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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

823 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 823
Hads: 1,396
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 18.12%
Wants: 250
Gots: 199 | FT: 14
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 (22) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 823 | Hads: 1,396
Photo of beesy
4.17/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 edition poured from a bottle into a standard pint glass

a - pours a medium copper with a half finger off white head that dissipates quickly.
Tons of yeast trub in the bottle and I poured it with a little too much vigor and
some ended up in my glass - no biggie just extra protein today! By the pour, it seems a little thin.

s - lots of sweet caramel notes. Wheat. Slight stale taste. Some oxidation type aromas typical of aged beers.

t - caramel sweetness mixed with TONS of toffee and ULTRA malty with a very strong wheat flavor on the end.
No hops or bitteness to speak of. A slight yeast profile in the latter palate. Alcohol detected.

m - full bodied, but not as thick as I was expecting.

d - low for me, a tad too sweet.

Overall, an interesting beer that has held up well over the past four years. A malt and wheat bomb
with caramels present. I typically like to consume withintwo years, but reviews of
09 and 10 coming up soon, so we'll see how they stack up.

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Photo of thecheapies
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage on tap.

Mead-colored body with minimal carbonation. Hazy and murky. No head, just a thin ring.

Booze, honey sweetness, sherry, peanut brittle, candied fruits, fig, green raisins.

Big sherry notes upfront. Sweet and syrupy. Milk caramel, sweet white grapes/golden raisins, molasses hint, Belgian chocolate, honey mead, vinous characteristics. Lack of carb, but heavy body with a sticky coat. Marvelous complexity.

So lucky to have this on tap. Must try. Epic ale.

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Photo of tony223366
4.44/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage

A: Deep amber red color. Decent clarity but most of the problem was my bad pour. A thin layer of very light tan foam that dissipates into an island.

S: Really rich almost syrupy butterscotch and caramel. Honey. Tons of rich dark fruitiness. Alcohol is present too. Very port-like.

T: Wow, so fruity. Tons of buttery/caramel flavors. So much complexity in a great port-like way. Huge finish with some light, warming alcohol. Some roasted malt flavors and oaky almost vanilla tastes. Finish is very long. Tons of residual sugars. Molasses and a touch of acidity.

M: Unbelievably smooth and full bodied. Carbonation is light but present.

O: I know I throw this word around a lot but this beer is so decadent. As rich as it is though you can tell it could still use another two years or so. I think 5 years may be the sweet spot for this beer. Would love to have it over some ice cream! Not something you want too early but practically a perfect way to end a cold rainy night. Can't imagine a more model English Barleywine.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.91/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2002 vintage - 275mL bottle, poured into snifter

appears a muddy chocolate brown, with an off-white head that fades immediately. extremely pungent aroma - huge malt, raisins, brown sugar, toffee. intoxicating smell.

taste is more of the same. buttery sweet, with notes of caramel, molasses, burnt sugar, raisins, milk chocolate. crazily complex and bold flavors. no alcohol taste. thick luscious full body. subtle smooth carbonation.

overall - wow. I am truly amazed by this beer. need to get more! 10 years has done wonders

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Photo of jdhilt
3.97/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage 1/23/2012 similar to 2009 Vintage but flavor is alcohol, sweet dark fruit and hints of cardboard. Also $8.99 for a 275ml bottle from Julio's Liquors, Westborough, Ma.

2009 Vintage 1/5/2012. Pours a one-finger cream head that fades quickly to a ring leaving traces of lace. Brown murky color. Light carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Alcohol and dark fruit nose and flavor is alcohol and sweet dark fruit, paper like finish. Pricey, $8.99 for a 275ml bottle from Julio's Liquors, Westborough, Ma. Rates a 4.

2005 Vintage 10/26/2010 Straight up pour and no head, no lace. Cloudy dark brown color. No carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Dark fruit and alcohol nose. Flavor is sweet dark fruit and alcohol, slightly cloying with no carbonation. $13.99 for a 275ml bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT. Rates a 4.

2008 Vintage 10/12/2010 Pours a one-finger cream that fades quickly to a ring leaving a little lace. Cloudy amber color. Very light carbonation and medium bodied. Dark fruit and alcohol nose. Flavor is sweet raisins and alcohol, almost cloying because there is not enough carbonation. $7.99 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates a 4.

2002 Vintage 9/22/2010 Pours with virtually no head and no lace. Cloudy brown color with some yeast left in bottle. Very light carbonation and heavy bodied. Sweet alcohol and dark fruit nose. Flavor is dark fruit and alcohol, almost cloying. $10.99 for a 275ml bottle from Beverage Warehouse Winooski, VT. This rates about 4.

2007 Vintage 3/21/2010 Pours a one-finger white that fades quickly to a ring leaving a little lace. Almost clear amber color with a ton of floaties. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Alcohol and raisin nose. Flavor is dark fruit and alcohol. Cellared well. $11.60 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates about 4.5

2006 Vintage 3/17/2010 Pours without a head so no lace. Deep brown/amber color with a ton of floaties. No carbonation and medium bodied. Alcohol nose. Flavor is sweet alcohol, with some dark fruit; strong alcohol finish. Did not cellar well, good flavor but the carbonation is gone. $10.40 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates about 3.5.

1999 Vintage 12/31/2009. Pours a two finger cream head that fades slowly, leaving some lace. Deep brown color. Good carbonation and medium-heavy bodied. Dark fruit and alcohol nose. Flavor is dark fruit and alcohol with a strong alcohol finish. Cellared very well. $10.40 for a 275ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma. This rates about 4.5

1998 Vintage 12/31/2008. After ten years this is as fresh as the day it was bottled. Pours a three finger brown head that fades quickly leaving no lace. Deep mahogany color. Light-medium carbonation and heavy bodied. Raisin/plum nose. Flavor is sweet raisin almost like a port. The high ABV comes through but does not overwhelm. Pricey at $6.99 for a 275ml bottle from Tully's Beer and Wine Wells, ME. This rates about 4.5

2000 Vintage 3/31/2007. Pours a two finger light brown head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Almost clear mahogany color. Light carbonation and heavy bodied. Raisin/rummy nose. Flavor is sweet rum and raisins with alcohol overtones. Pricey - $5.99 for a 11.5oz bottle from John's Grocery Iowa City, Ia. This rates about 4.5

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Photo of seand
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

A: Pours a clear light amber with red highlights, with just a touch of white head. What little head there is leaves a few spots of lacing here and there.

S: Very rich, sweet honey, black licorice, and raisins.

T: Complex and rich. Strong honey through the mid palate, with the raisin dominating a bit more through the finish. There are some also some faint notes of cherries, dried fruit, and just the slightest hint of bitterness.

M: Full body, low but noticeable carbonation.

Really excellent. Not quite as rich and complex as the barrel aged versions, but they are also older; I'd like to try this aged another few years as a more direct comparison to the barrel aged versions.

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Photo of Brez07
2.68/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Reviewed as part of the Blind Beer BIF #6. 275ml bottle served in a snifter. 1999 vintage

A: Pours brown/dark caramel. Also initially leaves a 1 finger head that doesn't stick around long (3)

S: Nose is mostly dark fruit. Notes of fig, raisin and plum. A swirl of the glass gives way to cherry. Faint alcohol. Eventually I pick up some malt, but also some cardboard and bubblegum (2.5)

T: Sweet throughout. Candied sugar, figs. Some prune, weak chocolate and oak. Artificial fruit, reminding me of a raspberry fruit rollup. Light booze (2.5)

M: Medium bodied. Basically next to no carbonation (3)

D: A little rough. Drinkable, but only to a certain point. Glad I split this one (3)

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Photo of cbeer88
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed blindly courtesy of Blind BIF #6.

9.3oz bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Cap cracks with a nice hiss, and I slowly pour into the glass careful to watch out for sediment once I see the dark liquid and smell the liquor. Head is a fluffy finger and a half of very light tan. Lacing is pretty and covers most of the glass.

Smell: I immediately smelled some sort of liquor when I popped the cap. I get notes of vanilla, caramel, and sweet dark fruits - dates, prunes, raisins - a lot going in here. There is a hint of wood and some definite must. This guy is both barrel aged and cellared for a while. The aroma is simply intoxicating.

Taste: How does one quantify "awesome"? Lots of that delicious dark fruit in the flavor, plus wood, slight oxidization, caramel and toffee, vanilla, maple, and a very smoothly blended liquor that is rather difficult to pin at this point. I'm going with port, but this could be sherry. Alcohol taste is smooth but strong - definitely a potent beer.

Mouthfeel: Good carb and full bodied. Nice and smooth, but syrupy.

Drinkability: High. This is a sipper all the way, but wow is this drinkable. Each sip makes me yearn for the next. It's just the right mix of sweet and alcohol.

Overall: This beer is sublime. I could happily drink this for the rest of my life.

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Photo of Hopstout
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This review is based upon a J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Vintage 2001.

Appearance - Wine colored and clear. Colored water. Limpid. Barely any carbonation. No head with massive legs.

Aroma - Strong scent of port wine and quality bourbon whiskey. A firm wave of vanilla ice cream and caramel creme brulee. Pure sweet dessert with strong scent of alcohol topping.

Taste - This is filled with a variety of powerful flavors. Massively sweet and porty. Layers of vanilla bean and warm caramel and hot butterscotch and cool cream. Brandy. Molasses. Maple syrup. Dark fruits. Dollop of oak.

Mouthfeel - Huge body with a silky and suave finish. There is a hefty dose of alcohol mid-swallow then it fades to a sweet and buttery aftertaste.

Overall - This ale is one of the most curious and unique "beers" that I have ever had which makes it difficult to rate. It is nothing like a "beer". It is more like a port. A boozy and sweet rare treat. A twelve ounce serving is plenty. A little too sweet to drink alone, more of a novelty beer. Share this with another beer enthusiast.

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Photo of pjs234
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2007 Vintage. Poured into my DFH Signature glass. The beer is a very murky brownish/red color. There was little to no head, but there was a fair amount of sediment suspended virtually motionless in the glass. The smell is good and very sweet, with an overall molasses aroma with hints of raisins, toffee and caramel.

The taste is very sweet. The molasses flavors are very noticeable. There is also a slight bitterness. Hard to place the exact flavor, but it keeps it from being way too sweet. Honestly, this is a real nice barleywine, it is almost like a very nice dessert wine. Please let this one warm up before your first sip. When a little too cold, there is a very odd flavor to it, almost a cardboard taste. This goes away as the beer warms. Also, regardless of temp, there is no hint of alcohol.

The mouthfeel is good, although the carbonation is almost gone. I guess this is to be expected with a 5 year old barelywine.

Overall, this is very good. I am glad i tried it. From a personal standpoint, I think I prefer fresh barelywines, as I like the alcohol bite of them. Also, I would love to try this one fresh, just to see how it changed over the past five years.

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Photo of grittybrews
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 bottle, opened 01/2012. South Sound tasting notes:

Poured a clear amber with a thin slick of head. Aroma of sugar cookie, toffee, raisin, and a hint of cider.

Lower carbonation and a creamy, sticky mouthfeel. Super sweet up front with lots of toffee, honey, molasses, and hints of dark fruit. Definite but not overpowering boozy warmth.

A nice treat but with the sweetness this intense, a little goes a long way.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage
appearance: Mostly clear reddish copper. No head or lacing to speak of but hey, it's 11.5% and 10 years old.
smell: butterscotch, raisins, and toffee just poppin out. Huge, refined nose.
taste: sweet but not cloying. a big assertive butterscotch finish. Amazingly smooth given the high abv. I've never had this fresh but i have to believe the decade has done wonders to this amazing beast.
overall: one of the best beers i've ever had.

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

Harvest Ale 2008 Edition.

Nice syrupy medium brown almost like a slightly diluted molasses color poured into a tulip glass it poured thick with no head. Strong scents of golden raisins, currants, molasses, brown sugar, almost like a good subdued bourbon smell to it. First taste was almost like sipping on some extremely sweet golden raisiin cough syrup but it was mellow going down and was pleasant with no veracious alcohol taste which is normally a good sign with barley wines that they have aged long enough. Couple more sips and i got more fruit and almost vanilla flavor out of it and an aftertaste of apricots in the back of my mouth. Overall i wish i had a few more of these it tasted really good and can't wait to open up some more of other j.w. lees barleywines i have sitting at home.

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Photo of claaark13
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1988 vintage poured into a small taster flute.

Looks like I was poured a thick reddish brown juice into the glass. Not great at all, no carbonation.

Smells like a bag of twizzlers. Seriously smells like a fresh bag. Unbelievable.

Sweet almost port flavor with sweet cherries, raisins and then that beautiful twizzler flavor. Phenomenal.

Has some syrup feel to it, but complements flavor appropriately. Very drinkable.

Very impressed with this. The guy serving it didn't have too many notes on how it was kept, but I was happy with the results.

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Photo of thepeter
4.14/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Bottle
A - Dark amber, clear, small frothy head goes still raher quickly

S - Intence toffee, caramel, apples, grapes

T - Malt forward, brown sugar, toffee, autum spices, apples, and sweet bitter coffee towards the end

M - Well carbonated but light and smooth on the tongue. medium bodied overall and really nice

O - A bit sweet overall but that is an Engilish BW for you. looking forward to this with some more age on it. I may also try blending it a bit.

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Photo of nihiloexnihil
3.07/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle 2008 vintage poured into a tulip glass.

Appearance: brilliant golden/deep amber, with a significant amount of stirred up yeast sediment even after a careful pour. Minimal head. The yeast clumps are a bit distracting.

Smell: apples. I'm sort of blown away by the almost cider-like scent, with a light yeasty component.

Taste: Hm. Initially I'm hit with cinnamon, apple- but not fresh apples, almost like what I imagine rotten apples taste like, a sweet necrotic taste- which then transforms to an almost fungal, mushroom-like non-fruit sensation which is hard to place. Someone mentioned "vegetal" which I think is accurate. A bit unexpected.

Mouthfeel- good carbonation but feels much like a cider.

Overall- I'm honestly not sure what to say about this beer. I'm a fan of barleywines but this seemed more like a strong, sweet cider on the initial attack with an unusual, fibrous, rotten-apple, yeasty finish that didn't quite jive. Just not for me, I guess.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the cask into a medium sized snifter at ChurchKey DC. Vintage 2010.

No head presented but filled to the brim nearly, giving off a dull dark slightly opaque red rust color, and maintaining just a faint tan collar. Shaking it up or bumping produces some more carbonation, giving a slight fizzy faint body.

Nose is stupidly butter rich and apple jam. But not of the diacetyl variety. Rich rum soaking spirits seem to come out in abundance. Smells fantastic.

Taste is just soft an luscious on the palate, bringing in that warm apple butter richness. Some faint licorice that is chewy on the aftertaste too.

Great drink right out of the cask just wonderful.

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Photo of hooliganlife
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

vintage 2000

pours a deep brown with a slight hint of ruby. cream colored head builds up and then leaves light retention.

super sweet and rich. hints of super sweet toffee and rich caramel. malty.

like liquid candy. loads of toffee, caramel, and butterscotch. very sweet and rich. very sweet malt and light booze in the back.

thick, full, light syrupy feel. mild carbonation.

pretty good but very sweet and rich, a super sipper. aged great though.

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Photo of Zono
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

The 2010 release, served from the cask in a 12 oz. tulip glass.

The bar-tendress was good enough to give it a generously patient, two-stage pour.

I was impressed by the foaming thickness of the head. It does not last for too long, however, dissipating about halfway through.

The color: pale, ruddy gold, with a fair degree of cloudiness.

The first whiff is strong with cider-y esters. A spiciness prevails amid a fairly hot alcohol presence.

Upon tasting, the malt quality has a distinctly sharp, acidic fruitiness to it. Indeed, the flavor of cider is remarkable, receding to a more fully spicy, almost vegetal character.

The mouth-feel is lightly syrupy. A papery sort of presence is detectable -- herbaceous to woody. Deeply reminiscent of mouldering autumn leaves; apples fallen from trees left to gently rot on an orchard's ground.

Vinous "legs" are virtually discernible. Interestingly, a small amount of sediment was evident in the bottom of the glass.

Overall, I was intensely impressed by this ale, the first, as far as I can recall, I've ever had by JW Lees. I would consider it a fantastic, and fascinating, exemplar of a barley-wine. I look forward to sampling other "vintages."

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Photo of goblue3509
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogony color with no head and sticky spotting of lace. There are visible floaties everywhere. The aroma is big and bold, I can smell it when I undo the cap. The aroma is of molasses and figs with green and dark fruits present. Taste follows suit closely, molasses and figs are the dominate flavors. Green and dark fruits play out also. There is a sweet caramel backbone underneath the flavors. The mouthfeel is sticky and lowly carbonated. Overall this is a solid beer, the abv is well hidden and it is dangerously drinkable. The taste is well blended and smooth.

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Photo of weizenbob
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This 275 ml bottle (incorrectly labeled 2.75 ml) was purchased at Beertopia in Omaha, NE. It is the 2008 vintage and was purchased for $3.99. It was served at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The cap was popped and the bottle was poured into a Duvel tulip glass. I poured aggressively to rile up as much head activity as I could muster from this high gravity ale. I was rewarded with about a finger's worth. The downside of my pour is that I also ended up with an excessive amount of chunky sediment that remains suspended in the beer as though frozen in time. Unsurprisingly, head retention is poor, though lacing grips mercilessly to the glass. The beer is amber tinted with little translucence and (unfortunately) a lot of floating dregs. The chunks are a result of my pouring faux pas and will not be counted against this beer's score. It is otherwise average looking per style. Pour with care!

Though this bottle is over three years old, the aroma is still incredibly alcoholic. The potency is near-gag inducing. I cannot imagine what this must have smelled like when first released. Intense blasts of butterscotch put up a good fight but are no match for the alcohol. It is vaguely reminiscent of paint thinner in aroma and nasal-clearing power. Hmm; I wonder if I'll get high off of the fumes. I enjoy the richness and complexity of a good strong ale but this is too much of a good thing for me.

Being a little bit of a health nut I've often enjoyed organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches prepared on whole grain bread. The flavor of this ale is strongly reminiscent of that PB&J experience. Honey-like sweetness aggressively fronts the flavor of this beer. As the honey melts in the mouth, literal impressions of whole grain bread emerge on the tongue. Nutty undertones prime memories of peanuts, sunflower seeds, rye and flax. A hint of woodiness fills the nostrils with each breath after the first sip. Despite its dominance in the aroma, alcohol is incredibly well-hidden amid the powerfully sweet and grainy flavors of this strong ale. If hops were added to the boil, there is no evidence in the finished product. It is pretty darned tasty.

Yes, this is a heavy ale, but the feel is not as heavy as one might expect from a brew of 11.5% ABV. The body is medium-heavy. Carbonation is relatively low, yet ample for the style. Sweetness coats the mouth like honey, but the overall effect is thankfully not syrupy. There is no alcoholic burn. It is a sipper that feels like magic in a bottle.

My overall impression of this legendary ale is positive, despite the rocky start. It looks average and smells over-the-top, but the taste and feel are both excellent. The price equates to $5.15 for a 12 ounce serving. That's pricey for lesser brews, but for a beer of this quality I call it a bargain. The small bottle is even enough to split with a friend and still not feel cheated. Just be sure to pour the bottle with a lot of caution.


The Two-Schlitz Scale: (reference my profile for an explanation)
I give two Schlitz about the 2008 JW Lee's Harvest Ale.

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Photo of BBP
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of Dope
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage, my first time drinking a JW Lees...

A: A very dark ruby red pour. Thick and syrupy pour. Tiny little offwhite head that fades almost instantly, leaving just a scant little ring around the glass. No lacing.

S: Can smell this before I even bring the glass near my face. Big, sweet caramel with little bit of toffee and maybe molasses? Super strong, sweet and boozy dark fruits. Raisin, cherries, fig primarily I would say. Maybe even some honey? There's a lot going on here.

T: Super sweet and cloying. Like drinking watered down caramel (almost the same consistency too). Molasses, toffee and honey from the nose join in. Dark fruits are there a bit as well, figs mainly but I'm getting a touch of cherry in the aftertaste. Almost no alcohol except for the warming sensation in your belly.

M: Wow, thick and syrupy. It's 75% of the way to maple syrup, no joke. Low carbonation.

O: Wow (I've used this word twice in a review), this is a sipper for sure. Sweet and decadent syrup. It's got to be the top of the style for me. If you like ridiculously syrupy and sweet beers this one is for you.

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

This 2009 vintage barley wine was consumed at my annual Barleywine and Stilton party this holiday season. The beer has that classic barleywine look of brown and garnet with just a wisp of foam. The aroma is a heavy dose of tobacco along with fig, raisin and fermented fruit. The palate is smooth. The flavor continues along the lines of the aroma with a heavy fig presence and tobacco. The dark ripe fruits adds wonderful complexity. Deep earthiness mixes in, making it a very enjoyable sipping brew.

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Photo of jsanford
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Churchkey in D.C. 2010 Vintage.

Poured a clear amber with a soapy white head that settles to a nice ring and haze. Sweet, sticky malt aromas of caramel and toffee with a touch of toasted grain and a whole lot of oak. Taste is dominated by more big, malty flavors of baked grains, caramel, oatmeal, candied orange peel, and oak. Mouthfeel is sticky yet smooth, with a fairly full body and low carbonation. Overall an excellent Barleywine, there's a reason it's considered such a high water-mark!

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 823 ratings.