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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

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1,236 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,236
Reviews: 794
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 208
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: 1,236 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Shmeal
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Shmeal, Aug 31, 2013
Photo of davesway10
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

davesway10, Jul 09, 2013
Photo of nkeckhar
5/5  rDev +17.6%

nkeckhar, Jan 29, 2013
Photo of fsck
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

fsck, Aug 26, 2013
Photo of Samp01
3.74/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

9.3oz bottle. Pours a dark reddish brown with a small quickly fading cream colored head. Aroma is sweet caramel malt, very fruity esters, a bit of banana note up front, yeast and dark fruit notes. Taste is of sweet caramel and toffee, mild chocolate malt, very fruity with some dark dried fruit, a kind of fermented grapes flavor, yeast, almost brandy like with some cask and wood flavor. Palate is a medium to full body, smooth and creamy, slightly sweet cloying mouth feel. Finish is same as Taste no need to repeat it all, with a lingering sweet caramel and mild sweet alcohol flavors. Overall a good yet complex nose and flavored brew, has a nice after taste, good after dinner brew with a sweet dessert

Samp01, Jul 31, 2013
Photo of BBP
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage

Pours a toffee chestnut hue with decent head. No lacing to speak of however.

The aroma is intensely sweet. It gives a very blatant prelude to the taste. There's caramel, toffee, candied sugars, and perhaps the faintest traces of spicy hops.

The taste is at first far too sweet. When it warmed up it improved greatly though. The sweetness took on a lot more depth and became tolerable first, and then enjoyable.

The taste is like the aroma, but surprisingly, it's far more elaborate. Caramel, spicy hops, and more caramel form the foundation for this. On top of that there's some candy and a decent amount of fruit like figs and dates. It has a bit of a scotch ale element to it as well, with some peat like flavor, and some very rich malt coming through.

The body is medium thick and medium light in weight. The finish is dry and sticky. Carbonation seems to be a little faded, but there's still a good amount. I could see this aging for about 10 years before it would be a problem.

Overall, it didn't impress me one bit at first, but as it warmed up an incredible amount of depth came up. It really gets quite a bit more drinkable at cellar temperature. The alcohol really blends seamlessly and the sweetness seems under control at that point. I'm curious to try older and newer versions of this to see the contrast, though I expect it gets closer to it's prime with a touch more age.

BBP, Dec 24, 2011
Photo of Supergenious
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Supergenious, Jun 15, 2013
Photo of cultclassic89
3/5  rDev -29.4%

cultclassic89, May 15, 2014
Photo of letsgopens
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage '98, this little bottle of heaven pours a cloudy, rusty amber with some thin, golden highlights. The milky tan head remains frothy and full for a very respectable period of time. Some very fine rising carbonation is visible as well.

Huge, intense, and tongue numbingly complex. Smooth caramel, toffee covered dark fruit, candied dates and sweet sticky vanilla. Tons of heavily fermented fruit throughout. A hint of brandy and sun warmed black cherries. Buttery dark bread and a subtle hint of sour apple. Simply unbelievably fragrant. I can think of only one, maybe two, beers that can rival in aromatic complexity.

Buttery smooth, burnt toffee and a ton of heavily caramelized sugar character and fermented fruit. Juicy dark fruit (berry, raisin, date, fig) and very toasty brown bread. A superb lingering aftertaste. Velvety smooth, warm, toasty, and very sweet. Initially there is a hint of brandy that mellows and becomes more smooth yet still bold throughout. Again, just fantastically complex.

Soft, buttery velvet yet a bit bitey near the beginning with a suppressed, underlying booze warmth. A great sipper; certainly something to be appreciated. This is one of those selections where all aspects of the brew (apart from appearance) are very much dependent on one another. Definitely a full-on beer experience.

letsgopens, Jun 03, 2008
Photo of Franch
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Franch, Jan 22, 2013
Photo of camartin27
4.25/5  rDev 0%

camartin27, Jun 24, 2013
Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.13/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001 Vintage.

Tan head sits atop a cloudy, coppery amber beer. Plenty of suspended particulate matter.
Aroma is vinous and shows too much alcohol. Tad earthy. Rich, sweet malt.

Taste shows a rich, very sweet malt backbone. Vinous and sour. Syrupy sweetness lingers on the palate for some time after the finish.

Full body. Somewhat creamy and sticky mouthfeel.

This is one of those beers I really liked certain characteristics, but really disliked others. Not sure what to make of the beer as a whole, but I won't be in a hurry to give it another try. Big thanks to Blatzman for the bottle!

PhantomVodoo, Mar 12, 2004
Photo of stephendr
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

smell 4.5 taste 4.5 app 3.5 mouth 4.5 drink 4.5
1998 vintage 9.6 oz. glass bottle sample cellared at least 11 years- opened 10/28/07- color of murky brown, with a super thin off white colored head - nose of sweet brown sugar, over ripe tropical fruit, stale sourdough bread, and hint of cappuccino – taste of sweet malt, caramel, very full, chewy prunes, raisins, and syrup- body is thick, and round, and with no carbonation – aftertaste of raisins, toasted, rock candy sweet, and lingering

stephendr, Jan 05, 2008
Photo of Axic10
4.8/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage poured from 275ml bottle into a snifter. As of today, this 11 year old beer is the oldest I've ever had.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with hints of ruby red and no head at all.

Smell: Raisin, plum, sweet malt, dark candied fruits and some toffee. Nice smelling barleywiine.

Taste: Sweet raisins and other candied fruits, heavy caramel. Very sweet but also very complex.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and extremely smooth.

Drinkability: I have a few more vintages of this, and if they are anything like this I am in for a treat. I think I'm going to pick up some more 1999 vintages when I see them. Very very enjoyable.

Axic10, Oct 11, 2010
Photo of RedChrome
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1998 vintage poured a muddy brown color. Had only a minimal off white head. Very few carbonation bubbles can be seen in the murky color.

Very rich aroma blends a very nice scent of chocolate with the bitterness of coffee grounds. Rich plum scent helps this finish sweeter in the nose. Additional malt scent reminds me of caramel. The high alcohol content also comes through in the aroma, and highlights the rest of the scent by comparison.

Very sweet taste is a mixture of chocoalte and caramel with a fruity finish. The taste of plums and raisins hang on the back the tongue. As the taste lingers it takes on a slightly nutty flavor. The alcohol content is played down to the other flavors, and doesn't have the burn effect I was expecting. great flavor, but can use a hint more bitterness.

A very thick syrupy body. Decent amount of carbonation pops along the sides of the mouth and on the tongue.

A decent offering in the style. To sweet for my taste but Would pair well with nice sharp cheese, such as chedder or pecorino romano. If you like a sweeter beer, with a high alcohol content, this is a winner for you.

RedChrome, Sep 09, 2006
Photo of BobZ
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

9.3 oz., 1999 Vintage, Poured into my Aventinus Eisbock glass.

Appearance: Golden orange, very little head, and only small traces of lacing.

Smell: Very sweet & malty, honey, caramel, molasses.

Taste: Follows the nose. Almost malt syrup, very sweet. The alcohol is only evident by the warmth in the finish. Complex in its diversity of sweet flavors.

Mouth feel: The syrup like feel verges on cloying, almost completely coats the mouth, lightly carbonated.

Drinkability: A slow sipper; too sweet for multiple bottles but definitely and enjoyable beer.

Nice to try my first English Barleywine, the flavor profile is very similar to De Dolle Stille Nacht; however, I prefer the Belgian in both taste and mouth feel.

BobZ, Jun 13, 2010
Photo of TheDM
1.65/5  rDev -61.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This was a bottle Harvest ale 2001 sample. This brew poured a small head of fine to medium sized light brown bubbles that as it receded left very little lacing. Its body was a cloudy dark brown color. It has an aroma of cinnamon and spice with some fruity notes. It had a burnt taste that was awful. Yuck what a drain pour. Was this sample bad? Maybe I'll have to sample another one if I can brave myself to try it again.

TheDM, Jul 15, 2003
Photo of cnally
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage.

Predictably low head and pours basically flat. Deep caramel brown color.

Aroma is centered on figs, bready smell likely from the yeast.

The flavors are so sweet and fruity. There is a lot of vanilla, black cherry. Figs. No discernible bitterness whatsoever. Finishes hiding the alcohol well.

Slick, sticky heavy mouthfeel. Like a fine port.

A sipper for sure. Very sweet and a lot of thickness. A pleasure to enjoy, but not one I would focus on having again.

cnally, Oct 01, 2011
Photo of claytri
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage.

The beer poured an opaque medium brown with ruby highlights with an off white head. The aroma was very vinous, much like a red wine. The taste was a combination of medicinal, vanilla, and wine, with the vanilla winning out. The feel was heavy creamy and wet. A very enjoyable brew, I can't wait to get some more.

claytri, Jan 02, 2009
Photo of TheSleepyMonkey
4.25/5  rDev 0%

TheSleepyMonkey, Apr 16, 2014
Photo of Seaba
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Seaba, Feb 28, 2013
Photo of JohnnyDuvel
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1997 edition. Pours a dark ruby color, very little head - disappears fast. Dark, fruity smell and taste. Full mouthfeel, good balance (though more towards the malt). Very wine-like (in a good way). Reminded me a lot of a really good Baltic porter in taste (like Stepan Razin?), only fuller in body. Alcohol not overwhelming, this one is enjoyable all the way through. A high quality ale that I will try again.

JohnnyDuvel, Sep 15, 2004
Photo of Zaximus
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

Zaximus, Sep 12, 2014
Photo of zerk
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on cask at Chalkies. Clear deep copper with no head. Has a very strong alcohol aroma, with notes of smoke, scotch, and sweet malt. Flavor is very sweet, but not what I'd call cloying. Very complex... begins with very sweet caramel and butterscotch, then some smokey, peat-like flavors, finishing a little bit spicey. Had no carbonation to speak of, but had a very full and smooth mouthfeel. A wonderful sipping beer.

zerk, Feb 04, 2003
Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Popped a 1999 to end a tasting with a few friends the other night. Similar flavors to the 1998 that I popped to celebrate the end on my second year of medical school.

A. Pours a dark amber with a thin tan head that dissipates to a creamy ring.

S. There's so much going on in the nose: caramel, honey, raisins, oxidized sweet malt.

T. The nose comes through in the mouth with the same flavors of raisins, caramel, and honey. All of these flavors sit on top a bed of sweet oxidized malt. As the beer warms slightly, some of the dark fruit flavors start to emerge.

M. Medium to heavy sticky syrupy body with light carbonation so as not to destroy the flavors coating your tongue.

1986 vintage.

A. Pours amber with slightly orange edges with absolutely no head. 4.0

S. Raisin, caramel, and some oxidation. 4.0

T. Similiar to the smell with oxidized cardboard. Maybe slightly past its prime. 4.0

M. Thin - much much thinner than 1998 or 1999. 3.5

D. Good, but not as good as a bit younger vintages. 4.0

D. The only possible complaint is that there is too little carbonation which leads to overwhelming sweetness, but if you expect this going in it's pure bliss. The best I can imagine in a barleywine. A wonderful night cap. I'm glad I have a few more of these stocked away to enjoy over the coming years.

BeerAndBourbon, Sep 08, 2010
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,236 ratings.