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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

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

1,297 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,297
Reviews: 805
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 13.92%
Wants: 224
Gots: 184 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Todd on 12-18-2000

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,297 | Reviews: 805 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of StephenRich
4.04/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Last week we looked at the J.W. Lees Harvest 2005 Lagavulin Cask; a richly deep Vintage ale aged in Lagavulin barrels. This past weekend I opened the other bottle of J.W. Lees that I had, and it is even older. A 2001 bottle of their Vintage Harvest Ale. I was definitely excited to see what nine years would do to this beer, especially after trying one that was aged for five.

J.W. Lees brews this vintage each year in December in limited quantities. Some, like the Lagavulin cask, are aged in various oak casks, but the standard Vintages are left to shine own their own. This should be an interesting contrast at the very least.

The small 275ml bottle proclaims 11.5% abv, but as it is bottle conditioned and nine years old, I expect by now it is closer to 13%, or potentially even more. No doubt this beer should have something very unique to offer, and there was only one way to find out.

I brought the 2001 Harvest out of the fridge and let it warm to cellar temperature around 12C (54F); I did not want to mute any flavors or aromas that would manifest in this beer, so slightly warmer is much better in this case. The pour was thick and syrup like showing no signs of carbonation. I had to pour it from a very high distance to coerce any head out of it. Eventually it did lift a short but dense quarter inch head that quickly faded to a slight film on the surface of the deep maroon beer. It was transparent, with a couple bubbles scattered though it, and glowed with dark bronze and gold. This picture shows it much darker than it really was; it definitely had rich amber hues and traces of deep reds and royal purple.

The nose was, well, as we exclaimed when drinking it, "hectic". It was immensely rich and powerful. Deep dark sweet fruity malts poured from the beer emanating raisins, figs, sticky dates, burnt brown sugar, warm alcohol and notes of spice and pepper. It really was hugely aromatic and showed thick complexity and dense flavors.

The taste would prove to be no different. It melts into your palate thickly with all the same flavors sinking deeply into your tongue and cheeks. Rich and chewy caramel and toffee malt caress your tongue as the deep and dark flavors of the fruits heavily swim by your cheeks. Again, raisins, figs, dates and brown sugar are all very prominent. The alcoholic touch of brandy warms in also, as does rich stewed apples and pears.

Touches of spice and pepper add a hint of balance, but this beer is extremely one sided favoring sweet malt over anything else. The mouthfeel was thick and oily, really bringing a syrup like note to the whole experience. It showed no traces of maple, but a syrup like sweetness, almost like dark rich honey coats this entire beer. It shows loads of caramel and toffee on every dimension, and really sinks into your taste buds.

It is definitely now stronger than 11.5%, and it shows it everywhere. I did split this bottle with a friend, so after I had has maybe 100mls of it my palate was pretty tired already. Its just a massive trump of dense flavor with zero hops and zero carbonation to help cool it down. It really put me to work. Both me and my bud agreed that an entire bottle of this would be too much for one man to really enjoy; unless you have an hour or so.

I think the Lagavulin 2005 benefited greatly from its time in the oak. Some woody or smoky dryness would help round out this '01 Vintage Ale, because on its own it is an intense ride with no seatbelts. It is worth the experience if you can find a bottle, but definitely share it with a friend, or three.

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

1999 Vintage. Thanks Ken for sharing this one at the first BA gathering I attended. Poured from the smallish 9.3 ounce bottle a slightly hazy orange-amber color, with a little bone colored head. Great aromas of caramel, dark fruit and golden raisins. On the palate, more caramel, light brown sugar and a liqueur-like alcohol presence. An excellent beer.

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

2001 vintage bottle served in an oversized wineglass.

pours a hazy amber/copper tone reminiscent of a belgian quad. some sediment; a finger and a half of head with moderate retention and some lacing.

nose is both bold and complex (frighteningly so). a sweet bouquet of dark fruits, molasses, malts, caramel, honey, alcohol, and maybe a touch of... hmm... cognac?

taste follows the aroma. tons going on. booze is more subdued than i'd have thought going off the nose. lot of dark fruits and malt sweetness. very tasty; nice, smooth finish.

mouthfeel is chewy, syrupy - brings to mind the dfh 120. drinkability is solid. i would welcome another. this is definitely not one of my preferred styles but the best i've had to date.

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

1999 vintage bottle served in Weyerbacher tulip.

A - Reddish brown with very little head when poured out of the bottle.

S - Sweetness with caramel and alcohol tones.

T - Very well balanced, malt, caramel with hidden alcohol taste.

M - Perfect carbonation for this style, thick and malty but extremely smooth.

D - This is a very easy beer to drink and must hold back to take small sips of it. Truly one of the best barleywines that I have ever had.

Photo of kiddynamite920
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage into a big ol' snifter.

A: Poured aggressively, head never really developed. Big soapy bubbles that lead to a thin white ring around the edge of the glass. Color is spot on, dark brown with some wonderful red highlights. Swirling the glass makes it a bit more presentable.

S: Sweet, biscuity aroma with an unexpected alcohol hit. Most overwhelming aromas are of raisin, fig and plum. Some stale bread, yeast character is actually quite nice. Good malt presence. Hints of vanilla and caramel are very nice. Nice malt backbone here, great English BW aroma.

T: A bit oxidized, strange metallic taste. Has an onion/celery like flavor. Behind all of that lies quite a beer though. Syrupy, rich malts. Good sweetness, but too cloying. A hit of alcohol. Just too sweet. Giving the beer a better score because previous times I've had it, it was absolutely divine. Possibly was stored improperly. Not the brewers fault.

M: Slick, syrup, molasses. Lacks carbonation for sure. No crisp quality to balance the cloying and syrupy sweetness.

D: Maybe it was handled improperly, not going to fault it for that. The beer is drinking much better as it warms. Absolutely fantastic English Barleywine for sure, and I will pick more of this up for sure.

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 1998 vintage bottle thanks to onix1agr and his amazing will power not to drink his cellar.

A- deep brown with an orange red glow. No head from this 12 year old bottle.

S- amazing depth of toffee, caramel, raisins, dates, and dried figs. Toasted dark bread and brown sugar.

T- rich creamy toffee and caramel with brandy soaked dates and figs. Brown sugar bruleed honey wheat bread.

M- on the side of full bodied with a slightly chewy mouth feel. The light carb does just the right amount of lifting to keep things lively. Very smooth.

D- if I had an unlimited supply I'd be a happy man. This is one of the best beers I've ever had.

Photo of Chico1985
3.98/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage split between me and cbutova. By far the oldest beer I have had so far. Thanks Cam!

Pours reddish brown with a pretty nice off-white head. Surprising considering the age. Retains decently.

Smells highly of alcohol fumes, permanent marker. Tons of malt and old dust. Basementy.

Very syrupy, malty and sweet. Plum, dark fruit, caramel. A little solventy but alcohol is well hidden. Flavors have seem to stayed strong over time. Barely any carbonation as expected.

Good but I would like to try a more recent vintage or fresh.

Photo of cbutova
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1999 vintage, reviewed from notes.

A- Dark ruby red with a pretty big head for an 11 year old beer. A cloud sticks around for a bit but lace doesn't wanna happen.

S- Fumes of alcohol and an almost permanent marker smell come off at first. Some dark fruit and even a bit sour, dusty and old like cardboard almost.

T- Improves with every sip. Hard to get around the insane sweetness at first. Tons of dark fruit and caramel. Like a good old ale but dustier and older, pretty close to what I had imagined this tasting like.

MF- Very oily and syrup textured. Low but good carbonation level for an aged barleywine. Coat of old malt and fruit coat a fairly warm palate.

DB- Expensive but definitely ages pretty well, good qualities remain and I can even see it going a bit longer but personally would probably prefer a 3-5 year one. Would love to do a 5 or 6 bottle vertical some day.

Photo of Flashsp2
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

JW Lees 2007 (served May '10) into snifter

Pours a very lightly hazed orange with a short lived bone white head
that thins down to a solid ring. Slight touches of lace. Looks like a
fine fine cognac with seltzer.

Toffee, raisin, intense caramels, dark fruits, spicy alcohol, earth,
vinous port notes, cognac.

Deep dark dried fruity stewed in sweet rum, prickly alcohol,
earthy/vegetal hops, medium caramels, light citrus. So boozy, but so
delicious. A very faint oxidation note reveals toward the end as it
warms, that brings the port qualities to the forefront. Leans toward
the sweeter side, but only teeters toward cloying sweetness without
ever stepping over.

Heavy slick mouthfeel that has a low level carbonation that is
comprised of exceptionally small bubbles.

An exquisite beverage that begs contemplation. A sipper for certain,
even in such a small quantity it takes a good hour to conquer this
beer.

Photo of Freethyhops
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

first ever JW's harvest? why not start with 11yrs old? I hear it only gets better with age, so makes sense to me. 1999 vintage split between 2. my portion in a snifter.

a- the color range when held to light is great on this one. ranges from deep ruby to nearing light amber with nice bright orange tones. produced a nice off-white head that shows an expected low persistence. really spot on.

s- though the aroma is filled with rich caramel sweetness, dried-fruit, molasses, and a bit of toffee, the booze really is a bit overwhelming. it fits well with the profile, but dare I say, this could use some more time to cool down, if it ever will. it still excels with great complexity and a big alcohol driven bouquet.

t- well, I shouldn't have be so quick to judge. the alcohol settles so well into the flavor profile once it hits the palate. the caramel sweetness is so rich and decadent it really masks that huge alcohol presence exceptionally well. the nose mirrors the taste very well. the dried-fruits, toffee and molasses are still very much evident. a bit of leathery oxidation has developed but isn't displeasing. sweet and rich throughout makes for a nice english barleywine.

m- Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety texture. A smooth warmth from aged alcohol is strong but not harsh. Carbonation is low and certainly fits this beer nicely.

t- this one drinks slowly but after having this first one, I can see why there are so many life long fans of this ale with many of those drinkers keeping it in large numbers for years to come to enjoy the journey that this beer takes. I return to this one for years to come and not bat an eye at the slightly intimidating price tag again. buy it and enjoy. then buy some more and enjoy even more at a later date.

Photo of beergod1
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A treat my friend D. Kurtz brought over. Wow, the smell is a treat in itself. Smells like England. Aroma is sweet and an alcohol bouquet. Color is a dark reddish brown, no head, small foam ring around the edge. Flavor is sweet with heavy Dark fruit / malty notes. Strong alcohol presence, but in a nice warming finish. I even noticed a touch of saltiness in the flavor. This is a very big beer, the only down fall is it is thick, I'm not a "Big " barley Wine fan, but this was an amazing beer.1988 vintage.

Photo of association330
4.02/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275 ml bottle, 2006 vintage. $1.99 gamble off my favorite store's bargain shelf (I guess they couldn't move it and just wanted to get rid of it).

A - Murky, iced tea-like brown, with yeast in suspension and absolutely no head or lace. With this much age, I can't say I'm surprised.

S - Rich and fudgy. Bread, butter toffee, caramel, toasted nuts, dark fruit. Faint alcohol.

T - Follows the nose. Complex malt flavor is the focus, with great bread, caramel, and dark fruit flavors.

M - Very little carbonation with the age. Still manages to be only medium-bodied, which I understand is another factor of the aging process. Just vaguely boozy, and very much under control after four years of sitting around.

D - With its richness and alcohol content, this is not really a summer beer. I would be quite willing to sip on some of this after a big wintertime supper though.

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

I've had various vintages of this at the bar but never saw it for sale around here until this week. Purchased a 4-pack of the 1999 vintage.

Serving: 275 ml bottle into a snifter.

A: Slightly cloudy, dark brown/amber color. Had the slightest bit of carbonation that never really produced any head. After a minute or so of sitting in the glass, most of the head is gone.

S: The JW Lees Harvest Ale has a scent unlike any other beer I've ever smelled. A thick, sweet, barley-syrupy smell that you can smell across the table. One evening at the bar, I told the girlfriend that she should just dab a few drops on her neck, perfume was no longer required.

T: A syrupy, caramel-like flavor. It's very, very good. A slightly elevated level of bitterness that I haven't tasted in younger vintages such as the 2005 and 2002. The label claims an 11.5% ABV which I cannot detect at all.

M: After 5 minutes in the glass, the carbonation has mostly gone. It has a thick, viscous feel in the mouth. Very good.

D: The 1999 is slightly MORE bitter than the more recent vintages that I've tried recently, which suggests it may be past its prime. The carbonation has also receded as well. However, it's still very, very, very good.

Photo of jdklks
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage. Pours a murky golden orange with the slightest amount of an off white head that dissolves quickly into a thin ring around the glass. The smell is great- a mixture of sweetnesses that include caramel, toffee, brown sugar, apricot, figs, and even some citrusy orange. No trace of hops left in the aroma after 3 years.

Wow. This is a really good beer that I quite difficult to figure out. Like the smell, the flavor is basically a mixture of miscellaneous sweetnesses, not all of which I can put my finger on. All of those mentioned above are present, with an emphasis on the brown sugar. The first sip is very hot with the 11.5% abv, but it calms down after the palate is subdued by the sugars.

The mouthfeel is a near perfect blend of carbonation and a full body, though it's a little thinner than I would like it to be. The drinkability is limited by the abv and the overall sweetness. This one would probably be better fresh, with a little hoppiness to complement the sugars.

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

Big thanks to Bobby8405 for splitting this delicious brew with me. 1998 vintage.

A - Amazing, perfect looking, near-black with tan head and blots of lacing everywhere

S - Chocolate, toffee, caramel, hazelnut, coffee, but not in the way that they are usually present. More than unusually sublime.

T - Very delicious, super-sweet and candy-like; everything about this brew is phenomenal. The definition of smoothness. I cannot detect any alcohol. Loads of big chocolate flavor that segues into caramel, maple and toffee notes seamlessly, and the complexity and richness can't be overstated.

M - Amazing rich velvety texture, and the still-present carbonation is at a near-perfect level.

D - I guess this is too sweet for certain occasions. Other than that, it is amazing.

Update: Time and time again, I am blown away by this beer. '97 and '99 are particularly good.

Photo of BobZ
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

9.3 oz., 1999 Vintage, Poured into my Aventinus Eisbock glass.

Appearance: Golden orange, very little head, and only small traces of lacing.

Smell: Very sweet & malty, honey, caramel, molasses.

Taste: Follows the nose. Almost malt syrup, very sweet. The alcohol is only evident by the warmth in the finish. Complex in its diversity of sweet flavors.

Mouth feel: The syrup like feel verges on cloying, almost completely coats the mouth, lightly carbonated.

Drinkability: A slow sipper; too sweet for multiple bottles but definitely and enjoyable beer.

Nice to try my first English Barleywine, the flavor profile is very similar to De Dolle Stille Nacht; however, I prefer the Belgian in both taste and mouth feel.

Photo of mdfb79
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 6/6/10 notes. Had on tap at Max's in Baltimore. 2006 vintage.

a - Pours an amber-golden color with light carb and a little biit of white head.

s - Ssmells of sweet sticky dark fruits, sugar, and wheat.

t - Tastes a bit syrupy, and also of sweet fruit and malts, sugar, and dark fruits.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Very smooth and very sweet.

d - A nice barleywine but very very sweet, If you like sweet fruity barelywines this is for you. Would like to try another vintage of this.

Photo of atsprings
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of garymuchow
4.58/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.
Thanks Linda.

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

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!

Photo of hardy008
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage.

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.

Photo of LordAdmNelson
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of elgiacomo
4.77/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

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.

Photo of billyshears
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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.

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

Review from notes taken 4/8/10

Vintage 1998

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.

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 1,297 ratings.