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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

1,310 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,310
Reviews: 811
rAvg: 4.24
pDev: 14.15%
Wants: 231
Gots: 186 | 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.
View: Beers (19) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,310 | Reviews: 811 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of EricCioe
4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1999 Vintage into a Delirium snifter.

It pours a dark black with a one finger off-white head that fades first to a ring and island and then nothing at all. On the nose the two predominant notes are a very distinct mint and biscuit. On the tongue there is a huge malt sweetness. It's not overpowering by any means, just huge. At the end there is a note of alcohol, not surprising given the content here. In the mouth this beer is syrupy and cloying, pretty large. The alcohol content and price conspire to make this one not something to drink lots of, but it paired wonderfully with a rare ribeye tonight and for that sort of purpose it's a great drink.

Photo of changeup45
4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2006 vintage. Pours out a brown/amber color with no head at all. Aroma is very nice; roasted malts, tree bark, plums, molasses and a little bit of alcohol. The flavor is sweet and sugary with a lot of dark fruits, particularly raisins with some roasted malt. Silky smooth. The most amazing part about this beer is that the 11.5% is hardly noticed. If any alcohol shows at all it is a little in the finish. Way better than the Thomas Hardy 2005 I sampled recently. This really is impressive.

Photo of Pellinore1
5/5  rDev +17.9%

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

1988 Vintage. This bottle was compliments of Tom at Union Jack's on the Manatawny, what a treat. This beer poured a port like redish/brown color into a nice miniature brandy snifter with minimal head. The beer had an exceptional aroma similar to a brandy with that strong alcohol smell and some fruit notes, maybe figs or plums. I was a bit apprehensive that the taste would follow along with the brandy like smell but the taste was actually very enjoyable and not burning like a brandy would. The taste was a bit sweet with more plums notes but very enjoyable and complex.

This beer aged very well and would be worth trying again if I can get my hands on it again. What a treat. Thanks Tom!

Photo of Greggy
4.87/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review on 11/20/08. Sampled at cellar temp. 1998 vintage

A- Very nice thick 1 finger head with some nice clinging lace. Dark maroon/brown color with some suspended sediment. After a bit, the foam recedes to a thin cap.

S- Initially I get a huge fresh flour component and sweet brown sugary goodness. I also get some nice cherry and chocolate, with some plum or fig. I also get some nice peppermint aromas.

T- Sweet plum, cherries, maple syrup, brown sugary smoothness. with a very smooth dryness in the fining. Very sweet malt as well. This is outstanding.

M- this thing is the definition of smooth. It has basically no carbonation but is very well balanced and sweet. It's amazing what 10 years on a beer can do for smoothness.

D- 11.5% is pretty high, but it's hidden VERY well. I am Very glad I have 3 more of these.

Photo of Devi0us
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of bluesplit63
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%

Photo of davidwhatshisnam
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of Pete27lax
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

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 jcalabre
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1988 Vintage. Originally rated on 22 November 2002. I'm writing this review from my notes.
Poured a deep brown/red with a small head, that lasted quite a long time. Aroma was sweet with raisin and caramel.
The flavor was definitely sweet, perhaps a bit too sweet for me.

This beer is a bit different, but I could see why many like it. It's a must-try for any serious beer drinker.

Photo of kirkse
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of ROBSTARR
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of Atomicskis5
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of jeremiahoden
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of seangibbs60
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of tbeer40
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

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

Harvest Ale 1997.

I have been dieing to try this beer as I have one each from '97-'00. This beer is dark reddish brown in color with almost no head at all. I actually wouldn't expect one from a beer that is six years old. The smell is port like with tons of malt and cherry notes coming through. The taste is thick and malty! Kind of reminds me of Benolence form CBC but a bit thicker. I would never expect a six year old brew to hold up this well. Anise, pepper, cherries and raisins all come through.

What a great sipper. I can't wait to try the other vintages as well.

Photo of crwills
2.6/5  rDev -38.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

WARNING: This may have been a spoiled bottle, as my rating is significantly lower than the average.

Vintage 1998 bottle.

Poured a muddy brown with a small fizzy head into an oversized wine glass. Doesn't look too bad, although there are some particles in there which make it less appealing than it could be.

Aroma is brown sugar, cake or doughy bread, with alcohol in the forefront. Some mild milk chocolate notes and dark, overripe or rotting fruits. A little bit of a sour, off aroma concerns me...

Taste is... ridiculously sweet. I think this is what happens when an eight year old barley wine doesn't get taken care of. Overwhelming sugary cotton candy and candied prune/date flavours make this impossible to enjoy for me, although it does overwhelm the high alcohol. Aftertaste is terribly sweet, and I had to eat something to get rid of it. Any hops that were in there are long gone... all malt, all the time.

Mouthfeel is still OK, if a bit sticky. I got about 2/3 of the way through this before I had to stop.

I hope this was a bad sample... I've had several other aged barleywines that didn't end up like this. Most of the reviews indicate that it should be very sweet, but this was just unbearable. If given the opportunity, I will grab another bottle (maybe not quite so old) and re-review.

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 TheSleepyMonkey
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

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

Picked up a bottle of the 1999 vintage a couple of weeks ago. The Fall season is slowly creeping in out here in New Hampshire, so I thought a J.W. Lees Harvest Ale would be a nice way to enjoy the beginning of the season.

Poured this into a snifter. A strong pour produces a decent off-white head that sits on top of a dark autumn amber. The head thins out quite a bit, but leaves a nice foamy ring around the sides of the glass. Some lacing follows.

The aroma is at first a mixture of burnt malts and sweet fruits. Plums, figs and grapes are the strongest notes that come out, followed by some honey sweetness and a bit of estery alcohol. A complex nose that is very enjoyable. I still haven't even taken a sip yet, really enjoying this.

The taste is, well... amazing. Delicious! Thick, syrupy, sugary fruits intertwined with a very hefty amount of malt. Some wood flavors are also coming through, not very strong, but adding to the robustness of the flavor. Hops are there as well, adding a little bit of floral aroma and bitterness, but mostly washed out by the honey laden fruits. Very sweet most of the time, but interrupted occasionally by roasty/burnt malts, keeping it interesting and drawing me back for more.

The mouthfeel is much like I was describing in the taste. Thick, syrupy, creamy. Very filling. A bit of alcohol sharpness here or there, but for the most part the 11.5% ABV is hidden well. Drinkability is good, but with the high ABV, the sugary sweetness and the price, you'll only want one of these for the night. But drinkability is good for what it is.

All in all I am very impressed with this beer. It looks beautiful, the aroma is complex and pleasing and the flavor is delicious. I will be picking up more of this for special occasions and hunting down the other vintages. J.W. Lees 1999 Vintage Harvest Ale is truly a great English barleywine.

Photo of megahurts4
3.77/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

JW Lees Harvest Ale 2009

Appearance: reddish, small head, and a little lacing.

Smell: malty caramel and toffee.

Taste: malty caramel-honey, spices, some fruit, and an earthy-wood flavor.

Mouthfeel: malty and heavy.

Overall:
This is a very malty and flavorful brew. It starts with a thick spicy caramel blast. There is an odd earthy-wood flavor at the end.

Photo of cowboy83
5/5  rDev +17.9%

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 1,310 ratings.