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

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

1,188 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1188
Reviews: 787
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 14.08%


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)
View: Beers (18) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,188 | Reviews: 787 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of twiggamortis420
twiggamortis420

Texas

4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

275 mL bottle of the 2005 vintage pours a limpid, fairly clear brown color with a few bubbles around the collar.

Nose is very sweet and caramely. Bread and toffee play a supporting role and there is an earthy-alcohol thing going on in here too.

Taste is a delicious blend of various malt flavors...from caramel to toast to honey to even a little hint of chocolate. Thick, sweet and syrupy but strangely never gets cloying as the alcohol dries things out nicely on the finish. I did the JW Lees thing a little different as I have had two of the flavored cask versions prior to the regular. I think I enjoyed the cask ones slightly better, but not by much. This is a real treat, I wish this was sold in TX; I'd love to have a case or two of these to drink over the next few years.

Serving type: bottle

07-30-2012 00:22:49 | More by twiggamortis420
Photo of BeerFMAndy
BeerFMAndy

Wisconsin

2.88/5  rDev -32.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

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.

Serving type: bottle

04-18-2010 22:43:28 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of RoyalT
RoyalT

Ohio

4.7/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance – Very thick and cloudy orange with a good head that left little pools of foam on top of the body.

Smell – This carries an aroma similar to a strong/old ale. There’s a malt base to it, but also a significant amount of white wine. The fruitiness is light and mellow, but the alcholol undertones indicate otherwise.

Taste – The sweet wine flavor comes out bigtime. This is more like a fine port or apertiff than a Barley Wine. There’s some huge orange and cherry in here. Not the cheap, candy syrup kind that you get with a lot of ales, but refined, high-quality flavors.

The alcohol is strong but mellow, if that makes any sense. A fine 20% port will go down like Courtney Love at a rock concert, and this one does the same.

Beyond that, the malt backbone comes through qutie nicely, reminding the drinker that this is indeed an ale and not a tawny Australian port. The woody character enhances the other sweets such as rich maple, honey, and pure cane sugar (loads of it). This is a fine ale for sure.

Mouthfeel – This full-bodied ale is extremely rich and chewy. It will actually get your jaws working and have you looking for a spoon.

Drinkability – Before or after dinner would be my suggestion. I had this after a nice Claim Jumper meal with leftover Halloween chocolate, and it was the perfect match.

Comments – This was the 2002 vintage, and I happened on it purely by chance. If you like a fine tawny port you’ll love this ale.

Update – 1997 Vintage: Much darker in color, actually a dark brown, with a deeper malt taste. The sweets are especially different. Here we have dark, overripe fruits with big maple and molasses. Less of a port and more like a strong, malty ale is how I’d describe it.

Probably a half a point higher at the nose since it is so much more blended. Definitely a good keeper at six years old (tasted 11/10/03).

Update – I was fortunate enough to participate in a rack of 2002 – 1998 over at weefishhead’s and here are some abrreviated notes.

2002 – Raisin juice w/hvy port flavors. Needs aging.
2001 – Fruits more complex & mellow but still needs aging.
2000 – Fruits & sugars lighten up & ABV pulls back. Can start to drink at this age (4 y/o).
1999 – Flavors are even & ready to drink (5 y/o), although sugars still dominate.
1998 – Malts now dominate; best drinker of the bunch (6 y/o). Same age as the ’97 I had (see above Update) in 2003.

Serving type: bottle

11-02-2003 01:52:22 | More by RoyalT
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74

Ohio

4.53/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

9.6 ounce bottle, 1999 vintage (1st December 1999 it says on the back label of the bottle). Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a dark amber/red color with a 1/4 inch off-white head. Not much head retention or lacing. It smells like prunes, sherry/port, brown sugar and molasses. It's a very sweet aroma. Taste is exactly like the aroma, fruity and sweet, very nice. Alcohol isn't as hot in the aroma or taste as I'd thought it would be, it's pretty mellow. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's rich, slick and a bit syrupy. Drinkability is pretty good, it's very smooth and goes down easy. It's a sipping beer, but it's pretty easy to drink it quicker than I should! I could drink 2 or 3 (at most) of these in a sitting. I think this is a very good beer, no wonder it's on the BA Top 100. If you get the chance to get one of these (the older the better), you definitely should!

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2008 00:34:39 | More by bluejacket74
Photo of ZAP
ZAP

Minnesota

5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

F#@ck Yeah!!! I love drinking a GREAT beer for the first time...OUTSTANDING....High in alcohol...the type you want to sip, but the type you can't keep your hands away from grabbing the minute you put it down..fascinating drinking experience....I get a sweet fruity nose with some hints of brown sugar and molasses....the taste is incredible...huge dark fruits...definitely plum...maybe some prunes...dark cherries...the brown sugar is there...as is the molassis....and dare I say some odd hints of coconut....the nose immediately reminded me of a champagne or wine or something...the flavor though is more like a port...or Brandy with a nice hit of brown sugar...this is one of those beers that transcendes the entire beer drinking experience....there is no Barley Wine finer..

Serving type: bottle

08-07-2002 22:46:19 | More by ZAP
Photo of DefenCorps
DefenCorps

Oregon

3.98/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage on tap at Max's. I've never had a JW this fresh, I'm curious to see what it's like.

A: Clear amber with a thick white head. Retention is excellent, and the lace, spectacular

S: Big, syrupy sweetness with honey, sugar, mild jasmine and floral character. Earthy hop character is present, something I've never noticed in this beer. I miss the age and oxidation, but it's revealing, what time can do for this beer.

T: Very big and sweet with honey, jasmine, rose and sugar. Mild hop character on the finish, along with the syrupy sweetness. Again, significantly less complex than older vintages.

M: Incredibly big, though the sweetness is a little simple in character. Good carbonation, nice finish

D: A sipper for sure.

Serving type: on-tap

06-26-2009 13:38:22 | More by DefenCorps
Photo of gford217
gford217

Georgia

4.72/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-07-2009 05:06:15 | More by gford217
Photo of scruffwhor
scruffwhor

Illinois

4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage. "Limited Edition"

Appearance- Pours a deep Chevy Caprice rust color with hints of seassoned curly fries. Lots of russet with a spalsh of amber.

Smell- The smell of a fruit garden with lots of attention paid to raisins, plums, and port sweetness.

Taste- Start to finish, sweet, sweet, sweet. This beer was perfect whilst enjoying a campfire and conversation with friends. The Sweet flavors of dark fruits like plums, prunes, candied apples, black cherries, and raisins for a little tartness.

Mouthfeel- The syrupy sweetness I find to be very distinct of all J.W. Lees barley wines. Lots of fruity flavors all over the palate. Very relaxing and a good way to end the evening.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2006 04:14:15 | More by scruffwhor
Photo of flagmantho
flagmantho

Washington

3.35/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 vintage; poured from 9.3 oz bottle into a wine goblet.

Appearance: deep woody brown, highly opaque with practically no head. When I poured it, I wasn't aware of how many chunky floaties would been in the bottle: there were indeed a few.

Smell: first off, it smells like late-harvest Riesling or maybe a Gewürztraminer. It's got a lot of syrupy grape, apple and pear. If I were blindfolded I would assume this was wine. That said, it is quite pleasing.

Taste: well, at first it tastes similar to a white wine, then I get the malt and grain, then I get what I can only describe as wood and cigarette smoke; it's almost tinny in that respect. I will say it's very complex, and I feel like I should be doing a lot of glass-swirling and erudite pontificating, but really, I just can't get a handle on it.

As I drink, the pattern stays the same: the beginning is quite wonderful and the finish is highly off-putting.

Mouthfeel: medium-thick body which is pretty smooth.

Drinkability: I really don't know what to put here. I don't want to slam this admittedly impressive beer, but it's just not my style right now.

I really would like to come back to this beer later when my barleywine palate is more developed.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2009 02:26:56 | More by flagmantho
Photo of TheLongBeachBum
TheLongBeachBum

California

4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 Harvest Ale (tried on 8/3/06)

Presentation: 275ml bottle, 11.5% Alc/Vol. Single obverse cream label with a picture down the left hand side depicting a hop harvest. Black crown cap.

Appearance: Dark ruby body with a polished mahogany firmed up six-pack stomach that is tight. Tan head rises on the pour and seemingly pulls the finely dissolved carbonation out of solution and into the underside of the cap like a vacuum. Finishes with a classy poise, the head breaks eventually but there is some fine lacing.

Nose: Melodious nose that has a sweet edge but it is gentle. Warm and cuddly, the aromas have an inviting dark fruit consistency with a rich range of odors.

Taste: Dark toffee, boiled raisin juice and brown sugars dominate the middle. Entrance has a little liquorice, but not much, finish rises with an ember like warmth and has a lot of plums and figs with a lingering squashed date after taste.

Mouthfeel: Treacle like texture allows this one to ooze into every nook and cranny. Soothing alcohol warmth portrays the strength but this is more than balanced by the dissolved malt sugars.

Drinkability: The sweetness takes the edge off the long term partnership, but it is a solid night cap brew that certainly makes up for this aspect with a plethora of dark fruits and complexity to have this one remain a favorite.

Overall 1998: Much sweeter than the previous years (1997) sample that I tried a few days ago. At almost 8 years old, time has certainly softened the syrup texture but it still has a residual sweetness that takes a little getting used to. I think that the Harvest Ale is best sampled at 5 years plus, but I think the 1998 will keep for several years yet whilst still improving.

Serving type: bottle

08-04-2006 06:24:46 | More by TheLongBeachBum
Photo of jrallen34
jrallen34

Illinois

4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I drank this 1999 version from a 12oz bottle into a Chimay glass.

The beer pours a medium brown with a light tan head that comes about only a quarter of a finger and is gone right away. Lacing is medium, much stronger than I thought with such a weak head.

The aroma starts off pretty malty light toffee but then overwhelms you with a ton of yeasty bread. At the end you get the lightest whiff of alcohol and vanilla.

The taste starts off pretty malty, pretty bready and yeasty with a bitter alcohol finish.

The feel is medium, semi lasting finish, pretty smooth.

The drinkablility is good for 11.5 abv.

Overall, this is a pretty great bw, can't wait to buy some to age for a long time.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2010 03:29:49 | More by jrallen34
Photo of cokes
cokes

Wisconsin

4.93/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1 December 1999.

A fuzzy ambered fluid underneath a pale yellow cap.
A nostril enlarging, mind boggling aroma of figs and pineapples, covered in butter toffee, carried within a supple leather basket. I'd like to pour this over my head just to savor the aroma for awhile.

The mouth is raided with candied figs looting tobacco stores. Mangoes toss earthy clumps of sod through the windows. Raisins and plums look on in awe. The Butter police arrives, sirens blaring. A sugary toffee ruffian flips the bird to the Pigs, and steals a leathery baseball mitt and a few bottles of white wine.
This is an immensely intense fracas, of which I only caught a snapshot.

Luxuriously ample and silken within the mouth. World class, without a doubt.
Smooth criminal.

Serving type: bottle

03-01-2003 00:08:09 | More by cokes
Photo of nickfl
nickfl

Florida

4.8/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1998 Vintage

A - Half finger of light brown head quickly dissipates and leaves minor lace. The body is dark brown and opaque.

S - Very unusual musty, toasted oak/ dark caramel aroma. Spicy notes and some vanilla as well.

T - Very smooth milk chocolate like flavor up front along with big, creamy caramel apple character. Spicy, slightly woody notes follow, ginger and cinnamon as well as some roasty toffee notes. Some very rounded bitterness asserts itself towards the end, but fades into a lingering alcohol warmth and amazingly rich caramel notes in the finish.

M - Thick, syrupy body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Keeping in mind that this is far from a session beer, it is an extraordinarily sippable sipping beer. Other vintage English beers I have had showed a similar complexity, but never seemed as drinkable as this. The caramel character is nothing short of spectacular and even though it is a very sweet beer it somehow avoids becoming cloying. Despite nearly 10 years in the bottle it shows no signs of oxidation, and has very little of the sherry character that one might expect of a beer this age. Overall, this is a really excellent vintage beer to enjoy on a cold winter night.

Serving type: bottle

02-02-2008 04:46:52 | More by nickfl
Photo of champ103
champ103

Texas

4.55/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

12-30-2009 02:16:10 | More by champ103
Photo of blackie
blackie

Virginia

4.13/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 1999

appearance: Pours a 0.5" dirty white head that soon falls back to a generous ring around the glass. The beer is a dark whiskey brown in color.

smell: Huge, sweet barley malt presence with a toasted, dark bread type character. Just the right ethanol presence. Notes of sweet potato, various fruits, wood, and spice play around behind an English hop aroma. Nearing perfection.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is low, and the body quite full and becoming slightly syrupy after the swallow.

taste: Complex, thick barley malt sugars explode all over the tongue. Somewhat grainy, pretty sweet and just a little cloying in that respect. Decent amount of benign English hop flavor. A touch of green hardwood. The finish is a light bitterness with sweet, toasted barley bread flavors lingering for quite awhile with some spicy rootlike notes that remind me a little of cola.

drinkability: A really good bwine, but drinkability is limited by the heavy sugars.

Serving type: bottle

12-03-2006 02:03:05 | More by blackie
Photo of woosterbill
woosterbill

Connecticut

3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle of the 1999 vintage into a Duvel tulip.

A: A slow, steady pour produces a lovely finger of tight off-white head atop a dark, slightly murky reddish-brown body. The head is particularly impressive for such an old, strong beer, displaying great retention and even leaving a decent amount of fine lace. Anyone who claims that decade-old beers are supposed to be flat and ugly obviously hasn't had a 1999 Lees. Excellent.

S: Hugely sweet, with sherry, raisins, brown sugar, treacle, and toffee. Wave after wave of sugary malts wafts out of the tulip, followed by some faint hints of leather, spice, and alcohol. There's a touch of oxidation for sure, but not to the point of being dirty and cardboardy. Excellent, if a bit over the top with sweetness.

T: Not nearly as complex as nose: this is just a straight sugar explosion. Brown sugar and toffee are the only flavors at first, and a sizable dose of oxidation and ethanol finishes things off. It's enjoyable in a decadent, desert-like way, but lacks the depth of the aroma.

M: Syrupy and smooth at first, with some soft carbonation showing up upon agitation. Pretty solid for the style, if almost unbearably sticky.

D: While I fully expected this beer to deliver an unadulterated barrage of malty sweetness, I guess I wasn't quite prepared for just how cloying that could become. The small bottle is more than appropriate.

Notes: This was delicious, and I fully intend to sample a more recent vintage to compare, I really found it to be too one-dimensional in its flavor profile. I've had the 06 Port and Lagavulin versions of this brew, and they were both far superior to this. This was totally worth the steep per-ounce price tag, but it's not something I'll be stockpiling in large amounts.

Cheers!

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2011 03:19:59 | More by woosterbill
Photo of johnnnniee
johnnnniee

New Hampshire

4.53/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2001
A few months back this bottle mysteriously appeared on the shelf and found its way home with me. Pours a muddy brown color with a minimal tan head that forms a ring on the top. This smells great! Sherry and toffee mixed with some brown sugar and a touch of alcohol to keep it from smelling too sweet. Caramel and dark dried fruit with a slightly earthy aroma round out the nose quite nicely. Taste is sweet up front with brown sugar and dark fruit coming in first. Hints of sherry and earthiness hit before the palette goes almost completely dry. Finish leaves a long lingering molasses prune sweetness that is offset nicely with a touch of alcohol. Big thick body with a surprisingly dry finish. Light level of bubbles, sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. I am a sucker for an aged barleywine, and this one really impressed me, this is a beautifully aged beer. Now the regret sets in when I realize that I only bought one bottle.

Serving type: bottle

07-16-2011 23:22:25 | More by johnnnniee
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium

Florida

3.73/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. 2008 vintage.

Appearance - Pours with no head and no lacing. Sticky legs down the side, but not much else redeeming. Looks syrupy in the glass. Huge chunks of sediment come out of the bottom. Suspending in my maple-syrup looking beer. Kinda gross.

Smell - Oh wow. Raisiny goodness. Like a dense fruitcake. Definitely booze to it. Some caramel behind all of it, but it's all about the fruits.

Taste - And it's sweet as hell. Like a dense fruitcake. Deep raisin and dark fruit flavors. Quite a nice taste, but golly it's sweet.

Mouthfeel - Did I mention the sweetness? Thick and syrupy. Took me a really long time to finish this bottle. Low carbonation.

Overall - I can only hope some more years of aging will do this nicely. Maybe dry it out a bit. I love the flavors, but they get masked by the sugars.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2012 02:12:20 | More by Alieniloquium
Photo of drpimento
drpimento

Wisconsin

4.6/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Whoa, serious beer. Poured this at a good temperature with a small, foamy head that promptly disappeard and no lace. Color is a hazy/cloudy amber brown with a lot of sediment. Aroma is a very volatile blend of caramel, yeast, malt, dark ripe fruit, raisins, bread dough, and seemingly many other things. Flavor's like nose, with sweet out front along with, curiously, a little chili pepper, bitter a little behind that and just a smidgen of carbonic tang. Body is full and lush with some little bitter points that just contribute to the beautiful picture. Carbonation is a little tame, but it works. Finish does get a little boozy, but overall is pleasant and on the long side. Outstanding beer.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2012 07:26:06 | More by drpimento
Photo of francisweizen
francisweizen

Arizona

4.88/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage, 12 ounce bottle, purchased at Bierkraft in NYC for $6 or so. A good purchase for sure! This classic brew poured out a nice dark reddish colour with plenty of inherent carbonation. The aromas were all across the board, and very Hardy's like at times. The aromas consisted of dark fruits, spicy alcohol, deep, deep roasted malts, and very freshly cut, bitter, herbal, grassy, sappy, piney, hops. Over the years the hops have been cut down to size and the malt really dominates in this brews taste, but that is OK to me, this is a classic brew, that 6 years of aging has totally rounded into a new dimension of complexity and balance. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth, but i'll knock a point off for the lack of liveliness. The drinkability is only marred by the super strong ABV. A classic!

Serving type: bottle

12-22-2003 17:10:50 | More by francisweizen
Photo of FosterJM
FosterJM

California

4.05/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

549th review on BA
Bottle to Sinners glass
2002 Vintage

App- It's brown, it's amber, it's golden, it's murky, sludgy looking with a nice head and a couple dots of lace to it.

Smell- A lot is going on in this glass. It's very malt forward with no hop presence. Smells very creamy with the ABV very noticeable as well.

Taste- Over ripe fruit with some cream and big slick malts. Somehow with the ABV and the feel it works. I can feel how big this beer is almost immediately. A little towards the unbalanced malt side but with some candy notes.

Mouth- Big slick oily and sweet medium bodied and subdued medium carbonation level. Nice and bubbly when it needed to be but smoothed out nicely.

Drink- This was pretty good for a 9 year old bottle. I am glad I picked this one up. I am noticing that most of these are all very much tasting the same but some of the cask versions are just a touch better.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2011 04:20:25 | More by FosterJM
Photo of tpd975
tpd975

Florida

3.58/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001 Vintage purchased at Whole Foods Columbus Circle in NYC.

A: Clear nutty brown color with red highlights with a small tight creamy off-white head. The lacing is minimal.

S: Tons of sweentess, this one may be cloying. Sweet aromas waft from the glass. Tons of toffee, caramel and molasses. This one is all about the malt. Very malty no matter how you look at it. Besides the sugar there are some dark fruits.

T: Malty, Sweet, downright cloying. Wow the sweetness of this beer. Fresh honey and brown sugar right from the start. Tinges of sweetned milky caramel and rich molasses. There are some massivly ripe fruits beneath. The finish tastes like you just popped a handfull of sunsweet raisins in your mouth. Wow there is a lot of raisin in the finish.

M: Big bold and thick. Very smooth in a syrupy sort of way.

D: Not really. Beers this sweet are hard for me to finish.

Overall: This is one big rich bold full bodied barleywine. It is off the scale when it comes to malt and sweetness. It is a bit overthetop for me, but very unique nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2008 18:13:57 | More by tpd975
Photo of LilBeerDoctor
LilBeerDoctor

New York

2.6/5  rDev -39%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Reviewed on 8/26/08. Bottle, 1999 vintage. Pours a cloudy amber brown with a small light tan head that dissipated quickly. Aroma of of oatmeal, sweet brown sugar, sweet fruits (raisin, apple, pear), slight alcohol. Flavor is SUPER sweet. Wow. I've never had port or sherry but I imagine that this beer would taste something like that. Syrupy and thick. Not bad tasting but very strong and it was hard to handle more than one sip of a time of this. Much too sweet and I thought that this would have mellowed somewhat in the 9 years since it was bottled.
6/3/6/2/13 (3.0/5)

Serving type: bottle

12-23-2008 19:34:17 | More by LilBeerDoctor
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Jwale73

Rhode Island

4.3/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 vintage served in my Old Stock snifter. Pours a semi-hazy mahogany with a slick of a head that quickly dissipates into broken spots and a thin, bubbly band around the edges. Some light, spots and strands of lacing revealed during the tasting. Nose is sweet - maple syrup, toffee, prunes, figs and a slightly boozy quality on a malty/bready backbone. Taste consistent with nose - wow this is amazing. Sweet and fruity and the alcohol all but disappears; dangerous for an 11.5% brew. The distinctive aromas in the nose really coalesce nicely in the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a light carbonation and a slightly oily quality to the texture. What an amazing barelywine. The price is a little steep at $8.00 a bottle but what an exceptional treat. I will need to pick up some more of these over time and stagger their openings.

Serving type: bottle

09-17-2010 02:06:26 | More by Jwale73
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Brent

Kentucky

4.33/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1989 Vintage.

After 13+ years of aging, almost all carbonation has gone. Pours a tea brown with no head and no bubbles rising from the beer - almost still, with only a slight tingling of the tongue disclosing any carbonation.

Aroma is sugary, over the top with maple syrup. Flavor is also sweet, almost candy-like. Maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar - the malt has surrendered and the hops are nowhere to be found. Borders on cloying, but holds back, just barely. The 11.5% alcohol is also surpisingly absent from the flavor profile (or was it the alcohol that caused my tongue to tingle, and not carbonation?).

The final pour of the last few oz. is a murky prune juice with a few sediment chunks. Bolstering my courage, I down this and find it to be a good finish to the beer, a bit softer than the rest.

I think this beer has reached the end of the road and wonder if further aging will be beneficial. If it gets any sweeter it will be undrinkable, but perhaps the malt has broken down as far as it will. I plan to hang on to another bottle and try it in a few years, just out of curiosity.

2000 Vintage, sampled 2004

In comparison with the 13 year old vintage, this relatively younger vintage is much brighter in carbonation and flavor profile. As with the older version, tons of sweet maple syrup, prunes, dates and overripe orchard fruit dominate the flavor profile. More hops are evident, not yet having faded away. The alcohol seems a bit more prominent. At 3-4 years old, this beer still seems a bit young, and would benefit from a couple of years of mellowing. Hmm - 13 years seemed a bit too long, 4 years not quite enough. I'll just have to keep sampling to determine the magic number.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2003 20:44:41 | More by Brent
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
95 out of 100 based on 1,188 ratings.