Elizabethan Ale
Harvey's Brewery

Elizabethan AleElizabethan Ale
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Barleywine - English
Ranked #93
Ranked #7,058
4.04 | pDev: 14.6%
Harvey's Brewery
England, United Kingdom
Elizabethan AleElizabethan Ale
Notes: A full, malty palate with a lingering bitterness and warming spirit content. Elizabethan Ale was originally produced in celebration of the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This strong barley wine is reminiscent of the “October Ales” which were brewed in domestic brewhouses during the sixteenth century.
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Reviews: 129 | Ratings: 175 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of vinicole
vinicole from England

4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Clear amber with a thin head.
Unusual aroma of mixed phenols. Scrumpy apple cider. Overdone mixed fruit crumble. Wholemeal bread is somewhere in there.
Rich flavour reflecting the smell. Quite sweet.
Full bodied with a gentle carbonation.
A very complex and satisfying brew.

Sep 15, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

3.7/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

i am generally a fan of these old european strong ales, but this one didnt quite get me there. on tap at bull and bush, it immediately smells kind of tired to me, a little oxidized and perhaps faded from a hop standpoint. its hot right away too, oddly boozy and intense and sort of concentrated and fusel for its modest listed abv, not sure why it is that way but it is. the aroma and flavor have notes of baked dark bread, port wine, and breakfast cereals, some english tea too, very morning complexion to me, some dried fruits and spice cake too. dusty old english malts, a bready yeast strain, and some spicy bittering hops, oxidation and dried cherry and cranberry, and finally a cool earthy mineral element, really pretty complex, just not all the way agreeable to me for whatever reason. sort of has old ale or baby barleywine energy, but isnt that sweet when i drink on it. it has a pretty classic english complexion overall, but is also unique in some ways to my palate. i need to revisit this one, it wasnt what i was expecting and kind of threw me off. it didnt wow me like i expected it to...

Apr 20, 2018
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bret717 from Pennsylvania

4.69/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look- pours a crystal clear deep gold with soapy white head

Aroma- bready malt, leather, tea, mild floral hops

Flavor- rich bread, pipe tobacco, leather, tea, hop bitterness in the finish.

Feel- medium/full bodied, low carb and creamy

Overall- a delicious beer that presents incredibly deep and complex malt flavor.

Mar 03, 2018
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jkblr from Indiana

4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

275mL undated bottle poured into a snifter at fridge temp 8.1% ABV. The beer pours a brown amber color with some red highlights. The head is practically nonexistent with a few bubbles migrating to the sides of the glass. The aroma offers red wine, leather, plums, raisins, cherry and mild tobacco. The taste is semisweet caramel (more like burnt sugar), dark dried fruits, cherry and rich malt. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, barely carbonated and undry in the finish. That is not to say the beer is cloying or overly sweet, to my palate. Overall, outstanding. If these had dates, I'd probably load up the next time I see them. Just fantastic in a way I can't really describe.

Feb 17, 2018
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VoxRationis from New York

4.96/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Decanted from a 9.3 oz (275 ml) bottle into a conical pint.
A: Pours a clear copper color with little head or lacing.
S: Aromas of cane sugar, caramel, walnut, and maybe chocolate.
T: Tastes of biscuit, caramel, and bourbon. Peppery, but bitterness only evident at end of swallow.
M: Full bodied with gentle effervescence throughout.
O: A really deliciously complex ale experience.

Jul 12, 2017
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap from the cask at The Beer Temple. So, this was an unusual treat to have this classic served in the very traditional English style in a Midwest tasting room.

With dark amber Looks, its Smells and Tastes are like a fortified wine... vinous, barrel-like, but less alcohol. This old ale had just enough syrup, chocolate and coffee that I could skip dessert.

Elizabethan Ale is reviewed in Roger Protz' "300 More Beers To Try Before You Die", a sequel to his CAMRA classic. He comments that it is the same recipe to commemorate the 1953 coronation revived for the Golden Jubilee. The brewer claims the original bottles still hold up. Such a nice tradition.

Also, MJ's 1999 "Guide" gave it a high 3.5 of 4 stars and declared it "immensely complex." (That's what I meant to say.)

12/30/19 Had again. Edited and very slightly re-rated. A classic I'd like to have again.

Apr 30, 2016
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chinchill from South Carolina

4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Shared 20 year old bottle from 1996! (Thanks Dan!)

Clear deep red-brown body.
Excellent sweet bitter balance.
Rich and complex taste. Lasting malty flavor with hints of molasses, toffee, and vanilla.
Very smooth!

Apr 03, 2016
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sjccmd from Minnesota

4.1/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Sweet and rummy aroma. Toffee, brown sugar, stewed apricots. Cinnamon. Lighter fruits. Cooked apples. Now that I think about it, apple pie including the crust. Perhaps even a touch buttery. Caramelized sugar and toast.

Pours clear, pale amber, with a hint of ruby. Very little head, but somewhat sticky.

Wash of fruits and brown sugar upfront leaning more towards bready malts in the finish. Burnt sugar lingers on the palate, but still surprisingly dry. There is no age date, but I am guessing this beer is fairly old, so it's surprising that there is still some balancing hop bitterness. Less apples more pie crust on the palate.

Medium full body with very low carbonation. It almost seems uncarbonated, but the body makes up for it.

Very complex and rich upfront but dry in the finish making it surprisingly drinkable for the style.

Mar 20, 2016
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ClavisAurea from New York

3.22/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Old bottle I think. It's been in my cellar since 10/2014.

Appearance: poured almost still, deep copper with no head

Nose: tobacco, sweet, leather, caramel, rich toffee, raising, prunes, nutty, port and Madiera sherry

Taste: very sweet, follows the nose, leather, dark fruits, sherry, port, liquid dark fruits, raisins

Overall: I'm conflicted again. This is supposed to be excellent but I think it's oxidized to death. The set alcohol is cloying and overpowering. I'm glad I tried the beer but it is an odd one.

Feb 22, 2016
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jazzyjeff13 from England

3.5/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 275ml bottle with a BB of March 2015. ABV is stated as 7.5%. Purchased a while back from the Harvey's shop in Lewes. The label mentions that this was originally brewed for the coronation in 1953 - a barley wine in the style of a 16th century 'October ale'.

A: Poured into a tulip. A deep amber hue with good clarity and medium carbonation. Yields a decent head of frothy white foam that lasts for a minute or two before reducing to a patchy surface layer. Slight lacing.

S: Aroma of sweet, fruity malt with hints of raisins, light sherry, a touch of apricot, dried fruit, sugar, subtle caramel, yeast esters and faint stewed leaves. Malt-dominant but quite nice.

T: Tastes of sweet, fruity malt with a mild, lingering finish. Notes of raisins, sherry, dried fruit, sugar, a hint of caramel, yeast esters and faint stewed leaves. Possesses a subtle vinous quality and a twinge of cardboard in the background. Little bitterness to speak of. Pretty sweet, followed by a lengthy fruitiness upon swallowing.

M: Mouthfeel is smooth and tingly, with soft carbonation and good body. Could be a shade thicker for the style. Mildly astringent, accompanied by an aftertaste of sweet fruity malt, yeast esters and subtle stewed leaves/cardboard.

O: Pretty good, though lacking in complexity. Looks alright, while the aroma and flavour are very sweet and fruity with a sherry-like character. No hop notes or bitterness. Body is OK but maybe a tad too thin. A nice strong ale but could be more rounded - it verges on cloying. Might also benefit from conditioning with live yeast. That said, it's a beer of character that deserves to be sampled.

May 14, 2015
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pat61 from Minnesota

4.75/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Brilliant copper amber with a thin white wisp of a head.
S: Nutty toast, some sherry, fruit and earthiness.
T: Big caramel treacle flavors blended with nuts and light toast give way to a grapey, sherry finish. Hints of pear and other light fruit, traces iof tropical fruit and a hint of pineapple.
F: a little above medium on the body and below medium on the carbonation.
O: A very well made and easy to drink old ale.

May 02, 2015
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MakeMineADoubleJack from North Carolina

1.43/5  rDev -64.6%
look: 1.25 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

Considering everyone else's reviews, I must have gotten a bad bottle. What was inside tasted and smelled more like an adjunct lager than a world-class old ale.

Apr 24, 2015
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garymuchow from Minnesota

4.59/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

I've had my eye on this for awhile and now seems the time. 2008 version poured into a Boulevard tulip.
Sweet caramel, toffee and a bit of must. Deeper richer fruit, like figs and dates. Not overpowering but pleasant and calming.
Pours with no apparent carbonation, but a small thin head does appear and then settles out to a white ring. Garnet colored and glows like a gem.
Tastes very similar to the aroma. Yummy. Much like candied fruit all around, with just a hint of drying on the finish-that actually grows through the glass. The toffee and caramel are now more background.
A bit thin, but that is as much about the low carbonation as anything. Flavor fades on palate in time leaving me ready to place that joy producing elixir right back on there as soon as possible. I will fight those urges and make this wonderful glass of beer last. And I'm going to buy some more. Worth the price I paid.

Jan 26, 2014
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.51/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- slowly forming head of foam after the pour, at its max less than an inch and that fades quickly.

S- caramel malt, Port like nose, slight dark fruits.

T- caramel malt with again, Port like flavour, some butterscotch, hints of dark fruits.

M- medium to medium high body, no carbonation.

O- very tasty brew with the alcohol well hidden. I dig it.

Aug 19, 2013
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7ate9 from Virginia

4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

With an aggressive pour this pops a quickly receding white head. Falls to a ring that sticks around. This bottle has no date on it so I can't be certain when it was born, but this has no small amount of years on it../ having any sort of head is impressive. Very nice dark mahogany color, Spot on.

Very complex smell of leather, raisin/tawny port/passito (which suggests a slight tart fruit note and touch of balsamic), prune, brown sugar...
a concentrated boozy molasses/rum-like flavor
Dried apricot
All very nice

Palate follows the nose. The age has hollowed out the mid-palate a bit but the finish kicks in big with leather, beef jerky, amaretto, and an unfortunate slight metallic taste that really takes away from it all.

Med body, dried out a bit with the age
Med-minus carbonation

Elizabethan is a great example of a tradional english old ale
Don't go into it thinking barleywine
Don't go into it thinking about old ales like Fruet or Fourth Dementia
It's a very complex, drinkable, moderate strength (but still pleasantly warming) beer that (except for the unfortunate slight metallic finish) is a joy to experience.

Nov 08, 2012
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ATLbeerDog from Georgia

4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I am told this is the 1996 version 8.1% ABV - In a brown 275 ml bottle with “PLEASE RETURN” and three arrows circling the bottle and an “O.K.M” stamped on the gold bottle cap.

Pours a thin slightly murky dark root beer color that is headless. Tons of dark overly ripe fruits dominate the aroma with plenty of age (sherry notes) and some booziness comprise a great nose. First sip is surprisingly good and tasty. Similar to what the nose indicted, the taste is full of those lovely dark overly ripe fruits like plums and figs. It starts super sweet but quickly finishes with a bitter twist that really captures my attention sip after sip after sip. Though thin bodied and lacking some carbonation - I don’t care as this puppy has plenty to offer.

Aug 30, 2012
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russpowell from Arkansas

3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazed brown/chestnut with minimal cream colored head. Some head retention & lacing

S: Dark fruit, figs dates, raisins

T: Rich dark fruit, a touch of pears, & woody hops, plus a bit of toffee up front. Some treacle sweetness as this warms, leafy hops, pears & figs. Finishes very dry with woody hops & figs with jammy notes

MF: Zero carbonation & medium bodied, sticky, a little warming

This is good English Old Ale, a proto-type for the style

Aug 02, 2012
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metter98 from New York

3.92/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is relatively clear dark garnet in color; close inspection reveals a slight amount of carbonation and a few small particles visible floating in suspension. It poured with just a thick ring of large bubbles on the surface around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderate to strong complex aromas of port wine, prunes and toffee in the nose.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and also has some notes of oak and hints of sweetness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of warming from the alcohol in the finish. Some hints of syrupiness become noticeable as the beer warms up.
O: I found this to be a very interesting beer—it has the complex flavors that you would expect from a barleywine but is a little more drinkable because it doesn’t feel as heavy on the palate. The alcohol is also well hidden from the taste.

Apr 03, 2012
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.56/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Black Raven pint Pours a medium red amber. Minimal off-white head and hints of lacing. Malty aroma, caramel, dark fruits. Nice mellow caramel and sweet malt, dark fruits, a port like element. Faint woody flavor, no hops. Very well integrated and balanced. An excellent old ale. This bottle had no bottling date, but has been stored refrigerated for a year.

Mar 15, 2012
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Samp01 from New Jersey

3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A ruby amber on the pour with a small short lived head. Aroma is very fruity, with a bouquet of dark fruits, plums, dates, some yeast, caramel malt, and sweet alcohol esters are present, almost like a brandy. Taste is caramel malt, yeast, dark fruits, plums, dates and some light bitterness. Palate is a full body with a rich creamy texture and soft carbonation. Finish is sweet caramel malt, dark fruits, dates, plums, maybe some light chocolate notes, ending with some sweet slightly bitterness and a lingering alcohol presence, flavors become more pronounced as it warms up. Overall a good ale to sip on cold winter nights

Feb 10, 2012
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allforbetterbeer from Colorado

3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle #2152, brewed in 1997. Poured into a Swiss wine snifter.

Upon popping the cap there is a slight hiss. When pouring into the glass no head is formed, but a light ring of foam clings to glass around the surface, and bubbles form all over the inside of the glass below the level of the beer. The color is a remarkable dirty ruby when held to light showing just a hint of haze. The fact that this beer retains those beautiful red hues after nearly 15 years is awesome.

The nose is strong, and displays heady notes of old port, oxidized red wine, dried dark fruits, and a slight savory quality that might be smoky and brings to mind dark meat.

The flavors are not nearly as brash as the nose indicated. Old dusty toffee with dried dates, figs, and maybe prunes is the central flavor. All the flavors present have been affected by oxidation (or caused by it). The savory flavor is present as well and manifests almost like chocolate in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is surprisingly full for the age of this beer, but still shows some of the thinning and watery qualities to old age. There is obviously carbonation left, but very little of it is felt in the mouth.

Conclusion: For not being bottle conditioned, this has taken the years with surprising grace (although the pasteurization helped ensure it didn't end of a sour mess). It is certainly the best 20th century beer I have had (the other was Gale's millennium brew). I love old beer and will continue looking for older and older examples of beers that are known to age well.

Feb 02, 2012
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.39/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An exquisit ale that carries all the flavors, aromas, and appearances that are expected of classic English Barleywines, except with the lighter body and higher drinkability of Old Ales- It's a pleasure to see this shared bottle of '98 vintage, bottle #4287 in front of me.

A pour of dense tawny/rusty brown carries a lowly carbonated and visual weighted haze releases the faintest of delicate creme foa that struggles against the weight and infussed creaminess. No lace, no retention- this ale carries the stately appearances of cognacs and ports.

Bold and succulent aromas of fruity prunes, grapes, and raisons rise from the caramel and biscuity scent. Toffee richness, leathery, and raw tobacco all weave into the aromatic matrix. This in a seriously seductive scent.

Flavors deliver on the promises made by the nose- hearty malt sweetness and bread flavors weave into a port wine-like flavor that borrows complenting flavors of rum, sherry, walnut, brown sugar, soy sauce, brine, toffee, and tobacco. All of these contribute to the beer from either the sweetness of malt, the malliard reaction of boil, or the oxidation of dark grains. Delicious and succulent with only an herbal evidence of hops from underneath.

Full bodied and densely creamy, the fleeting carbonation quickly allows for the full weight of the beer to lay on the tongue and coat the palte for a lightly oily and coated feel somehow allows for a semi malty-dry finish compared to Barleywines.

This is a magical beer that rivals well aged J.W. Lees Harvest Ales and Gales Prized Old Ale in taste but becomed deceptively drinkable with its dryish body and finish.

Dec 01, 2011
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weizenbob from Michigan

4.69/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This 275 ml bottle was purchased at Beertopia in Omaha, NE for $3.89. According to Harvey’s website this barley wine was originally brewed to mark the Queen's Coronation in 1953. The label states that this contains malted barley and oats, and at 8.1% ABV, I imagine a lot of it. No bottling information could be located, despite the label’s insistence that it should be on the bottle top. This bottle was served at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It was poured into a Duvel tulip glass.

An aggressive pour yields less than a finger of tan-colored head. Retention is poor, but at this gravity I’m not surprised. Lacing maintains the high water mark on the glass. The brew is a deep amber hue, with surprisingly little translucence.

As soon as the cap came off, this bottle was gushing with aroma. In the glass, this smells richly alcoholic with a high degree of malt complexity. Sweet aromas of caramel and toffee overload the senses while a healthy amount of alcohol quite literally tickles the nose hairs. The combination is mildly paint thinner-esque but not in a way that implies that I’ll be drinking chemicals (or getting high off fumes for that matter). I’m a sucker for big ales that bludgeon the senses. You can throw subtlety out the window; this is uniquely big.

It is also a very tasty brew. The dominant impression that I get from the first sip is that I’m chewing on rye bread. It is a literal bread flavor to a degree of which I have never tasted in any beer. Sweetness ensues, bringing along a complex range of fruity esthers. A mild but persistent woody character adds a nice subtlety. Alcohol is on the tongue but contains absolutely no harshness whatsoever. Hop bitterness is non-existent. It finishes as sweet as any beer I’ve tasted, yet not cloyingly so. I cannot believe how smooth this is. It’s like a big jelly sandwich in a glass.

In the mouth this feels fantastic! It is full bodied and quite heavy. The carbonation level is low. For 8.1% ABV it is not the least bit harsh. It is rich and smooth, yet in no way a burden to drink. I’ve not had a barley wine that was this close to perfection without any required extended cellaring. The price works out to about $5 per 12 ounce serving, and I concede that this is easily the best $5 barley wine that I have ever had the pleasure of imbibing. In this case the small 275 ml (9.3 ounce) bottle actually felt like an unnecessarily large serving. By the time that I was finished, it had warmed to room temperature and was no worse for the wear. This is world-class.

Nov 28, 2011
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mrfrancis from Kentucky

4.19/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear amber with no head. There is not even the slightest hint of carbonation, but one does not exactly expect it in a beer this old.

S: Gorgeous and full on the nose with aromas of leather, tobacco, toffee, dates, figs, and prunes. This is one of the most aromatic beers I believe I've ever encountered.

T: Sweet and sticky on the palate with leather, toffee, molasses, tobacco, raisin, fig, prune, date, oak, and oxidized flavors in abundance. The finish is warming, mellow, and sweet with dried fruit, leather, and port-like characteristics.

M: Full-bodied, slick, oily, and a bit resinous. There is no carbonation, so this ale remains still in the mouth.

O: This is an excellent English old ale. It's a benchmark of the style and well deserving of its reputation as a classic.

Nov 13, 2011
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HopStoopid120 from Connecticut

4.92/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1977 Vintage. Brewed for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Consumed on 8/4/2011. This is really an OLD Ale. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Pours witha very slight head. Am I seeing carbonation??? This is insane, seeing this beer is eight years older than I am. The carbonation pretty quckly dissapears as does the head. What your left with is a beautiful set of legs, graced over the ruby/brown body. This looks intense. Getting really stoked to get into this one.

This is fantastic. This is one of the best smelling beers ever. Yeah, its very old (34 years), so its a bit oxidized, but it works here. Leather, tobacco, tons of dark fruits, dates, figs, raisins. I can't get enough of this. I probably kept my nose buried in my glass for several minutes without even tasting it. Glorious.

Sweet, oxidized, dark fruits, even a touch of touch of wood. The taste is wonderful. No real bitterness to speak of, of course. This is so impressive. Tastes exactly like I want a 30+ year old barleywine or old ale to taste. The flavors just linger in the mouth.

This is pretty full in the mouth. Thick and slick. Yes. No carbonation, but who cares?

I have been very fortunate in the fact that I have tried many of the Jubilee ales. This has been one of the two best I have had. The other being Ansell's Strong Ale, but unfortunately that beer is not on here to be reviewed. I hope to someday get my hands on another of these, although I'm sure that is very unlikely. Now, I suppose, I should try some of the later vintages of this beer if I can track some down. Amazing stuff.

Aug 06, 2011
Elizabethan Ale from Harvey's Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 175 ratings