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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

1,284 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,284
Reviews: 798
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 221
Gots: 184 | 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:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,284 | Reviews: 798 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jjayjaye
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Harvest Ale 2000 purchased from Knightly Spirits, Orlando FL.

Pours a clear deep dark red amber color with a full finger foamy light tan head that fades to surface fairly quickly but is kept alive by visible effervescence. Sheets of Belgian lacing trail behind. The smell is really rich fruity and sweet. Big dark fruit figs and molasses. The mouth feel is medium-full bodied. Full flavored, the fig brown sugar molasses taste is really rich. It coats the tongue nicely and leaves a n after taste that lingers nicely. A real easy drinker, the 11.5% ABV is well integrated. Highly recommended.

Photo of absolutbc2001
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i had a 2003 harvest.

The smell was sweet and great.

The taste is very sweet but was just a touch sour. i think my beer hadnt been aged terrifically. caramel also.

The mouthfeel was thick and syrupy leaving the taste on my tongue pleasantly. It was like drinking candied beer.

Drinkability was very high for the alchol level as seen by the fact that I drank it way too fast.

Overall a great beer but a little sweet for my taste. Hopefully the Laguluvin aged one will have a little more bite to match that candy flavor.

Photo of TheBungyo
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'99 vintage at The Stumbling Monk.
Body was mahogany mingled with orange. Miniscule head. Nose was sweet berries like Strawberry, cherry and syrup. I got more red berries in the taste with strong maple syrup in the finish. The alcohol was well hidden though still present. I really enjoyed this, especially at $9 which in my mind is very affordable for a beer of this age. Mouth was decadently creamy. I would love to have this again and hopefully will be able to justify the price the next time I visit The Stumbling Monk.

Photo of HopHobo
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 vintage poured from a 9.6 oz. bottle into my HopCat Snifter on 6/6/09.

Beer pours a dark amber color with one finger of head that hangs around for about 20 minutes until my 4th drink. The carbonation is very light and appropriate for the style. The smell of this beer is amazingly complex with smells of sweet fruits like rasians and prunes, also smells of sweet malt and toffee. Oddly enough the smell really has an acid charactor that hangs around in my nose well after the sip, which I really love because I believe that it enhances the flavor of the beer. The flavor is much like the smell, very sweet malt with tastes of prunes and sweet apples along with hints of toffee and carmel throughout the drink. First sip has an amazing buttery creaminess that I'm still loving. I will say that as the beer warms to room temp the sweetness isn't as over powering and it becomes much more of a social style ale for me. Basically, no noticable hop profile at all in the beer and the alcohol in this beer is disguised very well by the maltiness sweetness and creaminess.

Admittedly, I am new to lovely barleywines and old ales and I credit a few beer with really getting me into the style such as Thomas Hardy 2002, Kuhnhenn 4th Dementia and Kuhnhenn Bourban Barrel Barleywine, but this one exceeds those beers on the levels of mouthfeel and smell for me. Not as balanced and drinkable as some of the others that I've had, but I could definetely sip and enjoy this one all day on a cold winters day or a rainy fall day. Absolute heaven in a bottle....I wanna swim in it.

Photo of CrellMoset
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review #300. 2006 vintage from Wine Warehouse, Charlottesville, VA. Poured into an Allagash flute.

Appearance: This one opens w/out so much as a hiss and pours a thick, churning, syrupy mess, right down into the flute. It's a dull, hazy reddish brown beer and is full of particulate suspensions - hop particles, yeast clumps, who knows what they are, but there's tons of 'em. Carbonation is ... what carbonation? Head is ... what head? Lacing? Don't think so.

Aroma: Whew, that smells nice. A thick, pungent curtain of the breadiest malts you can imagine. Tons of sweet, layered notes (caramel, toffee, honey, complex fruity sugars), darker fruits (raisins), light leafy hops, wonderful tannin-like notes, and only the faintest hint of sweet alcohol.

Taste: A step-up from the nose. First of all, it's overwhelmingly sweet, but not in an annoying, cloying, sticky way. It's a layered and complex sweetness - doughy bread and toffee are dominant, but darker malts appear as things warm, with light coffee and sweet chocolate making themselves known. There's also, as in the nose, honey and tons of fruit - apple skins and cherries at the top and, progressing downwards, raisins, dates, figs. While there's almost no hop bitterness, there are still the remnants of a few pleasant leafy hop notes, a reminder of a time when, perhaps, this beer was indeed made with the finest harvested hops of that year. Alcohol is still nearly imperceptible - you know it's there on some level, but, eh.

Mouthfeel: 99% certain that tingling is the alcohol and not carbonation. This beer is as dead as they come, but it's a two-year old plus barleywine, so that's to be expected. It's a little thick and syrupy, but as I mentioned before, it's not cloying or sticky, so you can only knock it so much. There's hardly any alcohol warmth to be found, despite the 11.5% bill.

Drinkability: 11.5% abv, but the most well-hidden, well-blended 11.5% you're likely to find. Whether you attribute that to age, to conditioning, to the overwhelming sweetness of this beer ... either way, it's incredibly drinkable. It's complex, inviting, enjoyable, devilishly tasty ... I might just have to recommend trying it.

Photo of hero27
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz bottle. 2004 Vintage.

Pours a bold, bronze color with a respectable frothy, tan head which holds incredibly well for a beer this high in alcohol. Smells unlike any beer I've ever had.. intensely aromatic is not giving this the full credit it deserves. Almost sickly sweet..nearly overwhelming fruity taste of raisins, figs, a countless array of dark fruits and sugars.. Very syrupy in the mouth, and as full-bodied as it is, it slides down dangerously easy. The 11.5% ABV is almost laughable, because hardly any alcohol is noticeable through the immense complexity of flavors this brew has. There very well may be some tremendous hop flavors buried somewhere in this one, but if there are, they are masked by it's sugary sweetness.

I have a 2000 & 1998 still saved up, so I will compare it with the fresh 2004 version and edit my rating & review accordingly. I'm hoping the aged bottles mellow out the sweetness a little...still a bit too sweet for my taste. All-in-all, an extremely interesting and eye-opening beer that everyone should take the opportunity to try.

Photo of udubdawg
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 ml bottle of the 2001 vintage. Man I need to stop collecting and start drinking more of these!

Pours with quite a bit of sediment that settles out, leaving a hazed carmelly brown color. Decent light tan head for the age, but little retention and nonexistent lace.

Smells terrific. In a word: Rich. Lots of warming alcohol, but it isn't harsh - more blended in like a fine brandy. Carmelized sugar sweetness, and dark fruit.

Very sweet, and again rich with a thick molasses and caramel-rich malt profile. Tons of raisin, and some plum and fig. More warming alcohol in the swallow, and pretty much all over by mid-glass.

Sticky sweet full-bodied mouthfeel. I imagine the sweet residue in the mouth is a big reason why some don't care for this. Not a lot of carbonation left in this one.

Drinkability is good - way better than something this strong and sticky sweet would usually be. Strong, warming, complex - I have no trouble finishing one, and on certain sipping evenings, two. Not something I want that often though.

Photo of abraxel
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed blind as part of Blind BIF 7, courtesy of ShogoKawada.

A - Murky, slightly reddish brown, with a thick, creamy, off-white head that drops very slowly. I accidentally got some glumpy sediment in there... hopefully that won't be a problem. Looks quite appealing, but that sediment or whatever is uuugly.

S - Mmmm, the aroma hit me as soon as I cracked the cap. Super strong, smooth, and decadent -- lots of peanut butter, with maybe some molasses and sweet fruits. I think this is an English barleywine, and perhaps an aged one.

T - Extremely sweet, but it stops short of cloying. The malt is dominant and delicious and somewhat complex. Strong notes of peanut butter, molasses, some caramel and dark fruits. A slight, almost ashy, burnt-caramel flavor lingers afterward. Very tasty.

M - Pretty full mouthfeel. Practically no carbonation, nor a hint of alcohol burn -- this is just silky smooth all the way.

Overall, I like this beer a whole lot. It's just delicious.

Non-blind comment: This was '08 vintage, by the way.

Photo of KevBot89
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 edition

Appearance: opaque copper/brown, large cream head that dissipates rather quickly

Smell: rich malt, woody/spicy hops

Taste: a lot of malt flavor. rich, dark fruits, light earthy tones. finishes with a caramel/biscuit flavor lingers at length afterwards

Mouthfeel: thick, heavy, moderate carbonation.

Overal: the aroma matches the taste for the most part. Picked up more earthy hops on the back of the palate that I couldn't detect with the scent. Nice bittersweet and caramel finish after beginning with tons of malt and dark fruit flavors.

Photo of ZinFanDave
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 2002. Intense, dessert ale. Aromas of toffee and caramel. Slight musky funkiness. Flavor of dried fruit and caramel. Still sweet and syrupy. Could only drink about 5 oz at a sitting. It became rather cloying near the end of the glass. Reminded me of a good sherry and tawny port combined.

Photo of brownbeer
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2005 vintage poured into a NB snifter

Tawny in color with a hard pour leaving no head.

Quite a variety of aromas in here, this one's a little tougher. Caramel, tawny port, alcohol, cocoa nibs, cherry fruitiness, vanilla.

Sweet but not cloying. Raisin, rich toffee, a hint of vanilla and maple, and an earthy finish.

Not much carbonation but that doesn't take away from the greatness of this beer. I still don't believe how drinkable this is for how strong it is. True. Age-worthy. World class.

Photo of DaftPatrick
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of olradetbalder
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of whatname
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of freewill35
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of grahuba
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of MichaelLamb
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of sammo
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of resistdefy
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of LotsofLupulin
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of Atomicskis5
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of mrcraft
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of jaydoc
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of mattsmith413
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,284 ratings.