Harveys Elizabethan Ale | Harvey & Son Ltd.

very good
123 Reviews
Harveys Elizabethan AleHarveys Elizabethan Ale

Brewed by:
Harvey & Son Ltd.
England, United Kingdom

Style: Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.10%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by purplehops on 12-31-2001

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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 153
Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Quite nice old ale, not too mellow, not too spicy nor too barleywiney. Nice dark colour and malty/spicey aroma. Good late nightcap. Woody, complex with cinammon and ginger, apple, raisin, vanilla, cardammon, starfruit. Sweet spicey dry aftertaste. Modest carbonation.

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Photo of metter98
3.92/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.39/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Photo of emerge077
3.1/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Thankfully there was a decent head on this, I was afraid it would be flat and oxidized. That would be only half true.

It pours into a tulip a really lovely ruby jewel tone, with a finger of offwhite foam (not flat, whew). It receded fast, and left some spotty, soapy lace on the sides, retaining a ghostly skim across the surface. Aroma was unusual, tea leaves, molasses, cookie spice, and sherry. Certainly smelled old. Not much trace of alcohol, but some indistinct fruits and caramel.

Flat, waxy taste, with hints of what might have been. Nutty, raisin... eh. Some tobacco bitterness in the aftertaste, followed by more grape/raisin. Kind of a gross slick/waxy feel to the liquid. Probably won't be finishing this.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 1998 drank in 2005: Poured a dark brown color ale with a small brown head with minimal retention. Aroma of strong roasted malt and some alcohol is easily distinguishable. Taste of strong malt, molasses and sweet caramel makes up for a nice warming drink. Alcohol is evident but not as much as to ruin it for me. Body is quiet full with some very light carbonation. I suspect a minimal used of hops since there is not much bitterness or maybe this is due to aging. Nice English style barleywine overall.

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Photo of oberon
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 1998 pours a deep chesnut brown with a few reddish tints but pretty murky looking,caramelly sweet aroma along with perhaps some dried fruit with a light whisky note,very appetizing.Nice subtle sweetness but not overpowering with some oaky flavors with brown sugar flavor in the finish and aftertaste,the alcohol becomes nice and warming after awhile as well.A nightcap beer for sure very very nice.

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Photo of chinchill
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
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!

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.3/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Murky dark orange-dark caramel with a modest infusion of raspberry red. The head began as large, fragile bubbles and didn't look like it'd last all that long. It was barely one finger in height initially and seems to have compressed rather than actually fallen to its current thick film. A lace-free glass impacts a little on my enjoyment of the appearance, but not much.

I love the way old ales smell. This one isn't spectacular, but it is deep and interesting. There are elements of dark butterscotch, dark caramel, cocoa and concentrated dark fruits such as raisins and figs. I also pick up some spices (specifics escape me).

I'm not sure how long this beer has been in the bottle since it appears that someone has deliberately scratched the 'best before' date and the lot number off the cap. It has, however, been time enough for the flavors to have melded in a most appealing way. Elizabethan is dark malty with the same characteristics found in the nose. The dark fruit is especially prominent; in particular brandy-macerated raisins, plums and, strangely enough, blackberries.

I'm not sure if this beer ever spent time in wood, but it sure tastes like it. It has some pleasant vinous notes that might have been picked up from a port barrel. There's a teasing sweetness (that never crosses the line into cloying), countered by a near equal bitterness that becomes more noticeable as the mouthful progresses into the mouthempty.

The body is medium-full and borders on lightly chewy. A mild degree of mouthcoating and a low (but persistent) amount of carbonation fit the flavor profile like a glove. This is a sipper; which is a good thing since the 9 ounce bottle wouldn't last long if one was inclined to gulp.

Harvey's Elizabethan Ale is a fine rendition of an old ale. It has a multi-faceted flavor profile, all elements of which work in perfect harmony. I'm beginning to develop a fondness for this style and this beer did nothing to dissuade me from that opinion. I don't remember where I bought it, but I wish now that I had picked up a few more.

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Photo of russpowell
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
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

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.2/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I grabbed this one when I was down in Florida. I had never seen these little bottles before so I grabbed a couple and just got around to trying it recently. Served chilled and poured into an oversized wine glass, this one was consumed on 02/22/2009.

The pour was nice, deep, dark brown with a nearly clouded over appearance. Nice little head of tan rose up over the top and settled down quickly into a small, light pillow that covered just enough. The aroma was a mixed bag of earthy malts, hints of a light hop presence and a smooth, delicate profile that was a treat to behold. Light alcohol note as it warms up and lots of caramel as you move in. The flavor was rich. Nice touches of nuts, caramel, hints of cinnamon and spices really liven it up. A very full palate here. A hint of bittering hops as it warms and the long, slow finish was just wonderful. A very solid little beer, well little in size only. I would not mind having another for sure.

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Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1999 bottle # 3975.

Appearance: Mildly hazed profound brownish amber thin tan bubbly and patchy lace from a hard pouring, sediment is well compacted and stayed at the bottom of the bottle.

Smell: The aroma is of lemon pound cake, alcohol soaked raisins and the maltiness flexes with caramel and again that cake like aroma. As it warms up more there is a mild solvent and woody smell to the brew.

Taste: Full bodied with a smooth and creamy mouth feel off of a light carbonation. A woody flavour wants to be first but everything else crowds in with it. Big cookie maltiness with caramel and honey coming through next. Sweetness is big but the woody and nutty yeast flavour tame it a bit. Alcohol has a big hand in both sides to balance with big fruity esters and a slight spicy undertone. Hops are a faded memory but still seem to put in a touch of bitterness. In the finish there is a good share of residuals but not in an excessive way, the warmth of the alcohol comes through stronger in the finish also but in a balance level with the sweetness.

Notes: This beer is as close as you can get to beer heaven, the beer gods have blessed this brew as well as me for I have partaken of such a special brew. Three years is a nice ripe age for this vintage. I have a few more of the same but feel now is a good time to partake.

1996, bottle # 0298.

Appearance: Slightly hazed deep brownish amber with a creamy yet patchy off white lace from the hard pour, sediment was well compacted and did not get stirred up while decanting.

Smell: Hearty alcoholic fruit aromas, pungent and tropical in smell with a mild tart twang in the nose. Vodka soaked raisins and pineapple can be picked out with an undertone of caramel.

Taste: Exceptional creamy mouth feel with a somewhat heavy syrupy malt palate, carbonation is minimal and adds to the smoothness. Ripe pear fruitiness, hints of pineapple and caramel with a vague hop bitterness and flavour that gives an earthy flavour. Hops have faded significantly though have not degraded and have added to the complexity. Alcohol is deceiving though starts to warm more and more towards the bottom of the glass. Handful of residual sweetness helps the fruitiness linger, husk of the grain and remnants of hop bitterness bring up the slack in the finish.

Notes: Big and chewy, a serious beer for all you beer geeks out there. Fours year later and this brew still has held up very well, oxidation is not noticeable. The time is now, this beer is ripe and ready for full enjoyment!

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Photo of jwc215
3.84/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275 ml bottle - label states that freshness date is on the cap, but it's not there.

Pours reddish brown with no head. After a slight delay, a head struggles to appear but vanishes to a wisp immediately.

The smell is of damp wood, caramel/toffee, some plum/raisin, a hint of anise, alcohol and a touch of cinnamon.

The taste is of caramel, nuts, some cinnamon and ginger spiciness. Anise and plum/raisin give some darkness to a caramelish maltiness. Alcohol is quite strong - even seems a bit more than the 8.1%. Damp wood lies in the back. There's a slight astringency. Quite the complex one. Sweet, but not overly all things considered.

It hits full-bodied with light carbonation.

A strong sipper. The interesting complexities, that work well, kept me wanting to sip it!

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 1998, bottle #1196..."B.M.G." printed on bottlecap, meaning that the line that day way back in '98 was handled by Bernhard G. Middlesbury and his professional capping crew...it does too!

color, a deep, dark raisiny brown, showing sides of violet, and the head is slim to nonexistent, becoming just a cream-colored ring around the side of the glass..aroma sticks out from afar and matches the color..raisins first, plum, dates, port wine, deep, dark, and twisted, winey, smokey, leathery...heady, arcane, inviting...
Taste...Huge malt, thick, and sweet, but not too much so, ...intriquing, but lighter on the palate than I would've expected..finish is also not as long-lasting as I'd like, though it sticks around enough to be counted...alcohol doesn't really stick out, either, though it's 8.1%...quite a unique, unusual little bottle of beer...a tasty little nightcap, or after-dinner delight...Due to the expense, (paid almost $4 for under 10 oz!) I probably won't return too often, but don't let that stop you from trying this little treat!

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Photo of GClarkage
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

06/12/05- Purchased at a wine shop in Sonoma.

Presentation- small 10oz? bottle vintage 1998. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

Appearance- Dark chocolate in color, small 1/2 head at most leaving light lacing.

Smell- Deep and dark fruits....dates, raisin, prunes, figs, you name it.

Taste- Read the smell portion and you've got it. Maybe a bit of cherry flavor added in. Definite figs and dates though.

Mouthfeel- Low carbonation, smooth and sticky.

Drinkability- This was quite yummy. Maybe is more suited as a nice dessert beer. Not as big as a barleywine, but this should do the trick.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.56/5  rDev +15.4%
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.

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Photo of tempest
3.67/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an oversized wine glass. No head or lacing. cola brown body. The first thing that comes to mind in the aroma is run and coke. Smells strongly of spiced rum. Taste is surprisingly weak at first but then spicey malt/alcohol flavors come through. No hop pressence, just strangely complex malts (I didn't know beer could be like this). Almost no carbonation, but this makes for an unbelieveably smooth beer, reminds me of cask ale.

This beer didn't register as really good or bad, it was just kind of odd and fun to drink. Worth a try if you don't mind the high price and like rum.

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Photo of WesWes
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1998 Bottle #3589

The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a thin offwhite head that fades to lacing. The aroma is great. It has an intensely rich malt scent that boasts of crystal and roasted malts. It has a slightly fruity, raisin scent. It has a warm alcohol aroma to it. The taste is excellent. It has a smooth malty flavor that goes down easy and finishes warm with a buttery aftertaste. It is full of sweet crystal malts and roasted barley. The aging must add more complexity to the flavor. There are some woody notes as well. The mouthfeel is good. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a damn fine beer. There is so much going on in this brew. The taste is great. I'll get this one again.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.14/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an incredibly viscous murky brown with very little to no head or lacing. The smell is sweet and sherry like with raisins, prunes, and a touch of wood. Taste is very sweet and dessert like. The same fruit detectable in the nose is here, but a little more subdued. Smooth and honeyed malt with a trace of tannic bitterness on the finish. Very little carbonation makes this almost like a rich mead. Fairly complex and quite nice as a digestif. Very smooth mouthfeel and lighter seeming than both the smell and appearance would suggest. Nice.

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Photo of biegaman
3.82/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1998 Vintage, bottle # 4244, aged a full ten years.

A desolately flush surface, completely and utterly flat even against the sides where perhaps a slight trim might be expected. A muddied tinge hinders much of its allure. It has the complexion of prune juice with a subtle gleam of shiraz to the light.

It smells to me as if a truckload of raisins were left to dry out right there in my glass. The aroma is inarguably that of dried fruits, and not in the general sense, but specifically raisins and prunes. I like the smell enough but I don't think it has the complexity that makes burying your nose in it worthwhile. Large, constant inhalations turn up the same thing each time.

The taste reinforces flavours of dried fruits. Raisins and prunes are still foremost although slightly sweeter notes of plums, figs and dates come through a little more. Both hops and yeast are all but faded. A noting of butterscotch is minimal but seems the only accompaniment to the flavour of sweet and dried fruits.

With absolutely no carbonation, the tannic character imparted by its flavour, and the 8.1% having fewer room to hide with age, this bottle has become something akin to a weak port or fortified wine. Its appearance, its flavours, its sweetness, and its whole all around character resembles that of a port or fortified wine.

Having never seen a fresh bottle of Elizabethan Ale I can't be sure of how well this sample has held up. I do hope my descriptions can provide some clues. Whether old ale or barleywine I felt it fell short of both marks. Still, it was something I enjoyed - albeit less as a beer and more as a sort of British digestif.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage Bottle 1998, Sampled January 2005
This beer pours with only a wispy pale head, it is a hazy dark amber color. From afar the beer smells quite thick with hops, when I get in closer though sweet malt notes dominate. The aroma is oxidized with notes of sherry, port, thick malt, dates, figs. The aroma is quite richly fruity. The beer is not that sweet. I was expecting it to be a bit sweeter, but given that this is 7 years old, usually the sweetness of a beer dies down over time. The beer is fairly rich with aged malt notes and oxidation notes, I get a combination of notes of sherry, perhaps some wet cardboard notes, caramel, raisins, and figs. The palate is fairly light, and I think that it has thinned out considerably since it was first brewed. The oxidation character of this beer is just about perfect, it is a tasty beer to be sipping on as a nightcap.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.1/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Poured a dark caramel apple with absolutely no head, lacing or visible carbonation observed. Overall not much going on here, flat, lifeless and rather unexciting best sums up the appearance.

S: The nose reeked of fusels with a strong acetic nature (vinegar). Think of dying eggs at easter time. Unfortunately the acetic nature pretty much masks up any other aroma that may have been present.

t: The intial flavor was sweet caramelized grain juice and vinegar (acetic twang). Sour green apples add acetaldehyde hints while a warming alcohol spiciness of apple cider and cinnamon chime in as well. The beer proceeds to finish on notes of caramel raisins, dates, and a bit of syrupy sweetness which does add a bit of complexity to an otherwise mundane start.

m: The mouthful was flat, void of any carbonation and presented a medium fullness that had an oily texture.

D: Overall drinkability was fair if you understood the direction of the beer. Would not recommend to the casual craft drinker as you may get the impression that this beer is bad. I would not consider drinking more then one of these at any given sitting and it is highly unlikely I would be a repeat purchaser here, just not my style.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
2.57/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

From 9.3oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/27/11
*From notes

I'm not sure of the vintage, as there was a big pricing sticker placed on the label.

A: Purple-amber in presentation, with a tiny .5 finger head and no lacing to speak of.

S: Malty prune juice. It's overly sweet and syrupy on the nose, making me pull away from the glass.

T: Hardcore prunes and raisins. Big time branflakes and rottting black fruit. It feels like this one was aged a bit too long at the brewery, as it's too cloyingly sweet.

M: Rough, like liquid sandpaper.

O: Harveys Elizabethan Ale misses the mark. It's too sweet and lacks any sort of balance. I will say that due to the prune juice like flavor profile, my Grandma would love it.

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Photo of wl0307
3.93/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I wonder why this beer is listed as "retired" here, as it's still been brewed very year and readily available in most Harvey's pubs. This bottle is picked up at Harvey's Brewery Shop in Lewes, BB DEC 07, served cool in a large wine goblet.

A: coming with no beer head what-so-ever apart from rimmed bubbles; the hue is like semi-infused black tea, while the carbonation is next to flat - looking very standard for this type of ale in its bottled form.
S: caramel, raisins, plum jam, and a touch of prunes dominate the aroma, while Harvey's distinctively sour-sweet yeast-malt (best illustrated by Harvey's Best Bitter) mixture hides behind; hops are next to non-existence. All elements are blended in a harmonious state, giving little hint about its real strength.
T: an assertive taste mixed of golden syrup, melted brown sugar, a trace of fresh sugar-cane, and Chinese black herb-jelly accompanies the sour-sweet prunes and longan-fruit tea; the semi-dry, roasted-tea-ish and woody-tannic hoppyness gradually minifests itself, rendering a mildly dry and very long, soothingly bitter finish. BTW, not a single touch of alc. is felt on the palate.
M&D: rather lubricating on the mouthfeel without being sticky/heavy at all; at 8.1%, it somehow tastes like 6%-something, as the alc. as well as fizziness have both been softened greatly by the aging process, while the hoppyness and woody-tannic mouthfeel both make the palate all the more interesting and not quite boring. Overall, this ale tastes more like a barley wine than old ale to me. Yet, whichever style, this is a very enjoyable, albeit somewhat understated, strong ale IMHO!

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +20.3%
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.

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Harveys Elizabethan Ale from Harvey & Son Ltd.
3.95 out of 5 based on 153 ratings.
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