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

816 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 816
Hads: 1,360
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 13.62%
Wants: 252
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 (21) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 816 | Hads: 1,360
Photo of GooberMcNutly
3.49/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

An amazing little bottle. Rich, round aromas of dried fruit (apples and raisin with some currants) and treacle. Initial taste was of heavy maltiness bu the hop level keeps the palate clear without coating the tongue. I wish I had a case of this to put away for the future. (272 characters)

Photo of PatandDavid
3.47/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is a bottle of the 2000 vintage, shared today between David and I. Dark copper penny color, no head. Aroma is intense: leather, sweet syrup, yeast getting slightly funky. Thick mouthfeel, initial impression is of that leathery taste, ends in some of that sweet syrup. Some fruit as well, dried apricots in there. I'll be honest, it's a bit too weird for my tastes. I know a lot like this complexity, but I find it disjointed. I don't think I'm a big fan of a leather taste in my brews. (490 characters)

Photo of OnThenIn
3.42/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 served on cask.

A: It was an extremely orange color and a bit hazy. Did not have a head when it arrived at my table.

S: Smells very sweet with a ton of a caramel and brandied plums. There was also a fig aroma the was present.

T: Tons of caramel with a solid backing of fruits. I mean this was almost painfully sweet. The fruits seemed like plums with a bit of apple as well.

M: Full bodied without a lot of carbonation, which made the beer a bit syrupy.

D: The mouthfeel made this is a sipper and the sweetness really made it difficult to drink. I was expecting a bit more from this beer. I thought it was going to be mind blowing, especially on cask; however, that did not happen. The sweetness was too much and I ended up cutting the last bit of my glass of this with a sour beer to make it more palatable. (820 characters)

Photo of mctizzz
3.41/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2006 Vintage.
This great brew has diminished into a flat sweet syrup with almost no hint of booze. I would like to try it after 2 years but this makes me question whether cellaring a brew for 7 years is even worth it. I have only had 3 beers now that have been cellared for over 5 years and this is the only one I know was far over the hill, live and learn... (359 characters)

Photo of flagmantho
3.4/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 vintage; poured from 9.3 oz bottle into a wine goblet.

Appearance: deep woody brown, highly opaque with practically no head. When I poured it, I wasn't aware of how many chunky floaties would been in the bottle: there were indeed a few.

Smell: first off, it smells like late-harvest Riesling or maybe a Gewürztraminer. It's got a lot of syrupy grape, apple and pear. If I were blindfolded I would assume this was wine. That said, it is quite pleasing.

Taste: well, at first it tastes similar to a white wine, then I get the malt and grain, then I get what I can only describe as wood and cigarette smoke; it's almost tinny in that respect. I will say it's very complex, and I feel like I should be doing a lot of glass-swirling and erudite pontificating, but really, I just can't get a handle on it.

As I drink, the pattern stays the same: the beginning is quite wonderful and the finish is highly off-putting.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body which is pretty smooth.

Drinkability: I really don't know what to put here. I don't want to slam this admittedly impressive beer, but it's just not my style right now.

I really would like to come back to this beer later when my barleywine palate is more developed. (1,218 characters)

Photo of thickerfreakness
3.39/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

1998 bottle purchased from Sam's in Chicago.

Rich amber brown color. Pours with more head than expected but it fades to a ring of foam around the glass.

Smells really sweet off the bat. Rich toffee, candy, doughy malts, creamy vanilla caramels. Very, very sweet.

Really similar to the smell with the caramels becoming the main flavor component for me followed by other things from the smell and then some really rich overripe fruits like strawberries and cherries. Sweetness just gets to me as it lingers for quite a while after drinking.

A creamy medium bodied beer with more carbonation than expected for a 10 year old beer.

Just gets way too sweet. I don't think I can finish the end of this glass. Really high ABV as well. (735 characters)

Photo of joebrewer
3.36/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

1998 vintage.

Smell: relatively mild malt notes. little hint of alchohol.

Overall I really appreciated the complexity of this bottle. However, there was a strong sweet maple flavor that made it difficult to pick out some of the softer initial flavors. Toward the end of the bottle I felt the hop bitterness to be a little distracting. I now plan to age my JL Vintage bottles a few more years to see how things mellow out. I'm surprised to feel that this still has legs to age after 9 years. I also think that the perfect serving size would be half the bottle. I'll need to find a few friends and do a vertical next time. Drinking a whole bottle is like drinking a similar volume of port. I think it's too sweet to enjoy from first to last. (741 characters)

Photo of oline73
3.35/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had this on-tap at Max's. Poured into a tasting glass. This was the 2010 batch.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber with almost no head at all.

Smell: Extremely sweet. Some malt and dark fruit along with caramel, port, and some alcohol.

Taste: This one is just a bit too sweet for me. I understand it comes with the territory, but this is a bit much. Malt and ripe dark fruit/wine flavors. The finish is slightly bitter with some warm alcohol and still really sweet.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick and mildly syrupy. Very mild, tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: I thought this was way too sweet. I'd like to try an older version to see if things mellow out at all. (678 characters)

Photo of dsa7783
3.35/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Single, slim, slender 11.2 oz bottle copped from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
"Limited Edition Brewed in 2005"...
Pours a hazy, cloudy, very murky, dark-amber color with a nicely-sized foamy and frothy head that included a slight bit of carbonation before receding and leaving a fair amount of lacing...
The aroma was very rich and sweet, bursting with strong candied sugars, sweet caramel, vanilla, and cream...
The taste was way too sweet to be truly enjoyable... The flavor was literally bursting with candied sugars and ultra-sweet caramel that made this beer near impossible to drink, even after already downing a few...
Mouthfeel was thick, rich, and creamy, and extremely sweet...
Overall drinkability was rather poor due to the excessive sweetness associated with this brew as well as the cloying, ultra-sugar-laden flavor...
Not my favorite Barleywine for sure... (887 characters)

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.33/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had the 2003 vintage.

Pours a nice clear coppery amber with a fairly thick but not too persistent pale tan head. Aroma is crisp and fruity, mainly of sweet apple, more like a cider than a beer. Strong alcohol bite overwhelms the rather sweet, fruity flavor, so it is rather like drinking brandy mixed with fruit juice. Flavor does have a hint of malt and a hint of hops, but is somehow not really beer-like; nevertheless it is acceptable, if not my cup of tea, er, ale. Texture is syrupy, smooth and thick, yet edgy thanks to the strong bite of alcohol. It leaves a rather sweet aftertaste coupled with some alcohol and hop bitterness. (638 characters)

Photo of gamblor21
3.32/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Dark in color, Smell of Raisins, as well as the taste. Also hints of cinnamon. Not easy to find, had from a bottle. Can also detect the Kent Golding's hops. The flavor is strong, and the high alc/vol makes it hard to drink more than one in a night, It feels like it would be a good winter beer after a day on the mountain (321 characters)

Photo of bnes09
3.32/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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

Sweet, dark fruit aroma.

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

Dense, syrupy texture. Weak carbonation.

Decent flavor. Just way too sweet for me. (300 characters)

Photo of HopEnthusiast
3.3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Marked 2004. Decanted from the bottle into a snifter. Pours a quite dark amber color with zero head as expected. Smells of huge malts, cherries, toffee, and alcohol. I've had very few barleywines, so this aroma is quite unique and interesting. The taste is sweet, with raisins, cherries, toffee, and booze all making an appearance. This is so sweet I should have definitely waited to try it later in the day, like after dinner, as opposed to 2 pm. Mouthfeel is quite thick. Drinkability is extremely low as it would take me forever to even finish one of these. I'm conflicted with this beer. It's obviously an excellent beer, but it's so far out of any style I enjoy, that it's hard for me to get too into it. (709 characters)

Photo of byrd
3.3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

1998 vintage - opened in 2003

Tight tan head of tiny bubbles. Very dark copper brown that is somewhat murky. The head lingers for a while then settles to a thin lace across the surface. The aroma is immediately sweet and malty with maple, rum raisins, and dark fruits being quite noticeable. A slight hint of alcohol is present. Smooth medium-full mouthfeel, but there’s an incredibly malt sweetness that creeps all over the inside of the mouth. The alcohol is quite subdued and well hidden with only a slight warming sensation. The sweetness does not seem to be a hindrance at first, but by the end of the glass, it begins to get somewhat cloying. Not really any hops to speak of; the sweetness simply fades out in the finish then lingers in the aftertaste. Definitely a brew to be sipped and not guzzled, but even then, I felt the sweetness to be a little too much.

This is a 5 year old bottle. Maybe any hop presence that was there at a younger age has faded? Maybe it still needs a few years for the malts to mellow? One way or the other, this bottle wasn’t quite my cup of tea. The store I purchased it from has ‘98, ‘99, ‘00, and ’01 vintages. Maybe I’ll try to pick up a younger vintage to see how they compare... (1,234 characters)

Photo of hombrepalo
3.3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Tried many vintages a few up to 15 years aged. Nice mahogany color with beige head. Smells of toffee and malts. Taste is silky toffee and caramel. Finish thin and sweet. (169 characters)

Photo of drabmuh
3.3/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2007 - why let it age.

Beer poured into a snifter. Beer is dark yellow to brown and forms no head. Leaves very little lacing on the glass and carbonation is low. Beer is really hazy. I should have checked for sediment.

Sweet sweet caramel. This beer is really sweet smelling. Raisins and plums. Smells like a homebrew I made a while ago.

Beer is sweet with kind of an odd earthy flavor to it. I'm not really feeling this beer. Caramel note with some forward sweetness and no real bitterness. Beer finishes slightly dry. Drinkability not good. I don't think I'll be able to finish the whole thing. Maybe the aged versions are better or with another 10 years on it it will improve. Right now, not my favorite. (710 characters)

Photo of dgallina
3.27/5  rDev -23.2%
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. (741 characters)

Photo of DIM
3.27/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

note: This was the 2001 vintage.

a: Cloudy almost opaque caramel color. Pours with a minimal head that leaves a ring around the glass.

s: Smells of smokey maple syrup, some brown sugar, and alcohol.

t: An almost overwhelming sugary maple syrup flavor hits first. There is some raisin flavors to found here as well. The warming tingly alcohol finish is the best part.

m: One of the thickest and most syrupy barleywines I've tried. Some chalkiness at the finish.

d: Maybe I'll try another year at some point but sweetness of this beer will probably keep me away. (565 characters)

Photo of Indybeer
3.23/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Part of Vintage beer Tasting
Vintage 1998 & 1999. Both poured a deep dark amber, with a moderate head that didn't stick around very long, and left no lacing on the glass. Aroma is caramel malt and alcohol. Taste is thick, chewy, and very sweet. After a couple of minutes, I got really tired of it. I gave it a low drinkability score because it was like drinking a glass of syrup, laced with alcohol. (400 characters)

Photo of Jonada
3.22/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 vintage. 275 ml bottle poured into a snifter

Appearance: Pours amber in color with less than a finger of an off white head that settles to a thin ring. Body is lightly hazy with moderate visible carbonation.

Smell: Lost of dark fruit. Raisin, fig, toffee, mild booze and hint of vanilla.

Taste: Syrupy sweetness, tobacco, slight smokiness, earth, burnt sugar. There' some mild dark fruit character, but it's mostly just a generic sweetness with some odd earthy character that doesn't really compliment it well.

Mouthfeel: Fuller end of medium with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel and medium fine carbonation. Sweet finish is balances slightly with some light boozy heat.

Overall: Not a fan of this one. There's some odd, unexpected flavors that don't mesh well. Will skip this one in the future. (804 characters)

Photo of shapudding
3.18/5  rDev -25.4%
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.
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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.
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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. (1,998 characters)

Photo of TasteTester
3.18/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle from 2000. I had really high hopes for this beer, my first real vintage experience, but I was rather let down. It tasted like sour grapes and malt, almost wine-like. Had the grape flavor been more subtle, I may have enjoyed it more. I also got a bad headache from drinking this beer, which kept me from trying anything else this evening. (344 characters)

Photo of PhantomVodoo
3.13/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001 Vintage.

Tan head sits atop a cloudy, coppery amber beer. Plenty of suspended particulate matter.
Aroma is vinous and shows too much alcohol. Tad earthy. Rich, sweet malt.

Taste shows a rich, very sweet malt backbone. Vinous and sour. Syrupy sweetness lingers on the palate for some time after the finish.

Full body. Somewhat creamy and sticky mouthfeel.

This is one of those beers I really liked certain characteristics, but really disliked others. Not sure what to make of the beer as a whole, but I won't be in a hurry to give it another try. Big thanks to Blatzman for the bottle! (603 characters)

Photo of fscottkey
3.12/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Harvest Ale Limited Edition Brewed in 2010. Poured into a tulip glass.

A: [3.25] Dark mahogany brown color. Like rich leather color. Forms a minor head that is gone after pouring. The bottle lists the ABV at 11.5%. There was some coding on the cap - but I couldn't determine a date.

S: [3.00] I smell a smokey essence. It also smells like a red wine scent.

T: [3.00] Uck... holy... ugh (exact words after the first sip). Okay. Gotta try a few more. Subsequent sips are much improved. Trying to isolate flavors. Vanilla, tannins, maple syrup, brown sugar. Overall it is very sweet.

M: [3.50] It is smooth on the palete. Low carbonation. Lingering sweetness on the tongue.

O: [3.25] This is the most unique beer I think I have reviewed. My initial impression was a drain pour. But it grew on me. The flavor profile is like nothing in my experience. I would not get it again. But It was worth drinking. (928 characters)

Photo of kingcrowing
3.1/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

275ml bottle, 199 vintage poured into a tulip.

Pours a very ruddy/cloudy red with a very thin off white head, almost none, but for an 11 year old bottle it's ok. Nose is still very boozy, theres some sweet maltiness as well.

Taste is not quite as boozy as I thought, it's full and sweet with a strong malt backbone. Really can't get any hops here at all. Son't seem to be any off flavors but it's a bit cloying on the finish. (427 characters)

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 816 ratings.