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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,235 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,235
Reviews: 794
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 209
Gots: 179 | FT: 11
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,235 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gavage
3.93/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Harvest Ale 2003 version.

Appearance: pours a cloudy amber orange color with a thin 1/2" head that falls to a surface foam quickly. No lacing develops.

Smell: loads of alcohol with malt and fruit sweetness.

Taste: huge bready maltiness here. Loads of raisins, plums, honey, and red grapes. Alcohol is quite noticeable and very warming. Nice bitterness helps hold down any over-sweetness that may develop.

Mouthfeel: heavy in body. Smooth at the start, more syrupy towards the finish. Aftertaste is long on the sweetness and alcohol tones as they seem to be glued to your tongue.

Drinkability: I feel this needed another year or two of mellowing, as the alcohol was a bit too strong which knocks down the drinkability. Interesting offering, and I am looking forward to trying some older vintages.

Gavage, Jan 09, 2007
Photo of GClarkage
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

GClarkage, Dec 05, 2008
Photo of kojevergas
2.25/5  rDev -47.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2010 vintage 275 ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a nonical Guinness pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live, because it fell out of me fridge and foam started building so I knew I had to open it.

Bottle acquired at Hi Time Liquor in Costa Mesa, California.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured lightly given extra caronbation was expected.

A: Pours a half finger head of bad thickness, no real cream, and bad retention (maybe 20 seconds). Murky copper-brown colour. Floating yeast particles are certainly visible, with strange white floaters present. Not at all appealing.

Sm: Malty and yeasty. Malt dominates - a mixture of mildly dark malt and bright barley methinks. No roasting or toasting comes through. A mild strength aroma.

T: Heavy on the lees - sweet jaysus. Toffee is also a big element here. A sort of raisiny grapey fruit tone dominates the finish, with a hint of apple. I don't like the third act at all as a result; it feels really awkward and off. The remainder of the beer is merely clean malts. Lees were a bad call for this beer; even after two years of aging they're still quite dominant. It's a lot like drinking pure malt syrup to a degree. No alcohol comes through, which is impressive given the ABV. Overall, it's horribly balanced and badly built for the style.

Mf: Smooth and wet, suiting the flavours of the body nicely I suppose. Adequately carbonated. Thick enough but not quite ideal. It dries on the finish due to the lees, which is pretty nasty.

Dr: Very drinkable for the high ABV - perhaps its best trait. It was nowhere near as good as expected, and I wouldn't have it again unless a friend recommended it and it had a few years on it. The malts make it feel like a base for a better beer. A bastardization of barleywines as a style. Incredibly disappointing.

Overpriced, at least in the U.S.A.

I'll try the cask aged versions in the hope that they're better than this. I don't recommend this for aging or food pairing. A poor example of the style.

D

kojevergas, Mar 17, 2012
Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev 0%

InspectorBob, May 05, 2014
Photo of woodychandler
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

This will mark the occasion of my 2,200th review on this site and I figured that it should be something worthy of the milestone. I was at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Altoona following the Pints for Pets fest when I spotted this beauty in the cooler. I was pulling beers out left and right when I noticed a small sign on the right-hand side of the cooler advising me to ask my server/bartender/waitstaff for assistance in gathering beers from said cooler. Whoops! In my defense, although I am right-handed, I like to work from left to right and simply glossed over their note. It did not matter to them as I was summarily dragged into the courtyard, pilloried and accordingly whipped by a buxom central-PA beauty while still wearing my infamous monk's robe. Admission was charged for the sight and I was comped the beer, so it all worked out. Except for the fact that I am still unable to sit down comfortably. Ah well, c'est la guerre.

From the bottle: "This fully fermented strong ale has been brewed as a celebration of the brewer's art. It can be enjoyed now or laid down like a vintage wine for enjoyment in years to come. [undersigned] Head Brewer".

I initially employed a gentle pour so as not to disturb the (potential) lees, but to no avail. I was still getting a murkiness with floaties so I went back to the drawing board and used a heavier hand, resulting in a quickly disappearing finger of light-tan head and a LOT of floaties. It really depends on how much such things bother you as far as which style of pour to utilize, I suppose. Color was a murky, deep-amber with loads of evident floaties. Nose was enough to make me want to pay homage to my sinuses for finally clearing up. Holy dried dark fruit, Batman! This smelled of raisins, prunes, worn leather, tobacco, a newspaper mustiness and alcohol heat. Jeezus. My first sip was thick and viscous and sat on my tongue like a big glob of something that I might not want to swallow. The taste was sweet and smoky and my first thought was "S. Clyde Weaver's Sweet Lebanon Bologna". Finish was still sweet and smoky, but now with a tobacco-like smokiness, like I had partaken of a stogie. Double Jeezus. I almost wish that I had purchased more than one, but how many of these types of beers do I have left in me?

woodychandler, May 21, 2013
Photo of weeare138
4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

weeare138, Jul 13, 2007
Photo of yourefragile
4.25/5  rDev 0%

yourefragile, Nov 12, 2013
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

lacqueredmouse, Dec 02, 2010
Photo of orangesol
4.25/5  rDev 0%

orangesol, Jan 20, 2013
Photo of barleywinefiend
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

barleywinefiend, Jan 22, 2010
Photo of stakem
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken 4/8/10

Vintage 1998

Poured into a goblet, it appears a very dark amber brown color with some redish hues. A finger of yellowish tan foam for a head appears quite silky in appearance and receeds to just a thin film across the top of the beer. Spotty amounts of lace cling all around the glass. Aroma of this beer opens up big and boozy like sherry but eventually gives way to notes of molasses, brown sugar, oak-like woodsyness and some raisins soaked in alcohol. Taste is an impressive display of how a beer can fight the ages. For nearly 12 years old this beer has really held it's own. A slight touch of oxidation is present but adds to the complex monster of malt characteristics. My mouth is on sensory overload with this beer. Flavors of oak and smoke showcase the toasty side of the malt profile whereas flavors of prunes and raisins balance out the sweeter side before the hops bring in the bitterness. Feel of this beer boarderlines being syrupy but still very smooth and lightly carbonated. The aftertaste includes some flavors similar to coffee, chocolate, spice like cinamon and toffee. Masterfully done, this is a must-try for anyone serious about barleywine.

stakem, May 17, 2010
Photo of wl0307
4.28/5  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.

wl0307, Jul 11, 2009
Photo of Billolick
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1997 edition, small bottle, with best before date of Nov. '02, oh well....This tasty nectar pours dark auburn, with minimal head, tan and tiny bubbles. Leaves very fine and light lacing. Nose is strong and well developed, heavy mustyness, malt, caramel, oak. Full bodied and flavors galore. Oak, smoke, vanilla,leather, warming alcohol. Fine creation in brewing, wonderful complexity. a treat for the tongue. High quality sipper, seek,age and enjoy!

Billolick, Nov 17, 2004
Photo of dbrauneis
4.19/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2008

A: Pours a hazy medium reddish brown in color with light amounts of visible carbonation and some significant amounts of dark yeast sediment in the bottom of the glass and some faint apricot + orange highlights. The beer has a thin (less than 1/4 finger tall) light beige head that quickly reduces to a medium sized patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Strong aromas of dark fruits (raisin), toffee, caramel, brown sugar, and a brandy-like liquor smell.

T: Upfront there is a strong flavor of sweet malts with dark fruit (raisin), toffee, caramel, and brown sugar all present. There is also a moderate amount of alcohol that is reminiscent of brandy/cognac. Moderate to strong amounts of sweetness are present and linger through the finish.

M: Full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with some sticky sweetness and moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol warming.

O: This is a very sweet and intense English Barleywine and is definitely one that needs to be sipped slowly considering the high ABV and the not all that well hidden alcohol.

dbrauneis, Aug 04, 2013
Photo of Georgiabeer
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

Georgiabeer, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -5.9%

drewone, Oct 06, 2013
Photo of akorsak
4.83/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

akorsak, Dec 31, 2005
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

rhoadsrage, Nov 17, 2005
Photo of duceswild
3/5  rDev -29.4%

duceswild, May 30, 2012
Photo of DoubleJ
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
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.

DoubleJ, Nov 05, 2009
Photo of Zorro
4.83/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

Zorro, Feb 13, 2004
Photo of jdhilt
3.98/5  rDev -6.4%
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

jdhilt, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of mothman
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1999 Vintage.

Poured into a taster pint glass.

Pours a small off white head. Decent retention thought. Leaves some splattered lace. Color is a very hazed dark caramel brown.

Aroma: Brown sugar, toffee, caramel, grassy hops, and a slight amount of hops.

Taste: Liquid brown sugar, toffee, and caramel. Tons of malt flavors. Some cookies. It has a very sweet taste to it.

Mouthfeel: A little hot, sweet, and smooth. Medium to full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends full of sweet malts.

Overall, this is a very good for an English B-wine. Very sweet, but still holding up well. Not something I would want a lot of though.

mothman, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of afsdan
5/5  rDev +17.6%

afsdan, Mar 22, 2014
Photo of BARFLYB
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

BARFLYB, Feb 12, 2009
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,235 ratings.