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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 153
Photo of BDTyre
3.92/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Ummm...BA says this is retired and an Old Ale? Brewer's website lists this as still active and a barley wine?

Slightly cloudy copper colour with a thin, weak head. True, the head is not like any barley wine I've had, but the colour is a bit thin and light for an old ale. It looks watery and a bit thin.

Vinous, sweet malty scent. Faint hop bitterness...it smells like most of the other barley wine's I've had.

Caramel, toffee, vinouous notes and a good dose of malt. Barely wine taste: big malts, low hops. Sweet but bitter, sour notes. Oily but thin mouthfeel. No carbonation to speak of. On the watery side to be a barley wine. Nice ale, but not an old ale. Needs to be brought out of retirement and reclassed as a barley wine.

 739 characters

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!

 1,640 characters

Photo of Braudog
2.7/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

This poured from my 275ml bottle lifeless and flat, so immediately my radar is up for other flaws. Although the label says to see the cap for "best before date", I can’t find any indication on the bottle of the vintage of this little guy. It seems too watery for a big beer. The color is river-bottom ruddy, virtually opaque and brown. What little head there is lingers and tilting the glass results in some limited cascade. The aroma is off ... granny smith apple, mostly. The first swallow is starkly candied and caramel ... not beer caramel, but like literal candy caramel apple your dad bought you at a state fair when you were a kid. It still seems a bit watery, but the intense flavor quotient would certainly be attractive to some, I suppose. (#2733, 3/6/2007)

 768 characters

Photo of riversider76
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 1998. Pours brown with orange hues. Not much head,and only a bit of lacing. Smells is wine like. Body is on the thick side and is smooth and silky. Taste is of dark fruits, very much like wine. I believe this is the first time I've tried this style of beer.Excellent.

 275 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.23/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Dark eggplant with drippy lace.
Scent is funky and 10 years old.
Picked up as a bonus bottle.
First swigs: Dark raisins, some pancake flour and a touch of maple syrup.
Feel is rather tacky and sugar sticky.
Last swigs: A traditional English Barley if there ever were one!

 277 characters

Photo of marcobrau
4.66/5  rDev +18%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The 1998 vintage of this beer pours with no head, just a slight flourish of carbonation and a slightly murky brown color. (Note: a second pour created about a quarter-inch thick layer of foam that slowly settled. This pour also greatly enhanced the mouthfeel.) The first whiff of the aroma smells of marzipan and toffee, along with alcohol-soaked fruit. The taste is full of caramel and toffee notes with a raisiny character, which fades to a more nutty, woody character suggestive of walnuts. This is a very complex beer. I'm surprised by the dryness of the finish, which is also a bit tannic. I love the complexity of this beer. There are more flavors here I can quite isolate, but all of them combined make for a very complex an flavorful beer. The strenght is up there a bit and is noticeable, too. To sum up, this is an outstanding old ale and worth seeking out.

 867 characters

Photo of bort11
3.91/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

9.3 oz bottle. The label refers to the bottle top for lot number and best by date, but there is no information there. This still seems available, so I'm not sure why it's retired.
Poured into a tulip glass. No head or lacing what-so-ever. So sad. Color is a dirty ruddy brown. Solid opaque with ruby notes when held to the light. Smell is a lovely dried fruit, dates, and a bit vinious. Slightly sour, but moslty sweet. Taste follows through nicely. Nice raisin/date flavor. Earthy and mild too. Mouthfeel is a disappointment, because there is no carbonation. It is medium bodied and chewy, that part is very enjoyable. If there was a tiniest bit of carbonation, it would bring the score up drasticly. This is a tastey old ale. Since it is retired, I may pick up as much as I can before it's gone for good.

 807 characters

Photo of WeisGuy
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1998 vintage, bottle 2207

a - pours a deep maroon/brown color with a small white head that dissipates quickly, not much lacing

s - prunes and sour fruit dominate the aroma, very complex nose though, lots of other hints such as toffee and sweet maltiness

t - the aging has been fairly good to this ale, very strong sweetness, sour fruit taste but very different from a flanders red, maltiness and oak very evident too, the finish is unique, reminds me of a white wine finish

m - very little carbonation, medium-bodied

d - one bottle of this is plenty for me, old ales in general are not very "drinkable" beers, so I'm not going to knock this beer for that much

Easily the oldest beer I've ever tasted. I think this is a good old ale and well worth the try. It's a unique beer that's unlike anything I've previously had.

 836 characters

Photo of crwills
3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

After a big disappointment with my first vintage beer (a 2001 Le Coq Imperial Russian Stout that tasted like vinegared wine), I didn't have high hopes for this one, which was twice as old. This review is for the 1996 bottling of this brew -- an 'Old Ale' in more ways than one!

Poured a solid but 'muddy' chocolate brown into an oversized wine glass. Slightly purple notes to it when held up to the light. Bizarre, slow motion bubbling to create a small but permanent head. Very hazy, although I can't see any individual floaties.

Aroma is complex -- toffee, licorice, big plump raisins or dried figs, sugary alcohol and sweet malt. Looking good so far, and...

Woohoo! It's not spoiled! It's not fantastic, or anything, but definitely different and definitely drinkable. Hugely malty, with a bit of a 'Coca Cola' flavour to it. Mild metallic notes that go away as it warms (needed a long time). Definite raisin flavours, along with some chocolate and roasted malt.

Super-thick, chewy mouthfeel with a raisiny, bready aftertaste.

I'll probably never get to try this beer again, now that it's retired, but I'm glad I did at least once!

 1,148 characters

Photo of sinstaineddemon
1.73/5  rDev -56.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - this ale pours a dark brown with red highlights, too hazy to see sediment or carbonation, thin tan head

S - dark fruit aromas, like dates, raisins, or figs, a strong alcohol kick, and strong vanilla extract aromas, and a caramel background

T - bland at first, then BOOM a very strong offensive sour milk taste, not very appetizing, the aftertaste is sweet, like burnt caramel

M - sour and smooth, more sour though

D - the sourness made it hard to drink

 468 characters

Photo of GreenWBush
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

400th review. Nice to do it with a well-aged beer.

Brewed in 1998, bottle #3028.

A difficult cap pry-off worried me, but I was rewarded with a raisin colored surprise: 1" head and incredible lace for the style (and age).

Nose is smooth and seems unravaged by age. Deep, woody and earthy notes prevail. Dried dark fruits. Toffee. Gummy malt sweetness that goes on forever. Melon sweetness. Slight oxidation at warmer temperatures.

Age is reflected a bit more in flavor than nose, but only ever so slightly. Sweet malt and distinguished oak and vanilla flavors pad the somewhat age-bitten core. Finishes with suggestions of marzipan and cork.

This is surely not on-par with the Thomas Hardy's of the world (at least in terms of aging) but was an interesting and great experience throughout. I was sad to see this nip end.

8 years have obviously calmed this beer down to something lucious and reveletory in some senses, and in others I wish I could have seen this with just a few years' age on it. Either way this was a very worthwhile and informative beer-drinking experience, as before this beer the oldest beers i've consumed have only been in the 2-3 year range.

 1,183 characters

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.72/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1998 vintage; bottle #4650

This beer poured a murky cider brown with some cherry highlights. The thin dirty white head swirled around and stuck in some neat patterns. There was also a ring of larger bubbles around the edges of my tulip.

Smelled of milk chocolate, tootsie roll, caramel, fruit cake, prunes and port, all fantastically blended together so that I had to work to pull apart the smells. There was also a lingering sour fruit that I couldn’t pin down to any specific fruit.

Tastes of musky oak, wild herbs, cinnamon and hazelnut on top of a creamy barley, oatmeal and not-too-sweet brown sugar. There’s also a delicate concord grape. These flavors are fantastically blended, smooth and subtle. In the finish a woody coffee creeps in.

The mouth feel was light but dense with a micro-carbonation that made the beer overall feel very delicate.

This was truly a delight to sip. I’m giving this high marks primarily based on the blended flavors that transport this beer utterly out of the hops/barley/yeast range and into some place completely different. Fantastic beer!

 1,094 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
3.25/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled in 1998, bottle# 4726. Poured from a 275ml ottle.

Appearance- Pours a small, bollowy head that recedes to an odd looking film. Remins me of when people at the coffee bar draw things in your cappucino with the foam. Color is a deep brown/red mix. Like a syrupy rust.

Smell- This was a pretty cool mix of caramel, apples, and spiced cream. Malty, old school sugared goodness.

Taste- Starts out nice and sweet and malty,but then turns a little moldy and tart. Not a good combination. The finish mellows out on the middle of the tongue. But didn't redeem the overall flavor profile.

This was the oldest beer I've ever had. Im hoping the flavor, that didn't meet my expectations, was a result of storage by the retailer.

 739 characters

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.

 592 characters

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

1998 Bottling.

Aroma is musty and dusty like an old book. There are also notes of prunes and caramel. Opaque red/brown color with a small, but quickly fading, white head. Flavor is much nicer than I expected. Lots of sweet raisin and prune laden malts. Slightly spicy. Tastes a lot like a liquid rum laced fruitcake. Finish is especially raisiny and even a little white grape and cherry tinged. It is very slightly oxidized, but it doesn’t hurt the flavor any..just adds a hint of mustiness to it.

 501 characters

Photo of Higravity
4.63/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The best part about this beer is the way it melted in your mouth and the longer you let it sit on your tongue the more flavors it produced. Red brown that I manage to get a head out of and there is even a touch of carbonation in the body. This beer is definately oxidized but duh. It smells of melting chocolate with prunes and raisins and old sherry, the alcohol is present though subdued it seems to drive the smell. No soy sauce here, just good old stock, lush folds of malt hold flavors developed over the past 8 years. Sherry, oak, raisins, opium, and hints of chocolate like I haven't had since the plantation I visited in Panama. I am floored by this beer and I sip it slowly letting it absorb into my tongue until my mouth is steeped in the flavors, slowly but surely making my way through becuase I might have to wait a while to get another bottle.

 857 characters

Photo of ChrisBowers
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very nice example of an English Old Ale. Similar in Character to Thomas Hardy's or JW Lees Harvest. 1998 vintage poured into a small tasting glass. Murky brown color, no head, but some carbonation still present. Aroma was slightly sweet, with ripe fruit aromas present. Taste was very smooth, subtle yet complex. Prunes, raisins and brandy were present. I tend to like the bolder flavors of Thomas Hardy's a bit more, but this was still very nice (and far less expensive). I had this along with a 94 Hardy's and preferred that, but this is no slouch. Above average alcohol content is about all that limits drinkability in my opinion, but I never have more than a few beers in a sitting anyways as I like to keep my taste buds sharp (and not get hammered!) so thats not a problem for me.

 788 characters

Photo of OldSock
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance – 275 ml bottle #1025 from 1998. I picked up this bottle at Luke’s because I wanted to try this beer before it disappears completely now that it is retired. The taupe head quickly falls to just a cloudy covering. Dark ruby/brown with some chunk that look like pieces of mulch sitting on the bottom of the glass.

Smell – Rich smell of brandy, brown sugar and wine. If my eyes were closed I could not have guessed that this smell emanated from a beer.

Taste – Skewed to the malt/sweet end of the spectrum with only a hint of hop bitterness in the finish. Some vinous notes, grapes, wine, raisins and the like. Lots of rum and dark fruits, evidence of the alcohol is mild, but present.

Mouthfeel – Medium full body with light carbonation.

Drinkability and Notes – Good drinkability, complex flavor, and great mouthfeel make this a beer worth trying. Tasty vintage, but I wish I had bought one that was a few years younger so that I would have something to compare this to.

 999 characters

Photo of macpapi
3.65/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have eyed this single bottle for some time now. Finally got around to purchasing a 1996 edition to take for a spin.

Poured a dark brown color with a small whitish head. Very murky, with little visibility in the glass. Good lacing. Smells like candied malt. Very sugary and sweel aroma with heavy fruits. Plum, raisin and apple are all there. Very pleasant. The taste is dominated by malt and fruit. This beer is overly sweet, with the overwhelming presence of candy, sugar and figs on the tongue. Not very well balanced. In the mouth it is pretty full and very sweet. No carbonation to speak of. Pretty plain.

Overall, I was a tad disappointed by this beer. Seemed to be a little flat and definitely overly sweet with little balance or complexity to speak of. Relatively full and flavorful, but on the whole not extremely special.

 838 characters

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.

 729 characters

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.

 509 characters

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

1997 Vintage

Hazy dark brown in color. Low on carbonation with just a thin wisp of a head. Alcohol, prune and light toffee notes in the nose. Heavy, coating mouthfeel. Sweet and malty up front, figgish and fruity in the middle, developing into an anise-spiced finish and a lingering toffee aftertaste. Spicy and complex, with a nicely moderate alcohol presence.

 364 characters

Photo of biscodoll
3.75/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1996 Bottling #0866, poured into a balloon/brandy style glass. Has a nice, thick, vanilla-colored head that quickly discipates into thin lacing. Large chunks of sediment floating around the beer - which is a deep, dark amber. First sniff evokes soy sauce which rounds out into alcohol and sweetness. Mouthfeel is thinner than expected, flavor a little sharper. Subsequenscent flavors are molasses and sherry, plums and cherries, also earthy, like leather. Major diacetyl coating. 'Tis not quite the season for this beer, being July, but I know this is something special.

 570 characters

Photo of Burninhell
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

ive just now opened my first ever bottle of this, so , its rather hard to say, bloody hell, its from friggin "96 ive never had a beer that old before, i would like a comparision,,,, bottle #0023 bottled in1996

its malty for sur, warm bread, with almost no fizz, whats that stuff my mom made us eat once, bread puddin, im not sayin that to knock it, its just rather different, clean finish, the hops if it ever had any are finished and only are in loving memory. hell, 96 was a good year though,,,

 499 characters

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.45/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1998 vintage. Bottle #1010.

Sadly, with the purging of the beermails within the last few months, I lost the e-mail from the wonderful BA who sent me this beer as part of a trade some time ago. Rest assured, somehow I will thank him.

A: Poured into my Duvel tulip glass (thanks AKSmokedPorter!), H's EA is a mesmerizing blood-tinged deep copper color. Very thick and impressively sticky layer of bone-white lace billowed up on the pour and settled slowly to a respectable finger-thin height, all the while leaving a trail of lace on the glass.

S: Notes of ripened dark fruit, mixed with lots of sweetness. Caramelized sugar and hints of medicinal alcohol. As it warmed, fresh honey shows up.

T: Immediate fresh-from-the-hive honey flavor assaults the palate. Tart apple juice flows in next, mixing with a brown sugar sweetness. Finish sees just the barest hint of warming from the ABV, and the aftertaste is a combination of a drying bitterness mixed with a chco-toffee-covered apple and drizzled with fresh honey. Complex? You betcha. Enjoyable? Umm....yes.

M: I expected a bigger, fuller....more "chewy" mouthfeel from this one. Slightly on the thin side, but still does an impressive job of coating the palate.

D: This was a beer I really savored. It took forever to consume and was an excellent sipping beer. Nothing out-of-whack anywhere and a joy to experience as the flavors change during the tasting profile. A complex tapestry of aromas and flavors that mesh into one unforgettable beer.

 1,514 characters

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

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.