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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

1,221 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,221
Reviews: 793
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 205
Gots: 172 | 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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,221 | Reviews: 793 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DarthGuitarHero
DarthGuitarHero

Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev 0%

07-26-2012 14:14:41 | More by DarthGuitarHero
Photo of savagepm
savagepm

Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev 0%

11-23-2013 02:07:27 | More by savagepm
Photo of BUNZILLA
BUNZILLA

Indiana

4.25/5  rDev 0%

10-01-2013 19:33:22 | More by BUNZILLA
Photo of Cubatobaco
Cubatobaco

Virginia

4.25/5  rDev 0%

07-27-2014 21:11:37 | More by Cubatobaco
Photo of mjw1200
mjw1200

Ohio

4.25/5  rDev 0%

03-28-2013 12:17:47 | More by mjw1200
Photo of Sparky44
Sparky44

Illinois

4.25/5  rDev 0%

03-24-2013 20:49:44 | More by Sparky44
Photo of derkfromwi
derkfromwi

Wisconsin

4.25/5  rDev 0%

02-11-2013 01:53:35 | More by derkfromwi
Photo of lucas1801
lucas1801

Massachusetts

4.25/5  rDev 0%

07-23-2013 09:57:13 | More by lucas1801
Photo of schopenhauerale
schopenhauerale

British Columbia (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev 0%

01-04-2013 05:24:02 | More by schopenhauerale
Photo of ipas-for-life
ipas-for-life

Virginia

4.25/5  rDev 0%

05-12-2013 15:56:31 | More by ipas-for-life
Photo of Backer2004
Backer2004

North Carolina

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

Review #500

Vintage 1999, first time trying one.

Found at Brawley's beverage a few years ago, drinking it for a special occassion. Smells of brandy, plums, fruits. Pours nice head that dissipates in two minutes (impressed with the carbonation after 9 years). Garnet hues, lacing sticks to the glass.

Whoa, very smooth and rich, no hops left, all malt. chocolate, some alcohol but not overwhelming. As it warms a bit, begins to be syrupy and too sweet for my tastebuds.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2008 01:28:05 | More by Backer2004
Photo of jsanford
jsanford

Georgia

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
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!

Serving type: on-tap

12-16-2011 03:53:07 | More by jsanford
Photo of CHickman
CHickman

New York

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Harvest Ale 2000 review:

Pours cloudy mahogany reddish in color with a small beige head; spotty lacing on the snifter.

Smells like raisin, rum, syrup, molasses and some sweet malts; quite pungent and very fruity. Wow, smells like a box of raisins or a port wine.

Tastes like raisins, rum, sweet malt, caramel, syrup, molasses, brown sugar, honey, a hint of cinnamon and the alcohol esters that are not offensive but rather quite tasty. Considering how strong the raisin and rum-like sweetness is present, this is reasonably well balanced and got better as it warmed.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth and creamy, with an overall sweet taste, zero carbonation and a medium body. The alcohol presence is there throughout this beer, and while it has kick to it, it is not overpowering or offensive. This is a definite sipper.

A little too sweet for my liking, but a very interesting and tasty beer. Steep price tag at $19 per bottle at Blue Smoke in NYC, but there was a level of sophistication achieved while savoring this beer.

Serving type: bottle

04-10-2010 04:47:46 | More by CHickman
Photo of TastyTaste
TastyTaste

Minnesota

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

1997 Vintage. 8 years old at time of sampling.

Appearance: Deep scarlet colored on the pour, 3/4" good retention, visible carbonation through the depths of the beer.

Smell: Sweet toffee, figs, raisins, and honey.

Taste: Very sweet, rich, with honey, lots of coffee, and chocolate, also slightly smokey. Rich, with many different flavors that nake this a complex beer. My only complaint is the intensely sweet taste.

Mouthfeel: Slick then sticky, good.

Drinkability: Very interesting, a unique and sippable English barleywine, not my favorite, but very good.

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2006 01:19:38 | More by TastyTaste
Photo of beavers
beavers

North Carolina

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 1998.
From a 9.6 ounce bottle into a snifter. Pours an opaque mahogony with a thin tan head that lines the edge of the glass but otherwise dissipates into a fairy nonexistent covering. Little lacing is left behind, which makes sense to the 11.5% ABV. Unbelievably rich, malty aroma of sweet pumpernickel, rum soaked dark fruits (dates?), rising dough, and an alcohol note that is reminiscent of tripel sec, sweet cognacs. Taste of sweet doughy bread, with rum soaked raisins and oak chips and a lingering brown sugar and molasses finish. It tastes like a holiday bread...with booze. You can smell the alcohol in the air, but is it entirely undistinguishable in the taste. This is most definitely a long sipper, not because of the booziness but because of how rich the malt profile is. I now know what a true english barleywine is, and I'm not going to say I dislike, but its quite a different exercise for the palette. A very interesting beer, and I can clearly see how the aging process works after this brew

Serving type: bottle

04-03-2008 03:55:52 | More by beavers
Photo of Bunnyhop
Bunnyhop

Georgia

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

Vintage 1997 (1st December 1997). A slightly hazy, very slightly brownish red Barley Wine with a smallish, creamy, brownish-tan, clingy head. The smell is nutty, oaky, and raisin-like. The smell continues when the alcohol kicks in, ironically reminding me of Worcestershire sauce. The taste is a mix of raisin and plum, along with an oakness. The sweetness remains on the back of my tongue, and a pepperiness lingers in the middle. The body is resiny and oily in my mouth. Overall, a very tasty Barley Wine, but not for the faint of heart.

(source: PremierGourmet; Buffalo, NY)

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2003 16:16:33 | More by Bunnyhop
Photo of Derek
Derek

British Columbia (Canada)

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

Brewed in 2003.

A: Orangy-brown with a white head. Not much retention, clings to the glass more like a leg than a lace. The Burgundy of Britain?

S: Nice British fruityness.

T: Wow. Very sherry-like, some nice apricot fruit flavour. Balance is slightly tipped to the sweet side. Quality British pale malt in the background, but the yeast really produces the flavours here. I'm not always a fan of the fruity British ales, but this is REALLY nice.

M: Moderate body and carbonation. Very light for its strength (well attenuated).

D: This is a very nice sipper. At 11.5%, you're not looking at a session brew. The taste is easily approachable.

Thanks Kevin... Really, thanks a lot!

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2005 18:04:47 | More by Derek
Photo of BlackJeremiah
BlackJeremiah

Virginia

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2000 vintage, poured into a snifter. That makes this one at roughly 5 years, 9 months old. This is the oldest beer in my cellar, and the longest I've ever managed to age something without breaking down and drinking it.

A: I have to adjust the temperature of my cellar a bit, since I see a little chill haze here. Not much, so I'm not too concerned. Color is like iced tea, a mahogany with a burnt red undertone. This is more evident when it is held up to the light. Very little head; dissipates quickly.

S: This smells almost liquorish, like whiskey or tequila. Definite oaky and raisiney characteristics. Smells STRONG, even more than the 11.5% ABV might lead one to believe.

T: A lot of sweetness up front, with powerful prune/raisin characteristics to it. Alcohol is present, but more than balanced, unlike the aroma suggested. Little to no hop character detected, but it might just be completely overwhelmed (or the more likely--my palate is not yet discerning enough). Smooth, but the dried-fruit flavors are downright cloying after a few sips. However, it is truly different than any other barleywine I've tried, and its flavors provide something really interesting. No matter its cloying effect on me, it is an EXCEPTIONAL flavor, and I've ranked it as such.

M: A bit thick for my tastes. That, combined with the raisin and prune flavors, make me feel like I'm drinking a very thin jam.

D: There is no scenario I can imagine in which I would be able to consume more than one bottle of this. It is a remarkable beer, in that it has many excellent and well-balanced characteristics. But I just can't deal with the thick sweetness of this sucker for more than 12 ounces. One I'll break out every so often, just to check on its maturation. This one also brought on some serious heartburn, so those of you prone to gastric mischief should be prepared with the antacids.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2006 18:57:34 | More by BlackJeremiah
Photo of nhindian
nhindian

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

09-14-2011 21:32:20 | More by nhindian
Photo of goblue3509
goblue3509

Pennsylvania

4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-31-2011 00:50:09 | More by goblue3509
Photo of david131
david131

California

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

2000 Vintage.

A- An absolutely clear, deep ruby red with some orange highlights. The off-white head is thin but craggy with some decent retention.

S- Astoundingly strong smelling with some vinegar, rotten fruit, cherries, and acidic orange juice. At first I thought it was kind of gross and overwhelming, but it really grew on me.

T- Less harsh, but just as flavorful as the aroma led me to believe. Some caramel, cotton candy, fermented fruit, and vanilla. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

M- This is slightly warming, but overall smooth.

D- A thoroughly enjoyable, nicely aged barleywine. Goes down smooth.

Serving type: bottle

06-04-2009 04:30:28 | More by david131
Photo of jayhawk73
jayhawk73

Maryland

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

On draft at Churchkey:

Pours an amber/orange color. Zero head, with minimal lacing on my snifter glass. Nose is alcohol, dark fruit, and malt. Nice, but not outstanding. The taste is dark fruit, nuts, alcohol. A step up from the nose for sure. Feel is medium, and syrupy- very much like a port. Overall, a very nice example of the style. I would have this again. Cheers.

Serving type: on-tap

12-08-2011 00:29:41 | More by jayhawk73
Photo of mschofield
mschofield

Massachusetts

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

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2004 21:02:03 | More by mschofield
Photo of mrbeermug
mrbeermug

Michigan

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

2006 Vintage (4-5 yrs old)

A - Characteristic amber hue of a barleywine, while still being see-through. Noticeable sediment particles suspended in the beer. Almost no head pours, just a few air bubbles from my vigorous pour into the bottle.

S - Sweet bright honey, lots of bready yeast, raisin, a touch of vermouth smell from the lingering alcohol.

T - Dates, raisin, light smoky/woody bitterness, still tasting a bit of sweet vermouth as well. Flavors are well integrated thanks to its age, but nothing really stands out too strongly.

M - Soft and delicate, definitely a bit thinner than your usual barleywine, thanks to its age. Nice lingering flavors that don't overwhelm the senses. Really like how it feels.

D - About as quaffable as a barleywine can be, since you never want more than one anyway and this won't weigh you down. The age has made the beer much more drinkable and pleasant than a young, strong, syrupy barleywine that punches you with a brass knuckle-heavy alcohol content.

Overall, I'm still getting over a cold from the previous week so perhaps my smell/taste isn't fully back. This is a great brew, but I've enjoyed prior tasting of the different J.W. Lees Harvest series (specifically the Sherry and Calvados casks) more than this one tonight.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2011 06:31:06 | More by mrbeermug
Photo of Kendo
Kendo

New York

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

1997 bottle, consumed on 2/5/11, split 3-4 ways. At 13-14 years old, this is the oldest beer I've consumed (surpassing the Millenium Chimay Blue I had on 12/30/10 by about 3 years).

A: Body is coppery-amber with reddish tints. No real head - not surprising after 13+ years in the bottle.

S: Pleasant - dried fruit (raisiny), toffee, molasses and a waft of booze.

T: Like a licquor - booze is a dominant characteristic, providing heat over sweet malt (think toffee, caramel and brown sugar). Faint touch of peat smoke.

M: Thick and oily in feel, close to full-bodied in heft. Carbonation is long gone.

D: A sipper, but a tasty one. Paired amazingly well with an almond-crusted bear claw-type pastry, making it taste like Amaretto.

Notes: Had this one immediately after a bottle of the 2006, which by comparison tasted like an Imperial Rauchbier (it was heavy on the peat smoke and even more boozy). I've got a 1999 in the cellar; looking forward to it after this positive experience. . ..

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2011 18:49:43 | More by Kendo
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,221 ratings.