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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

1,235 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,235
Reviews: 794
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 14.12%
Wants: 211
Gots: 180 | 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: 1,235 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of billab914
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 vintage picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo during my trip back there for the holidays. Poured from a 275 ml bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Pours dark brown with a very thin white ring around the outside edge of the glass. There was a moderate amount of carbonation bubbles and sediment visible from the outside of the glass.

Aroma has some brown sugar sweetness to it as well as some dark rich fruit flavors and a hint of alcohol. There are notes of figs, raisins, and cherries in the complex fruitiness of the nose. Taste is very sweet with some malt, raisins, and figs. There is a lot of dark fruit flavors that make it very complex. it's also a lot sweeter then I expected.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side with low carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for the abv%. it's a little too sweet for me to want to drink any more then 1 bottle in a sitting though. It's very good though for a 9 year old beer, and very complex. I'd love to try other vintages.

billab914, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of projectflam86
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

-2000 vintage-

This one is a decade old and I want to see how it is holding up...

A- Pours a deep brown raisin color with a thin wispy head that leaves a bit of scattered lace.

S- Rich dark sweetness with a bit of grain and alcohol. Some faint fruit and vinous aromas come through as well.

T- Incredibly rich and sweet with loads of caramel malt and dark fruit leading the way. Flavors of caramel, fig, plum, oak, sherry, and an earthy finish. The alcohol is extremely well hidden. The years have been very kind to this brew.

M- Medium bodied with low carbonation. A bit thin considering how big this baby is.

D- Overall a great brew that holds up incredibly well over the years. I can't wait to crack open a few other vintages a see how the flavors progress.

projectflam86, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of meeekyh
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2002 vintage

From a 275 ml bottle marked Harvest Ale 2002 into a St. Bernardus chalice.

Upon opening the bottle I was met with a nosefull of dark, dried fruits. A good pour revealed very little tan head and a full brown opaque beer.

Smalls are strong dried fig and currant along with crusty bread.

Taste is full, sweet and complexly layered. An initial sweetness and tang are followed by a woody taste and an alcoholic wafting dissolving into maple sugar.

Mouthfeel is full and a bit surypy though not as coating as could be with almost no carbonation.

This beer has characteristics of many of the fine liquors and liqueurs I have had. There is a distinct caramelization and dark dried fruit flavour that comes through in these elixirs.

A fine once in awhile sipper with little allure to me personally.

meeekyh, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of ShogoKawada
4.45/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Another from augustgarage. Thanks! I was tempted to sit on this one, but screw it, 9 years is enough!

A- Fizzy on the pour, cap gave a little 'pfft'. 12oz into flute, by the way. Appearance... zero head, but active carbonation. Thin, tiny bubbles are cropping up on the sides. Beer is a ruby/chestnut color, almost a zesty pumpkin when held up to the light.

S- Honey, maple sugar (??) or brown sugar and a very fruity, berry-juice sweetness. Pretty inviting.

T- Whoa. A big rush of flavors... floral, almost. Caramelized sugar. Candied plums. Overpowering, oppressing (in a good way) malt. Rasins, dried cranberries. Hints of chocolate, coffee bean, and sweet cream.

M- Smooth as all hell, no sign of ABV... so this is what a good aged beer tastes like. Fantastic mouthfeel, incredible flavor, yet so smooth and mellow. Wow.

D- Surprisingly high for +11%. Prob. the smoothest beer I've ever had... incredible. I would say this is drinking pretty damn good 9 years in. I'll have to see if I can pick up some other vintages. A wonderful beer.

ShogoKawada, Jan 03, 2010
Photo of champ103
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is a 2000 bottle

A: Pours a dark and slightly hazy ruby/brown color. A large foamy beige head rises to over two fingers. Really good retention, especially considering the age.
S: This is just amazing. Toasted malts of sweet toffee and chocolate. Dark fruits of plums and cherries. Dry wood. Very port like. Really complex.
T: Follows the nose. Toasted toffee that is sweet. Boarders on cloying. Chocolate covered cherries. Dark fruits, wood, and port.
M/D: A full and rich body. Just enough carbonation to hold everything together. Decadent, creamy and smooth. Some warming rum like alcohol. A great sipper.

Something for those long cold nights. This is incredible. Truly one of the best Barleyines, make that beers period, that I have tried. This is a monster, and can be aged for even longer. A must try.

champ103, Dec 30, 2009
Photo of Siggy125
4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the original 9.6oz bottle into a couple of 4oz taster glasses. Pretty golden amber with a very small trace of carbonation.

The smell is fantastic, sweet fruity aromas with rich malty nutty essences.

Taste: very sweet, but very enjoyable. Rich ripe golden raisins, molasses and brown sugar. A very subtle alcohol sting on the back end to remind you of the 11.5 abv.

Syrupy mouth feel, but not sticky. Very drinkable but I now understand why the bottles are so small. This is to be enjoyed like a rich, small portion treat. I love it, but enough is enough after a few sips.

Siggy125, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of mothman
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1999 Vintage.

Poured into a taster pint glass.

Pours a small off white head. Decent retention thought. Leaves some splattered lace. Color is a very hazed dark caramel brown.

Aroma: Brown sugar, toffee, caramel, grassy hops, and a slight amount of hops.

Taste: Liquid brown sugar, toffee, and caramel. Tons of malt flavors. Some cookies. It has a very sweet taste to it.

Mouthfeel: A little hot, sweet, and smooth. Medium to full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends full of sweet malts.

Overall, this is a very good for an English B-wine. Very sweet, but still holding up well. Not something I would want a lot of though.

mothman, Dec 23, 2009
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 MPLS
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From the Harvest of '99 ya'll.

A: Dark nutty brown in color, minimal head from an assertive pour. Carbonation still evident with 10+ years on this bottle and a ring retains itself around the top of the glass. This little guy still has some legs too.

S: A big aroma - vinous cherries, candied sugar, caramel, raisin, hint of alcohol reminds your liver of what will happen to it.

T: Mellower than the aroma but certainly not underwhelming. The sweetness is the biggest component of this beer and comes out in a a wide spectrum. The finish of the beer reminds me of figs, almost as if a thin syrupy layer of them were sitting atop my tongue.

M: Hardly thin and certainly syrupy with a carbonation prickling away at the front of the tongue.

D: Welcome to sweetness 101 and the 10 year flavor voyage. Great beer, price is a turn off, but I am curious how a newer vintage harvest ale is.

MPLS, Dec 21, 2009
Photo of alovesupreme
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1999 and 2000

Poured both with a friend.
Beautiful dark scarlet color with good head retention. Pretty sticky.
Maple syrup, honey, molasses, a hint of citrus. So much complexity.
Oh my! This is the epitome of an English Barley wine. Lots of caramel sweetness, with a sherry like finish. Nutty and rich with the perfect amount of alcohol.
Full bodied, and very chewy.
An absolutely fabulous beer. One of my favorites.

The 2000 was the agreed favorite between my friend and I, with a slightly sweeter, bigger body. The vintage was responsible however and not the age IMO.

alovesupreme, Dec 21, 2009
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.

brownbeer, Dec 11, 2009
Photo of dpnelson1978
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

9.3 oz. bottle into Duvel tulip.
2000 Vintage

$7.99 / ea.

55°F

S: Maple syrup. Extremely sweet caramel, and a bit of roasted barley. Hints of oak peek through.

A: Opaque dark brown body, tight medium head, with nice retention, and good lacing leading to a light creamy cover.

T: Very sweet. Strong maple character, with a hint of caramel and malt, with a smooth booze finish, and low bitterness. Well balanced, but perhaps a little too sweet.

M: Smooth heavy body with low carbonation.

D: Strong tasting beer that should be savored rather than sessioned. Excellent beer and this score should not be interpreted as a weakness. Sweetness is a bit cloying.

O: My first J.W. Lees Harvest Ale was delicious. Would be a great after dinner drink due to its massive sweet maple flavor.

dpnelson1978, Dec 07, 2009
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a 1999 vintage, bought and drank on the same day (today). With a medium chestnut brown body this beer looks perty darn good. The semi-soapy head does have some density to it, yet it vanishes in a couple minutes never to return. No colar lacing or anything. Too bad...but still the taste is great. A bit of an alcohol nose on it. Caramel and toffee.
A nice calm caramel sweetness surrounds the malt in the taste. Some mocha and faint vanilla as well. Rich, but not thick. I get a hint of smokiness on the end, with a peppering of spices. This is a darn fine beer. At $10 a bottle it's a good beer to enjoy over a celebration or special occasion. Which is what I did.

Mebuzzard, Dec 03, 2009
Photo of oceanman
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated December 1, 2001, opened December 1, 2009.

Pours prune juice brown with a thin, oily head which disappears within minutes.

Nose shows a tremendous burst of toffee followed by port-like aromas (raisins, figs). Sweetness already apparent, plus milk chocolate, cherries, caramel, butterscotch.

Palate is sweet all the way. Big, fruity notes followed by complex, bready finish.

Feel is thick, smooth, creamy all the way until a slightly warming, alcoholic finish.

Overall, incredibly rich an complex, and a good substitute for a nice aged port wine. The sweetness is a bit heavy-handed, but 9.3 oz spread over an hour is close to unbeatable.

oceanman, Dec 02, 2009
Photo of drtth
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The 2006 bottling poured into a Duvel glass. A glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer as poured is a hazy dark reddish brown with very little head that dissipates quickly leaving behind a tiny ring of foam around the glass. (Any sediment is in the beer.) Sipping initially leaves minimal speckled lacing and lines of tiny bubbles. Later there is hardly anything at all. But given the ABV this is not a surprise.

Smell: The aroma is rich, potent and loaded with malty sweetness. There are some dark fruits present and a strong earthy component mingles with toffee and hints of alcohol.

Taste: The flavor is sweet and liqueur-like from the rich malt. There is some light toffee. There are traces of dark fruits, and there is a component of earthy bitterness hanging out in the background. While its clear that there is alcohol in this one there's no burn, just a bit of sweetness from the alcohol. There is also touch of tobacco flavor that comes in about midway through.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is full-bodied and almost oily but the carbonation is virtually non-existent for most of the beer. The finish is medium-long and begins with the sweetness that fades slowly away leaving the earthy character and a touch of bitterness.

Drinkability: The sweetness of this beer is almost but not quite overwhelming. There are times when its almost like drinking syrup. The beer is saved by its complexity and by the earthy bitter character that hangs out in the background. At this ABV the beer is not one to be consumed quickly and it might be best if 2-3 people could share one of these as a digestive after a pleasant dinner. It will be interesting to see what a year or so does to this one and to taste the effects of the beer being aged in different barrels (e.g., Sherry, Calvados, etc.)

drtth, Dec 01, 2009
Photo of ritzkiss
4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottles provided by bobsy at his great barleywine tasting, there was a 5 yr. vertical going but the ones I got to try were the '99 and the '01.

Both pour a rich amber with about a finger of bone head, pretty good for about 10yrs old!

'99 - Sweet but not too much so, balanced with a light nuttiness and rich toffee flavours. Hints of candied sugar, ginger cookies, faint herbal/grassy hops, light alcohol still in the finish - this one drank really nice.

'01 - Whoa man, this one is way too sweet for me! Same as above but with more emphasis on the sweetness (less balanced), way boozier in the finish, brown sugar dominating, bready. This one just didn't do it for me, even a 12oz bottle of this might be too much!

Lesson of this all: age these for at least 10 yrs! My score reflects the '99 with a slight downgrade on the drinkability for the '01.

ritzkiss, Nov 30, 2009
Photo of bobsy
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We did a five year vertical, with a 1998 that Eric brought over, and bottles of 1999 - 2002 that I had brought back from England. I believe that Eric said there is some recipe variation from year to year, which would certainly explain why the flavours were so inconsistent from one bottle to the next. There are a lot of common threads though, and I'll outline them before noting any differences I found in the different years.

Pours a rich orange with a finger of white head that dropped to a film and left a few spots of lace as it did so. As expected with an English barleywine, the aroma is malt driven, with an emphasis on brown sugar, treacle, bread and light alcohol notes. All the vintages had a sweet profile, with brown sugar, sherry and treacle present in each. On the whole, the alcohol was well concealed, though it did provide some warmth going down. The body tends towards the fuller end of the spectrum, and the restrained carbonation is a good match for the style.

98 - Brown sugar and treacle dominate. A bit too sweet and lacking balance.
99 - Again with a marked emphasis on brown sugar, but this time with enough hops to provide balance.
00 - Earthy, and the least sweet of all the years, with a more pronounced hop profile.
01 - Treacle returns as does the sweetness, which now has a bready aspect to it.
02 - Nice brown sugar notes and a good hop balance.

My personal favourite was the 99 - I found it was the most balanced of the quintet, and the more prominent hopping added an extra layer of complexity.

bobsy, Nov 30, 2009
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 Brandt
4.33/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

this beer poured out a darker caramely brown color with very little carbonation and no head to speak of

the noze on this is very rich and smells of figs and rasins strongly and other dried fruits, maybe a hint of dried cherry. there is also an aroma of brown sugar and a bread dough character, a touch of cinnamon and the faintest of woody smells

the taste is of rich toffe and rasin first and foremost followed by astringent tannins that give it a dry feel briefly before it goes down with a warm sweet boozyness

the finish is a stong fulll body that coats the tongue and leaves a great balance of sweet sugars and a drier bitterness along the back of the tongue. i was very interested to find this one and it was a treat to be able to try it. very rich drink but i would like to have some of these that are further down the line to compare.

Brandt, Nov 17, 2009
Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2002 bottle poured into a New Belgium globe. Most of the yeast sediment was kept in the bottle for the most part.

Appearance: Deep mahogany body turns bright crimson when held to light. Great clarity! A nice column of carbonation can be seen within. Not much head to speak of: just a small, khaki ring.

Smell: Molasses, brown sugar, and other sugary notes. Moist pine, rum, and rust lurk in the background. Very sweet on the whole; smells like candy.

Taste: This tastes like candy, and not in a necessarily good way. The overall flavor - comprised mainly of brown sugar, molasses, and overripe green grapes (much like a dessert wine) - is very sweet and syrupy, with very light toastiness and bitterness coming through on the back end. Alcohol is hidden very well, but it comes at a price.

Mouthfeel: Thick, syrupy, sugary, and a little gritty. Hardly any warmth or dryness for such a high ABV beer. Nice mouth coating. Low bitterness.

Drinkability: The sweetness of this beer is far too high for me to call it drinkable. I suggest splitting a 12oz. bottle amongst two people.

ThreeWiseMen, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of darklordlager
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Special Beer to celebrate Review #100
1999 Vintage, acquired at Dennis Brothers in Cottage Grove, MN.

Cracking it open, it's weird to think that this beer is 10 years old...

A caramelly alcoholic smell wafts out as it is opened. Pours a nice off white/light tan colored head which slowly recedes to a thin filmy layer. The way the head dissapates is unlike any other beer I've ever seen. Unevely, and in odd patterns and shapes that seem afraid of the liquid below. I can smell this before even putting my nose close to it. A rich smell of dark fruit, (prunes and raisons) is emitted. Wow. Layers of caramel, candied fruit, sweet cherries lingering in the background. Bready/yeasty character is evident as well. Alcohol is masterfully covered up while smelling this directly, which is kind of odd as I smelled it right when it was opened.

All the things going on with this first sip just got me disoriented. Huge chewy body, port-like flavours, and incredible finish. Fruit cake, drizzled with caramel. Cherry, some apple character. It's like a constant barrage of varying degrees of malt flavour attacking my tongue (in the best way possible). Rich, hearty, very sweet--I can see how it covers up the alcohol.

This stuff just sits on your tongue, exuding flavour, refusing to let go. The alcohol is extremely well hidden, and is only there to aid in the balancing of the huge flavors.

As for drinkability, this is Incredibly sweet beer--I'm glad this is only a 9.6 oz bottle, as any more might be hard to stomach.

Those into port that snub their noses at beer--here it is, JW Lee's is about to change your mind....

darklordlager, Nov 11, 2009
Photo of jasonjlewis
4.95/5  rDev +16.5%
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.

jasonjlewis, Nov 08, 2009
Photo of gford217
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

275mL bottle, 1997 vintage, poured into a snifter.

Pours an opaque dark brown with a small creamy off-white head that recedes slowly to a healthy collar and leaves some legs on the sides after each sip.

The aroma is huge. It's got the sweet caramel malts with tons of toffee and dark fruits as well. I get a bit of chocolate as well, especially as it warms and there is a pronounced sherry character in the nose overall. Boozy and powerful nose.

The taste is much of the same and maybe bigger. The underlying caramel malt backbone is still dominant with lots of sweet booze-soaked fruits, raisins and plums especially. Molasses, caramel, chocolate, just tons of flavors on the palate. Tough to exaggerate how wonderful this taste is.

The mouthfeel is medium to full-bodied and very smooth with a perfectly soft carbonation. The alcohol does start to burn a bit, but it's not overly distracting.

I've been sitting on this bottle for a while and was worried it might be headed downhill. As far as I can tell, this one has never been better. Complex, rich, smooth...exceptional beer.

gford217, Nov 07, 2009
Photo of DoubleJ
4.63/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage from a 275 ml bottle. That says it all. On to the beer:

No head on the pour. The glow of orange is a nice sight though. But don't base your first thoughts on the look, take in its aroma. The nose is loaded with all sorts of flavors. There is apricot, sherry, vanilla, and oak. And if the aroma isn't for you, taste it! Amazing and full flavored at first impression. And smooth as well. Sweet, sherry, apricots, grapes, butterscotch, cherries, a touch of oak. There is a very light touch of bitterness at the very end, but overall this is very sweet. The alcohol is nowhere is be found despite the listed 11.5% ABV. Thre's very little carbonation in this beer. but it's so smooth, and it's medium-heavy malty feel keeps the beer being sipped on.

I expected some very good things from this beer. Not only did this beer do that, it went beyond very good and become of the most tastiest, thought provoking beers that have crossed my palate. An outstanding example of the barleyewine style, and one that everyone should have the opportunity to taste.

DoubleJ, Nov 05, 2009
Photo of jeffthecheff
3.98/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Edit: I tried the 1999 vintage, and found it to be much better and likely stored in better conditions. I'm changing the numerical scores to my ranking of the 1999, but leaving the original review in.

1999 Vintage.

I found this bottle at a store in a cool area, so I figured it could have been kept well. The bottle was split with others.

The pour had a rich, reddish brown color. The head had a decent white formation, but you could tell the 10 years and 11.5% affected it.

The aroma had a small amount of oxidation present. There was a nice, rich, alcoholic, and dark dried fruit aroma to it. Some spice came through as well, reminding me of poptori.

The flavor of this vintage was a lot better than the 2000 vintage. I'm guessing this had to do with storing conditions, because with only a year difference, the beer tasted entirley different. Deep, nutty butterscotch flavor. It's impressive how this strong beer has the nutty aspect to it. Some toffee is also there. Slight, rusty oxidation flavor. The beer is sweet, mouth coating, and very rich. Alcohol is slightly present.

Mouthfeel is thick, syrupy, and with more carbonation than I would think. The beer is assaulting on the palate, a sure night cap beer.

This vintage was much easier drinking because of the improved flavor. Still a sipper, and still a very aggressive beer.

2000 vintage.

Bought at the store, probably not stored in optimal cellaring conditions but also not bad conditions. Split the 10 oz bottle with a friend.

Pours amber and clear in a white wine glass with some nice ruby highlights. Head is minimal, it just forms a thin lacing around the perimeter of the glass. 4

Aroma is very complex, I've never had a beer aged even close to this long so I was just getting used to the characteristics. It has a strong, liqueur type or aroma but without much burning on the nose. Aromas of dark fruits, figs, prunes and currants. 4

Taste is also of dark fruits, figs, prunes, raisins are all definitley detectable. Burning alcohol flavor with a bit of vinegar. Also a hint of honey. Bitterness is there but taking on a syrupy sweetness to go with it, very dulled down from age but interesting. Some sips are pleasant, some are not, but they are all interesting, deep, and filled with character. 3.5

Mouthfeel is thick, sugary, syrupy, and a little hard to choke down after a while. Carbonation is very low, fits good with warmer serving temp. 3.5

Drinkability is limited to small sips. I'm glad I split this bottle because I don't know if I could finish the whole thing myself. As a matter of fact, I fell asleep with maybe an ounce left in my glass. This beer did a good job of knocking me out for a good night sleep, and I remember thinking it might pair well with ice cream, or a strong dessert. It's kind of tough on its own. I look forward to trying some different vintages of this beer. I could see myself liking this one a lot more in the right time and place with added experience of aged barleywines. 2

jeffthecheff, Oct 29, 2009
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,235 ratings.