J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

815 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

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Reviews: 815
Hads: 1,356
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 13.62%
Wants: 246
Gots: 198 | 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 (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 815 | Hads: 1,356
Photo of mdvatab
4.12/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage
Poured from 275ml bottle into Bourdeaux wine glass.

Aroma: `Rich toffee, butterscotch, brandy, candied plum, apple juice, molasses, and a flash of booze.

Appearance: Light amber-red body with good clarity. 1/2 finger off-white head disappears gradually.

Flavor: Nice, complex candied fruit-like esters up front. Carmelized pineapple, prune, and overall sweetness. The alcohol is pretty well concealed. No bitterness or hops to be found.

Mouthfeel: Medium, sugary, coating mouthfeel. Low carbonation. Not a session beer, obviously, but highly drinkable. A little warming, but far from hot.

Overall: I would really enjoy one of these every once in a while. It would complement apple pie ala mode or bread pudding at the end of a meal. While I thought Thomas Hardy's had a bit more complexity, I greatly enjoyed, and strongly recommend this one from JW Lees. (873 characters)

Photo of rudzud
4.32/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled various vintages at a Julio's weekly tasting.

A - They all poured nice copper hues with various amounts of head. Considering the ABV this was quite impressive that even after years there was still SOMETHING there.

S - Each one smelled delicious. Good carmelly malts and various amounts of dark fruits. There was some nice alcohol on the nose.

T - Excellent flavours throughout. More sweet, tasty malts (carmel, toffee). There were more nice dark fruits (especially figs) along with a slight alcohol finish.

M - Surprisingly smooth mouthfeel. Not too thin, not too syruppy.

O - Overall I really enjoyed this beer. It is a bit out of my price range, but very glad I got to try it. (692 characters)

Photo of armock
3.97/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from South Bay Drugs in San Diego, CA 2008 Vintage.

A - Poured a copper color with a white head

S - Has a sweet malt nose with some alcohol in it

T - Follows the nose with a very good sweet malt flavor

M - This beer has a full body with medium carbonation to it

O - This is an outstanding Barleywine that is way too easy to drink yet again I wish I bought more than one bottle of this if you have the chance to get some of this you should (452 characters)

Photo of zaphodchak
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008, opened 2011.

Caramel brown body with plenty of suspended sediment in it. A bit of surface memory but my pour wasn't big enough to elicit a head.

Nose has some caramel, a bit of apple, chewy-sweet.

Chewy body, plenty of caramel and some (chili pepper?) spice?. Delicious, quite sweet, some raw honey.

Standard, but textured mouthfeel.

Impressive barleywine, quite complex-- I can't wait to see what the barrel aging does to this (this is the first in a horizontal tasting).

NB: The 2006 tasted of caramel, dirt, some soy sauce, and faint coffee grounds. Some of the honey, none of the spice. (602 characters)

Photo of gskitt
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Firstly, I am not a huge fan of barley-wines. That being said, I had always wanted to try this one based on things I've read. Had at Monks in Philly. Bartender had to dig it out and was dusty. Pours a warm almost purple color, but its dark in the back of Monks. Smell is crazy, I got figs, plums, brandy, sugars. Very strong. Does not have any head to speak of. Taste is intense, but mellow at the same time. Strong presence of fruit soaked in brandy here. Bartender served it warm, and it was perfect at room temperature. Mouthfeel is smooth and slick, its a sipper. This may change my opinion on the style. Overall, great beer! (629 characters)

Photo of LiquidCucumber
4.03/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 1999 shared with Bonis

A - Purple brown with nearly no head.

S - Strong earthy malts, sweet figs and some booze.

T - So many fruity malts, sweet figs, plums and grapes. The earthy aspects of this brew include quite a bit of oxidation. Comes off as sherry like.

M - Fairly heavy and uncarbonated, kind of cloying.

O - Very good stuff, but too expensive and probably better with less than 10 years on it. (419 characters)

Photo of zhanson88
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a nice mahogany color with an outstanding amount of tan colored head, considering the age. Retention is actually decent, lacing is limited.

Smell: Smells of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, fig, and raisin. Very rich. Oxidation is also apparent not too surprisingly, which retracts for me.

Taste: Outstanding. Taste is rich with toffee, raisin and fig with other dark fruits as well. Oxidation is much less apparent on the palate and doesn't retract at all. Finish is a sweet mix of toffee and dark fruits.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Medium bodied with low, fine carbonation. Smooth, and the amount of carbonation left in this beer is excellent. Overall, a beautiful beer. Would love to get ahold of another bottle of this. (771 characters)

Photo of morimech
4.14/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage

Pours a deep copper color with no head. Some particulate matter is suspended in the beer. No lacing is left on the glass.

Aroma is all malt with hints of caramel, figs, and brown sugar.

Intense flavor of caramel, toffee, and figs. Very brandy like in flavor and alcohol presence. Warming going down. Slightly oxidized with a slight stale flavor in the finish.

Still carbonated. Body is full and rich. Enough carbonation to let the drinker know he is consuming a beer.

This example seemed past its peak. The flavor was powerful and delivered some rich flavor. I will have to try a more recent vintage someday. (626 characters)

Photo of mrfrancis
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The 2005 bottling pours a smoewhat hazy amber with a thin, fizzy whitish mousse that dissipates quickly. Little chunks of yeast collect in the bottom of the glass. Has a pleasant, rustic appearance. I like it.

S: The nose is dominated by notes of toffee, cider apples, brown sugar, roasted nuts, and a boozy scent that is somewhat reminiscent of calvados. A complex, interesting nose automatically signals this ale as a winner. Very inviting.

T: Opens sweet and a bit fiery with notes of apple, nuts, brown sugar, cream, vanilla bean, toffee, moist earth, and warming alcohol. The finish is warming and mellow with flavors of apple, toffee, and roasted nuts standing out amid a swirl of alcohol.

M: Full-bodied and thick, but also a bit oily and syrupy. Still, it goes down much more smoothly than one would expect.

O: This is one of my favorite English barleywines. No two bottles are alike, even if they are bottled in the same year. When you can find this one, buy at least two or three bottles. (1,006 characters)

Photo of slentz
4.09/5  rDev -4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage. Bottle to snifter at about 55 degrees. Pop the cap not much of a hiss here.

A: Easy pour down the center of the glass produces zero head but a few bubbles appear. After a minute it all subsides and just looks super flat in the glass. Very dark caramel color. Not the best looking beer. 3.0

S: Smells super malty, caramel, little brown sugar, vanilla, raisins, smells like a barleywine, nice and balanced. Really no hint of alcohol here which is impressive due to the abv. Pretty good nose on it. 4.0

T: Super smooth, very sweet, and malty. Tastes of brown sugar, molasses, slight cinnamon notes. Absolutely no alcohol burn or taste at all. A damn fine beer. 4.5

M: Mouthfeel is nice but I would like to see a tad more carbonation here a little too syrupy. 3.5

O: Overall a very nice beer and a sipper for sure. Really enjoying this one on a sunday evening. 4.0 (879 characters)

Photo of FarmerTed
4.44/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just had a bottle of the 2001 Limited Edition Harvest Ale that I picked up today at a local store. It was in the cooler, but I have no idea how it was stored over the last 10 years. It cost $8.60.

On opening, there was a nice pop from the CO2 pressure. On pouring, there was some fizzing, but no head. The beer looks like root beer (dark brown), and has a big, caramel-like aroma. There was some yeast floating around in the beer; it probably would've settled out if I'd let it sit a few days, but it was jostled a bit after purchase, and I didn't feel like waiting.

The taste is like a combination of a port with a big caramel or toffee finish (it's amazing that grapes weren't used to make it, to be honest). There is some carbonation or fizz to it that gives it a bit of a bite. I really, really enjoyed it. It was sweet; I'm glad the bottle is only 9.3 oz. I'm not sure I could've drunk much more. I needed to eat a bit afterwards, due to the sweetness.

Overall, it was an excellent beer. I'd probably like to try some of the more recent vintages next, to see how they compare. (1,084 characters)

Photo of cnally
4.15/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2004 vintage.

Predictably low head and pours basically flat. Deep caramel brown color.

Aroma is centered on figs, bready smell likely from the yeast.

The flavors are so sweet and fruity. There is a lot of vanilla, black cherry. Figs. No discernible bitterness whatsoever. Finishes hiding the alcohol well.

Slick, sticky heavy mouthfeel. Like a fine port.

A sipper for sure. Very sweet and a lot of thickness. A pleasure to enjoy, but not one I would focus on having again. (477 characters)

Photo of amphion1065
4.89/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

275 mL bottle poured into a tulip glass. From the 1988 vintage, purchased at Lord Hobo on Zwanze Day 2011. Reviewed from notes.

It's a rather pedestrian-looking barleywine, though it isn't quite fair to compare it to any beer from the 21st century in this category. The pour is a dark, purplish auburn, almost brown. A non-existent head, though this did leave nice legs on my glass. My glass was nearly free of dregs, but there was a cake of yeast roughly 1/8" thick left at the bottom of the bottle - crazy stuff.

The smell is absolutely flawless. I'm still searching for the best way to encapsulate the incredibly rich melange of aromas that this beer gave off, and I suppose the best comparison would be figgy pudding. The richest, deepest scent of toffee combines with sweet, sweet caramel in the most enticing-smelling beer I've ever consumed. There is also a fruity, port-like note, without any accompanying alcohol phenols.

Looking back at my notes, I deemed the taste of this beer "Perfect." Over 24 hours after drinking this bottle, I stand by my judgment. All of the toffee and caramel from the aroma somehow shine even brighter in the taste. And yet, somehow this beer doesn't seem cloying. The aftertaste is somewhat like brown sugar, the sort of rich, dark sweetness that's a hallmark of wonderful desserts. A slight, sherry-like oxidation provides a little bit of balance to this treat.

Predictably, this 23-year-old barleywine pours almost perfectly still. In this case, the lack of carbonation actually complements the overall character of the beer. Like the taste, the mouthfeel is quite evocative of sweet syrup, full and lush like few other beers I've tried.

On a day when I was fortunate enough to sample some really terrific beers, this one stole the show for me. A testament to the benefits that optimal (in this case, I would imagine flawless) cellaring can impart to a beer. My only regret is that I didn't buy a second bottle. Thank you for this Daniel, it was spectacular. (2,005 characters)

Photo of JAXSON
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a lightly hazed garnet with a small ring of fine bubbles that cling to the edges. Nose is of rich malt, peat, toasted nuts, sweet candied cherries. Ice cream sundae toppings, awesome. Super sweet in the mouth, candied fruits, toasted nuts. Doesn't even express as malt, but as sweet dark fruits, candied walnuts, a lot of maraschino cherries. Decadent, port-like, vinous. Balance is superb, just marvelous and one of the best beers I've had. '99 vinatge. (460 characters)

Photo of nhindian
4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

275ml bottle poured into a Stone Old Guardian glass.

2000 vintage.

A - Opens with a very quiet hiss, very unassuming but still surprisingly gives promise to some nice carbonation still in this 11 year old bottle. Pours an extremely ruddy brown, like a dark chocolate bar or some kind of mud pit. Still about a finger to a finger and a half of light tan head, with surprising retention given the age. It leaves an island of foam behind when it’s gone.

S - The nose on this vintage of Harvest Ale is exceptionally bold, sweet, and threatening. It’s somewhat syrupy, which combined with the sweetness makes it almost cloying, but it only flirts with this notion rather than it being full-blown. Huge malts and fruits throughout; I’m getting tons of raisins, plums, dates, figs, and when combined with the breadiness from the malts, almost gives a cinnamon raisin bread character. The alcohol does come through in the finish, giving way to its strong ABV.

T - The extravagant nose leads into an equally so taste. It’s decadent, very sweet, and establishes a cornucopia of woody fruit notes. Tons of malt sweetness opens the flavors, somewhat spicy at times and delivering some bark wood notes, in that really dry way. Again, bursting with dark fruits, and once again the raisins are huge here. The raisin bread comparison returns here, probably even more so with all the richness. As in the nose, the alcohol comes through rather strongly here in the finish, giving it an almost grain-like alcohol note.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately heavy-bodied with medium carbonation. I have to say, for an 11-year old bottle, this had more carbonation than I was expecting. The sweetness definitely leaves an effect on the palate, but the carbonation and slickness definitely help to keep it from being syrupy.

D/O - Drinkability is moderate to moderately high. The flavors here are bold, huge, and rich, but it suffers at times from being overly sweet and malty. It's ironic, because most of the reason that this beer has held up so nicely up until now has been because of this. I greatly enjoyed this over a family dinner, and when I first bought it I almost balked at the price for such a small bottle, but after drinking it I found myself thinking that the volume was nearly just the right amount. (2,298 characters)

Photo of Satchboogie
3.92/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle (2001 vintage) poured into a snifter.

A: Pours dark brown with mahogany highlights, mostly opaque. No real head when poured down the middle. No lacing.

S: Big sherry notes, lots of dark fruits (prune, fig, raisins), molasses and a little brown sugar. Definitely smells like a cordial.

T: First thing I notice is the alcohol is extreme mellow for 11.5%. Very sweet dark vinous notes with dark fruits, molasses, and the sherry/oxidation notes. Unfortunately I feel like the oxidation replaced a lot of the chewy maltiness with somewhat hollow sherry qualities. Pretty intense flavors with a great complexity, but it does fail to have the "umph" from a big malt base. Extremely sweet finish, almost cloyingly.

M: Full body, low carbonation. Thick, slick, syrupy consistency with great smoothness, but cloyingly sweet at times.

O: I wasn't sure what to make of a 10 year old bottle (easily the oldest beer I've had) and while I like the flavors oxidation/aging has likely added, I feel like the maltyness is missing. Still a pretty good brew, but not as epic as I was hoping. (1,092 characters)

Photo of Hachiman
4.97/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2002 vintage

Had a great odor of bread and raisins straight out of the 'fridge. After it warmed up a molasses-like volatility was evident.

A 3/8 inch, long-lasting beige head. Dark red-brown body was quite attractive.

Wonderful raisin bread taste, with a yeasty aftertaste. Very assertive flavor, meant to be savored.

Substantial mouth feel, giving some meaning to that old saw, "liquid bread". Left sticky feeling on the lips. (431 characters)

Photo of wedge
4.02/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002

Deep, dark caramel color with a few yeasty chunks that managed to make it into my glass. A thin, very bubbly beige head rest on top and retains as a persistent ring. Aromas of bread crust and raisins fill the nostrils. Dark caramelized malt, honey, dried fruit, and earthy wood. A slight burnt note lingers over all. Sweet complex malty flavor...wow. Sugary raisins, dark bread, toffee, and lots of pure honey. Leaves the lips sweet after every sip. Syrupy sweet really. Figs, dates, and tobacco covered in caramel and a drizzling of chocolate. Absolutely no alcohol at all though...not even a warmth in the throat. Smooth, almost oily, texture.

I think I need to play around with this one to find the right vintage. This bottle was very, VERY rich at nine years. Delicious as a desert, but verging on too sweet for me. (826 characters)

Photo of jrae2424
4.6/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1988 vintage shared with some friends.

A:Poured into a snifter. Pours a really nice dark mohaghany color. The pour is very quiet, thick, no carbonation, with a wafer thin transparent head that dissipates quickly. Was careful not to pour in the massive amount of sediment.

S:Sweet bread, dark fermented fruits, cherry, burnt sugar. Taking a big slow whiff, you can pick up some alcohol, but it's hidden very well.

T:Taste is very sweet, brown sugar, cherry, bready, malty.

M:Thick but not to heavy, just the way it should.

Overall the best of the vintage jw lees ive had and something im going to be looking to get more of. (629 characters)

Photo of BeerNemesis
4.82/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale | 275 ml. | 11.5% ABV | 2002 vintage

Brewer: J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Style: English Barleywine
Glass: fluted snifter

Appearance:
Hazed mahogany with a vanishingly thin head and no lacing. The sediment swirling around the glass is either exciting or a major turnoff depending on how you look at it. I'm going with exciting.

Aroma:
Molasses, honey, toffee—everything dark and sugary. There is a nice raisin fruitiness, and an almost brandy-like alcohol aroma.

Taste:
As I expected, this would be a journey. Harvest ale is a deep beer. Toffee, honey, and molasses are back in full force. But then there is also a raisin and chocolate mid-layer that's just delicious. Ripe fruit—pineapple especially pushes through, only to be followed by a somber, brandy-like alcoholic finish.

Mouthfeel:
Creamy and resplendent in a tactile-sensory sort of way. The sediment adds a few bumps to the ride.

Harmony:
This, in my humble opinion, is the consumate English Barleywine. It is incredibly flavorful and deep, without being rude or showy. The barrel-aged offshoots it's spawned don't fall far from the tree.

Would I get it again?:
Oh yeah.

Bottled: 2002
Served: August 11, 2011

Price = $20 at The Modern (NYC) (1,254 characters)

Photo of plfahey
4.92/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm basing my scores on the bottles of the '99 vintage that I've had. I've enjoyed two within the past 3 months or so and have been some of the most sublime beer experiences I've ever had. It is an unparalleled beverage, and is worth seeking out regardless of the price.

12 oz. bottle (06' vintage) poured into a tulip glass (8/1/11)

Appearance-Reddish brown color, with decent clarity considering that suspended particles are notable within the beer. Just a trace of a wispy off-white head appears, and vanishes quickly, though the beer shows some serious legs when swirled.

Aroma-Smells a lot like some of the older versions that I've had, though a little bit rougher around the edges. The primary aroma is of sweet rock candy sugar, with hints of toffee and burnt caramel. Some booze is apparent, as are some fruity esters.

Flavor-Flavor is also quite sweet-similar rock candy flavors with caramel edge, molasses, raisins, dark fruit jam, and honey drizzled on toast. A very interesting ash/tobacco flavor comes through rather strong in the finish and takes over the palate in the after taste.

Mouthfeel- Full body, alcohol warmth with a slight burn in the back of the throat. Rather smooth, but compared to older versions it certainly is rough around the edges.

Drinks quite well, and is a pretty damn good barleywine within its own right, but it seems rough compared to versions aged twice as long. The alcohol still needs some time to smooth out, the body needs to thin out a bit, and the flavor profile could use some time as well. Apparently 5 years out isn't nearly enough. (1,588 characters)

Photo of jondeelee
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The 1999 vintage of Harvest Ale begins with an aroma that radiates a good foot or so from the open bottle, and even from that distance the scent of cognac and sherry is heady. Upon closer inspection, the nose is redolent with raisins, port, fresh baguette, and fig.

On the tongue, the brew is thick and sugary, and all of the aromas translate almost directly into flavor: raisins, port, sherry, cognac, fig, prune. Add to these a massive, syrupy dose of brown sugar (touched with confectioner's sugar at the edges), hints of pecan, and fresh wheat, with just the faintest stroke of hops to help balance the sugars. The flavors last throughout most of the mouthful, with only the faintest hint of alcohol at the edges to give away the brew's 11.5% ABV. Just at the end the sugars peel back to reveal a bit more grain base. The aftertaste is a continuation of the body flavors, and lasts for a good while. Mouthfeel is a gloopy, definite "full," and carbonation is light, likely due to the age of the bottle.

Overall, this is amazing beer, and it's difficult to imagine more flavor crammed into one tiny bottle. This is a definite must-try for any beer enthusiast. Highly recommended.

***

The 2000 vintage bears many of the same initial aromas as the 1999--port, raisins, fig--but is slightly wilder, the extra year that the 1999 vintage has aged having tempered the brew in comparison. The ports and raisins in the 2000 vintage are noticeably stronger, for example, and it's difficult to discern any underlying bready notes because of it. Still, the aroma is intoxicating.

On the tongue, much the same commentary can be made: the same flavors are there as in the 1999, but stronger and less subtle and aged. In addition, the 2000 version's strong ports, cognacs and raisins are joined by a dark undercurrent of deeply-roasted malts--bordering on chocolate--that provides a nice, deep base that helps temper the sugars. The hops are also slightly more pronounced in the 2000 version, and are especially present as a light citrus buzz towards the end of the mouthful. The 11.5% ABV is also slightly more pronounced in the 2000 version, though is still for the most part deliciously contained by the massive levels of sugars. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, and carbonation is medium-light.

Overall, given the choice, I'd prefer the 1999, as the extra year of aging has definitely improved the flavors. Don't get me wrong: the 2000 is still an absolutely amazing beer. But if given another bottle of it, I'd cellar it for at least a year or two. (2,550 characters)

Photo of jale
4.29/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle.

A: Pours a cloudy amber with bits of stuff in it. Spotty lacing

S: Sweet, slightly burnt raisins and smoky malt.

T: Quite sweet to start followed by some earthiness and some alcohol heat. A little burnt sugar, raisins, leather and maybe some tea. Tobacco finish. Very complex beer.

M: A little grainy with medium body. Sweet yet not cloying.

O: I really enjoyed this and will have more. (404 characters)

Photo of Cavery
4.65/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage 12oz Shared with my brother Klym, epic night cap!

A: A cloudy brown tea with a bit of rustic orange character to it. This beer poured like thick rust! Love it! It has that real vintage ale look that you'd hop for, with all those suggestions of complexity in the body. Speckles of floaties that ride around a very smokey brown core. The glass is noticeably lighter around the edge, and much darker in the core. Looks like a liquid tree trunk! Rings and all. Pretty awesome. Just wish there was a bit of a head! might be too much to ask given the age. No foam on a violent pour.

S: Complex fancy leathers, the kind that have quite a lot of use and abuse on them. There's a real fresh cut piece of old note that drives me wild. Deep seasonings of Thyme and Cider alcohols. Cinnamon sugared dried apricots. Rich nose with tons of complexity, love the cinnamon dusted pie crusts and other complex pastry notes. Sick good in the nose. Old shortbread coffee biscuits in the finish.

T: Complex fancy cider reductions. I have never tasted anything like this, this is brand new territory. There is an endless fall of depth in here. Aged apple ciders, fancy old maple wood, and a dusting of seasonings that ever so slightly veils the sweetness. The most subdued note of coriander ever. Complex notes of barrel-aged peanut sauces mixed with leathery teas. Ugh, it's so good. Slightly bitter dried fruits help transition into leather plum skins.

M: The mouth is showing it's age, but not a bad one. Soft sugary liquids hit the tongue like heavily brown sugared teas. A noticeable thickness on the tongue that makes it seem like the milkshake of teas. That said the alcohol cuts through and reveals a deceptively lighter body. Due to this complex mouth transition, I'll settle on that it's medium. Emulsions of old tea blends that even feel thick with ingredients.

O: Easily the best English Barley Wine that I've ever had. This thing drinks like an everlasting gobstopper, the depth of flavor is crazy. Leather, fruits, spices, aged maple syrups, and the list goes on. The craziest thing about this beer is that I think this thing has not even come close to peaking. What I am tasting is progression, and by no means completion. This is a beer to sit on for years, and then open it to witness its glory. Truly a memorable beer, I need to try more aged barley wines. (2,374 characters)

Photo of Klym
4.3/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an oversized wine glass. Shared with Cavery. 2006 vintage.

A: Pours a hazy raisin brown with almost no head besides a patch of clear bubbles that dissipate into a microfoam ring around the top of the beer. Looks flat and honestly unappealing. Still, can't knock it since it's quite an old barleywine.

S: A little heat sets on top of a raisin, oregano, cardimom, black pepper and general spicy kick. Spicy dark fruits run the show here but especially raisin.

T: Wow. Kicks in with truckloads of flavor. Very deep and complex spiciness with far more aspects than I could identify or name. Strong dark fruit/raisin sweetness, leather, deep resin. Balanced, deep, almost jam packed sweetness and flavor. Really, unbelievable taste

M: Watery mouthfeel but it's not unexpected of this old of a barleywine. A little bit thicker of a viscosity, which helps support the sweetness/flavors.

O: Really tasty beer. I can see why people age this for long periods. Glad I have some 2010s to age. Definitely have to try this if you like barleywines. (1,051 characters)

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 815 ratings.