1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

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

Not Rated.
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale

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

1,319 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,319
Reviews: 812
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 14.15%
Wants: 232
Gots: 189 | FT: 13
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:
Beer added by: Todd on 12-18-2000

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (19) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 1,319 | Reviews: 812
Photo of hoser
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 1999 Harvest Ale was sacrificed this evening. It is really hard to rate a beer this old and be fair to the brewers intentions.
Huge vino and port notes and this fucker could have used another ten years in the cellar. One of the few times I wish I had more patience with some older bottles.

Always love the JW Lees stuff.

Photo of glazeman
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 edition, poured into a snifter

A: Dark, dark amber in color with a small ½ finger white head that quickly fades into a crown. There is minimal lacing and modest retention.

S: The smell is definitely the best aspect of this beer for me. Truly a celebration of malts, there is caramel, toffee, syrup, and brown sugar on the nose.

T: This is a very sweet beer. There is root beer, caramel, and brown sugar as the dominant flavors with a tad of alcohol burn. To me though this is overly sweet and lacks balance.

M: Pretty good feel, although for an 11.5% beer this one is a little thin for my liking.

D: For the ABV the drinkability is pretty good, but is limited by the near cloying sweetness of this beer.

Photo of TKEbeerman
3.97/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2001:

A: Poured into my sniftner this brew pours a murky brown with little to no head.

S: The aroma is heavy in caramel, dark dry fruits with hints of nuts, some candy sugar, and an all around earthiness.

T: 10 years of age have turned this brew into something truly unique. Hints of chocolate, heavy sweet caramel (maybe a little too sweet), and a lack of a dangerous alcohol burn. The sweetness really cuts this brew down a notch.

MF: The mouthfeel is silky, but a little less than medium, and is lacking carbonation.

D: Because of the sweetness, this brew is a little tough to drink.

Overall, it's the sweetness that kills this brew. It is a great ale to age, and is definitely unique. The nose is it's strong point, a shame the rest of the beer doesn't follow.

Photo of Cheesemoose
4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2006 poured into a brandy snifter.

No head, or carbonation for that matter. The color of unfiltered maple syrup. Dark brown, but when shown from like, it is near ruby in the body with yellow edges. I forgot to leave the sediment out, but I do not feel it complimented more than hindered the overall experience.

Wow. Simply gorgeous bouquet. Maple syrup, toffee, port, candied apples, vanilla notes all pair with a pepper/alcohol finish. All well balanced. A charred oak and maple character is the overall character.

A slow coursing beer, open that starts slow but finishes strong. Vanilla notes to begin, then moves into a oak, maple syrup, and touch more vanilla. Finishes with a nice pepper touch and an appreciated warming alcohol. Very port like.

Carbonation is non-existant, but that is to be expected. Creamy, lingering flavors. Makes for a great sipper. Given that the alcohol is rather well masked, and at 5 years, it is near gone from the profile. Yet, it does still give the great warmth you would want in a fine aged Barleywine.

Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage bottle, poured at cellar temperature, into the GLCB snifter. Sampled while trying not to hear anything from the next room, where my wife is watching The Bachelor...

A - Really dark copper colored body with a surprising amount of tanish head. No head retention or lacing.

S - Lots of dark fruit here, with plenty of alcoholic sweetness. I almost feel warmed up smelling it. I'm getting some butterscotch sweetness which actually works in this beer, complimenting the sweet vanilla and oak-like flavors.

T - Dense is the first word that comes to mind with this beer. Dense cherry & figs, vanilla, butterscotch and almond sweetness, with just enough roast and hop bitterness to keep it palatable. The alcohol adds to the flavor, making it seem more robust, but the burn is not out of control, particularly at 11.5% ABV.

M - Coating, with just a slight amount of carbonation and prickle from the alcohol. The body does not seem quite as viscus as expected, but the residual sugars seem to provide a sticky body that just coats the whole mouth.

D - Everything about this beer seems to be in place. Just a fantastic way to spend a night cap. Not sure there is a whole lot more to say, other than this is a great beer to keep in the cellar for cold nights like tonight (-20F windchill).

Photo of DelMontiac
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Goebel Liquor in Wichita, KS has a wide selection of vintage J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. I selected a 2001 vintage (275 ml bottle). I figure 10 years should be a good measuring stick.

I used a New Belgium globe glass for this as they are great for trapping the aroma. Poured a murky dark brown with orange highlights and no head at all. Not the prettiest thing I've ever seen in a glass.

Aroma is quite nice. Super sweet molasses, sugary prune, raisin bread, cherry pipe tobacco, both wine and boozelike.

Flavor is unlike anything I've ever had before. Uber sweet here - molasses, maple, simmering candied fruits (cherries, plums, rum-raisins). Also a woody, sweet, smokey character appears and then fades. The alcohol is well hidden here. Reminds me a lot of the elderberry wine my father has which he bottled himself in 1969.

The feel is sticky, velvety, and really smooth. No alcohol burn at all. This is like satin sheets for the tongue.

Barley wines aren't something I seek out very often. This has given me a better appreciation for them. I don't feel the need for a second glass here. Besides I just bought the one bottle. I would like to revisit with a new bottle.

Photo of Lakes
4.88/5  rDev +15.1%
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.

Photo of skivtjerry
4.82/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2001 vintage drank in late 2010:

Looks rather viscous while being poured. Forms a sticky 1" head that persists until the glass is empty (actually, who knows how long it would last - I drank the foam too). Smells wonderful, a humungous malt bomb with luscious sherry notes, toast and alcohol too. Taste is mind-blowing good. Waves of malt attack the tongue and surrender feels great. Figs, rich desserts, chocolate, melons, and a nice grainy note. No hint of hops left, the alcohol provides as much bitter dryness as the IBU's. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy, low carbonation and enough alcohol to balance the immense weight. I could drink this stuff until I collapsed, which probably wouldn't be that long. The ultimate beer for a cold evening.

Photo of dubinsky
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage poured into my Bruges snifter.

A - Pours a dark, cloudy mahogany with a thin light tan colored head that instantly disappeared.

S - The aroma is super sweet. Tones of prunes, dark cherries, brown sugar and hints of cinnamon. Fruity notes of sweet Medjool dates with figs or dates.

T - Taste is similar to the aroma. Very sweet, with tons of sweet caramel and stone fruits. This is tasting like a fermented Dr. Pepper, and drinks like a sweet fruit liqueur. Although this is one of the sweetest tasting beers i have ever had, its not cloyingly sweet like some liqueurs can be.

M - Mouthfeel is incredibly full-bodied with a smooth, buttery feeling that coats the entire mouth. Light carbonation, but perfect for the style and age of this beer.

D - This is a very complex yet balanced sipper. Not to rushed and not to guzzled. This beer really develops as it warms up a bit. A truly fantastic beer.

Photo of CharlatanSin
4.01/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage on cask at Rattle N Hum. $7 (I think) for a 12oz pour. Excited to finally try it.

A: Poured a hazy, murky bronze. A few soapy bubbles around the edge.

S: Sad to say I'm not impressed. It basically smells like a big tub of raisins that's maybe been sitting in brandy for a while. Pretty overwhelming and one-dimensional. Maybe secondary aromas come out with age.

T/M: Way way better than the smell. It's like a delicious liqueur. Instead of the pure raisin in the aroma, it's like candied, boozy dark fruit. There's a slight toasted nuttiness. The brandy-like booze holds it all together. I was very afraid it would be too sweet based on the aroma, but it's not cloying. The mouthfeel is thick, smooth and a little sticky. The natural carbonation from the cask is perfect, any more carbonation would throw it out of whack.

D: A fantastic sipper. Would be an ideal treat after a fancy dinner. Anything more than the 12oz pour would be too much, though.

Photo of laituegonflable
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark orange, turbid colour. Head is a thin film, with nice clingy lace. Nice haze, looks alright, not great.

Smells quite intense. Liqueury sweet with apricot, almonds, some licorice as well, marmalade and a slight tartness. Slight edge of smoke as well, just subtly underlying. Very syrupy. Intriguing, but not too excited by it.

Taste is a wham-pack whallop of flavour in the gullet. Huge syrupy liqueury flavour with loads of nutty character - almonds, walnuts and pistachio with rich complex jammy sweetness, lots of apricot and pear. Fair hit of cinnamon as well, and some burnt orange flavour coming through towards the late-mid. What an intriguing palate, it's heavy and massively potent, but finish is very pleasant and just trails off gently leaving you with a big hearty warm smile.

Very syrupy and viscous on the feel, as one would expect. Nice body that suits the style and the palate. The whole thing is just like a dessert wine.

Very sippable beer, but not much more. There isn't any heat though from the alcohol which is wonderful. Nice beer, well handled. Not over the top which would have been such an easy trap into which to fall.

Photo of OnThenIn
3.42/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 served on cask.

A: It was an extremely orange color and a bit hazy. Did not have a head when it arrived at my table.

S: Smells very sweet with a ton of a caramel and brandied plums. There was also a fig aroma the was present.

T: Tons of caramel with a solid backing of fruits. I mean this was almost painfully sweet. The fruits seemed like plums with a bit of apple as well.

M: Full bodied without a lot of carbonation, which made the beer a bit syrupy.

D: The mouthfeel made this is a sipper and the sweetness really made it difficult to drink. I was expecting a bit more from this beer. I thought it was going to be mind blowing, especially on cask; however, that did not happen. The sweetness was too much and I ended up cutting the last bit of my glass of this with a sour beer to make it more palatable.

Photo of ChadQuest
2.95/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 1999.
Pretty hazy sunburst orange color with a lasting head.
Aroma is spices such as nutmeg and pumpkin, caramel and apricots. the Apricot aroma is really strong the more i nose into this. The flavors are on the sweet fruit side with some alcohol showing lightly, very smooth and full bodied and syrupy, but it's really too much sweetness for me, a bit outside the balanced range. A good beer that someone with a sweet tooth would enjoy, as it is a decent beer.

Photo of tbrown4
4.55/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split this bottle with my buddy Greg to celebrate a special occasion

1999 Vintage. Duvel tulip.

A - Ruby red, murky, light tan head, thin lacing

S - Peppermint, mild earthy, menthol/alcohol, black licorice

T - Tastes of rooty mint, mild chewy fruit juicy goodness, malty fruit, black licorice

M - Medium bodied, no alcohol warmth (due to 12 year nap).

O - Very enjoyable and unique. This vintage is quite different than the others I've had. Peppermint and menthol feel sets it apart.

2002 vintage bottle -> snifter

Split this bottle with a buddy of mine last night. We've built up a nice collection of these between the two of us dating back to some '99 vintage bottles.

Pours deep bronze, thin scanting head. Immediate aroma is of caramelized brown sugar and dark fruits. Secondary aromas (I guess that's how you'd describe it) are of fresh baked bread.

Taste is expectedly sweet. Notes of dark cherries and complex maltiness. Very smooth. This is a great sipping beer, perfect for the recent freezing temperatures. I only wish I had a fire going.

We'll be tapping into a '99 bottle and an '04 in the coming weeks.

Photo of toledobeer
4.4/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 vintage poured into a snifter.
pours with no head a deep bronze color.
Smells strongly of prunes,raisons and carameled sugar with some alcohol.
The taste is along the same lines as the smell without the alcohol but with hints of hops in the finish.
Very sugary surapy mouthfeel one of these at a time is great after that would be a bit much.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.63/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage, purchased in the USA and brought back to Australia to drink with @LaitueGonflable and @thescotdownunder. Served alongside the 2005 Vintage Calvados Cask version to compare.

Pours a hazed deep orange-gold colour, with a fine-bubbled if filmy head of slightly tenuous yellow-white. Lacing is suprisingly good for the gravity of the brew, and it has some crackling large bubbles to it. The colour is divine, however, and the haziness makes it glow. It's a lovely looking brew.

Nose is pungent with booze and a ripe mandarin orange acidity, which underpins a profound and syrupy sweetness. It's very deep and extremely rich, but surprisingly stays away from the huge malt backbone I expected. Instead, the phenolic notes and the acidity drag it into an unusual lightness, which is welcome, and very appealing.

Taste is ripe with an amazing blend of light citrus on the front - the mandarin makes its presence felt - before delving into this amazing almond nuttiness that gives off all the malt sweetness without the heaviness. Indeed, it balances extremely well between these flavours, lending light grain organics, crushed tea tannins and candied citrus to the syrupy body. The feel, from the syrupy body to the bite of light acidity, is divine, and it makes an absolutely impeccable companion to the flavour.

This is a bloody amazing beer - one which both refines and expands the brewer's art. Such fantastic flavours, such a depth of character, and so well balanced. It's an artisanal item; something to be cherished. Truly remarkable, and one of the very best beer experiences it has been my pleasure to have.

Photo of ChrisPro
4.44/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage poured into a snifter

Pours murky mahogany with frothy light khaki colored head that will NOT disappear.

Aroma is like brandied cherries or plum. Lots of big caramel notes, but the fruity notes (above along with figs or dates) dominate. This is just fantastic.

Taste is similar to the aroma. No huge surprises. Tons of sweet caramel and fermented fruits. This drinks almost like a brandy or even a fruit liqueur. However, it is not cloyingly sweet. There is a great bitter finish that helps maintain some semblance of balance.

Mouthfeel is incredibly full-bodied with some big buttery coating left on the roof of the mouth. Light carbonation, but expected for the style and age.

Overall, this is certainly a sipper, but an incredibly complex sipper. So many different fruit and sweet flavors come out as it warms. Fantastic beer.

Photo of Daniellobo
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful cask serving, 2009 vintage.

Presentation: 10 oz cask serving. Menu notes offers a succinct description of the brew, and Alc. by Vol. (11.5%) Served into a snifter.

A - Rich deep amber to amber brown pour with a nice frothy head, good retention and fair lacing.

S - Sweet malt caramel nose with faint notes of dark dried fruits with a light earthy sense.

T - Caramel, caramel, with a nicely integrated earthy sense, musty even that works in great sync. Classic syrupy range over its malty base. The long sweetness is broken by a dash that feels a bit more musty than earthy, compared to the 99 vintage, but working again very well.

M - Medium to full body with small but fair carbonation, light stickiness over the syrupy memory.

D - Nice sipper rich without a dash of boredom. The highlight of the day.

Notes: Remembers me of some nuances of the 99 vintage that I had bottled not too long ago, and compares very well to the 06 vintage I´ve tried on tap before. All in all the J.W. Lees Harvest Ale remains a classic work trying, comparing and enjoying.

Photo of oregone
3.89/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2002 botlle poured into tulip.

A: Intense sediment. Seriously chunky. Was handled carefully and stored undisturbed , but even with a delicate pour this was murky and full of debris. Girlfriend was definitly put off by it. Otherwise a fine amber tone with decent head that isnt too active.
S: Rotten apples are the dominant note. Some fig and dates are there too, alongwith some lioght molasses and some serious caramel. The rotten apple aspect was not attractive to me though.
T: Is much better. Very caramelly, with alot of dried fruit. Dates are predominant. A strong sweetness which plays into the dried fruit and caramel. Certainly a sloooow sipper from concentration and style.
M: Highest points. Rich, thick, slightly sticky and very silky-smooth. Hefty, but to good end.
D: I could see slowly working my way through a couple of these over an evening. The style encourages slow consumption so the drinkability is raised even with the high abv.

I'm a big fan of old ales, but this one just wasn't fantastic to me. Enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to the '01 and assorted barrel aged versions sleeping in my cellar, but this one won't be sought out again, particularly given the price.

Photo of tewaris
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bottle (1999 vintage) poured into a 25 oz snifter on November 23, 2010 at room temperature.

Opened with a hiss! Pours clear and deep ruby-garnet, with a big bubbly light tan head with good head retention and some lacing. Even after 11 years in the bottle, it looks just fine. That's something considering many (other) beers from 2005 or later have the been reported to have the most gross looking sediment at this point. I have had this beer and its other versions before and have seen some floating chunks but this particular bottle had none. Regardless, looks wise it's a 5/5.

The aroma of this beer is like none other in terms of strength. The most prominent notes are of figs, dates and raisins, and of dark caramel, toffee and brown sugar, with some alcohol in the background. This is a familiar aroma, or at least the notes are if not their exact combination, but it is the strength of this intense malty and dried, dark fruity aroma that makes this ale exceptional! The dark sweetness practically jumps out of the glass and keeps inviting to take a sip.

The taste has notes identical to smell, just stronger. Although there were no hops whatsoever in the aroma, there's a nice cleansing bitterness that comes from hops but feels similar to the slight bitterness and slight astringency of dates and figs. Starts quite sweet followed by the said bitterness and some vinous character in the middle and finishes exceptionally clean for its sweetness. The finish is long with an excellent dried fruit flavor. Overall very well rounded and complex. The body is medium with low carbonation and excellent drinkability! This ale offers a great flavor experience and its taste meets and exceeds the expectations set by aroma.

One of my favorites and one of the best I ever had, this ale was an eye opener for me that showed me the level of complexity and deliciousness a malt forward beer could achieve without losing its balance.

Photo of kellyst
4.57/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 vintage. Pours a cloudy light brown with a thick tan head. Aroma is a standout of caramel, toffee, and sweet grains. The flavor does not dissapoint: caramel, toffee, molasses,sherry, some dark fruit and sweet grains all meld into one terrifically balanced barleywine. Bitterness is not noticeably present, but the beer is not cloying and perfectly balanced. There is some slight oxidation which probably improves this beer. Mouthfeel is spot on for a barleywine, and drinkability is impressive for a beer this big. This is my favorite barleywine to date, and a real treat that I drank to celebrate the birth of my first daughter.

Photo of Richardberg
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - 2001 vintage poured into a tulip. Viscous, hazy caramel, no perceptible head by the time I saw it. Sticky lace when swirled.

S - intense, complex aromas poured out as soon as it was uncorked. Raisin, date, toffee, and sweet syrupy booze dominate. Sour apple, bread, and yeast aren't far behind.

T - pretty much everything from the smell and more. So long as you don't mind sweet beers (or consider a hint of aged vinegar to be an adequate balance to the malt explosion), this is pretty much the pinnacle of its style.

M - smooth and rich. Having it served on tap (or nitro?!) would make it exceptional, but sadly that's not the subject of this review.

D - way too easy. Dangerous. Sinful. And delish.

Photo of brystmar
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage. Pours a hazy caramel color with sediment and almost zero head. Beady, clear lace (similar to port or even Utopias) streams down the glass.

Sweet malts are out in force! Also caramel, candied sugars, some fruit, and hints of aged booze.

Not super complex, but what's here is excellent. Sweet/malty with oak, vanilla, burnt / candied sugar, and alcoholic warmth to finish things off. Really reminds me of good flan. The sweetness turns bitter as it goes down and the warmth sets in. Supremely enjoyable.

Full-bodied w/mild carbonation; syrupy, sticky, and perfect. Far too easy to drink given its serving size and ABV. Glad my brother shared this 275mL bottle with me, but now I need one of my own...

Photo of glid02
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cask at the Brick Store.

Pours a hazy honey-golden color with a one-finger slightly off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet medium and dark fruits with large amounts of sticky sweet caramel malts. Also present are slight amounts of toffee and even slighter amounts of oxidation (the cask was about six hours old).

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Very sweet caramel malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by good amounts of sugar-coated pear flavors. Midway through the sip faint amounts of darker fruit flavors - plums mostly - make a brief appearance before giving way to caramel malts and hints of toffee that carry through to a decidedly sweet ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with soft carbonation.

Drinkability is OK. I finished my glass without too much of a problem however I'm not sure about another.

Overall I found this beer to be on the sweet side from the bottle and the cask version - even though it's the 2009 version and doesn't have much age on it - is overly sweet. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where the British guy tells Lisa and Bart that "our sweets are different than those across the pond" and then they proceed to go into an LSD-like trip after eating the candy. Very sweet, but if you're a malt-head this may be right up your alley.

Photo of eatabagofbooger
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage. Poured from a 275ml bottle to a snifter. My pre-birthday beer.

A: No surprises here-deep caramel color with a very small head that dissipates quickly. Leaves a very thin lacing and if you swirl it, it even has legs.

S: Holy crap that's strong! In a good way, though. Toasted nuts, alcohol, toffee, caramel, figs, dates. In the past two days, I've had two of the most wonderful smelling beers of my life. This is definitely one of them.

T: Follows the nose, but with a bit of oxidation. Kinda like a cross between a fine tawny port and a barleywine. Toffee and caramel are the most prominent flavors. Nuttiness is far more subdued than in the nose. The dates and figs are there, but there is a slightly more tart fruitiness there too, like cherries and raisins.

M: Could have used some carbonation, but I can't say the lack thereof is a surprise from a nearly 10 year old beer. Very thick and viscous.

D: The prominence of the alcohol, the viscosity, the lack of carbonation, and the rich sweetness create a beer that is best sampled in small doses. Even this 9.3 oz bottle might be a bit much for me. But hey, it's not meant to be a session beer, and for what it is, it does it's job well. This is definitely a special occasion beer, and I'd probably be inclined to share my next bottle, but I'm planning to pick up a couple more while the shop has 'em in stock! Overall a wonderful beer and very unique. The only thing I've had that comes even close to it in character is Cherry Adam on the Wood.

to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 1,319 ratings.