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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.

823 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 823
Hads: 1,395
Avg: 4.25
pDev: 18.12%
Wants: 249
Gots: 198 | FT: 14
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 (22) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 823 | Hads: 1,395
Photo of DIPAbrewer
4.57/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1997 on tap at Max's taphouse in Baltimore! I was stunned when I saw it on the beer list and even more pleased after tasting.

Brilliant deep dark golden brown, with a slight head.

Aroma of sweet malt faint earthy hops and butterscotch.

Flavor was full of sweet, sweet malt. Mild bitterness with lots of butterscotch. Probably diacetyl but it somehow worked very well in this beer.

Dangerously drinkable for the ABV. I was amazed and ecstatic to be able to try this vintage brew on tap at one of my favorite bars.

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Photo of FarmerTed
4.44/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Just had a bottle of the 2001 Limited Edition Harvest Ale that I picked up today at a local store. It was in the cooler, but I have no idea how it was stored over the last 10 years. It cost $8.60.

On opening, there was a nice pop from the CO2 pressure. On pouring, there was some fizzing, but no head. The beer looks like root beer (dark brown), and has a big, caramel-like aroma. There was some yeast floating around in the beer; it probably would've settled out if I'd let it sit a few days, but it was jostled a bit after purchase, and I didn't feel like waiting.

The taste is like a combination of a port with a big caramel or toffee finish (it's amazing that grapes weren't used to make it, to be honest). There is some carbonation or fizz to it that gives it a bit of a bite. I really, really enjoyed it. It was sweet; I'm glad the bottle is only 9.3 oz. I'm not sure I could've drunk much more. I needed to eat a bit afterwards, due to the sweetness.

Overall, it was an excellent beer. I'd probably like to try some of the more recent vintages next, to see how they compare.

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Photo of Swill5786
3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2006 Vintage. Pours a yeast-speckled murky brown. Not a hint of head from aggressive pour. No trace of carbonation. Smell is magnificent. Mystical combo of dark fruit, cherries, apples. Hint of alcohol drifts in and out with yeastiness. Overtly sweet start, then bread drives the rest. Visible yeast content hints this should be the case. Medium to heavy mouthfeel. Drinkability? Just one. Quite cloying.

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Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2002 bottle. Pours an awesome crystal clear orange with a nice orangish white head. Aroma is a mix of alcohol and maple-raisin. Flavor is similar, with a dominant maple-alcohol warming flavor, with hints of raisin. Goes great with Irish soda bread. Sweetness of maple syrup lingers on the palate. Delicious!.

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Photo of GooberMcNutly
3.49/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

An amazing little bottle. Rich, round aromas of dried fruit (apples and raisin with some currants) and treacle. Initial taste was of heavy maltiness bu the hop level keeps the palate clear without coating the tongue. I wish I had a case of this to put away for the future.

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Photo of Brandt
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage

this beer poured out a darker caramely brown color with very little carbonation and no head to speak of

the noze on this is very rich and smells of figs and rasins strongly and other dried fruits, maybe a hint of dried cherry. there is also an aroma of brown sugar and a bread dough character, a touch of cinnamon and the faintest of woody smells

the taste is of rich toffe and rasin first and foremost followed by astringent tannins that give it a dry feel briefly before it goes down with a warm sweet boozyness

the finish is a stong fulll body that coats the tongue and leaves a great balance of sweet sugars and a drier bitterness along the back of the tongue. i was very interested to find this one and it was a treat to be able to try it. very rich drink but i would like to have some of these that are further down the line to compare.

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Photo of BobbyBeerman
3.98/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I haven't had too many English barleywines before. This one caught my eye at my favorite store and thought I'd give it a go. I was a little apprehensive from experiences of ales with a high alcohol content when they are young. This one is aged so I hoped this would be flavorful and not overbearing.

This is the 1999 vintage.

A: Pours a dark reddish brown with not much head. What head there was reduced to a thin layer. It's clear with thin carbonation trails.

S: Initially I get a molasses sweetness. There's a fruitiness and spiciness in there as well.

T: Sweet malts, a little molasses... If this was young I could see where this might be a little strong. With it being aged the flavors feel matured and mellowed although it is still robust.

M: Heavy almost syrupy. Carbonation is balanced. A surprising slight warming affect from the alcohol with, so far, hasn't really been present. One would thing with 11.5% ABV it would come though more but it hasn't.

D: This is a wonderful experience - eye opening and educational. Over all this is a good beer ranging a little on the sweeter side of things. I would drink only one at a session and have it next to last. This one is worth it.

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Photo of thickerfreakness
3.39/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

1998 bottle purchased from Sam's in Chicago.

Rich amber brown color. Pours with more head than expected but it fades to a ring of foam around the glass.

Smells really sweet off the bat. Rich toffee, candy, doughy malts, creamy vanilla caramels. Very, very sweet.

Really similar to the smell with the caramels becoming the main flavor component for me followed by other things from the smell and then some really rich overripe fruits like strawberries and cherries. Sweetness just gets to me as it lingers for quite a while after drinking.

A creamy medium bodied beer with more carbonation than expected for a 10 year old beer.

Just gets way too sweet. I don't think I can finish the end of this glass. Really high ABV as well.

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Photo of kindacold
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2001 Limited Edition

WOW. First impression came from the dark reddish color. No head at all. Held it up to the light, just a beautiful red.

Then I smelled it and I knew I was going to be in for a treat. It smelled sweet and a bit spicy.

Then I took a sip. It took me a second to realize that I wasn't drinking a sherry. I really had to do a double take. It was a bit syrupy and very sweet. Absolutely amazing.

I split the bottle with my cousin, who was kind enough to bring it for sampling. Let's just say I owe him big.

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Photo of BlackJeremiah
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2000 vintage, poured into a snifter. That makes this one at roughly 5 years, 9 months old. This is the oldest beer in my cellar, and the longest I've ever managed to age something without breaking down and drinking it.

A: I have to adjust the temperature of my cellar a bit, since I see a little chill haze here. Not much, so I'm not too concerned. Color is like iced tea, a mahogany with a burnt red undertone. This is more evident when it is held up to the light. Very little head; dissipates quickly.

S: This smells almost liquorish, like whiskey or tequila. Definite oaky and raisiney characteristics. Smells STRONG, even more than the 11.5% ABV might lead one to believe.

T: A lot of sweetness up front, with powerful prune/raisin characteristics to it. Alcohol is present, but more than balanced, unlike the aroma suggested. Little to no hop character detected, but it might just be completely overwhelmed (or the more likely--my palate is not yet discerning enough). Smooth, but the dried-fruit flavors are downright cloying after a few sips. However, it is truly different than any other barleywine I've tried, and its flavors provide something really interesting. No matter its cloying effect on me, it is an EXCEPTIONAL flavor, and I've ranked it as such.

M: A bit thick for my tastes. That, combined with the raisin and prune flavors, make me feel like I'm drinking a very thin jam.

D: There is no scenario I can imagine in which I would be able to consume more than one bottle of this. It is a remarkable beer, in that it has many excellent and well-balanced characteristics. But I just can't deal with the thick sweetness of this sucker for more than 12 ounces. One I'll break out every so often, just to check on its maturation. This one also brought on some serious heartburn, so those of you prone to gastric mischief should be prepared with the antacids.

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Photo of mydeadguy
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. 4.5

Poured a deep ruby brown with an inch of sticky patchy off white head with plenty of bubbles to begin but dropping rather quickly, though at 11.5% that is to be expected. The aroma is strongly malt sweet with fruit and heady alcoholic esters. Taste is sweet with fruity plum and raisin hints, sweet earthy tobacco, healthy malt profile...barely a hop presence, though slightly bitter.
An exceptionally smooth and warming ale.. alcohol from the back of the throat to the belly. The mouth is round and slick, opening up on swirling, the body is then lightened a bit and slightly chewy to fluffy, with decent amounts of carbonation. This brew is truly a gift from on high, my first non-U.S. barleywine, and amazing at that... impressive.
I look forward to more this coming winter..

1998 vintage. 4.7

Pours a deep woody garnet, with an old newspaper tan yellow, patchy loose head, starting at a couple fingers, then disappearing fairly quickly.

Scent is of caramel, over-ripe apple, and overwhelmingly, sweet malt. the alcohol is more muted than the '99, with a deep woody sweetness apparent.

The taste is so good, where to begin? Butterscotch, toffee, caramel and raisins with a slight alchol warming in the belly that mellows from the first sip. Exquisite.
Like burnt apple pie with raisins, sweet, warm, bready, malty and more sweet. I can see people who don't like barleywines not liking this beer, but i love it. Quite beautiful, over the top + mind bendingly strong, don't kid yourself that you're having anything else after this.

Mouthfeel leans towards oil-slick, but also has some strong grip on the tongue, like eating a caramel apple in September. sweet and refreshing, but in an "it's about time to go home" way. a real great beer that knows just how great.

I have to bump the taste up to 5, because its december.
every once in a while, decide that this will be your last two beers of the night, do it, you'll thank me..


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Photo of jpiper
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1997 into a snifter at cellar temperature.

Dark brown with a light tan head. Dissipates to just a 1cm ring around the edge of the glass.

Immediately the aroma fills the air: raisins and prunes everywhere. Like a wonderful sweet port.

The flavor is much less ripe fruity and more overripe fruity: old prunes. Extreme complexity here - the fruit is very good. Caramel, some smokiness almost. A little mineral in the burp. Still pretty hot. Just a touch of bitterness to round out the flavor. Super sweet, very rich, deep flavor. You can tell this one is more than 10 years old.

The mouthfeel is very smooth. A very small amount of carbonation remaining.

This is a dessert sipper. Drinkable, but not one you'd drink too much of.

Very good overall.

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Photo of HappyBivouac
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage. 9.3oz bottle into an Ommegang Chalice.

a- pours an amber orange with a minimal off-white head that goes away fast. very little lacing on the glass.

s- deep, rich caramel, a heavy done of bready, sweet malts, prunes, figs, tart cherries, and honey all fill the nose. A very sweet, caramelly, bright, and fruity aroma.

t- The first impression is an extremely sweet beer, very much like this was actually brewed with thick caramel. It's almost hard to get past this sweetness as it really dominates, but it's so damn delicious. Whole wheat bread comes though, and a faint tartness like cherries enters in late along with the unexpected but distinct taste of florida oranges, lingering on in the finish. Heat is there to a perfect level; I suspect being masked by the intense sweetness. There is but a faint grapefruit bitterness throughout that intensifies long after the beer goes down. Will the sweetness of this beer be tamed in several years? I have no idea, but I'd like to grab a couple more bottles and find out.

m- Thick, syrupy, chewy. Carbonation is just a faint tickle on the center of the tongue.

d- My overall impression is this is a great, complex beer. There are a lot of flavors in there, but it can be hard to find them underneath the cloying, overpowering caramel sweetness. I have to sip this one really slowly, which is I guess what was intended. Very high quality stuff, and this fresh bottle just screams that it was meant to be aged a long time.

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Photo of Webbydag1
1.77/5  rDev -58.4%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.25

Oh man, just not up my alley. Or maybe I had a bad batch. Very syrupy and sweet. It's called a "robust" ale but it reminded me of a fermented mrs.buttersworth.

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Photo of Afterburner
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Note: This was a 1998 vintage.

Appearance: Hazy reddish brown, with a moderate beige head that retired slowly.

Smell: The predominant note here was almost teriyaki in its bouquet. When I worked in the restaurant biz, a common "oriental" marinade was created by mixing soy sauce and pineapple. This beer has that aroma. In addition, there's a ton of malt, a hint of molasses, and a faint alcohol tinge.

Taste: Forceful malt character in the early stages, followed by maple syrup, hints of green apple, and more malt. Finish is strongly flavored of toffee. There's also a faint character at the end that reminds me of nothing so much as a gooey cinnamon roll with lots of butter. It's not a strong flavor, but it's there.

Mouthfeel: My personal preference for beers of this nature is for a thick, viscous mouthfeel with light, small-bead carbonation so as not to combat the flavor. This brew has that in spades.

Drinkability: I found this to be an exceptionally flavorful beer, easy to drink, and I certainly would have enjoyed another.

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Photo of BiereBlanche
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A flight of shared 12 oz. bottles of the Dec. 1 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2006 Whiskey-aged (comments under that specific style) courtesy of the owner at Deep Ellum, Allston MA. Served just below cellar temp and allowed to warm in small flutes.

An excellent flight and nice to pick out the subtle differences. All the vintages shared the same great characteristics. The pours were dark, caramelly ambers of slightly varying shades. Cloudy, with yeasty sediment evident at the end of the bottles. Light head was impressive in size for an easy half bottle pour and took minutes to fall. All these drinks were incredibly rich with complex, sweet malt characters, little hops, little carbonation and slight alcohol. Filling and incredibly smooth.
The 1999 was my favorite, the smoothest, richest and sweetest of the flight. The nose and taste were incredibly complex and I'd love to see an ingredients list for all the wonderful flavoring that was picked out for the brew. It brought to mind sweet potato and brown sugar so strongly I could almost picture it in front of me. The drink would be a great desert for a holiday feast. Caramel, lightly burned brown sugar, buttery toffee, a tiny bit earthy. The aging had mellowed and smoothed this vintage so nicely. Almost no alcohol or bitter flavors. Absolutely delicious. To this point, my perfect desert beer.
The 2002 was a little darker, and just the tiniest bit of bitter. Again, almost no carbonation. A bit less caramelly, less burned and a little smoky flavor picks up. This vintage seemed to be the sweetest and least bitter.
The 2005 was the first to have a little alcohol bite to it, surprising in the earlier two, given the still high 11.5 ABV. A bit less smoky. Still really delicious and along side any other beers, this would have been incredible, it was only in this flight that I was able to pick out that it was missing a bit of the complexity of the 1999 and 2002. Caramelly and sticky.
The 2006 had less of the caramelly, burned-brown sugar sweet potatoes notes that were so distinct in the 1999 and was the most different of the flight. Clearer appearance than the rest, lighter malt characteristics. There was an earthy note in aroma and taste that was distinct to this vintage, it was fitting and fairly mild but stood out. Tiny bitter and alcohol bite.

These were all a real treat, I would have been happy with any one of them and having the flight brought out details that wouldn't have been noticed otherwise. Incredibly flavorful, smooth, rich and delicious. They could all drink like fine liquors and I can't think of anything I'd rather have for a desert beer than a bottle of the 1999 vintage.

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Photo of oceanman
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated December 1, 2001, opened December 1, 2009.

Pours prune juice brown with a thin, oily head which disappears within minutes.

Nose shows a tremendous burst of toffee followed by port-like aromas (raisins, figs). Sweetness already apparent, plus milk chocolate, cherries, caramel, butterscotch.

Palate is sweet all the way. Big, fruity notes followed by complex, bready finish.

Feel is thick, smooth, creamy all the way until a slightly warming, alcoholic finish.

Overall, incredibly rich an complex, and a good substitute for a nice aged port wine. The sweetness is a bit heavy-handed, but 9.3 oz spread over an hour is close to unbeatable.

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Photo of Elendinn
4.78/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2002 vintage, poured into a tulip glass, and raised in praise of Don Younger.

Wow, this beer looks beautiful! It pours a dark, leathery, bronze-tinged mahogany; so dark that it's practically opaque, though, when held to the light, becomes a slightly more translucent copper, with bits of yeast floating around, possibly from a novice pour. It's got no head, save for a thin ring of caramel-colored effervescence around the circumference of the glass. It looks like an eleagant, refined liquor -- brandy or cognac.

Smells like it looks: a spicy, refined liqour. Cinnamon, chocolate, and lots of dark fruits (figs, raisins, port-like grapes) are all extremely prominent. There is a very discernable aroma of rubbing alcohol that permeates the nose, which is a bit of a distraction, but, ultimately, it coalesces into something very sweet and pleasing.

The taste is immediately reminiscent of port, primarily featuring the dark fruits present in the nose. There are some very earthy elements in there, as well, like a decades-old red wine. It's a little boozey in the finish, but a very noticeable chocolate flavor interjects itself and lingers long after everything else, rounding the experience out nicely. Not too sweet, not too hot.

Like a port, the body on this is quite thick, practically syrupy. Fortunately, the moderate amount of carbonation makes for a pleasurable stay on the tongue.

J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale is everything I expect from a traditional barleywine and more. Deep, rich, and as complex as a fine port -- eleagant, nuanced, and spectacular. It transcends what one would typically define as beer. Yes, it's drinkable, despite the abv., but should be savored, fully and completely. Buy these, age them for as long as you can, and open them on special occasions when reflection and contemplation are paramount!

For Don Younger. A perfect beer to honor you with.


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Photo of jrae2424
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1988 vintage shared with some friends.

A:Poured into a snifter. Pours a really nice dark mohaghany color. The pour is very quiet, thick, no carbonation, with a wafer thin transparent head that dissipates quickly. Was careful not to pour in the massive amount of sediment.

S:Sweet bread, dark fermented fruits, cherry, burnt sugar. Taking a big slow whiff, you can pick up some alcohol, but it's hidden very well.

T:Taste is very sweet, brown sugar, cherry, bready, malty.

M:Thick but not to heavy, just the way it should.

Overall the best of the vintage jw lees ive had and something im going to be looking to get more of.

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Photo of Buildscharacter
4.06/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

I had a bottle of 1998 J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale. Seeing as how this bottle was 7 1/2 years old, I was hoping for some good things, and boy did this beer pull through. It remindes me very much of a 10 year old bottle of Thomas Hardy Ale that I had not too long ago.

It pours out thick, with little head. There are aromas of brown sugar and maple. Thin head that quickly goes into nothingness....as would be expected from an 11.5% beer.

First taste sends my taste buds reeling. Wow.. good powerful stuff. Super smooth in the mouth, and almost creamy in feel. The alcohol is well blended in this warming barleywine. Reminds me of sitting in front of a fire with spiced cider. There are spicy undertones to the very maple syrup like flavor. There is a sweetness that prevades the overall taste, which is great in my opinion. I may even smell a hint of vanilla in there.

I was quite pleased. Especially because I found this bottle at Whole Foods on 24th Street in Manhattan. Three Chreers for Whole Foods for stocking a great selection of quality beers.

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Photo of lifeboyq
4.89/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2001 vintage poured into a rochefort glass.

Very little head that fades almost instantly.

Nose, holy nose. it is a monster as I can smell it from a foot away. When i put my nose into it, it makes my nose hairs dance and wakes me up as if it were the smelling salt of beers. My eyes open wider with the strong fig, dates, raisins, sorghum, brown sugar, alcohol. Very deep dark fruits intertwined.

Wow, the taste is a monster. More flavor concentration than you almost ever "see" when tasting a beer. What a huge body on this beer. It almost reminds me of fabio or arnold, but not quite. I could pour this on my pancakes. Holy bajeeburs at the thickness of this beer. Reminds me of maple and raisin toast and fig newtons and just nuances of unrefined sugars dancing on my tongue. I served this intentionally slightly warmer than 55 and the hotness of this beer is slightly present, which doesnt bother me at all.

The mouthfeel is sily smooth, closer to a syrupy texture on the tongue. This beer isnt cloying but it is hugely intense.

Beer experiences dont get much finer. With age, this becomes a glorious thing.

Note, I've had different vintages back to 99 up to 08 and it changes quite drastically. The 08 this year was a bit much for me and wasnt ready. The 99 was even cleaner than this 2001 from my recollection but the tasting wasnt side by side.

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Photo of daftafne
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2003 vintage

Poured with great force into my tulip and yielded a scant, transient head. The color reminds me of a dark mahogany. Most obviously to me, smells sweet and bread-like. Also smells of raisins, caramel, oak, and plums.

Wow, this beer has a unique flavor profile. There is quite a bit going on and it is hard to place my finger (tongue more precisely) on each taste. It begins with sweet raisens, rum and plum, then some spice (clove and perhaps a little cinnamon) and then a minor pop of hops and finishes a little smokey. Each sip gives me a different iteration of the same story. Sticky on the tongue and very low carbonation. Overall, a great aged-beer.

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Photo of beavers
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 1998.
From a 9.6 ounce bottle into a snifter. Pours an opaque mahogony with a thin tan head that lines the edge of the glass but otherwise dissipates into a fairy nonexistent covering. Little lacing is left behind, which makes sense to the 11.5% ABV. Unbelievably rich, malty aroma of sweet pumpernickel, rum soaked dark fruits (dates?), rising dough, and an alcohol note that is reminiscent of tripel sec, sweet cognacs. Taste of sweet doughy bread, with rum soaked raisins and oak chips and a lingering brown sugar and molasses finish. It tastes like a holiday bread...with booze. You can smell the alcohol in the air, but is it entirely undistinguishable in the taste. This is most definitely a long sipper, not because of the booziness but because of how rich the malt profile is. I now know what a true english barleywine is, and I'm not going to say I dislike, but its quite a different exercise for the palette. A very interesting beer, and I can clearly see how the aging process works after this brew

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Photo of luvND
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5


I have had this case for nearly a year now and only break one out on special occasions, have also given a few as gifts to those I deem worthy.

Bottle: Nice fallish label, 1999 gold embossed

Appearance: In a brandy snifter, it can only be described as perfect. Thick, small bubbled head. Swirls beautifully. Deep amber color.

Smell: Sweet, molasses, bready, licorice, candied raisons.

Taste: Beautiful. Sweet, black licorice, very reminiscent of a brandy or port.

Mouthfeel: So creamy and slick, flavors linger pleasantly and your tongue actually feels coated with the stuff for a few minutes after the swallow.

Drinkability: About one an hour I'd say to properly enjoy this through a range of temperatures, it really does change as it warms a bit.

Notes: It is not an exaduration to say that this is the BEST beer that I have ever tasted. I would love to try some of the other vintages as this is the only year that was available at the time.

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Photo of maggotbrain
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 bottle:

The beer pours a murky, reddish brown color with a thin tan head. The head has receded to a thin layer of film and little to no lace is forming on the glass.

The odor is rich and reminiscent of overripe fruit.

The taste is full and complex, very sweet—maple syrup, toffee, apricots are standouts for me.

The mouthfeel is thick with little carbonation. For a beer as sweet and thick as this is, it isn’t syrupy at all, which is pretty remarkable. Very good.

The drinkabiliy is good; it’s defiantly a slow sipper, very appropriate for the style.

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
94 out of 100 based on 823 ratings.