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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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BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,284 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,284
Reviews: 798
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 221
Gots: 184 | 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
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Ratings: 1,284 | Reviews: 798 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of granger10
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.

Photo of Sigmund
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.

Photo of NeroFiddled
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!

Photo of putnam
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.

Photo of ypsifly
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.

Photo of neonbrown82
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.

Photo of IrishMike
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.

Photo of dgallina
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.

Photo of budgood1
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.

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
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.

Photo of soper2000
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.

Photo of santoslhalper
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+++

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!

Photo of edchicma
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!!!!

Photo of merlin48
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.

Photo of ChrisBowers
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!

Photo of hopoilcrazy
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The bottle says 1987 so I thought I would trust it. I grab my bottle opener, and it opens with no sound, just metal tapping glass.
It pours a dark burgundy color and settles with a suspended sediment, even if you are careful during the pour.
With agitation, the barleywine emits a strong alcohol wave followed by a strong musty aroma that definitley cost it some points.
The taste makes up for any defeciency that might exist. The first 30 minutes (I drink slow, okay), the barleywine is very robust with figs, anchoes, slight banana, medium sweetness, lightly toasted malt, and no bitterness. Very akin to port. In the last thirty minutes of drinking notes of menthol, wood, smoke, and reduced sweetness, all together very dark.
The mouthfeel is very very syrupy and medium bodied.
At 11.5%, in theory this barleywine would be a chore to down, but it is very smooth.

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

1998 Vintage Limited Edition.

Label lore: First brew from the 1998 harvest. 11.5 % ABV. 275 mL 9.6 oz. Marris Otter malted barley and East Kent Goldings. Bottled 12/1/1998.

Poured into me Flying Fish tulip with a furious cloudy brown no-light escaping hued ale under a razor thin ring of off white head collar and a foamy island in the middle of the surface. A few swirls erupt an ephemeral khaki tan coating that creeps into the corners of the glass.

Quad like dark fresh baked bundt cake malt muscle and plenty of awl-kee-hawl esters, even fresh out of a chilled bottle. Cigarette ash scents and woodiness meets prunes. This smells like a spicy dessert drink. Some yeasty esters become more pronounced as warmed.

First swigs: Big mad props to GeoffFromSJ for this treat. A thick syrup cake batter smoked port wine that contains doughy enigmatic flavors. Each sip reveals a different taste. Smoked peat, foamy feel and brown spiced wafer flavor. Surprising, the awl-kee-hawl esters are under the radar. Slight smokiness keeps the fire smoldering. Spices range from cinnamon to nutmeg and ginger. Karo syrup sweet.

Thick fullness - I mean as full bodied gets! Sticks to your lips sticky.

Last swigs: The oak wood characteristics bring this to the doorstep of Sam Adams Triple Bock. Barley Wine Style Ale prescence is what this sipper is all about. My only frownie face: 9.6 oz. Boo hoo! 1998 is probably not going to get any better. This is liquid bundt cake batter.

Beer is good. Happy strong beering.

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.

Photo of crookedhalo
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark chestnut with a fizzy, tan head that dies quickly. Very hoppy and caramelly malty. Lots of old ale/barley wine qualities about the aroma. Very malty and syrupy, but higher alcohol levels work to cut it as not to be so cloying. Medium carbonation bite. Overall, a very nice barley wine. I understand this beer cellars very well.

Photo of altctrlsdelete
4.95/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2002 vintage consumed on 9.7.04.

Very high expectations for this beer after hearing lots and lots of hype (and paying a pretty penny for the bottle).

Decanted slowly into a snifter, resulting in a very slight white head that fades to just the sides of the glass in a few moments. Very deep bronze color with ample carbonation.

Very smooth and subtle aromas -- easily the most delicious smell I've encountered emanating from a glass. Buttery toffee is the first thing that comes to my mind. A very light hop aroma underlies the dominant aromas. I almost want to inhale this.

The taste of this beer is out of this world. I've not had anything approaching this in the relatively short time (~1 year) that I've experienced craft beers. The "buttery toffee" that was present in the nose is definitely here, but with a very agreeable burnt flavor. As a fan of hoppier beers, subtlety in the hop department is something that I didn't think I'd really appreciate. Wrong. The balance here is absolute perfection, like drinking a Bach concierto. The earthy malt flavors leave a perfect sweet but subtle flavor on the tongue in the finish.

This is a "wow" beer among "wow" beers. If you haven't tried this, you owe it to yourself to do whatever you can to obtain some. Nearly flawless.

Photo of Rio
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage, enjoyed September 2004, in a tulip glass. And I do mean enjoyed. Poured a beautiful, deep coppery brown color, darker than the 2001. Still little or no head to it. Smelled very sweat, with an earthy, almost leatherlike smell to it. The smell of the alcohol from the 2001 vintage is very well masked here, little presence at all.

Taste is much the same as the 2001, sweetness of brown sugar, taste of a few fruits, including a bit of tartness that tastes almost like an apple, vanilla flavor, with something a little more buttery in there, too. Extremely smooth, even as thick as it is. Seems even thicker than the 2001, but goes down much smoother.

I could drink this stuff all night long. Wonderful, wonderful brew. Near perfect. I have two more bottles of it (as well as the last two bottles of the 2001 that I know of in the KC area), that I plan to age for another year or so and try again. Can it improve on the perfection? We shall see.

--

2001 vintage, reviewed September 2004 in a tulip glass. Poured a coppery-brown color with almost no head. Smell was heavy of earthy and sugary smells, with the smell of the alcohol a little too prevalent behind there for my taste.

Tastes wonderful, strong taste of like a brown sugar, followed by some fruity tastes, and a bit of a vanilla flavor to it. Thick, viscous feel to it that seems a bit odd at first, but ultimately enjoyable. The first bottle (August 2004) felt like it had something else in it, some kind of thickness that was palable, like there were solid particles in it. This pour, though, is very smooth. First bottle may have been a bad bottle.

Strangely enough, with its thickness and high alcohol content, very drinkable. Not something I recommend drinking bottle after bottle of, though, and one bottle, even at 11.2 oz, can last a long time as you enjoy this beer over a longer period of time than a normal beer would take you.

(Since you can only rate it once, I've put both in here. Scores for the 2001 would be 4.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.0, 4.0).

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

2002 vintage consumed in August of 2004.

Amber clear beer with no head and no visible carbonation.
Massive sweet caramel aromas. Toffee and huge herbacous bouquet of hops.

Massive caramel and toffee flavors. This is a masterpiece. Maple syrup and molasses.

The 11.5% alcohol is aparent but integrated. Richness, silkyness and bitterness, this is a fantasy beer.

It took me 2 hours to finish one, but it was a lovely two hours.

Photo of mschofield
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

1997 vintage
first of all a great robust aroma, I could smell it from a few feet away.
Pours a dark ruby, topped with a two finger dark tan head (in a snifter), left temporary bits of lacing.
Black strap molasses, floral and caramel aroma, vanilla bean, "cookie" type spices cinammon/nutmeg star anise.
Taste of cocoa, sugar and cinammon roasted apple wedges, sweet and syrupy but with a spicy backbone.
Full syrupy body, I couldn't drink more than one, but I'd make sure I got one each year

Photo of gueuzeonhigh
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage

Pours a dark red mahogany color.
A small but enduring tan head with tightly knit bubbles
Slight lacing on the glass.

Prominent nose- of licorice, toasted malt and alcohol.

Flavor comes on strong, but under the opening act it’s thin and collapses into a rather abrupt finish.

The flavor start is loaded with the signatures of licorice, butterscotch, toasted malt with hints of hops around the edges. The alcohol is not as prominent as this beer's nose suggests it might be.

The finish is a numb but tart and clean ending. My palate was left with a scrubbed and fresh feeling.

The mouthfeel is creamy, thick and smooth-- a very cordial but "heavy" demeanor. This is not a casual type beer. It's entire character lets this beer stand by itself, and additions like food would only diminish the profile of this fine beer.

Even though this is an 11.5% ABV beer, it's drinkability beckons further enjoyment-- only the price per bottle curtails out and out abuse. I felt as if I could drink several bottles of this stuff per sitting.

Nevertheless, improvements to the flavor could be a stronger underpinning and a longer lingering finish.

Now whether it's worth the price per bottle is another matter altogether. I still think this is wonderfull beer!

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,284 ratings.