J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale - J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
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Ratings: 1,230 | Reviews: 794 | Display Reviews Only:
4.33/5 rDev +1.9%
1999 edition 275mL bottle into a DFH Signature glass pours a crisp deep copper almost brown with a thin light tan head that diminishes to a ring. Aroma is very sweet and almost Sherry-like with some noticeable booze. The taste is a very sweet blend of ripe fruits and syrupy caramel, this has a load of complexity that reminds me of some of the best Belgian quads that I've had. This beer is certainly a sipper, very sweet with a decent amount of booze but not enough to be overbearing. This is certainly a great beer for any special occasion.
06-09-2010 00:59:16 | More by atsprings
4.63/5 rDev +8.9%
Got this as a gift a year or two ago. Waiting for a good time and today is that day (night before my 51st - as good a time as any).
1999 version. Pouring into a Sierra Nevada 20 oz pint glass (one of my favorites).
Quiet and soft pssst. Rich and creamy pour. Sugary and pale malt aroma. Toffee. Alcohol.
Dense creamy tan head that leaves a thick lacing. A surprising amount of bubbles rising in a relatively clear liquid of dark amber of red/brown/gold. Still good looking even with this age on it.
Oh! The flavor. That's heaven. Quite sugary and candy like and a flavor that lasts a good long time before the moderately hight bittering and eventually the touch of dryness in a stamina driven finish. Amazingly hidden alcohol. There is no hesitation to have another sip. 11.5% no way. That's really impressive.
Creamy body and great smoothness. Not the thickest barelywine I've had, but thick enough to enhance the experience.
Drinkability is high in part due to the hidden alcohol the balanced flavors at finish and a 9.6 oz bottle. I'd have to be careful, but having a second would not be a problem.
06-06-2010 01:25:03 | More by garymuchow
4.4/5 rDev +3.5%
Vintage 2000. Poured from a 9.3oz bottle into my Koningshoeven snifter. Pours a creamy caramel color, but fills the glass on the darker side...mostly brown. Very murky, hazy, and a wonderful looking creamy tan head with very nice retention. Leaves sticky, but patchy lacing all over the glass.
Aroma is sweet, sharp, fruits, booze, smokey, caramel, roasted malts, and yeasts.
Yum! Creamy and smooth! Lots of caramel and roasted malts. Dark and overripe fruits. Seems like the booze has really mellowed by now, it's not very warming for 11.5%. The sweetness is perfect, with just a semi thick mouthfeel. Surprising enough, this big heavy barleywine is more drinkable than I figured it would be, and definitely more than JW Lee's barrel aged versions of this beer. A very nice drinker!
05-31-2010 02:22:03 | More by ShadesOfGray
4.22/5 rDev -0.7%
Murky brown color with no head. There was no sound of carbonation as the bottle opened. Smells of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and dark fruit.
The flavor is very sweet, with caramel, toffee, brown sugar, and dark fruit. Has a very nice flavor. Low carbonation, rich, full bodied, the alcohol is well hidden for 11.50 %. I am not sure if there was a carbonation problem with this bottle, or if carbonation this low is the norm, but this still is an excellent beer.
05-29-2010 03:19:30 | More by hardy008
4.22/5 rDev -0.7%
2000 Vintage, found at my local store for $8 a bottle, figured it was a steal.
Opens with a hiss (good sign after ten years!), pours a nice cola red-brown color with about a centimeter of tan head. Sticks around for a bit. Smells of figs, raisins, cherries, rum, a bit of alcohol. Smells sweet and hearty.
A tad oxidized, but nothing terrible. I'm getting cherries, raisins, rum, and some lightly toasted bready notes. Sweet, some darker caramel notes too. Very sweet, but not sickeningly so. Nicely balanced, and well put-together.
Medium mouthfeel--very smooth. A bit of a prickle from some residual carbonation, happy that that has lasted for so long. A very enjoyable and interesting drink, a nice break from all of the DIPAs I've been having recently. Glad to try it, I might pick up a slightly younger version of this--I feel like it is just past its peak.
05-27-2010 20:23:10 | More by LordAdmNelson
4.8/5 rDev +12.9%
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.
05-26-2010 02:32:08 | More by elgiacomo
4.28/5 rDev +0.7%
J.W. Lees Vintage 2000
A:Quite cloudy dark brown. No head.
S: Aspirin, some earthyness and dried fruits, and of course the malts as it warms.
T: Huge. Raisins, molasses, caramel, toffee; very sweet. The taste makes me feel like I'm eating Crunch n Munch or something. I tried chewing and then realized it was a liquid. Mild bitterness.
M: smooth and syrupy but some carbonation is there.
D: Drink this slowly and appreciate. I certainly was by the end of the bottle. Fantastic.
05-20-2010 22:31:53 | More by billyshears
4.35/5 rDev +2.4%
Review from notes taken 4/8/10
Poured into a goblet, it appears a very dark amber brown color with some redish hues. A finger of yellowish tan foam for a head appears quite silky in appearance and receeds to just a thin film across the top of the beer. Spotty amounts of lace cling all around the glass. Aroma of this beer opens up big and boozy like sherry but eventually gives way to notes of molasses, brown sugar, oak-like woodsyness and some raisins soaked in alcohol. Taste is an impressive display of how a beer can fight the ages. For nearly 12 years old this beer has really held it's own. A slight touch of oxidation is present but adds to the complex monster of malt characteristics. My mouth is on sensory overload with this beer. Flavors of oak and smoke showcase the toasty side of the malt profile whereas flavors of prunes and raisins balance out the sweeter side before the hops bring in the bitterness. Feel of this beer boarderlines being syrupy but still very smooth and lightly carbonated. The aftertaste includes some flavors similar to coffee, chocolate, spice like cinamon and toffee. Masterfully done, this is a must-try for anyone serious about barleywine.
05-17-2010 17:54:24 | More by stakem
4.28/5 rDev +0.7%
A: It poured dark reddish brown with no head or evidence of carbonation in rising bubbles. There are lots of visible yeast particles floating near the bottom.
S: There is an intense aroma of raisins, caramel, sugars and boozy liqueur in the nose.
T: The taste has lots of very rich flavors similar to the aroma, although not quite as prominent, and is reminiscent of brandy. There is a moderate amount of sweetness.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate, extremely smooth, somewhat sticky and very boozy.
D: This is a perfect beer for a nightcap, especially if it is aged. Alcohol is definitely evident, yet it is relatively well hidden for the strength.
Note: 1988 vintage (aged 22 years)
05-14-2010 22:11:51 | More by metter98
4.53/5 rDev +6.6%
Poured from a 9.3 ounce bottle into a cervoise. 2008 vintage.
Appearance: Very thin off-white head. Hazy amber body and good looking carbonation.
Smell: Very rich. Dark sweet figs steeped in rum. Almost smells musty.
Taste: So much going on. Figs, buttered popcorn, toffee. Some hard to describe vague fruitiness. Little bit of alcohol in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth.
I wish this beer wasn't so damn expensive. I'd love to set aside a case or two.
05-07-2010 03:53:09 | More by BierFan
4.8/5 rDev +12.9%
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.
05-05-2010 01:44:03 | More by MrStark
4.43/5 rDev +4.2%
1999. The oldest vintage brew I've had to date. A thick brown/orange pour. Thin layer of off white head that quickly recedes to a ring. Happy to see the carbonation, I know this one's going to be thick and juicy sweet.
Aroma is incredibly powerful. I can still easily smell it sitting on the counter at hip level. A ton of malt, caramel and raisin.
Taste is malty goodness. Many levels of caramel, toffee, brown sugar, yellow raisins, fruitcake, frangelico, seems like you could just keep going and going. Finishes with a little caramelized brown sugar and toasted oak and rum cake.
Big and sticky, but not overly boozy. It is really smooth and coating. Not as syrupy as I though it might be. Actually quite easy to drink. The warming sensation reminds you that this is a big beer.
Not sure this is a good as my favorite, Arctic Devil, but it's certainly up their for the style.
05-02-2010 02:14:19 | More by Bung
4.35/5 rDev +2.4%
1999 Vintage into a Samichlaus Tulip.
A: Deep copper with ruby hues. Even after 11 years, this beer puts up a thick 1 finger head. It recedes after a minute leaving a ring of foam around the glass. No lacing.
S: Dense sweet malts. The layers of sweet malt are enticing and complex. This beer isn't a one trick pony.
T: Much like the nose, there is a deep sweetness. There is nothing fake or artificial about this brew. The sweetness grows into a slighty spicy aftertaste, making this the epitome of English Barleywines.
M: Very thick, borderline creamy. The heaviness helps to carry the complex sweet character of the beer. Superb.
D: Again, the epitome of an English Barleywine. After 11 years, this beer begs to be sipped and explored for hours on end. Thourghly impressive.
05-01-2010 00:42:53 | More by mondegreen
3.55/5 rDev -16.5%
275mL bottle poured into a snifter. Vintage 2006.
(A)- Pours a murky caramel color. No head formation, just some bubbles.
(S)- Super potent. Caramel, toffee, figs, vanilla, and not yet ripe raisins.
(T)- Rich & buttery-like caramel & toffee. Some raisin-like peach fruit thing.
(M)- A lower carbonation level. Rather sweet & rich. Not as boozy as the smell, but is syrupy.
(D)- Not a bad barleywine, but reminds me more of an old ale. I think it needs more time to smooth out its edges. Wished it had a better carbonation level, but it would at least of helped in how rich & sweet it is.
04-25-2010 15:59:32 | More by sweemzander
4.7/5 rDev +10.6%
Sampled a 1998 Vintage from the "cellar" on 4/24/2010.
A- Poured from the bottle with a thin tan head, which quickly receded to a haze layer and collar. The body was a heavily sedimented dark garnet color, with no visible carbonation. This beer also exhibits syrupy legs on the sides of the glass, like a liqueur.
S- An incredibly rich and complex, malt-dominant nose. Impressions of stewed malts, leather, dried dark fruit, and heavy sweet madiera and sherry-like aromas.
T- An amazing replicate of the nose with rich stewed malts, treacle, ripe black cherries, and heavy madiera notes. Finishes with some mild ethanol heat and a very faint hop bitterness. The madiera flavor seems to echo on the tongue forever.
M- Medium-plus to full body, with a syrupy viscosity to it; broken-up by a very delicate and soft carbonation. Coats the mouth wonderfully.
D- Incredibly drinkable, particularly for the high ABV. This beer gets better and better with age.
04-25-2010 14:18:31 | More by jgasparine
4.78/5 rDev +12.5%
1999 vintage. Had to buy it online. Can't find it here in CA.
Pours a deep brown color. Nice thin tan head with a little lacing. Pretty good looking beer.
Aroma has alcohol which was surprising for a beer this old. The aroma are so complex. Lots of dark fruits and molassis and brown sugar. Smells great.
Wow. I didn't think a beer this old could taste this good. I really need to try some older beers. So cmplex. I can just imagin how big of a beer this was 10 years ago. Lots of molassis and dark fruits. Brown sugar and a little spice. I get alot of that Mexican baking sugar that comes in those cones. Very tasty.
Mouthfeel is great. I thought this would be much thinner. Held it's carbonation well.
Overall such a tasty beer. I'm going to try and find older vintages.
04-22-2010 02:37:25 | More by PeprSprYoFace
2.88/5 rDev -32.2%
11.2 oz bottle split and poured into a Stone RIS tulip. 11.5% ABV, 2006 vintage but not other date.
Thanks to Sweemzander for sharing this bottle with me.
A - Absolutely hazed over with lots of floating particles despite the slow, careful pour. Muddy brown/orange with no head what-so-ever. A ring of loose bubbles around the outside is the only indicator of carbonation.
S - This Harvest Ale has a big, boozy nose that I think I just got drunk from smelling. Deep caramel malt nose with lots of toffee and toast. Minimal hop involvement here with tons of low fruity alcohol notes. It's largely a boozy alcohol aroma.
T - It starts with a big toasted and caramel malt flavor with a low fruity alcohol but big boozy punch. The first part is good but moves to a disgusting plastic and grassy finish. After a few sips I either became used to that gross part (which I'd guess) or it went away. Still, it's off-putting to me.
M - Medium-bodied and round with a very sweet flavor and low carbonation. The finish lingers for a while and doesn't leave tasting very good at all.
D - Not a fan. The back end of the flavor has a gross taste I really don't care for. Not something I want to have again. An example of a beer probably not worth aging past a few years. Or it needs to age even longer.
04-18-2010 22:43:28 | More by BeerFMAndy
4.6/5 rDev +8.2%
This has been sitting in my fridge for about a month and a half. Picked up at Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, VT. They recently got in several vintages of this ale and being that 1999 is a year that I hold in relative importance, it only made sense to purchase this, price be damned.
Pours a mild amber color with a very thin head that nearly disappears after about a minute.
Aroma is full of sweet, rich malt with a strong lean towards plums and apples. Very inviting and little alcohol seems to remain on the nose.
Taste is full of sweet malt with grape, plum and raisin being the dominant flavors. What remains of the alcohol has pretty much faded, leaving a friendly, inviting brew. Very tasty and the bouquet obviously shows.
Mouthfeel is full of lingering sweetness and other flavors from this. Nothing funky here. Of course, without the alcohol heat, it's hard to tell if you're drinking a beer or something else altogether.
It seems to have aged quite well. English barleywines aren't known for the use of hops, preferring to rely more on the characteristics of the malt used. This ale is no exception. It just makes me appreciate the style more, especially when fresh.
Worth the price and I'm interested in trying other vintages as well. 1999 was a good year and this beer just seems to preserve that.
04-13-2010 04:29:21 | More by Brad007
4.95/5 rDev +16.5%
275ml bottle into Duvel tulip. 2002 vintage. Picked up as a reward to myself for quitting smoking.
Appearance: Moderately strong pour surprises me by yielding a couple millimeters of fizzy, off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a ring of bubbly lace for about a minute. Pours an almost fully opaque brownish amber. Sporadic, short-lived lacing and nice legs.
Smell: Big, pungent aroma of raisin and fig, with some caramel and alcohol. Faintly suggests some other fruits and malt. Strong, inviting smell that I can't stop breathing in and enjoying.
Taste: Smooth, vibrant, and spicy. There's a thick hit of fig and raisin, so particular it tastes like biting into the flesh of a really fat raisin; it's not a note of raisin, it's all the sensory qualities of a fat, juicy and gritty raisin along with more (again, fig, alcohol, brown sugar, molasses). The taste is insistently deep and sugary, but not overwhelmingly sweet as the robust dark fruit and malt flavors dominate the sweetness away. Each sip is an exploration, starting with that syrupy dark fruit goodness, moving into spice and alcohol with gradual hits of chocolate, caramel, other random flavors, then ending in a long, pleasantly burning aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Slick and medium- to full-bodied. More carbonation than I expected, but not much. Hot finish. Carries the huge, lingering flavors perfectly.
Drinkability: If you're buying an aged J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale, you probably know what you want from it. It delivers. It's difficult to drink this beer slowly enough.
Just a perfect English barleywine. Endlessly deep and stimulating. The kind of beer where no matter how much I try to get words down to describe its flavor or aroma, I can't do it justice.
04-13-2010 00:26:25 | More by Pahn
4.22/5 rDev -0.7%
Harvest Ale 2000 review:
Pours cloudy mahogany reddish in color with a small beige head; spotty lacing on the snifter.
Smells like raisin, rum, syrup, molasses and some sweet malts; quite pungent and very fruity. Wow, smells like a box of raisins or a port wine.
Tastes like raisins, rum, sweet malt, caramel, syrup, molasses, brown sugar, honey, a hint of cinnamon and the alcohol esters that are not offensive but rather quite tasty. Considering how strong the raisin and rum-like sweetness is present, this is reasonably well balanced and got better as it warmed.
Mouthfeel is silky smooth and creamy, with an overall sweet taste, zero carbonation and a medium body. The alcohol presence is there throughout this beer, and while it has kick to it, it is not overpowering or offensive. This is a definite sipper.
A little too sweet for my liking, but a very interesting and tasty beer. Steep price tag at $19 per bottle at Blue Smoke in NYC, but there was a level of sophistication achieved while savoring this beer.
04-10-2010 04:47:46 | More by CHickman
4.4/5 rDev +3.5%
I can remember back in the day waiting every year to enjoy the J.W. Lee's cask offerings at KClinger's Tavern in Hanover, PA. Ahh...the tastes and aromas of the Calvados aged Harvest and the richness of the Lagavulin aged and the sharp dryness of the Sherry version. Back then I simply "enjoyed" beer and didn't take detailed notes. I finally got the chance to try the "regular" Harvest Ale served on cask, what memories!
A-Hazy, golden orange copper with a thin, wispy white head that reduced to a minuscule ring of retention and left very spotty flecks of lace.
S-Powerful alcohol vapors give a ride to rich, sweet vanilla, astringent oak, deep caramel malt sweetness, some apple/pear noted and toffee.
T-Much like the aroma. Massive, sweet caramel malt base takes the center stage. Along the edges an array of characters form an impressive supporting cast. Toffee, turbinado, black strap molasses and fructose sweetness adds amazing depth. Oak dryness and and alcohol burn in the finish add to the ensemble.
M-Medium-heavy, soft and silky smooth. Rich and luscious with a syrupy viscosity.
D-Rich and bold with a boatload of flavour, what is not to like? A slow sipper for sure and this unfortunately detracts from its drinkibility. I love to have one and maybe two snifters but more---no thank you.
04-09-2010 13:22:53 | More by Deuane
4.38/5 rDev +3.1%
Thanks to lagerdeer for opening this puppy from 2000.
I cant say I remember much about this beers look, or smell. But this had legs and tasted as good as the Southern summer is warm.
Even though it wasn't barrel aged, I thought it was in sherry or something. Great overall mouthfeel, warm, candied earthy notes to it. A warm delicious treat if you can get it.
04-04-2010 05:06:45 | More by Murchmac
3.7/5 rDev -12.9%
Vintage 2006. Really glad to be reviewing this beer. It seems to be one of the standard, traditional English Barleywines. Im making this my 200th review!
A- Nearly flat. A rough pour got barely any head. Some air bubbles but thats just because I started pouring so roughly. I decanted so all those big chunks of sediment I saw in the other cask aged versions stayed in the bottle. The result is a clear deep amber beer. It looks like a spirit more than a beer. No head, no carbonation, no lacing.
S- Very powerful scent. Vanilla extract, darker fruits like prunes and lots of alcohol. Its a spicy alcohol like that of a spiced rum or a scotch.
T- Very deep and caramel-y. Some oak, vanilla, toasted malts and nuttiness. Lots of alcohol, no hops in the taste at all. This is a very sweet beer. Nearly cloying at times.
M- Like the apperance would suggest there is next to no carbonation. The beer is thick as hell and chewy. Not really all that sticky but it remains on the palate because of its sheer thickness.
D- Big, powerful, sweet and almost cloying. A real sipper. This is a good ale, but I dont think it quite lives up to its name.
03-26-2010 03:00:39 | More by MbpBugeye
4.8/5 rDev +12.9%
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.
03-24-2010 23:23:27 | More by Halcyondays
4.47/5 rDev +5.2%
1999 Vintage bottle. My 40th review!
Appearance: Poured into my DFH Signature glass a luscious dark rust color, almost brown at first glance, clear looking brew no detectable sediment or "floaties" although a small amount of compact sediment did remain in the bottom of the bottle when I poured, not much in the way of head, but had an impressively strong lace forming a ring around the inside of the glass.
Smell: First on the nose is an appealing heavy dark fruit aroma, with a detectable toffee-like malt smell as well.
Taste: Rich, delicious, the first taste I get is a malty dark fruit taste, like an aged fig or a prune, this is followed by a sweet molasses-like caramel flavor that gives way to a vanilla / wood finish. Great taste, seems like this one cellared quite well.
Mouthfeel: Great, very appropriate for this type of beer, it's a little syrupy, but I think that is to be expected in an aged beer of this style.
Drinkability: The sweetness of the brew might effect the drinkability for some, but I think that it's a good sipping ale with a lot of fairly complex flavors, I can't wait to see how this one continues to age.
03-21-2010 02:48:07 | More by mcann2pu
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,230 ratings.