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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

1,228 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,228
Reviews: 794
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 211
Gots: 176 | FT: 12
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: 1,228 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of craytonic
craytonic

District of Columbia

2.3/5  rDev -45.9%

2001 vintage in early 2012

Appearance: mahogany-brown pour with a short-lived head

Smell: Sickly sweet with some fruit, port, caramel and toffee

Taste: Super-sweet, unbearably so, at least for a sour head like myself. Figs, raisins, port, carmel and toffee

Mouthfeel: Full body from the sugar, similar to sweet tea or a regular coke

Overall: I can't drink anything this sweet.

02-10-2012 05:00:46 | More by craytonic
Photo of dogfishandi
dogfishandi

New York

2.35/5  rDev -44.7%

2001 vintage (a little over 9 years of age)

275ml bottle from the cellar poured into a bulb style glass.

pours out a murky dark brownish red with a layer of bubbly off white head that slowly faded to a thick ring. lots and lots of big chunky sediment visible even after decanting and a careful pour. some spotty lace and some nice legs.

a powerful aroma mostly of almonds and other such nuts. almost a little off putting. behind that theres a lot of toffee, burnt caramel, a bit of chocolate.

again with this overpowering oily almond flavor, overly sweet. lots of caramel, toffee, buttery, a bit of chocolate. hardly any alcohol. my palate just cant get over that burnt nutty taste, a bit disgusting.

pretty decent mouthfeel for such a big beer. hardly any alcohol noticable. slick creamy oily feel.

terrible drinkability, after a few ounces this was sadly a drain pour. id be interested to try other vintages, but this was a turn off.

01-31-2011 02:10:40 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of grayburn
grayburn

South Carolina

2.42/5  rDev -43.1%

2007 Vintage

Poured a beautiful tawny color into the glass at around 50 degrees. Heavy tan head leaves heavy lace.

Smelled completely of a soy or bbq sauce, maybe a touch of white raisin. Interesting, bold, a little too unique for me to be honest. This beer is too food like, too salty, too much plate, not enough glass. Maybe its too young, maybe I'm too young.

Taste was disappointingly similar to the smell, soy sauce and bbq, without the meat. I don't sense hops so much as cooking spices. I really wish I would have just let this one lie for a couple of years, like 10 or so. These flavors really need to mellow

Mouthfeel was good so long as the taste isn't a part. Rather smooth, good carbonation.

I probably won't be getting another of these, I had to suffer it down because I don't believe in pouring. I would not recommend.

03-09-2009 03:40:48 | More by grayburn
Photo of mikesgroove
mikesgroove

South Carolina

2.45/5  rDev -42.4%

2003 poured from a bottle

Poured a cloudy brown with no head at all. Smell was total alcohol, really over powered it and the taste was pretty much the same. There was a bit of a caramel, nutty, sugary taste in there but the alcohol far over powered this. I expected this one to be a bit more rounded out then it was, maybe I am just more of a fan of American Barleywines. Overall it was not bad, but I would pass on a second.

12-11-2006 02:01:46 | More by mikesgroove
Photo of Sixpack595
Sixpack595

Michigan

2.48/5  rDev -41.6%

2001 Edition

Slightly hazy brown with suspended chunks of sediment. Nearly no head. Slightly vinous, slightly sour aroma. Diacetyl and sweet malts dominate both aroma and taste. Big, complex beer...but it still tastes like crap. Honey, licorice, molasses and raw sugar make this a sickly sweet brew that ends with a slightly sour, bitter finish that in no way cuts the cloying, syrupy aspect. I have a couple other vintages from the mid 90s that I will try after I let them mellow for a while longer. I sure hope they get better with age.

03-12-2004 10:06:53 | More by Sixpack595
Photo of Hallertau
Hallertau

Wisconsin

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

10-11-2013 02:52:05 | More by Hallertau
Photo of prisoner1572
prisoner1572

Illinois

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

05-06-2013 18:00:19 | More by prisoner1572
Photo of Hellpop65
Hellpop65

Kansas

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

06-21-2014 23:52:22 | More by Hellpop65
Photo of ohtheguilt
ohtheguilt

Georgia

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

01-04-2012 12:49:46 | More by ohtheguilt
Photo of strongaf
strongaf

Washington

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

10-03-2013 06:53:51 | More by strongaf
Photo of ADTaber
ADTaber

South Carolina

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

02-08-2013 22:40:33 | More by ADTaber
Photo of HugeBulge
HugeBulge

New York

2.5/5  rDev -41.2%

10-18-2013 18:11:10 | More by HugeBulge
Photo of crwills
crwills

Ontario (Canada)

2.53/5  rDev -40.5%

WARNING: This may have been a spoiled bottle, as my rating is significantly lower than the average.

Vintage 1998 bottle.

Poured a muddy brown with a small fizzy head into an oversized wine glass. Doesn't look too bad, although there are some particles in there which make it less appealing than it could be.

Aroma is brown sugar, cake or doughy bread, with alcohol in the forefront. Some mild milk chocolate notes and dark, overripe or rotting fruits. A little bit of a sour, off aroma concerns me...

Taste is... ridiculously sweet. I think this is what happens when an eight year old barley wine doesn't get taken care of. Overwhelming sugary cotton candy and candied prune/date flavours make this impossible to enjoy for me, although it does overwhelm the high alcohol. Aftertaste is terribly sweet, and I had to eat something to get rid of it. Any hops that were in there are long gone... all malt, all the time.

Mouthfeel is still OK, if a bit sticky. I got about 2/3 of the way through this before I had to stop.

I hope this was a bad sample... I've had several other aged barleywines that didn't end up like this. Most of the reviews indicate that it should be very sweet, but this was just unbearable. If given the opportunity, I will grab another bottle (maybe not quite so old) and re-review.

07-30-2006 19:13:18 | More by crwills
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
LilBeerDoctor

New York

2.6/5  rDev -38.8%

Reviewed on 8/26/08. Bottle, 1999 vintage. Pours a cloudy amber brown with a small light tan head that dissipated quickly. Aroma of of oatmeal, sweet brown sugar, sweet fruits (raisin, apple, pear), slight alcohol. Flavor is SUPER sweet. Wow. I've never had port or sherry but I imagine that this beer would taste something like that. Syrupy and thick. Not bad tasting but very strong and it was hard to handle more than one sip of a time of this. Much too sweet and I thought that this would have mellowed somewhat in the 9 years since it was bottled.
6/3/6/2/13 (3.0/5)

12-23-2008 19:34:17 | More by LilBeerDoctor
Photo of tr4nc3d
tr4nc3d

Kansas

2.63/5  rDev -38.1%

1999 vintage

Poured into my snifter from a 12floz bottle

Pours a dirty light to medium brown color with a slightly off white one finger head. Below average head retention that when fades leaves a small ring on the outside edges of my beer.

Smell is heavy on the bourbon, some vanilla, toffee, sugar, and malts.

Very sweet upfront with hints of dark candied sugar, vanilla, honey, prunes, caramel, toffee, and a slight bourbon heat. Very malty beer and no hop presence whatsoever(no surprise here for a 10 year old beer).

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with pretty active carbonation. Very sugary sweet malty beer, its so sugary it leaves it on your lips.

Overall my opinion is that this is one way to sugary beer(kind of reminds me of DFH 120min)except more drinkable. I would never seek out this beer again, but its tolerable.

08-10-2009 22:32:11 | More by tr4nc3d
Photo of mikehblack
mikehblack

California

2.65/5  rDev -37.6%

2008 bottle. 275ml

A- Slightly hazy orange. Fluffy white head dissipating quickly to a few big bubbles and a ring. Thick alcohol legs.

S- Massive sweet malt aroma and alcohol. Bready, sticky, caramel, toffee, marshmallow.

T- Smoky, fruity, sickly sweet, some burnt aspect I can't put a finger on, bready, toffee, boozy. Middle of the mouth is like drinking honey, molasses and malt extract. The finish is cloying and slight burn from the alcohol.

M- Full bodied, low carbonation. Coats the mouth with sugary syrup.

O- This is not a beer for me. At least not now. Way too sweet and malty for my tastes. I'll finish the bottle because it is small and was expensive.

03-22-2012 04:49:55 | More by mikehblack
Photo of Rickythejeweler
Rickythejeweler

Maryland

2.68/5  rDev -36.9%

2008 Vintage

A - Slightly cloudy golden-copper, thin soapy head, no lacing. Good amount of carbonation bubbles along the bottom of the glass.

S - Raisons, fermented fruits, yeast funk.

T - Candi sugar, raisons, old fruit, seaweed.

M - Thick, syrupy.

O - Drain pour.

02-01-2012 19:32:46 | More by Rickythejeweler
Photo of Brez07
Brez07

Maine

2.68/5  rDev -36.9%

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)

01-17-2012 12:44:58 | More by Brez07
Photo of kristougher
kristougher

North Carolina

2.75/5  rDev -35.3%

12-28-2013 04:04:58 | More by kristougher
Photo of Texasfan549
Texasfan549

Texas

2.75/5  rDev -35.3%

04-18-2012 15:46:28 | More by Texasfan549
Photo of PopeJonPaul
PopeJonPaul

Oregon

2.78/5  rDev -34.6%

Normally I love barleywines, but this stuff rubbed me the wrong way. Cloudy red-brown and syrupy with no head to speak of, even on tap. Looked good in the glass but smelled incredibly sweet (Danger Will Robinson!) Powerfully sweet taste, with a strong heavy malt, brown sugar and tootsie-roll flavor. It's one thing to make a good sweet barleywine, but this stuff tasted like pancake syrup gone over to the dark side. And you'll keep tasting it ten minutes later. The finish was almost cloying, and beware if you're on a date: CheeseWheel (who used to work in a hospital) says it makes your breath "smell like decomposing flesh."

This was on tap though, I will have to give the bottle a shot just because all the positive reviews here are (surely aged) bottles, and I'll bet it gets better with age. We shall see...

03-13-2004 20:22:17 | More by PopeJonPaul
Photo of maxpower
maxpower

Missouri

2.83/5  rDev -33.4%

1988 must have not been stored right, flat no carbonation, sweet sugary caramel aroma, tasted like maple syrup, too sweet two sips and dumped the rest.1997 was much better, very small head, strong caramel aroma, smooth, sweet caramel- toffee flavor, this is what I will rate, the 1988 was ruined.

12-13-2002 18:36:34 | More by maxpower
Photo of vandemonian
vandemonian

Maryland

2.85/5  rDev -32.9%

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale 2006 is a sweet barleywine with some odd flavours. In particular, I don't like the Vegemite flavour resulting from yeast autolysis.

A: Red brown colour and almost no head. I guess that's to be expected after sitting in the bottle for 6 years. 3.5

S: Sweet toffee and alcohol. Some definite Vegemite aroma from the yeast autolysis. 3.5

T: Sweet malt and umami from yeast autolysis. Bleh. I don't like the flavour at all. Very grainy. 2.5

M: Flat. 2.5

O: 3

10-18-2012 01:46:51 | More by vandemonian
Photo of BeerFMAndy
BeerFMAndy

Wisconsin

2.88/5  rDev -32.2%

11.2 oz bottle split and poured into a Stone RIS tulip. 11.5% ABV, 2006 vintage but not other date.

Thanks to Sweemzander for sharing this bottle with me.

A - Absolutely hazed over with lots of floating particles despite the slow, careful pour. Muddy brown/orange with no head what-so-ever. A ring of loose bubbles around the outside is the only indicator of carbonation.

S - This Harvest Ale has a big, boozy nose that I think I just got drunk from smelling. Deep caramel malt nose with lots of toffee and toast. Minimal hop involvement here with tons of low fruity alcohol notes. It's largely a boozy alcohol aroma.

T - It starts with a big toasted and caramel malt flavor with a low fruity alcohol but big boozy punch. The first part is good but moves to a disgusting plastic and grassy finish. After a few sips I either became used to that gross part (which I'd guess) or it went away. Still, it's off-putting to me.

M - Medium-bodied and round with a very sweet flavor and low carbonation. The finish lingers for a while and doesn't leave tasting very good at all.

D - Not a fan. The back end of the flavor has a gross taste I really don't care for. Not something I want to have again. An example of a beer probably not worth aging past a few years. Or it needs to age even longer.

04-18-2010 22:43:28 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of Boppar
Boppar

New Hampshire

2.88/5  rDev -32.2%

Vintage 2006, poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A: Pours a bright golden orange color. Great coloring. Completely still. Not even the faintest hint of any sort of carbonation whatsoever. This really does look like a wine.

S: Sherry. That's the only smell I'm picking up on, is that it smells disturbing similar to cream sherry.

T: Sherry, overly-ripe apricots, and honey start this off, with notes of molasses appearing mid-palate. There is also a faint floral suggestion on the finish. Oh, and it's very, very boozey. And yes, it does taste as cloying as it sounds.

M: Perfectly still. Very slick, nice body to it. Good weight.

D: Not at all drinkable. Which is really a shame, because it has some good flavors in it. But it is so mind-numbingly sweet that I just can't handle it.

An interesting take on the style, but not one I much cared for.

12-24-2007 02:38:03 | More by Boppar
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,228 ratings.