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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale | J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
94
outstanding
839 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
839
Ratings:
1,449
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
18.35%
 
 
Wants:
257
Gots:
217
For Trade:
15
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
United Kingdom (England) | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 12-18-2000

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User Reviews
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Reviews: 839 | Ratings: 1,449
Photo of Risser09
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled shared at the homebrew club • Vintage 2000 • Into a tulip

Appearance: This beer pours a hazy brown color with red hues. It has an ivory head that is small and short lived but produces alot of residual lacing.

Smell: Boozy with a strong malt aroma. Caramel, oak, dark fruit, molasses, raisins, fig and licorice. Lots going on and a pleasure just to smell.

Taste: Molasses is quite strong and shares room with all the same aromas above. This beer is a complex one. It is complex and warm. Awesome dark fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel: Vinous, syrupy and boozy. This beer has lots and lots of legs. It is juicy and complex and sugary. Perfect for a sipper like this one.

Drinkability: Best served in a snifter and warmed to room temperature. Quite frankly, I could drink a ton of these. Perfectly aged beer is a beautiful thing.

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Photo of GPHarris
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage from The Brick Store.

a - poured a one finger creamy light tan head into a snifter. the body was brown with some reddish hints. the head billowed nicely with each swirl and stayed throughout the beer, very impressive for a 14 year old beer.
s - raisins, figs, caramel, molasses.
t - same as above with some tobacco. incredibly complex and tasty.
m - silky smooth.
d - definitely a sipper but only b/c you want to savor a vintage like this as long as possible. it goes down smooth.

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Photo of AleDrinkToThat
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage.

A: As soon as I cracked into it (catching the alcohol presence right off the bat), I poured it with care into my DFH snifter. Deep mahogany hue which could only be seen on the sides and bottom in the evening sunlight, and about one finger of creamy smooth head.

S: Again, the alcohol made itself known immediately upon opening the bottle after 10 years of waiting in the darkness. While it was present, it was not utterly dominant. Caramel malt, molasses and raisins permeated and nearly overwhelmed my olfactory senses. I swear I could almost smell how sweet it was.

T: The aroma is great, but the taste is divine. The caramel malt & molasses burst forth immediately with a slightly cloying sweetness, opening up into strong raisin notes and the warming alcohol presence. It finishes beautifully on a warm note and the aftertaste is full of sweet raisins.

M: Again, it is just a little cloyingly sweet. One of the sweetest beers I've had and without the tartness of wild yeast that balances out a lambic. Very low, but not entirely absent, carbonation. But the intense thickness and warming alcohol presence make it a different and wholly fantastic experience altogether.

D: Alas, I cannot recommend more than one a week. It's just too sweet and complex. (English barleywines are right up my alley, so take all this with a grain of salt.) It's best to enjoy this flavor on occasion so one doesn't get to the point that it tastes somewhat pedestrian, which is certainly far from the case. Also, there's just no sessioning an 11.5% monster like this.

I'm not sure if all the vintages are this sweet (I've heard the 2000 is less so), but it was time to drink the '98. I don't think it could have gained much more by sitting longer. Excellent!

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Photo of Lakes
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: There is (for obvious reasons) painfully little head on the 2002. I expect none so perhaps I'm being too critical but I've had other beers (not this style) that were aged longer and retained a nice head. Otherwise; the color is deep dark brown to the point of black with lovely ruby hues as it pours

Aroma: Fantastic. Huge rich malt and fruit. Raisin, Date, Figs. Carmel and heady alcohol. Simply wonderful. The depth is amazing.

Taste: As the nose, the taste is huge and complex. Fig and light leather. Dates and caramel. Warm alcohol adds balance more than hops. The tawny hints are spellbinding.

Feel: Spot on. Full, rich and satisfying.

Drink: I wish I has a science fiction refrigerator so I could grab an 8 year old J.W. Lee's at will. I can't find any 2003, 2004 or 2005. I guess I'll have to stock up on the 2006 which seems to be readily available and hope my stock of the 2002 lasts till 2014.

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Photo of maketheheartglad
4.88/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My wife surprised me with this incredible beer when I came home from work one day. But, the special thing is the greatness of my wife.

This beer looks like dark honey. I would like to say it smells like a scotch, but I'm not really familiar with scotch (unfortunately). It smells malty and manifold. I can taste pear and other fruits, but I wish I could pick them out. The alcohol is definitely perceived, but gracefully so.

This beer is is so different than any other beers I've had. I've only had an american barleywine, and it didn't really impress me. I prefer malty ales, so I figured that I would prefer English Barleywines. This was my first, and it will be hard to beat.

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Photo of lifeboyq
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2001 vintage poured into a rochefort glass.

Very little head that fades almost instantly.

Nose, holy nose. it is a monster as I can smell it from a foot away. When i put my nose into it, it makes my nose hairs dance and wakes me up as if it were the smelling salt of beers. My eyes open wider with the strong fig, dates, raisins, sorghum, brown sugar, alcohol. Very deep dark fruits intertwined.

Wow, the taste is a monster. More flavor concentration than you almost ever "see" when tasting a beer. What a huge body on this beer. It almost reminds me of fabio or arnold, but not quite. I could pour this on my pancakes. Holy bajeeburs at the thickness of this beer. Reminds me of maple and raisin toast and fig newtons and just nuances of unrefined sugars dancing on my tongue. I served this intentionally slightly warmer than 55 and the hotness of this beer is slightly present, which doesnt bother me at all.

The mouthfeel is sily smooth, closer to a syrupy texture on the tongue. This beer isnt cloying but it is hugely intense.

Beer experiences dont get much finer. With age, this becomes a glorious thing.

Note, I've had different vintages back to 99 up to 08 and it changes quite drastically. The 08 this year was a bit much for me and wasnt ready. The 99 was even cleaner than this 2001 from my recollection but the tasting wasnt side by side.

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Photo of rvdoorn
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2001 vintage.
Look: the beer pours a dark brown-copper color with no head, but just some nice lacing around the inside of the glass.
Smell: Absolutely fantastic! One of the most complex smells I ever experienced; maple, barley, butter, alcohol, honey, sweet molasses, raisins, brown sugar and some light hops.
Taste: The taste follows the nose; again maple, barley, butter, alcohol, honey, sweet molasses, raisins, brown sugar, bit vanilla. This beer has a warming boozy aftertaste, with spicy alcohol.
Mouthfeel: Thick sticky body, low carbonation. Very smooth.
Overall: This is one of the best beers I ever had, so full, fruity and complex. This beer proves that English Barley wines still rule the world.

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Photo of amphion1065
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

275 mL bottle poured into a tulip glass. From the 1988 vintage, purchased at Lord Hobo on Zwanze Day 2011. Reviewed from notes.

It's a rather pedestrian-looking barleywine, though it isn't quite fair to compare it to any beer from the 21st century in this category. The pour is a dark, purplish auburn, almost brown. A non-existent head, though this did leave nice legs on my glass. My glass was nearly free of dregs, but there was a cake of yeast roughly 1/8" thick left at the bottom of the bottle - crazy stuff.

The smell is absolutely flawless. I'm still searching for the best way to encapsulate the incredibly rich melange of aromas that this beer gave off, and I suppose the best comparison would be figgy pudding. The richest, deepest scent of toffee combines with sweet, sweet caramel in the most enticing-smelling beer I've ever consumed. There is also a fruity, port-like note, without any accompanying alcohol phenols.

Looking back at my notes, I deemed the taste of this beer "Perfect." Over 24 hours after drinking this bottle, I stand by my judgment. All of the toffee and caramel from the aroma somehow shine even brighter in the taste. And yet, somehow this beer doesn't seem cloying. The aftertaste is somewhat like brown sugar, the sort of rich, dark sweetness that's a hallmark of wonderful desserts. A slight, sherry-like oxidation provides a little bit of balance to this treat.

Predictably, this 23-year-old barleywine pours almost perfectly still. In this case, the lack of carbonation actually complements the overall character of the beer. Like the taste, the mouthfeel is quite evocative of sweet syrup, full and lush like few other beers I've tried.

On a day when I was fortunate enough to sample some really terrific beers, this one stole the show for me. A testament to the benefits that optimal (in this case, I would imagine flawless) cellaring can impart to a beer. My only regret is that I didn't buy a second bottle. Thank you for this Daniel, it was spectacular.

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Photo of Murph
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999. Pours a clear bright amber with a thick creamy tan head that refuses to go away. Intense sweet chocolate and caramel malts dominate with some raisins tossed in and some very slight alcohol. Intense maltiness right away. Chocolate and caramel. Some fruitiness; raisins, faint cherries, and some other dark fruits. Extremely chewy mouthfeel and nicely drinkable. Not quite up to par with its older brothers yet, but still an awesome brew. A couple of years of cellaring would do this brew very nicely.

1998. Pours a clear dark amber/brown with a thick, rocky, tan head that retains very well. Smells are of cherries, raisins, toffee, chocolate, and some barely noticeable warming alcohol. Tastes start off with some sweet, chewy malt then fade to chocolate before going fruity. Cherries, raisins, and apples are the big ones. Woody and slightly smokey. The chocolatey malty flaovrs stay pretty much throughout. Great creamy smoothness in the mouth and very drinkable for the style. Damn do they ever know how to make a barley wine at this brewery. The best I have had of the style. Some might like it aged some more but I like the somewhat raw characters of the fruits.

1997. Beautiful light brownish/amber with a nice tannish head. Smells of malty sweetness, apples, smokey/wood, light alcohol, and a touch of honey. Taste is unbelievably complex. Tart fruits, smokey character, big maltiness, some earthy hops, honey, chocolate, and more maltiness. Those are just a few of the flavors that I am pulling off of this one. I can't even identify some of them. Incredibly smooth and creamy and pretty damn drinkable for a BW. This was an absolutely awesome brew, if you love barley wines like I do then you have to get some of these. A great special occasion beer.

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Photo of luvND
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999

I have had this case for nearly a year now and only break one out on special occasions, have also given a few as gifts to those I deem worthy.

Bottle: Nice fallish label, 1999 gold embossed

Appearance: In a brandy snifter, it can only be described as perfect. Thick, small bubbled head. Swirls beautifully. Deep amber color.

Smell: Sweet, molasses, bready, licorice, candied raisons.

Taste: Beautiful. Sweet, black licorice, very reminiscent of a brandy or port.

Mouthfeel: So creamy and slick, flavors linger pleasantly and your tongue actually feels coated with the stuff for a few minutes after the swallow.

Drinkability: About one an hour I'd say to properly enjoy this through a range of temperatures, it really does change as it warms a bit.

Notes: It is not an exaduration to say that this is the BEST beer that I have ever tasted. I would love to try some of the other vintages as this is the only year that was available at the time.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.91/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2002 vintage - 275mL bottle, poured into snifter

appears a muddy chocolate brown, with an off-white head that fades immediately. extremely pungent aroma - huge malt, raisins, brown sugar, toffee. intoxicating smell.

taste is more of the same. buttery sweet, with notes of caramel, molasses, burnt sugar, raisins, milk chocolate. crazily complex and bold flavors. no alcohol taste. thick luscious full body. subtle smooth carbonation.

overall - wow. I am truly amazed by this beer. need to get more! 10 years has done wonders

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Photo of cokes
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1 December 1999.

A fuzzy ambered fluid underneath a pale yellow cap.
A nostril enlarging, mind boggling aroma of figs and pineapples, covered in butter toffee, carried within a supple leather basket. I'd like to pour this over my head just to savor the aroma for awhile.

The mouth is raided with candied figs looting tobacco stores. Mangoes toss earthy clumps of sod through the windows. Raisins and plums look on in awe. The Butter police arrives, sirens blaring. A sugary toffee ruffian flips the bird to the Pigs, and steals a leathery baseball mitt and a few bottles of white wine.
This is an immensely intense fracas, of which I only caught a snapshot.

Luxuriously ample and silken within the mouth. World class, without a doubt.
Smooth criminal.

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Photo of plfahey
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm basing my scores on the bottles of the '99 vintage that I've had. I've enjoyed two within the past 3 months or so and have been some of the most sublime beer experiences I've ever had. It is an unparalleled beverage, and is worth seeking out regardless of the price.

12 oz. bottle (06' vintage) poured into a tulip glass (8/1/11)

Appearance-Reddish brown color, with decent clarity considering that suspended particles are notable within the beer. Just a trace of a wispy off-white head appears, and vanishes quickly, though the beer shows some serious legs when swirled.

Aroma-Smells a lot like some of the older versions that I've had, though a little bit rougher around the edges. The primary aroma is of sweet rock candy sugar, with hints of toffee and burnt caramel. Some booze is apparent, as are some fruity esters.

Flavor-Flavor is also quite sweet-similar rock candy flavors with caramel edge, molasses, raisins, dark fruit jam, and honey drizzled on toast. A very interesting ash/tobacco flavor comes through rather strong in the finish and takes over the palate in the after taste.

Mouthfeel- Full body, alcohol warmth with a slight burn in the back of the throat. Rather smooth, but compared to older versions it certainly is rough around the edges.

Drinks quite well, and is a pretty damn good barleywine within its own right, but it seems rough compared to versions aged twice as long. The alcohol still needs some time to smooth out, the body needs to thin out a bit, and the flavor profile could use some time as well. Apparently 5 years out isn't nearly enough.

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Photo of photonicgnostic
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure and privilege of pouring this 1999 vintage at Albany Craft Beer Fest (thanks to the organizers for giving us all this treat). Poured into 5oz mini-Pilsner tasting glasses.

It poured hazy gold with very little head. Strong fruity nose with banana in the fore. Tastes more like an aged sherry or mead than what you might normally think of as barleywine. The sweetness is dominated by honey and balanced by the complexity of flavors and good old Kent Golding hops. Mouthfeel is silky smooth and leaves sticky honey-like sugar on the lips and glass. It's easy to forget the high ABV of this barleywine.

One of the most complex and biggest beers I've had. This made me a very popular pourer.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1999 vintage. Pours a very dark, reddish brown with great clarity and a considerable head for a beer of this style and with this ABV. Extremely complex aroma of marshmallow and molasses sweetness, with dried fruits (reminds me of a fruitcake), fresh cut strawberries and smoke. For some reason, I get just a touch of sauvignon blanc-like cat-pee when the beer reaches room temperature. On the palate, fruity malts and a smoky, syrupy sweetness first off. The finish brings out a marshmallow flavor. The whole thing is quite sweet, but with considerable refinement and flavors that keep things just light enough. Mouthfeel is a touch hot and thick and syrupy... but not too much so on any count. For a beer that reaches 11.50 ABV this is incredibly drinkable, with astonishing complexity of flavor. Very enjoyable -- a truly exceptional barleywine.

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Photo of grub
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

(reviewing 1997 vintage)

pours a deep brown colour, with almost no head, that quickly fades into a thin film on the surface of the beer.

aroma is a bit of alcohol, some bubblegum, and a rich sweetness.

taste builds on the aroma. rich, like bittersweet chocolate with a bit of espresso. tastes of dried fruit, sort of like raisins. alcohol is almost non-existent in the flavour, which is good consider it's over 11%.

body is fairly big, which i'd expect. it balances out the alcohol well.

overall a very deep and complex beer. very tasty and definitely a must-try brew.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Release '05: Sept. 23, 2007

Still considered very young, yet seductive enough to crack open the bottle. I just can't let these beers age at all. They are magnificent at any age. The 05 is no exception. Expecting a heavy sweet beer with some raw sugars and syrups, perhaps a hop bite and conflict; expecting high amounts of co2 to amplify an already-hot brew. Nope -- got none of that. Instead, the same smooth, brandy-like, port-wine brew with a hint of hop bitterness and flavor, mild heat, and creamy co2. Candied fruits take the form of fruit cake soaked in rum, with the finess of an after dinner congnac. The beer is absolutely amazing. Can't wait to see what the next decade does to the other one that I'll try to stash back.

Releases '87, 97, 92 - side by side comparison / Aug. 21, 2007

The '87 shined with higher port-wine, brandy flavors, but much more mellow, and less robust than earlier verisions. The nose was quite light, flavors were muted, with a complex alcohol feel and void carbonation. It looks a lot like prune juice, and tastes syrupy with deep dark fruits (dates, raisons, prunes, plumbs, figs). No hop presence at all. Highly oxidized and musty throughout. Rate 4.4

The '97 has all of the characteristics as the '87, but with richer context, intensity, and mouthfeel. The carbonation rounds out the mouthfeel and makes the beer feel fuller. The fruits are a bit ripe in comparison, but taking on similar proportions. More molassas, maple, wood character persists. Less oxidized, but still characterful with sherry and a touch of soy-sauce. Rate 4.8

The '02 is much sweeter, and has not rounded out fully yet. Rich maple syrup flavors make the beer taste a bit raw. The alcohols come across very warm, nearly hot. Fruits take on fresh fruitcake / dehydrated fruits, pronounced cherry flavor. No oxidation, but more one-dimensional than the earlier versions. Rate 4.25.

What an experiment! The '97 has the best recipe and has aged very well, probably nearing it's peak. The '87, although very nice, has signs of decline. The '02 still needs time to come into it's own. Thanks Clvand0!

Release 1999:

Always a joy to drink. After 8 years of bottle conditioning, great things are anticipated. The sweetness from this brew was fantastic: full of plumbs, grapes, dates, figs, cherries, prunes, and raisons, all swirled around a rum-like liquor. The hops have basically disappeared, leaving a mild bitterness from hop residue, grains, and confectionate sugars. Very rich and syrupy feel with a sharp, hot alcohol thinning. The beer sticks to the insides of the mouth for some time. Though this was a special session, I prefered the 2000 and the Port Cask Harvest Ales better.

Release 2000. Sampled on 06-21-05.

Boy what a terrific beer; best I've had in a while.
Looks brown with amber and tan highlights. Has a smooth, silky viscocity when poured into the glass. 1/2" off white head settles to a trace. Laces well and has legs. Smells fruity and sweet. Fruits resemble dates, figs, and raisons. Mildly alcoholic and spicy. Mouth watering. Tastes sweet and malty. Terrific full and round body. Sweetness hangs around. Mouthfeel is creamy and silky. Complex barley flavors abound. Flavors remind me of dark sweet wines. Quite chewy. Alcohol is hidden well. Finishes sweet and malty. Bittered only to balance; no flavor, no agressiveness. Not as dry as one would expect. Again, mildly alcoholic.

Impression: Probably more akin to an English Old Ale--with a punch. Well matured and melded. Dangerously easy to drink.
I highly recomend. May be substituted for an after dinner Port Wine or a Brandy.

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Photo of gskitt
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Firstly, I am not a huge fan of barley-wines. That being said, I had always wanted to try this one based on things I've read. Had at Monks in Philly. Bartender had to dig it out and was dusty. Pours a warm almost purple color, but its dark in the back of Monks. Smell is crazy, I got figs, plums, brandy, sugars. Very strong. Does not have any head to speak of. Taste is intense, but mellow at the same time. Strong presence of fruit soaked in brandy here. Bartender served it warm, and it was perfect at room temperature. Mouthfeel is smooth and slick, its a sipper. This may change my opinion on the style. Overall, great beer!

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Photo of RobH
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1998 vintage. This was my first-ever barleywine style beer. I must say, it blew me away. It was served in a snifter glass at the bar at Birreria Paradiso in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

Excellent after-dinner beer/drink. Like a cordial.

Smooth, inviting to the nose, and quite pleasing to the taste buds, this is a sipper to enjoy over conversation about all the beers that came before it.

If you have never tried a barley wine before and have an opportunity to taste this one, do not pass it up!

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in my Uprising Chalice at Novare Res' First Anniversary Party. Reviewed from my tasting notes. The keg this was served from did not have any marking to indicate what year vintage this harvest ale is. It's also possible that this was aged at some point in port casks, as port flavors and aromas were all over this beer, but because it was advertised as J.W. Lees Harvest Vintage, I'm reviewing it here.

It has an opaque golden/orange/copper color with a thick white, soapy head. There is a port-like aroma that is very sweet and slightly alcoholic. The taste is mostly of port, but also some malt. It has a thick full-bodied mouthfeel that I rather enjoyed. The alcohol lingers in your mouth after you swallow, letting you know this is complex, finely crafted beer that demands your respect. I know it is strong and expensive, but I could drink this beer all night. After great beer, port is my next favorite beverage of choice, and this harvest ale combined them in a way that I love. This beer has become one of my favorites.

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Photo of brooklynsfinest
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

9.6 fl oz. 1998 Vintage Limited Edition bottle poured into a large Dogfish snifter for one and a Duvel tulip for another.

Appearance: Mahogany color that turns dark amber in the light. Small head that fades to lace pretty quickly. Not overly carbonated, understandably due to its age. A somewhat syrupy and viscous look to the brew with some swirls.

Smell: Malt. Alcohol is noticeable yet comfortably inviting like a warm blanket. Molasses. Dark fruit. Raisins. Fruit cake soaked in an aged rum. Allspice. Some butterscotch-toffee. Notes of a fortified wine. Sherry, maybe Port.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Amazingly smooth. Makes me wonder if the claimed 11.5% abv is false advertisement. Some warmth on the finish, but none of the alcohol scents I got are present in the taste. Really malty! even when expecting it from the style. Full syrupy mouthfeel. Very sweet, but not cloying. More dark fruit. Prune flavors, but not those of the cheap Pathmark from-concentrate prune juices your constipated grandmother bought, more like freshly picked plums dried and then soaked in a sweet syrup of complexity.

Drinkability: A beer of this sort, (especially after being aged for a decade) isn't intended to be a session beer, and therefore should not be graded as one. As i mentioned above the beer is very smooth for the style and abv, hence my score for drinkability.

Overall notes: An excellent beer. Enticingly smooth and complex. Will be sure to revisit other years and the various cask fermentations.

Quote from Dad: "Good after dinner, not a breakfast beer."

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage

This is one of the beers I have been sitting on for a while, waiting for this week. The beer pours a deep amber to light brown color. There is little to no head on the pour. The beer smells highly of malt with dried fruit, figs, raisins and prunes, coming through heavily as well. The flavors compliment the aroma of the beer. There are sweet dried fruit overtones with sweet malt flavors coming through strong as well. Damn, this is a good beer. It is heavy in my mouth, almost syrupy, but it is appropriate with the flavors brought to the table. I wouldn't want to sit down and drink more than one of these, but it is not hard to put this one away. Highly drinkable. I'll have to seek out other vintages and see how they compare. I recommend this one to anyone and everyone.

1987 vintage
First off, thanks to clvand0 for the opportunity to taste this beer at just shy of 15 years of cellar time. The color is a nice flat brown and the head is under a finger that falls to coat the beer. The nose smells just like raisin bread. I want to spread some butter on it and eat it up. The flavor is nice. Its like a raisin, but with a chocolate feel in the back of my throat. Wow. I love it. Even better than what I remember it. The feel is full on thick. DAMN. Good stuff. Drinkability is great as well. I think this is one of the best beers I have ever had. Love it. Taste goes up to a 5

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Photo of cbeer88
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Reviewed blindly courtesy of Blind BIF #6.

9.3oz bottle poured into Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Cap cracks with a nice hiss, and I slowly pour into the glass careful to watch out for sediment once I see the dark liquid and smell the liquor. Head is a fluffy finger and a half of very light tan. Lacing is pretty and covers most of the glass.

Smell: I immediately smelled some sort of liquor when I popped the cap. I get notes of vanilla, caramel, and sweet dark fruits - dates, prunes, raisins - a lot going in here. There is a hint of wood and some definite must. This guy is both barrel aged and cellared for a while. The aroma is simply intoxicating.

Taste: How does one quantify "awesome"? Lots of that delicious dark fruit in the flavor, plus wood, slight oxidization, caramel and toffee, vanilla, maple, and a very smoothly blended liquor that is rather difficult to pin at this point. I'm going with port, but this could be sherry. Alcohol taste is smooth but strong - definitely a potent beer.

Mouthfeel: Good carb and full bodied. Nice and smooth, but syrupy.

Drinkability: High. This is a sipper all the way, but wow is this drinkable. Each sip makes me yearn for the next. It's just the right mix of sweet and alcohol.

Overall: This beer is sublime. I could happily drink this for the rest of my life.

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Photo of jasonjlewis
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

this beer is epic. no hot alcohols. fruity esters such as apple and plum.

the taste is very very sweet with a big caramel malt sweetness and low hop bitterness.

incredibly creamy mouthfeel.

this beer is truly epic. go try it now. the alcohol is so deceptive, its ridiculous.

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

275ml bottle, 1998 vintage

Pours a murky chestnut brown with a very thin tan head that fades. Very slight lacing on the glass.

Aroma is bursting with malt, caramel, dark fruits, and even a hint of toffee. A treat for the olfactory senses.

Sweet upfront, with incredibly rich malt and caramel flavors. A plethora of dark fruit flavors add to the mix and just a slight bit of buttery toffee sneaks in. Finishes sweet as it began with a pleasant lingering caramel malt flavor. Alcohol not really detectable in the flavor, but definitely warms as it travels.

Full body, creamy texture. Mild carbonation.

Regardless of the ABV, this is immensely drinkable. I can't stop smelling it, which leads to another sip with each smell. The complexity of this beer is truly a rare treat.

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 839 ratings.