light tan color. Decent retention and decent lacing. Smells of alcohol, strong malt, some roasted malt, and some bread aromas. Fits the style of an English Barleywine. Mouth feel is smooth and thick. Low to average carbonation levels present. Tastes strongly of alcohol, sweetness, then some roasted malt comes through, then the bread flavors dominate, and the finish is mostly the sweetness. Hop bitterness is present, but does not come through very strongly. Overall, complex and rich palate - a little too sweet for my taste. (599 characters)

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

9.6oz bottle from who knows where. 1999 Edition.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a 1/4" beige head over the slightly cloudy orangey amber brew. Head quickly fades to an uneven layer of bubbles, and lacing is minimal, both more or less as expected for the style and age. Aroma is strongly of malt sweetness and alcohol. Taste is hearty in body, yet slithers lightly over the tongue and down the hatch, almost seeming to evaporate in the back of the mouth. Alcohol intergrates well, is obviously present, yet not leaving a rubbing alcohol aftertaste or numbness. Mouthfeel and drinkability are superb, so silky smooth, and goes down so well so such a big brew. What an experience... (691 characters)

Photo of beerthulhu
4.23/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled Sept. of 1998 and aged 9 years before sampling. 11% abv.

A: Pours a very dark burgundy red with a light thin tan head with some reddish hues.

S: Spicy alcohol, sweet raisins are on the nose. There is also a slight detection of smokiness.

T: The beer starts out with a massive malting and dried fruit smack in the face. Appears to be very rough around the edges malt wise with a dry bitterness and dried raisins for flavor. There is also a big burnt brown sugar flavor with an overpowering sugary sweetness. Thankfully the beer fades beautifully with some pears, apples, cinnamon and a light brown sugar coating that is very smooth leaving a sweet malt residue fade on the tongue.

M: syrupy with some light molasses.

D: Overall there was an overpowering brown sugary sweetness that is sweet making this a sipper. very good. (839 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
3.4/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 vintage; poured from 9.3 oz bottle into a wine goblet.

Appearance: deep woody brown, highly opaque with practically no head. When I poured it, I wasn't aware of how many chunky floaties would been in the bottle: there were indeed a few.

Smell: first off, it smells like late-harvest Riesling or maybe a Gewürztraminer. It's got a lot of syrupy grape, apple and pear. If I were blindfolded I would assume this was wine. That said, it is quite pleasing.

Taste: well, at first it tastes similar to a white wine, then I get the malt and grain, then I get what I can only describe as wood and cigarette smoke; it's almost tinny in that respect. I will say it's very complex, and I feel like I should be doing a lot of glass-swirling and erudite pontificating, but really, I just can't get a handle on it.

As I drink, the pattern stays the same: the beginning is quite wonderful and the finish is highly off-putting.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body which is pretty smooth.

Drinkability: I really don't know what to put here. I don't want to slam this admittedly impressive beer, but it's just not my style right now.

I really would like to come back to this beer later when my barleywine palate is more developed. (1,218 characters)

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

Brewed in 2003.

A: Orangy-brown with a white head. Not much retention, clings to the glass more like a leg than a lace. The Burgundy of Britain?

S: Nice British fruityness.

T: Wow. Very sherry-like, some nice apricot fruit flavour. Balance is slightly tipped to the sweet side. Quality British pale malt in the background, but the yeast really produces the flavours here. I'm not always a fan of the fruity British ales, but this is REALLY nice.

M: Moderate body and carbonation. Very light for its strength (well attenuated).

D: This is a very nice sipper. At 11.5%, you're not looking at a session brew. The taste is easily approachable.

Thanks Kevin... Really, thanks a lot! (695 characters)

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 819 ratings.