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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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1,244 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,244
Reviews: 794
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 213
Gots: 182 | 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: 1,244 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of raffy313
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

raffy313, May 18, 2013
Photo of necoadam
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

On my 20th review, I decided to review the J.W. Lees Harvest Vintage Ale.

This was a 1997 Vintage ale

This brew poured out almost like motor oil. Nice chesnut/reddish color with very little carbonation.

Smell consists of caramel and hints of brown sugar come into mind.

Taste was huge. Big thick body and mouthfeel on this bad boy. Big taste on caramel, figs, plums, Finishes with some toffee. Call me crazy but the finish almost tastes like drinking tea. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth. Love it.

necoadam, Feb 03, 2004
Photo of bmoney
5/5  rDev +17.6%

bmoney, Dec 16, 2011
Photo of nkeckhar
5/5  rDev +17.6%

nkeckhar, Jan 29, 2013
Photo of Cyclone8
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Cyclone8, Jan 28, 2014
Photo of theghost3
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage, poured into a snifter.

The appearance is cloudy copper, iced tea-like with lots of sediment. The head is very minimal, white. Little lacing.

The smell is strongly brandy, scotch, dark dried fruits & alcohol esters. Taste is brandy, whiskey, oaky wood with plums, vanilla, & caramel malts. The mouthfeel is acidic & there's a fair amount of alcohol warmth.

This is a drinkable beer, although it is more like a liquor than beer in a lot of ways. I would recommend cellaring this for a few years to bring out the varied qualities.

theghost3, May 26, 2009
Photo of jeremiahoden
4.25/5  rDev 0%

jeremiahoden, Oct 07, 2014
Photo of Erdinger2003
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1990 vintage--made when I was in 1at grade!!

Pours a little head but nothing that stays very long at all, it soon turns into a headless beer. This one is a little less syrupy then the '98 and the flavors have mellowed and come together to make a burnt caramel flavor. Feels great on the palate and is something I would like to try a few more of in my lifetime.

Erdinger2003, Dec 28, 2006
Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2000. Poured from a 9.3oz bottle into my Koningshoeven snifter. Pours a creamy caramel color, but fills the glass on the darker side...mostly brown. Very murky, hazy, and a wonderful looking creamy tan head with very nice retention. Leaves sticky, but patchy lacing all over the glass.

Aroma is sweet, sharp, fruits, booze, smokey, caramel, roasted malts, and yeasts.

Yum! Creamy and smooth! Lots of caramel and roasted malts. Dark and overripe fruits. Seems like the booze has really mellowed by now, it's not very warming for 11.5%. The sweetness is perfect, with just a semi thick mouthfeel. Surprising enough, this big heavy barleywine is more drinkable than I figured it would be, and definitely more than JW Lee's barrel aged versions of this beer. A very nice drinker!

ShadesOfGray, May 31, 2010
Photo of cubedbee
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1998 vintage. Pours a deep dark red with a thin cap of beige head that quickly reduces to a ring. Smell is sweet and dark--raisins, figs, port, and some very earthy aromas. Taste is sugary sweet upfront, with a fruity winelike complexity. Raisins, figs, pineapples, toffee, maple syrup. Just a bare note of hops on the finish to balance the sweetness, which lingers long after a sip. Alcohol is barely detectable, amazing considering the 11.5%. Mouthfeel is full and silky, absolutely suberb. Overall this is a little sweeter than I expected, but it's an absolutely shining example of a barleywine, and I would try another vintage in a second.

cubedbee, Jul 10, 2005
Photo of TheSleepyMonkey
4.25/5  rDev 0%

TheSleepyMonkey, Apr 16, 2014
Photo of fsck
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

fsck, Aug 26, 2013
Photo of Supergenious
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Supergenious, Jun 15, 2013
Photo of davesway10
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

davesway10, Jul 09, 2013
Photo of bifrost17
5/5  rDev +17.6%

bifrost17, Apr 23, 2013
Photo of MSchae1017
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998: Very fruity with raisins in the aroma. The taste is also very sweet with just enough bitterness to keep this from being unbalanced. The mouthfeel is incredibly creamy and it is amazing that the subtle carbonation has held up this well over the years.

1999: Decidedly hotter and more bitter than the 1998. The mouthfeel is also not quite as smooth and the carbonation is more prevalent.

2000: Smoother like the 1998, but in addition to the hotness of the 1999, there is a spicy and minty character present in the finish.

2001: Very mellow like the 1998, but not quite as creamy of a mouthfeel. The second best of the bunch.

2002: Significantly hotter and more bitter than the any of the previous. The fruity characteristics just have not quite developed.

2003: The color on this one is not quite the amber hue that the rest exhibit. It is more pale and hazy for some reason. The complexity on these newer ones just have not developed to the level of the older ones.

2004: Smoother than the previous ones but still hot and bitter in comparison. It is surprisingly drinkable given its relatively young age.

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale is a classic example of the difference between an American and English Barleywine. You will not find any intense citrusy hop profiles in this beer, but rather an enjoyable balance between fruity malts and Golding hops that exhibits new dimensions of flavor as the beer ages.

MSchae1017, Feb 08, 2008
Photo of Shmeal
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Shmeal, Aug 31, 2013
Photo of Casterbridge
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Casterbridge, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of camartin27
4.25/5  rDev 0%

camartin27, Jun 24, 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 Syracuse12
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Syracuse12, Jun 18, 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 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
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,244 ratings.