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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,236 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,236
Reviews: 794
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 209
Gots: 179 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: Todd on 12-18-2000)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,236 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of CuriousMonk
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 2000 vintage bottle into a snifter glass. Pours a deep red/brown color with a creamy light tan head. Aroma is very sweet and fruity, lots of big malts coming through with a heavy dose of dark fruits, sweet toffee and some prune and plum characteristics. Tastes rich with maple and oaky notes in the start along with the dark overripe fruits. Very sweet from on set to finish, barely any hops present tiny bitterness in the finish. Boozy but blends perfectly like a nice port. Very rich full sticky body and almost no carbonation. Not my style but glad to have tried this one out! A complex beer indeed.

CuriousMonk, Jun 01, 2011
Photo of georgiaboy8686
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

georgiaboy8686, Feb 23, 2013
Photo of polishkaz
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

polishkaz, Jan 19, 2013
Photo of AlexFields
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

AlexFields, Jan 13, 2013
Photo of JoeySchlitz
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2005 bottle picked up at Healthy Spirits in SF.

Definitely some floaters in this one - let sit still for a while before pouring. Almost no carbonation in this whatsoever - tried pouring from about 3 feet above glass and nothing. A murky brown, cloudy beverage. The smell is really good, picking up rum soaked plums, dates and figs. Pretty boozy and heavy. The taste is super sweet with a slight bitter mustiness at the tail end - reminds me of my grandparent's basement. This has been the same for all JW HA's that I've had - kind of disappointing. The mouth feel is on the more viscous side and would improve greatly if there were any carbonation in it. Given the high ABV, the super sweet flavor and mustiness I could not drink any more than one bottle max. Overall an interesting beer but not something that I would drink on a regular basis.

JoeySchlitz, Mar 02, 2009
Photo of MrNate
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

MrNate, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of heysuz
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

heysuz, Mar 07, 2014
Photo of match1112
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

match1112, Jul 08, 2013
Photo of AgentMunky
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

AgentMunky, Mar 10, 2014
Photo of garfscores
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

garfscores, May 05, 2013
Photo of brittanylicious
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

brittanylicious, Mar 07, 2014
Photo of Fettpopps
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Fettpopps, Apr 14, 2014
Photo of Agold
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Agold, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of Sludgeman
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Sludgeman, Feb 24, 2013
Photo of andrewm190
3.53/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

This limited edition barley wine was brewed specially in 2002.

Pours a rich amber color, good head, good retention.

It smells very fruity. Apricot is the most prominent smell. But all sorts of fruits could be detected here.

The taste is good, but not as good as the 1998. I detect possibly a faint sense of honey, but mostly apricot again. There is a deep, but perhaps to overbearing fruit taste, even though its a barely wine. I don't think it wonderfully balanced.

The mouth feel is crisp, but not fantastic, which also drops in drink ability when combined with the taste. If your going to spend the money on beer, you could do better with some of the older versions of this brew.

andrewm190, Aug 25, 2007
Photo of numenor1
3.53/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

'98 bottling

Pours a hazy opaque garnet hued brown. And even a modest head! Shocking for its gravity and age. Smell is malty sweetness incarnate. Molasses, honey, very slight roast, typical old beer smell and a very slight metallic hint. Taste is sweeett. Too sweet for my tastes. Incredible malt depth. Slight alcohol up front, then a wave of molasses, brown sugar, candied currants, dried prunes, and slight chocolate through the finish. Alcohol is unnoticeable..so long as sips are small. A very very very slow sipper. Syrupy. Overly cloying. Reminiscent of port, which is something I still haven't developed a taste for. Body is incredibly full with lush soft carbonation. A very slow sipper. I said it twice. Impressive, but still not what i want in a beer.

numenor1, Feb 01, 2006
Photo of AaronHomoya
3.53/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 bottle. 2004 vintage.

Pours an amber color with decent head for a beer of this strength. Aroma is mostly sweet malt and light fruitiness. Taste is very sweet and malty. A little fruity, alcohol and slight earthy hops in finish, but dominated by almost cloying sweetness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and a bit syrupy. Drinkability suffers from the overly sweetness, but the beer is pretty smooth and hides its alcoholic strength.

AaronHomoya, Dec 17, 2006
Photo of sweemzander
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

275mL bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage 2006.

(A)- Pours a murky caramel color. No head formation, just some bubbles.

(S)- Super potent. Caramel, toffee, figs, vanilla, and not yet ripe raisins.

(T)- Rich & buttery-like caramel & toffee. Some raisin-like peach fruit thing.

(M)- A lower carbonation level. Rather sweet & rich. Not as boozy as the smell, but is syrupy.

(D)- Not a bad barleywine, but reminds me more of an old ale. I think it needs more time to smooth out its edges. Wished it had a better carbonation level, but it would at least of helped in how rich & sweet it is.

sweemzander, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of CampusCrew
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well I had the honor of doing a special night with a friends and he featured a 10 year vertical from back till 98. he was missing 2 years. 93, 94 if i remeber correctly. Started off with an 2008. Keep in mind he did not age them himself, Bought them in the store aged.

Most of them were oxidizes but some were still pretty good. tasted loads of molases and carmel. Like a milano cookie. Very sweet, but the default with the aging creating a plastic tatse in most. Nice crimson coloring.

I'll grab a fresh one and re score later

CampusCrew, Nov 19, 2009
Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2004 Harvest Ale

A - A relatively clear brown thick syrup with no head. The beer displays some viscous action when swirled.

S - Red grapes, blackberries and faint brown sugar. Smells a bit like some better port wines or a brandy (without the alcohol).

T - Sweet - very sweet. There is some strong brown sugar and extremely strong toffee flavor with some maple syrup underneath and even under that, a the very faint, there is some dark red fruit (blackberries). The flavor is, though very sweet, very good. The first sips are amazing, but ti can be a tad cloying.

M - Smooth, thick, pretty refreshing.

D - Though a good beer, I have to dock it here. I will definitely have this, or one of its casked varieties again. It is basically the gold standard of the english barley wine. Honestly thuogh, it isn't easy to drink, just too sweet. Maybe with some years under its belt it would be a bit better. Would be fantastic on pancakes (not that I'd ever waste it).

mrasskicktastic, Dec 12, 2006
Photo of deltatauhobbit
3.58/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1999 Vintage

Pours a clear amber color with a decent sized tan head, head seems a bit creamy and fades at a decent rate, leaves a thin cap, no lacing.

Smell is predominately malty, bit of alcohol is present which is surprising considering this is a 10 year old vintage, lots of dark fruit and candied sugar.

Taste is very sweet, like lots and lots of sweetness, caramel comes through quite strongly along with dark fruit (such as raisins), bit cloying from the sugary sweetness, the alcohol isn't as noticeable in the taste as it was in the aroma.

I'd be very interested in seeing how this develops by having a mini-vertical. I need to see if I can get a hold of some 1998's still since I know I can get 99-03 no problem.

deltatauhobbit, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of tpd975
3.58/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001 Vintage purchased at Whole Foods Columbus Circle in NYC.

A: Clear nutty brown color with red highlights with a small tight creamy off-white head. The lacing is minimal.

S: Tons of sweentess, this one may be cloying. Sweet aromas waft from the glass. Tons of toffee, caramel and molasses. This one is all about the malt. Very malty no matter how you look at it. Besides the sugar there are some dark fruits.

T: Malty, Sweet, downright cloying. Wow the sweetness of this beer. Fresh honey and brown sugar right from the start. Tinges of sweetned milky caramel and rich molasses. There are some massivly ripe fruits beneath. The finish tastes like you just popped a handfull of sunsweet raisins in your mouth. Wow there is a lot of raisin in the finish.

M: Big bold and thick. Very smooth in a syrupy sort of way.

D: Not really. Beers this sweet are hard for me to finish.

Overall: This is one big rich bold full bodied barleywine. It is off the scale when it comes to malt and sweetness. It is a bit overthetop for me, but very unique nonetheless.

tpd975, Mar 31, 2008
Photo of Antilochus
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2006 - reviewed July 2008. 11.5% abv, 275mL bottle. Room temp. Served with Stilton.

Clear dark copper body under a thin cap of bubbles - tiny bubbles stick to the side of the glass. If this isn't a barleywine, what is?

Aromas of toffee, dark fruits, burnt sugar. Yum... dark, sweet grains... rye, nuts. Raisins. Superb.

Feel is remarkably thin, but lots of flavour - raisins, molasses, peaches, prunes, cake mix, rotten apples, burnt sugar. Finish is on mincemeat pie, a hint of astringency. Gigantic malt presence.

A bit young yet, but some things about this 06er are to be greatly admired.

Antilochus, Jul 14, 2008
Photo of desertbronze
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9.3 oz. bottle - 2001 vintage.

Copper color in the glass - thin head fades almost immediately.

Smells extremely sweet - oxidation notes in the background.

One dimensional sweet taste with some oxidation noted. Not surprising given the age of the beer.

Cloying on the tongue - sweet taste lingers after the swallow. Oxidation in the aftertaste.

Too sweet to be drinkable in any quantity - I split this bottle with a friend - could have split it four ways without cheating anybody.

I bought 2 of these in 2003 - drank one in 2006 - thought it was good but too sweet. Saved this one - still too sweet and starting to oxidize as well. Seems like laying this down for 2-3 years is about right.

desertbronze, Feb 15, 2009
Photo of zeff80
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - It poured out a burgandy color with a caramel colored, bubbly, one-finger head. It left some rings of lace.

S - It smelled very floral and very malty.

T - It was sweet and malty. It was almost too sweet. It was candy-like.

M - It was smooth and soft. It had a warm alcohol presence. It was a very heavy-bodied beer.

D - This was a bit too sweet and too heavy for my taste.

zeff80, Nov 27, 2007
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,236 ratings.