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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

831 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 831
Hads: 1,419
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 18.35%
Wants: 260
Gots: 206 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

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 (22) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 831 | Hads: 1,419
Photo of rtepiak
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

pour is a solid orange with about a finger of head. This is a head unlike anything i've ever seen. I girth of a bubbles that hovers just below the head like an american RIS... But longer. Settling after about 8 seconds. Nose pollen, whiskey malt, old furniture and subtle banana. A palate of sweet honey in a transition of floral to thisle bitter earth. There is a nice tang in the finish. A baltic porter hint. A finish of pomagrante earth bitter seeds and hints of lingering toasted sesame. A wonderful earth note in the cask.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The creamy tan head doesn't stay long in the glass, but the color beneath is a gorgeous deep, dark plum. Aroma is potent and vinous, giving off great reminiscences of port wine, sherry, cognac, even as it sits on the table, before I even bring it to my nose. On closer inspection, we get a full, thick, lush feel of black licorice, a profound winey flavor. Thick texture, like raisinbread, or plum pudding! A slow sippin' beer, with a slightly oily mouthfeel. At 11%, it's a whopper, but the alcohol sits behind the profound, commanding flavors, and only later does it slowly emerge.
Perfect thing to put in your hand and slide down the lips on cold-as-bejeezus days like things..
I was supremely satisfied with this one.
1997 vintage

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Photo of mattmaples
4.76/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1998. OK, I love this just as much as the 97. Both are great beers. I was fortunate enough to have this beer on tap this summer and baby was it good.

1997. EEEXcelent! I like Todds rum rasin comment, malty smooth nice alcohol presence. Complex, asertive flavors but easy to drink (unlike some barley wines). This is what an aging beer should taste like. Lucky for us B United (the US Importer) ages these beers for us and periodically releases some of them. Rumor is that they are still sitting on some 88. I currently have 97 and 98 on the shelf due to these wonderful people. It's still out there to be had, go hunt some down.

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Photo of His_Royal_Hoppiness
4.76/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2006 vintage.

A: Dark copper colour with lots of sediment - no head whatsoever.

S: Malt, molasses, caramel.

T: Honey, raisins, apples, molasses, marmite - very complex and very sweet - almost resembles a liqueur.

M: Outstanding - lovely thick, syrupy body with gentle carbonation.

This was my first proper barleywine and I found it fairly overwhelming. Absolutely delcious at first, but for me the sweetness was just too much - it was a real struggle to get through. I've got a couple more bottles laid-down, so I'll definitely return to this when I've had a bit more exposure to the style - right now I'm just too much of a lightweight to get the most out of this!

* Have just had a 2001 bottle that was a very different experience to the 2006 - gloriously well-balanced, with a wonderful prune and plum taste - the marmite flavour was barely present and generally it was much less cloyingly sweet. Just shows what wonders age does for this beer! Originally rated this as a 4, but the 2001 was a worthy 4.75.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006 Vintage 12 oz. bottle Poured into a Surly Darkness Chalice.

Appearance: Pours a deep and very hazy brownish amber orange. Moderate amount of bubbles. Virtually no head to speak of, but a decent amount of lace sticks to the glass.

Smell: A big sweet malty aroma with lots of caramel and dark fruits. Sweet, slightly roasted malts with big hints of caramel and toffee. Hints of maple syrup, vanilla, and oak. Big dark fruit presence with lots of prunes, figs, dates, and raisin. Also some brown sugar, molasses, and apple hints. Smells pretty boozy. Quite interesting.

Taste: Wow. Quite a rush of strong flavors as soon as it hits the mouth, its almost overwhelming. Really big taste of caramel and toffee from some lightly roasted malts. A little bit of chocolate comes in along with some dark bread. A sweet kick from some maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar. Some vanilla and oak. Big taste of dark fruits with notes of prunes, figs, raisins, and a lot of dates. Light hop bitterness. Also a taste of booze. Really robust flavors considering this is six years old.

Mouthfeel: Heavy body with a fairly low level of carbonation. Very thick and syrupy. Smooths out a bit midway through the mouth. Definitely a sipper and not a easy drinker, but its well worth the effort. Alcohol heat is actually kind of hidden by the heavy sweetness.

Overall: A really great take on the Barleywine. Very thick and sweet but not cloying. Great mix of flavors.

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Photo of jamespub
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drinking a 2000 vintage in celebration of my daughter's birth. poured into a Duvel Tulip.

A- Much darker than i recall the 2007 and 2008 bottles I had last fall. Dark brown with low carbonation, but what is there lingers around the edge. A beautiful dark brew....was it particular to the year, or did age somehow do this? I'm not sure.

S- ah....amazing. malt, malt, malty sweetness. it has the distinct smell of an aged brew. toffee, caramel.

T- simply stunning. toffee, grain, caramel. it has the incredible grain flavor that the 07 and 08 years had, but it is so much more refined. the yeast has settled well and leaves a clear brew that tastes absolutely stunning. i could drink this all day, every day.

M- sticks to the tongue. smooth, velvety with a feel that lingers. a faint hint of carbonation. mildly sticky finish due to the sugars.

O-Easily one of the best beers I have ever had. I had one and this was the best occasion to open it on. I wish I had a case more. I will be aging the rest of them as long.

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Photo of claaark13
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 2 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1988 vintage poured into a small taster flute.

Looks like I was poured a thick reddish brown juice into the glass. Not great at all, no carbonation.

Smells like a bag of twizzlers. Seriously smells like a fresh bag. Unbelievable.

Sweet almost port flavor with sweet cherries, raisins and then that beautiful twizzler flavor. Phenomenal.

Has some syrup feel to it, but complements flavor appropriately. Very drinkable.

Very impressed with this. The guy serving it didn't have too many notes on how it was kept, but I was happy with the results.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1990 vintage--made when I was in 1at grade!!

Pours a little head but nothing that stays very long at all, it soon turns into a headless beer. This one is a little less syrupy then the '98 and the flavors have mellowed and come together to make a burnt caramel flavor. Feels great on the palate and is something I would like to try a few more of in my lifetime.

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Photo of Axic10
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage poured from 275ml bottle into a snifter. As of today, this 11 year old beer is the oldest I've ever had.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown with hints of ruby red and no head at all.

Smell: Raisin, plum, sweet malt, dark candied fruits and some toffee. Nice smelling barleywiine.

Taste: Sweet raisins and other candied fruits, heavy caramel. Very sweet but also very complex.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and extremely smooth.

Drinkability: I have a few more vintages of this, and if they are anything like this I am in for a treat. I think I'm going to pick up some more 1999 vintages when I see them. Very very enjoyable.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - pours a muddy, murky brown, nearly the same color as the beer bottle. Some decade-old carbonation is still kicking. It manages little more than a scant swirling cover and ring, but for ten years old I'm impressed it's got any action at all.

Aroma - a chocolate and fruity, earthy (musty?) kind of aroma. Settling a bit, fig and raisin slowly come to the fore, almost a grape-like mix with the cocoa. A restrained but detectable vapory alcohol in there, too.

Taste - I'm stuck on where to start. What a full range of flavor all at once! Molasses and brown sugar are the easiest to pull out. Raisiny, with some roasted nuttiness trying to get through but the stage is just too big. Cherries hit about mid-palate with a light bite to them, undoing the sweetness a bit. As the flavor moves to the back, some hops work alongside the cherry flavor to bring a nice balance to the beer. A drying effect with alcohol warming, it takes on a cough syrup effect. The finish shows off the cocoa, the fruit, the hops, and the abv in rare fashion.

Mouthfeel - heavy and viscous, a low key carbonation tickles the tongue while letting the flavor abound.

Drinkability - a fine selection for Valentine '07's nightcap. My wife chose a Beaujolais Noveau tonight, I picked a ten -year old ale. If opposites attract, that's proof we were made for each other. Cheers to you, sweetie on this, our 13th V-Day as a team.

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Photo of MrStark
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a vintage 1999 275ml bottle into a snifter glass.

Appearance is a cloudy orange/brown with a small off white head that dissipated fairly quick. Not too bad for a beer this old I think.

Smell is heavy in sweet malts, caramel, fruit and brown sugar. Very nice to breathe in. A quite complex, sweet and inviting aroma.

Taste upfront is just what the nose was offering up. Sweet malts , caramel , dark fruits , molasses and brown sugar all come together to make a wonderfully sweet and complex flavor. As it warms there is a bit of spiciness and a very mild hint of the alcohol which feels pretty nice on the way down. I'd say 11 years of aging certainly made this a treat for the palette.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and goes down smooth leaving a nice lingering sweetness on the tongue. And surprisingly it has a decent amount of carbonation after all that time.

Drinkablity is just, wow! This beer tastes amazing and goes down very easy and smooth. I had to slow down to try to make it last longer. I believe this is the oldest brew I've had so far and its just very lovely. There is no question that I'd would have this again.

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Photo of DerelictPI
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 vintage.

Look: A beautiful reddish orange color. Almost like a honey color. I poured it straight out and it developed a nice head that went away immediately.

Smell: Sweet, dried fruit.

Taste: Follows the smell. I've been sipping on this 750 ml for about an hour and a half, so it has changed as it has warmed (and as I have warmed). Rich malty sweetness that is in line with dried fruits. The booze is well hidden. This is not a terribly carbonated beer but it does go down easy. I am glad I bought two more bottles to age!

Overall: If you like sweeter barleywines, quads and dopplebocks, do yourself a favor and grab this!

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Photo of roguetester
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I recieved two bottles of the '99 vintage in a barleywine sample case.

I had never had it before, but when I poured the first bottle out, I new I was in for a treat...

A small amount of head formed in the glass, but this dissapeared rather quickly. For a beer that had been in the bottle for ~4 years I was surprised that almost no residue was left in the bottle.

The aroma was not unlike that of a fine brandy. Alcohol was quite obvious as were other deep aromas.

The taste was exceptional. Very rich in flavor. All sorts of complex notes going on. You know the alcohol was there, but it ducked in and out of the other flavors the whole time.

This stuff is wicked expensive. There are very few cases that are north of $100 that I'll even entertain. This is one of them. This is a brew that I'd be proud to share with people the same way some share a fine cognac. If you decide to try this, get your hads on a few bottles so that you can enjoy it over a few years.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoying a 1999 vintage on New Year's Eve 2010, right around 11 years old. Review and score of previous 1997 vintage pretty much holds true for this one. A massively rich and complex brew. Fantastic.

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1997 vintage, enjoyed at about 12 1/2 years old. Served cool room temp into a Duvel tulip.

Pours brown with a small light brown head, reduces to a ring and leaves some spots of lacing. Appearance is spot-on for the style.

The aroma hit me before even pouring the beer with a hefty dose of booze, but does settle down to reveal a rich aroma of molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits, raisins, figs, plums, some nice chocolate, spice, and I am getting some oxidation on the nose. Doesn't really detract and I was kind of expecting some of that.

The flavor on this is so incredibly rich and strong and complex, a treat. Starts with the absolute best dark fruit flavors I've encountered in a beer, raisins, figs, and plums showcased at their best. A supporting cast of chocolate, molasses, grapes, brown sugar, very malty and sweet. Tastes a lot like Raisinettes, and I love me some Raisinettes. Yum.

Mouthfeel is full and sticky, low carbonation, one to sip and savor.

My 2nd JW Lees Harvest, had a '98 on its 10th birthday and it blew me away, this '97 follows that trend. Got a '99 on deck very, very soon, and there will be many more to come. One of my all-time favorites, a masterful creation.

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Photo of Vancer
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The big bad boy of English BWs, whata great brew.

A very lite amber, had a nice head for a 11+ abv brew, but it was the aromas that start this one off. Massive amount of bourbon, raisins, plums, cherries, i.e. the works.

Whoo, is this cherry bourbon or beer? Has hints of porter wine. The alcohol is very present, but not overpowering at the same time. Smooth, full bodied and an unambiguous sipper – be sure to have this by a winter fire. This has been quite the treat, a brew that one does not quickly forget.

Damn bottle was only 9.3 ounces. #600 on a great journey.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I've had various vintages of this through the years, but thought I should finally review one. 2001 vintage.

A: A warm copper and auburn body, slightly murky, with no head or lacing. Just the way a barleywine should look.

S: A delightful aroma greets my nostirls whenever my nose gets anywhere near the glass. Rum raisins, brandy, and various dessert breads soaked in alcohol. The alcohol is not hot or unpleasant in any way, it just enriches the other flavors, much as it does in deserts.

T: Much like the aroma. I can also now pick up a bit of sherry, cherries, and almonds. Not a terribly strong aftertaste, but it lingers in small doses for quite awhile in my mouth. Very rich and tasty.

M: A good amount of carbonation that doesn't overwhelm the flavors but keeps the body from being too heavy. It's not particularly smooth or silky though.

D: Despite the rich flavors, I think I could enjoy a second one of these, as it's so smooth and warming.

A world-class brew right here folks. If you like malts at all, you need to try this one. I've had one that was only a few years old and didn't think it was so great, but once you get 5+ years on it, it's a champ.

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Photo of nickfl
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1998 Vintage

A - Half finger of light brown head quickly dissipates and leaves minor lace. The body is dark brown and opaque.

S - Very unusual musty, toasted oak/ dark caramel aroma. Spicy notes and some vanilla as well.

T - Very smooth milk chocolate like flavor up front along with big, creamy caramel apple character. Spicy, slightly woody notes follow, ginger and cinnamon as well as some roasty toffee notes. Some very rounded bitterness asserts itself towards the end, but fades into a lingering alcohol warmth and amazingly rich caramel notes in the finish.

M - Thick, syrupy body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Keeping in mind that this is far from a session beer, it is an extraordinarily sippable sipping beer. Other vintage English beers I have had showed a similar complexity, but never seemed as drinkable as this. The caramel character is nothing short of spectacular and even though it is a very sweet beer it somehow avoids becoming cloying. Despite nearly 10 years in the bottle it shows no signs of oxidation, and has very little of the sherry character that one might expect of a beer this age. Overall, this is a really excellent vintage beer to enjoy on a cold winter night.

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Photo of Metalmonk
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 vintage, poured to a snifter.

Having a good bit of age on it, I gave this a harder pour than normal, and still only got a wispy head. The bubbles are bigger than usual, and most disappear while the rest form a thin crown. The liquid looks like mud-spiked caramel-colored water complete with floaters. I don't mind floaters, but overall this isn't very appetizing looking (although I'm not going to be totally unfair to it, given its age).

But my, that aroma...strong suggestions of vanilla, freshly-cut wood, real aged apple cider, and strong spirits, with hints of sprearmint, cherry blossom and toffee. Robust, bold and complex. Enticing. Perfect.

Flavor is a faithful mirror of the prominent aromas: vanilla, wood, apple cider all there...alcohol is merely a warming element. At 11.5% + 5 years, the alcohol avoids any sort of hotness, thankfully. Caramel brings up the back end, and big-time, providing a candy-like bed of controlled sweetness for everything else to mingle upon. Further back are cellar-stored liqueur-soaked fruits (fig, currant, plum, cherry). A little musty, not the longest finish, but pretty much as comforting a barleywine flavor as I've ever experienced. Depth, balance, deliciousness and, quite apparently, top quality ingredients...this rules.

The feel is pretty much perfect; excellent balance of round, buttery silkiness, a little bit gooey, and just a kiss of carbonation to keep things lively. As soon as it hits the lips, I didn't want it to leave. Hangs in the mouth just perfectly, never too thick or thin, never too carbonated or too dead.

I wondered if 5 years was even too young, but I think this has been poured at just the right time. Lovers of exquisite big beers, especially old ales and barleywines, seek it out (if you haven't already).

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Photo of Elendinn
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2002 vintage, poured into a tulip glass, and raised in praise of Don Younger.

Wow, this beer looks beautiful! It pours a dark, leathery, bronze-tinged mahogany; so dark that it's practically opaque, though, when held to the light, becomes a slightly more translucent copper, with bits of yeast floating around, possibly from a novice pour. It's got no head, save for a thin ring of caramel-colored effervescence around the circumference of the glass. It looks like an eleagant, refined liquor -- brandy or cognac.

Smells like it looks: a spicy, refined liqour. Cinnamon, chocolate, and lots of dark fruits (figs, raisins, port-like grapes) are all extremely prominent. There is a very discernable aroma of rubbing alcohol that permeates the nose, which is a bit of a distraction, but, ultimately, it coalesces into something very sweet and pleasing.

The taste is immediately reminiscent of port, primarily featuring the dark fruits present in the nose. There are some very earthy elements in there, as well, like a decades-old red wine. It's a little boozey in the finish, but a very noticeable chocolate flavor interjects itself and lingers long after everything else, rounding the experience out nicely. Not too sweet, not too hot.

Like a port, the body on this is quite thick, practically syrupy. Fortunately, the moderate amount of carbonation makes for a pleasurable stay on the tongue.

J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale is everything I expect from a traditional barleywine and more. Deep, rich, and as complex as a fine port -- eleagant, nuanced, and spectacular. It transcends what one would typically define as beer. Yes, it's drinkable, despite the abv., but should be savored, fully and completely. Buy these, age them for as long as you can, and open them on special occasions when reflection and contemplation are paramount!

For Don Younger. A perfect beer to honor you with.

Cheers.

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Photo of mentor
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Uhm, this was a pretty good beer. Review recorded on paper from a 1998 bottle obtained from John's Grocery (Iowa City) and consumed a couple evenings later (June 2005). Pours a finger and a hlaf tan (pinewood) colored head over a red dark-rust orange liquid.. Nearly clear except a few particulates. Smells citrusy tang with alcohol. Sweet and caramel. Tastes smooth sweet then citrusy tnag, then wet sweet, then richly rolls of caramel and toffee and some chocolate banter about (as aftertastes) vying for attention. That was a long sentence, but then, that was an amazing first gulp. Yummy complex beers! A nice transition of flavors from start to end, plus a nice combination of layered flavors at any given moment in the experience. Alcohol is noticable in the start as a gentle burn on the front of my tonguebefore it blends into and finally beaten out by a citrusy tang. In the middle, fruit flavors consist of cherry sour, apricot, pear, watermelon, oranges (perhaps comes as part of a hop bitter?) and malt flavors consist of crystal/caramel malt and a biscuity barley. The beer ends with a great malt sweetness (I love malty beers) that almost has a bock quality about it. Thick mouthfeel and mildy carbonated. Minimal lacing on the inside of the glass.

2001 Vintage in December, 2010 (A:4 S:4 T:3 M:3.5 D:2);
2001 vintage ($4.49 price tag). Obtained from John's Grocery (Iowa City) probably 7ish years ago and cellared by me since then. Slight hist when opened carried soy and cognac aromas. Pours a thin ring of tan head over a very dark ruby liquid. Smells soy, clover honey, salt, mild clean alcohol sting.

Tastes sugary sweet with salty to counter. Oranges, wax, honey, rootbeer soda, and clean alcohol on the edges of the tongue trying (but failing) to keep the beer from sticking too much. With searching, the salty soy can be thought of as coffee/toffee/caramel with a bit of scorch to the toffee. Like a burnt heath bar.

In the mouth it's thick, but it cleans away fairly well, partly due to the alcohol. Mild carbonation, as to be expected from a beer a decade old. hard to choke down the entire 9 oz bottle.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

275 mL bottle, 2001 Vintage, brewed when I was a senior in high school,

A: Pours a dark brown with a light head that doesn't last too long. Not murky.

S: Sweet nose with caramel, raisin, maple syrup and Pedro Ximenez sherry. Hints of fig and apricot, very mild oxidation character. Great nose.

T: Caramel, brown sugar syrup and dark fruit for the main flavour. Delicious, still has plenty of residual sugar left. Great note of cocoa on the finish. The ultimate beer for malt lovers.

M: Thick, viscous and chewy. Has a really similar feel to a Port wine on the tongue. Mild carbonation works wonders here. Nice amount of warming alcohol in the tummy and going down.

D: An easy sipper for an after dinner drink. Even at 9 years old this is still drinking very young and I could see it lasting another 10-30 years simply because of the sugar content, liken it to a vintage Port, Sauternes, Tokaji - classic dessert wines. The '99 I had of this a few years back was one of the best beers I've ever had; that beer had a little more complexity and oxidation character, but this '01 is still a damn fine beverage.

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Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 Vintage enjoyed on 2/19/2007

Appearance: A nice dark brown color. Very little head was present on pouring. What little there was soon disappeared. There is quite a bit of sediment and yeast present in the glass.

Smell: This is one of the most complex aromas I have ever smelled. It's actually hard to pick out all the smells here as there is so much going on. First and foremost there is the strong smell of caramel malts. Along for the ride is some honey, vanilla, raisins, grapes, spices, plums, black currants. At 11% the alcohol notes are present as well.

Taste: The smells listed above become well mixed across your palate. There are some wood notes and brown sugar / molasses tastes that become present as well. As you drink there is some nice alcohol warming but it is never overpowering. This is a wonderful tasting beer.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is very syrupy with almost no carbonation. The syrupy consistency is a bit too much for me to drink more than one of these.

Drinkability: Count me more than impressed. The alcohol notes are present but very subdues to the incredible complexity of this beer. I am glad I have another of these to cellar and share with someone who will appreciate it as much as me!

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Photo of Jon
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cask-condtioned from a former Port wine cask. 2002 vintage.

Pours a brownish-copper color that yields no head and shows no hopes of carbonation. Not to worry, however.

Incredibly complex nose -- the port has shown its influence. Rum, vanilla, caramel, toffee, port wine, alcohol and nutty aromas all come through, creating a brilliant effect. The oak aging certainly did a number for this batch. Simply phenomenal.

Rich, complex, and profound flavors. More caramel, vanilla, nuts, rum, port, and definite hints of oak and alcohol are all there. This is one deep barleywine on its own, and the introduction of port and oak influence... wow.

Viscous, minorly syrupy mouthfeel. Super smooth and thick. Mouth-coating.

Drinks exceptionally well for what it is. Very warming. The aromatic and flavorful nuances kept me coming back for more, scratching my head along the way. Is this stuff for real? It simply must be experienced in this rare form.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage
appearance: Mostly clear reddish copper. No head or lacing to speak of but hey, it's 11.5% and 10 years old.
smell: butterscotch, raisins, and toffee just poppin out. Huge, refined nose.
taste: sweet but not cloying. a big assertive butterscotch finish. Amazingly smooth given the high abv. I've never had this fresh but i have to believe the decade has done wonders to this amazing beast.
overall: one of the best beers i've ever had.

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Photo of papat444
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

***2000 Vintage***

Big thanks to jtrockchalk for getting me this a few years ago. This will be the oldest beer i've had. Enjoyed on Dec. 1, 11 years after the bottling date (Dec. 1, 2000).

Appearance: A lop-sided light brown head forms, 1-2 fingers. Am opaque body that looks brown but actually has strong deep red hues. Lots of coating on the glass as i swirl.

Smell: Strong leather, musty, earthy, toffee, dark cherries, wood raisins and figs. Constant and strong aroma. Very nice.

Taste: Wow, this is rich! Raisins, fig newtons, caramel, dark fruits (mostly cherries, not tart), caramelized sugar and fruit cake. Decadent, sweet but not cloying and just great.

Mouthfeel: This has literally alcohol heat on it. Deceivingly easy to drink, smoothness is incredible and just a slight bit syrupy but i still like it a lot.

Overall: This drinks so well. Great flavor. One of my favorites and a highlight of this year.

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 831 ratings.