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
94
outstanding

1,340 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,340
Reviews: 819
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 14.18%
Wants: 238
Gots: 194 | FT: 13
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,340 | Reviews: 819
Photo of Immortale25
4.55/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. 2011 vintage.

A- Pours a light brown color with a full two finger light tan head that retains well before popping away to a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of surface foam. Not-so-resilient lacing leaves small streaks behind.

S- Sweet, biscuity malt with notes of brown sugar, dark bread and toffee.

T- Powerful flavors of burnt sugar, caramel and more toffee. Toasty malt and minimal hop bitterness. The alcohol is hidden quite well but lends a fortified wine characteristic to the overall profile.

M- Somewhat sharp and tangy with medium carbonation and a body leaning toward the fuller side.

O- A fantastic representation of an English Barleywine. The sweetness in particular lends itself to drinkability even with the pronounced alcohol bite. You would expect those two things to clash with one another but this brew shows how the two can co-exist in harmony.

Photo of IMFletcher
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2006 edition. Super sweet and wonderful. I am really learning to appreciate barleywines.

Photo of barczar
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Very sweet, but huge caramelization and just a hint of sherry oxidation.

These age so well.

Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.24/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had one of these last night up at the Cloverleaf in Caldwell. Never had this beer before and I had a feeling that this would take a while to sip through. That was indeed the case but because this was so street and strong in a subtle way, it was worth savoring as it warmed up in the small snifter glass that I poured this out in. A Barleywine doesn't get much better than this and I can't recall the last time I had a beer that was this smooth!

Nice pour to this, as this beer has an apricot hue, cloudy appearance, and little head. It reminded me of a nice sherry or other Barleywines that I've had that packed their punch once they warmed up and were sipped. Like those, this was boozy and like this, this was clear, strong, and unassuming. Unlike some of those, this was balanced - lots of rye here as expected with honey for body and hop oils for balance. Incredibly smooth while being sticky and sweet, this turned out to be what a Barleywine should be without having the alcohol overpower everything else.

Strong, this was but it never felt overpowering. It was so sweet and had just a hint of dark fruit in it while leaving a nice, slick aftertaste that the potency of this ended up taking a backseat. It's so rare to find a beer that pushes the edge of what a beer can be while still remaining true to form, which was the case here. Thoroughly enjoyable while still being a new experience for me, this is a brew that should be on everyone's must-try list, especially if some warming-up is called for this winter. Great stuff!

Photo of Lochnessmonster
3.08/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Heard a lot of hype on this one, had a 2008 bottle and just felt that I've had much better barleywines. No disrespect to J.W.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.61/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage, Autumn Limited Edition. Purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a golden ruby amber, with a small half inch head, and basically no lacing.

Smells wonderful, slightly oxidized, giving off sherry impressions, with caramel, toffee, and some grassy hops.

I can't believe I'm finally trying this beer, I clearly should have a long time ago. It's excellent, and really quite smooth. Silky toffee and caramel, some port-like flavors, molasses and maple, and a little bit of grassy hops. I also get some prune, oak, smoke and brown sugar, a little bit. Finishes very clean. Clearly brewed to perfection.

This is medium bodied and slightly syupy, with a full mouthfeel, and a lower level of carbonation.

This vintage has clearly aged marvelously. It's one of the best barleywines I've ever had. Everything intensely in moderation.

Photo of hombrepalo
3.3/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Tried many vintages a few up to 15 years aged. Nice mahogany color with beige head. Smells of toffee and malts. Taste is silky toffee and caramel. Finish thin and sweet.

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.91/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma if raisins, molasses, toffee, honey. Taste sweet honey, toffee, burnt smokey caramel.

Photo of JoninVT
3.25/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I believe it was a 5 year old bottle, possibly 3. Just not particularly good. Heavy on the long leaf chewing tobacco.

Photo of fx20736
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Edition. Bought at Premier Gourmet on 11/19/14. Poured into a Chimay chalice, served cool.

Look: Bronze, minimal head.

Smell: butterscotch, vanilla, pecans

Taste: grape skin, smoke, tannins, rich, nutty malts.

Feel: good

Overall: rich, complex, smoky

Photo of BeerForMuscle
4.44/5  rDev +5%

Note - Having the 2011 version in November 2014, on tap at UNO in Hamilton NJ.

A - Unfiltered and hazy looking orangey glowing body.

S - Honey coated apricots, marmalade. Candied tropical fruit, light caramel and malt. Fruit jam.

T - Oak barrel aged fruit spread. Sweet, fruit meat and fruit skin, dry wood, farm honey, smooth silky booze. Booze soaked fruit, rum cake, hint of biscuit. I've named mostly sweet flavors but it's never at all cloying.

M - Soft, warming medium body with light carbonation.

O - Amazing. So far this one has trumped all other barley wines that I've had.

Photo of Greasy
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage. 275 ml poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a very pretty honey color that is unlike most barleywine,. Lighter than I expected.

S: No booze for an 11.5% beer. Nutty.

T. Delicious. Not many other words to describe. Maybe some toffee. Dark fruits. Malty.

M: Pretty viscous. Thick, tongue coating. Nice.

O: If you find this in stores, do not let the smaller size deter you. Great things come in small packages. This is 9.3 ounces of awesome.

Photo of matt_duthie
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

2008 vintage. Noticed sediment as pouring, then afterwords saw the most concentrated yeast-beer-mix I've ever seen(eventually settled out for the most part). Smells insanely sweet of toffee and fruit. I've not had an English barleywine where the dessert-cake aspect was so intense. Massive cocoa and fruitcake and oh so much more accompany the consistent ring of lacing that follows the 9.25 oz. or whatever to the bottom of the glass. Alcohol hardly noticeable, a fine beer completely different than anything I've ever had. The one I'd recommend to illustrate the difference between an English and American take on what a barleywine ale is...

Photo of kdahnke123
2.92/5  rDev -31%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2012 Vintage Poured into a snifter at room temperature
A - A thin amber pour with minimal carbonation and no lacing.
S - Smells acidic, fruity with a small amount of malt and minimal hops.
T - Odd tasting with acidic notes and an unpleasant finish.
M - Minimall mouth coating with no carbonation.
O - Not recommended.

Photo of Kuaff
4.65/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Harvest Ale 2012, cellar temperature in a snifter.

This barley wine has a modest one-finger white head of foam which subsides unhurriedly. The color is a marvelous brownish, brackish, deep amber orange that looks clear and gem-like, though it isn't totally translucent.

The aroma is a superb one, filled with vanilla, caramel, toffee, ripe red apples, butterscotch, raisins, cider, and lemon zest. There may be a subtle earthy, leathury oak note too. Truly a pleasure to take in.

I taste sweet fruits at first; the sweet, juicy apple mixes with dark red cherries and, surprisingly, a grape flavor that bursts more in the middle, right before the finish sets in, which is something quite special: caramel, smoky leather, and earth abound, lingering prominently with some wonderful toasted nuttiness. And all the while those sweet fruits remain light in the background.

The feel is full, substantial, and a bit sticky.

A brilliant British barley wine with distinctive fruity and nutty traits.

Photo of FLima
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2006, finally! I could not wait more, but anyway it should be excellent by now. Let's see if it holds true against my expectations...
Brown ochre color with an almost inexistent head, so far no sediments. Almost showing some lacrima effect falling down the glass.
Wonderful aroma of Port wine, lots of high grade cocoa chocolate, licorice, molasses, oak, dry fruits, a hint of cinnamon and plums. I could mistake this by a chocolate panettone. I cannot get tire of sniffing this.
Surprisingly, flavor doesn’t entirely follow nose. Some new slightly smoked notes of charred wood or even tobacco. Also, molasses, very subtle earthy English hops, Port Wine, walnut, coconut, figs, cinnamon, prunes, apple juice, pears, licorice and maple syrup. Maybe some pleasant musty. Dry and sticky aftertaste with residual notes that mutates a bit.
Liquorish body with a very low carbonation, but it is still there. Alcohol of 11.5% abv is much better hidden than a bottle of wine given its malty body.
Extraordinaire beer, a sweet malty sipper with great complexity. Bold but still mellow. Highly recommended if you are into Barley Wines. This was in perfect condition after roughly eight years, I can’t wait trying one much younger and another one older.

Photo of SnifterLifter
4.62/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2000 Vintage. 275 ml bottle poured into snifter, very excited to try this one.

Pours dark reddish brown, no murkiness, very little sediment. Leaves lacing and has a very quickly dissipating pinky sized head.

Nose is strongly of sherry, very very slight alcohol presence. I think there would be more to say, but I have a poor sense of smell.

Up front is the butterscotchy sherry flavor, dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar. Possibly a slight tobacco note in there that I didn't expect.

Mouthfeel is not particularly thick, leaves a coating of flavor on your tongue and lips which is pleasant.

This is a wonderful beer. I spent 8.50 on it and I was satisfied. Definitely a sweet sipper for a special occasion. I haven't had this before now but I suspect the age did this beer wonders. Very satisfying.

Photo of DerelictPI
4.77/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage.

Look: A beautiful reddish orange color. Almost like a honey color. I poured it straight out and it developed a nice head that went away immediately.

Smell: Sweet, dried fruit.

Taste: Follows the smell. I've been sipping on this 750 ml for about an hour and a half, so it has changed as it has warmed (and as I have warmed). Rich malty sweetness that is in line with dried fruits. The booze is well hidden. This is not a terribly carbonated beer but it does go down easy. I am glad I bought two more bottles to age!

Overall: If you like sweeter barleywines, quads and dopplebocks, do yourself a favor and grab this!

Photo of morebeergood
2.33/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Purchased three bottles: 2008, 2007, 2006 a couple years back and have aged them in my proper beer cellar since then. Cracked them all open last night. All three were flat, overly sweet, and metallic tasting. They did not age well at all. I bought them at a decent price, so no big loss. But I expected more since this was a beer that the label says can be laid down for years.

Photo of BMMillsy
4.07/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Tipples, 11-2012 release. Pours murky reddish orange as all the versions do, with essentially no head at all on top. Beautiful aroma of toffee, figs, pears, plums, sweet caramel. Smells rich and sweet. Flavor is a beautiful nutty toffee fruit flavor. Pecans and caramel galore with an extra sweet fruit character like pears and figs. Really nice. Sweet full mouthfeel with adequate carbonation. A very nice beer.

Photo of Rollzroyce21
4.15/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

1000th rate/review! Woot wooot!

2010 vintage purchased at Warehouse Liquors in Chicago not long before it was consumed. Do not know aging conditions.

11.2 oz. bottle poured into Lost Abbey teku on 12-Apr-14 (aged for about 4 years; 2nd daughter's first birthday)

Must be noted that I unintentionally poured a lot of sediment into the glass. Had to let the glass sit and let it settle and took quite a bit of time, about an hour, in order to clear up the upper half of the glass. So getting some of the sediment into the aroma and flavor was unavoidable. Made it much more bitter than it should, but I was still able to enjoy the toffee and caramel sweetness that wasn't cloying at all and the warm, toasted oak. Notes of dark fruits with hints of coconut. Low to medium level of carbo and mouthfeel was slightly more viscous than other BW's in general.

Overall, a nicely aged barleywine that I'd love to revisit if given the chance. I wanna say a little more age would do nicely.

Photo of bnes09
3.32/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Light caramel color. Mostly opaque. Weak head. No retention or lacing.

Sweet, dark fruit aroma.

Deep malt flavor, figs and dates mainly. Hint of roasted almonds. Super sweet character overall. No hops to be found.

Dense, syrupy texture. Weak carbonation.

Decent flavor. Just way too sweet for me.

Photo of reebtaerG
4.3/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had on draft at Columbia Ale House in a tulip

A-Pour was cloudy orange/brown with LOTS of sediment. Thin head that stayed thought drinking. Decent lacing.

S-Aroma of brown sugar, dark fruit, raisin, caramel.

T-Taste started sweet and transitioned to tart.

M-Mouthfeel was buttery/oily and full with a lively subtle carbonation.

O-Overall a great barleywine a must get.

Photo of CanuckRover
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky brown. It's not pretty, but it's on style, so can't be too hard on it. Thin film, showing some carbonation, which is promising.

Sweet nose. Aroma of apple pie, honey.

As expected from the nose. Calvados flavours, dates, and just a bit of spice, cinnamon-like. Slightly woody. Alcohol is nowhere to be seen, just a tingle in the finish.

A classic for a reason.

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.6/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage

Appearance - A golden brown color with sediment floating near the bottom of the glass. The sediment almost looks like fresh wheat.

Smell - The sweetness in the aroma is intense. Laying a backbone to the sweetness are some wood based notes.

Taste - This is a near perfect English barleywine. The first impression I have is, "this is like drinking caramel." The sweetness is amazing, but it is paired with oak, sweet fruits, and hints of malts. I wish it was a little thicker to allow the aftertaste to linger a little longer. For an 11%, there is little burn. The sweetness leans toward dry in the finish.

Mouthfeel - I wanted this to be a little thicker so it could last longer.

Overall - I wish this came in bigger bottles. Though if it did come in bigger bottles, the night could end badly for me. Love this stuff.

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 1,340 ratings.