1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

1,218 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,218
Reviews: 793
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 199
Gots: 171 | 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)
View: Beers (19) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,218 | Reviews: 793 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MrSeth
MrSeth

Massachusetts

4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1997 bottling pours a murky-opaque dark brown with a tan-brown 1/4" head. It keeps settling to bubbly groups of swirling suds, then to a very thin ring around the glass.

Vinous nose, very winey. Earthy walnut, wood and musk are also present.

Smooth, rich and full mouthfeel. The taste has so many different characteristics, maple syrup, molasses, burgundy, brown sugar, sherryish and meaty. The hops have diminished to a subtle bitterness that works well for the ale but doesn't jump out at you on it's own. That may seem like a redundant list, but it isn't just like molasses, or just like brown sugar.. it's a complex maltiness. And saying that it is like burgundy and sherry is no small claim for an ale either.. but try this one and you'll see, it's wonderful.

Serving type: bottle

04-25-2005 01:56:03 | More by MrSeth
Photo of BrewMaster
BrewMaster

California

4.38/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 bottle pours a dark brown with a little head and slight red hue. a swirly ring of bubbles covers the top. the aroma is strong with notes of caramel, scotch, brown sugar, and a syrupy malt smell. Very sweet to start with a roasty but soft flavor. the sweetness is very reminiscent of sherry or port. There are some woody flavors in the beer that add a creaminess and subtle nutty flavor along with some fruit/berry flavors. There is a light grape flavor and a strong alcohol finish. The aftertaste is lightly roasty. Smooth and very rich. Excellent. This is very nice beer to drink. At 11.5% it's no wonder why it comes in 9.5 ounce bottles.

1999 bottle pours dark brown again. similar flavors to the 1998 but less woody and more malty. rich caramel malts dominate and a burnt sugar flavor comes in. also a banana and brandy sweetness. the roasty aftertaste is much the same as the 1998. this 1999 bottle seems to hide the alcohol better than the 1998.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2005 23:36:46 | More by BrewMaster
Photo of canucklehead
canucklehead

British Columbia (Canada)

4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is so nice to find a 1999 bottle of this great beer at Archers Ale house in Bellingham. The bottle opened to produce a tawny brown that looks like heaven in a glass. Nose was malts, old fruit and remnants of hops. The taste was sublime, very big yet smooth as silk. Not as complex as Thomas Hardy but the sum of the parts make this a world class beer. A great reminder why I love beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2005 17:35:29 | More by canucklehead
Photo of shapudding
shapudding

Pennsylvania

3.2/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 1988
appear 2.5, aroma 4, mouth 3.5, drink 3
no head, just stillness and some medium bubbles rising on the sides. Huge chunks of brown/grey yeast floating and a lot of white pepper looking ones on the sides that almost look like carbonation. (I did a slow pour too) This stuff looks like it is a jello mold. Musty and cellared scents, cider, sharp and pungent, aged provalone. Smooth with not much carbonation feel, just a bit. Tastes of a barley wine. Hoppy bite, bit of nice heat. Cream sherry, vanilla beans, good port, and maraschino cherries. Drank it slow, very good flavor, but almost scary when you look at it. My partner in crime was not too interested in drinking his at all, a bit turned off by the appearance. By the time I finished my half the bottle, there was almost a teaspoon of sediment in the bottom of the glass.
---
Vintage 1997
apear 4, aroma 2.5, mouth 3.5, drink 2.5
Dated with an end date of Nov. 2002, and a “1" before the 2L.... Hmmmm, did not see the end date before.... whoops! Bottle brown and almost a twinge of ruby seen when held to a light. No head, just a ring and some dust. Thick and cloyingly heavy scented of maraschino cherries, port, cream sherry. The creamy carbonation is just barely there. Port and cream sherry flavors, dark hoppiness, burnt toast at the back of the tongue. A lot of sweetness left in your mouth.
---
Vintage 2000
appear 3.5, aroma 3, mouth 4, taste 3, drink 2.5
I let this sit out for few hours to warm up. A lot of sediment through the deep woodsy brown and reddish tinged brew, bit unclear, faint small bubbles rising up to a ring and dusting of faint warm khaki. Aroma of deep dark cherry and port, heavy and almost syrup sweet, karo, almost molasses more than a bit cloying. Tight carbonation, just a bit foamy, medium body. Thick, dark, caramel sweetness. The overwhelming sweetness is in the flavor, along with hoppiness, burnt toast, port wine and honey. A lot of very intense flavors. Definitely a sipper.

Serving type: bottle

03-20-2005 23:24:15 | More by shapudding
Photo of jahred
jahred

Illinois

4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage, consumed on 3/13/05. Pours a very dark, reddish brown color, and before I got even 1/3 of the way thru pouring the bottle, an intensely strong aroma of honey and molasses erups from my glass. Wow - the aroma is fantastic and overwhelming, if in a "Holy F---ing S--T that smells good!" sorta way.

I finish pouring the beer, and find a modest-sized tan head that disappears after about a minute. Still, quite impressive considering how long it's been in the bottle. Now I go back to that aroma. Toffee, hazelnuts, honey and molasses. This might be the best-smelling beer my nose has ever come across.

The taste continues through on the aroma, though it's only almost as impressive. More honey and molasses, with a rich, thick syrupy mouthfeel. A tiny touch of hoppy bitterness remains after all this years, lingering in the aftertaste to balance out this otherwise incredibly sweet brew.

Impressive, and I still can't believe this was 11.5% ABV. The alcohol was barely noticeable.

An amazing beer, for sure.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2005 05:54:46 | More by jahred
Photo of apintofknowledge
apintofknowledge

New Jersey

4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 1999, tasted February 2005. Poured a deep caramel hue, slightly cloudy in appearance. The aromas of alcohol, Scotch and fresh baked bread were all present. A variety of flavors come through, including sweet honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, rye whiskey, all with a hint of mild bitterness while remaining sweet throughout. Very complex, and different flavors come forward the more you drink. The mouthfeel was thick and syrupy with a very mild carbonation.

Altogether, an exceptional barleywine to sip and enjoy and linger over... the experience of a 12 oz bottle should last longer than two or three pints of just about anything else.

As for pairing, I've tried it with stilton as some have suggested, and it just doesn't work for me personally. Too many strong flavors competing there. I say enjoy this one all by itself.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2005 14:34:43 | More by apintofknowledge
Photo of Gueuzedude
Gueuzedude

Arizona

3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 vintage edition, sampled March 2005
Pours a orange copper color that is brilliantly clear and topped by a thin pale tan head. The aroma is richly malty with notes of sugar, toffee, alcohol, and already a bit of oxidation notes that add a richness to the aroma. The taste is sweet up front, with a candied toffee-like concentrated maltiness. This beer is fairly simplistic, with a hint of hoppiness that rounds out this beer a bit. Despite its simple nature this beer is still enjoyable on this night.

Serving type: bottle

03-10-2005 05:34:31 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of Sammy
Sammy

Ontario (Canada)

4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage. Simply barley and cloying sweet. Peppermint, cinammon, raisin. Not very refreshing nor complex. Full mouthfeel. Little carbonation. Warming did not significantly improve. Saccarin dry aftertaste. I thought this below average for a barleywine, and please don't take offense.

Had 1997 vintage in spring 2006, 4 years past due. Lovely malt complexity and barley, understated carbonation and bitterness. Rating ratched up. I want more.

Serving type: bottle

03-08-2005 04:09:20 | More by Sammy
Photo of Wonka
Wonka

Maryland

4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1st December 1997
275 ML
11.5% VOL
Best before end Nov 2002

Gentle puff of air at opening; pours to a dazzling array of carbonation in the body that literally vaporizes within moments

Appearance – carbonation quickly backs off to form an early ½ inch cream-colored head; it backs away to expose the opaque and dominant brown/slightly red body below; no lace, but that’s excused

Smell – the smell honestly does make my mouth water; molasses; caramel; toffee; prunes; raisins; I smell it and ponder the taste and smoothness

Taste – sweetness predominates but its certainly not too sweet; prunes and molasses that coat the top lip; a touch of bitterness closes; the alcohol is amazingly cloaked

Mouthfeel – so smooth with a light oily base and moderate body; there’s an elegant early burst of carbonation that clears the way for the army of flavor; the light tinge at the end is reminiscent of the aftertaste much after chewing a piece of Big Red bubble gum – there’s a very light cinnamon-like pop on the tongue; the smoothness has marathon quality

Drinkability – subtly warming; as drinkable as a barley wine gets; 8 years has created an impossibly smooth ale

This is what a beer experience should be.

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2005 23:12:15 | More by Wonka
Photo of granger10
granger10

Wisconsin

4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1998

This beer pours a deep murky dark amber color with a wood color in the middle. Slight bubbles of carbonation are present but they fade soon. I still get a little swirl of fizz at the top. Aroma is strong and intense. Sweet almost sticky but I'm loving it. Nice alcohol flavoring along with a honey sweetness. Great.

The taste brings more sweetness and alcohol mixture but in flavors I have never experienced in my young drinking life before. Alcohol has no burn yet I notice it's flavor and the way it counteracts the sweetness. There's dark fruit notes but they're faded, i think by time. Instead the beer has become a little more syruppy with the residual sugars combining together. There's a deep woody, earthy flavor in the middle combining with port characteristics. Amazing beauty in this beer. Finish is somewhat dry but not real intense. I want to savor this beer, and it is a sipper with each little drop providing extreme intensity, but its too good.

I think this might be better to me about 2 years younger if there were more hop precense in the body and more individualized malt flavors. But I've never had this fresh so I'm not sure what I'm comparing it to. Anyways, just a kick ass beer, one I would buy many more of even considering the price.

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2005 02:28:29 | More by granger10
Photo of Sigmund
Sigmund

Norway

4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2003. 275 ml bottle at the White Horse at Parsons Green, London. Unusual, overwhelming and lovely aroma of port wine, raisins and dried figs, hints of barnyard. Very sweet, like drinking a sweet sherry with carbonation. Warming mouthfeel, as expected from an 11.5% beer. It’s definitely not a beer I’d drink every day, but it sure was an interesting experience. The sweetness makes this an alternative to sherry or port, rather than another beer. 275 ml is definitely enough for one sitting. I understand that some people find it cloying, but with a beer this rich in aroma and flavour, I accept the sweetness.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2005 23:07:49 | More by Sigmund
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage, enjoyed straight from the cellar at 55F. A very deep copper-brown body with amber highlights rests gently beneath an average sized head of creamy off-white froth. The head retention is limited, but at 11.5% that's to be expected - and it still keeps a decent collar which is unusual for such a high alcohol beer! The nose is loaded with sweet, caramelized malt and notes of sticky-sweet dried dark fruit as well as some leafy and almost herbal hops. In the mouth it's full bodied to the point of being syrupy; smooth; and quite creamy. The massive flavor assault that J.W. Lees delivers is quite astounding! It's beyond wort-like in its rich maltiness, dripping with sticky sweetness that's like a combination of honey and port wine. The Kent Goldings come through however, and help to dry it with their leafy and grassy character. The bitterness is noticeably limited, but it's there; and there's a mineral-like edge to it as well that helps keep its toffee/caramel/molasses and dark-fruit maltiness in-check. This is an exceptional Barleywine that's not to be missed!

Serving type: bottle

02-28-2005 23:14:26 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of putnam
putnam

Michigan

4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had originally rated this when there was sorting for each vintage. I think it was a 1998 that produced this note:
sweet. Tawny port. Dates, figs, cola, caramel, raisins, rum, nutmeg...sweet. swirling, creamy head. port reduction. chewy currants. tangy taffey. scorched honey. custard. graham-cracker crust. bumble-bees. wax. tar. asphalt. rain. bird seed. wild rice. charred, sappy tree bark. charcoal. medium brown in color.
___

Today I opened a 1988 with the Neil Young Harvest Moon label with reca and Mike. A good hiss was heard upon uncapping the rusted cap. The pour produced a surprising amount of fizz, though no real mass of foam -- rather a spiral streak of tiny bubbles. Lots and lots of chunks.
Aromas of French processed prunes, blond tobacco, Madiera, ...ancient, profound.
The texture is light and transparent. It reaveals bitter sugars, stone fruits and cough medicine. The sweetness seems totally dissolved. No sense of fat, syrupy youth is here at all. Only transparencies of flavors: sweet, fresh and aged. It warms the tummy, as "e" pointed out. And that's a good thing.
I'm bumping up the drinkability 0.5 points.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2005 00:25:23 | More by putnam
Photo of ypsifly
ypsifly

Michigan

4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

'97 vintage.

Poured from a 275ml bottle. Very dark brown to amber with a thin tan head that dissappears quickly leaving a ring with some nice lacing.

The nose tells you right away that this one has been aged. Hints of bread, soy sauce, plums and raisins with some alcohol hovering in the background.

The taste is wonderfully balanced. Figs, grapes, malts, and a nice dry finish that also has a certain "juiciness" to it. The alcohol is really only detectable when exhaling after a sip. Nice warming effect too.

Although I tend to enjoy some carbonation in the mouthfeel, this brew is lacking those tingly bubbles yet it doesn't suffer from it. Full without being chewy.

This would be a much more drinkable ale if the abv was lower, but then this wouldn't be the same. Paying $6 a bottle could make for an extremely expensive session.

This one really does live up to the hype. I'm really curious to see what the other vintages have to offer.

Serving type: bottle

02-19-2005 07:19:57 | More by ypsifly
Photo of neonbrown82
neonbrown82

Nebraska

4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had been eyeing this at my local grocers for quite some time now. They (John's Grocery) have a vertical progression from 1997-2003, several from each year. I chose the 1997 for myself. It seems to have aged quite nicely, though I have never had a "fresher" one to compare.

It pours to a very thick dark brown color with a plum/amber colored hue. Leaves no head, though none was expected. I've only had the oportunity to try very few barleywines due to the 5% ABV laws in Iowa, but even though I am somewhat naive about them, I would say this is what a barley wine should be like, and what I will judge other beers of the style upon.

There is a heavy smell and taste of plum, raisin, barley malt, and alcohol. Definitely not for the weak spirited drinker of BMC. The alcohol level seems slightly subdued, though, most likely from the aging. I can taste the wood from cask conditioning. It has developed a very interesting flavor. Leaves a very dry finish with a surprisingly subtle aftertaste. What little aftertaste remains tastes like a smokey/woody casked wine.

The mouthfeel is very thick. I can do little more than sip this intense beverage, nor would I want to simply chug down a vintage ale I paid nearly six bucks for. I will not be buying more, but it was a worthwhile experience until I move to a state with a more abundant supply of less high-end vintage barley wine. I still prefer a nice pale ale, though, or something equally quaffable as opposed to a sipper.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2005 02:23:30 | More by neonbrown82
Photo of IrishMike
IrishMike

New Jersey

4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled 1997 and purchased from my local liquor store at $5.75 for a 11.2oz bottle. May not be cheap, but if this is anything like my last experience with it, it's worth every single penny.

Appearance- Pours into a dark murky brown, almost black in all reality, with a head that actually manages to hold it's own despite the style and the age of this brew. tan with mild lacing. Plenty of sediment, but i wouldn't expect any less from a beer that's going on 8 years of age. Absolutely no carbonation to speak of.

Smell- an enticing blend of raisins and port-like characters with an vaguely soy sauce quality to it. Very mellow yet strong in character. No hops. None at all. Years of oxidation have caused a slight case of "wet cardboard" syndrome, thus stopping me short of giving this a higher score.

Taste- In as simple of a statement as i can make; easily the best tasting beer i have ever had up until this point. An intial hit of a unique bready/dry fruit and insanely malty profile that starts off a bit raw, but then suddenly and completely switches it's character at the half-way point to a sweet, caramel, toffee, raisiny and port smoothness that carries out until the perfect end. Hundreds of flavors packed up into one small bottle, so much so that i can't even begin to sum it up with words alone. My abilities to grasp it's nuances are far too underdeveloped; the complexity from start to finish of this is way out of my league. Resting in the background is a well balanced smoked finish. Very rich and velvety.

Mouthfeel- Rich and velvety in the mouth, with absolutely no alcohol detectable at all. Carries it's smoky finish and raisin profile for an extraodinarily long time. Beautiful.

drinkability- The only thing stopping me from drinking these one after another is the fact that they hover around $6 dollars a bottle. Maybe if i were a rich man and i could find an endless supply of these, i'd have more then one in a single sitting. As it stands i'm forced to stop at one, much to my chagrin.

At the (relatively) young age of 21, i have found the beer that i can't possibly compare another to. I almost feel bad drinking these whenever i feel so inclined. Possibly because it's so expensive, but probably more due to the fact that i know i couldn't possibly enjoy it as much as a man whose been drinking fine beer for years and can enjoy it's extreme complexity. If you EVER come across this beer, especially the 97 vintage, i urge you to not pass up the opportunity to try it out. I know it's fairly moot to state this, but this beats that one bottle of Westy 12 i had about a month back. Sure, it's all personal preference, but those are tall words nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

02-11-2005 04:24:23 | More by IrishMike
Photo of dgallina
dgallina

Georgia

3.25/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Vintage 2003. Sampled 1/2005.

Pours a translucent copper with an insignificant head and light lacing. Smells quite strong; sweet and port-like with loads of oak, a touch of vanilla, and lots of spicy alcohol. Flavors begin somewhat sour and acidic, gradually developing very sweet sherry tones and finishing with alcohol spice and huge alcohol warming. Body is quite rich (nearly syrupy really) and somewhat oily. Surprisingly well carbonated for a barley wine, however.

An interesting, if very uneven brew in my opinion. The smell is enticing, but the sweet / sour dichotomy and the cloying syrupy flavor and body make it somewhat difficult to finish. I'll try the other years and styles, but I won't be in a rush to revisit this one.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2005 03:14:26 | More by dgallina
Photo of budgood1
budgood1

Minnesota

4.85/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

vintage 2001

pours out a a dark and slightly hazy amber colour. no carbonation and no head or lace. sweet malty aroma...candied figs, rum cake, molasses, ripe dark fruit and the like...brandy like booziness...and all the other wonderful aromas associated with fine barley wines. the taste here outshines the aroma...a very sticky sweet malty base of flavour...toffee and caramel, hints of chocolate and anise. sweet fruity plums, grapes and raisins....black cherries, currants, and an alcohol spice. the hops haven't totally faded; they provide a well placed floralness in the taste and just a ghostly hint of bitterness in the back end that melds beautifully with that alcohol spice. the mouthfeel is outrageous...sublimely smooth, and velvety. the body of this barley wine is full and curvaceous. my god does this taste outstanding. the perfect sipping brew on a cold and wintry night in the northern great plains. a stashfull of these are required in any advocates cellar. sad to say this is my only bottle...saved for the right night to end the year that has been 2004.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2004 03:01:59 | More by budgood1
Photo of ViveLaChouffe
ViveLaChouffe

Georgia

4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003. Sampled 12/2004.

Pours a hazy gold with a thin ivory head. Smells of caramel, sherry, vanilla, raisin and sweet cream.

Tastes like it smells. Caramel, sherry and vanilla. Finish is sticky sweet cream. Big bodied and bold. Very flavorful and sweet, sweet, sweet. Lots of complexity in the flavor but very difficult to drink from the alcohol and the sweetness. It is young and good but hopefully my other bottle will get better with age.

Serving type: bottle

12-04-2004 02:18:42 | More by ViveLaChouffe
Photo of soper2000
soper2000

Texas

4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on cask 12/03 at the bw-3's in downtown indianapolis. Pulls a deep dark amber with that special frothy off white head that a proper pull provides (although it quickly dissapates). Aroma is intense cinnamon, alcohol and notes of chocolate. Taste is very warm. Massive flavors of cinnamon are most prevalent. Hints of alcohol, dark fruits and syrup are also lurking around. Although a slight hint of alcohol is present, this beer remains super drinkable. excellent brew.

Serving type: cask

12-03-2004 22:58:59 | More by soper2000
Photo of santoslhalper
santoslhalper

Pennsylvania

4.88/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy reddish amber with a nice offwhite head. Smells very fruity and malty. Hints at prunes and rasiens. Quite a sniffer. Tastes exceptional. A true delight to the palate. An explosion of taste. Tastes very fruity and datey. Such a complex brew my taste buds are baffled by what they are tasting. This is an interesting, unique brew. A barrage of flavor. This is one of the best out there. Unbeatable complexity, very smooth and creamy in the mouth, and it hides the 11.5% almost too well. This is a world class knock you on your ass beer that can't be matched. Many, many thanks to GClarkage for sending me this one. A+++

Serving type: bottle

11-23-2004 02:08:22 | More by santoslhalper
Photo of Billolick
Billolick

New York

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!

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2004 01:12:58 | More by Billolick
Photo of edchicma
edchicma

Massachusetts

4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 Vintage broken open in honor of Red Sox as World champs. This is the type of beer for a special occasion. Pours a dark cherry amber with a light head that laces on the tulip glass I am drinking from. Smell is caramel, malt, acohol, cherry, molasses..very complex. Taste is equally complex. While high in abv, the alcohol is there but does not dominate. Molasses, caramel, burnt sugar, plums...probably a few more I will notice after a few more sips. Mouthfeel is exceptional. This is a strong brew, but the smooth quality is exceptional also. Extremely drinkable due to smoothness and understated alcohol presence. A must drink for real beer lovers. Go Sox!!!!

Serving type: bottle

10-28-2004 22:45:42 | More by edchicma
Photo of merlin48
merlin48

Kentucky

4.8/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Limited Edition, first bottling of December 1, 1999. Served at cellar temperature into a snifter on October 20, 2004. Bottle cap opens with a mild pop, indicating some carbonation. Indeed, a two finger tightlyknit, beige head forms atop a clear, ruby chestnut body that is effervescant with atomic sized, bubbles rushing to the surface. The attractive head is longlasting, eventually falling into film and collar lace that is tightknit and easily aroused into sheet lace on the sides of the snifter with a gentle twirl. The appearance is absolutely stunning.
The aroma is appropriately complex, and sinfully inviting. Molasses, toffee, burnt brown sugar, and some fresh fruitcake aromas are initially noted. Coffee, tobacco, rum, prunes, and a vinous note of port wine are also picked up. Some smoky, peat rounds out the exceptional nose. Wow! This is a serious undertaking.
Mouthfeel is effervescent, with a mild carbonation that is ideal. A presence of strong alcohol quickly appears and kickstarts a vinous character that reminds you that this has an abv of 11.5 %.
The taste yields an extraordinary, sweet malt character that is exceptionally complex, and complicated by a mild, alcohol burning sensation. Molasses, maple syrup, dark honey, tobacco, and freshly tanned leather comprise the dominant flavors. Pithy, dark fruits are also evident with essences of figs and raisins. This Harvest Ale becomes heavy and syrupy toward the finish, but is never cloying. The taste, overall, has a definite sherry character that compliments the malt complexities.
This is an exceptional example of British craftmanship at its best. At its current age of five years, I can't imagine how this can be better, but I'm definitely curious how this will age. I suggest buying as many bottles as you can afford, and laying down a few for aging. My only complaint is the size of the tiny, 9.6 oz bottle, but this is being greedy.

Serving type: bottle

10-21-2004 11:19:52 | More by merlin48
Photo of ChrisBowers
ChrisBowers

Virginia

4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 1999 oak cask at the Brickskeller in Washington DC on October 7th, 2004. I've had several invarnations of this brew in bottles and in a calvados cask, but this one was by far the best. Aged in new oak I believe, not port or calvados casks, this allowed the beer to express more of its subtle characteristics. BeerGuyDave served this baby at just the right temperature for a smooth, silky but viscous experience. Notes of ripe fruits, port wine, brown sugar and finally some vanilla in the finish make this a wonderfully complex sipper. Its scary how drinkable this stuff was at 11.5%+ ABV. Has a certain sweetness though that would prevent me from downing too much however. Besides, all good things are best in moderation!

Serving type: cask

10-08-2004 14:40:57 | More by ChrisBowers
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,218 ratings.